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Soups For Cold Weather

  An old Spanish proverb reads, “Of soup and love, the first is best.” Soup began as peasant fare in France in the Middle Ages. With no eating utensils, the peasants used bread to sop up the juices. Have we come a long way!

  Today, we enjoy hot soups, chilled soups, chowders, bouillabaisse, cassoulet, stews, and consommés. The canned, frozen, and dried varieties are readily available at the local supermarket. But nothing beats the taste or aroma of homemade soups.

  In a hurry? Try the Quick Blender Pea Soup and put dinner on the table in minutes. The Onion Puree will please that onion lover in your family. And the Black Bean Soup will warm the coldest January evening. 

QUICK BLENDER PEA SOUP

1 16-oz can (2 cups) green peas

1 cup light cream

1/2 small onion

1 carrot

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

Heat peas and cream together. Empty into blender. Add onion, carrot, butter or margarine, and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Pour back into saucepan and heat thoroughly. Makes 3-4 servings.

ONION PUREE

7 cups onion, peeled and sliced very thin

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon rosemary

2 Tablespoons peanut oil

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup heavy cream

Place onions, water, spices, oil, and salt and pepper in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to very low and cover. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle cornmeal on top of mixture, stirring well as you add it. Cover pan and continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching. Using a whisk or spoon, stir vigorously for 2 minutes to break onions into small pieces and create a puree. Add cream, stir, and bring to a boil. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

BLACK BEAN SOUP

1 cup olive oil

2-1/2 cups diced yellow onions

8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 lbs. black beans, soaked overnight

1 meaty ham bone or smoked hocks

6 quarts water

2 Tablespoons ground cumin seed

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

2 bay leaves

1 Tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

5 Tablespoons chopped parsley

1 large sweet red pepper, diced

1/4 cup sherry wine

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Diced tomatoes, diced green onions, 

and sour cream for garnish

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and garlic and cook over low heat until onions are tender. Drain beans and add to onions. Add ham and 6 quarts water to the pot. Stir in half of cumin seed, oregano, bay leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne, and half the parsley.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook, uncovered, until beans are very tender and liquid is reduced by three-quarters, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Transfer ham or hock to a plate and cool. Pull off remaining meat and shred with 2 forks. 

Return meat to the pot. Stir in remaining parsley, sweet red pepper, remaining cumin seed, sherry, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring often. Remove bay leaves. Garnish with tomatoes, green onions, and sour cream. Makes 10 servings.

OYSTER BISQUE

2 quarts standard oysters, reserve liquid

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 small garlic clove, minced

8 cups whipping cream

2 Tablespoons dried minced onions

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 cup dry sherry

Drain oysters, reserving liquid. Place in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Set aside. Melt butter in large soup pot and add garlic. 

Sauté 2 minutes until garlic is tender. Add whipping cream, oyster liquid, onion, and salt and pepper. Heat thoroughly but do not boil. Add oysters and simmer about 8 minutes or until edges curl. Stir in sherry and serve immediately. Makes 10 servings.

APPLE-BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups yellow onions, chopped

2 medium butternut squash (about 3 lbs. total)

2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup apple juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 unpeeled shredded apple for garnish

Melt butter in a heavy pot. Add chopped onions and cook, uncovered, over low heat until onions are tender. Peel squash, scrape out seeds, and chop flesh as fine as possible. When onions are tender, add chicken stock, squash, and apples. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until squash and apples are tender, about 30 minutes.

Pour soup through a colander, reserving liquid. Put solids in a food processor using 1 cup of the liquid, and process until smooth. Return to the pot and add remaining liquid and apple juice. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary and simmer until heated through. Serve immediately with shredded apple for garnish. Makes 6 servings.

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