"Soup's on," a popular phrase, will be heard more and more now that the air of autumn is turning crisp.
In taking words from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook that I have owned since my marriage 52 years ago, "Soup goes back to ages before cooking was an art at all - days when aborigines threw whatever flesh food they had into a kettle to cook over an open fire. It was later that herbs, vegetable tag ends and meat bones were added for a hearty dish."
Today, soup serves a double purpose, according to the cookbook. It is chosen with an eye on the rest of the meal. If the meal is hearty, a thin clear soup is served. With less hearty food to follow, the soup can be richer or thicker. And, of course, many soups are a meal in themselves. An easy way to thicken soup is to stir a paste of melted butter and flour into hot soup -1 tablespoon flour with 1 or 2 tablespoons butter for a quart of soup.
YUM, YUM — Soup, served to both stimulate the appetite and provide nourishment, is a popular autumn dish. Vegetable soup can be thrown together out of saved and frozen vegetable leftovers. When enough are gathered together, get a chicken, beef or veggie broth and add the frozen collection. Noodles, rice or macaroni can be added at the end to make it more hearty. -- Esther McCoy
Suggestions for accompaniments to the soup are:
Savory crackers: Brush crackers with soft butter, sprinkle with poppy seed, celery seed, onion salt and or paprika and heat in a 350 degree oven for several minutes.
Cheese paprika toast: Sprinkle toasted bread strips or triangles with grated American cheese and paprika. Place under the broiler or in a 350 degree oven until cheese is melted.
Egg rivels: Work an egg into 1 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt until mixture looks like corn meal. Drop into boiling soup. Cover and cook gently 10 minutes.
Butter rivels: Use 1/3 cup butter instead of the egg in the egg rivels. Work until mixture is completely blended. Shape into 1/2-inch balls and drop into boiling soup. Cover and cook gently 10 minutes. Rivels will separate and look like rice.
To serve soups in style, put bouillon or thin soups in bouillon cups and use teaspoons.
Creamy soups and chowders should be served in pottery bowls with soup spoons.
Hearty one-dish soups need to be served in earthenware casseroles or pottery bowls with soup spoons. And remember to always heat the bowls before adding the soup to keep it warm longer.
Here is a recipe for chicken noodle soup from a "heart healthy" recipe in Woman's Day magazine.
Chicken Noodle Soup
6 cups chicken broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, visible fat trimmed
1 cup each chopped celery and onion
1 cup baby carrots, cut across and halved crosswise
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups uncooked medium egg noodles
Put broth, chicken, celery, onion, carrots, parsnip, garlic, bay leaf and pepper in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf. Remove chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Add noodles to soup; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, shred chicken with fingers or two forks and add to soup. This is 197 calories per serving. Serves six.
A main dish that takes only 25 minutes from the measuring spoon to the serving dish appeared in the October issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. It is healthy as well, as multigrain spaghetti and ground sirloin are used in the recipe.
Quickie Cincinnati Chili
12 ounces multigrain spaghetti
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
12 ounces ground sirloin, 93 percent lean
Small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper or to taste
28-ounce can no-salt added crushed tomatoes
15-ounce can no-salt added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
3 green onions, thinly sliced
Heat large covered saucepot of salted water to boiling on high heat. Cook spaghetti as label directs. Meanwhile, in 3-quart saucepan, heat oil on medium high. Add beef, onion and garlic. Cook 2 minutes, stirring and breaking up beef with wooden spoon. Add chili powder, cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, cumin and salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes. Heat to simmering. Simmer 8 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in beans. Simmer 2 minutes or until beans are heated through. Drain spaghetti and divide among four serving plates. Top with chili, cheese and green onions. About 625 calories per serving.
Louise Pastre of Dillonvale had a recipe for potato soup in the 2009 Holiday Cookbook. If you are looking at the recipe, you will notice that it reads 12 teaspoons sugar, but it should read 1/2 teaspoon. It is a mistake that slid through.
Chunky Potato Soup
3 medium red potatoes
2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup cubed, cooked ham
Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Boil until tender and drain, reserving liquid. Measure 1 cup cooking liquid and set aside. Peel and finely chop onion. Melt butter in saucepan and add onion. Cook until translucent and tender. Add flour to saucepan; season with pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Cook 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually add potatoes, reserved 1 cup liquid, milk and sugar to onion mixture in saucepan; stir well. Add cheese and ham. Simmer over low heat 30 minutes. Stir frequently.
Old-fashioned bean soup was popular at the Smithfield Historical Society, when it was sold for the Apple Festival. This recipe is from the Betty Crocker Cookbook and involves soaking dried navy beans overnight.
Navy Bean Soup
2 cups navy beans or 1 pound
3 quarts cold water
Ham bone or small shank end of ham
large onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 chopped stalks celery
Sprig of parsley, chopped
Wash beans and soak in 3 quarts water overnight. Using the same water, do not drain, add the remaining ingredients. Bring slowly to the boiling point. Cover and simmer 4 to 5 hours until beans are tender and the liquid is partially cooked down. For smooth soup, rub through a coarse sieve or rub some through and leave the remainder whole. Skim off excess fat. Thicken with 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons flour combined in a bit of water and added to the cooking liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes eight servings.
This is probably my favorite soup. I usually make it by chopping up fresh spinach instead of pureed.
Cream of Spinach Soup
2 cups rich milk
2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons grated onion
1 cup cooked and pureed spinach
Melt butter in heavy saucepan and blend in flour, seasonings and onion. Stir in rich milk and chicken broth. Cook 10 minutes. Stir in the pureed spinach and boil 1 minute longer. Makes six servings.
(McCoy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)