How to win in January: Bold soups that fight off the cold

By JeanMarie Brownson | Chicago Tribune

 

No matter where you live, January requires comfort. Many of us suffer from PHL (post-holiday letdown), some of us feel beat by broken New Year’s resolutions, and others struggle with cold feet. Literally.

Soup to the rescue, I say. Simmering cauldrons of goodness pay off in spades — from their homey aromas to some substantial nourishment. I like to spend wintry Sunday afternoons making large batches of various soups, then packaging them in to-go containers for family members. Honestly, I don’t know who benefits more, the cook or the recipients. Plus, cooking gets me out of snow-shoveling duties.

Soup recipes need not be complicated to satisfy. My simplest soups combine packaged broth and pre-cut or frozen vegetables cooked to tenderness and pureed with a spice blend such as curry powder or chopped fresh herbs. Speedy, broth-y versions can be as uncomplicated as a gentle heating of cooked meat or chicken and vegetables in seasoned stock. For texture and variety, stir in canned beans or cooked pasta. This type of soup takes a stunning turn when served topped with a fried egg and a splash of hot sauce.

Turns out comfort comes in soup bowls and friendships.

LEMON CHICKEN SOUP WITH QUINOA AND KALE

Prep: 20 minutes | Cook: 30 minutes | Makes: 6 servings

For a speedy version, substitute 2 to 3 cups cubed or shredded fully cooked chicken for the raw chicken in step 1.

INGREDIENTS

6 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or chicken tenders

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 ribs celery, diced (generous 1 cup)

2 orange or yellow carrots, ends trimmed, peeled, diced (1 cup)

1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup white quinoa, rinsed

3 large eggs

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 3 lemons

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups baby kale or baby spinach leaves

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat chicken broth to a simmer in a large shallow saucepan over medium heat. Add chicken. Simmer, covered, over low heat, turning once, until chicken is almost opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Let stand off the heat in the broth, 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool; reserve broth. When chicken has cooled, cut into bite-size pieces.

Heat oil in a large (3-quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, carrot and onion; cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved broth and the quinoa. Heat to a boil; reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often, until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs with lemon juice and pepper in a medium bowl.

Stir diced chicken and kale into the soup. While whisking, ladle about 2 cups of hot broth into the egg mixture to warm it. Then, pour the egg mixture back into the soup pot and whisk to blend and heat through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon (depending on saltiness of broth). Serve hot.

Find more soup recipes online at staugustine.com.

Nutrition information per serving: 308 calories, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 156 mg cholesterol, 21 g carbohydrates, 4 g sugar, 31 g protein, 393 mg sodium, 3 g fiber

CARROT ORANGE SOUP

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Keep this soup vegetarian by using packaged vegetable broth. For a richer soup, use chicken broth.

2 medium leeks

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound thin carrots, ends trimmed, peeled, coarsely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)

1 clove garlic, chopped

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus more if needed

2 small navel oranges

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, optional

Chopped fresh chives for garnish

1. Trim roots from leeks. Remove tough dark greens. Split leeks lengthwise in half, and rinse well to remove any dirt or grit. Roughly chop the white and light green portion of the leeks. You should have about 2 cups.

2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped leeks. Cook and stir until leeks are soft but not brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in carrots and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Stir in 4 cups broth. Heat to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, stirring often, until carrots are fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Finely grate orange zest into the soup. Then, squeeze the juice from the oranges and add the juice to the soup. Puree the soup in the pan using an immersion blender. (Alternatively, puree the soup in small batches in a blender. Return the soup to the pot.)

5. Heat pureed soup to a simmer. Add additional vegetable broth or water to adjust the thickness to the texture of a light cream soup. Season to taste with salt. Serve in warmed bowls topped with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of chives.

Nutrition information per serving (for 6 servings): 106 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 15 g carbohydrates, 8 g sugar, 1 g protein, 136 mg sodium, 3 g fiber

SIMPLE CHICKEN BROTH

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 1 1/2 hours

Makes: 2 quarts

3 pounds chicken wings

1 carrot, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1 Cut chicken wings apart at their joints. Put wings and remaining ingredients into a large saucepan. Add 3 quarts cold water. Heat to a boil; skim off any foam. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the meat falls off the bones, about 1 1/2 hours.

2 Strain broth into large bowl or glass measure. (Discard solids.) Pour into small containers. Refrigerate until cold, then scrape off and discard the solidified fat. Refrigerate for a few days, or freeze up to several months.

 

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