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December 16, 2014
Falling for Satisfying Soups
By Janet Tharpe
There are so many reasons to love this time of year: cooler temperatures, chunky sweaters and trees ablaze in color. Perhaps most thrilling of all - at least to us comfort foodies - is the arrival of soup season!
And if we're going to kick the season off right, there's no more decadent starter recipe than Amber Franks' Potato Bacon Soup. A rich, silky combination of all things creamy, Amber achieves her pot of perfection by utilizing two different types of prepared soup bases AND a full brick of cream cheese! The idea came to her during an attempt to recreate the potato soup at her favorite restaurant.
"I was in search of a potato soup recipe similar to Rafferty's famous potato soup to make for my husband's b-day," says Amber. "After reading endless soup recipes, I finally took all my favorite parts from each recipe and came up with this. It's now requested at ALL family functions during the winter months! Hope you enjoy as much as we do!!!"
Looking for the perfect tasty toppers? Treat this soup like you would your favorite baked potato. Sprinkle on some cheddar, load on the bacon and dot with fresh scallion. The result is one sinfully delicious bowl of happiness.
For equal amounts of creaminess but with a tad less sin, take a whirl at whipping up a batch of Chiarra Ferrante's Creamy Asparagus Soup... which happens to contain no dairy! This sneakily healthy recipe achieves its smooth texture by incorporating nutty almond milk and pureed cauliflower.
"This recipe is so good it's hard to believe that it's completely vegan," smiles Chiarra. "One thing that I recommend is to find as thick an almond milk as you can. Otherwise, a non-dairy heavy cream substitute will do (nut based is preferred, as it adds a great rich flavor)."
The Kitchen Crew and I love to surprise guests with this unexpected, fresh-tasting soup. Like Chiarra, we tend to go heavy on the garlic and cumin for an even bigger explosion of smoky flavor.
If speed is your current need, look no further than your crock pot. Skip Davis has channelled his "ooh la la" and perfected a surefire shortcut for homemade French Onion Soup.
"Simple but delicious, just set it and forget it," says Skip who combines classic French onion flavor with downhome technique. The only pre-cooking this soul-warming recipe requires is a quick saute of the onions. When they are nice and supple, add them to your crock pot along with beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, dry sherry and a little bit of water. Three hours later you've got a bowl of beauty just begging for a slice of toasted bread and Gruyere! Oui, oui!
For a sip of something even heartier, grab your Kielbasa and your spoon! Jen Lobb is serving up a deliciously easy bean soup that's a meal all on its own.
"My dad got this recipe from a friend YEARS ago and it's a staple in my home," says Jan who likes to use a combo of butter beans, pintos and black-eyed peas in her batches. "It's so easy and can be made last minute on the stove or prepped early and cooked on low in a crock pot."
The subtle tang of cider vinegar adds a special flavor note, and makes it the perfect accompaniment to a warm loaf of crusty bread and a glass of wine (if you're so inclined.)
Soups are wonderful not only for their ease, but also for their limitless versatility. Try these fantastic recipes just as each of our special home cooks wrote them, or gather what you have on hand and do some improvising! Your next autumnal masterpiece may be just a ladle away.