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Nine winter soups

Do you know what one of my favorite parts of winter is? Soup. What is better on a cold evening than a nice, warm bowl of soup? Add in some crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a winner. It is so comforting and so versatile. It can be healthy, or not. (Hello, cream soups!) It can be a main course or an appetizer. Meat-filled or vegetarian. Brothy or cheesy. Often it makes so much that you can feed a crowd or have lots of leftovers. Are you convinced yet?

Houses in Italy aren’t insulated very well, if at all. I have been freezing, and therefore making a lot of soup. Tim doesn’t seem to mind. I have made some great recipes and I wanted to share them with you. Most of these recipes came from other people, but a couple I made up myself. I also didn’t really take many pictures because soup is hard to photograph and the light in my kitchen is bad. So use your imagination! Are you ready for some soup?

Note: I use chicken broth for all these soups, but you could also use vegetable broth. I also recommend either getting the low sodium broth or watering the regular broth down a little, like 1 C water to 3 C broth. Otherwise, it’s too salty and it actually will sting your tongue.If you use regular broth, then you can probably skip adding salt. Taste and see. In the soups I make, I don’t measure my seasoning, I just dump some in, taste, and add more if I need it. In Italian, I put in “quanto basta”, or enough.

Ok, let’s talk chicken soup for a minute. I firmly believe that onions, carrots, and celery make chicken soup what it is. It just isn’t the same without those ingredients. It needs lots, too. It doesn’t really matter what other veggies you throw in, but you have to have those three. The last time I made chicken noodle soup, I didn’t have any precooked chicken, so I just threw in some raw, semi-thawed chicken tenders and boiled it along with the vegetables, then shredded it. It worked great!

Basic chicken noodle soup

1 large onion, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
2 large stalks celery, sliced
about 4 C chicken broth (enough to cover the veggies)
1 lb cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
8-10 oz pasta (egg noodles or whatever you have on hand)
A healthy shake of basil, salt, pepper, and dried parsley

  1. Chop vegetables, put them in a soup pot, and cover with broth. Bring to a boil and cook until almost soft. If the chicken isn’t cooked, put it in with the veggies at the beginning.
  2. When the veggies are about 10 minutes from being done, put in the pasta. When that is almost done, add the chicken. Cook until the pasta is done and the soup is heated through.

Chicken gnocchi soup

Gnocchi (pronounced know-kee) is an Italian potato dumpling. They are made with mashed potatoes and flour. They are really filling and oh-so-good. Gnocchi only needs to boil for about 3 minutes, and you can tell when it’s done because they will float to the top. Substitute gnocchi for the noodles in chicken noodle soup for a completely different, very filling meal.

Creamy chicken tortellini soup (from A Spicy Perspective)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 9 cups chicken broth
  • 8.8 ounce package three cheese tortellini
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons packed frozen spinach (1/2 cup fresh baby spinach leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves (1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Place a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add the butter and chopped onions. Saute for 3 minutes to soften. Then add the chopped bell pepper, carrots, and garlic. Saute another 3 minutes.
  2. Add whole chicken breasts, chicken broth, dried thyme, crushed red pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat a little and simmer 15 minutes, until the chicken in cooked through. Remove the chicken and place on a cutting board.
  3. Turn the heat back to medium. With the broth still simmering, stir in the tortellini. Stir well so it doesn’t stick together. Then chop or shred the chicken and place back in the soup.
  4. Once the tortellini is cooked through, about 10-14 minutes, turn off the heat. Stir in 1/4 cup heavy cream, spinach, and parsley. Add a little more cream if desired. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed.

Cheesy taco soup (from Iowa Girl Eats)

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2-1/2 cups milk, divided
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 10oz can Rotel, undrained
  • 15oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  1. Brown ground beef in a large soup pot over medium-high heat, seasoning with salt and pepper, until no longer pink. Drain and return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then whisk in flour and cook for one minute. Slowly whisk in 1 cup milk, season with salt and pepper, then switch to a wooden spoon and stir mixture until thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat then stir in shredded cheese until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Add taco seasoning, rotel, black beans, cheese sauce, and remaining 1-1/2 cups milk into cooked ground beef then stir well to combine. Bring to a heavy simmer then turn heat down to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with crushed tortilla chips and more shredded cheese, if desired.

Crockpot cheeseburger soup (from Life in the Lofthouse)
This soup is awesome, but it would be even better with chopped bacon, right?

