Sunday, January 20, 2013

Soup's On!

This is the time of year when I am grateful that I sponge-painted our walls bright shades of orange, yellow, and turquoise a few summers ago. It brightens up the gray, Northeastern, winter days. The snow has melted, so snowshoeing is out of the question at the moment. Plus, the tendinitis in my foot is flaring this weekend, and I'm housebound doing the R.I.C.E. regimen.

While going through my January photos, I noticed there are more food photos than at other times of the year. When the weather outside isn't particularly inviting, cooking is one of the ways I find joy during the winter. It's how I unwind. I mentioned in a previous post the joys of my weekend "cooking retreats." I'm doing one this afternoon as the wind gusts outside.

I'm thinking that I'll do a Sunday cooking series for the next month, focusing on different types of recipes each time - because that's what I do here on the river at this time of year! Today I'll start with soups. Nothing warms up a chilly winter day like homemade soup!

Note: If any of the links in this post don't work, please let me know, and I will take care of it. :-)

This afternoon I'm making Classic Tomato Garlic Soup from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special, along with Herb and Onion Bread from Vegetarian Epicure. The house smells heavenly! This is the soup I make for family members when they are sick. My husband is fighting off the bugs with which he must have come in contact during a songwriting residency at my school this week. (He is not as practiced as I am at bouncing swiftly to the other side of the room when a child approaches about to cough or sneeze.) He craves this soup when he is feeling under the weather. It's loaded with vitamin C and lots of love!

I found the basic recipe for Tomato Garlic Soup online HERE. However, I double the amounts of garlic and paprika, and instead of using tomato juice, I purée two undrained quarts (or two 28-ounce cans) of tomatoes in a blender and also add a cup of vegetable stock or water. This year, I use tomatoes canned from our garden, which makes the soup even more divine. A soup recipe can't be much simpler than this one. It's nothing like the thick Campbell's Tomato Soup of my childhood, and people who have an aversion to that kind of tomato soup tend to love the Moosewood recipe. I garnish the steaming bowls of soup with chopped parsley, a little Parmesan cheese, and homemade herbed croutons, which are part the original recipe in the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook.

To make the croutons, I cube four slices of bread (usually end pieces saved in the freezer for such occasions) and toast them on a baking sheet in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes. Then drizzle over the toasted bread cubes 3 tablespoons of olive oil mixed with a pinch each of thyme and marjoram. Let them crisp on the baking sheet before garnishing.

Next up is my favorite soup: Santa Fe Chowder, also from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook. I love the creamy consistency, the amount and variety of vegetables, and the southwestern spices.

Click HERE for the recipe. I follow the recipe as written but sometimes substitute a tablespoon of (seeded!) canned chipotles in adobo sauce for the green chiles, which gives the chowder a wonderful smoky flavor. I use reduced fat cheese and almond "milk" and garnish with minced fresh cilantro.

My husband's favorite soup is yet another Moosewood recipe: Choklay's Tibetan Lentil Soup from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special. (When making a list of our favorite soups for this post, I didn't realize that all but one of them originate from this cookbook. It's a good one!) It is delicious over brown or basmati rice.

I found the recipe online HERE. I read somewhere that you could purée half the soup in a blender to thicken it. Although I've never done that, it sounds intriguing. I like thick soups.

My children's favorite soup is Golden Cheddar Cheese Soup from Moosewood Cooks at Home. Click HERE for the recipe. Sorry - no picture for this one. It is a creamy soup that is quite similar to Santa Fe Chowder, minus the southwestern flavor.

In a previous post, I provided my recipe for Split Pea Soup, which is another favorite in our household. I serve it over brown or basmati rice with cornbread.

And finally, I offer a favorite recipe of friends and clients during my brief stint as a personal chef many years ago. Yet another gem from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special: Butternut Squash Soup with Sizzled Sage. I made this soup for a friend of mine from the library when it was his birthday. (The magical world of shelving books is a whole other post that I must remember to write one of these days!) He said it was the best soup he ever tasted in his life and always reminds me when his birthday is rolling around, hoping I will make it for him again. Click HERE for the recipe.

You might consider pairing these soups with a loaf of homemade bread, like this easy (and not very time consuming) Herb and Onion Bread that smelled incredible this afternoon baking in the oven as the tomato soup simmered peacefully on the stovetop.

I hope some of these comforting soups will warm you up on a winter's day!

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss ( with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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