We’ve now passed all the 2015 holidays and are settling into winter.
With that said, the coldest weather months (in spite of El Niño) are still yet to arrive. Sorry, I know you really didn’t want to be reminded…
Of the many things we can still find pleasurable throughout the upcoming months of cold, ice and snow are the warming, comforting thoughts; smells; and tastes of a hearty bowl of soup.
As for me, while I love all sorts of soups, perhaps those I love the most are the hearty ones chock-full of garnish. They’re the ones I really look forward to after a long day at work or a day spent outside. They fill me up and satisfy my appetite. Afterwards, I never feel like I sacrificed a good meal for the sake of a bowl of soup.
I also get bored easily, so many of my soups have multiple things going on so that each spoonful promises its own separate tastes and textures. I like that.
Here’s a perfect example of one of my Hearty Winter Soups. I really enjoy this soup with some warm, crusty garlic bread.
You can also garnish this soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese as it’s bowled up.
Hearty Italian Medley: Makes 1 ½ Quarts or 4 Servings
1 TBSP Olive Oil
¼ Cup Fresh Fennel, Sliced Thin
½ Cup Sweet Onions, Cut ¾” Diced
1 tsp Chopped Garlic
2 Links Sweet Italian Sausage, Cut in ½” Pieces
1 Cup Chicken Breast, Diced ½”
1 Cup Small Shrimp, Peeled, Deveined
½ Cup Diced Tomatoes, With Juice
1 Quart Chicken Broth (or Stock)
1 Big Handful Baby Spinach Leaves
¼ tsp Oregano
To Taste Salt & Pepper
- In a medium-size sauce pot, sauté fennel, onion and garlic over medium heat until softened.
- Reduce heat to medium low and add sausage, chicken and shrimp. Cover and cook (while stirring occasionally) until chicken and sausages are cooked through.
- Add tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes.
- Add spinach and oregano and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.
Chowders are another one of my hearty favorites.
Now, it probably goes without saying that if you like chowder, you’re probably in one camp or the other: the (white) New-England-style clam OR the (red) Manhattan-style clam chowder.
While I love them both, one chowder that I’m absolutely crazy about is Atlantic Salmon Chowder. If you love salmon and really want to do this soup justice, buy a small (but whole) salmon and ask Nino’s fish butchers to fillet it for you. Also, ask them to save you the head, skin and bones, so you can simmer them in some water to make a salmon broth for this soup. Otherwise, a product like Kitchen Basics Fish or Seafood Broth will do just fine in this recipe.
This chowder goes particularly well with whole grain crackers or sourdough bread.
Atlantic Salmon Chowder: Makes 1 ½ Quarts Serves 4
2 Strips Maple Bacon, Raw, Finely Chopped
½ Stick Salted Butter
2/3 Cup Sweet Onions, Chopped
½ Cup Celery, Chopped
¼ Cup Red Bell Pepper, Finely Chopped
2 tsp Garlic, Minced
1⁄3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
3 Cups Salmon, Fish or Seafood Broth
1 TBSP Tomato Paste
½ Cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp Parsley Flakes
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Paprika
2 TBSP Fresh Dill, Chopped
1 ½ Lbs Atlantic Salmon, Diced ½” Cubes
1 Cup Cooked Red Skin Potatoes, Diced ½”
To Taste Salt & Pepper
- In a medium-size sauce pot, over medium heat, sauté bacon until nearly crisp. Then add butter and sauté onion, celery, red bell pepper and garlic together over medium heat until softened.
- Add flour and cook while stirring constantly for 5 minutes to cook flour into a roux.
- Add broth and the tomato paste, and stir with a whisk until mixture comes to a simmer and thickens.
- Add cream, parsley, cayenne, paprika and dill, and simmer 10 minutes.
- Add salmon and reduce to a VERY low simmer. Stir gently until salmon pieces are cooked through and are firm and opaque.
- Add cooked, diced red skin potatoes and cook an additional 3 minutes to reheat the potatoes.
- Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
As with all soup recipes, as you prepare them, feel free to add or subtract ingredients to your taste and take notes so that your next batch is exactly to your liking.
Most importantly, enjoy the process as much as the results.
Soups are one of THE best winter meals going.