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Soup

Sweet Corn Soup

Committee meeting working lunch, 9/27/12 (previously frozen)

This soup is the taste of summer sweet corn in a silky bowl. You can make it during the summer and freeze it in individual portions for a little taste of summer whenever you want. You can also use frozen corn, either from the store or put up from the summer.

  • 6 ears sweet corn, husks and silk removed, cleaned
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Use a knife to slice the corn kernels off the cobs. Save the kernels for later use. Place the cobs in a pot with just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer while you prepare the rest of the soup. (If using frozen corn, skip this step.)

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add carrot and celery and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes more. Add the corn kernels and stir.

Turn off the heat from the simmering cobs. Leaving the cobs in the pot, pour the water over the corn and vegetable mixture until corn is just covered. (If using frozen corn, just use regular water.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until corn is tender, about 6-8 minutes.

If desired, you can leave the soup chunky. For a smooth texture, puree either using an immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor or blender (be careful blending hot liquids – they can splash painfully). If desired, pass pureed soup through a sieve, pressing liquid out with a spatula, to remove any tough kernel pieces.

Add milk, then add salt and pepper to taste. The salt should make the flavors brighter. If it tastes salty, you’ve gone too far.

Serves 4.

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Pappa al Pomodoro – Tomato and Bread Soup
Adapted from Zuppe by Mona Talbott

Committee meeting working lunch, 8/1/12

This Italian tomato and bread soup is a perfect way to use stale bread and tomatoes that are beginning to get a little soft – combined, these older ingredients turn delicious again.

1 lb bread – the staler, the better
4 lbs tomatoes – overripe is fine*
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided between cooking onions and final addition
2 onions, finely chopped*
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped*
1 1/2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed, then roughly chopped*
salt
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water in a pinch)
grated or shredded parmesan cheese (not from a can)

Remove tough crusts from the bread and cut it into 1 inch cubes. If the bread isn’t very stale yet, leave the cubes out for up to 24 hours to get really hard.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, prepare a large bowl of ice water. To peel the tomatoes, drop half of them into boiling water for 1 minute (the skin will begin to pop open), and then transfer to ice water. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then peel. Chop into 1-inch pieces.

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Add onions and garlic and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add basil and cook for 5 minutes more, until onions are translucent but not browned.

Add tomatoes and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Then add chicken stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 30 minutes.

Add bread to the soup and then turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes for the bread to absorb the liquid. Taste and add salt if needed. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and stir to mush up the bread and combine everything. Reheat if desired. Serve, sprinkling each portion with parmesan cheese.

Serves 6.

*Tomatoes, basil, garlic, and onions are all things you can grow in your garden.

Note: the longer this sits, the more liquid the bread will absorb. So it may become less soupy and more stew-like, but it will be just as delicious.

Green Garlic and Potato Soup

Committee meeting working lunch, 5/3/12 – served with English Muffin Batter Bread

This soup is a springtime variation on the Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup. Green garlic is baby garlic that hasn’t formed a head yet. If you pick it young, it is tender enough to eat the greens, which have a garlic flavor. If your garlic comes up too close together and you need to thin it, this is a perfect use for the garlic you pull out.

  • 1 tablespoon olive, vegetable, or canola oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 8 stalks green garlic, chopped (trim off the roots, then use the whole thing)
  • 5 large starchy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
  • 6 cups (or more) water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock (I actually used leftover liquid from cooking beans)
  • Salt to taste (amount will depend on whether you used water or a salty chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 1 cup milk or half-and-half (optional – see notes below)

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onions and garlic and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Add cubed potatoes and water or stock. If using water, add about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender or food processor in batches to blend). Or, if you prefer a chunky texture, you can leave the soup as it is.

Add milk (if desired for blended soup – omit for chunk soup), then add more water or stock to reach desired consistency if needed. Add salt to taste.

Serves 8.

*Garlic, onions, and potatoes can all be grown in Nebraska. Green garlic is an early spring crop, and onions and potatoes can be stored for a very long time.

Sausage and Potato Soup

Most soups follow the same general cooking technique:

  1. Brown any meat and aromatic vegetables (usually onions, celery, carrots, and/or garlic) in oil
  2. Add liquid (chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or water)
  3. Add slow-cooking vegetables (such as potatoes and other root vegetables) or beans
  4. Cook until the vegetables are tender
  5. In the last few minutes of cooking, add pasta, grains, or greens, and cook until just tender.

This sausage and potato soup is a basic one that is easy and tasty. Once you’re comfortable making it as written here, you can vary it to your liking by changing the components added at each of the steps listed above.                                                                                                                 

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable, canola, or olive oil
  • 8 oz summer sausage or fresh sausage, whatever kind you like
  • 1 onion, chopped small*
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped*
  • 6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
  • 8 oz potatoes, cut into small bite-sized pieces*
  • 4 oz frozen or fresh greens, such as spinach, kale, or chard (optional)*
  • ½ cup dry alphabet pasta, orzo, macaroni, or other small pasta shape (or quinoa**, if available)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the sausage and cook until browned. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook for one minute more.

Add the stock and potatoes. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are nearly tender, 8-15 minutes depending on the size and type of the potatoes.

If using frozen greens, add to soup (you don’t need to thaw them first) and wait until the soup returns to a simmer before adding the pasta or quinoa. If using fresh greens, add them at the same time as the pasta or quinoa. Cook until the pasta is tender (see package for cooking time). Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Serves 4.

