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In the Kitchen: Warm up with a delicious bowl of soup
Soup

In my mind, aside from a good snow event, the only good thing about winter is that it is officially soup season. OK, Maybe I can throw in sitting by a roaring fire with a hot drink while in my pajamas reading a good book. But that is it!

I love soup all year long, but there is something special about sitting down to a steaming bowl of soup when it is dreary, cold and wet outside.

The secret to good soup is good stock. Of course, homemade is best, but there are some surprisingly good store-bought stocks and broths on the market today. I recommend you choose organic whenever possible. Low sodium is also wise since you want to control how much salt you use. Again, that is another reason homemade is best — that is the only way you can truly control all aspects of your stock.

Besides a quality stock or broth, remember to not rush the process. If a recipe calls for sautéing onions and garlic before adding liquids, do so at a slow pace. When making soup, you are building upon each layer of ingredients. Lastly, taste, taste, taste. Taste often for seasoning and add what you think it needs accordingly.

Baked potato soup, like a baked potato, is only as good as its toppings. This recipe is called “Fully Loaded” for a reason, so don’t skimp on the toppings. This is a fun soup to entertain with as well — you can make a big pot, pour it into the slow cooker to keep it hot, and let everybody top their soup with whatever toppings they want. Serve with a crisp green salad and you are good to go.

 

Fully loaded baked potato soup

6 baking potatoes, such as Russet or Idaho

8 slices thick cut bacon, chopped

1 onion, finely minced

1/2 cup celery, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup flour

5 cups good quality chicken stock or broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup Italian parsley, minced

Toppings:

Cooked crumbled bacon

1/3 cup green onions, sliced (or minced chives)

2 cups cheddar, grated

1/2 cup sour cream

1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced or minced

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place baking potatoes on baking sheet and bake potatoes until fork tender, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, cook bacon in stock pot until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper towel lined plate. Drain off all but 2-3 tablespoons bacon grease. 

Add onion and celery and cook until softened completely, about eight minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Sprinkle on flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and heavy cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. 

When baked potatoes are done, remove from oven and cool until you can remove the skin and scoop out the flesh. Add flesh to pot. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into individual bowls and then let everybody top the soup with toppings of their choice.

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Who doesn’t love chicken pot pie? One of the all-time greatest comfort foods, chicken pot pie delivers every time. Here, the typical filling is thinned with milk and then served with pie crust cut into rectangles or triangles, brushed with egg wash, and baked.

 

Chicken pot pie soup

 4 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

3 cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup flour

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups milk, preferably whole

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

2 ½ cups cooked chicken, chopped

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup Italian parsley, minced

1 pie crust, store bought or homemade

1 egg, lightly beaten

 

In stock pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Sprinkle with flour and cook another minute. 

Add bay leaves, potatoes, chicken broth, heavy cream and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add chicken, peas, corn, salt, pepper and parsley. Lower heat to simmer and cook 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Meanwhile, roll out pie crust on lightly floured surface and cut into rectangles or triangles. Place on baking sheet and brush with lightly beaten egg. Bake according to package directions or recipe directions if using homemade crust. When soup is done, remove bay leaves and ladle into bowls. Garnish with pie crust for dipping.

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This is one of those “everything but the kitchen sink” soups. It is inexpensive, feeds a crowd, freezes beautifully, and satisfies on a cold day or night.  Feel free to change up the herbs for what you like or have on hand.

 

Hamburger soup

2 pounds ground beef

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 cups beef broth

One (14.5-ounce) can of fire roasted tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup parsley, minced

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Pinch of cayenne (more to taste)

5 red potatoes, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

 

In a large stock pot, brown ground beef with garlic, celery and onion until ground beef is done. Return to burner and add beef broth, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, cayenne, potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil and then simmer until potatoes are done, about 20 minutes or so. 

If soup is too thick, add more beef broth. Taste for seasoning, adding more as needed.