On a cold autumn day—or frigid winter evening—nothing will warm your heart, mind, body, and soul better than a bowl of soup. While there are cold soups, typically it is a dish best served hot and is the quintessential meal or snack option when you want to shake the chill off your bones. Plus, a meal of soup, while completely satisfying, doesn’t take on the heavy character common in many fall and winter dishes.
But, best yet, soup can be tuned to fit any type of taste or mood. In the dead of winter, if you feel like indulging in a spicy curry flavor or something more comforting like chicken soup, you will have options aplenty.
With more varieties of soup than you could enjoy in one lifetime—after all, you can soup almost anything—the possibilities are endless. Why not plan several seasonally appropriate options to choose from—a soup “wish list,” if you will? With fall upon us, that means incorporating seasonal meats, vegetables, and other flavors like turkey, butternut squash, and even hearty cheeses.
If you want to make your soup a meal by itself, take a cue from a state that is closely associated with the changing leaves and chill of autumn: Wisconsin. A Wisconsin cheddar beer soup (recipes follow) will delight your friends on a crisp autumn Sunday as they gather to watch football.
Want to get a little more complex? Think about creatively integrating grains into your soup choice with a lentil and wild rice soup with meatballs. It’s a mouth-watering mix of taste sensations that is both filling and exhilarating. But make a lot, because your guests will be dipping the ladle into the pot again and again.
With Thanksgiving coming, a nice turkey soup is always a good recipe to have in your back pocket. That way, you can creatively turn your leftovers into a warm meal that will serve you for days to come. Of course, if turkey is really your thing, you could double down on it and use turkey soup as an appetizer on Thanksgiving Day.
But our tour of fall soups wouldn’t be complete without using the vegetable that has become the established standard over the past few years for use in cold weather-oriented soups: the leek. Cock-a-leekie soup and a potato leek soup—with or without garlic—are the two most common ways to incorporate this flavorful allium, but you can add leeks to most any recipe, or use them as a substitute for onions.
Okay, you have your fall soup menus planned, now it’s time to be sure you have the tools you need to prepare them. Of course, you’ll want a stockpot that provides a perfect even simmer. Metal is usually your best option, since it’s conductivity evenly distributes heat—a key to avoiding the kind of burning that can kill your soups’ flavor.
In fact, there are pots designed specifically with that thought in mind. For instance, CHEFS Never Burn Sauce Pot. (See a review of this revolutionary pot later in this series of blogs.) Two years of research and testing went into developing this marvel of modern kitchen technology that is so advanced you don’t even have to stir your soup, sauce, or chowder as it slowly cooks atop the stove. You may if it makes you feel better, but you don’t have to.
Another option with classic appeal that’s also great for cooking up and serving a large batch of broth, would be the Demeyere Maslin Pan. Its stainless steel exterior and thick aluminum core make it an ideal option when you have a large group to cook for, and its vintage visual appeal allows it to double as a serving dish. Just set it in the middle of your table and stand back—your guests will scoop up soup to their hearts’ content.
One of the great things about soup is that it lends itself to experimentation—so leave some room to try new and interesting ideas and flavors. If you find yourself in the mood for a particular flavor, adapt the recipe you’re working with to reflect that desire. With soup, there is no “wrong.” Where many other dishes require strict adherence to recipes and portions, generally soup is something you can add to and subtract from, tasting it as you go and modifying it to meet your desires. If you have leftovers that are about to go bad, simply slice them up and add them to your concoction.
Soup is the great equalizer of the kitchen. With the right ingredients—and a dollop of creativity—even novice chefs can come up with a pleasing addition to their meals.
Note: You will need one 4-ounce chunk of American cheese from the deli counter for this recipe. Do no use pre-sliced or packaged shredded cheese here. Freeze the American cheese for 15 minutes to make shredding easier.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, peeled and chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (12-ounce) beer
2 cups whole or low-fat milk
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded American cheese (see note, above)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Salt and pepper
Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Cook onion and carrots until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, beer, and milk. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently (do not boil) until carrots are very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss shredded cheeses and cornstarch in large bowl until well combined. Puree soup in blender in two batches (or use an immersion blender) until completely smooth, return to pot, and simmer over medium-low heat.
