24 May 2010

Family recipe Monday: soup's on

Late May in eastern South Dakota. Definitely soup weather.

Soup recipes include the ultimate comfort foods. There is nothing quite like them, especially for a crowd on a cool night. Many of these are meals in themselves. What’s even better is that many of these are very forgiving recipes that encourage and respond well to experimentation, substitutions, or panic-stricken corrections. Ask us how we know. Better yet, don’t.

This is a good time to start making big batches of soup stock to have on hand for the summer. It's still cool up here (that is a major understatement--it's thunderstorm/tornado season up here, and the temperature is fluctuating wildly). Having stock on hand reduces the amount of cooking time later in the summer, when the prairie sets its own temperature to Broil and no one wants to add any more heat than necessary, anywhere. Here are some ideas from the files.

This is a recipe that Shirley sent to everyone with the following comments:

“We found this incredibly wonderful recipe to use some of the roasted green chiles we brought home from Albuquerque. The source is The Feast of Santa Fe, by Huntley Dent. We thought you might like it.... we did!”

We did.

From the book: “This most simple and delicious of Southwestern soups is really a shortened form of the green chile stew called a cocido. It tastes purely of green chiles, but the mealy potatoes smooth the taste and make it more comforting than raw chili could ever be. A soup very much like this is served every day at The Shed, the most popular lunch place in Santa Fe, just off Sena Plaza.”

Potato soup with green chiles

2-3 T vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp black pepper
Pinch oregano
2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks as for vegetable soup
8 whole canned green chiles, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
Optional: 2 T canned jalapeƱos
5 cups chicken broth
Optional garnish: shredded Monterey Jack cheese or chopped cilantro
For variation: ½ cup sour cream

Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan; add the onion and garlic, and cook, covered, over low heat for about 5 minutes so that the onion can wilt. Uncover the pan, raise the heat to medium, and stir in the cumin and pepper. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until the onions start to show signs of browning, then add oregano, potatoes, green chiles, jalapeƱos (optional), and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer slowly for 45 minutes. Serve very hot with the optional cheese or cilantro sprinkled over each portion if you like.

Variation: the addition of ½ cup of sour cream, stirred in off the heat after the soup has finished cooking, makes it taste even richer, and many people would say even better.

Basic white chicken broth

6 lb. chicken backs, necks or bones, or 6 lb. stewing hen cut into 8 pieces
1 medium-sized onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium-sized carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 bouquet garni (10 fresh thyme springs, 1 large bunch parsley, 1 bay leaf tied together, or 2 T dried thyme, 1 bunch parsley, including stems, coarsely chopped, and 1 crumpled bay leaf, all in cheesecloth bag)

Trim excess fat and all skin from chicken, Put vegetables and bouquet garni in the bottom of a 10- to 12-quart stockpot, add the chicken and pour over enough water to barely cover. Heat over medium to high heat until the eater comes to a simmer. Turn the heat down low enough to keep broth at a slow simmer and cook for about 3 hours, For the first 30 minutes, occasionally skim off any fat or froth that comes to the surface. When broth is done, strain into clean heat-resistant container. Let cool for an hour before refrigerating. Next day, spoon off and discard any fat on surface. Yield: 3 ½ quarts.
--Dolly Shaffner Hess

White bean soup with rosemary

2 T olive oil
1 ½--2 cups finely chopped yellow onion (1-2 medium)
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1 large branch rosemary (5-7”)
~3 cups drained cannellini beans (2 14.5-ounce cans)
4 cups chicken stock or broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large, wide-bottomed stock pan or saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add onions, garlic and whole rosemary branch and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the beans and stock, cover partially, increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer and cool for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool for 5-10 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary branch. Transfer cooled soup to a food processor and puree in batches. Return soup to pot and place over medium heat until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper.
--Dolly Shaffner Hess

Happy Monday and good cheer.

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