The ultimate comfort food, soup is in the news! Whether it’s an old favorite that’s been around for years, a familiar soup with a new twist, or a beloved classic from grandmother’s kitchen, we love them all.
On the home front, as we’ve been overusing our kitchens for the last ten months, soup has enjoyed new levels of appreciation and popularity. (Or whatever word you think best…I like “stardom.”) Foodies and aficionados who scan popular food magazines will have no trouble finding what’s in and what’s hot—soup-wise, that is. Our favorites magazines do all the work us.
Everyone knows the story of Stone Soup, which to me should be a classic. When you read to children about where food comes from and how to cook it, they become intrigued and eager to learn more. I’ve also noticed that children get the message to share quickly. Even if they know nothing about cooking, they beam and delight at the idea that a little of this and a little of that (like the soldiers in the story) is what makes the magic.
Soup is magical for keeping all the nutrients in the pot. What a gift. (But as you know I’m fond of saying, that’s another post just waiting to be told.)
Here’s a list of some hot and trendy soups to get your started:
- Green or Red Chili Soup with Crispy Corn Chips
- Broccoli Cheese Soup (find it at Ask Chef Phyllis)
- Chicken Noodle Soup (the classic)
- Pork and Mushroom Broth
- Ham and Chickpea Stew
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Black Bean, Fennel, and Sweet Potato Soup (find it at Ask Chef Phyllis)
- Chicken and Rice Soup with Garlic Sauce
- Coconut Lentil Soup
- Beef and Bacon Soup
- Creamy Homestyle Tomato Soup (great for kids)
- Ribollita Soup from Northern Italy
- Old-Fashioned Split Pea Soup with Ham (find it at Ask Chef Phyllis)
- Tuscan Kale Soup
- Vegetable Chowder
- French Barley Soup
Now I would like to introduce you to two new versions of classic soups. First is Manhattan Vegetable Chowder, which has okra, an often-overlooked vegetable in soups. Second is French Barley Soup—although it’s made without beef, it’s rich and flavorful.
Manhattan Vegetable Chowder
—Makes about 8 cups.
4 tablespoons (¼ cup) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 quart okra, sliced (frozen will work)
2 cups diced celery (including green tops)
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium potato, diced
1 (15 oz.) can petite-diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper (or to taste)
½ teaspoon each Hungarian paprika and dried thyme
6 cups simmering water (just under boiling)
- Heat butter and olive oil in a large soup pot. Add okra, celery, green and red peppers, onion, and potato to pot. Sauté or stew the vegetables until tender.
- Add tomatoes, honey, salt and pepper, paprika, and thyme. Next, and the simmering water.
- Cook, covered, for 30–60 minutes. Stir often.
- Serve with steamed rice or cooked fish, chicken, or bacon, if desired.
French Barley Soup
Chef’s note: If you want a blended, creamy soup, use an immersion blender to grind some (but not all) of the barley. This soup has an unusual texture and mouth feel that is very comforting. It makes a rich and satisfying a light dinner or a fun late lunch with your lady friends. Pass the flavored croutons, please!
3 tablespoons salted butter, duck fat, or salted pork fat
½ cup barley
1 medium onion, diced finely
1 quart or more hot vegetable or chicken stock, plus more if necessary
3 egg yolks (or 2 whole eggs and 1 yolk), well beaten
1–1½ cups table cream or half & half
2 tablespoons fresh-chopped Italian parsley
1 cup sauteed mushrooms (see below)
1 teaspoon black pepper
For the sauteed mushrooms:
1 cup chopped mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon each lemon juice and zest
- In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter, duck fat, or pork fat. Add barley and onion. Agitate the pan to coat with the hot fat.
- Add the hot stock. Cover the pan and cook until barley is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. (If the barley is dry, add some stock.)
- Remove from heat and add eggs and cream or half & half. Return to the stovetop and bring to a simmer. (Do not let it come to a boil.)
- Make sauteed mushrooms: Melt butter in pan. Sauté mushrooms until brown, then add lemon juice and zest.
- Add parsley and mushrooms (along with any liquid). Add black pepper. Taste to correct seasonings and serve immediately.
- If desired, serve with crispy French bread smeared with lots of sweet butter.
Images from iStock/JackF (main), antoniotruzzi (barley soup).