As I write this column, it’s cold and steely grey outside. It’s also snowy. Winter is not my favorite time of the year. But there are some advantages to this cold weather. Soup! Glorious soup! Bone broth or stock, vegetable, chowder, stew, chili or bisque, they are all my go-to food for the season.
You can be as healthy as you want – try vegetarian with lentils or beans. You can choose hearty stews or chili. One of my favorites is a white chicken chili with spice, heat and creamy cheese. You can be decadent or extravagant with a cream-based soup or a lobster bisque. I know lots of people who love a good oyster soup, although it’s not in my rotation of favorites. Try a soup from a different country and be adventurous. Simmer on the stove or put in the Crockpot and forget it, you have options.
Make It Your Own
Any way you choose to go, soup is not a complicated route from start to finish. I’ve been known to check the fridge for possible leftovers to build my soup. Once I’ve identified the players, I start building my masterpiece. One year, after buying a surplus of wonderful corn from the library’s Farmer Market in the summer months, I had an abundance of corn cobs after freezing lots of fresh corn. It felt wasteful to dispose of those vegetable bones, so I simmered the cobs in a big pot of salted water. I froze multiple containers of corn stock from that bounty. That corn stock made a great start for many a soup that winter.
For leftover soups I try to make sure I have a pasta, rice or bean component in the soup along with leftover veggies and meats from the fridge. Season well, add fresh herbs if you have them (my patio pot of herbs is wintering very nicely in my living room near a window). The only challenge is trying to replicate a really good soup that you’ve stumbled upon by happy accident. Serve soup with crusty French bread or a flaky biscuit and winter doesn’t look so gloomy and grey.
Share the Wealth
When making soup, it’s hard to make a small quantity, but I like that feeling of having more than I need. I will package up extra containers and share with friends. You can always think of someone who has been down with the flu or a cold and could use some Chicken Pot Pie Soup. Or share the sweet potato, sausage and kale Soup with your neighbor. Meet a friend for lunch, then give them a container of minestrone for the next day’s lunch!
I haven’t included a recipe this month because this is your chance to be creative. The library has a ton of books that will give you inspiration. I’ve included a list of some that look interesting to me.
On a side note, I’m currently reading a great book of short stories by several well-known authors about food and the comfort it brings or the memories food evokes. I highly recommend it and it’s made me think about my memory inducing foods. Check out Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers by Natalie Eve Garrett. It’s a great read. I would add a good soup as one of my favorite comfort foods.