It’s been two centuries since Beethoven said “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.” And he wasn’t the first to be beguiled by soup. More than a century before Beethoven, Moliere said “I live on good soup, not on fine words.” Which is high praise if you consider Moliere had some fine words.
No other food seems to span the economic divide quite like soup. From the most modest of homes to the grandest, soup can be found simmering on the stove. Or nowadays, in a crockpot. Soup even has its own utensils. A place setting of tableware includes a soup bowl and a soup spoon.
A recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who eat soup weigh less and have smaller waists than people who don’t eat soup. More than 20,000 Americans were surveyed by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 2003 and 2008. Turns out that soup consumers also had better overall eating habits that included more protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and fewer calories and fat.
One possible explanation is the high satiation potential of soup. Soup makes you feel full. Most soups have a low energy density/high nutrient density ratio. Energy-dense foods are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Soup is the opposite. Most soups could be considered nutrient-dense foods, because they are often low in calories but have lots of vitamins and minerals.
Or maybe soup’s slimming capabilities comes from taking a long time to eat. it’s hard to scarf down a liquid while keeping it balanced on a spoon.
And everyone knows that chicken soup is good for the soul. And whatever else ails you. Scientific research hasn’t exactly figured out why but grandmothers around the world are quite confident of its healing powers. Possibly the vegetables used have an anti-inflammation quality, the warm liquid is soothing to sore throats or the fact that hot broth rests easily on an upset stomach. Any of those are possible. None has been proven.
Soup is one of the rare foods whose nourishing qualities can be spiritual as well as physical. Perhaps its enduring appeal is summed up by the Jewish proverb: “Worries go down better with soup than without.”
One Pot Lasagna Soup
1 pound lean ground beef (or half Italian sausage)
1 yellow onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 quart marinara sauce (bought or homemade)
8-10 cups chicken broth, divided
1 (14 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 whole bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
10 uncooked lasagna noodles, broken into approx. 1-2 inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
shredded mozzarella cheese
grated Parmesan cheese
Heat large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add beef and onion and cook, stirring occasionally until beef is browned. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 30 seconds. Drain off any excess fat. Add marinara sauce, 6 cups chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar, spices and lasagna noodles. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until lasagna noodles are tender, stirring occasionally (approximately 20-30 minutes). Discard bay leaf and stir in heavy cream (optional) and 2-4 cups chicken broth to reach desired consistency. Garnish individual servings with desired amount of cheeses.
Lasagna noodles can be replaced with 2 1/2 cups uncooked small shells and simmer for less time. If you want to omit the heavy cream but still would like a thicker soup, you can whisk 2 teaspoons cornstarch with some of the chicken broth and add to the soup to simmer and thicken.
Morgan’s Southwestern kale and sausage soup
1 large or 2 small links chorizo sausage
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound of kale, chopped
1 carton beef stock
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 chipotle pepper, chopped
dash of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Brown chorizo in a large soup pot. Once sausage is browned, add in diced onions and sauté until translucent. Add in minced garlic and kale and sauté a few minutes more. Add tomatoes, broth, beans and seasonings and bring to a boil. Boil for five to 10 minutes then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.
Slow-cooker broccoli cheddar soup
1/3 cup butter, sliced
1-1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
5 cups small diced broccoli florets*
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded (or more to taste)
2 oz parmesan cheese, freshly & finely shredded
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add garlic, flour and season lightly with salt and pepper then cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly pour in evaporated milk (whisk well to smooth). Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken then pour into a slow cooker along with chicken broth, diced broccoli and thyme. Cover with lid and cook on high heat for 2 1/2 – 3 hours or low heat for 6 hours. Turn heat to warm (or off) and stir in heavy cream, then add in shredded cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese and stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.
* From about 20 oz. broccoli crowns, large stems cut off and discarded (or reserved for another use), florets diced into small pieces.
Chicken, Black Bean and Cilantro Soup
1 small onion, diced small
1 cup celery, diced small (use celery leaves too if available)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. chile powder
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. garlic powder or garlic puree
4 cups homemade chicken stock (or 2 cans chicken broth)
1 can vegetable broth
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup salsa
6-8 drops Green Tabasco Sauce or your favorite hot sauce
1 or 2 cans black beans (not drained unless you choose to rinse the beans to reduce the amount of sodium)
2 cups cooked chicken, cut in very small pieces (leftover rotisserie chicken is great for this)
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems (chop the stems very small), plus more for serving if desired
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
cut limes, for serving (optional)
sour cream, for serving (optional)
In a large heavy soup pot, saute onions and celery in olive oil 3-5 minutes, until soft but not browned. Add the ground cumin, chile powder, celery seed, and garlic and saute about 2 minutes more. Add the chicken stock, vegetable broth, tomatoes, and salsa, and simmer 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, taste for hotness and add green Tabasco if desired. Add black beans and chicken and simmer 15-20 minutes more. While the soup simmer, wash, dry and chop enough fresh cilantro to make 1 cup chopped cilantro and squeeze enough limes to make 3 tablespoons juice. After 15-20 minutes, add the chopped cilantro and simmer 5 minutes, then add lime juice and cook 2-3 minutes more. Serve hot with fresh limes to squeeze into the soup, with sour cream and additional chopped cilantro to sprinkle on top if desired.
To make a delicious vegetarian soup, use 3 cans vegetable broth and eliminate the chicken stock, and 3 cans black beans and eliminate the chicken.
Lentil Minestrone Soup
This soup is really easy to throw together, uses household staples, reheats and freezes very well. It is vegetarian as printed but throw in a man hock or some sliced smoked sausage if you want. If you’d like a soupier soup, add more broth 30 minutes or so before serving.
2 cups lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cups hearty torn greens, like kale or chard (if you’d prefer spinach, stir in before serving)
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (optional: add another 1 to 2 cups of broth if you’d like before serving)
Mushroom Barley and Beef Soup
The trick to really good mushroom barley soup is using a mixture of different types of fresh mushrooms at least one variety of dried mushrooms. The dried mushrooms really give it a woodsy depth of flavor that is wonderful in mushroom barley soup. But then again, mushrooms are delicious even if you only use one kind.
1 3/4 lb. cubed sirloin
2 stalks celery, diced
1 big carrot, diced
1 onion, diced
3.5 oz (fresh) oyster mushrooms, diced
3.5 oz (fresh)shiitake mushrooms, diced
8 oz (fresh) crimini mushrooms, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large Russet potato, diced
6 cups beef stock
1/2 cup (loose) dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup pearl barley
1 tsp. thyme
freshly ground black pepper
In a large nonstick skillet, brown the cubes of beef for 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining fresh ingredients and saute until the beef is lightly browned on all sides but not fully cooked. Meanwhile, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in boiling water for as long as it takes to brown the meat. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the meat and vegetable mixture into a 6-quart slow cooker. Drain the dried mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the slow cooker and discard the mushroom liquid. Add the spices, barley and stock. Stir. Cook on low for 8-10 hrs. Add additional stock to thin out the soup if desired.
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Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.