Chosen Bites: Worries go down better with soup

For me, the craving for a nice, welcoming bowl of soup only occurs when the weather is cold. Turns out, that is completely backwards.

Vegetable Soup 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Vegetable Soup 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Worries Go Down Better with Soup.
-Jewish Proverb
I think I have had my soup making sessions completely backwards. I only seem to make soup when it is cold out. For me, the craving for a nice, welcoming bowl of soup only occurs when the weather is cold. Turns out, that is completely backwards. All the great produce is at its best when the weather is still warm, and that is NOW! When the weather is cold, the vines and plants are not making the vegetables needed for my soup.
So, no time waste. There is soup to be made. Perfect for the holidays and beyond-soups made at the peak of freshness and then frozen or canned are delicious, convenient and a staple for busy families.
Garden Vegetable Soup
I just made this gorgeous and fresh tasting soup with vegetables from the market. The flavor was bright and fresh, the color was gorgeous. There is simply no comparison to fresh off the vine vegetables and their less than fresh counterparts later in the season.
I made 6 quarts of soup. We ate one and froze the rest for the holidays. A leisurely first course or quick dinner is at hand. I made the soup pareve. You can add cooked chicken or turkey for a meat soup or parmesan cheese for a dairy version.
Serves 8+
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds red onions, diced
½ pound carrots
1 ½ pounds red peppers, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced finely
½ Serrano pepper or other hot pepper, diced (optional)
2 pounds vine ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
½ pound green beans, cut into ½ inch segments
½ pound broccoli florets, cut bite size
2 pounds potatoes, cut into dice (I used a waxy Fingerling potato)
½ cup whole wheat macaroni (optional)
8 cups of cold water
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
1.Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.
2.Sweat the onions, carrots and peppers until they are very limp and fragrant (about 10 minutes).
3.Add the garlic and hot pepper (if using) and continue cooking until the garlic has softened (3 minutes).
4.Add the remaining ingredients and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the soup until the vegetables are cooked through and the flavors have melded (about 30 minutes).
5.Add the herbs and turn off the soup. Season to taste.
6.Cool completely before storing
7.For a delicious dairy variation, add basil and parmesan cheese pesto to the soup. For a meat variation, add ground turkey or chicken.
Roasted Tomato Soup
I love tomato soup and especially with fresh tomatoes. The bright flavor, balanced acidity and sweetness of this soup made with fresh tomatoes makes it a perfect fall or winter staple. I roast the tomatoes, generously drizzles with fruity olive oil. The slow roasting brings out a sweet smokiness and gives the soup a satisfying richness.
To add heartiness to the dish, I take crispy garlic croutons and a generous drizzle of fruity olive oil and garnish the soup with it.
Serves 6+
Extra virgin olive oil
½ cup sliced shallots
3 medium leeks, sliced (white and pale green parts only)
6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 pounds fresh tomatoes, cut in half
6 cups vegetable stock or water
1 bay leaf
½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Salt and pepper
Garnishes-Garlicky croutons, best quality extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, parmesan cheese and sour cream (optional for dairy preparation)
Preheat oven to 325
1.Toss the shallots, leeks, garlic and tomatoes with olive oil. Place the ingredients on parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven until the tomatoes are browned and the garlic is very soft (about 1 hour).
2.Place all of the ingredients in a large soup pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
3.Process the ingredients through a food mill or food processor to puree the soup.
4.Return the soup to the soup pot and adjust consistency with more water if necessary.
5.Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked pepper.
6.Serve the soup in bowls or mugs garnished with garlicky croutons, a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil.
Garlicky Croutons
1 loaf whole wheat or favorite bread (leftover challah works well for this), cut into ½ inch thick slices
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Preheat oven to 350
1.Brush the bread with extra virgin olive oil. Toast the slices in the preheated oven until the bread is crispy and brown.
2.Rub the bread with the peeled garlic cloves while it is still warm.
Laura Frankel is the executive chef at Spertus Kosher Catering and the author of Jewish Cooking for all Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.