Three Photos and Six Recipes

Did you know that January is National Soup Month? Well it is, and rightly so. It's perfect for the cold weather and seems to nourish both body and soul. Soup is delicious and nutritious, and it’s easy to make. If you can boil water you can make soup. And there’s something about a simmering soup pot…it’s the original comfort food. Soup is, in fact, one of the simplest and oldest food preparations there food in liquid to tenderize it and infuse both nutrients and flavor to the ensuing broth. The word soup, in fact, is derived from the Middle English, sop, or sup, referring to a stale piece of bread onto which hot broth was poured, thus giving a slight meal some substance. To eat in this fashion was “to sup;” which is from where the modern word “supper” is derived. Thus, the classic French Onion Soup is one of the truly ancient soups remaining today, and its ingenuity lies in its simplicity: broth, onions, and bread (cheese is a modern and more luxurious addition). Anyhow, soup is about the simplest recipe one can prepare, it's nutritious and flavorful...and you only have one pot to clean.

French Onion Soup
Yield: 5-6 cups

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 large onions, peeled and sliced thinly
2 cups beef broth
2 cups chicken broth
6 slices French bread, toasted
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
2 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter and oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the onions and sauté over low heat until onions are golden brown, about 40 minutes. Stir in the beef and chicken stock, bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the soup for 30 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls and top each soup with a slice of French bread and the grated cheeses. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Curried Vegetable Soup
Makes about 12 cups
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 turnip, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 teaspoons crushed hot pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup diced cabbage
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup chopped kale
8 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup lime juice

Heat the oil in a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, parsnip, and turnip. Cook the vegetables in the oil for about five minutes, allowing them to realease their flavor but not brown. Add the garlic, curry, turmeric, cumin, hot pepper, and salt; saute for another couple minutes. Stir in the cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes and kale; stir to coat the vegetables with oil and spices. Stir in the broth. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the soup for 30-60 minutes, skimming as necessary; if it becomes to thick add more broth. Taste it for seasoning, and add the lemon juice just before serving.

Split Pea Soup with Garlic and Smoked Sausage
Makes about 12 cups
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups diced smoked sausage
1 small onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound split peas, cleaned and rinsed
1 potato, diced
8 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook it for a few minutes, until it releases some of it's fat and begins to brown. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic; cook the vegetables with the sausage for a few minutes, until the vegetables begin to cook but are not browned. Add the peas, potato. Broth, and salt. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cook the soup for about an hour, stirring frequently. If it becomes to thick add more broth.

Butternut Squash Bisque with Apple and Toasted Walnuts
  Makes about 6 cups
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds peeled and diced butternut squash
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/2 cup small diced apple

Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat and add the onions. Sweat the onions over medium heat for 5 minutes or until they are translu­cent. Add the flour and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and diced pumpkin; sauté another minute. Add the stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Add the cream and simmer for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Puree in a blender or food processor. After ladling the soup into warm bowls, garnish it with the toasted walnuts and diced apple.
Roast Red Pepper Bisque
Makes about 12 cups
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced onions 
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups diced roast red peppers
2 cups heavy cream

Sauté the onion, celery, and carrots, over medium heat in the butter or olive oil for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Stir in the flour and cook over medium/low heat for 5-10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, stir with a whisk to remove any lumps. Stir in the diced peppers. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the heavy cream simmer 2 minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender. Strain if you desire a smoother consistency.

Potato Chowder
Makes about 12 cups
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces diced lean ham
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2-1/2 pounds peeled and diced potatoes
6 cups rich soup stock
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup milk (optional)

Heat the butter in a large heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. When it begins to bubble add the ham, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sauté the vegetables and ham for approximately 5 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent but not browned. Stir in the potatoes, chicken stock, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Bring the soup to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer; skim any impurities that may have risen to the surface. Simmer the soup for 45-60 minutes, stirring often. Using a wire whisk, gently break apart some of the potatoes to give the soup some viscosity. If adding the milk, do so directly before serving the soup, and do not boil it once the milk has been added.