Friday, December 07, 2012

'Tis the season...for SOUPS!

When I was in the middle of my Christmas Canning Fest, I was texting with my dear friend, Carl--the fellow who inspired me to try my hand at mustard-making. I sent him a photo of the lovely cranberry mustard I had simmering on the stove, and he countered with a photo of his yummy-looking dinner: his grandmother's tomato soup with a side of quesadillas for dunking. He sent me the recipe, and I gave it a whirl a few days later. Easy and delish, and perfectly cozy for this time of year.

Grandma Schweitzer's Tomato Soup

1 small onion, diced
1 large can tomato juice (48 oz.--but I substituted two regular cans of spicy V-8 and a small can of tomato paste with four cans of water)
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2-3 celery stalks, cut in halves or thirds
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2/3 cup tiny egg noodles
1/2 cup heavy cream

Saute one small onion in olive oil in soup pot. Add tomato juice, water, sugar, salt, pepper, and celery. Bring to boil. Simmer for 90 mins. Add heavy cream and noodles and cook for 15 more minutes.  Remove celery and serve.

Soup #2 is going into my post-Thanksgiving repertoire in perpetuity. It was suggested to me by my friend, June, who raved about it after making it last year. Now I will always love my favorite turkey and wild rice soup best, but it's laden with heavy cream and definitely decadent. But this turkey soup is light and fresh and quite healthy--a refreshing change of pace from most of the guilty pleasures of the holiday season. You really must try this one, and not just with leftover turkey; it would be just as good with the ubiquitous deli chicken year-round. And I might try replacing the spinach with kale next time, too.

Lemon Turkey Soup with Fresh Spinach and Farfalle
(Source: Bon Appétit, January 2005)
Yield: 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
8 cups (or more) canned low-salt chicken or turkey broth
2 cups dried farfalle/bow-tie pasta (I used mini-farfalle)
2 cups diced cooked turkey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 10-ounce package ready-to-use spinach leaves (about 6 cups)
grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and stir 1 minute. Add celery, carrots and red bell pepper and sauté until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add 8 cups broth and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer to blend flavors, about 20 minutes. Add pasta and simmer until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Mix turkey, lemon juice and lemon peel into soup. Add spinach. Simmer until spinach wilts but is still bright green, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Thin soup with additional chicken broth, if desired. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Serve, passing cheese separately.

The last soup I have to offer in this post is the last soup of the semester that I took to share at school. We had a little potluck for our last department meeting, and I wanted to take a hearty, spicy, vegetarian soup. I rifled around in the pantry and found some Rancho Gordo Black Midnight Beans, and I also had sweet potatoes on hand, so I decided that a sweet and zesty chili would be in order. It turned out great, if I do say so myself, and my colleagues really seemed to enjoy it! I recommend this recipe even for carnivores. You truly will not miss the meat with all the other tasty things going on.

Crock Pot Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

1 lb. dry black beans (or substitute 4 cans black beans, drained)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 Cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped (you could also use Italian frying peppers or even poblanos)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (I like 3/4-inch pieces)
2 - 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes (preferably, fire-roasted)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dark chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground celery
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

juice of one (or two!) limes, to taste

I prefer to use dry beans, especially from my favorite company, Rancho Gordo, that I order from online once or twice a year. I used their Black Valentine beans this time. Rinse and pick them over, then put them in a large sauce pan covered with two inches of water, bring them to a boil on the stovetop, and boil hard for five minutes. Then put the beans and the liquid into a crock pot and cook them on low overnight (eight hours, or high for four hours). Of course, you can opt to use four cans of (drained) black beans instead if you prefer. But then you'll probably want to add at least two cups of vegetable stock in lieu of the cooked bean liquor.

The next morning, place a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, and saute the onions and peppers until the onions are translucent, about ten minutes. When the veggies are almost tender, throw in the minced garlic, and cook for another minute or two. Add this sauteed veggie mix to the crock pot with the beans, along with the sweet potato chunks, the diced tomatoes (and their juice), and the paprika, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, brown sugar, salt, ground celery, cinnamon, and black pepper. Stir to combine and cook on low for 6-8 hours (or high for 3-4) until both the beans (if they started as dry) and the sweet potatoes are tender. Thin with vegetable stock if necessary to reach a desired consistency.

When the chili has finished cooking, taste to correct the seasonings, and add more salt and pepper if desired. Squeeze in the juice of one or two limes and stir to combine just before serving. Garnish with any or all of the following: a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, some chopped fresh cilantro leaves, shredded cheese, and/or avocado chunks or slices.

1 comment:

ArtGirl said...

the lemon turkey soup looks awesome!