>Bonnie Stern: A can-don’t attitude on soup | Appetizer | National Post


Tyler Anderson / National Post

Bonnie Stern’s vegetable soup with kale and chickpeas gives you several required servings of greens (and oranges, and beiges) in convenient liquid form

As the cold weather sets in, what could be more comforting than a steaming bowl of soup? Serve it as an appetizer or as a main course with salad and good bread. A shooter of puréed soup offers a warm welcome for guests on a chilly night. Here are two delicious soup recipes, along with recipes for homemade chicken and vegetable stock.

If you love garlic mashed potatoes, you’ll love this soup.
– 2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
– 4 heads garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
– 1 onion, coarsely chopped
– 1½ lb (750 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
– 3 cups (750 mL) chicken stock, vegetable stock or water or more
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
– 1 tsp (5 mL) smoked paprika
– ¼ cup (50 mL) whipping cream (optional)
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add garlic and onion, cover and cook gently on low heat until tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
2. Add potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Purée. Dust each serving with smoked paprika and drizzle with cream. Makes 6 servings

Packed full of nutrients, this soup makes a great meal.
– 2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
– 2 onions, chopped
– 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– pinch hot red chile flakes
– 2 carrots, diced
– 2 ribs celery, diced
– 1 potato, peeled and diced
– 2 tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste
– 4 cups (1 L) chicken or vegetable stock or water
– 2 cups (500 mL) cooked chick peas
– ½ lb (250 g) black kale, trim­med and chopped
– 1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt or to taste
– ¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
– 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add onions, garlic and chile flakes to pan and cook gently for 5 minutes until tender and very fragrant.
2. Add carrots, celery and potato and cook gently for another 5 minutes.
3. Stir tomato paste into vegetables. Add stock or water. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes.
4. Add chick peas and kale and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes, until kale is tender. Add salt and pepper. Add more liquid if soup is too thick. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 8 servings

When I started to teach cooking, I thought I could convince everyone to make stock. Now I realize that not everyone has the time, freezer space or inclination. But if you try these simple versions, you will see how easy it is, how good it tastes and that you are in control of the ingredients, especially salt. If you do use commercial stock, dilute it much more than the package recommends — even low-salt commercial stock is salty. (As beef stock takes much longer to prepare and fish stock is far less versatile, I will save those for another time.)

Here are some general tips for making stock:
When making any stock, start with cold water as it draws out flavour and impurities.
– Do not add salt until you use the stock — it will taste bland, but don’t worry.
– A stock made with mild-flavoured vegetables and seasonings is most versatile.
– Cook stock on medium-low heat. If it boils, it could become cloudy.
– Freeze strained, cooled stock flat in Ziploc bags or 2-cup (500 mL) containers. If you have a small freezer, cook the stock down, freeze it in small quantities and dilute it with water when you use it.

Place 4 lb (2 kg) raw chicken pieces (or wings, backs and necks) in a large pot. Cover by about 2 inches (5 cm) with cold water. Bring to a boil and skim off any froth that rises to the surface. Add 2 each of coarsely chopped onions, celery ribs, carrots and leeks. Add a handful of fresh parsley, 1 bay leaf and 3 sprigs of fresh thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 1½ to 2 hours. Strain, cool and refrigerate overnight. Then remove and discard any fat that rises to the surface and solidifies.

Place 2 each of coarsely chopped onions, carrots, celery ribs, leeks and tomatoes in a large saucepan. Add ¼ lb (125 g) mushrooms (cut into chunks), 1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs of thyme and a handful of parsley. Cover with cold water by about 2 inches (5 cm). Bring to a boil. Remove any froth. Simmer for 1½ hours. Strain. For a stronger flavour and darker colour, brown the vegetables first in 2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil.

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