Jul 26, 2014
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Soup On, Soup Off

January is National Soup Month. Here are a few recipes and ideas to simmer over.

Soup On, Soup Off

My husband’s cousin, Chrissy, gave a beautiful eulogy for her father that began with the following words, “My father taught me how to make soup.”

She compared the making of a good soup to what makes a good life and how it's all about mixing a bunch of ingredients together until you get it right. The longer it cooks and combines, the better it is.

A hearty bowl of soup, created by that perfect blend of ingredients, hits the spot on chilly winter nights and brings family together to cook and eat.

My friend Mary, who lives in North Wales, PA, has a neighbor, Therese, who hosts an annual Soup-Off Party. Everyone brings their favorite soup ingredients and cooks together. At the end of the night, they vote for the best soup. Here is this year’s winning recipe, Therese’s Split Pea Soup.  

Split Pea Soup

In a 4-quart stockpot on medium heat, sauté 1 cup of chopped sweet Vidalia onions and 2 cloves of garlic with 1/8 cup of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, 1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 pound of split peas, 8 cups of chicken stock (Therese usually uses 4 cups of chicken stock and 4 cups of water), and 1-2 cups of diced cooked ham (Therese says leftovers work well or try a prepackaged ham steak). Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 1-2 hours until desired consistency. Stir frequently to keep the solids from burning on the bottom. The peas should be soft. Add 2 small diced potatoes and 2-3 diced carrots and simmer until they are cooked (for a small dice, it takes about 30 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Another friend of mine, Kristine, a busy mother of three, makes a quick and tasty version of Almost Homemade Chicken Soup. Here’s her recipe.

Almost Homemade Chicken Soup

Chop up some celery and onion then sauté the chopped vegetables with a little garlic and oil in a large pot. Cook and drain frozen spinach and add to the pot. Add chicken broth, chicken and a half a bag of frozen crinkle cut carrots and simmer for about a half hour.Add your favorite cooked pasta at the end. Serve hot with parmesan cheese and fresh baguette bread.

Of course, the amounts of vegetables and broth may change depending on the way you like your soup and how many people you’re cooking for.

Kristine also gave me a chili recipe from her friend Amy. I know chili isn’t technically soup but its close enough and this recipe sounds scrumptious so I thought I’d share it with you.

Amy's Chili

Brown 2 lbs. of ground beef or turkey in large pot. Drain any grease. Add 1 chopped medium or large sweet onion, 1-1lb. can of crushed tomatoes, 2-14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes (with or without green chilies in them, depends on how hot you like it), approximately 3/4 cup of Sweet Baby Ray’s Traditional Barbecue Sauce, 1 Corona beer (or whatever you have on hand), 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of celery seed and 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and simmer for just a little bit. Add 1 large can of Goya black beans (drain a little juice from cans first, but add the rest), and 4-6 teaspoons of chili powder. Cook for one hour stirring occasionally, or until onions aren't very noticeable. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with small amount of grated cheddar if you like.

A simple soup recipe that I enjoy is from a little Betty Crocker magazine I bought over 17 years ago when I was a newlywed. I still have the book; it’s all tattered and stained but is full of some tasty and easy recipes. The emphasis is on easy, as you know I’m not a gourmet.

I love broccoli cheese soup and this tastes a bit like the restaurant style but has a lot of extras in it.

Chicken Broccoli Tortellini Soup

Sautee a small onion in one tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Add one can of chicken broth, ½ cup of water, some Italian seasoning, a package of frozen cut broccoli in cheese sauce, and a package of refrigerated cheese tortellini (not frozen). Heat to boiling. Stir in a cup of cooked chicken, let cook for a few minutes and then add chopped tomato (about one small tomato).Sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese on top of each serving.

Lasagna Soup is another hearty meal that I love. I shared the recipe with you a few months back when I wrote about crock pot cooking. You can find it .

Another quick dinner recipe is Chicken Tortilla Soup. It’s my simple solution for leftover chicken.

Simple Tortilla Soup

Combine chicken broth, salsa, cooked chicken, a can of diced tomatoes with peppers or chilies, black beans and frozen corn and you have yourself a spicy, figure friendly, heart healthy meal. Sprinkle baked tortillas over top and add some cheese if you want to live a little dangerously.

A pot of soup warms the soul. Like life, it may take a while to get it right, but once all the ingredients mesh together and simmer for a while, the end result is delicious.

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