Good soup is easy to make and delicious. There is no need
to buy canned soup -- full of salt, or to eat soup at restaurants -- full of salt
and fat. The basis of good-tasting soup is the stock or broth you use. A rich
homemade chicken broth is probably the gold standard, but not entirely
necessary. In these soups it is the vegetables that shine, so it's all right to
use a good quality canned chicken or vegetable broth. If you don't want to use
broth, use water instead and you will still get good flavor by braising aromatic vegetables until
they are golden and tender in a small amount of healthy oil such as walnut oil.
Each of these soups uses vegetables and legumes
appropriate for the season, and they are delicious as well as cleansing and
Spring -- lettuce soup
This is a delicate creamy soup that contains all the
nutrients of the vegetables in it, as well as plenty of fiber to get a sluggish
1 onion or a few shallots
2 tablespoons walnut or other healthy oil
2 large heads of the greenest Romaine lettuce you can
find, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
4 to 6 cups of water or broth
1 Idaho potato, peeled and cubed
- In a large pot, sauté the onion or shallots in the oil,
stirring frequently, until the onions are glazed, tender and beginning to turn
- Add the lettuce and turn it in the oil and onion until it
begins to wilt. Add the broth or water and the peeled, diced potato to the pot.
Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer
for about twenty minutes until the potato is very soft.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. Add
additional hot broth or water if needed for the thickness you prefer. Taste the
soup and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Garnish the soup with a swirl of heavy cream,if you like
a little luxury in your soup.
Summer -- golden garlic soup with fresh vegetables
Lots of garlic makes a flavorful soup, and is a good
protection against summer colds. All the fresh summer vegetables, ideally right
out of your garden, add texture, flavor and loads of nutrients. This is also a
very pretty soup.
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of oil
1 quart of chicken or vegetable broth
4 or 5 small yellow crookneck squash
4 small ripe tomatoes
2 or 3 small zucchini
a handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves only
a handful of fresh green peas or pea pods
- Saute the cloves of garlic in the oil and butter in a
large pot. Stir frequently until the garlic is glazed and tender, and beginning
to turn golden. Don't let it brown or burn.
- Add the broth and bring the mixture to a low boil while
you prepare the fresh vegetables. Wash and dry the vegetables. Cut the squash,
zucchini and tomatoes into cubes. Cut the stems off the parsley. Rinse and
drain the fresh peas or pea pods.
- Put everything into the pot with the garlic and broth
except the tomatoes. Bring to a low boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are as tender as you like
them. When the soup is ready, add the tomatoes and heat them through.
- To make a complete meal, put a poached egg in each bowl and serve with crisp sourdough
Fall -- sweet potato, squash, carrot and rutabaga
This is a simple soup I first had in a French restaurant
in Moorea, Tahiti. It was so good, I couldn't believe how simple the recipe is. The delicate flavor of this soup doesn't depend on
sauteed onions or garlic, but instead on the quality and richness of the
vegetables themselves. Sweet potato is one of the healthiest vegetables you can
eat and it, along with winter squash, carrots and rutabaga, is what makes this
soup so healthy. You can also add an Idaho potato for additional creaminess,
and garnish with sauteed mushrooms if you like. Serve the soup with a
contrasting green salad and sharp vinaigrette.
1 quart or more of chicken broth
1 or 2 sweet
potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 butternut squash or two or three cups of peeled, cubed pumpkin
or 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 or 2 crisp rutabagas, peeled
and coarsely chopped
1 large Idaho potato, peeled and cubed.
In a large pot bring a quart of broth to a simmer. As you
peel and dice the vegetables, drop them in the broth. If you are
using low sodium broth or just water, add a teaspoon or two of salt at this
point. If you are using regular chicken broth with more salt in it, wait until
the soup is nearly done to taste and add any salt that might be needed. Add 1
teaspoon of sugar. You won't taste the sugar in the finished soup, but it
enhances the flavor so you can use less salt.
Cook until the vegetables are very tender. Use an
immersion blender to puree the soup until very smooth. Taste and season as
needed. Thin with more broth, water or a little milk or cream, if you prefer.
Note: You can also garnish this soup with a handful of
bitter greens that have been tossed in a sharp vinaigrette.
Another note: If you prefer a stronger flavor, rub two tablespoons of oil over all the diced vegetables. Put them in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, cover it with foil and bake at 400 degrees F. for 30 minutes with the foil on, and 20 to 30 minutes more with the foil off, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown on the edges. Then cook them in the broth, and puree to make your beautiful creamed soup.
Winter -- bean soup
2 tablespoons healthy oil
2 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small onion, sliced thinly or diced small
1 cup diced celery, about ¼-inch pieces
1 cup diced carrot, also about ¼-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
1 quart broth, preferably low-sodium
4 cups shredded kale
2 cups cooked cannellini beans, canned is all right,
please rinse the canned beans and drain them
- Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and onion. Sauté,
stirring frequently, until they are tender and golden. Don’t brown or burn the
garlic and onion.
- Add the diced celery and carrots. Sprinkle with a large
pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until the celery and carrots also
begin to soften and become golden. They should release some water, but if the
mixture becomes too dry, add a tablespoon or two of broth and continue sautéing
- Add the broth, shredded kale and cooked beans. If the
soup is too thick add extra broth or water. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn
down the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until
the kale is quite tender. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if
- Serve with shreds of Parmesan cheese, to enhance the bitterness
of the kale.