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November 20, 2012
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Nothing is quite as soothing, quite as filling, quite as satisfying as a hearty bowl of soup. This is a comfort food that satisfies on several levels: It generally sticks to your ribs and the combination of elements is usually downright sensual, a treat for the eye and the pallette.

The following recipes are courtesy of Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine.

Pureed Vegetable Soup
(Dairy)

    3 leeks
    1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
    3 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
    2 garlic cloves
    4 and 1⁄2 cups vegetable broth
    1head Boston lettuce, separated into leaves
    2cups tightly packed watercress
    1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
     kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cut off and discard the roots and tough, dark green leaves of the leeks. Cut the white and light green parts into thick slices. Place in a sieve and rinse thoroughly under cold running water to remove any sand.Peel the potatoes and slice them into thick pieces.

Heat the oil in a large sauce­pan. Add the leeks, potatoes and garlic and saute over low heat for 3 minutes. Add 4 cups of the vegetable broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

While the potatoes are cooking, rinse and spin-dry the lettuce. Remove and discard the stems from the watercress and parsley, then rinse and spin-dry the leaves. Set aside some of the watercress for garnish.

Add the lettuce, parsley and watercress to the soup. Bring to a boil over high heat; lower the heat and cook, covered, for 5 min­utes.

Cool the soup a little. Puree in a blender, in batches, until smooth.

Return the soup to the sauce­pan and reheat, adding the remaining broth as needed until the soup reaches the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Before serving, sprinkle with cheese and garnish with watercress leaves.

Makes 8 servings.

Sweet Potato Soup
(Dairy)
This soup is simple to prepare and quite delicious. Since sweet potatoes are available throughout the year, you can serve it any time.

    2 medium sweet potatoes
    1 medium onion
    3 and 1⁄2 cups vegetable broth
    1⁄4 cup milk
    2 Tbsps. freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1⁄8 tsp. ground nutmeg
     kosher salt
     freshly ground black pepper

Peel the sweet potatoes and slice them into thick pieces. Place the sweet potatoes, onion and broth in a medium sauce­pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover and cook about 25 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.

Cool a little. Puree in a blend­er until smooth.

Return the soup to the sauce­pan, and add the milk, lemon juice, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Reheat and season to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

Cannellini Bean and Porcini Soup
(Meat)
This is a hearty, winter soup with a rich taste. An extra reason to love it: It also freezes very well.

    1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
    1 cup boiling water
    2 onions, quartered
    2 garlic cloves
    1 large carrot, peeled
    2  Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
    1⁄3 cup medium pearl barley
    5 cups chicken broth
    8 thyme sprigs
    1 can (15.5 oz.) cannellini beans, drained
     kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

Remove the reconstituted mushrooms with a slotted spoon. Squeeze all the liquid into the bowl and set the mushrooms aside. Strain the mushroom liquid through a paper-lined sieve into another small bowl. Set aside. Chop the mushrooms coarsely.

Chop the onions, garlic and carrots. You can do this in a food processor: Pulse the onions and garlic until coarse; remove to a small bowl. Cut the carrots into large pieces and pulse until coarse. (If you chop everything together, the onions will become mushy.)

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and saute the onions, garlic and carrots for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, mushroom soaking liquid, barley, chicken broth and six of the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the barley is soft.

Add the cannellini beans and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with the leaves from the 2 remaining thyme springs and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Zucchini and Roasted Pepper Soup
(Meat)
This is a light, delicious soup, and its rich color will depend on the peppers you use. If you do not like the taste of cumin, just omit it.

    4 red, yellow or orange bell peppers
    1 lb. zucchini, plus 1 extra zucchini for garnish
    2 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
    1 onion coarsely chopped
    2 and 1⁄2 cups chicken broth
     kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin (optional)

Preheat the broiler. Set the rack in the broiler pan and cover it with foil.

Cut peppers in half lengthwise, then core and seed them. Make a shallow “basket” with a piece of heavy foil, crimp­ing it at the corners so that the liquids don’t spill out. Set the basket on the broiler rack, and arrange the

peppers inside, skin side up.

Place the broiler pan in the oven, as close as possible to the heat source. Broil for about 7 minutes, until the skin is blistered and charred. Cover the peppers with foil and cool. The heat will loosen the skin.

Peel the peppers and cut them into thick slices. Rinse the zucchini and trim the ends. Cut the zucchini into thick slices.

To bring out the flavor of the cumin, wrap it in foil and roast it in a toaster oven on the highest setting for 1 minutes. Unwrap and cool slightly.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion and saute, covered, for 2 minutes. Add the peppers, zucchini, cu­min and 2 cups of the broth. Bring to a broil over high heat. Lower the heat and cook, covered, about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

Cool a little. Puree in a blend­er until very smooth. Add the remaining broth as needed, until the soup reaches the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Trim and grate the extra zucchini for garnish.

Makes 6 servings.

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