by Judith Fertig
Winter season soups on chilly days can warm us, both body and soul. Whatever our food preferences or time constraints, some new twists on traditional favorites will satisfy everyone’s taste buds—with an accent on healthy pleasure. Here’s where to start.
Reinventing the past. From her Colorado mountain home, Jenny McGruther, author of The Nourished Kitchen, celebrates the wisdom of traditional foodways, making nutrient-dense, healing soup broth from bones, water, vegetables and seasonings.
McGruther’s twist is to make it in a six-quart slow cooker. Once her family has dined on organic roast or rotisserie chicken, she simmers the bones with purified water, a bay leaf or two, a few whole peppercorns and a few chopped organic vegetables like onion, carrot and celery on the low setting for 24 hours. Then she ladles the broth through a coffee strainer into another container, refreshes the slow cooker with more water and simmers the bones and seasonings for another 24 hours. Eventually, the broth will have less flavor and color, and that’s when McGruther starts all over again. “I call this perpetual soup,” she says. She blogs at NourishedKitchen.com.
Slowing it down. With homemade broth on hand, it’s easy to make the Italian winter staple of Tuscan Vegetable Bean Soup. Cookbook authors and slow cooker experts Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss, from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, love to make this when they’re working on a cookbook deadline. They simply use what they have in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry.
“With a soup like this you can always substitute one vegetable for another, adjusting the recipe to what you enjoy and have on hand,” says Moore. The pair blogs at PluggedIntoCooking.com.
Speeding it up. Sometimes, we need a single serving of homemade soup fast. Award-winning recipe developer and cookbook author Camilla Saulsbury, of Nacogdoches, Texas, whips up a Pumpkin Sage Soup that can simmer in a saucepan within minutes, ready to be enjoyed in a mug.
Saulsbury uses organic canned pumpkin, full of vitamins, which can vary in sweetness. “If needed, add a drizzle of maple syrup to enhance the flavor of the soup,” she says.
Making “bisque” in a high-speed blender. Karen Adler is an avid grower of organic tomatoes in her Kansas City garden. When the seasonal harvest comes to an end, Adler grills or oven roasts the tomatoes, along with organic peppers and onions, and then freezes them, ready to make Roasted Tomato Bisque any time of the year.
“My secret to a light bisque without using cream is to blend all the roasted vegetables together with a high-speed blender to give it body. A swirl of extra-virgin olive oil at the end finishes ensuring the satisfying flavor,” she says.
Going cold. Douglas McNish, head chef at Toronto’s raw and vegan restaurant Raw Aura, serves a popular Lemon, Cucumber and Dill Soup, which is easy to make in a food processor. “This soup is amazing this time of year, when most of our diets may be lacking in healthy fats and trace minerals,” says McNish.
Warming up. Two cookbook authors teamed up across many miles to write 300 Sensational Soups. Meredith Deeds lives in Minneapolis, while Carla Snyder resides in Cleveland. They’ve mutually discovered the naturally warming properties of curry powder in Curried Coconut Chickpea Soup. Snyder observes, “A good soup nourishes the heart, as well as the stomach, spreading a feeling of satisfaction and contentment.”
Judith Fertig blogs at AlfrescoFoodAndLifestyle.blogspot.com from Overland Park, Kansas.
Tasty Recipes for Winter Meals
Pumpkin Sage Soup
Yields: 1 serving
¾ cup ready-to-use chicken or vegetable broth
2/3 cup pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
¼ tsp dried rubbed sage
3 Tbsp half-and-half, whole milk or coconut creamer
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a saucepan, bring the broth, pumpkin and sage to a simmer over medium-high heat. In the mug, stir broth, pumpkin and sage until blended. Stir in cream and heat for 1 minute more. Season it to taste with salt and pepper before pouring into a mug. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds. Adapted from 250 Best Meals in a Mug, by Camilla V. Saulsbury
Roasted Tomato Bisque
Yields: 8 servings
4 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp plus ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
Bone broth or vegetable broth, if necessary
Add fine dry or gluten-free bread crumbs and sliced green onion for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange the tomatoes, bell peppers and onion on the baking sheets and drizzle with the two tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and browned at the edges. Transfer to a Vitamix or similar blender. Add the remaining half-cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and hot pepper sauce and blend until smooth. Add a little bone broth or vegetable broth if the soup is too thick. Serve each bowl with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs and thinly sliced green onion.
Adapted from The Gardener and the Grill, by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig