The Comfort of Soup

When people ask me what I do and I tell them I’ve been a Chef for almost 18 years (which of course means I started when I was 10 years old) the question I am most frequently asked is “what is your favorite dish to make?” My answer is always a great big pot of soup. Soup comes from the French word soupe which is derived from the noun suppa, to “sop” up a broth with bread. To me it means a great big belly hug!

I find soup making to be therapeutic. Soups are easy on the wallet and they can keep in the fridge for up to a week. And as good old Betty Crocker would say, they freeze beautifully for up to 3 months. With the winters we have here in Rochester having a bowl of soup a day will definitely help keep the blues away.

There are a few simple rules for making a great soup. First, I prefer to use stock over broth. Stock will have a richer, fuller flavor. Broth is made only from meat simmered with veggies whereas stock is made with veggies, meat and roasted bones. Same goes for veggie broths and stock. The veggies in a stock are roasted to really concentrate their flavor before being added to water and simmered. Second, bouillon is your friend. I always add a bouillon or base to my soups in addition to stock. It’s the perfect way to enhance the flavor. My favorite brand is called Better than Bouillon. Unlike powdered bouillon it is a paste. Lastly, when making a soup with noodles, pasta, or rice don’t cook them directly in the soup, cook or boil them separately. Noodles will break down and become mushy and rice tends to thicken the soup and you end up having a thick stew. This also gives you the ability to choose your own noodle/rice to broth ratio.

Chicken noodle soup is my absolute favorite. I class it up a bit by adding some spinach and instead of egg noodles I use a homemade style noodle called Kluski. They can be found right alongside the egg noodles in the grocery store. This soup is also super easy to make because I use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. The recipe only uses half of the chicken so you have the other half to use later in the week. We usually end up munching on the other half while waiting for the soup to cook.

Here’s a really tummy warmer for my vegetarian and vegan friends. I call it my freezer/pantry Veggie soup. It’s super simple! The recipe uses a few bags of frozen veggies, 1 large can of V8 juice and some stock. You can go from empty pot to a full bowl of deliciousness in about 45 minutes.

One of my favorite dishes as a child was my mom’s stuffed peppers. They were so yummy but I remember they would take her a couple of hours to make. Most nights I don’t have that kind of time to devote to making dinner. A few years ago I found a recipe for a stuffed pepper soup. I tweaked it a bit and now it has become a household favorite. Hope you enjoy these recipes! Keep warm and best wishes to you and yours. Hope you have a “souper” New Year!

Madame Chef’s Classy Chicken Noodle Soup 

2 tbsp coconut or olive oil

1 large sweet onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 cup shredded carrots

2 cloves minced garlic

½ tbsp fresh ground pepper

½ rotisserie style chicken (white and dark meat) chop into small chunks or shred by hand

4 oz frozen chopped spinach

1 qt chicken stock

2 tbsp chicken base or powdered bouillon

2 cups warm water

In a 3 or 4 quart sauce pan on medium high heat, add oil, onions, celery. Sauté until slightly browned then add garlic and carrots. Continue to sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Add chopped chicken, spinach and chicken stock. Add chicken base to warm water and stir to dilute then add into soup. Bring mixture to a boil then simmer for 20-25 minutes until veggies are tender. While soup is simmering, in a separate pot cook ½ a bag of Kluski noodles. Time will vary depending on the brand of noodles you use so just follow the directions on the package. When noodles have finished cooking drain noodles well. Coat warm noodles with a tablespoon of butter. Place your desired amount of noodles in a bowl and ladle soup over noodles. Top with freshly chopped parsley.

Easy Veggie Soup 

2 tbsp of coconut or olive oil

1 large sweet onion chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 tbsp of minced garlic

2 tbsp of dried Italian seasoning

2 tbsp vegetable base or powdered bouillon

2 cups of pre-shredded coleslaw mix

(cabbage and carrots)

One 8 oz bag of frozen mixed veggies (I use the bag that contains peas, carrots, green beans and corn)

4 oz frozen chopped cauliflower

One 10 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 qt vegetable stock

1 64 oz can of V8 juice (the spicy version also works well)

Heat coconut oil over medium high heat in a 3-4 quart stock pot. Add onions and celery, and coleslaw mix sauté until lightly browned. Add garlic and Italian seasoning and continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes. Now add frozen mixed veggies, chopped cauliflower, diced tomatoes, stock, veggie base and V8. Bring soup to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a nice crusty loaf of bread.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 large Sweet onion, chopped

3 medium sized bell peppers, cored and chopped (I use 1 green, one yellow

and one red)

2 tbsp beef base or powdered bouillon

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 pound of lean ground beef (ground turkey or chicken also taste great)

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1 14.5 oz can of stewed tomatoes

1 qt of beef stock

2 cups of warm water

2 cups cooked white or brown rice

Heat coconut oil over medium high heat in a 3-4 quart stock pot. Sauté onions, peppers until lightly browned. Then add ground beef and cook until completely browned. Drain excess fat then return to the heat and add garlic and Italian seasoning and cook and additional 3-4 minutes to incorporate flavors. Now add stewed tomatoes, beef stock and beef base that has been diluted in the 2 cups of warm water. Bring mixture to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Salt and pepper soup to your liking after it has simmered. Cook your favorite rice while soup is simmering. A long grain white rice works great. You can even grab a quart of steamed rice from the prepared food bar at your favorite grocery store. Place ½ cup rice in a bowl and ladle soup over top.