It's the time of year when the flowers say spring is here, but the weather reminds us winter still has a grip on us. That means it's still a good time to enjoy a bowl of soup.
Soup warms the body and helps cure many ailments. Sometimes I just gather the leftover vegetables out of the refrigerator, and other times I shop for everything fresh. I am one who likes soup warm from the pot -- no microwaving for me.
Most soup recipes make a large quantity, and leftovers freeze well. Soups are under three general classifications: cream soups, which are made with a milk foundation; soups in which meat or vegetable stock is the basis; and fruit soups.
Gullah Yam and Peanut Soup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 quarts poultry stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
6 cups yams, peeled and sliced
1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish
In soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery and yams. Saute until onion and celery are soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add stock or broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until yams are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Working in batches, transfer soup to food processor or blender. Add peanut butter and puree until smooth.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to clean saucepan and heat over low heat; do not boil. Garnish with chopped peanuts and serve.
Chicken Noodle Soup
6-8 chicken thighs
1 cup celery, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, sliced
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules (not cubes)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 quarts water
1 cup thin dry noodles, precooked, according to package directions
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
2 tablespoons freshly snipped parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt to taste
Wash and drain chicken; place in large pot with onion, celery, carrots, bouillon and pepper. Add enough cold water to cover chicken. Simmer 1 hour or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from broth; reserve meat and cut or shred. Return meat to broth; add parsley, lemon pepper, thyme, precooked noodles and salt to taste.
Raspberry and Currant Soup
1 cup red raspberries
1 cup red currants
1 quart cold water
Juice and rind from half a lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Cover berries and currants with the water and bring slowly to a boil. Let boil a few minutes to extract juice and then strain. There should be a quart of liquid. Add juice and grated rind of lemon and sweeten with sugar to taste. Add cornstarch, moistened with a little cold water, and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add nutmeg.
Serve hot or cold.
Cabbage and Bean Soup
1 package (16 ounces) dry navy beans
5 quarts water
1 smoked ham hock
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces thick-sliced bacon, cut into small pieces
2 large bulbs fennel, chopped (use only the white part of the fennel)
2 large onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 small white potatoes, diced
1 head cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Rinse and soak beans as directed on package. Bring beans, water and ham hock to boil in large soup pot. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until ham and beans are tender.
Meanwhile, heat oil on large skillet on medium heat. Add bacon, fennel, onions, carrots, garlic and seasonings; cook and stir until vegetables are tender. Add cooked vegetables mixture, potatoes and cabbage to soup pot; simmer 30 minutes, adding additional water if necessary.
Sprinkle with cheese and serve.