Serve Up Some Soup!

red lentil soup1It is possible that I am jumping the gun here but, with the crisp mornings and smell of autumn in the air, I’ve begun to daydream about soup. I’ve tried to hold it off because, well, there will likely be PLENTY of time in the long New England winter for soup but, alas, this need will not be held off any longer. It’s like a timer has gone off in my body, similar to the built-in craving for everything pumpkin.

While the warm daytime temperatures have lingered, I imagine that it will soon be cool and crisp and we’ll all be digging out our jeans and sweaters. I actually love this time of year. As someone who tends to chill easily, I love warming foods and beverages, especially soup. And, in case I haven’t made this abundantly clear before, I am no chef. Therefore, the simpler the better — so long as I’m not compromising taste for simplicity.

I daresay that everyone has their own favorite type of soups. I prefer hearty soups that leave me satisfied and full –- a meal, rather than an appetizer –- though I also have a soft spot for a basic, delicious creamy tomato soup (this one is my favorite!) Sadly, I haven’t figured out how to make a gooey gluten & dairy free grilled cheese sandwich to accompany it, but please don’t let my dietary issues stop you!

Right, so back to hearty soups…I generally prefer that my soups contain protein, whether from legumes or meat, and I love having leftovers to re-heat for breakfast (yep, I said breakfast!) I’ve actually been waiting for the temperatures to cool down a bit because I’m craving this red lentil soup (which also contains kale – YUM!) but have not been able to bring myself to make it with temperatures near 90°. My soups often start with a homemade stock made from a whole, pastured chicken that I purchase from a local farmer, like Walpole Valley Farms. And, for simplicity’s sake, I typically make mine in a slow cooker overnight, similar to this recipe – though I also add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to help with drawing the collagen out of the bones. Once you have the base, there is no end of delightfully yumtastic soups that you can make. Homemade chicken stock would be a perfect base for this Thai chicken soup or a simple chicken vegetable noodle soup, just use the stock (once it’s all cooked and drained) and add any veggies of your choice – perhaps some Picadilly Farm carrots and parsnips, some chicken meat (or not) and season to taste. (Note: when I make the red lentil soup recipe linked above, I usually use 1 quart of water and 1 quart of homemade chicken stock).

Lastly, the heartier soups (or perhaps “stews” is more appropriate) deserve mention too. I used to make my own embellished version of this Taco Soup often, and even had requests for it as my potluck contribution — I used whatever 3 cans of beans sounded good to me at the moment, 1 large can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Chilies, rather than the Mexican-Style tomatoes and the tomatoes with chilies called for in this recipe. An all-time favorite in my house is this Chipotle Black Bean and Yam Stew that leaves plenty for leftovers – a bonus – simple AND enough for lunches the next day! I suppose the ultimate hearty soup is chili, and honestly, I don’t have a favorite chili recipe because this is generally my husband’s domain and he never, ever writes down what he did. I’m okay with that.

If you try any of these recipes, I hope you will let me know how they turned out, and if any of them joined the ranks of your family favorites. I have made many soup recipes over the years and these are pretty much the ones that have made the cut and continue to show up on my dinner table. So, enjoy the upcoming transition of our seasons and serve up some soup!