Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

Put the bits and pieces to work in soup

Gone are the bad old days when my father coming home for lunch found a bowl of my mother's steaming homemade soup and a bowl of saltines on the table. After polishing off a bowl or two of soup he would demand to know where the rest of his lunch was hiding. The fact that mom always had a pudding, a pie, cake or cookies to help fill the hole in his stomach, did not alter the fact that he was brought up by a French mother who daily served homemade soups to her family of eight as a first course.

Every meal had three or four courses and meat appeared at each meal in one form or another. Not a single member of grandmere's family ever became overweight. Every member of the family was equally spoiled in the family's world of gastronomy and all of them learned to cook--boys and girls alike.

That kind of upbringing was a hard act for my poor mother to follow. But, it was good for me. Mom enlisted me in the kitchen as soon as I could climb a stepstool to help. Dad would never criticize a meal if his little girl had a hand in the preparation. This story is probably true with a lot of us.

In today's world most families are grateful to have any kind of homemade soup appear on the table at any time. Canned soups and packaged soup mixes deserve a place on the emergency meal shelf but they will never win a favorite soup contest. Here are some very inexpensive soups that just might win that honor at your house.

Ginger Carrot Soup

The recipe comes from a friend who lives in Laguna, Calif. It seems that no matter where you live, you have to hop fast to get to the carrots before the rabbits do. Luckily the bunnies prefer the green tops while we prefer the vitamin-A laden roots. If you have cognac or brandy on hand try adding about half a cup to the soup. Serve this with sour cream or yogurt. Parsley sprigs, sliced scallion tops, or chives make a pretty garnish. Serves 8 to 10.

2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, chopped
6 cups chicken broth
2 pounds carrots, sliced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, or add dried ginger to taste
1 cup heavy cream or yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a soup pot over medium heat, stir butter and onions together until the onions are limp. Add broth, carrots and ginger; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, about 20 minutes. In a blender or food processor, whirl mixture, a portion at a time, until smooth. Return to pan and stir in the cream. Stir over high heat until almost boiling. Add salt and pepper.

Greek Soup with Chicken and Rice (Or Orzo)

This soup's smooth, thick consistency comes from eggs, not from cream. The eggs are tempered by chicken broth and then whisked into the soup just before serving. After adding eggs, be sure not to let soup come to a simmer or the eggs will cook and appear curdled the soup. (It will still taste good.) The chicken makes this soup filling even though it is low in calories and in fat. You can use leftover cooked chicken or turkey if you have any shivering in the freezer. Makes 4 servings.

5 cups chicken broth
8 ounces, boneless, skinless chicken breast (1 small breast)
1/2 cup rice or orzo (small grains of pasta)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 lemons squeezed to make 1/4 cup fresh juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh dill sprigs or parsley or chives, for garnish

Bring broth to simmer over high heat; add chicken. Reduce heat and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a bowl. Reserve broth in pot. When chicken is cool enough, shred it with a fork into bite-size strands. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and cook orzo or rice until al dente (barely cooked and yet not starchy); drain. Add with chicken to reserved broth. Bring to a gentle simmer and reduce heat to low. Beat together eggs and lemon juice until smooth. Gradually ladle 1 cup of the hot broth into the egg-lemon mixture, whisking after each addition until mixture is warm to the touch. Stir the egg broth mixture into broth in the pot but do not boil. Stir in salt and pepper and garnish each serving with sprigs of dill or rings of sliced scallion tops.

Bacon Cheesburger Soup

There is nothing low-cal about this hearty soup which my sister-in-law generously makes for her staff once a winter. The lucky folk all work in Rapid City, S.D., where the word cold means cold and the word soup means warm. This hearty bowlful is very popular heated in a microwave and served in coffee mugs. Either cheddar or perhaps even Velveeta could be used in this recipe (she didn't specify). The bacon bits can be made from about 4 strips of bacon cut into bits, fried and drained or you can use the commercial product. The recipe makes 8 to 10 servings.

1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon butter
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups thinly sliced potatoes
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup dry milk powder, optional
8 ounces shredded cheese
1/4 cup bacon bits
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt, optional

Brown beef in a large kettle; remove beef and set aside. Saute onion, carrots, and celery with butter in the same kettle. When vegetables are softened, stir in 3 cups of the broth. Shake the remaining 1 cup of broth and the 1/4 cup flour together in a glass jar until there are no lumps. Stir into the kettle ingredients, simmering and stirring until somewhat thickened. Add potatoes and cooked beef. Cover and reduce heat to simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir milk into dry milk powder so that there are no lumps and then add to the pot together with cheese, bacon bits, basil, salt and pepper; continue to stir until cheese is completely melted. Remove from heat and blend in sour cream before serving.

Soups on!


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