New Castle News

February 22, 2014

Culinary Conversation: Yes, soup for you! Try some!

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The groundhog said six more weeks of winter, and nobody is going to argue with his assessment.

The upside is — we’re closer to daffodils, the swallows returning to Capistrano and sooner rather than later, gardening. There’s already been a glimmer of spring’s promises this week.

But for a little while longer, we need to get through what Mother Nature has bestowed upon us.

So, what’s for lunch or dinner?

Culinary Conversation would love to hear about your favorite recipes for soup.

Thick, thin, creamy, chunky or puréed, soups are versatile and the hearty versions can make a meal complete with bread or a sandwich, and maybe a salad.

What’s also nice about making soup is that often you can use up leftovers.

Many soups can be made in advance and reheated and here’s another tip I learned from my Fannie Farmer cookbook — it is better to season a soup when it is nearly done because as it simmers, it cooks down so any salt you may have put in is intensified.

Some garnishes such as chopped parsley, dill, chives or other herbs, or a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, crispy croutons or a dollop of sour cream make the final touches.

Vegetable soup is always popular and tomato bread soup is a Tuscan variety. The ham and bean soup  and minestrone are double winners. Not only are they filling, they are low in fat, too, and so is everyone’s favorite — chicken noodle.

Soup’s on.

Ladle up and then share your soup recipes with us.



Vegetable Soup

Melt the butter in a soup pot, then add the carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and other vegetables. Cook over low heat, stirring for about 10 minutes. Add the broth, partially cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until all of the vegetables are tender. Before serving, add butter, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.



Tomato Bread Soup

Put the olive oil in a skillet and add the onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until soft. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and continue to cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. Combine and heat the water and the chicken broth; add the bits of bread, garlic, salt and basil. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Combine the tomato mixture and the bread mixture and stir off heat until blended. Put the soup through a food processor. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve hot with the olive oil and Parmesan cheese.



Ham and Bean Soup

Rinse beans. In a large saucepan., combine beans and 4 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. (Or, place beans in water in pan. Cover and let soak in a cool place for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.) Drain and rinse beans.

In the same pan, combine beans, pork hocks or ham bone, celery, onion, thyme, pepper, baby leaf and 4 cups fresh water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 1 hour or until beans are tender. Remove meat. When cool enough to handle, cut meat off bones; coarsely chop meat. Discard bones and bay leaf. Slightly mash beans in saucepan. Return meat to saucepan. Heat through.



Chicken Noodle Soup

In a large saucepan, combine chicken broth, onion, basil, oregano, pepper and bay leaf. Stir in vegetables. Bring to boiling; stir in uncooked noodles. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 8 minutes or until noodles are tender but still firm and vegetables are crisp-tender. Discard bay leaf. Stir in chicken or turkey and undrained tomatoes; heat through.



Minestrone

In a pot, mix broth, undrained tomatoes, onions, cabbage, tomato juice, carrot, celery, basil, garlic powder and 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 20 minutes. Stir in kidney beans, zucchini, green beans and spaghetti. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 10 to 15 minutes more or until vegetables and pasta are tender. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese.