Soup, Glorious Soup


This time of year, we crave the warming comfort of a steaming bowl of soup.

I realize everyone does not have hours of time to spend stirring roux for 45 minutes in preparation for the perfect gumbo or chopping 10 different vegetables for minestrone. But the following soup recipes are simple, quick to prepare and easy to multiply for large crowds or freezer stashes. Try them, you’ll never open a can again.

Quickie Tomato Soup

During last week’s cold snap, I had a craving for tomato soup. Normally, I make mine with whole peeled tomatoes and puree them — thinking that the soup gets more “heft” from the whole tomatoes. But as I scanned my pantry, I only found crushed tomatoes. Faced with using the can of crushed or going out in the single-digit temperatures, I resolved to settle for a thinner soup. And I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the consistency of the soup did not suffer a bit, and the preparation was one big step easier without the pureeing process. Henceforth, I shall use crushed tomatoes for my soup.

Serves four

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

In a medium stockpot, melt the butter. Sauté the onions until soft, about five minutes.

Add the seasonings, tomatoes and broth. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the cream, adjust the seasonings, heat through and enjoy.

Black-Eyed Pea Soup

My husband hails from the South, where it is traditional to eat black-eyed pea soup on New Year’s Day for good luck. Every New Year’s Day, he makes a huge pot of this and distributes it to friends and neighbors.

The typical recipes call for a ham bone and cubed ham, which is not suitable for the JE audience, but we have adapted it for kosher diners by substituting smoked turkey wings and cubed smoked turkey. Regardless of your belief in the New Year’s ritual, you will certainly feel lucky when you taste this delicious soup.

Serves 10

  • 2 pounds dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano, or 1 teaspoon each dried
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 bottle beer (dark or light, according to preference or what is in your fridge)
  • 2 smoked turkey wings
  • 2 pounds smoked turkey cut in ½-inch cubes

In a large stockpot, heat the oil and sauté the onions, celery and carrots until softened, about eight minutes.

Add the peas, herbs, salt and pepper flakes, and stir.

Cover the mixture with water and add the beer, molasses, turkey wings and smoked turkey. The liquid should cover the solids by about two inches.

Heat the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for two to three hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are totally cooked through and soft. Remove the turkey wings and serve.

Aigo Bouido

This simple “garlic broth” is based on a traditional Provencal recipe. It is as basic as can be — really just water and garlic with whatever other herbs or seasonings you have on hand. In the south of France it is considered a foolproof cold remedy, much like we view chicken soup.

If you want to make the broth heartier, you can beat an egg and whip it into the broth before serving. Or throw some cooked noodles or beans in the pot. Leftover veggies? Rice? Toss it in. Ditto crostini, parmesan or, really, whatever you wish. The locals have an adage of aigo bouido sauva la vida (garlic soup saves lives).

Serves four

  • 2 heads garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Handful fresh parsley
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 5 sage leaves or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Optional: 1 or 2 eggs, additional olive oil for drizzling over the broth, crostini, croutons, parmesan cheese, cooked pasta or vegetables

Cut the garlic cloves in half. Place them in a medium-sized pan with oil and heat until just fragrant — this takes less than a minute. Do not allow them to brown.

Add two quarts of water and all the seasonings. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Strain the broth, pressing on the garlic so that it turns into a paste and lands in the soup. Discard the herbs. Correct the seasonings and serve as desired.

If a thicker, heartier soup is desired, beat an egg or two and slowly drizzle them into the broth, stirring constantly.

Soup is a healthy, economical, warming repast. But some feel like a bowl of soup is too scant to comprise a full meal. If that is the case around your table, it is easy enough to round out the menu with some simple additions. Salad and bread are classics. Consider these winning combinations:

  • Tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and Caesar salad
  • Black bean soup, corn bread, escarole salad with chili-lime vinaigrette
  • Miso soup, brown rice, baby greens with soy-ginger dressing
  • Chicken soup, roasted cauliflower, garlic bread
  • Beef barley soup, shredded cabbage and carrot salad with balsamic vinaigrette, hearty whole grain bread
  • Vegetarian chili, quesadillas
  • Potato cheese soup, chopped Israeli salad


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