Throughout the Winter I always have a pot of something delicious simmering on the stove. Spicy Garlic Chickpea, Smoky Ham & Lentil, Potato Leek, Vietnamese Pho, a Chili or Stew… the other day I made a Cajun Catfish Chowder. Yum!
For all but a few recipes, most of us have the necessary ingredients in our pantry to create a simple, satisfying and complexly flavored soup. Start with this basic formula – olive oil in a stock pot, saute onion, garlic, shredded carrot (and celery if you like the flavor – most of the time, I skip it), maybe some shredded potato (or any other root vegetable or squash). Once the veggies are soft, add some stock and herbs and then just about anything else you can dream up – veggies, meats, legumes, noodles, rice, quinoa. I also like to add hearty greens to most of my soups (kale, collard, beet, radish…). If you are following a recipe and missing an ingredient, simply substitute a similar flavor or texture. If your final soup is thinner than you would like, try pureeing 1/2 or all of the soup base, or adding some fat by way of milk, cream, butter, tahini or other nut butter. If the final soup is too thick try adding more stock, wine or pureed tomatoes. Soup is a freestyle event and nearly impossible to ruin, so just dive in.
I made this Creamy White Bean & Chorizo soup last night – it is incredibly delicious and will make its way to my table several times this season.
1 pound chorizo or other hot link sausage, sliced
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, shredded
1/4 medium potato, shredded,
6 cups chicken broth
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
¾ medium potato coarsely chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme (or 2 ½ tsp. fresh, minced)
1 bay leaf
1 rosemary sprig
1 16oz. can cannellini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups kale or collards, rinsed, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
½ cup milk
In a large heavy stock pot, add olive oil and brown the sausage. Remove sausage and set aside. In the same stock pot, over medium heat sauté onion, garlic, shredded carrot, and shredded potato until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add chicken broth, sliced carrot, chopped potato, thyme, bay leaf and rosemary sprig. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove bay leaf and rosemary sprig and set aside. Using a ladle, remove ½ the soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the mixture to the stock pot and add sausage, beans, kale, milk and add back the bay leaf and rosemary sprig. Add salt and pepper to taste. Rewarm soup over medium heat and allow to simmer for ½ hour. Divide soup among bowls and serve.
SIDE OF SLAW SALAD
1/4 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tart apple cored and julienned
1 large carrot, shaved
1/2 cup kale, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
2-3 Tbs. vidalia onion salad dressing (or other dressing on the sweet-side)
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy.