Friday, September 16, 2016

It's Soup Season!

I love this time of year. By September, I'm tired of all my summer clothes and ready to pull out my long pants, sweaters, and boots. I'm ready to close the pool and sit by the fireplace instead. I'm ready to stop drinking lemon drop martinis and start drinking Brandy Alexanders. And I'm ready to stop cooking on the grill and start cooking on the stove.

One of the things I love most to cook on the stove (or sometimes in the crock pot), is soup. I love all kinds of soup: vegetable soup, chicken soup, spicy ethnic soup, you name it. So here are a few of the most delicious soup recipes I have in my repertoire. Pair a steaming bowl of any of these with a slice of crusty bread, a wedge of buttered cornbread, or a moist flaky biscuit, and you've got a complete meal that will warm you right to your toes!

Lentil Soup (I got this recipe from the back of a bag of lentils)
3 tbsp butter
½ onion, sliced thin
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
6 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups carrots, sliced
1-1/2 cups celery, sliced
½ package dried lentils (~1 cup)
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (optional)
Grated Parmesan-Romano cheese

Melt the butter in the bottom of a dutch oven or large saucepan. Saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Stir in the thyme, cumin, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the chicken broth. Stir in the carrots, celery, and lentils. If desired, remove the casing of the sausage and crumble into the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 50 minutes (covered). Sprinkle with cheese before serving. 

Ginger Carrot Soup (based on a recipe from
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup peeled and grated ginger root
3 tsp minced garlic
1-1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and diced or thinly sliced on a mandolin
6 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
Pinch cayenne
Sour cream (optional)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onion, celery, ginger, and garlic for 5-10 minutes, until tender. Add carrots and stock and and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until carrots are tender. Puree with an immersion blender or in batches with a regular blender or food processor. Add a pinch of cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. May be served with a small dollop of sour cream on top. 

White Bean with Bacon Soup (based on a recipe from Table for Two)
5 strips of bacon, cut into tiny pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
4 carrots, peeled and chopped or sliced thin
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
4 cups chicken stock
4 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp tomato paste

In a large stockpot, cook the bacon pieces until browned and crispy. Let drain on a paper towel and discard all but about 3 tbsp of bacon grease. Saute the onion, garlic, and carrots in the grease until tender (about 5 minutes). Stir in the rosemary and cook for an additional minute. Gently pour in the stock and add the beans, then whisk in the tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot with bacon pieces on top. 

Black Bean Soup (based on a recipe from And What I Ate)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet red pepper, diced
2 red onions, diced
5 tbsp cumin, divided
3 tsp minced garlic
3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 c fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp lime juice, divided
1-1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 to 2 cups water
1 tbsp Salt 
1/3 cup sour cream

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the pepper and onions until they start to brown (about 10 minutes). Add 4 tbsp of cumin and the minced garlic and stir until fragrant. Stir in the beans. Add water, just to cover (add more if you like thinner soup), then add desired amount of chicken broth. Bring just to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in a tablespoon of salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste, 2 tbsp lime juice. and cilantro, and simmer for 10 additional minutes. Use an immersion blender to smooth texture to desired consistency, then adjust seasonings to taste. Combine sour cream with remaining 1 tbsp cumin and 1 tbsp lime juice and use to garnish individual servings. 

Lasagna Soup (based on a recipe from Cooking Classy)
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
1 large yellow onion, diced
3-5 tsp minced garlic
4 cups chicken stock
1 14.5-oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 14.5-oz can crushed tomatoes
2-1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1-3/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1-1/2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp sugar
8 lasagna noodles
1-1/4 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan
8 oz. ricotta cheese

In a large stockpot, crumble and brown the ground meat in 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Drain and set aside. Heat remaining tbsp olive oil and saute onion until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 30 additional seconds. Add stock, both tomatoes, tomato paste, all herbs, sugar, and the browned meat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, break the lasagna noodles into bite-size pieces and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Add pasta to soup along with enough reserved pasta water to achieve desired consistency. In a separate small bowl, combine the three cheeses and use to top individual servings. 

Potato Soup (based on a recipe from Gimme Some Oven)
5 slices bacon, diced
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
1-1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, brown the bacon until crispy, stirring occasionally. Let drain on a paper towel and discard all but about 3 tbsp of bacon grease. Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over and stir until combined, then saute for an additional minute. Stir in the chicken stock, then milk, potatoes, and bacon. Continue cooking until not quite boiling. Reduce heat to medium-lower, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are soft, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese, sour cream, and salt and pepper, adjusting amounts to taste. If desired, individual servings may be topped with chives or additional bacon, cheese, and/or sour cream. 

Lemon Chicken Rice Soup (based on a recipe from KitchMe)
6 cups chicken broth
1 cube chicken bouillon
1/3 cup uncooked rice
1/3 cup peeled and diced or thinly sliced carrots
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup cubed cooked chicken
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3 eggs
3 tbsp lemon juice

In a large saucepan, combine broth, bouillon, rice, carrots, celery, and onion and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes until rice and vegetables are tender. Stir in chicken and remove from heat. 

In a small saucepan, melt butter and gently whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups broth mixture and cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. In a small bowl, beat eggs until frothy. 

Gradually beat lemon juice and 2 cups thickened broth into main broth mixture. When the mixture has cooled somewhat, add the eggs very slowly, stirring constantly. Gently heat until not quite boiling. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

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