Once again, the temperature belies the calendar, but we know cooler temperatures are just around the corner. So, what better time to arm you with some recipes for a warm, delicious soup? One recipe is from myself; one is from my mama; two are from my favorite chefs; and one is from my friend, Ericca, whose food is always incredible. These easy soups are perfect for a chilly night and will leave you with a full, warm belly and leftovers!
Recipe by Kristi Maier
This popular soup from Olive Garden is made even better at home. You can modify to make it less spicy with mild sausage. (I love SausageWorks sausage from Lowes Foods in this soup, and sometimes get a blend of their garlicky Vampire Slayer with Hot Italian.)
This soup has been our pre-Halloween tradition for years and years. It is perfect on cold, dreary nights, and especially stuffy nose days.
1-2 pounds of hot Italian sausage (links or ground; ground is easier, but links are more true to the original)
Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or equivalent garlic powder)
1 teaspoon of minced onion
Four to five medium-sized Russet potatoes, roughly cut into bite-size pieces or sliced thin
4 cups of kale chopped in bite-size pieces
4 cups of chicken broth or stock
½-1 cup of heavy cream, milk or half-and-half (depending on how creamy you want it)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
In a Dutch oven or large pot, brown the sausage. If you use links, take them out, let them cool a bit, then slice at ½-inch thickness. They may come out of their casings a bit doing this, but that’s OK. Add garlic, dried onion and potatoes to the pot, so they soak up some of the rendered juices from the sausage. Add kale, stock, salt, pepper and pepper flakes, then bring to a boil. At this point, if you want to add milk, do so. If you are adding cream, add it after the potatoes are nearly tender. Don’t boil the heavy cream too hard, or it could curdle, but it won’t affect the taste if it does. Soup is ready after about 30 minutes (but tastes better when cooked longer). Serve with warm crusty bread.
Creamy Tomato and Herb Soup
Recipe by Chef Harrison Littell
2 pounds of chopped fresh tomatoes
Two 64-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes with juice
3 cups of onion, chopped
Eight cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of chives
1 cup of packed basil leaves
1 cup of red wine
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
½ pound of butter
4 cups of heavy cream
4 cups of milk
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of vegetable stock (optional if you don’t want it thick)
Sautée onions and garlic in oil for five minutes until tender, and starting to caramelize. Deglaze the pan with red wine. Add tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Add creams, butter, chives, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes then bring up to a boil. Add basil and blend. Serve with bread, or better yet, a grilled cheese.
Vegetable Beef Soup
Recipe by Sara Vestal, from “Favorites From Our Table”
This is my mom’s vegetable soup, which is a tried-and-true recipe for a lot of folks. I definitely wanted to share it because it’s super easy, adaptable and delicious. It’s a great vegetarian option, too.
½-1 pound of ground beef
Two 15-ounce cans of Veg-All or 4 cups of frozen soup vegetables
Two 15-ounce cans of tomato sauce
2-4 cups of water
Three dashes of A-1 Steak Sauce or similar steak sauce
Garlic powder to taste
Onion powder to taste
3-4 dashes of Texas Pete
1 teaspoon of sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
Pepper to taste
In a pot, heat a small amount of oil. Crumble and brown the ground beef. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a light boil. You can add any number of herbs, seasonings or spices here. Check for taste and enjoy! (If you’re interested in purchasing Sara Vestal’s cookbook, Favorites From Our Table, visit triadfoodies.com.)
Galician White Bean Soup
Recipe by Chef Jay Pierce
1 pound of dried Cannellini beans
1½ tablespoon of canola oil
1½ teaspoon of chopped garlic
2 quarts of chicken stock
1-inch sprig fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
3 tablespoons of canola oil
3 cups of diced yellow onions
2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
3 tablespoons of chopped rosemary
One bay leaf
½ teaspoon of Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon of ground white pepper
1 pound of kale, destemmed, washed, dried, roughly chopped
½ pound of Merguez sausage, rendered
Note: Merguez is a spicy lamb sausage that can be found at many farmers markets.
Soak beans in water overnight. Discard water before using. Heat canola oil in a large pot over medium heat, and add garlic and cook until soft for two to three minutes. Add drained beans, chicken stock, rosemary and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes until beans are al dente. If the beans are too dry, you may need to add more water. Remove from heat and discard rosemary sprig. In another pot, heat canola oil over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent (five to seven minutes). Add previously cooked beans, bay leaf, chopped rosemary and chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir kale and Merguez into the soup, and simmer until the kale is wilted. (This recipe makes one gallon.)
Creamy Herb and Mushroom Soup
Recipe (and featured photo) by Ericca Smith
My friend Ericca always shares the most amazing recipes, and this creamy mushroom soup is a standout.
1 pound of cremini (Baby Bella) mushrooms, sliced
One box of beef stock (32-ounces)
1-1 ½ stick of sweet cream butter
One sweet onion, chopped
Four garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups of cooking sherry
1 cup parsley, chopped
Five sprigs of thyme, bundled
Five sprigs of rosemary, bundled
Two fresh bay leaves
1 ½ cup of heavy cream
4 cups of milk
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh cracked pepper
Note: Use a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. This is how you will achieve great caramelization on the mushrooms, and get those lovely brown bits that you’ll eventually scrape off the bottom. Cooking the mushrooms is the most important step! The same rich flavor may not be achieved otherwise. Prepare them in batches to ensure that each mushroom is browned the way it deserves.
Warm your pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add a good drizzle of olive oil and the first 4 tablespoons of butter. Add in as many mushrooms as you can fit in a single layer. After five minutes, generously add salt and pepper. Cook them on each side until each one is caramelized, around 10 minutes per side. Use tongs to flip each mushroom to the opposing side. Add as much butter and olive oil as needed to keep them sautéing in their happy butter/EVOO pool. Remove the mushrooms from the pot as they are done caramelizing and set aside.
Add a good drizzle of EVOO to the pot. Sautée onion with the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and a generous amount of salt and pepper for about five minutes. Add garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Place the mushrooms back into the pot with the onion, garlic and four more tablespoons of butter. Pour in 2 cups of sherry wine to deglaze the pot. Scrape brown bits off the bottom as much as you can. Once reduced by half, pour in the box of beef stock, heavy cream, milk and chopped parsley.
Simmer the soup as little or as long as you’d like (an hour is recommended). Add in additional milk if it starts to thicken too much. Discard the herb bundles and taste for seasoning.
Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.