I get a comforting feeling when I think of soup.  There was always soup in the refrigerator in my house when I was growing up – whether it be chicken noodle or vegetable or meatball soup.  Even today, at 94, my mother makes soup for herself or for when company comes calling.

I like soup of all kinds, and usually have one on hand for lunch. To me, soup makes an ideal lunch, filling enough but not to the point where you feel stuffed and most soups are healthy and low on calories. It also appeals to my frugal nature. I save little bits of this or that from dinner in my freezer – a half cup of corn, 1/4 cup of kale, 1 cup of rice, a piece of chicken or steak.  when it is time to make soup, I survey my freezer and start pulling out packages. I think about what will go together in the pot and get to work.  The first soup below, is kind of like that. During the summer season I often receive an abundant quantity of greens and potatoes from my CSA.  So I package the extras and during the winter they are available for tasty soup combinations. There are endless possibilities to be creative and inventive – just remember to write down what you used in this fabulous soup you created.  Sometimes I forget and am sorry I can’t remember how to recreate this great tasting concoction in my bowl.

When the weather turns brisk, there’s nothing cozier than a big bowl of hot soup. Autumn is the perfect time to warm the kitchen with stove-cooked soups made with the summer season’s harvest of vegetables. Hearty, homemade soups need little monitoring while they slowly simmer, leaving the cook free for other activities. The pay-off comes at serving time, when the taste of homemade beats out commercial soups every time. The following soups are hearty and can serve as the main meal with some good tasting bread.

Creamy Potato, Kale, and Leek Soup

Kale is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. This leafy green is very low in calories (36 calories per cup) and is loaded with vitamins A, C, and K. It’s also a good source of fiber and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron.

This soup’s thick, smooth texture usually comes from cheese and heavy cream. However, by using 1 percent milk and mashing the potatoes, you get all that creamy goodness without all the fat.

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups (6 oz) kale ( or any greens you like), chopped and tightly packed
  • 3 cups of leeks, white and pale-green parts, chopped (2 medium leeks)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups 1 percent milk*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Ground black pepper

Directions:

In soup pot, heat oil for 1 minute over medium heat. Add kale, leek, and salt. Stir. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl.

Add milk to soup pot and bring to a low boil, add potatoes, and nutmeg. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook potatoes until tender.

With a potato masher or back of a large spoon, mash the potatoes. Return the kale mixture to pot and simmer until flavors blend, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle each serving with pepper to taste.

*Tip If you prefer your soup on the thinner side, add a half-cup more milk.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, (peeled or unpeeled, your preference) and cut into large chunks (1/2 and 3/4 inch chunks)
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 pounds tomatoes, preferably plum tomatoes
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, plus additional for garnish
  • 2 1/2 cups water or chicken stock

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. arrange two oven racks – one near the top and one near the bottom. You will also need two rimmed baking sheets.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes and garlic cloves. Add 1 tablespoons of olive oil, salt (about 1 teaspoon or to taste) and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon or to taste). Stir to combine. Pour as a single layer onto rimmed baking sheet. Place on top oven rack.

In same mixing bowl, combine the cubed eggplant and onion. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt (about 1 teaspoon or to taste) and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon or to taste). Stir to combine. Pour as a single layer onto a second rimmed backing sheet. Place on bottom oven rack. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Using tongs, remove tomato skins. Place tomato/garlic mixture and 1/2 of the eggplant/onion mixture in a food processor or blender. Add in the basil leaves. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a large pot or dutch oven. Add in the remaining eggplant/onion mixture and stir to combine.

Add the 2 1/2 cups water or chicken stock. Stir and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with chopped basil before serving.

 

Lemony Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 carrots and/or parsnips, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup small pasta (such as ditalini or orzo)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots and/or parsnips, celery, onion, thyme, 1  1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

2. Add the chicken, chicken broth, and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and place on a cutting board. When it is cool enough to handle, shred the meat with 2 forks; discard the bones.

3. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the soup and simmer until al dente, 6 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken, lemon juice, and parsley and stir to combine and heat.

Tips

This soup can be frozen in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. To reheat, run the containers under warm water until the soup slides out. Transfer to a pot and cook over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

This broth makes a great base for a variety of soups. Instead of the pasta, stir in 2 15.5-ounce cans of rinsed white beans and 1/2 bunch chopped kale and cook until the kale is tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Top with a spoonful of prepared pesto.

Mediterranean Meatball Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup soft whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound 90% or higher lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow and/or red sweet peppers, seeded and cut into bite-size strips
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups less-sodium beef stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 – 15 ounce can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, egg, half of the garlic, half of the rosemary, and the black pepper. Add ground beef; mix well. Shape meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Place meatballs in a foil-lined 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan. Bake about 15 minutes or until done in centers (160 degrees F). Set aside.

In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrot, sweet pepper, onion, and the remaining garlic; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beef stock, the water, Great Northern beans, barley, and the remaining rosemary. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until barley is tender.

Add meatballs to barley mixture; heat through. Stir in the spinach just before serving.

The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy, a collection of more than 60 exceptional, authentic recipes that celebrate each season in the Italian tradition.

Cream of Asparagus Soup with Pearled Barley

Adapted From The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy (by Domenica Marchetti, Chronicle Books, 2006)

Make 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups water
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 cup pearled barley, rinsed
  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 spring onions or scallions, bulbs and tender white part of stalks sliced crosswise (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, quarters thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Pecorino romano cheese

Directions:

Put the barley on to cook before you start the soup. In a large saucepan, combine the 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Slowly pour in the barley. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender but still a little bit chewy. It should not be mushy at all. Reduce the heat if necessary so that the barley cooks at a gently, steady simmer. Drain the barley in a colander placed in the sink and let it sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

While the barley is cooking, trim off the tough ends from the asparagus and discard them. Cut the asparagus stalks into 1-inch pieces. Set aside the tips. You should have about 4 1/2 cups asparagus pieces, not including the tips.

In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the spring onions and fennel, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring from time to time, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir vigorously to combine. Pour in 1 cup of the vegetable broth and stir for a minute or so to incorporate thoroughly. Slowly pour in the remaining 5 cups of broth and add the asparagus pieces—except for the reserved tips—and the parsley sprigs. Increase the heat to medium and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and let the soup cool for 10 minutes.

Using a hand blender (immersion) or a stand blender, puree the soup (in batches if you’re using a stand blender). Stir in the cooked barley and reheat the soup over low heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the soup is heating, put the reserved asparagus tips in a steaming basket placed in a pot of boiling water, cover, and steam for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just tender. Or put the tips in a plastic storage bag along with 1 tablespoon water. Set the open bag in a microwave oven and cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tips are bright green and just tender.

To serve the soup, stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese. Ladle the soup into a large serving bowl or tureen and top with the reserved asparagus tips and the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. You can also serve the soup in individual bowls, garnishing each serving with a few asparagus tips and a sprinkle of cheese.

About these ads