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April 23, 2014
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Soup’s On

I used to fear it. I would cower in the kitchen, consumed with an overwhelming sense of anxiety. I would buy book after book on the subject, assuring myself that the next acquisition would be my last. What could possibly wreak this much havoc? Soup. That’s right, soup.

This liquid luxury used to be a huge struggle for me. Note the phrase “used to be.” I have since conquered it. As I mentioned before, I assumed that reading multiple soup cookbooks would help get me over this hump. Nope. The real question is, Why did I struggle so much? It seems easy, right? I am and always have been a “by the book,” or in this case a “by the cookbook” kind of cook. At least I used to be. The long list of ingredients and multiple steps daunted and challenged me. Well, that and the fact that I didn’t own an immersion blender. I can’t stress this enough, the immersion blender is the soup-maker’s best friend. Forget about the countertop blender — too messy, too many bowls, and there is a good chance you’ll burn yourself at least once with steam or the soup itself.

This past year I finally got over my soup issues. Now I feel free to play and experiment. A little bit of this. A little more of that. Soups should be fun, highlighting the seasonal produce. But most importantly, they shouldn’t stress you out. Here are my two latest creations. In the aftermath of the heavy, meat-filled holidays, January may be the best month for soup.

 

White Bean and Kale Soup
• 16 oz Canellini beans
• 16 oz Navy beans
• 1 lb pulled roasted chicken
• 1/4 cup diced raw bacon
• 2 large carrots diced
• 1/2 cup diced white onion
• 1/2 cup diced celery
• 1 bunch of Kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
• 32 oz chicken or vegetable stock
• 1tsp Alderwood smoked salt
• 1 tsp pepper
• 1 tsp cornstarch
In a large saute pan place the bacon, onions, and celery with a little extra virgin olive oil. Saute on medium heat until the onions are transparent and soft. In a large soup pot, mix the beans, chicken, kale, carrots, and the sauteed mixture with the stock. Let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes, add salt and pepper. Optional: Top the soup with homemade or store bought sourdough croutons and grated Parmesan.

 

Root Vegetable Puree
• 1 lb peeled and diced carrots
• 2 lbs rutabagas, peeled and cubed in to 1-inch pieces
• 1 green pear, peeled and  cubed
• 32 oz chicken stock
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• salt and pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, bring water to a boil and add the carrots, rutabagas and pear. Boil until very soft. Drain water and add stock. Puree in blender or with that fancy new immersion blender you just felt compelled to purchase. Add cream, mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. I like to garnish this soup with yes, more crispy bacon and a nice drizzle of cream fraiche or goat cheese!

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