Bob C., Wikimedia Commons.
Toss your favorite veggies and beans, add a bit of pasta and enjoy a bowl of homemade minestrone.
It’s my favorite time of year for soup, so I would like to share some of my recipes with those of you who also appreciate a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter day.
I hope you are enjoying the brand-new year that is now upon us and that your health and luck will all be good. I am all about staying warm.
My favorite Christmas gifts were some super soft socks called lodge socks, a super-soft knitted hat that extends down past my ears and ties under my chin and a plaid (also super soft) flannel jacket/hoodie. I will miss all those items when the weather turns hot this summer.
Well, back to soup; see if there’s something you might like to serve to your family (or even to save for yourself). A very Happy New Year to you all.
Cat’s sausage soup
You can, of course, use any type of sausage you like. I used about half a chub of Jimmy Dean breakfast-type sausage. All ingredients are approximate.
Desired amount of sausage (if using bulk, brown and crumble in a soup kettle. If using slices, brown in a small amount of olive oil)
2 cups (about) chopped celery, including leaves
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups coarsely chopped carrots
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Italian seasoning (dried), to taste (I used about 1 tablespoon)
4 or 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
Knorr granulated chicken bouillon
Milk (I used whole milk)
Cream or half-and-half
1. In large soup kettle, brown sausage meat. Drain (if necessary) any excess grease, but leave enough to saute the vegetables (except for the potatoes). Add celery, onion, carrots, corn, green pepper, garlic and parsley to kettle and saute until vegetables are part-way softened.
2. Add about 3 quarts water to the mixture, along with about 3 tablespoons of the Knorr bouillon. (It might not mix readily with cold water, but that isn’t a concern, as it will dissolve nicely as the soup heats up.) Without covering, simmer the soup until it is about half reduced.
3. When the soup is reduced enough, add the potatoes and cook until they are almost done. Then slowly add the milk and cream or half-and-half, being careful not to let the soup boil. Taste the soup and see if there are any adjustments you would like to make in the seasonings. Good with corn bread muffins!
Ham and potato soup
You can add some diced carrots to this soup, and garnish it with crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, chopped chives and a bit of sour cream if you like. And if you like soup served in a bread bowl, this is a good one for that. You can thicken your soup as to your own liking.
3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
3 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste (may not need this if the bouillon you use is very salty)
1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.
Cat’s vegetable soup
I sometimes call this minestrone. Since I like to use bacon in this soup, it can’t be considered a vegetarian recipe. You can leave the bacon out if you wish.
As usual, you can adapt my recipes to suit your own preferences, especially something like soup, which is a very flexible medium. I am not sure I have ever made this recipe exactly the same way twice.
A time-saver I sometimes use is a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, such as mixtures including corn, carrots, peas, lima beans and green beans. If I can find them, I like to use dried cranberry beans, and cook them until tender in the soup. I don’t like to add the zucchini too soon or it will turn to mush.
3 slices raw bacon, chopped
1/2 head of green cabbage
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 to 2 large cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
2 ribs celery, chopped (with leaves)
1 or 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced or chopped
1 can cut green beans
1 can pinto or kidney beans
1 medium-sized can tomatoes, crushed, or 2 small cans tomato sauce
About 3 quarts chicken or vegetable broth (I love to use Knorr chicken bouillon in my soup)
Salt to taste, optional
Small pasta such as shell, salad or elbow macaroni, or noodles
Louisiana hot sauce
Parmesan cheese, grated
1. In a large soup kettle, cook bacon until limp. Add the half head of cabbage, zucchini, onion, garlic, parsley, peas, corn, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the raw vegetables are about halfway done. Add green beans, pinto beans and tomatoes or tomato sauce, broth and salt, if using. Simmer soup for at least an hour or preferably longer, until all the ingredients combine to make the broth as rich and savory as possible. You should be able to go outside and come back into the house thinking the most delicious meal in the world is waiting for you, based on the aroma alone.
2. About 15 minutes before you plan to serve the soup, add about 1 1/2 cups pasta and cook until it is tender. This makes the soup heartier, much like an Italian minestrone. Garnish each serving with some grated Parmesan cheese and pass around a bottle of hot sauce. A few drops enhance the flavor of the soup. Note: When using pasta in a soup, remember that you may need to add more liquid so the pasta doesn’t absorb all the broth.
9 Bean Soup
There are many variations on this recipe, no doubt all good.
*2 cups mixed dried beans
2 tablespoons salt
2 quarts water
2 cups diced ham or sliced smoked sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 can (28-oz.) tomatoes, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
*Use at least 7 varieties of beans — great northern, navy, black, garbanzo,(even green split peas), pinto and red beans.
1. Rinse beans; place in large kettle. Cover with water, add salt and soak overnight. Drain; add 2 quarts water and ham or sausage.
2. Simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Add onion, garlic, chili powder, tomatoes and lemon juice. Simmer 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper, if desired. Makes 2 quarts.