Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour
January sticks its cold nose in the air and screams for soup. It's the quickest way to a cold heart not to speak of cold toes.
Soup is one of the easiest things in the world to make. It is, after all, just vegetables or fruit, and usually bits of protein floating around in a savory liquid. To add heft you can use any of the cereal grains like rice, barley, pasta or starchy vegetables like potatoes, dried peas, beans or lentils. Salt, pepper, and herbs to taste, make the difference.
The moral of the above paragraph is that soup recipes are just to give you ideas.
You don't need to follow them closely. Believe it or not, it is actually hard to make a bad soup.
This can be made with either thinly rolled pasta or the sturdier variety. Cooking time will depend on the ravioli package's directions. Any sharp cheese can be grated for garnish.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat oil, add onion and carrots and sauté until onions are translucent and golden and carrots are starting to soften. Season with pepper. Add broth to pot and bring to a boil. Add ravioli to boiling mixture and return to a boil. Cook until tender to the bite (see ravioli package for time). During last 5 minutes, add fresh peas. If using frozen, add them at the very last minute. Add oregano and thyme. Season with pepper and parsley. Sprinkle each bowlful with cheese. Makes about 9 cups.
Mushroom Barley Soup
Don't cook barley for more than 30 minutes or it will turn mushy. You want the little bite that comes when barley holds its shape. Stock can come from cans or bouillon cubes. Dried mushrooms, soaked and sliced or diced may be substituted.
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Combine broth, barley, carrots and tarragon; bring to a boil. Simmer until barley is just tender, about 30 minutes. Heat oil and add diced onion, cook stirring now and then for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 3 minutes longer. Add all mushrooms; raise heat and cook, stirring, 10 minutes. Add this to the soup pot. Season to taste and cook 20 minutes. Stir in sherry or vinegar and parsley. Makes about 12 cups.
Split Pea Soup
The peas fall apart and thicken the soup. Green, yellow or red lentils can be used. Red lentils have had the seed coat removed and cook most quickly. Originally all pea soups were made with salt pork but ham and ham bone or unsliced bacon can be substituted.
1 pound yellow split peas, picked over
Combine peas, water, salt pork and half of the onions. Bring to a boil, skim froth and reduce heat to simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cook leek and remaining onions in butter, about 10 minutes then add to soup along with chives, savory, salt and pepper. Continue to simmer until peas are falling apart and soup is thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove any bone. Shred meat and return to soup. Makes 8 cups.
South Dakota Corn Chowder
They don't use all of their corn in making a South Dakota corn palace each year!
2 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons butter
Cook the first 7 ingredients in boiling water for 20 minutes. Do not drain. Add cheese and corn to pot and stir well. Sauce: Melt butter and remove from heat. Gradually add flour stirring to remove all lumps and then gradually stir in milk. Return to heat and stir constantly until sauce thickens and there is no starchy taste. Slowly stir sauce into soup mixture. Simmer to heat thoroughly but do not boil. Makes about 6 servings.
Soup can just go on and on if you make it a repository for leftovers like our grandmothers used to do.