There was a light flurry of snow outside my window this morning, and I was very excited – I love the feeling of warmth and coziness it brings (when I am able to be inside) and the sense of anticipation that our everyday world may soon be covered in a crisp, clean, very cold, white blanket.
The cold weather also turns my thoughts toward one of my cherished comfort foods – soup.
This is often a dish I will make on a Monday night – after a weekend full of rich food and excessive cooking, I love the simplicity of one pan cooking – all of the ingredients thrown in together and allowed to merge and blend into one delicious, flavorful bowl.
8 mild Italian sausages, casings removed
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (28 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 zucchini, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
half of a cauliflower, chopped
1 cup small pasta, such as macaroni
grated parmesan cheese
In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausages and break up, fry until browned, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
Drain fat from skillet. Fry onions, carrots, celery, garlic, oregano and salt, stirring until onions are softened, about 7 minutes. Scrape into slow cooker.
Add beans, 5 cups of water, tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper and bay leaf to slow cooker. Stir gently, cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf.
Add zucchini and parsley. Cover and cook on high for 20 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook cauliflower and pasta for 6 to 8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender and pasta is tender but firm. Drain and add to slow cooker.
Serve with cheese.
Recipe adapted from Canadian Living
www.canadianliving.com/food/sausage_minestrone.php – Canada
SMASHED PUMPKIN SOUP WITH MASCARPONE
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground
2 pounds pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
In a medium pot set over low heat, heat the olive oil with the garlic and fennel seeds. Stir often, until seeds are fragrant about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat to medium-high and stir in squash and potatoes. Add enough chicken stock to just cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking that the vegetables are just submerged.
Once vegetables are tender, remove pot from the heat and mash with a potato masher. The soup should be thick and creamy.
Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with shaved parmesan and a dollop of mascarpone cheese.
Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, January 2011
CHICKPEA AND ROSEMARY SOUP
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chicken broth
juice of 1 lemon
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic starts to brown, about 1 minute. Add chickpeas and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, let cool slightly.
Blend with an immersion blender until just smooth. Stir lemon juice and salt into soup to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Recipe adapted from O Magazine, September 2005
TOMATO WHITE BEAN SOUP WITH PESTO
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock (add more if you like a thinner style soup)
1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 packed cups fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add celery, carrots and garlic, cook, stirring until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add wine, stir to scrape brown bits of bottom of pot. Add stock, beans, tomatoes, bay leaves and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer stirring occasionally, until carrots are very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a blender, puree basil, walnuts, black pepper, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of water and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
Remove bay leaves from soup, discard. Use an immersion blender to puree soup.
Divide soup among 4 bowls, dollop each with 1/4 of the pesto, and swirl in.
CREAMY CAULIFLOWER CHOWDER WITH SWISS CHEESE
1/2 stick butter
1/2 large onion, diced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2 carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
10 ounces swiss cheese, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pound of cauliflower florets
Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large stockpot.
Add the onion, celery and carrots, and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1 cup water, broth and half and half.
Heat to a simmer, but do not boil.
Add the pepper, curry powder and cheese and heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese melts.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining water. Add to the soup and increase heat to medium. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, or until thickened.
Add the cauliflower, and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.
Recipe adapted from The Morning News, May 2004