Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Simply Soup"

12/2/09 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

“Simply Soup”

We eat a lot of soup at our house. In fact, it’s a family joke that on two out of five nights, our dinner menu will be just soup, green salad and rolls. The reason is simple. Soup is both satisfying to prepare and eat; plus, there are always leftovers for another meal. A combination of herbs, broth, vegetables and meat (optional) simmered on the stovetop or in the crockpot, means you’ve always got dinner.

One of the great things about soup is that you can use leftovers from the refrigerator and no one will know. If you’re tired of eating the last bits of turkey, put it in a pot with broth and noodles. Delicious! Leftover roast beef goes great in a basic vegetable soup or even chili con carne. The combinations are endless.

At lunchtime I often break my ‘homemade’ rule and open a can of tomato or chicken noodle soup to go with my sandwich. But dinner is different. At dinnertime, the only soup worth eating is homemade soup that I’ve made myself. Have you ever taken a close look at the ingredients in canned soup? Ugh. At least I know that the ingredients in my soups are quality.

Today’s group of recipes covers a broad spectrum of soups from ethnic to chowders. The corn chowder recipe is so simple you’ll wonder why you hadn’t thought of it before. And if you love the taste and texture of mushrooms, now is the time to indulge in a mixed-variety mushroom soup.

In honor of Hanukkah coming up on December 12, our first recipe is “Jewish Penicillin,” a Matzo Ball soup. The recipe calls for a small chicken but if I am going to cook a chicken, I cook a large chicken and make two meals out of one bird. Chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy one night; soup the next. That also gives the fat time to congeal on top of the broth and be removed. And don’t forget, if you have leftover turkey, it will be as tasty as chicken.

As for its ‘penicillin’ or healing powers, the jury is still out on that question. Its healing properties seem to come from its vapor and aroma. That leads doctors to hypothesize that the hot savory broth opens nasal passes and soothes the throat. However, clear soups of all kinds also provide nourishment and hydration while helping to stimulate the appetite. In other words, it’s all good. Enjoy!

Author unknown

1 small whole chicken, about 2 lbs.
1 bay leaf
Garlic powder, about 1 tsp.
Onion powder, about 1 tsp.
Paprika, about 1 tsp.
Soup greens, a handful
Chicken bouillon or salt and pepper to taste
2 lg. carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 lg. onion, chopped (reserve 1 tbsp. for Matzo balls)

Put chicken in large (6 quart) stockpot; cover with water. Bring to boil. Now, with large spoon, skim off the fatty froth as it rises to the top. Reduce heat to simmer for about an hour. Add seasonings to taste, and vegetables. Simmer about another 20 minutes. Meantime, prepare matzo balls, as follows:

Matzo Balls - makes 8:
2 tablespoons melted chicken fat (or butter)
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons soup stock
1/2 c. matzo meal
Pinch baking soda

In small (1 quart) saucepot brown the onion in fat. Mix in eggs, stock, then matzo meal and pinch soda. Set in refrigerator to chill, about 15 minutes.
Remove chicken from soup. Take the meat off the bones and return to the soup. Now raise the heat to a hard boil and add the matzo meal. Wet your hands with cold water and roll a heaping tablespoon of mix between your palms into 1-inch balls and drop into broth. In another 30-40 minutes, the soup is ready. Guaranteed to cure the common cold!

Wild Mushroom Soup
Swanson Broth recipe

2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 pounds white mushrooms, cut into quarters
1/2 pound assorted wild mushrooms, sliced ( Portobello, shiitake, oyster or crimini)
1 large white onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup crème fraiche

Heat the butter in a 4-quart saucepot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, carrot and celery and cook 10 min. or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the broth and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook 1 hour. Stir in the dill.

Pour one-half of the mushroom mixture into an electric blender container or food processor work bowl. Cover and blend until smooth. Repeat with the remaining mushroom mixture. Return to the pot and stir in the crème fraiche. Serves 6-8

Note: Sour cream is an acceptable substitute for crème fraiche.

Potato Bacon Corn Chowder
Idahoan Potatoes

1 cup bacon, chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
2/3 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2-3/4 cup mashed potato flakes
1 teaspoon butter

In large pot, sauté bacon on medium to high heat. Cook until almost done; drain.

Combine bacon, onion, celery and garlic in pot and sauté on medium-high heat until vegetables are translucent. Add chicken broth. Cook for an additional 3 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add milk and cream. Redue heat to medium. Reduce soup, stirring occationally, 1-=15 minutes.

Add corn, salt and pepper. When soup is bubbling lightly, slowly add the potato flakes, stirring constantly. When flakes are incorporated, take soup off heat. Add butter and stir until dissolved. Serves 2-3

Note: Recipe may be doubled.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

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