Every Monday at lunch time, my husband Ted surprises his office staff with soup I made on the weekend. I can't remember exactly when this Monday soup ritual began, but I love it, because I am a Sunday soup maker, a big pot soup maker, and always cook far more than the two of us need. Inspired by whatever is in the pantry, and leftovers from the weekend's cooking, I begin tossing ingredients into the stock pot. Most often, there's no plan; in this case, I knew at the outset that I wanted to make a quick and easy spicy Thai curry coconut soup. With tofu in the refrigerator, the decision to go meatless was a no-brainer. Leftover chicken or turkey, or shredded rotisserie chicken, would be a fine addition. Both coconut milk and tofu stand ready to absorb any flavors from the surrounding soup, so make sure you use enough fragrant Thai green curry paste, fresh lime and cilantro. (I like the Maesri and Mae Ploy brands of curry paste, which are all-natural.) This dairy-free soup will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
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How can a woman be expected to name a favorite from among her children? Impossible, isn't it? And yet... and yet... I have to say that this turkey soup, packed with dark leafy greens, chewy fregula sarda and peppery Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, is my new favorite soup. It's a near-perfect balance of protein, pasta, vegetables and cheese -- the four food groups of soup! Substitute freely: ground beef, pork or chicken for turkey; kale or chard for escarole; Israeli couscous for fregula sarda; vegetable broth for chicken broth. Make a big batch and portion some out for the freezer, where you'll be glad to find it on a cold winter day.
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Here at the log house, the air outside smells like Fall, and my kitchen smells like soup. At least once a week, I haul out the big stock pot or Dutch oven, and start tossing in vegetables, herbs from the garden, leftovers from the week's cooking, beans or lentils or pasta from the pantry, and, almost always these days, some turkey meatballs.
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Here in New England, we love, love, love clam chowder. White, red, or clear -- where you come from probably determines your loyalty to one version or another. So what's a girl who was born in Manhattan (the home of red chowder), lived for decades in Boston (white chowder), and now spends most of her time in Rhode Island (clear chowder) to do? Well, if that girl were me (and she is!), she'd create her own chowder, the quick and easy kind. I'm partial to white chowders, made with the addition of milk or cream. And though I live near the water and can get fresh clams at my local fish market, I know many of you cannot, so I've used canned clams (our local favorites, from Iggy's, the clams we used in Rhode Island Recipes), and bottled clam juice in this recipe. Chowder is a summer tradition at clam shacks throughout Rhode Island, but it's a year-round comfort food that's easy to make in your own kitchen.
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The first time I made this smoky corn chowder, to test the recipe, our friends Bob and Charlotte came for dinner. Bob, a wonderful potter, brought a new soup tureen he'd designed. I proclaimed the tureen a hit, and he ate three servings of soup, which I think qualifies as a hit, too. Here in New England, everyone loves chowder. Clam chowder, fish chowder, scallop chowder -- clear or white or, sometimes, red -- each has its devoted fans. If you don't eat fish or shellfish, you need not be left out of our lovefest; this fish-free corn chowder might become your new favorite. It has all of the heft of seafood chowders, plus added natural creaminess that oozes from the corn. Our season for fresh corn begins in a couple of weeks, and lasts only until early September; during the rest of the year, we rely on good-quality frozen organic corn, or Trader Joe's frozen fire-roasted corn, which doesn't need to be defrosted before you add it to the soup pot.
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