No matter the weather, soup is a welcome meal

A hearty bowl of soup is easy to make and will keep you warm even when winter gets frigid

    Although it has been a relatively mild winter so far, a good bowl of hot soup is always welcome.
    After all, soup is a meal in a bowl, easy to make on a weekend and quick to heat up for work-week meals.
    Soups run the gamut from light to hearty, vegetarian to meaty. A cup of soup can whet the appetite, while a bowl can satisfy the most voracious hunger.
    Although it is simple to open a can of soup, making your own isn’t difficult.
    Add browned meat, vegetables, pasta and herbs to broth and simmer until heated through to make a quick and easy soup.
    To thicken your soup, you can puree the vegetables a bit — especially when you use potatoes or a root vegetable — or make a mixture of cornstarch and a little water and whisk it in.  
    If you’re in a hurry, you can use canned broth. You can give it extra flavor by simmering chicken or meat bones in the broth for 15 minutes. Then strain the liquid and use it for your soup.
    But if you have time, make your own broth. You can freeze any broth you don’t use immediately and have it on hand for future soups.
    To make homemade beef or poultry broth, simmer about five pounds of beef or poultry with vegetables in eight cups of water in a tall pot. Bring to a slow simmer over low heat, skimming the foam that collects on the top frequently, and add a selection of spices and herbs until the broth is flavorful.
    Simmer the broth for several hours, then strain it through a sieve or colander into a metal or glass bowl. Set the bowl into a sink or larger bowl with ice water. Stir the broth occasionally to hurry cooling. Cover and refrigerate broth, then remove the fat that solidifies at the top.
    Be aware that herbs will have a more intense flavor if added at the end of the long cooking process.
    If your finished soup is a little salty, place a raw potato in the pot and simmer with the soup for about 15 minutes. Remove the potato before serving.
     Savory soups and stews always taste better if made a day or two in advance and reheated just before serving.
    Following are a few soup recipes from

Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup With Sausage and Kale

1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup sherry or dry white wine
2 carrots, diced
1 15- ounce can diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
3 cups chopped lacinato dinosaur kale, veins removed
1 pound fresh 3-cheese tortellini
Grated Parmesan cheese

    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add onion and celery and cook three to four minutes, then stir in minced garlic, season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook another two to three minutes. Add sherry or white wine and scrape up any fond or bits on the bottom of the pan, cooking until the liquid evaporates.
    Transfer sausage and vegetables to the insert of the slow cooker. Add carrots, diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Grind in the basil, oregano and parsley and stir. Cover and cook on low for three hours.
    Add tortellini and kale to the slow cooker and cook another 30 minutes.
    Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Broccoli, Cheese and Potato Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 large white potatoes, cubed
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 cups broccoli florets
3 cups whole milk
3 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook four to five minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally.
    Add cubed potatoes, chicken broth and kosher salt and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a rolling simmer and cook about eight minutes, until potatoes are soft and easily pierced with a fork. Use an immersion blender to puree to the consistency you desire or mash with a potato masher.
    Add broccoli florets and milk and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cooking five to seven minutes, until broccoli is al denté.
    Toss cheese with the flour and add to the soup, one cup at a time, stirring until melted before adding the next cup. Season with black pepper and salt to taste.


Turkey Pot Pie Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups turkey or chicken stock
1 pint half and half
4 cups cooked turkey meat, chopped
4 to 5 carrots, chopped
4 white potatoes, skinned and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 package refrigerator pie dough
Flour for dusting pie dough

    In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom stock pot, melt butter with canola oil over medium heat. Add celery and onion and cook four to five minutes, until they begin to turn soft, stirring occasionally. Add white wine and thyme sprigs and cook until the wine reduces into the vegetables.
    Place flour in a small bowl with between 3/4 and one cup turkey stock and whisk until combined. Add flour mixture to the vegetables and cook four to five minutes, stirring often. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Whisk in the rest of the turkey stock and all but one tablespoon half and half, whisking until no clumps appear. Add turkey, carrots, potatoes, frozen peas and marjoram. Cook 20 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are fork tender.
    Roll out pie crust and dust lightly with flour. Cut into discs or shapes and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with one tablespoon half and half and bake in a 400-degree oven for five minutes.
    Serve soup topped with the baked pie dough discs.


Best Cheeseburger Soup

1 pound ground beef)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
3 small russet potatoes, peeled and cubed into bite-size pieces
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
For toppings:
2 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 slices sourdough bread
3 to 4 tablespoons butter
Garlic salt

    Brown ground beef over medium high heat in a large Dutch oven about five minutes, until no longer pink. Add pressed garlic, stir and cook about one minute, until garlic is fragrant. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook about five minutes, until onions become soft. Season with kosher salt and pepper, then sprinkle with flour. Stir and cook two minutes.
    Add milk, potatoes and drained tomatoes and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover and cook, stirring often,  for 12 to 15 minutes, until potatoes are soft.
    Slice sourdough bread and butter one side of each slice. Sprinkle with garlic salt and broil five minutes, until lightly browned and toasty. Cut into bite size pieces.
    Remove soup from the heat. Stir in hot sauce and cheddar cheese. Adjust seasoning and garnish with parsley and garlic butter croutons, plus more cheese and hot sauce, if desired.

Vegetarian Crockpot Lasagna Soup

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 cups brown mushrooms, sliced
2 zucchinis, sliced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces lasagna noodles
4 cups fresh spinach
For topping:
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Generous pinch kosher salt

    Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and brown mushrooms and cook four to five minutes, until they begin to soften. Place onion mixture in the insert of a six-quart slow cooker along with zucchini, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, vegetable broth, bay leaves, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and black pepper. Cook on low for seven hours or on high for 3-1/2 to four hours.
    Cook lasagna noodles according to the package directions, drain, cut into smaller pieces if desired and add to the soup. Add spinach and warm until wilted.
    Mix cheese topping ingredients in a small bowl. Add half to the soup.
    Ladle soup into bowls and top with a dollop of the ricotta cheese topping, then  sprinkle with more parsley and basil.
    If desired, cooked sliced chicken sausage, then add to the bowls.


Slow Cooker Chicken Thai Soup

2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 12-ounce cans coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1-1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 heaping tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon lime juice
Cilantro, for garnish
Cooked white rice

    Mix curry paste, coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce, brown sugar and peanut butter in a 4-1/2 to six-quart slow-cooker bowl. Then add chicken breast, red bell pepper, onion and ginger, cover and cook on high for four hours.
    Add peas and cook 30 minutes longer.
    Stir in lime juice and serve with cilantro and white rice.


Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
8 ounces carrots, sliced into rounds
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 2 to 3-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon parsley, curly or flat-leaf, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Baguette, optional, for serving

    Heat two tablespoons cooking oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium meat. Pat beef dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place beef in the skillet and cook on all sides until brown.
    Combine onions, celery, carrots, garlic, tomato paste, diced tomatoes with liquid, broth, barley, beef stew meat, Italian seasoning and bay leaves in the bowl of a slow cooker. Cook on low for seven to eight hours. Discard bay leaves. Stir in parsley and lemon juice.
    Taste soup and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
    Serve with warm baguette slices.


Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-size pieces
2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth
1 6-ounce package long-grain wild rice, minus the seasoning packet
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

    If making in an Instant Pot: Select browning/sauté function and melt butter in the pressure cooking pot. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.
    Stir in chicken, chicken broth, rice, parsley, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Lock lid in place and select high pressure and five minutes cooking time.
    When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker, let pressure release naturally for five minutes, then finish with a quick release (use a wooden spoon to shift the pressure relief valve).
    In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Select simmer/sauté, then add slurry to the pot, stirring constantly. Sir in cream cheese until melted. Add milk, half-and-half and lemon juice and heat through. Serve sprinkled with more parsley and black pepper if desired.
    If making on the stove: Heat butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering, then add onion, carrots and celery. Sauté about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Stir in chicken, chicken broth, rice, parsley, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook 30 minutes, until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through.
    In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Add to the pot, stirring constantly. Raise heat to medium high and stir in cream cheese until melted. Stir in milk, half-and-half and lemon juice and cook until thickened. Serve sprinkled with more parsley if desired.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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