I made a different batch of soup on three consecutive days last week. In addition to providing three hearty lunches, I now have 10 quarts of soup stored in the freezer. To counter the cold, only a wood fire tops soup.
With each batch, I departed from my usual recipe and noticed the difference. But soups are forgiving — unlike bread, they’re hard to totally screw up — and are easy and economical.
With the snow building up outside today, I’ll enjoy a choice of soups du jour for lunch, and I’ll imagine that we’re huddled together for warmth in our cabin in the woods. (Actually, we’re less than a mile from the center of town.)
First I made PUMPKIN FIESTA SOUP (shown in photo above), a great way to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey and jack-o-lanterns. I don’t know where I got this recipe, but at some point I wrote it down and make it just about every December or January.
2 T oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup red pepper
7 crushed cloves garlic
5 cups cubed uncooked pumpkin
2 cups tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup jalapeno pepper
2 cups turkey strips
1 chopped avocado
The only challenge with this soup is getting the rind off the pumpkin; I use a big, sharp knife and try to avoid stabbing myself! It’s good to cook the soup for at least 20 minutes to get the pumpkin tender before adding the turkey and avocado. Last week I used a frozen green pepper in place of the hot stuff, and found the soup a little flat.
The second day, I made CURRIED SQUASH AND MUSHROOM SOUP. The recipe comes from the Moosewood Cookbook, and I like to ask guests if they can guess the mystery ingredient (orange juice).
2 medium butternut squash, baked at 375 degrees until soft, making 3 cups
2 1/2 cups stock
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove crushed garlic
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp cumin, each coriander and cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 1/4 tsp salt
Typically, I put the cooked squash through a blender with the stock, then put it in a pan with the orange juice. But I had some pureed pumpkin left over from the previous day’s soup, so I used that. The soup wasn’t as tasty as usual. (I should have used the butternut squash stored under our bed, as shown in photo at left, but the pureed pumpkin was easier.) I sauteed the onion in the butter and garlic, then added the spices and mushrooms, then added it to the squash mixture.
The third day, I made SPLIT PEA SOUP, which I’ve done so many times I don’t use a recipe. The organic split peas I buy don’t dissolve as readily as store-bought ones, so I usually let them soak overnight. But this day I decided to make the soup at the spur of the moment, and soaked the peas for only an hour. No matter how long I boiled it, those peas didn’t dissolve, and I had to put the whole soup through a blender to make it soft enough.
I used four cups of peas, 2 onions, 1 carrot and a celeriac (celery is also fine). I usually use water to make this soup because the peas are so hearty, but this time I had two quarts of beef broth and used them along with three quarts of water.
I find 32-ounce yogurt containers useful for storing soup; each one provides three servings.