Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour


Soup is a near perfect food!

Homemade soups are a wonderful compost pit for the cook. They can automatically take bits and pieces of food and turn them into a delicious whole new dish that is wholesome, full of nutrients, and warming to the soul as well as filling to the body. What more can one ask, other than economy? Ah, yes, even the disappearing dollar is saved with soup. You can throw into the bubbling pot whatever has been withering away in the refrigerator or freezer and come up with a million dollar recipe – one that you probably can never repeat.

All soup recipes should be regarded as just an idea - an outline- that you can and should change at will. Here are a few hearty cold or damp weather ideas for you to begin working with. They all have either a pasta or a legume for heartiness and other ingredients for vitamins, minerals, color and flavor.


SPLIT PEA SOUP WITH SAUSAGE & POTATO

The spicier the sausages are the better the flavor. Anything from kielbasa, garlic to andouille or hot links. You can even use franks, summer sausage, salt pork or bacon.

5 fully cooked spicy sausage links
1 large russet potato, peeled, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried, cut very fine
1 1/4 cups green or yellow split peas, rinsed
4 cups chicken stock

Saute sausage, if uncooked, in heavy large pot until fat begins to render; add potato and rosemary. Add onion and saute until soft. Mix in spit peas and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until peas are tender, stirring now and then, about 50 minutes. Soup can be thinned by adding water l/4 cupful at a time. Season with salt and pepper before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


POLENTA SOUP WITH CANADIAN BACON

Canadian bacon is less fatty than most bacons but a thick sliced bacon could be used if you drain off the fat. If you have fresh sage, or frozen, use it. If not add dried ground sage, to taste.

3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 large cloves garlic, mincedz 2 tablespoons olive oil
8 sage leaves
4 ounces Canadian bacon, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced leeks or scallions
1 ounce jack cheese, shredded, or use Cheddar

Combine broth, cornmeal and garlic. Whisk until blended. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly to prevent lumping. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring often, until cornmeal is creamy, 7 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, pour oil into frying pan and when hot, add sage; stir until leaves turn dark green, less than a minute. Remove sage to drain and leave oil in pan. Reduce heat under frying pan and add bacon and leeks. Stir often until lightly browned. Add bacon mixture to broth mixture and then stir in cheese; stir until cheese melts. Serve topped with fried sage leaves if you have them. Makes 2 servings.


BEAN AND TOMATO SOUP WITH PASTA

This is a very low fat recipe and if you substitute vegetable broth for chicken stock it will keep a vegetarian very happy.

4 cups chicken stock
2 cups coarsely chopped canned tomatoes with their liquid
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 cups cooked cannelloni beans, rinsed if canned
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded, or use dried basil, to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup pasta of your choice

Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add tomatoes, onion and oregano and simmer 10 minutes. Add beans and continue cooking until onion is tender, about 10 minutes more. Finely chop garlic and basil in food processor. Add olive oil and process until combined. With a slotted spoon transfer half of the beans and vegetables to the basil mixture. Process until smooth, then stir puree back into the soup. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water. Stir in pasta and season with salt and lots of pepper. If the soup is too thick, add a little of the reserved pasta cooking water. Serve topped with shredded fresh basil if you have any. Makes 4 servings.


MEXICAN PINTO BEAN SOUP

You can soak dried pintos or use other beans, of course. Canned are quicker and easier.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (ea. 15 oz.) pinto beans, undrained
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
Salt
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or cheddar)
16 baked tortilla chips, crushed, about 1 cup

Heat oil in large heavy pan. Add onion and garlic; sauté about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Place beans in blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add beans, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, salt and broth to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook about l8 minutes. Serve with cheese and chips sprinkled on top. Makes 8 servings.

SOUP IS MY IDEA OF SOUL FOOD

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