January is Soup Month! Soups come in such variety — you can make soup from almost anything. Yesterday I had some sauce left that salmon fillets had cooked in — it had tomatoes, white wine, kale, garlic, mushrooms, onions … we ate the fish but there was lots of the topping left. So I added some broth, some rice, some lentils, other veggies like celery, carrots, turnip, cabbage that I had lying around, a squash that had started to go bad and had to be used quickly, some herbs like a bay leaf, marjoram, basil … and the result was a delicious soup.
Any meal can be turned into soup. I’ve had turkey dinner soup made from Thanksgiving leftovers, Hoppin’ John Soup on New Year’s, tomato mac and cheese soup, stuffed cabbage potage, burrito soup.
There are broth-based soups like chicken noodle or beef-barley; creamy soups like cream of broccoli, cream of chicken, cream of celery or cream of mushroom. Chunky chowders include clam chowder or corn chowder. Other familiar soups include split pea, chicken with rice, vegetable, mulligatawny, squash bisque. Other vegetable soups include kapusta or cabbage soup, cauliflower, carrot-ginger. There are many tomato-based soups: Herbed tomato, tomato basil bisque, Italian tomato with gnocchi. Potato soups can be made many ways: German potato soup, Polish, Irish, Ukrainian, Russian, etcetera.
Almost every country has a national soup. Some soups are named for countries of origin, like French onion and Italian Wedding. Pasta e fagioli and minestrone are other traditional Italian soups. Ribolitta is a classic Tuscan white bean soup with day-old bread.
More ethnic soups? Try Japanese miso soup, Chinese won-ton, Greek avgolemono, Moroccan tagine, Brunswick stew, Japanese pork and veggie soup with soba noodles.
In eastern Europe, there are a zillion varieties of Borscht, or beet soup. In Ukraine, it’s the national dish and every city has its distinct variation. But Borscht is also popular in Poland, Russia, Lithuania … The soup dates to the Middle Ages, when it was common fare among the poor because beets were plentiful, cheap, and could be stored for the winter. It can be made with meat or be vegetarian; be thick with other vegetables or a clear consomme.
There is lentil soup and bean soup. Both have national variations, like Cuban black bean or Moroccan lentil. Or beans with ham and potato soup.
Then there are chowders: Clam chowder, corn chowder, potato chowder, potato and kale chowder … spice it up and make Cajun corn chowder.
For something more unusual, how about a creamy apple ginger soup?
As the temperature goes down and snowflakes adorn the trees, warm up with soup! What’s your favorite?
My Turkey Soup
1 quart turkey broth
1 pint potato water
1 clove garlic
2 stalks celery
About 4 oz. portobello mushrooms
3 medium potatoes
2 or 3 stalks kale
2 cups cooked, chopped turkey or chicken
Bring broth and water to boil on stove; lower to simmer.
Chop and add vegetables. Simmer 30 minutes or longer.
Remove kale from stems; chop coarsely.
Add kale and turkey. Simmer another 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon salt
About 2 quarts water
2 carrots, sliced
2 cups green beans, cut up
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 Tablespoon basil
1 Tablespoon oregano
2 cups ditalini or other small pasta
1 can garbanzo beans
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In large stockpot, heat olive oil to medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook about five minutes. Add finely minced garlic, salt, and water; bring to a boil. Add carrots, green beans, and any other vegetables you have on hand, lower heat, and simmer about 20 to 30 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, garbanzos and return to a rolling boil. Add pasta; cook about 10 to 20 minutes or until pasta is done. Stir in parsley and Parmesan cheese. Serve hot in bowls, with salad and fresh Italian bread.
Note for busy mothers: You can do most of this early in the day, in stages if necessary. Just before serving, bring soup to boil, add pasta, and proceed with directions. While the pasta cooks you can throw together a salad, slice the bread, have the kids set the table, and dinner is ready in about 15 minutes.
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Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at [email protected] or on Facebook at Words Are My World.