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January 2002 Issue
Beautiful Soup
by Victoria Smith
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It snowed here on Friday night. Not a lot, just enough to be pesky. The temperature was supposed to go up to 54F, but it has not done so. There is ice out there, and it is mean. It is also colder than a witchdigger's brass monkey out there (I heard that on TV once, on Mork and Mindy), and walking is about as much fun as driving -- hardly any. Maybe later on I will feel happier about this, but right now, all I have on my mind is what are we going to have for lunch, and I hope that it's soup.

Remember in Alice in Wonderland, when a character (I don't remember which one) sings about soup? "Soup, soup, beautiful soup! Soup of the Evening, Beautiful soup!" Well, I'm not going to get quite that carried away, but heating your freezing person from the inside out is a great way to survive the elements.

Soup is absolutely the best thing that there is to eat on a cold winter day, and I have rounded up a few easy and delicious ways to make soups that are like love and a blanket when it is nasty outside.

I wish that I could get the animals to eat soup. But then, they aren't vegetarians, either. They get insulted if I offer them anything that isn't meat. Well, they are born carnivores, and what can one do? (We have storm coats for our dogs, and I'm sure that the neighbors think that we are nuts.) The cats wear sweaters to go to the vet, but normally, they are indoors, in a heated building of their own, and therefore OK with the cold. Except Felicity the cat. She is a long-haired calico, and didn't groom herself, and recently had to have a haircut at the vet's office. So, Felicity is wearing a custom-fit green sweater, made for her by Mom, until her fur grows back. We have extras, because we have to keep her clean.

We went to see Harry Potter the night that it opened, and enjoyed it thoroughly, except for all the meat eating in the dining room scenes. Which reminds me, my mother's novel, "Merlyn" is due to be released in February, and will be available in the spring, in 25,000 bookstores. We are very excited here. And hey, if you liked Harry Potter, try Merlyn. I mean it. And not just because Mom wrote it, either! ("Merlyn" is a vegetarian of course.)

But here we sit and shiver in central New York State. Just the smell of those soups cooking is enough to make you crazy with hunger. Try these. You'll like them.


7-Bean Soup

  • 4 cups dried beans (as many types as you can find)
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 2-3 large onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. B-B-Q sauce
  • 3 tsp. choppe green chili
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 44 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 6 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 6 stalks celery, chopped
Wash, pick over, and soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover them by 2 inches. In the morning, drain & rinse the beans. Return them to the pot with 18 cups of cold water. Add the ginger, and bring to a full boil. Reduce to an active simmer & cook until tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 3 hours more. Stir and add water as needed. If you can wait until it's completely done, you'll have plenty to freeze, and it freezes well.

  • Yields: enough for freezing
  • Preparation Time: 3 hours + overnight


Corn Potato Chowder

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions, red if possible
  • 4+ cups boiling vegetable stock
  • 1 lb. thin-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" dices
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen (& defrosted) corn kernels
  • 2 tsp. fresh or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3 corn cobs
Heat some stock in a pressure cooker. Cook the onions over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the rest of the stock, potatoes, red bell pepper, 1 cup of the corn, and thyme. If you are using fresh corn, add the cobs too for more sweetness.

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 4 minutes. Reduce the pressure using a quick-release method. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape.

Remove the corn cobs (if used). With a slotted spoon, put about 2 cups of the cooked veggies into a food processor and puree them with 2 more cups of the corn. You can just dump the 2 cups of corn into the cooker and use one of those hand-held blenders right in there to puree things together until it looks nice. Stir the puree back into the soup together with the remaining cups of uncooked corn. Add the salt and pepper and simmer until the just-added corn is tender, 2-3 minutes.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: about an hour

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