Warm winter soups for those cold winter days

Unseasonably cold temperatures throughout the world lend to comfort foods and soup with every meal. Here are some great recipes to stay warm.

Split pea soup (photo credit: Courtesy)
Split pea soup
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Unseasonably cold temperatures throughout the world lend to comfort foods and soup with every meal.  And although I make all sorts of soups from Thai Chicken to Indian Vegetable, I find the classic recipes are so important to warm the body and soul. These classics are a big hit every time.  My kids love to come home from school and start their meal with a warm bowl of any of these soups.  Sometimes, they are lucky enough to have a bit left over to bring for lunch the next day.
Classic Split Pea Soup
This is a recipe by Ina Garten.  I added red wine and like to top it with some chopped cooked pastrami.  Its great pareve too. Just substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock or pareve chicken stock. 
Serve 8 – 10
1 cup chopped yellow onions2 cloves garlic, minced1/8 cup good olive oil1/2 teaspoon dried oregano1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper2 cups medium-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)1 cup medium-diced small red potatoes, unpeeled (3 small)1 pound dried split green peas8 cups chicken stock or beef stock¼ cup red wine
In a 4-quart stockpot on medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions and garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, 1/2 pound of split peas, and chicken stock. Add the wine.  Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Skim off the foam while cooking. Add the remaining split peas and continue to simmer for another 40 minutes, or until all the peas are soft. Stir frequently to keep the solids from burning on the bottom. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Classic Potato Leek Soup
Makes this one pareve or dairy.  If you make it dairy use butter in place of the margarine and use dairy sour cream. It can be made a few days ahead of time.  Keep it chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serves 8 – 10
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine or butter3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced crosswise2 medium onions, halved and thinly slicedKosher salt1/4 cup brandy1/4 cup dry white wine1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes8 cups water1/2 cup Tofutti sour cream or sour cream1 tablespoon finely chopped chivesFreshly ground pepper
Melt the margarine/butter in a large saucepan. Add the leeks, onions and 2 teaspoons of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the brandy and white wine and boil until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the potatoes are very tender, about 35 minutes.
With an immersion blender puree the soup (you can use a blender too) until very smooth. Return the soup to the pan. Add the Tofutti sour cream  and bring to just a simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Season with salt. Ladle the soup into heatproof glasses or bowls. Garnish with the chives and pepper and serve.Chicken Udon Soup
This soup is like a meal in a bowl.  It’s nutritious and filling and super delicious. For me, it has become a classic and a keeper.
1 (3 1/2-ounce) package fresh shiitake mushrooms
4 cups chicken stock
6 (1/4-inch) slices peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 star anise, optional (I usually skip this)
6 ounces dried udon noodles (thick Japanese wheat noodles)
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup sake or dry white wine
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup diagonally cut green onions
Remove stems from mushrooms; reserve stems. Thinly slice mushroom caps; set aside. Combine mushroom stems, chicken stock, ginger, garlic, green onion and star anise in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Strain stock through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids.
Cook udon noodles according to package directions and rinse with cold water;Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add reserved sliced mushroom caps to pan, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add minced ginger and minced garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add sake, and cook for 4 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add stock to pan. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low. Add chicken, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, and salt; simmer for 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated. Divide noodles evenly among 4 bowls. Add 1 1/2 cups soup to each bowl. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon green onions.
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