Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Soup's On

In my book, there is nothing better for dinner on a cold night than hot soup and bread. Today I'm sharing some of my go-to recipes and tips for simple, warm, nutricious soup dinners.

First, make sure you have a great stock pot or dutch oven. I love pulling out our Le Creuset to make a big pot of soup. My husband scored ours at a Le Creuset outlet store that was going out of business when he was nineteen! Lucky me, I married into some great cookware. (You could try finding one at CSN. They have everything from barstools to cookware to lighting. See their Le Creuset selection here.)

Next, make sure you have some go-to bread recipes. Try this peasant bread recipe I posted last fall or Em's wheat bread recipe. It's also nice to have some great bread in your freezer for last minute ocassions. (I love the La Brea breads at Costco and they freeze beautifully).

Also, I like to keep things on hand that add a nice garnish to my soups. A little lemon juice, for example, can pep up a chicken soup. Parsley is great to have to sprinkle on top of most soups, and real Parmesan cheese is an absolute must in our fridge--it's so tasty on a warm soup!

Most importantly, you need some great, never-fail soup recipes. Here are some of my favorites:

I love Taylor's french onion soup and potato spinach soup. (I often use broccoli in place of spinach.)

Rebecca's tortellini soup is a favorite here as well.

Here is a great looking squash soup--how Autumny is that?

It's always yummy to serve a bowl of taco soup topped with cheese, sour cream, and avocado with chips.

And here is my version of 'pasta fazool.' I'm sure it's not super traditional, but it's my absolute favorite soup right yummy.

Pasta e Fagioli

1 package bacon
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cans cannelini beans
2 cans diced tomatoes with juices
8 cups water or chicken broth (I usually do about half and half)
freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound small pasta shells

In a large soup pot, cook bacon on medium-low heat, until it renders its fat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beans, the tomatoes, the water and broth, and simmer about 15 minutes.

In a separate pot, boil water and cook pasta.

To give the soup more body, remove 2 or 3 large spoonfuls of beans and vegetables, place in a blender, and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the pot. (I skip this step usually because I love a really brothy soup, but my husband prefers when I don't!)

Sometimes I throw in some chopped zucchini at this point, or whatever extra veggie I might want to use up. (Don't add zucc earlier, as it will get soggy.)

Once the soup is done, ladle into bowls, add a handful of the cooked pasta shells*, a generous sprinkle of fresh Parmesan, and a handful of fresh spinach.

*I've gotten in the habit of never cooking pasta within soup. If you do, it soaks up too much liquid and gets soggy and yuck. I always cook it separately and add it in. This is especially nice when you're eating it for lunch the next day.

Hoping these recipes warm you up,


Joan said...

Made Tay's french onion soup last fall and LooOOOOoooVEddd it! The grueyere (sp) cheese is pricey but SO yummy.

liz said...

I love that Spinach soup recipe -- there is no better way to get yourself to eat a whole bunch of spinach. Yum.