20 Ways to Soup It Up -- Without Leaving the House
With the exception of a few places in southern Texas and Florida, the nation is under a severe shiver watch. Soup, anyone?
If you're worried about having the time (or the ingredients) to whip up a pot of soup after a long day traipsing through the tundra, don't be. Chances are good that you have soup fixins waiting to be noticed in the fridge and the pantry. Soup is not meant to be complicated or over analyzed; make do with what you have on hand and you'll be delighted by the results, I promise you.
Okay, you argue; I've got a pantry full of soup stuff. But how do I get started, and more importantly, how do I get -- and stay-- inspired? It looks like this arctic blast isn't going away anytime soon, and the same soup day after day could get old real fast.
I am nodding my head in agreement, and I am feeling your pain. This is why I've compiled the following handy-dandy list of 20 ways to get your soup groove on, using ingredients already tucked away in your larder. Twenty different soups should take us into late February, give or take a few days, and if our teeth are still chattering, I'll book us all a flight to Cancun. Deal?
Here's how the list works: These are not recipes, but guidelines. That means amounts are not exact and cooking times are estimated. All suggestions assume seasoning with salt and pepper before serving, unless otherwise noted. And another thing: Everybody's pantry looks different. Don't bust my chops because I've suggested a can of Thai curry paste; some of you have it, some of you don't, and if you're curious, you can pick some up at your supermarket or nearest Asian grocery for less than a buck. And that comes to my main point: This is an opportunity to play, improvise and have fun. Imagine you're a contestant on "Iron Chef" and you've got to get dinner on the table in under an hour without a trip to the market. Come on, go for it! If nothing else, this exercise will make you forget about the cold for an hour.
And yes please, add your thoughts and ideas to the list in the comments area below. We all need more than 20 ideas, particularly for the poor souls in snow-covered Buffalo and the Siberian state of Minnesota.
Today is chat day; join me at Noon ET for What's Cooking.
Soup's on below the jump.
1. Sweet potato: Boil three peeled sweet potatoes, quartered, until fork tender. Puree, using cooking liquid, until smooth, Add a chipotle chile in adobo sauce, smidge of honey, a squeeze of ½ lime, puree.
2. Southeast Asian-style variation: Sweet potato, use half a can of coconut milk, plus water for cooking, plus some very finely chopped lemongrass and a few tablespoons of Thai red curry paste. Simmer until sweet potatoes are tender. Puree or leave as is. Tofu is a nice addition to broth-y version. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
3. Potato: Boil three-five medium peeled waxy potatoes, with one cleaned, chopped leek, 2 whole peeled garlic cloves, until potatoes are fork tender. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme if available. Remove herb sprigs, if using, , and puree until smooth. Add ½ bunch fresh parsley , the juice of ½ lemon. Cayenne and/or paprika is nice here. Substitute a quartered onion for a leek.
4. Parsnip-y variation: Add 2 chopped parsnips, replace leek with a quartered shallot, replace black pepper with white pepper. Spritz lemon just before serving, with chopped minced rosemary.
5. Portuguese-style variation: Simmer potatoes in chicken stock. In a separate skillet, cook sausage until brown. Remove, and reserve. Add a splash of white wine or a spoonful of stock to deglaze, add onions, garlic, chiles if desired and chopped, stemmed kale. Toss to coat with seasoning, then add contents of skillet to saucepan with potatoes and bring up to a boil. Cook until potatoes are fork tender. Add sausage.
6. Broccoli: Separate florets from stems and coarsely chop stems. Place in saucepan. Add a quartered medium onion, 3-5 garlic cloves, 1-inch hunk of peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped. Add just enough water to barley cover. Bring up to a boil, simmer until stems are fork tender. Puree until smooth, add cayenne to taste, as well as small amounts of cumin and coriander.
7. Cauliflower: Boil florets in water or stock, with one medium or 2 small peeled waxy potatoes, quartered. Add a quartered onion, a few cloves of garlic, a parmigiano rind if you have. Cook til fork tender, remove herb sprigs, rinds. Puree until smooth. Add dairy or plain soy milk - this is one of the few purees that benefit from dairy or a soy equivalent. Season with grated nutmeg and small amounts of cayenne; garnish with bread crumbs and/or grated parmigiano.
8. Chicken Rice: Can of your favorite commercial low sodium or sodium-free chicken stock, in a saucepan with a thumb-sized hunk of peeled ginger, a whole peeled garlic clove. Bring up to a simmer, and allow broth to infuse with aromatics for about 15 minutes, over low heat. Meanwhile cook your favorite grain - rice, quinoa, pearl barley, and keep on standby. Steam your favorite quick-cooking green in the chicken stock - spinach, tatsoi, bok choy leaves, baby kale - for 1-2 minutes. Spoon grain in soup, pour stock and greens on top. Season with soy sauce or fish sauce, spritz with sesame oil, garnish with sesame seeds. A squirt of chile sauce is nice, too.
9. Chicken rice variation : Fry an egg, cut into strips and top over rice. Maybe you've got some leftover chicken from last night's dinner. Add it to the mix.
10. Chicken rice -- vegetarian variation: Make a quick veggie stock with a quartered onion, 2 whole peeled garlic cloves, that hunk of peeled ginger. Bring up to a boil, simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain and use as soup base.
In addition to greens, add diced tofu. In addition to sesame oil and seeds, chopped scallions are a tasty garnish here.
