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Soups of the season.

Soups of the Season

Between May and October, my stove just takes up space. Around the time of the first frost, though, my culinary thinking shifts from fruits and salads to the hearty staples of winter: breads, casseroles, and most of all soup. Nothing is as comforting on a cold day as an aromatic mug of soup, and with choices ranging from light broths to thick chowders, there's a soup for every appetite and occasion.

Although soups can't claim the vitamin-packed freshness and enzyme nutrition of summer's crudites, they are healthful choices. The classically favored ingredients are among nature's best -- vegetables, beans, noodles -- and because you consume the liquid in which the vegetables are cooked, all the vitamins that withstand the heating process are available for you. Of course, the body benefits of any soup can be mitigated with unnecessary extras -- pork in bean soup, for example, or too much salt in French onion. Most canned soups are both overly salted and overly cooked, so it's wise to start from scratch, especially since leftovers are often tastier than the first pot was.

Any chef will tell you that the secret to a good crock of soup is in the base -- the broth or stock you start with. Now, most of those chefs will go on to insist that that stock be chicken or beef, but that simply isn't so. The leftover water from cooking vegetables makes a fine broth, and since you're cooking vegetables to make soup, you're creating a broth in the process even if your base is simply water.

A variety of seasoning can boost a broth's "taste quotient" admirably. My favorite is Bernard Jensen's Broth & Seasoning, a salt-free powder of dehydrated vegetables available at health food stores. Miso is another excellent flavor enhancer. It is a fermented soybean product often used in Oriental cuisine. There are several varieties of miso paste to try, but all are savory, somewhat salty, and offer a richness to soups and sauces. (An easy way to experiment with miso is to use instant Miso-Cup from the natural food store. It's in convenient powder form and can be used alone as broth or as a soup starter.) And don't forget the elegant effect of herbs: basil is good for minestrone, lentil, pea and tomato soups, and any soup with olive oil; dill is best in creamy leek and potato soups, both now and when these are chilled in summer; marjoram is lovely in potato, pea and tomato soup; nutmeg perks up any soup containing spinach, carrots, or squash; oregano is a natural in minestrone and other tomato-based vegetable soups; and thyme accents clear broths nicely.

MEXI-VEGIE SOUPLE

6 cups water 3 oz. tomato paste 3 oz. salsa or spaghetti sauce 1/2 cup each: turnips, rutabagas,

onions, celery, carrots, all chopped 1/4 cup chopped green pepper 2/3 cup chopped zucchini 2 cups cut green beans (frozen o.k.) 1/2 tsp. each garlic powder, onion

powder and oregano 1/4 tsp. cumin

Boil together water, tomato paste and salsa. Add vegetables. Reduce heat to a gentle simmering level and cook until vegetables are done. 10 servings.

SPLIT PEA CHOWDER

6 cups water 1 tsp. salt (opt.) 1 med. onion, diced 1 potato, diced 1 cup dry split peas 1 med. carrot, grated 1/2 tsp. sweet basil 1 cup uncooked brown rice

Boil water with salt. Add onion, potato and split peas. Cook until tender (check after 20 minutes, but allow up to 40 for peas to become soft). Add grated carrot and basil. Serves 6. (Note: this is a thick chowder. By reducing cooking water to 4 cups, it may be served as a topping for bread or rice instead of a soup. Either way, leftover will thicken in the fridge overnight and make a good spread to spread tomorrow's toast.)

PEANUT BUTTER SOUP

1/2 stick margarine 1 small onion 1/4 cup chopped celery 1 Tbsp. flour 1 cup peanut butter 1 cup water or broth

Melt margarine and add onion and celery; saute until tender but not brown. Add flour and stir until it has been mixed in well. Add peanut butter and broth or water. Season to taste with tamari soy sauce and/or lemon juice. Variations: strain to make smoother or add milk to make richer.

POTATO LEEK SOUP

2 cups peeled and diced potatoes 3 cups chopped leeks 4 cups vegetable stock or water 2 Tbls. Vogue's Vege-Base (a vegetable broth

and seasoning, at health food stores) 2 Tbls. olive oil 3 Tbls. tamari soy sauce

Clean leeks carefully. Add diced potatoes and chopped leeks to vegetable stock. Cook gently 8-10 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add seasonings. Blenderize all or part of soup; return to pot. Serve with croutons. (From Muriel Golde's Vegetarian Cooking for a Better World, a publication of the North American Vegetarian Society.)

GARDEN LENTIL SOUP

2 cups red or green lentils 8 cups vegetable stock or water 1 onion, chopped 2 carrots, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 2 ribs celery, chopped 1 zucchini, chopped 2 potatoes, chopped 1 Tbls. parsley flakes 1/2 tsp. oregano 2 1/2 tsp. salt or salt-free seasoning to taste 1 28-oz. can tomatoes 2 Tbls. wine vinegar 2 cups green peas

Combine all ingredients except tomatoes, vinegar and peas in big pot. Cover and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer covered for an hour-and-a-half. Then add remaining ingredients. Return to boil, lower heat and simmer covered an additional half-hour. Makes six substantial servings.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Author:Moran, Victoria
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jan 1, 1990
Words:921
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