Let them eat soup

When you are feeling under the weather and the wind is howling outside, what do you crave for mealtime? Yes, soup! Glorious, warm, soothing soup.

Over the holidays, during illness, good friends came to the rescue with, you guessed it, that wonderful food, soup. Nourishing, delicious and ever so appreciated, soups are equally tasty for lunch or supper especially during one of the dreariest months of them all – January. Be fortified and Happy New Year!

Pasta e Fagioli

Chef and good friend Lesleigh Landry kindly delivered a bucket of this sustaining, hearty soup to my door when she heard illness prevailed in the Main household. I was especially grateful as it was one of the most delicious soup-stews I had ever eaten both for lunch and dinner the next day. For an even heartier meal, enjoy with a salad and crusty bread. If you like spice, Lesleigh recommended serving with a dollop of your favourite hot sauce or hers, Dan’s Inferno Smoky Chipotle-Cayenne.

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil

3 slices side bacon, chopped

1 cup (250 mL) each, celery and carrot, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves minced garlic

6 cups (1.5 L) chicken stock

1 can (19 oz/ 540 mL) white kidney beans, drained & mashed

1 can (19 oz/ 540 mL) Romano beans, rinsed & drained

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) small pasta, such as tubetti or small shell pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

In large saucepan heat oil over medium heat; cook bacon, carrot, celery, onion and garlic 7 – 10 minutes or until bacon is cooked. Stir in stock, mashed white kidney beans and whole Romano beans. Bring to boil; stir in pasta and cook about 8 -10 minutes or until pasta is just tender. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Serve with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Mexican Style Chicken Soup

How lucky can you get? Another cauldron of life-giving soup delivered to my door over the holidays. Many thanks to Wayne Cottrell and Fernando Rodriguez who created this chicken soup with Mexican overtones. Its subtle flavours brightened my taste buds and my day.

Wayne says this soup can be modified with vegetables of your choice. Although the ingredient list looks long, the soup is quick and easy to make – another winner!

Chayote (pronounced chi oh tay) is a gourd like fruit with a bland flavour. It is rich in potassium, and was considered the food of Aztecs and the Mayas. It is available in Fresco and some Asian supermarkets. Of course, you can substitute another vegetable of your choice.

24 chicken thighs, halved

16 – 20 cups (4 L) water

3-4 stalks celery,chopped

1 onion, chopped

8 cloves minced fresh garlic

2 inch (10 cm) piece of ginger root, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 bunch fresh coriander, washed dried and leaves chopped

3 tbsp (45 mL) Maggi seasoning (if tolerated otherwise, optional)

1 tbsp (25 mL) powdered chicken stock

3 potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 chayote, peeled and cubed

4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can (19oz/ 540 mL) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1-2 cups (250 mL) frozen peas

1-2 cups (250 mL) beans, chopped into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces

3 zucchini, cubed

1 cup (250 mL) small dried pasta (optional)

1 juice of a lemon or lime

Garnishes: (optional) grated cheddar cheese or jalapeno cheese

For extra kick, chopped jalapeno pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

In large stock pot over medium to high heat, add chicken thighs, water, celery, onion, garlic, ginger root, coriander, Maggi seasoning and powdered chicken stock. Bring to boil; remove any scum from surface. Add potatoes and chayote; bring to boil; boil for 7 – 10 minutes. Add carrots, peas, beans and chickpeas. Bring back to boil and boil 7 – 10 minutes.

Turn heat off and add zucchini and pasta (if using). Let stand 25 -30 minutes. Stir in lemon or lime juice; season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheddar or jalapeno cheese. For extra zest, stir in fresh chopped jalapeno pepper. Makes 20 generous cups about 15 servings. Soup can be frozen in usable portions for up to three months.

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