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CHEF'S CORNER

 
Autumn Soups
By Deirdre Cooper

 

 
 

As much as I love the summer, I must admit that we needed some relief from the hottest August on record. With days in the 90s and the humidity just as high it was hard to think about cooking anything and certainly not baking. So now with temperatures moderating (whew!) and days getting shorter (blech!) the inspiration to make something hot and delicious has returned.
 
Soup must be one of the oldest forms of cooking. French peasants during the Middle Ages provided the inspiration for soup as we know it. Since they did not have utensils for eating, they mopped up every last drop with bread. Originally, the evening meal in France was known as La Soupe and the first restaurant in France was opened by a Parisian soup maker in 1765 where he served only soup.
 
Surely soup is the ultimate comfort food. It is warm and nourishing and can be the start of a meal or the meal itself. Most of us probably have a memory of watching their Mother or Grandmother standing over a steaming pot of homemade soup and the way the smells just filled the house. Growing up in Brooklyn, I remember that Monday night was soup night, following the Sunday gorging of a three hour mid-day dinner. Today with excellent stocks and broths readily available at the market, it is easier than ever to produce a wonderful soup.
 
A "cream" soup doesn't have to be full of calories. The creamy effect can be achieved by blending with an immersion blender before lifting from the pot. Only a small amount of half and half or milk needs to be added, both of these can be the low fat variety. Measurements are not exact in the following recipes, you can judge for yourself how much quantity you will need, you almost can't make a mistake.
 

Fresh Tomato Soup
 
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 Tbsp minced garlic
8 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded (any variety of tomatoes available)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup cream or half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
 
In large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions, celery, and carrots until wilted, adding the salt and pepper. Add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often until all blended and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for approximately one hour. Puree the soup either in a processor or with an immersion blender. Correct seasoning if necessary and add the cream or half and half. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. This recipe serves approximately 8 to 10.
 
 
Homemade Shrimp Bisque
 


 

 
 

I like to keep a bag of frozen shrimp on hand in the freezer. They come raw, but deveined in the shell and are ready for use any time you are.
 
3 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs plum tomatoes seeded
1/2cup chopped onion
1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 lb peeled deveined raw shrimp chopped fresh dill or flat leaf parsley for garnish
Crusty bread, toasted to accompany
 
Heat olive oil over med high heat. Add tomatoes and onion and cook just until soft. Add sherry (if desired) and tomato paste and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper and stock and simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, add cream and puree until smooth either in processor or with immersion blender. Return to heat, stir in shrimp and cook just until shrimp turns pink, about 3 minutes. Serve hot with crusty toast. Note that shrimp can also be cut just in half for larger pieces.
 
 
Potato and Leek Soup
 
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Leeks, green tops removed, sliced and rinsed clean
4 large potatoes, any variety, peeled and cut in chunks
6 slices cooked bacon or equivalent amount of cooked pancetta, cut in small pieces
4 cups chicken stock (approximate)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cream or half and half
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
 
Heat the olive oil in large saucepan and sauté the leeks until soft. Stir in the potatoes and mix with the leeks, add the butter, season with salt and pepper and cook together for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked bacon or pancetta pieces and add chicken stock to cover. Cook, covered until the potatoes are soft. Remove from heat, stir in cream or half and half and process until almost smooth, but with some potato pieces remaining to add some texture. For a thinner soup, use more stock, less if a thick soup is desired. Adjust seasoning and garnish with chopped parsley.
 
 
Cream of Mushroom Soup
 
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
10 oz any variety of mushrooms, chopped coarsely
3 cups chicken stock (approximate)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream or half and half
 
Sauté the onions and mushrooms in the olive oil until soft, add the butter, season with salt and pepper. Cover with stock and cook until onions and mushrooms are soft. Remove from heat, stir in cream or half and half, process with blender leaving some chunks of mushroom, adjust seasonings if necessary. For a thicker soup, use less stock.
 
 
"Sick Soup"
 
3 large eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup orzo pasta
Chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
 
Whisk eggs and 3 tbsp cheese in small bowl to blend. Bring broth to simmer in large pot and add pasta. Cover and simmer until pasta is tender, about 6 or 8 minutes. Gradually add egg mixture to soup, stirring constantly until egg ribbons form, about 1 minute. Simmer 1 minute longer and ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and pass remaining cheese for topping.
 
 
Chicken Vegetable Soup
 


 

 
 

This is a soup you can make to your own liking. The nice part about this one is everything is roasted in the oven first, giving it a full, rich flavor. The basics follow, but you can add your own touches, quantities, etc.
 
On a large cookie sheet spread chicken legs, thighs, any pieces you like, along with large chunks of celery, carrots and onions, and one clove of garlic cut in pieces, toss all with a bit of olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and roast for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven and cut chicken from bones in chunks. Put all ingredients in a large pot and cover with stock. Simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Adjust seasoning, add chopped parsley, stir and you are done.
 
We hope you are inspired to whip up a comforting bowl of soup these cool fall days - enjoy!
 

Deirdre is a culinary enthusiast who enjoys traveling, gardening, and needless to say works wonders in the kitchen. Deirdre, a native New Yorker, now resides in Ambler with her husband John, and can often be found entertaining family and friends. Enjoy!
 
 
 
 

2017
 
Jan.  | Feb.  | Mar.  | Apr.  | May  | Jun.  | Jul.  | Aug.
 
Current Recipe
 
 
2016
 
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