Winter Soups

Soup is basic. Rich or poor, from east to west – soup is welcomed at every table. It can be hot or cold, sweet or spicy, thick and creamy or light and clear. To keep soup a basic part of the menu at your house there are a few tips to remember and some essential pieces of equipment.

Some basic tools you will need for creating your delicious homemade soups:

  • A large stainless steel or enameled soup pot is ideal for preparing broth or simmering or the back burner. Depending on the size of the recipe anywhere from a 4 to10-quart pot can be used. This kind of pot is also easily transferable to refrigerator for storage.
  • For cutting all those fresh vegetables a good utility knife and chopping mat lends ease to the task. A well-made utility knife with a sharp edge is one of the handiest tools in the kitchen. Flexible chopping mats are excellent for adding your chopped vegetables to the stock.
  • Cheesecloth can be used to strain soup liquid or to make small bags containing herbs and spices for seasonings. One package of cheesecloth is enough to last through many pots of soup.
  • A very good blender or food processor is essential for pureéing vegetables. Chop the vegetables in the food processor if you don't want to do it by hand. After cooking vegetables, you can pureé them in the blender to form a paste or mash to use as thickening for soups such as tomato.

Soups are so encompassing that you can use practically any meat or vegetables that you have on hand. If you don't have any prepared stock, you can take a shortcut with instant powders that are available.

Think about soup throughout the week and save items from your weekly menu that can be used for soup. Save vegetable waters from prepared potatoes or green beans. Reserve celery leaves and trimmed stems from vegetables such as scallions in plastic bags. Simmer leftover bones from cooked meats to make stock. All items can be used to enhance the coming weekend's choice of soup.

If you have made a large batch of soup, freeze the leftovers in plastic bags for future use. Creamed soups or potato-based soups are not recommended for freezing and thawing.

You can also freeze stock in small portions to be used for future spontaneous soup days. A jumbo muffin tin works great – just ladle the stock into the cavities and freeze. After the stock is frozen, pop out the individual portions (about one cup) and store in the freezer in plastic bags. Use one at a time, as needed.

Don't forget to top off the soup for presentation. Croutons, grated cheese, chopped parsley, paprika, toasted nuts, and broken chips are just a few suggestions – become creative with crackers and cereals for crunch.

Soup is no discriminator of class or origin. It is very versatile – from small cups of gazpacho in the summer to big teeming tureens of chowder in the middle of a snowy week – it's always a welcome site.

For this snowy week try these recipes...

Corn Chowder - Serves 3-4

  • Fry 6-8 pieces of bacon in large skillet, remove and crumble*
  • Use 1 Tbsp. of bacon drippings and saute medium onion until translucent and remove
  • Add 2 large diced potatoes with 3/4 cup water to pan
  • Cover and boil for 10 minutes until potatoes are tender
  • Return onions to pan along with 1 can (16 Oz.) creamed corn, 1 can cream of mushroom soup and 2 cups milk
  • Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Top each serving with crumbled bacon bits and pat of butter (optional)

Apple, Potato, & Cheddar Soup
In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add:

  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples that have been peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk of chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon of thyme

Sauté for 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup white wine and simmer 2 minutes more. Add 5 cups of chicken broth and simmer for an additional 45 minutes. In blender or food processor, puree soup mixture, then return to saucepan. Over very low heat, stir in:

  • 4 cups of cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper

Cook until heated through, but do not boil or the cheese will curdle! Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with additional diced apples, if desired.