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Warm up dinner with savory soups

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost

After our false spring, winter has returned and the dark evenings are pretty cold.

Time to roll out the soups and stews.

Good old pot roast is fine, as is chili, but it’s not a bad time to try something a little different, learning a new recipe to add to your rotation.

This is a good time to take advantage of winter vegetables, like different varieties of squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots. All those orange vegetables have vitamin C and vitamin A, which you need in the cold months to ward off illness.

Toss a couple handfuls of kale, Swiss chard or spinach into your regular soup recipes and up the nutritional value. In a soup, it’s just another ingredient and it tastes good with the squash.

A creamy soup is fine, like potato soup or corn chowder, but keep brothy soups in mind, too. The rich broths can help clear congestion and add flavorful liquid to your diet.

Adding herbs pumps up the flavor, even though it’s not herb season. You can find small packets of fresh herbs in the grocery store. Cook with herbs, yes, then add them just before serving, to retain fresh flavor.

By using low- or no sodium broths you can control how much sodium is in the soup, and it will be far less than canned soups, which can have twice the recommended allowance or more.

The nice thing about a big pot of soup is you can skip cooking for a least one night after that.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli

1 pound dried pinto beans

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 medium onion, diced

8 ounces pancetta, diced small

4 cups water, plus more for soaking

1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp.dried thyme

1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional)

1 cup dried ditalini pasta or small shells

For serving

1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Saved Parmesan cheese

Prepare the beans for an overnight soak by pouring them onto a rimmed baking sheet or plate. Pick out an debris or broken beans. Transfer the beans to a strainer and rinse undercool water. Place rinsed beans in a large bowl. Add about 6 cups of cool water. Cover and soak overnight, 10-12 hours.

Drain the soaked beans and put then in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add 4 cups of water, the bell pepper, onion, pancetta, tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, oregano, basil, dried thyme and Parmesan rind, if using. Stir to combine. Cover and cook until beans are tender and the broth has thickened, 5-6 hours on high or 10-12 hours on low.

When the soup is ready, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, 6-8 minutes. Drain and stir into the soup. Remove bay leaves and Parmesan rind before serving.

Top each bowl with fresh thyme and shaved Parmesan. Serves 10-12.

Alternatively, stir the pasta into individual bowls of soup and save it apart from the leftover soup so it does not get too soft.

the kitchn

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

2 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

4 ounces pancetta (or bacon), cubed

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 quarts low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp.kosher salt, plus more as needed

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

1/4 cup all purpose flour

Preheat slow cooker on low before peeling and chopping vegetables to start the cooking process

Place potatoes, pancetta or bacon, onion and garlic in the slow cooker.

Add the broth and stir. Add salt, thyme and pepper and stir. Cover and cook until the potatoes and onions are tender, 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

Thirty minutes before serving, taste and adjust seasoning. Whisk together the evaporated milk and flour in a measuring cup. Pour the slurry into the soup and stir. Cover and cook until soup thickens, about 30 minutes.

Serve the soup with sliced scallions, grated cheddar cheese, more bacon or crushed cheese crackers.

the kitchn

This soup does take some time to prepare, but its is full of healthy ingredients that taste good together. If you want a thicker soup, pureé some of the soup with an immersion blender.

Winter Harvest Vegetable Soup

3 medium carrots, halved and thinly sliced

3/4 cup chopped celery

1 medium onion, chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

7 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth

3 cups cubed, peeled potatoes

2 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash

2 large, tart apples, peeled and chopped

2 medium turnips, peeled and chopped

2 parsnips, peeled and sliced

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. pepper

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook and stir the carrots, celery and onions in butter and oil until tender. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Add the broth, potatoes, squash, apples, turnips, parsnips and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Stir in the basil, thyme and pepper. Simmer 15 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf before serving. Garnish with additional green onions, if desired.

You could easily increase the thyme and pepper or add a few dashes of hot sauce to boost the flavor.

Taste of Home

Beef Burgundy Mushroom Soup

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

10 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 cup diced onion

1 1/2 cups diced carrots

2 tsp. fresh thyme

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp.kosher salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup red wine

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

4 cups low-sodium beef broth

1/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup small egg noodles

Add oil to a Dutch oven and heat on medium high. Brown the mushrooms, stirring for about 10 minutes.

Add the beef and cook until almost browned through, about 5 minutes.

Add onions, carrots, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper to the pot. Stir and cook together until the beef is cooked through. Add wine to the pot, stir and reduce 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and beef broth. Bring to a low simmer, then cook 20 minutes, uncovered.

Taste for seasoning and add noodles. Cook 8-10 minutes until noodles are cooked.

Pour in cream stir and serve.

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