What goes into a good soup? First, and most important, fearlessness! Open the refrigerator door and look around. Grab some protein (leftover cooked chicken, or sausage or tofu or hamburger meat), last night's vegetables or scraps a heartbeat away from the compost pile, some homemade broth. Root around in the pantry for canned beans, hot peppers, spices. Chop an onion. Toss everything into a pot, let it simmer for a while, and taste. Adjust with more of one ingredient or another. Have faith, because everyone can make great soup. My favorite soups come from countries where the weather is hot, and the food is hotter. In this recipe inspired by dishes I've enjoyed throughout Mexico, black beans, chile peppers, and lime take center stage. If... Read more →


Lentil soup spans all seasons, but it will forever remind me of this time of year. When we lived in the log house, warm winters like this were rare (or maybe nonexistent); in March, along with late-season pruning of the pear trees, we spent plenty of time shoveling snow and breaking up the ice on our driveway and porch roof. After we all got warmed up by hard winter work, we collapsed into the Adirondack chairs on the front porch with a cup of something warm and steamy, like this lentil and caramelized onion soup packed with dark leafy greens. Lentils don't need a presoak, as so many legumes do, and you can't overcook them. If they cook until they fall apart into the stock,... Read more →


I have to be honest with you. In real life, this white bean and leek soup looks like dishwater. Looks like it, but does not taste like it. (And because it's hard to photograph dishwater and make it look appetizing, I've added some bacon garnish, though it's absolutely not necessary to this otherwise vegan soup.) What makes this simple bean soup great is the technique of reserving a third of the main ingredients to add after the initial cooking and blending of the rest of the soup. Puréed beans and leeks form the "creamy" base, and every now and then, your spoon will find a whole bean or two to awaken your mouth. If you are vegan, omit the optional garnishes (bacon or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano... Read more →


At long last, in the middle of January, snow arrived in Boston. Not a huge amount yet, but more is on the way, and I'm going to make plenty of leftover mashed potato cheese soup to reward the hardy shovelers. Use your favorite mashed potatoes as the base. You could even use mashed garlic sweet potatoes. Loosen them up in a Dutch oven with a bit of vegetable stock or water; add spices; whisk in the yogurt and cheese; let everything melt together. This creamy good potato soup doesn't have any cream in it; Greek yogurt helps enrich the soup. If you don't have any leftover mashed potatoes, boil some diced potatoes until tender (dicing will make the potatoes cook faster), drain, and smash right... Read more →


Born of a post-holiday cold combined with a desperate craving for anything I could make that didn't require a trip to the market, this cheese tortellini and kale soup sprang to life in minutes, cured the sniffles, and used ingredients I always have in the pantry and refrigerator. And I pulled it together while in my pajamas, with a box of tissues under my arm. For kale, you can substitute spinach or chard. For homemade post-Thanksgiving turkey broth, you can swap storebought low-sodium chicken broth, or a rich vegetable stock. Instead of cheese tortellini, try broken pieces of lasagna noodles or dried ravioli. The soup will accommodate your changes, and whatever the result, it will banish your winter cold. Cheese tortellini and kale soup From... Read more →


When readers of my old soup blog asked me for bouktouf, I winced just a little bit. The recipe for this Algerian vegan soup calls for two bunches of cilantro, and I am one of those people to whom cilantro tastes like soap. It turns out that the bright orange color isn't the only surprising thing about this soup; the addition of a large amount of lemon juice tames the flavor of the cilantro, in a good way, and gives the soup a lovely freshness. Here's the original recipe from The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups, word for word (because nobody could improve on it). I halved the recipe and ended up with five cups of soup, which I cooked in a Dutch oven.... Read more →


Along with new family memories, stories, and a few extra pounds, I always seem to pick up a holiday cold on Thanksgiving weekend. It's a good thing that I'm in the habit of making stock from the turkey carcass (or any rotisserie chicken carcasses I've stashed in the freezer, or all of those carcasses together). With a rich stock, some vegetables (fresh or leftover), and the noodles I always keep in the pantry, I can make a pot of this feed-a-cold turkey noodle soup and get myself on the road to recovery. Of course, the soup is pretty darned good even if you're healthy, so don't let that stop you from making it. And if you're lucky enough to have any leftover stuffing muffins, toss... Read more →