Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of beautiful soup?
from Alice in Wonderland
by C. S. Lewis
Made a big batch of soup yesterday. Seems like soup always tastes especially good after the holidays when one imbibes a wee bit too much on sweets and rich foods. Not that we would go so far as to make a New Year's resolution as to such or anything, but both of us in this here household are making a concentrated effort to shape up our nutritional habits and, hopefully at the same time, our bodies during the first few months of 2009. To this end, we'll probably be eating a lot of soup. What could be more nutritional and sustaining than a bowlful of homemade soup? And you always get exclamations of "Oh, what smells so good?" when anyone walks into a kitchen that has a pot of soup simmering. Good for the cook's ego, if nothing else.
We've got lots of good veggies from the garden still waiting to be used. Plentiful potatoes, carrots, cabbage, stewed tomatoes, frozen peas, beans, and corn. (Confession before I'm struck down dead for lying: The stewed tomatoes and corn were purchased from our local whole foods co-op. Someday, we'll get that area that's attached to the end of the house and is currently being used for lumber storage up and going as a real greenhouse, and then we may have our own corn and enough tomatoes for canning.)
When I make soup, I never make enough for only one meal. The effort expended mixing up a huge pot of soup is hardly greater than that for a quart batch.
I'm fortunate to have a partner who LOVES soup. He would (I'm serious here) eat it for three meals a day and be happy. So I always make a large batch, we eat it for a lunch or dinner for a couple of days running. (No, not all three meals because I'm the cooker here, and I couldn't handle that --- my palate demands variety!) I freeze the bulk of the big potful in quart containers that are just about the easiest "convenience food" to have on hand.
The same bowl of soup served with varied relishes, salads, sandwiches or biscuits/rolls/bread/croutons can look and taste like a totally different meal. (Although in this house, we're gonna be going a little light on the biscuits, etc. for a while. Hear that, hon?)
And you know what is a perfect baby food? Homemade soup whizzed up in the blender. That was the first "solid" food I started our daughter on. Because soup usually contains a mixture of all kinds of good veggies, meat, broth, sometimes pasta, she got all she needed in her "soup." (Gotta admit some soups come out of the blender looking like . . . picture Lentil Soup . . . well, we'll just say a trifle unappetizing, but that didn't bother her one whit.)
What soup did I stir up yesterday? Vegetable Chicken Chowder. Here's the recipe in case anyone has a hankerin' to try it.
VEGETABLE CHICKEN CHOWDER
- 1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
- 1 cup chopped stewed tomatoes
- 3/4 cups sliced carrots
- 1-1/2 cups cubed potatoes
- 1 chopped onion
- 3/4 cups sliced celery
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dill weed
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup (or more) cooked chicken, cubed
Combine everything but the milk and chicken in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Simmer 45 minutes. Add the cup of milk and the meat. Heat thoroughly but don't boil. Serves about 6.
If you're using canned chicken broth, go a little easy on the salt. I use broth I've made when stewing our post-menopausal hens so the broth is not as salty as the commercial stuff. I've never tried this soup with cream instead of milk but that sounds like it would make for a luscious, rich, special soup. (Note to self: Try that.) One cup of chicken meat isn't much, so if you have more throw it in, but one cup will definitely be enough to give it good flavor.
I know it takes time to make a big pot of homemade soup, but you get several meals out of it, it's handy to take out of the freezer and let defrost on the counter all day if you're gone or busy, it's economical, nutritional (got it all right there in that one bowl!), and tastes so good on these frigid days.
I had a lengthy conversation the day before yesterday (standing outside in 10 degree weather with about a 25 mile per hour wind blowing --- not real bright, huh?) with a gal who bakes and sells wonderful, heavy, hearty, chewy, chunky bread in our area. She's providing the bread for a local wedding tomorrow. The couple being married is doing the food for the reception themselves (with a little help from their friends), and know what they're serving? Steaming bowls of chili, plates of cheeses, olives, pickles, and an assortment of my friend's warm, fresh-baked bread with butter. Doesn't that sound just perfect for a casual wedding feast on the first weekend of the New Year?