The Richmond Register

October 10, 2012

A splash of soups for fall

The Food Dude

By Frank Kourt
The Food Dude

RICHMOND — Autumn, with its chilly and somewhat unpredictable weather, brings us back to the kitchen with thoughts of heartier fare.

Soup is, perhaps, the most basic of comfort foods.

It’s reasonably easy to make, takes just one pot, and provides enough to feed a couple or a crowd, depending on how much you want to make.

Some people have an exaggerated fear of making soup, but it’s actually one of the easier dishes to make, especially with the availability of many canned and boxed broths available in grocery stores that give you a real jump on cooking these cold weather delights!

Form any years, I made chicken soup that included making my own stock. This involved simmering cut up chicken for hours, cooling the chicken and removing the meal before I could actually start the soup making itself.

Using boxed chicken broth, and boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I have come up with a recipe that not only eliminates a lot of the fuss, but makes a soup that’s much less fatty, takes considerably less time, and is just as tasty as soup made in the “classic” method.

Since most soup making is dependent upon the broth or stock, we can also cut time and effort in making beef-based soups, like vegetable beef.

Make no mistake…these soups taste homemade and are far superior than anything you can get in a can.

I still make my split pea soup with a meaty hambone, since I’m unable to find any suitable boxed ham broth, but it’s really not a difficult dish, and it’s a great use for that leftover ham bone.

So, plan on serving a hearty and tasty soup to take the chill off the autumn air, and enjoy plenty of good eating. All’s you need is a nice crusty loaf of bread and you’ve got a complete, delicious meal that’s not only good, but healthy for you!

Easy Chicken Soup

3 32 oz. carton chicken broth

1 small onion, peeled and studded with four cloves

3 carrots peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 ribs celery, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 T chicken flavored soup base or bullion

1 tsp. each dried thyme and poultry seasoning

1 dried bay leaf

1 T coarse ground pepper

1 tsp. salt

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 lb. frozen peas

1/4 to 1/2 lb. dried egg noodles

Place all ingredients, except the peas and noodles, into a soup kettle and mix well. Bring to a boil atop the stove. Lower heat and cover. Simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the carrots are tender, stirring periodically. Remove the clove-studded onion. When the carrots are tender, stir in the peas and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the noodles, and cook according to package directions until the noodles are tender.

Crock pot vegetable beef soup

Three 32 oz. cartons of beef broth

2 lb. beef chuck roast or steaks, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 lb. can tomatoes

2 medium potatoes, cubed

6 carrots peeled and sliced

6 stalks celery (with tops) , sliced

3 medium onions,  diced

1 tsp. salt

4 peppercorns

4 beef bouillon cubes

1 tsp. oregano

2 tsp. basil

2 bay leaves

1/2 lb. frozen corn

Mix ingredients, except the corn, well. Place in crock pot and cover. How long you cook it depends on the kind of crock pot you have. If it’s the kind with just a “low” and “high” switch, it will go for about five hours on high. If it’s a model with a more variable heat control, it can go for about the same time at about mid setting. Taste it periodically and up the temperature if necessary. Stir in the corn during the last hour of cooking.

Split Pea Soup

1 lb. split peas

2 quarts of water

1 meaty ham bone, or 1 lb. ham, diced

5 whole peppercorns

3-5 stalks of celery, including leaves, chopped

3-5 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 bay leaf

salt to taste.

Combine all the ingredients in a soup pot and simmer on the stove for about three hours, or cook in a crock pot on “low” setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on “high” for 5 to 6 hours.

Remove the bone, cool and cut off ham in bite-sized pieces and return to the pot, stirring well. Discard the bone.