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Burr!! It’s cold out there!

January 6, 2010 - Jenn Lucas
I wrote about soup basics in my last installment but since Florida seemed to somehow shift to the Arctic circle as of late, I’ll decided to share some great soup recipes I’ve made. Soup is not only a way to warm your soul, it’s also really healthy, which can help those who made a New Year’s resolution to eat better or lose weight.

It’s easy and affordable to go to the store, buy a can of soup, take it home and heat and enjoy. Making your own, though, is almost as easy and will taste 100 times better than even the most fancy canned soup. To me, all canned soup, whether chicken noodle, tomato or beef, all taste like salt in a can. When you buy the low sodium kind, it tastes more like you’re just eating the can. The vegetables are always mushy, the meat texture is always a little off and any noodles or rice is completely saturated from the canning process. So when you head to the store, pick out a low sodium chicken, beef or vegetable broth or stock to use as a base and your soup possibilities are almost endless as well as satisfying.

Basic Chicken Noodle: Even my college roommate, whose idea of a great meal was boiling a chicken breast, could make this soup after minimal instruction. You can use any noodle you have. Egg noodles are my favorite but in the past I have used alphabets, rice and even broken spaghetti in its place. A package of chicken wings can be boiled with carrots, celery and onions for about two hours in a pot of water to create a quick, homemade stock. For chicken in the recipe, if you boiled wings, use the meat from them, adding it back in near the end, since it’s cooked. Any other cooked chicken, like from a rotisserie bird, will also work or you can add any boneless raw chicken before the vegetables. Just remember to fish it out and cut it up before serving.

Ingredients

1 box plus 1 can (about six cups) of chicken stock or broth

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stock, chopped

½ of a medium-sized onion, chopped

1 cup diced chicken

½ cup pasta or noodles

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried

Salt and pepper to taste

Pour broth into a pot, add in the bay leaf, salt, pepper and vegetables and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer with a lid on for about 10 minutes. Add the pasta ad cover again, simmering for about 10 minutes. Add in the cooked chicken and parsley. Let simmer, covered, for at least another 20 minutes so the flavors will marry and everything will get heated through. Makes about four to five bowls.

Beef Barley: This soup is a favorite in my house. You can make it vegetarian by just not adding the beef. For the beef, I use a boneless chuck shoulder roast that I cut up into cubes myself to save money. You can buy pre-cut cubes (labeled “beef for stew”) at most supermarkets but chop those in half, too, because they tend to be too big for soup. You can really use any mix of vegetables you have on hand, I’ve listed my favorites for this recipe.

Ingredients

1 box plus 1 can (about six cups) of beef broth (to make your own, see my previous column)

1 pound chuck shoulder roast, cut into small pieces

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stock, chopped

½ of a medium-sized onion, chopped

½ cup green beans

1/2 pound (about 6 to 8) button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 tablespoon fresh, or 1/2 teaspoon dried, thyme

1/3 cup pearl barley, rinsed

1 cup diced canned tomatoes

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons oil (I like olive oil)

Pour one tablespoon oil into a soup pot, and heat over medium-high until oil gets hot. Add in beef cubes to brown; let them sit a good two minutes before turning, then repeat until browned on all sides. Remove meat from pan; add in other tablespoon oil and sauté all vegetables but the canned tomatoes for about 8 minutes or until soft. Add in the broth and scrape up all the browned bits from the pots with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil; add the tomatoes, thyme, parsley, beef and barley. Simmer the soup, covered, for about 45 minutes. Makes four to six bowls.

Whether you’re a snowbird getting a taste of home or a native hunkering down under space heaters and Snuggies, these soups are guaranteed to help take the chill out of the air. Pair them with some crusty bread and a nice salad for a healthy dinner or enjoy them as a comforting lunch. Maybe even share a bowl with a friend. Either way these soups will not only warm your heart, but also help keep it running in tip-top condition.

Jenn Lucas is a journalist on a soup kick. If you would like more soup ideas or would be willing to share some of your own, e-mail lehighcook@yahoo.com

 
 

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