Whisk in cheese mixture, one handful at a time, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve. Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped red onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 celery stalk
1 pound golden lentils
2 cups wild rice
10 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
chili pepper flakes, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large egg, lightly beaten
In a medium soup pot over medium heat, add oil. Add chopped onion, carrot, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and celery. Saute, stirring frequently, for 5 to 8 minutes.
Stir in lentils, rice and chicken stock. Season with salt pepper and chili flakes. Stir in parsley and thyme sprig. Let come to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Skim top of broth as necessary.
In a mixing bowl, combine ground meat, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, parsley, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Knead together to combine. Add egg and knead together until thoroughly mixed. Using a scoop, divide the mixture into golf-ball sized balls. Mixture will make between 3 and 4 dozen meatballs depending on size.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Arrange meatballs in a single layer in pan. Cover with splatter screen and let cook 5 to 7 minutes. Turn and let cook an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from pan.
Once the lentils are tender, remove the thyme sprig. If desired, use a hand blender or immersion blender and lightly blend the soup, allowing for some small chunks of vegetables to give the soup body.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Add meatballs and any juices they may have released. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups water
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs parsley
1/2 tablespoon thyme
1 bay leaf
Pull apart any leftover turkey meat with your hands, really working the bones to find the remaining secret sweet meat.
Chop onion, carrots, and celery. Finely dice a carrot for garnishing the nearly finished soup later on.
Then cook the onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil over moderately high heat, stirring for 7 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are golden. Add dry white wine and bring to a simmer.
Add the turkey carcass, chicken stock, water, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Make a bouquet garnish by tying fresh parsley and thyme in a little bundle so that you can remove it easily later on.
Bring everything to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for about an hour. Remove large pieces of carcass and strain the soup back into a skillet. Heat over a medium heat.
Add the turkey and diced carrots and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the soup and skim any froth or fat as it rises to the surface.
4 pounds chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed
10 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 cup barley
10.5 ounces chicken broth
7 leeks, sliced
2 stalks celery, thickly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
In a stock pot over medium-high heat, combine the chicken, water, chicken stock, onion, and barley. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
Remove chicken, discarding the bones and skin, chop meat into bite size pieces and return to the pot.
Add the leeks, celery, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 30 more minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
2 large leeks
2 to 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 to 6 cups)
12 to 15 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white or red wine, or water
7 to 8 cups chicken stock, low sodium
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
1/2 pound Italian ham like capicola or prosciutto, thinly-sliced (optional)
Adapted from Jacques Pepin's Garlic Soup recipe from his television show, Essential Pepin. Makes 8 servings.
Prepare the leeks. For this recipe, you want to use as much of the dark green section as possible. Cut off the root end and trim only the tough, ragged edge of each dark green leaf. Split each leek down the middle lengthwise and slice into 1-inch pieces. Separate the layers and place in a large colander or salad spinner basket. Wash thoroughly, tossing the leeks gently under running water to remove all traces of dirt and grit. Drain well in colander or spin in salad spinner.
Trim and peel garlic cloves. Cut large cloves in half. Set aside.
Heat large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add olive oil. When oil is hot, turn heat to medium. Add the leeks. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Let leeks cook down for 5 to 10 minutes. Leeks will soften and begin to caramelize; creating fond or brown bits on the pan bottom (this is a good thing).
Add diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 15 seconds.
Add wine or water and stir to deglaze pan. Cook for about 2 minutes to allow alcohol to evaporate. Stir occasionally.
Add chicken stock and stir to mix. Raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Then, lower heat and partially cover pot. Let boil gently for 30 to 45 minutes.
When vegetables are tender, remove pot from heat and let cool for about 30 minutes.
(Optional): While the soup is cooling, make ham “croutons.” Slice Italian ham into half-inch wide strips and then cut strips into 1-inch long sections. Separate pieces. Heat nonstick skillet on medium. When pan is hot, add the ham. Cook, stirring often, until the ham releases its moisture and the meat is dry and chewy. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
Puree cooled vegetable mixture in a blender or food mill or with an immersion/hand blender. Taste soup and adjust salt and pepper.
Reheat soup. When hot, taste again and adjust seasonings, if needed. Just before serving, add butter, if desired, and stir to blend. Ladle hot soup into bowls. Garnish with Italian ham croutons. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.
Categories: Food & Recipes