I love preparing soup for my family all year round.Whenever the weather turns cold and wintry, like it has been here and there over the last couple of months, I immediately put aside whatever ideas I had for dinner and prepare a nice, thick soup. Sometimes the soup is just one of the courses, but other times I serve it as the main course. The purpose of a good winter soup is to warm everyone up and also be filling. Sometimes I make vegetable soups with barley, or a nice meat-based soup.The most important thing to remember when making soup is not to be afraid of trying new combinations. You can use any vegetables you happen to have on hand at home, such as kohlrabi, turnips and artichokes.Feel free to try out a variety of grains, too, such as chickpeas and any other bean, all the different kind of lentils, barley, wheat, peas and rice. All of these will make your soup incredibly tasty and unique.Another way to alter the texture of soup is by adding noodles, which is an especially favorite way for children to eat soup. There are a variety of shapes and flavors of noodles available that will draw kids’ attention and curiosity. Just remember that pasta will absorb large quantities of water, so you’ll probably need to add more liquid.It’s important to use only top-quality ingredients when making soup, and if you’re going to use soup powder (try to keep amounts down) make sure it does not include monosodium glutamate. Don’t forget to add spices, including ethnic mixes such as baharat or hawaij, which will immediately boost your soup to the next level. BARLEY, CARROT AND CELERY SOUP Makes 6 to 8 servings.3 Tbsp. canola oil 1 onion, chopped2 carrots, cut into small cubes 4 cloves garlic, crushed ¼ cabbage, cut into thin strips 1 medium potato, cut into large cubes 6 sprigs parsley6 sprigs dill ¾ to 1½ cups pearl barley¼ tsp. turmeric¼ tsp. cumin Salt and pepper to taste 6 cups chicken stock or 2 Tbsp. chicken soup powder Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion, carrot and garlic.Stir-fry for one to two minutes.Add the cabbage and potato and cook for two minutes.Tie parsley and dill together to make a bouquet garni and place in pot. Add the barley, turmeric, cumin, salt, pepper and chicken stock. Add liquid so that pot is ¾ full. Cover and bring to a boil.Lower flame and cook for 90 minutes. Add more water if soup is too thick. Remove bouquet garni and serve hot. Can be served with soup croutons. Once soup cools, it will thicken. When reheating, add about ¼ cup water before heating. TIPascaleThe best way to make a soup thicker is by adding grains such as barley, rice and lentils. Another way to thicken soup is by mixing butter with flour. Some fun additions for soup are croutons, soup almonds, egg whites with a little lemon and noodles.Do your kids refuse to eat vegetable soup because they don’t like seeing the pieces of vegetables? Just puree the soup and your problem is solved.FRENCH ONION SOUPThis soup is one of my children’s favorites. I don’t cut corners on this recipe – I even make my own croutons.If you’d like the soup to be parve, you can replace butter with margarine and leave out cheese.Makes 6 to 8 servings.100 gr. butter, melted 4 to 5 large onions (500 gr.) sliced thinly 2 sprigs thyme 3 Tbsp. flour, sifted 3 Tbsp. onion soup mix (low sodium and without monosodium glutamate),optional 8 cups water ¼ tsp nutmeg, grated Salt and pepper to taste1 cup hard cheese, grated Garnish:Rosemary Croutons: 6 slices dark bread, toasted Olive oil 1 clove garlic, crushed Heat the butter in a large pot and fry onion until translucent. Add the thyme and flour and stir quickly.Add the soup powder and water. Stir. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low flame for 50 minutes. Stir every once in a while.To prepare croutons, slice toasted bread into pieces and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and spread with garlic. Bake for three to four minutes at 250°.Serving suggestion: Ladle soup into an oven-proof bowl. Sprinkle with croutons and cheese and then grill for four to five minutes at 250° until cheese melts. Sprinkle with rosemary if desired.VEGETARIAN BEAN SOUPIt doesn’t take long to prepare vegetable soup, but you do need to let it cook for up to three hours until it reaches the correct consistency. If you want to make it even thicker, you can mix some egg with flour and then drizzle this on top of the boiling soup. This soup is best prepared the day before.Makes 6 to 8 servings.500 gr. (3 cups) white beans, soaked overnight and drained 10 cups water 1 large onion, chopped 2 carrots, cut in half 2 stalks celery, cut into 3-cm. pieces 3 ripe tomatoes, cut into small cubes 2 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste 6 Tbsp. olive oil 6 sprigs parsley 1 tsp. salt ½ tsp. black pepper 1 tsp. sugar 2 Tbsp. chicken soup powder 2 Tbsp. onion soup powder 6 basil leaves 2 sprigs of thyme Adornment: 1 to 2 sprigs thyme Add beans and water to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium flame. Remove foam that forms on top.Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and bring back to a boil. Lower flame and cook for 2.5 to 3 hours. Garnish with thyme and serve with whole grain bread.MEAT BEAN SOUP Makes 6 to 8 servings.4 Tbsp. olive oil 1 large onion, chopped thinly 300 gr. beef shoulder, cubed 2 beef bones 1 marrow bone 2 carrots, cut in half 2 stalks of celery, cut into 3cm pieces ½ celery root, cut into small pieces 5 cloves garlic, whole 500 gr. (3 cups) white beans, soaked overnight and drained 4 ripe tomatoes, cut into little cubes 2 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. black pepper ½ tsp. hot paprika 1 tsp. sugar 2 Tbsp. onion soup mix 10 cups water 2 potatoes, cut into small pieces Garnish: Parsley leaves Heat oil in a large pot. Add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the meat cubes and bones. Stir. Cook until meat pieces are browned on all sides.Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the potatoes.Bring to a boil, then lower the flame and cook for another 60 to 90 minutes. Add the potatoes and bring back to a boil. Mix and taste. Adjust seasonings. Continue cooking another two hours over a low flame until soup thickens.Translated by Hannah Hochner.