As I stir the soup it occurs to me how much more cooperative vegetables are than people, especially when it comes to blending together and creating a whole. Vegetables cooperate into soup, people together was another story entirely although here in Buddha's kitchen we all at least try to get along, to work together, cooperate like vegetables in the soup. Carrots don't swim to the surface saying, "Look, look. I'm a carrot, I'm the most important thing in the soup." It just adds flavor and nourishment to the stock. Nor does mushroom-barley soup strut around saying that it tastes better than yesterday's yaki-soba. People could learn a lot from vegetables, from being part of the soup.
From In Buddha's Kitchen
When I Googled "soup" I got 1,630,00 listings & a search for "quick soups" turned up 283,000 listings. Clearly, finding a good soup recipe (or any kind of a recipe) is not a problem these days. I like to check out several sites for different version of the same recipe. Sometimes I combine them, sometimes not. Often I don't cook at all, just read the recipes. I could (and have) spent hours reading cookbooks.
I used to spend a lot of time making stock for soup (and sometimes still do for a meat soup) but the soups now available in cartons are just as good or better than homemade. And certainly a lot easier. Butternut squash & mushroom soup from cartons are especially good (try them as sauces as well) especially if you add to them. A little left-over pasta or a handful of cooked rice makes a soup more substantial. Add the same vegetable (sauteed mushrooms to the mushroom soup, etc.) to make a more robust version of the original or experiment to find different combinations of soup bases & additions that work for you.
Spicy Tomato-Spinach Soup: This soup is as quick as it is interesting. Simply combine one 32 oz. carton of roasted red pepper and tomato soup with one 10 oz. package of "InstantIndia" Kashmir Spinach (Palar Paneer). Heat & serve. For the non-vegetarian in the crowd, slice & saute some spicy chicken sausage & serve on the side. You can also add tofu and/or a dollap of yogurt on top.
Corn Chowder: use roughly one ear of corn for every potato to every cup of liquid (chicken or vegetable stock or corn stock base). Peel & dice the potato into fairly small bits, boil in stock. When the potatoes are almost done, grate the corn into the boiling soup. If the corn is fresh, it will cook very quickly. A little diced onion (add early on or saute) is a good addition, as is a little milk or cream toward the end. Just before serving adda few tablespoon or so of fresh thyme leaves to the pot & spinkle more over the soup as it is served. Even if you use corn soup from a can or carton, the fresh thyme leaves make all the difference.
The following are recipes from The Capall Club Cookbook in which I collected many of the recipes I used while cooking at the Kentucky Horse Center many years ago.
APPLE FESTIVAL SOUP
4 cooking apples
1 quart of rich chicken stock
2 slices of ginger
1/2 stick of cinnamon
1 or 2 T. cornstarch
Cooked sausage (optional)
Peel, core, and roughly chop the apples and drop into
the stock with spices. Simmer until tender, remove spices.
Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water or cooked soup
stock and stir in to thicken a little at the last. Serve topped
with pieces of cooked sausage. Also good served plain with sausage
biscuits on the side.
Or, add raisins, and a little red wine.
Or, top with crumbled cooked bacon.
Or, with cubes of cheese.
Tomato Bouillon: Mix equal parts of tomato juice and
canned consomme with a dash of white wine. Simmer for a few
minutes with a little oregano and a bay leaf.
Greek Chicken Lemon: Beat one egg in a tablespoon or
more of lemon juice, whip into simmering chicken stock, off
heat. Whisk until frothy, top with lemon-pepper.
This makes an excellent breakfast, by the way. Also
good for people with a cold or on a diet.
Duxelles are mushrooms that are cooked down until they
are very small and intense. Roughly chop 2 lbs. of
mushrooms and saute in 1/2 cup butter until all of the
liquid has evaporated, then cook for another half hour or
so. They will turn very dark and shrink considerably. I
used to do five to ten pounds of mushrooms at a time and
keep a jar in the refrigerator to add to sauces, to put with
sour cream in omelets, to use with cream cheese and
yogurt for a dip, or in the following soup:
2 potatoes, chopped fine
3 c. chicken broth
1 cup of cream
3/4 cup of duxelles
Salt, pepper, and fine herbs to taste.
Saute scallions (if desired--they can be left out just as
easily or substitute half an onion) in 3 T. butter, add
potatoes and stock and cook until tender, add duxelles and
1 cup of heavy cream. Heat through.
