Picture this: It’s a cold, blustery winter evening, the most recent in a line of cold, blustery winter evenings. You get home from work, cheeks raw from the cold, the tips of fingers gone numb inside inadequate gloves.
All you want is to defrost with a hot meal.
You haven’t gone to the grocery store yet this week, and you certainly don’t want to go now. The cupboards are looking a little bare, and there is no plan as to what to make for dinner.
What’s in the cabinet? What’s in the freezer? And how can you put it all together to make something hearty, satisfying and warm?
The answer: Soup.
No, not the kind from a can, although that would probably be the quickest route. With just some basic ingredients and a pinch of ingenuity, there could be a hot pot of something in anyone’s future.
I came up with what I call my “Kitchen Sink Soup” one night — much like the one described above — searching through my cabinets, freezer and crisper for something to eat.
I make it at least once a month, and vary it frequently, depending on what I have on hand. Sometimes, as in the photos for this story, I put brown rice into it; other times, potatoes or pasta are the starch. Sometimes a can of diced tomatoes and a red or green bell pepper are added to the pot; other times, sausage lends its spices. If I have canned broth sitting in the cupboard, that’s what goes into it; other times, I let the vegetables and water simmer to become a shortcut vegetable broth.
It’s always tasty, and I always freeze some for a quick meal on a night when I feel even less like cooking, and want a hot meal just as badly.
We each have our comfort soups, and several of our favorites are below. Whether you like a cream soup or a broth soup, chicken, beef, fish, veggies, or something else entirely, we invite you to share the recipe with us, and your story of where you found it, what changes you’ve made to it, and why you like to make (and eat!) it.
Ally’s Kitchen Sink Soup
2 c. chopped celery
2 c. chopped carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
2 whole cloves of garlic
(or more, to taste)
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound stew meat
1 Tbs. olive oil
8 c. water or broth
1 c. lentils
1 c. brown rice
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown beef and sausage with onions in olive oil. Add celery, carrots, garlic, onion, bay leaf, and water or broth to pot, bring to a boil. Add the meat and simmer for 1 hour. Remove bay leaf and add salt and pepper. Rinse lentils. Add lentils and rice to pot, cover, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender and
rice is done.
Potato Leek Soup (serves six)
3-pound bag of red potatoes
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 cup milk
3 cups chicken broth
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon of salt
Boil potatoes until soft. While the potatoes are boiling, chop up the white parts of the leeks and sautee in olive oil. When the potatoes are finished, take the leeks, heavy cream, milk, chicken broth, butter and salt and mash together. Then puree in the blender. Stick the soup back in the pot and reheat.
Recipe by Rita Flórez
Chicken Tortilla Soup
16 ounce can fat-free refried beans
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
14 ounce can chicken broth
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
3/4 cup chunky salsa
1 chicken breast cooked and cut up
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp dried cilantro
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese
baked tortilla chips
fat-free sour cream
In a skillet, cook chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper and cube. Combine all ingredients, except the cheese, chips and sour cream into pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of cheese and cook over low heat until melted.
Top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream, sprinkle of additional cheese and crushed tortilla chips.
Recipe by Sarah Nail