CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Whether you call it a polar vortex, arctic breeze or just plain winter, cold winds and low temperatures insist on sticking around.
The warm days here and there are a tease, but I'd rather take them than leave them. Soup weather is here to stay for a bit longer, so let's take advantage of it.
Think positively about this continually frigid weather. Soup will carry us through. It fills the belly while being economically efficient, and it's a great way to get some extra vegetables in your diet. There's a bag in my fridge always dedicated to leftover broccoli and cauliflower stems, along with limp and leafy celery bits. I put it all in my food processor and add it to most soups. Potato or vegetable soup is the best; the processed veggies virtually disappear and become a thickening agent, making the soup seem more filling.
Soup doesn't have to play second fiddle to the main course. Cram all the food groups into one pot, and you're good to go. Pureed vegetables, leftover mashed potatoes and even pureed nuts can add creaminess and thickener to soup, making it more substantial as a main dish.
If one bowl at your dinner table sounds too minimal, then include a platter of add-ins. They can be helpful for kids or grown-ups who feel like soup can't be a meal by itself. Include hunks of crusty bread, shredded cheese, quartered boiled eggs, homemade croutons, avocado slices, crispy slices of fried corn mush and mounds of steamed quinoa or brown rice. Or serve the soup in a whole-grain bread bowl. The family will be delighted.
Although convenient and seemingly healthy, canned soups are a clean eating no-no. Those cans are loaded with sodium, mushy vegetables and plenty of other junk. If a recipe calls for cream-of-whatever soup, it can usually be substituted with a cup of sour cream or heavy cream and a little extra salt and herbs. To make an official cream-of-anything soup, simply mix 3 tablespoons of melted butter, 3 tablespoons of whole-wheat flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup of milk or stock. Cook until the soup is thick. Add sauteed celery or mushrooms to the melting butter, or use chicken broth instead of milk, along with some herbs -- and voila -- you have cream-of-whatever soup. It's a basic white sauce recipe that you can adapt however you see fit. It's almost as easy as breaking out the can opener. Portion out leftovers, freeze them, and they'll be just as easy to use as cans.
Try these recipes to help carry you through the end of soup season.
1 cup medium-grind cornmeal
1/3 cup whole wheat-flour
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
Place a 9- or 10-inch-diameter cast-iron skillet in oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Whisk melted butter, buttermilk and egg in another medium bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; whisk batter to blend. Place 2 tablespoons butter in hot skillet; swirl to coat. Add batter. Bake until top is golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool in skillet. Cut cornbread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Spread cornbread in even layer on prepared sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown around edges, turning occasionally, about 35 minutes.
Adapted from epicurious.com
Carrot ginger cashew soup
1 1/2 pounds raw carrots (peeled and washed)
2 tablespoons olive oil or 2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
7 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 1/2 cups cashews (unsalted and either raw or dry-roasted)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pinch curry or 1 pinch coriander powder, to taste
Salt and pepper
Fresh chives or fresh parsley, for garnish
Peel and cut carrots into 1/2-inch pieces. Place oil or butter in large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and garlic. Saute for about 15 minutes. Add broth, carrots and wine (if using). Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered over medium heat until carrots are tender, about 45 minutes. Puree in blender with cashews. Season with juice, curry, coriander, salt and pepper, as desired. Serve hot or cold.
Adapted from food.com
Chicken coconut soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, scrubbed and chopped
1 cup small white or red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup skim milk
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 ounces each)
1/2 cup snow peas, cleaned and cut lengthwise
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons cilantro, coarsely chopped
Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and saute until onions are lightly translucent. Add broth and coconut and skim milks. Bring to a light boil. Add chicken; cover and let simmer for 12 minutes over medium-low heat. Remove chicken and set aside. Add peas and chili flakes to soup. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. When cool enough to handle, slice chicken and add pieces back to the soup. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Add lemon juice, sprinkle in cilantro and serve.
Adapted from cleaneatingmag.com
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