*All of these can be grown here in Nebraska and stored (frozen, in the case of greens) for long periods.

** Quinoa is a small seed that’s cooked like a grain. It’s a very healthy complete protein, and it has a slightly nutty flavor. It may be available in large grocery stores.

Southwest Sweet Potato and Bean Soup

Committee meeting working lunch, 3/22/12 – served with buttermilk cornbread

This is quick and easy to make with canned beans, or you can cook dry beans ahead of time. For more information on cooking beans, see the dry bean guide. The garnishes of cilantro, yogurt/sour cream, and lime juice are tasty, but the soup is also good without them.

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable, canola, or olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ chipotle pepper from can of chipotles in adobo, finely chopped (or substitute ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces*
  • 1 can beans or 1.5 c cooked beans, any variety*
  • 6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, bean cooking liquid, or water
  • salt
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro*
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion and cook until translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add cumin and coriander and cook 1 minute more. Add chipotle pepper, chopped sweet potato, beans, and stock/water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed (if you used chicken stock, you may not need any, but if you used water, you will need to add some).

Top each serving of soup with a sprinkle of cilantro, a small dollop of yogurt or sour cream, and ½ teaspoon lime juice.

Yield: 6 servings

*Potential garden crops in Nebraska

Winter Minestrone Soup

Committee meeting working lunch, 3/8/12 – served with the easiest homemade whole wheat bread

winter minestrone soup, low on liquid after sitting and absorbing for quite a while

Minestrone is an Italian soup that is always adapted to include whatever is on hand. This version is simple and easy to make, and if you have a slow-cooker, it can cook all day while you’re out, or overnight. Soaking the beans requires some advance planning, but you can also use canned beans and cook the soup for less time. For more information on cooking beans, see the dry bean guide.

  • ½ lb dry beans, any variety or a mix (can substitute 1 can of beans – see notes in recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola, or olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped*
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced*
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (optional)**
  • 4 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes***
  • 4 oz (1/4 box) dry pasta, any small shape
  • salt
  • black pepper

Soak the dry beans in lots of water (cover by at least 4 inches) for 8-12 hours. You can also quick-soak them: place dry beans in a pot with water to cover by 4 inches, bring to a boil for 1 minute, turn off heat, and allow to sit for 1 hour.

In a large soup pot (if you won’t be using a slow cooker) or a skillet, heat the oil. Add the chopped onion and carrots and cook on medium heat until the vegetables are just beginning to brown. Add the garlic (and rosemary, if using) and cook 1 minute more.

Stovetop instructions: Add the soaked beans, stock or water, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, 1-2 hours. (Note: if using canned beans, simmer only 15-20 minutes.) Add the pasta and cook for 10-15 minutes more, until pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Slow cooker instructions: Transfer the cooked vegetables to the slow cooker. Add the soaked beans, stock or water, and tomatoes and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours, until beans are tender. (Note: if using canned beans, cook only 2-3 hours on low or 1-2 hours on high). Add the pasta and cook for 30 minutes more, until pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Yield: 6 generous servings

*All of these can be grown here in Nebraska and stored fairly well.

**Fresh rosemary can be grown outdoors in the summer and indoors all year round. You can dry your own for later use.

***Summer tomatoes are simple to can for year-round use.

White Bean, Sausage, and Greens Soup

Committee meeting working lunch, 2/23/12

This soup is hearty and satisfying. Combine with a piece of bread to make a complete, flavorful, and inexpensive meal. For more information on cooking beans, see the dry bean guide.

  • 2 teaspoons canola, vegetable, or olive oil, divided
  • ½ pound Italian sausage, or other sausage, sliced into ⅓” thick rounds
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped*
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped*
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 can white beans (cannellini, great northern, or navy), 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans, or .5 lb dry white beans, soaked 8-24 hours and drained*
  • optional additions: 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen greens (spinach, kale, or chard, or frozen collard greens)*
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Stovetop instructions (for canned or cooked beans):
In a large pot, heat 1 teaspoon oil. When hot, add sliced sausage and brown on both sides. Remove cooked sausage to a plate and return pot to the stove. Heat remaining teaspoon oil. Add chopped onion and cook over medium heat until beginning to brown, 7-9 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Add stock to the pot, scraping to release any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Return the sausage to the pot, then add beans (and bay leaf and rosemary, if desired). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Add greens and cook 5-20 minutes more, until greens are fully cooked and tender (time will depend on type of greens and whether they are fresh or frozen – taste them to know when they are done). Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

Slow cooker instructions (for soaked dry beans):
In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil. When hot, add sliced sausage and brown on both sides. Remove cooked sausage to the slow cooker and return skillet to the stove. Heat remaining teaspoon oil. Add chopped onion and cook over medium heat until beginning to brown, 7-9 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Remove garlic and onion to the slow cooker. Return the skillet to the stove. Add 1 cup of the stock and heat, scraping to release any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour stock with browned bits into slow cooker.

To the slow cooker, add remaining stock and soaked beans (and bay leaf and rosemary, if desired). Cook on low for 8 hours, then add greens and cook for another 30-45 minutes, until greens are fully cooked and tender (time will depend on type of greens and whether they are fresh or frozen – taste them to know when they are done). Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

Yield: 5-6 servings

*All of these can be grown in Nebraska and stored for winter use.