Soups and Stews

Oct. 17, 2017, noon

From Modern Alternative Momma

Start with some type of healthy fat like butter or olive oil.  This is to sauté any root vegetables or other initial flavors.  Pick whatever you have on hand that will mesh well with your flavors. Choose olive oil if you want to make an “Italian” soup with a tomato base, and butter if you are making a cream soup; otherwise it’s a toss up.)
What do you have on hand?  Chicken, beef, or fish stock?  Tomato purée?  Cream or milk?  Choose one — or two.  Stock mixed with tomato purée is delicious, as is stock with milk.  Or even cream with tomato purée!  You choose the flavors you want.
If you want meat, that is.  Is this a chicken soup?  Ground beef (like a chili, or made into meatballs)?  Steak?  Fish?  Choose whatever you like.  You’ll probably want this to match your base (beef with fish stock might not be such a great combination), but use what you have.  You can use chicken stock in place of beef stock with great results.
Onion is a pretty standard veggie because it imparts so much flavor.  Garlic, carrots, and celery are all fairly common too — though not always used.  There are also beans, potatoes, spinach, kale, corn, and so on.  Use whatever you have, and whatever you like!
Sea salt and black pepper are your two most basic spices, so you will want to include them (well…at least the salt). Here are a few more popular flavor combinations.
Celery seed, marjoram, thyme, parsley, and sage go well with chicken.
Marjoram, rosemary and thyme go well with beef.
Basil, oregano or fennel can be a nice addition to tomato-based soups.
Chilis need chili powder and perhaps cumin.
Cream soups might benefit from a dash or parsley or thyme.
But, that’s just “common” ones – feel free to dream up any combination you like!  Taste and adjust as you go, though!
Once you’ve decided on what ingredients to use, making soup is very simple:
1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Sauté your aromatic vegetables (onion, garlic, celery, carrot) in the fat.
3. Cook your meat if necessary (for example, stew beef).
4. Add your base (except milk or cream), veggies, meat, and spices.
5. Taste and adjust.
6. Allow to simmer for an hour or two.
7. Taste and adjust again.
8. Add any cream or milk just before serving and heat through.
That’s it!  You can make any soup using the ingredients you have on hand with the flavors you prefer, without any recipe.  Write down what you used if it was especially good. You may just end up inventing a brand new soup, and maybe even a new family favorite!

From Barefoot Contessa
3 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 quart Roasted Winter Vegetables, recipe follows, but any roasted vegetables will work
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Good olive oil
Roasted Winter Vegetables:
1 pound carrots, peeled
1 pound parsnips, peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a large saucepan, heat 3 cups of chicken stock. Coarsely puree the Roasted Winter Vegetables and the chicken stock in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade (or use a handheld blender). Pour the soup back into the pot and season, to taste. Thin with more chicken stock and reheat. The soup should be thick but not like a vegetable puree, so add more chicken stock and/or water until it's the consistency you like.
Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil.
Roasted Winter Vegetables:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, and butternut squash in 1 to 1 1/4-inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don't cut them too small.
Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on 2 sheet pans. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula.
Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.
From Barefoot Contessa
5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if they are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

From Pioneer Woman
6 slices thin Bacon, cut into 1-inch Pieces
1 whole medium onion, diced
3 whole carrots, scrubbed clean and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
6 whole small russet potatoes, peeled and diced
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Cajun Spice Mix
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
1 cup grated cheese of your choice

Add bacon pieces to a soup pot over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pot and set it aside. Pour off most of the grease, but do not clean the pot. 

Return the hot to medium-high heat and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper, and Cajun spice. 

Pour in the broth and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to get tender. Whisk together the flour and the milk, then pour into the soup and allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes. 

Remove half to 2/3 the soup and blend in batches in a blender/food process until completely smooth. (***USE CAUTION WHEN BLENDING HOT SOUP; IF POSSIBLE, ALLOW THE SOUP TO COOL BEFORE BLENDING***) Pour it back into the soup pot and stir to combine. Let it heat back up as you taste for seasonings, adding more of what it needs. Stir in cream, then stir in parsley, reserving a little for garnish.

Serve in bowls garnished with parsley, grated cheese and crisp bacon pieces.

From The Elliott Homestead
(My husband said this is the best French Onion Soup he's ever eaten.)