  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (16 oz.) package Velveeta processed cheese, cubed OR 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    1. Place potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, dried basil and parsley in a large crock pot. Pour chicken broth over vegetables. Cover with lid. Cook on low heat 6 to 8 hours OR on high heat 4 to 5 hours or until potatoes are tender.
    2. About 45 minutes before serving, cook and crumble ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain any grease. Pour cooked ground beef into crock pot. Carefully wipe out hot skillet with a paper towel then add butter. When butter is melted whisk in flour and cook until golden brown and bubbly (about 1 minute.) Whisk in the milk, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into the crock pot and stir to combine everything.
    3. Add the cubed velveeta cheese or shredded cheese to crock pot. Stir again. Cover with lid and cook another 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Potato soup
This is a soup that I have perfected over the years. I love it! It’s like eating liquidy, cheesy mashed potatoes. It’s even better with chopped ham or sliced sausages.

  • 5-6 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • water
  • 1-2 C shredded cheese
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1/2 C sour cream (optional)
  • 2-3 C milk
  • Parsley flakes, salt, pepper, basil
  1. Put the prepared vegetables in a soup pot, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes, until they are soft.
  2. Drain, return to the pot and mash. The more you mash, the smoother it will be. I like it with some chunks in it.
  3. Add seasonings to taste and the butter and stir to melt. Add cheese, sour cream, and enough milk to make it soupy, stir to combine. Heat until slightly bubbling, and serve.

Pumpkin apple soup
I don’t remember where I got this recipe, but it’s so good! The original recipe called for pears, but I use apples because I don’t like pears. I don’t think I roasted the apples, but I just cooked them in the soup and they were plenty soft. It also wants you to roast your own pumpkin, but you can also used canned pumpkin puree.

  • 3 small onions, diced
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small apples (or pears), peeled, roasted, and coarsely chopped
  • 4 C roasted pumpkin
  • salt and pepper
  • 4+ C chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

To roast pumpkin and apples/pears: Cut the pumpkin into thick slices, removing seeds and stringy loose flesh inside. Cut the pears in half, peel and core. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the pumpkin and pears on top. Bake in a preheated 375° F oven until both the pears and pumpkin are fork tender and beginning to brown, about 25 minutes for the pears and 45 minutes for the pumpkin. Allow to cool and scoop out the pumpkin flesh keeping 4 cups for the soup and reserving rest for another use. Chop the pears coarsely.

  1. In a heavy soup pot, heat the butter and add the onions. Cook over medium low heat until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook an additional couple of minutes.
  2. Add the pumpkin and pears and about 4 cups of broth. Season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes.
  3. Blend, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed, and add additional broth if soup is too thick. Serve soup warm.

Saint Patrick Irish cheese soup (from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups)

  • 2 leeks
  • 2 potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 6 C vegetable or meat stock
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp thyme powder
  • 1/4 tsp sage powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 C milk
  • 5 oz grated Kerrygold Irish Cheddar (or other good-quality cheddar)
  1. Clean, peel, and chop vegetables. Melt the butter in a soup pot and saute the vegetables lightly for about 3 minutes. Stir frequently.
  2. Add the stock, garlic, herbs, and seasonings. Bring the soup to a boil, then cover the pot and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Blend the soup in a blender (or with an immersion blender) and return it to the pot. Add the milk and cheese. Reheat the soup, but do not allow it to boil again. Serve hot.

Broccoli cheese soup (from Averie Cooks)
This soup, while fantastic, is super rich and would be good for an appetizer or when you really want to impress somebody.

  • 1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small/medium diced sweet yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced finely
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups half-and-half (whole milk or 2% milk will work but soup won’t be as creamy)
  • 2 to 3 cups bite-size broccoli florets (+ 1 cups stems, optional)
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into very thin rounds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 8 ounces grated high quality extra-sharp cheddar cheese, with a small amount reserved for garnishing bowls (don’t use the pre-grated stuff, it won’t melt right)
  1. In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon butter, the diced onion, and sauté over medium until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottom pot, add 4 tablespoons of butter, the flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. (It’s really important it is thick, or the soup will be thin.)
  4. Slowly add the stock and half and half, whisking constantly.
  5. Simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk occasionally to re-incorporate the skin from the surface.
  6. While mixture is simmering, chop the broccoli and carrots. After 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic.
  7. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, dried mustard, and cayenne.
  8. Simmer over low for about 20 to 25 minutes, again whisking in the skin.
  9. While soup simmers, grate the cheese. Stir in most of the cheese until melted, reserving a small amount for on top.

Are you hungry yet?

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