When the temperature dips below 50, the skies turn gray and the winter winds blow, I begin to crave warm satisfying healthy foods. If you are like me, you probably spent the last several weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas to Kings’ Day binging on holiday foods and too many carbohydrates. The new year brings with it a welcome opportunity for balance and repentance. To go from Yule logs and King cake to lentils and leeks can be shocking.
Nourishing, comforting, seasonal soups can help you ease your party fatigued body back into shape. Healthy fats, such as olive oil, and proteins like chicken, fish, meat and tofu, added to seasonal vegetables bring needed flavor and staying power. So many soup recipes come down to a simple one, two, three step process:
1. A sauté of some combination of onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper, leeks or garlic known as a mirepoix in traditional French cuisine or the “holy trinity” in Louisiana.
2. Fresh vegetables simmered in a homemade stock, (this stock is the key ingredient to your success) until soft.
3. Finish the soup by pureeing. If you like, add a variety of herbs and spices and top with cream, yogurt or grated cheese.
This week I made leek and potato, minestrone, and a lentil, potato and spinach soup using the three easy steps.
I will share my favorite go to, everything in one pot, hearty, soul warming soup recipe; minestrone from Ruth Reichl in the Gourmet cookbook. This soup is a one pot wonder meal. What makes it so robust is not only the diverse number of vegetables; kale, cabbage, green beans, tomatoes, and zucchini, but it is the thick rich creaminess achieved from pureeing half of the white beans. The texture is dense and the flavor complex.
Great to serve to 20 hungry parade goers or just as a simple home cooked meal with a crusty loaf of olive bread. It’s time to fire up the soup pot and call your foodie friends. Bon Appetit!
Recipe from Gourmet cookbook by Ruth Reichl
This is not the Minestrone that you are typically served in most restaurants. I can’t even imagine how the thin tasteless tomato broth called minestrone in many restaurants could be related to this rich creamy robust version. This is the real deal.
½ pound dried white beans such as great northern
½ teaspoon salt
½ pound boiling potatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ pound pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot cut into ½ inch cubes
1 celery rib cut into ½ inch cubes
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 zucchini, cut into ½ inch cubes
¼ pound green beans cut into ½ inch pieces
4 cups green cabbage, shredded
½ pound (6 cups) kale with stems and center ribs removed and leaves chopped
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
4 ½ cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak beans overnight and drain. Transfer to a heavy saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until tender about 50 minutes. Add salt, remove from heat and let beans stand uncovered.
Peel potatoes and cut into ¾ inch dice: Put in a bowl of cold water.
Heat oil in a 6–8 quart heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon or pancetta, and cook stirring until crisp. Add onion and cook, stirring until softened. Add carrot, celery and garlic and cook for 3–4 minutes. Drain potatoes, add to pot along with zucchini and green beans and cook stirring for a few minutes. Add cabbage and kale and cook stirring until cabbage is wilted. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Oyster and artichoke soup
I remember when Le Ruth’s was the hottest restaurant in New Orleans and they made this dish famous.
1 pint oysters
1 pint oyster water
1 bunch green onions chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
2/3 stick butter
1 can artichoke hearts
2 TBSP flour
1 C chicken broth
½ c heavy cream
1 pinch thyme
1 pinch cayenne
salt to taste
Melt butter in a heavy pot and sauté green onions and garlic and herbs. Add flour and stir well with a whisk. Whisk in chicken broth and oyster water and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and chop artichoke hearts and add to pot. Slowly whisk in cream, add oysters and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve
Garlic Soup a la Emeril
There are lots of variations on garlic soup. The most important decision you have to make is what you will use for a thickener. Some soups use egg yolks, some use bread. I prefer the stale French bread variation that Emeril recommends in his book, “ New Orleans Cooking.”
2 TBSP olive oil 1 TBSP minced garlic
11/2 C sliced onions 1 tsp fresh chopped basil
1/3 C peeled garlic cloves 1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
3 bay leaves 2 C diced stale French bread
21/2 tsp salt ½ C heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper 1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
2 qts chicken stock
Heat the oil in a soup pot over high heat. Add the onions, garlic cloves, bay leaves salt and pepper. Stir well and sauté until onions are caramelized. Need to be a rich golden color.
Stir in stock, minced garlic, basil and thyme, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. Turn heat back up to high and whisk in bread and cream and continue whisking until bread has disintegrated into soup for about 10 minutes. Whisk in Parmesan and remove from heat.
Puree soup in food processor or blender.