Edible Cooks: Soup


By Our Readers / Edited by Sarah Blackburn / Photo by Michael Piazza

We eat a lot of soup around here. French lentil with sausages and clove, chicken broth with celeriac and noodles, carrot-ginger spiked with chilies and mace. It’s always a perfect meal: Alongside a salad and cheese, some crusty bread, a glass of wine or beer, it does wonders to warm up the soul on a frigid day.

As we prepared this issue, we thought we’d reach out once again to our readers in search of their go-to winter soup recipes. What did they make when their CSA boxes were simply overflowing, or their pantries were in need of a good clearing-out? What soups reminded them of home, or of family? Did they make soup to share with a crowd, or to save for another day in the freezer?

Here are our five favorites, plus a soup to make with your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers from our own kitchen. Thanks to all who submitted their soups and their stories!

Butternut Squash Chili
Submitted by Anne Marie Rossi of Natick. She picks up her copy of Edible Boston at Whole Foods. 

Getting my weekly vegetables from a CSA farm share (Vanguarden CSA in Dover) has dramatically changed the way my family eats. Before I joined, I would buy the same few vegetables over and over at the grocery store.  Carrots, potatoes, and broccoli were the regulars, with an occasional bag of corn on the cob.  My family wasn’t getting much variety, but I wasn’t sure how to expand our repertoire.

Butternut squash was one vegetable I used to avoid at the market, but now that we get a lot of it from our farm share, I was surprised to discover how well it works in a chili recipe. The sweetness is a wonderful contrast to the savory seasonings. This recipe makes a nice big batch to last a few nights.

Serves 4–6
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1½ pound butternut squash (or other winter squash), peeled and cubed
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cups cooked pinto beans, or 2 cans drained and rinsed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

Add the squash, celery, and the remaining ingredients to the pot and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft.  If you don’t want your beans to be mushy, add them during the last few minutes of cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve warm with brown rice or cornbread on the side.

Cream of Spinach and Fennel Soup
Submitted by Laurence Nepveu-Goulet of South Boston. She gets her copy of Edible Boston at American Provisions on East Broadway in South Boston. 

I grew up in Montreal, and got this recipe from my mother, who, in turn, got it from one of her colleagues. I love this soup because it’s so easy to cook, it’s healthy and delicious, and perfect on a cold winter night.

Serves 4–6

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
8 cups fresh spinach
2½ cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup heavy cream or crème fraîche

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add the fennel and sauté for 5 minutes more.

Pour the chicken broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Add spinach, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper to taste, stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Puree the soup using a stick blender. Add cream or crème fraîche and stir to combine. Serve with more pepper sprinkled on top.

Simple Minestra a.k.a. “Meneste”
Submitted by Nina Ricciardi Quirk of Worcester. She picks up her copy of Edible Boston at Whole Foods in Bellingham. 

I ate this minestra one day at my Italian-American grandmother’s house, and it gave me an instant feeling of nostalgia, even though I’d never had it before. My great-grandmother, Fortunata, had taught her this dish; she used to make it differently, using pork hocks before she and her family immigrated to Worcester from Caserta Vecchia, near Naples, but adapted the recipe to what was more readily available here. I usually make a huge pot, give away one half to a family member, eat some, and freeze the rest. Even my 2- and 3-year-old boys love it!

Serves 4–6 people

1½ pounds country style pork ribs
1 pound bone-in, center-cut pork chops
2 sticks of pepperoni (without added nitrates or preservatives), cut into 1-inch pieces on the bias
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4-5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 large head green cabbage, cut into large chunks
1 large head escarole or 2 small heads, washed and roughly chopped (save the hearts and core for salad)
⅛ cup fennel seeds
Few pinches of red pepper flakes
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving
Garlicky lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, for the escarole hearts

Arrange all of the meat at the bottom of a very large pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, the red pepper flakes, fennel seeds and the garlic. Cover with cold water by an inch, bring to a boil and cook 35 minutes. Skim the foam from the top and discard.

Add the cabbage, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about an hour, stirring only occasionally. Taste the broth and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Add the escarole, season again and cook for another 30 minutes or so. The greens should be wilted and the pork falling apart.

Discard the bones, being careful to remove them all before serving. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano over each bowl. Serve with crusty bread, and the escarole hearts tossed with a garlicky vinaigrette, on the side.

Black Bean Soup with Cumin and Labne
Submitted by Gayle Squires of Central Square, Cambridge. She gets her copy of Edible Boston at Russo’s in Watertown. 

