Soups for the Winter Soul

In The Secrets of Jesuit Soupmaking: A Year of Our Soups, Brother Rick Curry, S.J. writes:

“Soup is very comforting. It touches something deeply rooted in our lives. Like bread, soup is one of the earliest preparations in the recorded history of food, and doubtless predates recorded history. As soon as man possessed fire, and a fire-resistant receptacle to cook in, he began to make stews, soups, and breads. So elemental is soup that in many languages it is synonymous with, or a substitute for, the whole notion of meals or food. Expressions such as ‘Soup’s on!’ mean simply that dinner is served. The verb ‘to sup,’ meaning to eat the evening meal, and its substantive form ‘supper’ both derive from the word ‘soup’ or its cognate ‘sop,’ which means to dip or soak pieces of food – of course, usually bread – in broth, wine, or some other liquid.”

Below are three tried and true recipes for hearty cold-weather soups. They are old recipes that I have adapted over the years. As with any soup, it is best to taste and adjust seasonings as you go (I always add a little more salt and pepper and I always adjust the amount of water that I use in each recipe).

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:
1 & 1/2 pounds mushrooms
1/2 medium-large white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups canned or fresh chicken broth
2 tbsp. cooking sherry
1 tsp. salt
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1-2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 tbsp. flour
4 tbsp. sour cream
12 extra mushrooms, stems removed and sliced to sauate and top soup with

Mushroom SoupInstructions:
Clean mushrooms and cut stems off and discard. Slice mushroom caps vertically and set aside. In a large pot saute onion and garlic inn 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter for 1 minute or so stirring frequently. Add sliced mushrooms, chicken broth, sherry and seasonings – stir and bring to a low boil and then turn to low and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. After simmering puree the soup in blender to a smooth consistency and put back in pot on stove keeping the heat on low.

While soup is simmering combine, in a shallow large shallow bowl, the butter and flour mixing to a smooth paste consistency and then add the sour cream to the paste and combine until smooth. Once the sour cream has been added and the paste is a smooth consistency, take about 1 cup of the hot liquid pureed soup and add to the paste in the bowl using a whisk to combine. Once thoroughly and smoothly combined add back into the soup. Serve hot with extra mushrooms that have been sautéed/ browned in a combination of olive oil and butter and fresh chopped parley.

Lentil Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound lentils
Water
1 large onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
1/3 cup olive oil
6 cups canned or fresh chicken broth
2 carrots, finely diced
1 cup coarsely chopped celery
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1&1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. tarragon
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Feta Cheese to crumble on top, optional

Lentil SoupInstructions:
Place lentils in bowl. Add water to measure 2″ above lentils. Soak for 6 hours. Drain.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Stir in lentils. Add broth, vegetables, tomato paste and seasonings, including vinegar and 2 cups of water.

Bring to a low boil and then turn heat to low and simmer for an hour stirring occasionally and adjusting seasonings.

Please note with this recipe I always add more salt and pepper and I added a good 3-4 cups extra water after it simmered for 20 minutes. I also added a little more tomato paste. So it is important to taste and adjust as you go, as with all soup. This soup is even more delicious the next day.

Serve piping hot with crumbled pieces of good quality feta cheese and a loaf of warm baked french bread.

Cream of Fresh Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower, stalk and leaves removed, cut in small pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups canned or fresh chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. tarragon
1/4 cup grated carrots
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. sour cream
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Cauliflower SoupInstructions:
In large soup pot saute garlic and onion in olive oil 1-2 minutes. Add cauliflower, chicken broth, and all seasonings. Stir and bring to boil and then turn down heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. When cauliflower is soft and tender turn stove off and puree the cauliflower broth in blender and then return to soup pot, add the grated carrots and simmer on low.

While soup is simmering make the paste by combining in a big shallow bowl the butter and flour mixing to a smooth paste consistency. Then add the sour cream to the paste and combine until smooth. Once the sour cream has been added and the paste is a smooth consistency, take about 1 cup of the hot liquid pureed soup and add to the paste in the bowl using a whisk to combine. Once thoroughly and smoothly combined add back into the soup. Bring to a low boil and then back to a simmer.

Serve hot with grated yellow cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

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