Local Watercress Soup

Like potato-leek soup, watercress soup is subtle tasting, and to my taste, delicious in its mellowness. I love the fresh flavor, and green color. Adding fresh spinach at the end is a trick to keep the soup a bright green. If you happen to have any small edible lawn violets which also come up this time of year, they make a nice garnish on the soup. Or a piece of fresh watercress.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

This chunky chicken soup flavored with cumin, chili and lime is served with a variety of toppings that include avocado, fresh cilantro and crisp tortilla strips. Served with a green salad or festive quinoa salad, it makes a nice combination for a casual dinner party. Everything can be done ahead and passed at the table.

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Butternut Soup with Crispy Kale and Cranberries

The combination of kale and butternut is a good one, especially enhanced with apples and a hint of bourbon. I had planned to add some cream, but happily, none was needed. The finishing touch is crispy kale roasted with pumpkin seeds and fresh cranberries, which all gives a crunchy, tart contrast to the smooth, pureed soup. This soup is a nice Thanksgiving starter.


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Chilled Watermelon Soup with Grilled Shrimp Skewer

Just a whirl in the blender of fresh watermelon with a hint of lime, and the soup is finished. The garnish is a Greek-based salsa of sorts with cucumber, olives, feta and fresh herbs. Try it on its own as a first course or brunch starter, or grill a skewer of lamb to accompany.

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Chilled Cucumber Soup with Gazpacho Salsa

A light, and very refreshing cold soup, the base is a creamy combination of cucumber, avocado and yogurt. The topping is a mini gazpacho-like salsa. This soup can be served as a first course at a nice summer meal or as an appetizer in demitasse cups.

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French Lentil Soup with Chorizo

This lentil soup uses the French green lentils, also called lentils de Puy. These are smaller than the brown lentils, cook quicker and hold their shape for a better appearance. The soup is done in less than 40 minutes.

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Rustic Root Vegetable Soup

Earthy, hardy, delicious – this soup has all the elements to warm and nourish us. The toothsome root veggies coupled with the wild rice and barley add a pleasant chewiness to the soup and enhances the earthiness of the root vegetables.  It makes a large batch and can be frozen.

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Italian Wedding Soup with Kale and Mini Meatballs

Mini meatballs are simmered in a chicken broth with mellow greens then topped off with Parmesan cheese. There’s nothing better for a winter dinner. It’s a great soup to serve guests as well. The meatballs, about an inch in diameter, are cooked in the oven for about 12 minutes – how easy!

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Summer Vegetable Soup with Pesto

You get a bowl chock full of vegetables, beans and pasta with this vegetable soup from Soups + Sides – topped with additional flavor from a pesto made without nuts for a smoother texture. To save a step, which I often do, you can add the chopped fresh basil and parsley directly to the soup without making the pesto. The key to making a good Italian vegetable soup is the addition of Parmesan rinds – the flavor they add is subtle and wonderful. You can also use this as a basic recipe to include vegetables you might be growing or have from a CSA or farmers’ market.



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The Best Beef Stew

I have to say, I love my beef stew that’s printed in Soups + Sides. One of the keys here, which I learned way back from Cook’s Illustrated, is to use the flavorful chuck roast. That’s the kind of beef that becomes fork tender; its marbling melting away during the braise. Don’t be tempted to buy stew meat already cut up because that is often a combination of beef cuts, including some pieces without that similar marbling that toughen and get chewy as they cook, the opposite of what you ideally want. The other key, which does take an additional step, is roasting the potatoes to perfection, and steaming the carrots and green beans – letting you control the end textures. Enjoy!

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Kale and Farro Soup

If you haven’t tried a soup with kale, this is a great one to start with for its simplicity as well as its flavor, from Kale, Glorious Kale. It’s warm and comforting, especially with the farro, a grain often used for soups in Italy. Use a nice chicken stock for additional flavor, or for vegetarians, water and the addition of 2 rinds of Parmesan cheese. The rinds add depth of flavor; you add them like a bay leaf while the soup simmers, and remove them when it’s done. This is also a very quick cooking soup – especially with the farro, which takes less time to cook than barley.

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Carrot Ginger Soup

Silky, warming and delicious – this is a soup to make when you want something good quickly. It takes only about 30 minutes to cook altogether. Besides adding a leek along with an onion for extra flavor – and the ginger, of course – I like to sauté the carrots for a bit to start to caramelize them before adding the water. It’s nice that it comes out smooth and creamy without adding a drop of cream or any other dairy.


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Tomato and Cilantro Soup with Quinoa

This is a soup for when you have lots of tomatoes, and need new ideas. It’s easy to make, for one. But I especially loved its flavor from the fresh cilantro and spices including cumin and coriander. Yet, in the end, the fresh garden tomato flavor shines through. It comes from a new cookbook favorite: Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison.

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