It's as predictable as falling snow flakes — with the harsh winds of winter, my mind turns to heartier and more sustaining menus.
What could be more substantial, nourishing and, of course, delicious than a beautiful, bountiful bowl of soup?
If you are intimidated by the thought that soup-making is an all-day project, consider the following suggestions, all of which take under an hour to make.
Fresh vegetables give robust taste, color and fragrance to these recipes. Because they don't use large cuts of meat or long-cooking dried beans — canned work fine — they are as convenient as they are fresh tasting, and suitable for any sort of lunch or dinner menu.
The leek and potato soup laced with mushrooms is perfect for an early Sunday evening supper with friends. Add some crusty bread, a salad and, of course, a good bottle of wine, and your meal is complete.
The mellow white bean and pungent arugula soup has an interesting mix of tastes and textures. It can be accomplished in 15 minutes and is a great starter for a sit-down dinner party.
The hearty chowder of corn, squash and turkey sausage is a crowd pleaser. Invite the gang over for an after-the- game soup supper and serve it straight from your best pot.
Potato-Leek Soup With Mushrooms
- 2 Tbsps. butter or oil
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
4 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable stock or water
3 medium all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper
In large pot, heat butter. Cook mushrooms until brown and crisp around edges. Remove with slotted spoon and reserve.
In same pot, cook leeks and garlic until soft. Add stock, bring to a boil and stir in potatoes.
Simmer, partially covered, 40 minutes. Puree about 2 cups of soup mixture in food processor or blender and stir back into soup with cream. Add parsley and reserved mushrooms. Taste for salt and pepper. Reheat if necessary and serve.
- 3 Tbsps. oil
2 lbs. turkey or chicken sausage, halved lengthwise, and sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
10 cups chicken stock
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2 zucchini, diced
8 oz. brussel sprouts, trimmed and coarsely chopped
4 cups corn kernels
salt and pepper
In large pot, heat oil. Brown sausage. Remove and reserve. In same pot, cook onions, celery and pepper until soft, about 6 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and thyme, and cook until bubbly. Add stock bring to a boil and add sweet potato and butternut squash. Simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes.
Add zucchini, brussel sprouts and corn and simmer another 8 minutes. Return sausage to soup, taste for salt and pepper and serve.
Arugula and White Bean Soup
- 3 Tbsps. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
5 cups vegetable stock or water
3/4 lb. arugula (spinach or watercress may be substituted)
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese
In medium pot, heat oil. Cook garlic and pepper flakes until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add stock, arugula and beans. Simmer 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. E-mail her at: [email protected]