Tag Archives: soup

Quick Vegetable Soup for a Sick Day You Couldn’t Take

10 Jun

A few weeks ago I got bronchitis. I don’t get sick often, but sometimes you just pound it too hard and the body craps out.

However, it was not the right time to take off from work, which statement is probably a clear indicator of how crazed about work our American society is (And how I have become). “Yeah, I am on death’s door, but I gotta go to work.” Heavy sigh followed by a hacking, wracking cough. Wipe nose on sleeve. Carry on.

And I was one of at least two in our department who were in the same boat. Ah well. In my next iteration, I will go back to being Mediterranean or Caribbean in my approach. It is much better.

Anyhoo, by the time I stumbled home and crawled up the stairs on one of the worst days, I wasn’t up for much cooking. I was, however, very much in the mood for a comforting, nourishing soup. So was my mom, who was in similar condition downstairs.

That is when knowing your way around a kitchen is a good thing. If you can chop, saute, and add flavorful liquids, in about 25 minutes you can have a soup that may not raise the dead, but will smell good, taste good (if you have any sense of smell or taste left)  and make you feel better. If you don’t have any sense of smell or taste, just load on the hot sauce and enjoy a few minutes of steamed and spicy relief.

Feel like you can’t even deal with chopping fresh vegetables? Go ahead, empty out all the useless quarter bags of frozen vegetables buried in the back of the freezer. The tomatoe-y broth and herbs will make it all taste good, even if the texture leaves a bit to be desired.

Easy Vegetable Soup

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Cup chopped carrots and celery

2 Cups other mixed vegetables (whatever bits are around the fridge anxious to be used – I used cauliflower, broccoli, summer squash. Potatoes, leeks, spinach would be nice too. You can also use frozen – why not?)

15 oz. can of tomatoes – pureed, chopped, diced, whole, whatever*

1 quart your preferred stock, plus more liquid to cover – can be stock or water*.

15 oz. can of white beans, rinsed and drained

½ Cup of cooked rice or pasta, if you’ve got

½ Cup fresh or frozen chopped spinach, optional

1 Tbs dried herbs (your preferred combination of oregano/thyme/rosemary/parsley/marjoram)

Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste

In a deep soup pot, heat the oil at medium high until loose and fragrant. Add onions, stir to coat, and lower heat to medium. Add garlic, carrots, and celery, and saute for five minutes, until becoming tender. Add additional vegetables, stir to coat and sauté another three minutes. Add tomatoes and broth, plus enough additional liquid to cover, bring pot to boil, then lower heat and simmer for ten minutes. With about five minutes left in the simmer, add beans, and optional pasta and spinach, and seasoning. Serve with saltines or crusty bread.

*(Note: You can substitute some or all the stock, or the can of tomatoes with vegetable juice such as V-8 – low-sodium preferred)

Manhattan Clam Chowder: zesty, cozy, bacon free

21 May

A Margarita glass makes for a novel soup presentation. Nota bene: The glass should be sturdy!

I make several versions of “Manhattan Clam Chowder,” none of which is particularly authentic, but then again, this is a soup named for Manhattan. Of all places in the world, this is the one where everyone belongs and everyone is unique, if not downright quirky. So consider this a mandate to scoff at tradition and do it your way.

This version doesn’t use bacon and relies heavily on vegetable gusto.

Manhattan Clam Chowder (without bacon)

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 cup onion, peeled and chopped fine

3-5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine

½ cup red pepper, chopped fine

½ Cup carrot, peeled and chopped (first in quarters lengthwise, then in thin slices)

½ Cup celery stalks, peeled and sliced into small chunks

Two medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½ inch squares

4 cups vegetable juice (low sodium preferred)*

1 bay leaf

Four 5.5 oz cans of chopped clams, juices reserved

1 Tbs dried oregano (2 Tbs fresh, chopped)

1 Tbs dried parsley (2 Tbs fresh, chopped)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot at medium high until fragrant and very liquid. Stir in onions to coat, lower heat to medium and add red pepper and garlic. Cook an additional minute. Add carrots and celery and cook until beginning to get tender, about five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add potatoes and stir to coat, then add vegetable juice, bay leaf, and reserved clam juice. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add clams, oregano, and parsley and cook for an additional five minutes. Add salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Serve with oyster crackers or saltines and spike with sriracha, Tabasco or other red pepper-based hot sauce.

*If you happen to have an additional bottle of clam juice in the pantry, you may substitute a cup of the vegetable juice with the bottled clam juice to pump up the briny flavor

Souped Up: Andouille Sausage, Garbanzos and Kale

13 Apr
Aye me hearties…

One of the few things I miss when winter finally gets out of my face for a few months is hearty soups. So, to celebrate (or bid adieu to) the tail end of the cold and damp, I made just such a hearty (and spicy) soup. I served it to late evening guests recently as a stodgy and substantial — but lively – counterbalance to late evening imbibing. It was very restorative the day after too! I actually served it in tea cups, which was kind of sweet and cozy, and just the right moderate portion for night-time. It’s also easier to handle than bowls when you are sprawled on couches and not seated at a table.

It is another riff on one of my favorite types of soup: a bean, a green and a sausage. This time the bean is nutty, firm garbanzo and the sausage spicy Cajun-style Andouille. The green is kale. If you are not familiar with kale, it is available pretty much year-round, another leafy-green packed with nutrients and fiber and all that good stuff. It is similar to spinach and chard when you cook it, but you have to cook it quite a bit longer for it to soften up. The advantage is that it won’t get mushy in your soup, but will retain a bit of crunchy character. The colors in this one are also really lovely!

