There isn’t a better time of year for serving a bowl of hot homemade soup with a warm wedge of cornbread. One-pot meals offer a needed break from the fuss and preparation of the holiday season. Put the soup on to simmer and add extra fixin’s to the cornbread. Then enjoy the stillness of winter.
EASY AND QUICK MINESTRONE SOUP
1 cup (4 oz.) dry pasta, (tubetti, penne, macaroni, or any shape that holds sauce well)
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups chicken stock
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup small-diced celery, 2 medium stalks
1 cup small-diced carrots, 3 medium carrots
1 Tablespoon finely chopped rosemary or thyme leaves
1 (14-oz.) can cannelloni or kidney beans,drained and rinsed
1 (14-1/2-oz.) can diced tomatoes
3 cups green beans (canned are fine)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and transfer the pasta to a baking sheet. Toss the pasta with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
In a medium saucepan drizzled with a small amount of olive oil, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown, about one minute, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are soft, 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent browning. Add the chopped herbs. Raise the heat to high. Add the beans, tomatoes, and green beans. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Then bring it down to a simmer and cook 12-15 minutes, skimming any foam off the top of the soup. Season generously with pepper. Add salt to taste. Just a few minutes before serving, add the cooked pasta. Serve warm with Parmesan cheese and olive oil passed at the table. Serves 6-8.
SPICY BLACK-EYED PEA SOUP
2-1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil
3 small yellow onions, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
6-8 cups chicken stock or water
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 bunch oregano leaves, roughly chopped
Sour cream or plain yogurt for garnish
Place beans in a saucepan and cover with a generous quantity of water. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, until beans are tender, about 1 hour. Meanwhile melt butter in a heavy-bottomed stockpot, add onions, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook two more minutes. Add dry spices and fry gently until aromas are released.
Drain excess water off beans and add to stockpot, along with salt and stock or water. Cook gently over low heat until flavors are combined, about 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, brown sugar, and oregano, and cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with sour cream or plain yogurt. Serves 6-8.
GREEN CHILI AND CHEDDAR CORNBREAD
1 small box of your favorite cornbread mix
1green chili, roasted, skinned, seeded, and diced
1 small jar chopped pimientos
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
Mix the cornbread batter according to the recipe on the box. Stir in the green chili, pimientos, and half of the cheddar cheese. Pour the cornbread mixture into a greased baking dish or Dutch oven and bake the cornbread according to package directions until golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the remaining cheddar cheese. Let sit five minutes before slicing and serving. Serves 4-6.
SOUTHWEST LENTIL SOUP
2 cups red lentils
6 cups water
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
10-12 green chilies, cut into rings
2 large Idaho potatoes, grated on medium grater
2-3 cups Vidalia onions, cut into 1-inch slivers
2 cups cubed bread, 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup fresh cilantro
In advance: pour distilled vinegar into a bowl with the green chili rings and let sit for at least one hour prior to serving soup.
To prepare soup, wash red lentils in warm water, two to three times, to clean. Then fill large pot with 6 cups water. Cook lentils over medium heat until they lose their firmness and a soup-like base is formed. Add fresh chopped cilantro, salt, and pepper to soup, and then set soup aside.
Next, prepare the rest of the additions. Grate Idaho potatoes and deep fry to golden brown in hot oil. Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil, and then put into a bowl. Sauté onions in skillet with 1/3 cup vegetable oil until golden-dark brown and caramelized, then place in a bowl. Sauté cubed bread in a mixture of 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup butter until golden brown; place in a bowl. Roughly chop cilantro and place in a bowl.
To serve, place soup and additions on the table. Place a large ladle of soup into each soup bowl and then let guests add their desired additions. Serves 4-6.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear of corn)or 1 can (7 oz.) corn kernels, drained
1 jar (4 oz.) pimientos, drained
1/4 cup chopped green onions, about 2 medium
Heat oven to 450°. Place an 8-inch, cast-iron skillet in oven to heat.
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Whisk together the milk, two Tablespoons of melted butter, and egg in a small bowl. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until evenly moistened. Fold in corn kernels, pimientos, and green onions until evenly distributed.
Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Brush the bottom and sides of hot skillet with the remaining one Tablespoon melted butter (butter will sizzle as soon as it hits the skillet). Pour the batter into the skillet, spreading it to the edges of the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top of the cornbread is golden and begins to crack slightly.
Remove skillet to wire rack and let cornbread cool 10 minutes. Invert skillet onto cutting board; remove skillet, leaving corn- bread on cutting board. Cut cornbread into wedges and serve warm. Serves 8.
Coming Next Month: Gourmet Cheesecakes