As someone who loves to cook as well as share the joys of nourishing food, the fall season is a favorite time of year. This is because I adore making, eating and sharing soup. I think soup is one of life’s healing elixirs. It’s a great way to use up leftovers from the refrigerator in a creative and satisfying way. There are an infinite number of ways to make a satisfying pot of soup using an even larger number of ingredients. One can make a quick soup or take an afternoon to let the ingredients simmer for hours. In the end, simply bring some bread to the table along with your steaming hot pot of soup and you have a nourishing and nutritious meal.
Soups that call for meat or poultry can always be converted into vegetarian versions by eliminating the chicken or beef broth and the animal protein and then adding some type of bean. Also, if you need to stretch a meal you can always add more bean and veggies as well as a small-shaped pasta or rice to any recipe. This enables you to make a bigger pot of soup that serves more people. Add the pasta or rice to the bowl rather than the soup pot, otherwise the starch will absorb all of the liquid.
Here are two delicious soups that will bring the crispness of autumn to your table.
White bean, sausage and kale soup
2 cups cooked white beans (if using canned beans remember to rinse and drain thoroughly)
2 tsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Italian pork or turkey sausages, casings removed (optional if you want to make this vegetarian)
1 bunch kale, stems and ribs removed, roughly chopped
1 Yukon gold potato, cubed
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Rustic bread for serving
In a soup pot, warm the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sausage and cook, breaking it up into small pieces, until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Add the kale and potato and season with salt and red pepper flakes if you like extra heat. Pour in the broth. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potato is soft and the kale is tender, about 20 minutes. Add the beans to the pot and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle each bowl with a little olive oil and serve with toasted bread
Swiss chard soup with chickpeas and barley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
3 sticks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 sprigs thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
4 oz pearl barley
1.5 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans(chickpeas)
1/2 pound Swiss chard leaves (stems removed), shredded
1 long red chile, seeded and shredded (or use 1/2 tsp chili flakes) *(Note: red chile is optional)
1 tomato, seeded and diced (OK to use a canned of diced tomatoes)
Lemon juice to serve
Greek-style yogurt to serve
Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Saute the onion, celery and garlic over a low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Add the spices and thyme, then toss everything around in the pan for a few moments. Add the pearl barley, stock and bay leaves to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for around an hour or until the barley is tender. Add the cooked chickpeas and chard and simmer, uncovered, until the chard is wilted. Add the chile and tomato and season generously with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, remove the bay leaves and the thyme sprigs. Ladle the hot soup into warmed bowls and then add a squeeze of lemon juice and a generous spoonful of yogurt to each.
Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share here experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at [email protected].