One of my favorite soups is a very simple clean-out-your-pantry-and-fridge black bean soup. It’s hearty without being heavy, and great to make ahead for the week. It does have a kick, so if you don’t like spice, you should halve the amount of chipotle.

Serves 4–6 people
Olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 tablespoons garlic (3-4 cloves), chopped
1 tablespoon minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (one chipotle pepper plus adobo sauce)
1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
4 small cans black beans, drained and rinsed
5–6 cups water
Lime juice
Labne (thick Middle Eastern yogurt)

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a soup pot and add onion; sauté until browned, about 8–10 minutes. Add garlic, chipotle (and adobo sauce) and 1 tablespoon cumin. Cook over medium-low heat for another 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and water. Simmer about 15 minutes. Add the black beans to the soup. After another 10 minutes, puree with an immersion blender and add salt and lime juice to taste.

Thin out the labne with some warm water and mix with remaining cumin. Add a dollop of labne to each serving and sprinkle a little cumin on top.

Leftover Turkey Tortilla Soup
By Sarah Blackburn 
The first step in this soup is to make a flavorful stock with your turkey carcass. This is most easily done as you’re cleaning up from the big meal, late at night, over a final glass of wine.

Strip all the meat from the bones and shred about 2 cups for the soup; save the rest, if there’s any left, for sandwiches. Place the bones and any accumulated drippings and vegetables from the bottom of the roasting pan into a large stockpot, add a couple each of peeled onions, carrots and celery, any stray herbs you still have around, and fill the whole thing with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cover, allowing it to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Then turn the heat off and walk away until tomorrow. It will cool on the stove overnight.

Strain the stock the next morning and discard all the solids; use it right away for this delicious Mexican-inspired soup that uses crushed tortilla chips in the place of the traditional masa harina and fried tortilla strips, or freeze the broth and shredded turkey to make the soup on another day.

Serves 6–8
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed, minced or grated
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and minced, leaves roughly chopped
1 28-ounce can organic tomatoes, crushed
2 cups shredded leftover turkey meat, white and dark combined
1 large bag organic tortilla chips, half crushed, half left whole
4 cups (or more) turkey stock
4 limes, 2 juiced and 2 cut into wedges for serving
1 teaspoon sugar or agave nectar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces feta cheese
2 avocados, cubed for serving
4 radishes, sliced thin for serving
Hot sauce of your choice

In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the sliced onion, the carrot and the garlic. Sizzle in the fat until the onion is translucent, about 3–4 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and the cilantro stems and stir to combine. Add a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 more minutes.

Pour in the can of tomatoes, along with their juice. Stir in the turkey meat, the crushed chips and the turkey stock. Bring to a simmer and cook 15 minutes, or until the chips have thickened the stock. Add the lime juice, the sugar or agave, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in a handful of cilantro leaves and save the rest for serving.

Serve each bowl garnished with crumbled feta, avocado, radishes, cilantro and hot sauce at the table. Enjoy with tortilla chips to dip in the soup.

Submitted by Abigail Clement, who is new to Boston and picks up Edible Boston at different locations around town. 
This is a soup my mother used to make, adapted from a recipe from the cookbook Motherhood and Apple PieRecipes from Upstate New York: hand picked by the Junior League of Rochester. I grew up in Northern Virginia, and this was a favorite in the late fall. I remember it being on the stove after getting home from late-night soccer games, when I really needed some warming up! My mom never follows recipes, and when she makes it, she skips the cheese to make it vegan. I sometimes do the same, but usually sprinkle the cheese on top of each serving. This is the definition of comfort food for me!

Serves 6–8 hungry people

8 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups onions, peeled and diced
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths (or 1 package frozen green beans)
1 10-ounce package frozen peas
2 cups cooked white beans (or 1 can navy beans, drained and rinsed)
½ cup spaghetti, broken into pieces
1 slice stale white bread
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of saffron
3 cloves garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1½ tablespoons basil
½ cup freshly grated
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
½ cup olive oil

Bring water to a boil in a large soup pot and add the salt. Add the potatoes, onions and carrots to the water, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.

Add the green beans, peas, white beans and broken spaghetti. Crumble in the stale bread, season with black pepper to taste and add the saffron. Bring back to a simmer and cook another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a soup serving bowl or tureen, stir together the garlic, tomato paste, basil and Parmigiano Reggiano. Beat in the olive oil, one drop at a time, to make a loose paste.

With a whisk, blend 1 cup of the hot soup broth into the paste, then return the mixture to the soup pot. Stir to blend thoroughly, check for seasoning and serve with crusty bread.

This story appeared in the Winter 2014 issue.