Andouille Sausage, Kale and Garbanzo Soup

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

½ Cup red pepper, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

6-8 oz andouille sausage (or other highly seasoned sausage – I like spicy, but you can use non-spicy too), in ½ inch slices

1 bunch kale, washed thoroughly, stems removed and chopped

2 cups russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½ inch squares

32 oz low sodium vegetable broth (or however much broth you have, mixed with water to make 32 oz)

1 15.5 oz can chick peas (garbanzos, ceci), drained and rinsed

2 Tbs fresh thyme or 1 Tbs dried (may be increased or decreased to your liking)


In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil until liquid and fragrant, add onions, stir to coat then reduce heat and allow to soften and become translucent. Add red pepper and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened. Increase heat to medium high, add sausage slices and cook through. Stir in kale and potatoes and coat well. Add vegetable broth and additional water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a lively simmer for 15 minutes. Add garbanzos and thyme and simmer another 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread/a grating of parmesan cheese/a dollop of fine extra virgin olive oil.

Cannellini and Chard Soup (with or without bacon)

15 Mar

Hearty, Dense, Soul-Satisfying (and great re-heated!)

I don’t know quite how it happened, but today’s accidental soup is one of the best I’ve ever made.  I just started pulling things that needed using out of the fridge and freezer, and dug around the pantry and about a half hour later, Leandro and I were slurping in happy ecstasy….Please note that the vegetable juice is a key element (a trick I learned from Cook’s Illustrated magazine) in getting a lot of veggie flavor that is more complex and not as sharp as straight-up canned tomatoes.

Tip for the peasants among us who hate waste and love flavor: if you are like me, you use a lot of real parmigiano reggiano and/or gran padano cheese. This leaves you with a lot of rinds after the grating is done. I save the rind in a plastic container in the fridge and drop it in the pot towards the end of cooking tomato-based soups like this one or minestrone. It lends a lot of richness, but must be removed before serving as it is not meant for eating!

Chard and White Bean Soup

2 Tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped fine

4 oz bacon, coarsely chopped (you can skip this for the vegetarian version)

8oz. chard, thoroughly washed, stems removed (and reserved for a later stir fry or sauté), chopped

16-24 oz low sodium vegetable juice (like V-8)

2 cups water

1 cup ditale or other chunky short pasta

15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tbs dry)

leftover parmigiano/gran padano rind or several tbs good grated cheese

Salt to taste

In a soup pot heat olive oil on medium high until fragrant, add onions, stir and lower heat. Sauté until wilting, then add celery and sauté until softened. Add bacon (if desired), raise heat  and cook through, stirring occasionally. Add chard and sauté until wilting. Add vegetable juice, add two cups water, bring to a boil, and add pasta. Lower heat to a vigorous simmer. After 10 minutes, add beans and parsley and parmigiano rind, if you’ve got. You may need or wantto add more water. Heat through, adjust salt if necessary, test pasta and serve (with generous amount of grated cheese, if you didn’t have rind) with crusty bread.

A Big Old Hurry Results in Revelations (and better flavor!)

31 Oct

I am making lentil soup today; it’s cheap and easy and ever-so-homey. It’s what I serve to my parents whenever they’ve come back from a long journey (which is ridiculously often). It’s hearty enough and yet light enough to make you feel relaxed and at home. It smells very good, bubbling away at the stove; every time I make it it comes out slightly different, depending on my mood and the available ingredients, but it is always good.

While I was chopping, in my usual hurry, trying to get it done before my son woke up from his nap (mission accomplished and he is STILL SLEEPING!), I started to think about the old days when I had hours to cook something. I entertained myself by chopping up all the ingredients like on a cooking show, arraying them before me in little bowls and then dropping them into my pots and pans as needed. Very satisfying.

These days, I chop as I go and drop things in the pot as soon as I get them cut up, more or less in the order I intended. If I am lucky. It’s not as aesthetic, but it has helped me in one way. I get those onions in there first, then when they are coated and sizzling in the hot oil, I turn the heat right down so they won’t burn as I chop something else. Lo and behold, those onions get a chance to get soft and sweet and caramelly on the low heat, and I actually get better flavor out of them. In the old days, I would’ve sauteed them quickly and then dropped my next precious bowl of something in right away. Not anymore!

I include the recipe here, because lentil soup needs to be in your repertory. It is very flexible; you can skip the sausage or use a different kind (adjusting seasonings to harmonize), you can use additional veg (like celery); or leftover parsley from another dish.

It requires a bit of chopping, but no babysitting while it is simmering. Lentils are cheap and wholesome and don’t require pre-soaking. It refrigerates and re-heats really well (freezing, not so much), so I pack it into our lunch boxes as well as eating it on the night it is made. Serves four big appetites as a main course.

Lentil Soup

2-3 Tbs olive oil

1 baseball size onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced or diced to fingernail size (approx 1 Cup)

1 Cup chorizo (Spanish dry hot sausage), peeled and sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds (I use Palacios Hot)

1 Cup dry lentils, rinsed, picked through and drained

2 medium potatoes, peeled (if you like) and chopped into 1.2 inch cubes (approx. 2 Cups)

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (you may use water as well)

1 tsp each – ground cumin, turmeric and oregano OR 1 tsp each – oregano and marjoram OR Tbs dry Italian herbs

Heat oil until it runs quickly and is fragrant. Add onions and stir to coat. After a minute, reduce heat to low. After five minutes start adding, garlic, then carrots, then chorizo. When chorizo begins to release its color, , stir in lentils, potatoes, broth and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 20 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender, adding water a cup at a time, if desired. Add spices at the end and salt to taste. Serve as soup with crusty bread, or over rice.

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