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Hot soups for cold weather

Chance Agrella,

An easy supper for Fall evenings: Hot soup and crusty bread.


As October rolls along, there is a definite change in the weather. Fall is my favorite time of the year. Most people seem to choose Spring or Summer, but Spring brings out my pollen allergies and also pesky ants. Summer brings on too much heat for my tastes, and lots of dust. And Winter ... well, let’s just say I do not do well with icy roads, fog and checking each piece of firewood for spiders and scorpions.

Before I sound too crabby, I do manage to find some good in every season. I am lucky to live in an area that has well-defined seasons. It is funny that in the summer I hear my friends wailing about the heat not even two weeks into it. They say things such as, “Come on winter. It can’t get here fast enough.” Then, you guessed it, not even two weeks into winter, they are wailing about the cold and wishing for summer. Human nature, I guess.

Hope you enjoy some nice, hot soup in your house this fall.

Nine-bean soup

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

Salt and pepper, to taste

*Use several varieties of beans or other legumes — great northern, navy, black, garbanzo, green split peas, pinto, cranberry beans, red beans, dried limas or lentils

1. Rinse and sort beans; place in large kettle. Cover with water add salt and soak overnight.

2. Drain; add 2 quarts water and ham or sausage. Simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

3. Add onion, garlic, chili powder, tomatoes and lemon juice; simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 2 quarts.

Vegetable soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion

2 cups peeled and chopped (or sliced) carrots

1 1/4 cups chopped celery

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 cans (14.5-os. each) chicken broth or vegetable broth

2 cans (14.5-oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained

3 cups peeled and 1/2-inch-thick diced potatoes

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 cups chopped frozen or fresh green beans

1 1/4 cups frozen or fresh corn

1 cup frozen or fresh peas

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

2. Add onions, carrots and celery and saute 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.Add in broth, tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, bay leaves, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Bring to a boil, then add green beans. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes are almost fully tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.4. Add corn and peas and cook 5 minutes longer. Serve warm. Good with a sprinkling or grated Parmesan cheese over the top of each serving. Makes 8 servings.

Creamy chicken, pasta and spinach soup

If you prefer a thinner soup, cook the pasta separately, then add it toward the end of cooking the soup. You may need to reheat the pot of soup before serving.

1 pound cooked, shredded or chopped chicken breast

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup diced celery

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 cups shredded mild Cheddar cheese

1 cup cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 cups uncooked ditalini pasta (or any other small type)

2 cups chopped spinach

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional

1. In a large Dutch oven, add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and saute in olive oil until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add cooked chicken and continue cooking for 3 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add the broth, heavy cream and cream cheese. Cover and bring to a boil, then cook for 15 minutes.

3. Lower the heat, then add pasta and Cheddar and simmer until pasta is cooked to your liking. Add spinach to the chicken pasta soup toward the end, and stir until wilted. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and black pepper. If desired, add some Parmesan cheese to each serving. Makes 8 servings.

Slow cooker mushroom soup

4 cups boiling water, divided

2 cups dried porcini mushrooms

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups sliced shallots

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup dry sherry

3 pounds assorted fresh mushrooms (such as cremini, portobello, shiitake, and button), sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1/3 cup heavy cream

1. Pour 2 cups of the boiling water over the porcini mushrooms. Let stand 20 minutes. Drain the porcini mushrooms in a colander over a bowl, reserving the mushroom broth; set the mushrooms aside. Strain the mushroom broth through a cheesecloth-lined colander into a bowl; discard the solids. Stir in the cornstarch, soy sauce, salt, pepper and remaining 2 cups boiling water into the mushroom broth; set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the shallots and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the sherry; bring to a boil and cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

3. Stir together the porcini mushrooms, broth mixture, shallot mixture, fresh mushrooms, and thyme in a 5-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH until the vegetables are very tender and the flavors blend, about 4 hours. Uncover and cook until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender. Remove the center piece of the blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure the lid on the blender. Place a clean towel over the opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth, about 10 seconds. Return the pureed soup to the slow cooker; gently stir in the cream. Ladle the soup into bowls, and serve hot. Makes 12 servings.



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