For so many reasons, soup and January are made for each other. Maybe it’s frightful weather and early dark evenings that bring them together in a comforting embrace. Or perhaps over-indulging through a month of holidays has coupled New Year’s resolutions and the dreaded cabbage soup. Undoubtedly, January and soup are stuck with each other.
Not that it’s a bad thing; soup is ingrained in the history of mankind. It’s likely as old as the first humans who placed a pot of water over a fire. According to the website, foodtimeline.org, the etymological idea underlying the word ‘soup’ is that of soaking. Yummmm. Appetizing, right? It continues on to say that in the middle ages, “soup” consisted primarily of a piece of bread soaked in a liquid, or over which a liquid has been poured. The bread was a vital part of the dish; the liquid could be consumed by efficiently sopping it up. Think of it as an edible alternative to using a spoon, or a way to eat on the run.
Foodtimeline also chronicles the evolution of soup, from the basic stocks, broths and bouillon through the history of Eastern European/Russian borscht and pioneer American chowders, named for the “primitive cavernous iron pots where they originated,” and beyond.
Soup is also found in American folklore. Who doesn’t remember reading a version of Stone Soup in Kindergarten, and if lucky, actually having the opportunity to make – and eat stone soup in class. The original book is said to have been written in 1808, with countless revisions along the way.
It’s also communal. Soup is easy to share, and everyone is likely to have a favorite. That is what is assembled below. Favorite recipes, each most likely with its own heritage, its own story and is the product of countless revisions. Enjoy.
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
8 C chicken stock
1 C long-grain white rice, or orzo pasta
Juice of 3 lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Parsley leaves, for garnish
Bring stock to a boil in a 4-qt saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and stir in rice; cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Whisk eggs and juice in a bowl until frothy; add 1 cup of the simmering stock and whisk to combine; transfer back to the pot. Cook, while stirring, about 2 minutes more; season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley.
Baked (or Mashed) Potato Soup
4 baking potatoes–approx 2-1/2 lbs; OR 4 C leftover mashed potatoes
2/3 C flour
6 C 2% milk
1 C low-fat shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 tsp salt (if using mashed potatoes that have been seasonal already, reduce amount of salt added)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 C low-fat sour cream (or sour cream substitute made from cottage cheese*)
3/4 C chopped green onions, divided
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
If baking the potatoes, pierce them with a fork and bake at 400 degrees for approx. 1 hour, until tender. Let them cool enough to peel, and then roughly mash them. OR, use leftover mashed potatoes.
Add flour to large pot or Dutch oven. Slowly whisk milk into the flour–keep stirring until it’s blended. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it starts to thicken (8-10 minutes). Add the mashed potatoes, 3/4 cup cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir until the cheese is completely melted.
Stir in the sour cream and 1/2 cup green onions.
Garnish bowls of soup with sprinkles of green onions, shredded cheese, and bacon.
Stir in a favorite fresh herb like dill or thyme.
Add 1-2 cups of chopped ham (omit the bacon garnish).
Add clams to turn it into a quick clam chowder.
(Adapted from Cooking Light)
This is a great soup for a cold winter night, especially when you don’t have a lot of time to make a “homemade” meal that takes forever. It’s also a great way to get some vegetables in your diet, but in a yummy way!
3 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, diced
10 oz. box frozen spinach
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans of water
32 oz chicken broth
Family size package of cheese or chicken tortellini, cooked halfway through
Sauté garlic, celery, carrots and onions in olive oil, using a large soup/stock pot. Add frozen spinach, breaking up as you cook. Continue to sauté until spinach thaws and heats through. Add soup and water; add chicken broth, then tortellini. Heat and serve. Note: It’s better to prepare soup a few hours before it’s eaten to allow the flavors to combine.
Chicken & Fluffy Dumplings
4 whole carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 chicken breasts
5 chicken bouillon cubes
1 onion, chopped
½ C flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large Dutch oven, fill ¾ full of water and cook 3 chicken breasts in the water. Add bouillon cubes and chopped onion. When cooked, take chicken out and shred, add back to pot. Add chopped carrots and celery cook until tender. Thicken soup with flour and water mixture (½ cup flour and 1 cup cold water). When soup is desired thickness, add dumplings. Salt and pepper soup to taste.
2 C flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ C shortening
1 C milk
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal or crumbs. Lightly mix in milk with a fork to make a soft dough; stir as little as possible. Drop tablespoons full of dough on top of soup. Let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, cover and simmer 10 minutes longer. Makes about 12 dumplings.
Cathy’s Chicken Noodle Soup
48 oz. Chicken Broth or stock
2 C cooked shredded chicken
16 oz. Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles (Bessey’s has several flavors!)
1 C Corn
2 C Mixed Vegetables
1 C Peas
Salt/pepper to taste
Bring stock to rolling boil. Add in chicken, vegetables and noodles. Simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until noodles are soft and expanded to about double their size. Enjoy!
Note: We usually use the stock left over from a chicken or turkey dinner made in the pressure cooker as the base, and then add 1 32-ounce container of broth to that to make the soup base.
Tomato Rice Soup
1 lb. ground beef
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cans of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 C cooked rice (can use more or less according to preference)
Tomato juice or beef stock for thinning
Freshly ground black pepper
Brown the ground beef with the green pepper and onion; drain. Combine the beef mixture with the undrained tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Add cooked rice, keeping in mind that the more rice is added, the more the soup will thicken. Simmer about 20 minutes, thinning with tomato juice or beef stock if needed. Season to taste with garlic salt and pepper.
‘Sconsin Cheese Chowder
Vegetable cooking spray
3 C diced carrots
1 C sliced celery
¾ C chopped green onions
4 C peeled, diced round red potatoes (about 1 ½ lbs)
10 ½ oz. can low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 C all-purpose flour
2 C milk
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. white pepper
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ C dry white wine
3 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
Coat a large Dutch oven with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add carrots, celery, onions and sauté 8 minutes. Add potatoes and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes or until tender. Place flour in a bowl. Gradually add milk, blending with a wire whisk; add to pan. Stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg; cook two minutes or until thickened. Add wine; cook one minute. Remove from heat; add cheeses, stirring until cheese melts. Makes about nine cups of soup.