For a non-chowder soup with duxelles, use the above
recipe but substitute a cup of wild rice for the potatoes, use
beef rather than chicken stock, and add 1/4 cup of red
wine. No cream.
CREAM OF SCALLION SOUP
1/2 cup of butter
4 bunches of scallions, sliced
1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour
1 cup of light cream
1 cup of white wine
2 cups of chicken stock
Saute sliced scallions, including some of the green, in
the butter. Remove the scallions and add enough butter to
make about 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Stir in flour and cook lightly as
for a white sauce. Gradually add liquids, whisking
constantly. When smooth, stir in cooked scallions. (Or cook
scallions in microwave, then add.) Garnish with a few
uncooked green slices.
THREE INDIAN SOUPS
Curry means a collection of spices. Get a can of good
curry from an Oriental market or use the following spices to
make your own curry powder:
1 t. tumeric
1 t. cumin
1 T. coriander
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. cayenne
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
Add spices (curry and other) to warm oil instead of to
liquid to bring out the flavor.
1/4 cup of butter or oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 apples, chopped
1 T. curry powder
3 T. whole wheat flour
4 cups of chicken broth
Saute onion in butter, then chopped apple (or omit all
but a little oil and do onion and apple in microwave), add
curry powder, sprinkle with flour. When flour is cooked
and before the spices burn, add the stock and simmer until
done. Raisins may be added.
SPICED POTATO SOUP
4 cups chicken broth
1 t. cardamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. cumin
1 T. coriander
1/2 t. cayenne
2 T. butter, oil, or ghee
Saute onion and then spices in butter, add chopped
potatoes and broth. Cook until potatoes are tender. Mash
some potatoes against side of pan to thicken soup. Better
on the second day, also good if served with a big dap of
plain yogurt in the middle.
CHICK PEA SOUP
1 onion, choppped
2 cans whole chick peas
2 cups chicken broth
1 t. cumin seeds
3 t. coriander seeds
1 t. black peppercorns
3 T. butter, ghee, or oil
Melt butter and saute onion. Grind spices and
peppercorns together, add to onion. Put one can of chick
peas together with the stock and the onions through the
blender. Add to pot along with whole chick peas. Cook
about half an hour. Best the second day. Also good with
whole chunks of chicken added. Sometimes I double the
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 cups of plain yogurt
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
2 T. olive oil (optional)
Salt & pepper
Salt cucumbers and let stand 20 minutes. Whisk yogurt
and sour cream together until smooth. Mix all ingredients
and chill. Serve very cold sprinkled with fresh dill.
A good variation on this soup is to substitute Daikon, or
Chinese white radish, for the cucumber. Grate the Daikon
and use a little less than the recipe calls for with the
cucumber. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander or
parsley--about 2 t. per bowl.
SANTA BARBARA AVOCADO SOUP
1 T. salsa
1 T. lemon juice
3 cups of plain yogurt
1 T. olive oil
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup of very rich chicken stock Mash two avocados with the warm chicken broth and
whisk into yogurt. Add lemon juice, oil, salsa, chopped
tomatoes. Chill. Just before serving slice the other two
avocados (chilled) into the soup. Six avocados make a
better soup but tend to serve the same number of people.
COLD PLUM SOUP
Unashamedly decadent, this is my favorite cold soup,
especially for Sunday brunches.
1 lb. 13 oz. can purple plums
2 slices of ginger root
1/2 cup of honey
1 stick of cinnamon
1 T. Chinese plum sauce or 1/2 t. white pepper
2 cups dry red wine
Juice and rind of one lemon
1 cup of cream
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of brandy
Pit and chop plums. Blend. Cook down syrup with
water, wine, cinnamon, honey, pepper for five minutes.
Remove cinnamon stick and add plums. When cooled a
little, add cream and lemon juice. Whisk 1/2 cup of soup
into sour cream and add to soup along with brandy. Chill.
Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
For another effect, substitute yogurt for both cream and
sour cream and omit lemon juice and rind.
Once, about fifteen minutes before dinner was to start,
a kitchen helper dropped a whole container of cold plum
soup all over the kitchen floor. I waded about in the puddle
of soup while I made up a cold yogurt soup. Another time,
a different kitchen helper poured out the syrup that I'd
cooked down so she could wash the pot and go home.
But Cold Plum Soup is still my very favorite cold soup.