The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 5, 2014

Amanda Stone: Soup works as a warm winter dish

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.


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