It seems our varmint friend Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, so we will have 6 more weeks of winter. This is good news for my ski bum friends, but bad news for the rest of my amigos who want to bust out their flip flops and tank tops. Punk Phil’s announcement does have a silver lining – more soup is needed. No matter which side you are on, you can agree that soup is the best winter meal.
Here are a few unique soup recipes for your pleasure. Be well my friends.
(Panade) Bread Soup with Onions, Chard, and Mushrooms
- 12-14 ounces day-old rustic bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter (vegan margarine works too)
- 2 cups thinly sliced onions (sliced vertically, from tip to root)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 6 to 8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 10 to 12 ounces fresh chard, rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1/2 cup hearty red wine
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 quarts vegetable stock
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (vegan parm works too)
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Toss the cubed bread with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt. Arrange bread on a baking sheet and toast for 20-30 minutes or until nicely browned.
While the cubed bread is in the oven, prepare the onions. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and the butter on medium heat in a 5 to 7 quart Dutch oven. Add the onions and stir to coat with the butter and oil. Cook gently, stirring occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes. If the onions begin to dry out at all, lower the heat. They should begin to caramelize and lightly brown. Add the garlic, cook for a minute more, remove from heat.
While the onions are browning, heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms. “Dry” sauté them (sauté without any added fat) until they release their moisture and are lightly browned.
Cut away the tough central stems of the the chard leaves (discard, compost, or use for another purpose). Cut across the leaves into 1-inch wide strips.
Remove half of the browned onions from the Dutch oven and set aside. Spread the remaining onions evenly over the bottom of the pot. Layer over with half of the chard and half of the browned mushrooms. Sprinkle with pepper, half a teaspoon of salt, and thyme. Put down a layer of toasted bread cubes. Add the remaining onions, chard, and mushrooms. Layer on top the remaining bread cubes.
Mix together the honey and wine, until the honey is dissolved. Pour over the bread mixture. Pour the vegetable stock over everything.
Scatter the top evenly with the grated cheese.
Cover the pot with foil (not the lid) and seal it around the edges. Cut 4 or 5 vent holes in the top. Put it in a 350°F oven. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Serve immediately, digging into the layers to get a bit of everything for each portion, or let cool and refrigerate, covered.
To reheat, gently simmer a portion until hot. Plate and garnish with additional cheese and thyme.
Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke) Soup
If you like the taste of artichokes, I urge you to try your hand at making this soup with jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes). This is lick-the-bowl good.
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (vegan margarine works)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 pounds jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat and cook the onions and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Do not brown them. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt.
Add the jerusalem artichokes and the veggie stock to the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, until the jerusalem artichokes begin to break down, 45 minutes to an hour.
Using an immersion blender or upright blender, purée the soup. If using an upright blender, fill the blender bowl up only to a third of capacity at a time, if the soup is hot, and hold down the lid while blending. Alternately, you can push the soup through the finest grate on a food mill, or push it through a sturdy sieve. Add salt to taste.
Sprinkle with freshly grated black pepper to serve.
Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup
- 3 lbs plum tomatoes (about 12), tough stem point removed, and tomatoes halved lengthwise
- 1/2 lb carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 10 garlic cloves
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs of eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
Preheat oven to 425°F, with racks on top and bottom of the oven. On one rimmed baking sheet, toss together tomatoes, carrots, garlic, 2 Tbsp oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread out on the baking sheet in a single layer, with the tomatoes cut sides down.
On another rimmed baking sheet, toss together the eggplant, chickpeas, curry powder, remaining 2 Tbsp oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Place both sheets in oven (tomato mixture on the top rack). Roast until tender, about 45 minutes, tossing the mixtures halfway through.
Using tongs, peel off and discard the tomato skins. Purée tomato mixture (including the juices) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large pot. Stir in the eggplant mixture; thin with 3 to 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve, sprinkled with cilantro; garnish with toasted bread if desired.