Simmering soup for chilly nights

Vegetable Soup

Savory soup for a cold day warms the soul and tempts the tastebuds. Soup can be thin or thick, chunky or blended. It can be a catalyst for vegetables that need to be cooked or a vehicle for bread. There are many combinations of flavors that change the complexity of soup.

While traveling in Scotland this past fall, I ordered a soup on the menu called Cullen Skink. It was a cream soup with smoked haddock and it was scrumptious.

French onion soup, old-fashioned tomato soup and Italian Wedding soup (named not for weddings but for its marriage of flavors) are a few of my favorite soups. The tomato soup en croute at Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats in Truckee is delicious and rivals their French onion. Soup and music with a glass of wine or bourbon is a fine way to enjoy an evening.

Start with chicken
Chicken soup is easy to make and the stock can be used as a base for many other soups, including tomato soup and Italian Wedding soup. Nothing is more comforting than a pot of Jewish chicken soup made with chicken bones, carrots, celery and onion. It is the perfect bowl of healing during cold and flu season. There are numerous riffs on this age-old curative soup.

Ayurvedic trinity
Ginger, garlic and onion are considered the trinity in ayurvedic healing. A moong dal soup with a bevy of spices lends itself to a soothing spiced Indian soup rich with flavor.

Beef or seafood soups
Beef-based soups are rich in protein. French onion soup is made with beef stock but can easily be created with a vegetable base.

Traditional Vietnamese Pho, pronounced (Fah), is a beef-based soup prepared with roasted beef bones, onions, garlic and aromatic spices such as star anise and served with thinly sliced beef or brisket and rice noodles. It is served with mung bean sprouts, jalapeño peppers, Thai basil and limes. Add hoisin and a touch of chili garlic sauce and it will satisfy most soup cravings.

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Seafood lovers look to bisques, bouillabaisse and chowders laden with fish, seafood or both.

Easy miso
Japanese miso soup is delicious and easy to prepare. Laden with tofu and vegetables, it is often the start of a Japanese meal. I make it at home with vegetables, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and dried seaweed and serve it with sushi rice or rice noodles. The key ingredient is miso paste. Red, white or barley are just a few types of miso paste available.

Asian flavors
If you have a yen for Chinese, try hot and sour soup and egg drop soup. I often yearn for Thai soup and if I do, it’s Tom Yum anything. Tom Yum, a hot and sour soup cooked with shrimp; Tom Yum Goong, prepared with lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, fresh Thai chilies and fresh lime juice. And Tom Kha, Kha Gai, chicken soup with coconut and galangal. Korean kimchi soup is guaranteed to warm you up.

Cream-based soups
While traveling in Scotland this past fall, I ordered a soup on the menu called Cullen Skink. It was a cream soup with smoked haddock and it was scrumptious. I do need to recreate this recipe. It was perfect for rainy Scottish nights. Other tasty soups with a cream base include cream of broccoli, broccoli cheddar soup, cream of mushroom and the delicious potato leek soup. All can be made vegan, as well.

Vegetable soups
Vegetable soups are simple to make. Use what’s in the refrigerator. Add onion, garlic, celery and vegetables to make a stock. If you don’t like to waste, use the ends of asparagus that most people toss. I shave the outside and throw it in the stock, lots of carrots, peels and the stalk of broccoli. This reduces waste and reduces what’s going into the landfill.

Lentil, split peas and barley soups are great for vegetarian, vegan plant-forward diets.

There is a fine line as to what constitutes soup. For instance, is stew considered a soup? The wonderful thing about soup is its infinite variations; it would take a lot of work to get bored with the variety of flavors.

Kimchi Miso Soup
From the kitchen of Priya Hutner

1 t sesame oil
¼ head of green cabbage, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled & grated
1 bunch of scallions, sliced (reserve greens)
4 C water
2 C kimchi with juice, chopped small
3 T soy sauce
3 T gochujang
¼ C daikon radish
3 T miso paste
Cubed tofu or crispy pork belly, optional
Rice or rice noodles, to add

Heat sesame oil in a large stock pot. Add cabbage, onions, ginger, garlic and scallions. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add water, kimchi, soy sauce, gochujang and daikon and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Mix miso with hot stock in a small bowl and pour it back into the pot. Add tofu and cook on low for 5 minutes. Serve over rice or rice noodles and top with crispy pork belly and remaining scallions.