11. White bean puree: In a saucepan, cook ½ chopped onion and 1-2 cloves chopped garlic in olive oil. Add ½ chopped seeded chile, if you like it hot. Cook until onions are soft, about 3-4 minutes, then add 1-2 cans of drained white beans and enough of your favorite canned stock to cover. Add a sprig of rosemary and cook until at a lively simmer. Remove rosemary, and puree until desired consistency. Add a few strips of roasted red pepper for beautiful color and richness. Add more liquid as necessary. Return to pot, and warm until ready to serve. Garnish with olive oil and coarse salt. Croutons are nice here as well.
12. White bean variation: Chopped ham and/or bacon cooked with onions and garlic. Remove meat, reserve as garnish. Cook beans and broth together, add chopped bok choy, garnish with ½ lemon and chopped fresh cilantro and/or parsley.
13. Canned chickpea concoction with an Indian twist:
Cook onion, garlic, ginger and chile in oil. Add ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne, and stir with a wooden spoon. Add drained chickpeas, stir to coat, and add a 28-ounce can of tomato puree or chopped tomatoes. Bring up to a boil, then cook at a simmer, until desired texture. Garnish with toasted caraway or cumin seeds.
14. Chick pea variation, with lots of lemon and garlic: Cook 6-8 cloves of chopped garlic and an onion in oil. Add chopped fresh chile or red pepper flakes. Add 2 cans of drained chickpeas, stir to coat, then add choice of stock (enough to cover - at least six cups). Bring to a boil, then on a simmer, add one bunch of chard and cook til tender, about 10 minutes. Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons at end. For bulk, add pearl barley or orzo when adding chickpeas.
15. Variation, on a variation: Use spinach instead of chard; garnish with pine nuts and a smidge of feta cheese.
16. A carrot-y thing: In a few tablespoons of oil in a saucepan over medium heat, cook onions and/or leeks until soft, then add a handful of peeled chopped carrots. Cover with stock of choice. Add a bay leaf. Bring up to a boil, then cook at a simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. Puree; season with cayenne or smoked paprika, ground ginger. In a separate skillet, toast caraway seeds or cumin seeds in a smidge of oil. Add seeds to warmed puree. Good garnishes include chopped fresh parsley or finely minced sage. I also like a little roasted garlic here.
17. Mushroom-barley combo: In oil, cook diced shallots (or onions), garlic and thyme, and cook until soft and a bit golden.
Add about one pound mushrooms (preferably mixed) and allow to brown. (Avoid pouring into one heap, as they'll be crowded and steam rather than saute). When mushrooms are good and brown, feel free to add a little red wine, sherry or stock to loosen anything stuck to bottom of pan. Add stock (water is acceptable, but your favorite veggie broth is good too), ½ cup of pearl barley, bring up to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook until barley is tender, at least 45 minutes.
18. Winter squash puree: Peel, seed and dice your favorite variety. Throw in a quartered onion, lots of thyme and/or rosemary sprigs. Add water, stock of choice. Cook until squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Puree; season with a smidge of cayenne or smoked paprika .
19. Squash variation: With liquid, add a can of diced tomatoes. When squash is tender, add a bunch of cleaned spinach, kale or chard leaves, torn, and allow to cook 5 minutes. For more bulk, add a can of white beans and cook for an additional ten minutes. Garnish: grated cheese of choice.
20. Canned tomato goodie: In a saucepan with a few tablespoons of oil, cook chopped onion, garlic and bell pepper. Add celery if this is of interest. When onions are soft, add a 28-ounce of your favorite canned whole tomatoes. For extra flavor, a splash of wine is nice here. For brothier results, either add water, stock or an additional can of tomatoes. For bulk, add ½ cup orzo or barley to the broth and allow to cook. Orzo will take about 15 minutes; barley takes at least 45 minutes. Possible add-ons: grated cheese, chopped anchovies, capers, chopped fresh parsley.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Violet | January 22, 2008 11:26 AM
Posted by: mollyjade | January 22, 2008 11:27 AM
Posted by: Kelly | January 22, 2008 11:31 AM
Posted by: Anonymous | January 22, 2008 12:23 PM
Posted by: fraley | January 22, 2008 12:43 PM
Posted by: Bloomingdale DC | January 22, 2008 1:08 PM
Posted by: Julie | January 22, 2008 1:18 PM
Posted by: Betsy | January 22, 2008 1:35 PM
Posted by: Fran | January 22, 2008 1:37 PM
Posted by: soupson | January 22, 2008 2:48 PM
Posted by: Flanboyant Eats | January 22, 2008 4:51 PM
Posted by: Craving Thai Soup | January 22, 2008 5:24 PM
Posted by: dadwannabe | January 22, 2008 7:13 PM
Posted by: cabbage soup | January 22, 2008 11:34 PM
Posted by: Andrew - SA | January 23, 2008 6:58 AM
Posted by: Judi | January 23, 2008 8:22 AM
Posted by: valvoci | January 23, 2008 1:22 PM
Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 5:00 PM
Posted by: Sean | January 23, 2008 5:39 PM
Posted by: Olga | January 24, 2008 11:50 AM
Posted by: maria | January 24, 2008 12:48 PM
Posted by: popslashgirl | January 24, 2008 4:05 PM
Posted by: cabbage soup | January 24, 2008 11:34 PM
Posted by: washington, dc | January 30, 2008 5:07 PM
Posted by: dorie | February 17, 2008 1:04 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.