Expand your soup season repertoire

By Bill Colvard - bcolvard@civitasmedia.com

Cauliflower soup is a good way to ring in soup season.

As the temperatures begin to drop and the days shorten, it can only mean one thing.

Soup weather is almost upon us. The air already smells like fall and it won’t be long until there’s a little nip in it too. While trying to remember to bring along a jacket or a sweater, start thinking about the long cool season of soups ahead.

Whatever triggers soup season for you, be it Labor Day, the first day of autumn, the beginning of October, the lower temperatures or the change back to standard time, it’s either here or almost here.

By the time the leaves are at their full color, you’re going to need a full repertoire of soul-warming soups at your disposal. A good soup repertoire is a mix of comfortable old favorites jolted with something new. Not earth-shatteringly new. Soup is, after all, comfort food. it shouldn’t be too shocking. But consider some of these recipes to add to your old favorites.

Why did no one think of Pizza Soup before? Everybody loves pizza. Why shouldn’t it be soup? And tortellini is so delicious all by itself, it is perhaps gilding the lily to add sausages, white beans and spinach to turn it into a soup but Tuscany is full of culinary gilded lilies. This is one of the more impressive ones.

If pasta e fafioli is not in your soup repertoire, it should be. Pasta e fagioli, literally translated as “pasta and beans” and pronounced “pasta fa-ZOOL” by Italian-Americans in Brooklyn if not by Italians in Italy, is the sort of comfort food that any Italian grandmother can make in her sleep. In fact, there are probably as many recipes as there are Italian grandmothers. The recipe below is a good one but feel free to improvise. As long as you use some kind of pasta and some kind of beans, you’re good to go.

Pasta e fagioli is to Italians, or more specifically, to Italian-Americans, what a pot of pintos it to Southerners. It’s good, it’s hot, it’s filling and it’s what Grandma (or Nonna) used to make.

Give it a shot this soup season. Maybe you should even use pintos as your bean of choice. Who knows? maybe that’s how they do it in Southern Italy.

Cauliflower Soup

1 head of cauliflower

1 white or yellow onion

3-5 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon salt

3 cup water

Parsley, chopped

Olive oil


Break the head of cauliflower into smaller, uniform pieces, slice the onion, and mince the garlic. In a pot, saute the onion for a few minutes until translucent and then add the garlic for a minute longer. Add the cauliflower, the salt, and one cup of water. Bring the water to a bubble, cover the pot and let the cauliflower cook for 15 minutes. Add two more cups of water, heat until bubbling again, and then remove the pot. In a blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth. You may have to work in batches. It seems like there is a lot of water but it will get surprisingly thick. Serve the soup topped with chopped parsley, olive oil and cracked pepper. If you need the heat you can go for some hot sauce too.

Pizza Soup

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 red and/or green bell peppers, chopped

kosher salt

8 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1 cup chopped pepperoni, plus whole pepperoni slices for topping

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cups heavy cream

1 crusty baguette, cut into 4”-long pieces

2 cups shredded mozzarella

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

In an ovenproof Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and peppers and season with salt. Cook until slightly tender and golden, 3 minutes, then add mushrooms and cook until browned and juices have evaporated, 8 minutes more. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add chopped pepperoni and stir until combined. Add Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, crushed tomatoes, and chicken broth and bring to a simmer, 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream. Heat broiler. Top pot with bread and sprinkle with mozzarella. Place remaining pepperoni on top and carefully transfer soup to oven until cheese is melty and golden. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Tuscan tortellini soup

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 lb. chicken sausage links

4 cloves garlic, minced

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. refrigerated cheese tortellini (two 9-oz. packages)

15 oz. can white beans

5 oz. baby spinach

Grated Parmesan, for garnish

In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and cook until tender and golden, 6 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add chicken sausage. Cook until sausage is golden, 4 minutes more. Stir in garlic. Add crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a rolling simmer and add tortellini. Simmer 15 minutes. Stir in white beans and spinach and cook until wilted, 2 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.

Mushroom barley soup

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 pound mushrooms, sliced

4 cups carrots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 sprigs fresh thyme

kosher salt and black pepper

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

3/4 cup pearl barley

1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, carrots, garlic, thyme, and ¾ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth and barley. Simmer, partially covered, until the barley is tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Top with the chopped flat-leaf parsley before serving.

Pasta e Fagioli

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

4 ounces pancetta, diced

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

2 medium ribs celery, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup white wine

6 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 (14.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans or chickpeas (or combination), rinsed and drained

1/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed (preferably French green lentils, but any green or brown lentils are fine)

1 cup diced or chopped canned tomatoes, with their juices

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

3/4 cup dried pasta, such as elbow macaroni or ditalini (whole wheat is fine)

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot and celery and increase the heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Add the wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, salt, pepper, beans, lentils, diced tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you used.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture and a little liquid to a blender. Remove the center knob so steam can escape. Hold a paper towel or kitchen towel over the opening to prevent splatters. Purée until smooth and set aside.

Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. The soup will thicken a bit by the time the pasta is cooked. Fish out and discard the bay leaves.

Stir the reserved puréed bean mixture into the soup. (If you’re having a hard time getting the mixture out of the blender, remove as much as you can with a rubber spatula, then add some of the hot soup broth to it and swirl around to loosen it up; it should come right out.) Cook briefly, until the soup is heated through.

Remove the soup from heat and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano. If the soup seems too thick, gradually add 1-2 cups of water or more chicken broth and thin to desired consistency (note: the longer it sits on the stove, the thicker it will get). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired.

Note: This soup is best served immediately; as it sits, the pasta and beans soak up the broth. If the soup gets too thick, you can thin it with a bit of broth or water.

Cauliflower soup is a good way to ring in soup season.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_Cauliflower-Soup.jpgCauliflower soup is a good way to ring in soup season.

By Bill Colvard


Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699, on Twitter @BillColvard.

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699, on Twitter @BillColvard.

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