5 red onions, about 3 pounds – needs to be red onions!
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh
2 bay leaves
6 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of beef stock
1/8 cup high-quality balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the topping:
Crusty bread of choice – crispier the better
3 tablespoons of grated Swiss cheese, per serving
Peel and slice the onions in half.  Then, cut into thin strips. Aim for nice thin strips, nothing too chunky.
Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  Add in the sliced onions and the thyme.  For the next half hour, on medium heat, allow the onions to slowly soften.  You will need to stir them and tend to them to make sure they don’t burn at all.  If they become too sticky, add in a few more tablespoons of butter.  The point here is to slowly allow them to darken and become sticky.
Once the onions are nice and sticky, add in the bay leaves, chicken stock, and beef stock.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Then, drizzle in the balsamic vinegar.
Cover and allow the soup to simmer for twenty or so minutes.  Now taste.  Add salt and pepper to your liking.
Once the soup has simmered and is spiced to your liking, gently scoop a serving into an oven-safe dish.  Small ramekins or bowls work great.
Top each ramekin with a piece of crusty bread.
Top each serving with a few tablespoons of grated Swiss cheese.
Step Eight:  Place all the ramekins on a baking sheet and put into a 450 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the bread is golden and the cheese has melted.

From Barefoot Contessa
1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
1 cup medium-diced carrots (3 carrots)
2 cups wide egg noodles
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the chicken breast on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred or dice the chicken meat.
Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large pot and add the celery, carrots, and noodles. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, until the noodles are cooked. Add the cooked chicken meat and parsley and heat through.
Season to taste and serve.

From Taste of Home
1/2 pound ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1-3/4 pounds (about 4 cups) cubed peeled potatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 package (16 ounces) Velveeta process cheese, cubed
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
In a large saucepan over medium heat, crumble beef and add onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley and cook until beef is no longer pink, about 10 minutes, drain and set aside. Add potatoes and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt remaining butter. Add flour; cook and stir until bubbly, 3-5 minutes. Add to soup; bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheese, milk, salt and pepper; cook until cheese melts. Remove from heat; blend in sour cream.

From The Joy of Cooking
(My husband says this is the best stew he's ever eaten.)
Pat dry:
2 lbs. Boneless stewing beef, such as chuck, short-rib meat, or bottom round, cut into 2-inch cubes
Season meat with:
½ to 1 teaspoon dried herbs (thyme, marjoram, oregano, and basil)
salt and pepper
Dredge the meat with:
½ cup flour
Shake off any excess flour. Heat in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat:
2 tablespoons olive oil
Add the meat in batches and brown on all sides, being careful not to crowd the pan or scorch the meat. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Add more olive oil to the pan and add:
½ cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped carrots
¼ cup chopped leeks
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
Cook stirring until onions are softened and then add:
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of same herbs used to season the meat
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Add enough to cover the meat at least halfway:
2 to 3 cups beef or chicken broth, dry red or white wine, or beer. (I use one dark beer and the rest beef broth.)
Bring to a boil.
Meanwhile heat oven to 325 degrees.
When stew comes to a boil, cover and put in oven and cook for about 2 hours.
Then take out of the oven and add:
2 to 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 or 4 boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 turnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
Cover and return to oven. Cook until vegetables are tender, about an hour.
Taste and adjust the seasonings.
If you wish a thicker stew, you can make a slurry out of a little flour and water and stir into the stew.

Clair Russell
(This chili won a blue ribbon at my church chili cook-off when my children were little. Ok, it was a small church, but this chili is still very good.)
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. chili ground beef
1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into slices
1 box 5 Alarm Chili Mix
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 can chopped green chilies
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
cheddar cheese
Brown both ground beef and chili meat in a large Dutch oven. Add the sliced sausage and the ingredients from the 5 Alarm Chili Mix package except for the masa.
Add the tomatoes, the beans, the chilies, and the tomato sauce. Add water to cover.
Simmer for about an hour until meat is tender.
Serve over Fritos with cheese on top!

And, because I know all of you will want an extremely easy recipe for soup.......
1 can meat-only chili
1 can 15-ounce kidney beans
1 can (15 ounce) pinto beans
1 can (15 oz. size) black beans
1 can 15-ounce diced tomatoes
1 can (15-ounce) corn, whole kernel
1 can (10 ounce) Rotel tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces, Velveeta, cubed
Without draining the cans, empty the corn, chili, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, tomatoes and tomatoes with Rotel into a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to bring all the flavors together. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Dice the cheese and stir it into the soup until melted. Serve immediately.

And, every good soup needs cornbread.....
1 cup cornmeal, I prefer stone-ground
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons butter
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together cornmeal, flour, soda, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and egg and stir to combine.
Heat a cast-iron skillet until it's hot. Add butter and when the butter is melted, pour batter into skillet and put in oven.
I know you will ask me how long to cook it, but I don't know. I wait until I smell it and then I touch the top to make sure it's done.
Dump it out of the skillet onto a plate. Cut into eighths and serve with butter.