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May 6, 2015

Quick and easy creamy tomato soup {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Quick and easy creamy tomato soup, the perfect mate for a grilled cheese sandwich.

In the years after World War II, tomato soup served with grilled cheese sandwiches became a popular school cafeteria menu combination that carried over into home kitchens everywhere. Here's the most plausible explanation I've found for why this happened: institutional food service (including school cafeterias) paired grilled cheese with tomato soup to meet the minimum school lunch requirements for sufficient Vitamin C (from the tomatoes) and protein (from the cheese). As canned soups became more available and economical, and processed cheese extended its shelf life, soup and sandwiches were a practical choice for many school systems. Today there's only one reason we eat grilled cheese and tomato soup -- because it's still the best comfort food combination around. Of course, you can fancy up the cheese and bread in your sandwich, but at the end of the day, nothing beats a basic creamy tomato soup. When it's this easy to make soup from scratch, there's no reason to default to canned soup. By the way, both of my grandsons are dunkers, just as my school friends and I used to be, and this soup makes for great dunking of melty grilled cheese sandwiches.

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March 1, 2015

Pressure cooker barley soup with chicken, sausage, mushrooms and leeks

Make this pressure cooker barley soup on the stovetop, and use your favorite chicken sausage.

I know what you're thinking: this soup doesn't look very soupy, does it? Well, in real life, it's a soupy soup, but in the life of a food blogger who wants to show you the goodness swimming below the surface, and who removes a little too much of the broth to make sure the barley and other ingredients reveal themselves in the photographs, it's a bit hard to see that there is, in fact, really rich liquid binding everything together. Although you can surely make this soup in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, the pressure cooker, if you have one, does an exceptional job of pumping flavor into broths, and tenderizing grains. It's really a kind of double soup recipe. First, you make a chicken broth; then, use the meat from the broth to enrich the barley soup. This freezes well, so make a batch today, and save some for later. On the snowiest days of winter, you'll be glad to have some of this soup on hand for apres-shoveling lunches.

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December 10, 2014

Pressure cooker split pea soup with (or without) sausage

Split pea soup (with or without sausage), made easy in the pressure cooker.

In my dinged-up, bright red, cast-iron Dutch oven, I make a pretty mean pot of split pea soup, which just happens to be my very favorite comfort food on days when there's snow to be shoveled. Or when I have the sniffles. Or when I'm craving soup, which really does happen. I've been making split pea soup the same way forever, until this year, when I first tried it in my electric pressure cooker. Oh my oh my. The pressure cooker traps all of the flavor, and softens the split peas so the immersion blender simply has to nudge them into silkiness. Compared to my stove top version, and despite using the exact same ingredients, the pressure cooker version is downright ethereal. Add your favorite mild or spicy sausage, or not; I love this soup either way. It's a great make-ahead-and-freeze soup for your winter soup swaps, or quick worknight dinners with a green salad and crusty bread on the side. And if you don't have a pressure cooker, you can make split pea soup on the stove top or in the slow cooker.

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November 23, 2014

Turkey soup with black beans, corn, and green chiles {gluten-free}

Turkey soup with black beans, corn and green chiles: great way to use leftovers. #Thanksgiving

Of all the many soups I've made (and after all, I'm still known as the Soup Chick, so you know I've made a few), I believe this is the best-tasting, weirdest-colored leftover turkey soup I've ever shared with you. Most of the time I make recipes like this one with tomato or chipotle peppers, which lend a gorgeous red tint to the base. In this tomato-free version, green chiles and green Tabasco turn the soup a color akin to dishwater. Do not be deterred! Trust me, and give your leftover turkey (or shredded rotisserie chicken or turkey, if you're not making it during the holiday season) a bit of Tex-Mex flair. If you've had time to make your own turkey stock, great. If not, store-bought low-sodium chicken stock will be fine. Proportions aren't very important, so use more or less of the ingredients, to your taste. The soup freezes well, for easy worknight dinners or a soup swap. I toasted some habañero-lime tortilla wedges to serve on the side. You can crack open a bag of tortilla chips, too.

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November 5, 2014

Curried butternut squash and apple soup {vegan, gluten-free}

Curried butternut squash and apple soup, with Thai flavors. #glutenfree #vegan

In our house, Fall doesn't begin officially until the first pot of butternut squash soup hits the stove. Most often, I combine butternut (my favorite, though buttercup, acorn or Hubbard are wonderful substitutes) with apples from our local orchards, and bind them together with Indian curry spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric. Lately, I've been craving the raw heat of Thai red curry paste, and that sent this year's butternut squash soup in a new direction. (The recipe calls for a tablespoon of curry paste, which won't make the soup very spicy, but please use half that amount if you're worried about too much heat. You can always add more.) The thick and creamy soup is vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, thanks to coconut milk. A little bit of brown sugar and a hit of fresh lime juice add a light, bright finish. If you're doing a soup swap this winter, put this soup on your make-ahead-and-freeze list.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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