Winter soups

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Lemon Chicken Soup with Tortellini — Courtesy Lauren Keating

Once the weather gets cold, we start craving everything in the comfort food arena, and soup is just that: I would say soup is the primordial comfort food. It’s rich, hearty, and filling, meeting all our requirements during the freezing weather season.

To make a great soup, all you need are a couple of simple ingredients and time. Time might just be the most important ingredient in a soup recipe, because it allows for the ingredients to meld and intensify as it simmers on your stovetop. Another great reason to make soup in the winter is the fact that you can take the time to make your own stocks as bases for soups and stews. Contact local farms and see if they have bones available for stock. Butcher shops and grocery stores such as Reliable in Oak Bluffs or Shiretown in Edgartown will also have them on hand if you ask for them.

Last but not least, my favorite reason to make soups in the winter is that by making two soups a week, I can freeze them into portions and eat from the same recipe for a couple of days without having to prep dinner every night. Simple and delicious, the results always make me smile as I cuddle with a bowl of hot soup on a cold winter day.

Lasagna Soup 

By Bree Hester of bakedbree.com

2 tsp. olive oil
1½ pounds sweet Italian sausage
3 cups chopped onion
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 (28-oz.) can fire-roasted tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
½ pound cooked fusilli
½ cup chopped fresh basil

Cheese topping:

1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped basil
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the sausage (I took mine out of the casing), and brown for 5 minutes. I break mine up as I am cooking it — I don’t want big chunks of sausage in my soup. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add the tomato paste, and let it cook for a few minutes.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. At the end, season with salt and pepper and add the basil.

While the soup is simmering, make the cheese topping. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and basil. Set aside.

When you are ready to serve your soup, add a good handful of pasta to the bottom of the bowl. Add the soup, and add a generous spoonful of the cheese mixture to the top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup 

By Shanna Shad of pineappleandcoconut.com

1 Tbsp. coconut oil
½ cup sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 3- to 4-in. piece of lemongrass, smashed and lightly sliced (do not cut all the way through)
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
3 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
3 cups pumpkin purée
2 – 3 cups chicken broth
1 (15-oz.) can coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. coconut sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
toasted coconut flakes, for garnish
fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
pumpkin seeds, for garnish
Thai chile flakes, crumbled, for garnish

Heat the coconut oil in a large stock pot, soup pot, or Dutch oven. Sauté the onion, garlic, and lemongrass until the onion is translucent and starting to brown. Add the ginger, coriander, cumin, and red curry paste, and stir for 1 minute. Then add in the pumpkin, 2 cups of the broth, and the coconut milk (retaining a Tbsp. for garnish), and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.

Remove the lemongrass stalk, and purée the mixture in batches, using a blender. Return to pot and add lime juice, sugar, and salt. Taste and add more sugar or salt if desired. If a thinner soup is desired, add in the remaining cup of broth. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Drizzle in a tablespoon or so of the coconut milk on top and lightly mix with a toothpick to create swirls. Then top with a tablespoon of each of the garnishes except the red chile flakes. Add those to taste, since they are spicy.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Tortellini

By Lauren Keating of healthy-delicious.com

Ingredients
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut into half-moons
1 carrot, chopped
6 cups good-quality (preferably homemade) chicken stock
2 1-in. cubes Parmesan cheese
1 package (9 oz.) fresh cheese tortellini
½ cup frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach
1 lemon, juiced

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the leeks and the carrots; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the broth and cheese; bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tortellini; boil for 7 to 9 minutes or until cooked through. Reduce heat and stir in the peas and spinach; simmer until spinach is wilted. Stir in the lemon juice.

Smoked Sausage and White Bean Soup 

By Cheryl Sousan of tidymom.net/

2 Tbsp. olive oil
13 oz. smoked sausage, sliced into medallions
1 cup carrot, sliced or diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 (15.8-oz.) cans Great Northern beans, drained
2-3 cups chicken stock
pinch of smoked paprika
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped, or 12 oz. frozen, thawed, and squeezed to drain
½ cup shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese (optional)

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage medallions and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate.

Heat remaining oil in same pan. Cook carrots, garlic, oregano, black pepper, and thyme sprigs about 5 minutes; stir often. Return sausage (and any juices) to pan. Add beans and broth and cook on medium-low heat, crushing a few beans with the back of a spoon to thicken soup, until slightly thickened, 8-10 minutes.

Season with salt and smoked paprika. Cover and simmer 30 minutes over low heat. Add spinach and cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve topped with cheese, if desired.