Nourishment: Soup Club

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

My friend Brenda, the one who brought us that excellent pancake recipe, recently asked me for some good soup recipes to make. We’d both been down for the count with the flu for days and she was excited about cooking (and eating) again.

What a fun project! So I sent her a few old soupy favorites of mine, and threw in a couple of new ones from books I trused, like Paul Bertolli’s Cooking By Hand and Judy Rodgers’s Zuni Cafe Cookbook.

Pretty soon she was making soups, sending me her own recipes, and I was returning the favor with photos attached. It’s been two weeks of soup-making bliss. A sort of soup-like quilting cirlce for two.

Join us! Make your favorite soup and send us the recipe and photos. We also like details such as the music you listened to while cooking and recommended wines.

It’s all part of nourishing ourselves. skgr

This is from Judy Rodgers’s “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook” – one of my favorites.

(A Riesling would be good with this, and Louis Prima on the stereo)
Serves 4

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups diced yellow onions
Coarse salt
1/4 cup white rice (but I use brown rice)
About 3.5 cups chicken stock (use fresh if possible, they sell it at gourmet shops sometimes – otherwise use the organic stuff in the box, or better yet, make some!)
1/2 cup water
About 8 ounces asparagus, woody ends trimmed
4 ounces pancetta, finely minced (1/2-2/3 cup)
Freshly cracked black pepper

Warm 1/4 cup of the oil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring regularly. Don’t let them color, they should “sweat” their moisture and then become tender and translucent in about 10 minutes. Add the rice, stock, and water and bring to a simmer. Cover tightly and cook until rice is nutty-tender, probably 15-20 minutes (more if you use brown rice). The broth will be cloudy and should taste sweet. Turn off heat.

While rice is cooking, sliver the asparagus, slicing it on the bias about 1/8″ thick. They can vary in thickness; it makes for a more textural effect. You should get about 2 cups.

Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and asparagus slivers and stir once to coat, then spread them out and leave to sizzle until those at the edges of the pan being to color. Toss or stir once, then leave to color again. Repeat a few times until he mass has softened and shrunk by about one-third.

Scrape the pancetta and asparagus into the broth and bring to a boil. Add lots of pepper. Boil for about 1 minute. This soup is best when served promptly.


I haven’t made this but it’s from an Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse Cooking, so it’s probably delicious. Just make sure to use high-quality ingredients. It is probably much like a French onion soup, and you really can’t go wrong with that in the middle of winter.

Serves 6

5 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced (use vidalia if you can find them)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
5 slices levain bread (8 ounces), or other sturdy sourdough bread
1 cup fruity red wine
4 cups beef broth (or chicken broth)
Freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375

Warm 3 tablespoons oil in heavy-bottom casserole or pot large enough to hold the sliced onions. Add the onions, salt, and thyme, and stir well to coat. Adjust heat to low so onions sizzle gently. Cook slowly for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, brush bread slices with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lay on baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until dried out and lightly toasted.

By now the onions have reduced in volume, softened, and browned lightly. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits on bottom or sides of pan. Stir in broth and pepper the mixture liberally.

Rub bread slices with garlic clove. Break up the bread and lay half of it into a baking dish (8″x10″) and cover the bread with a thick layer of onions, removed with a slotted spoon. Set 3 cups of the onion broth aside. Ladle about 1/2 of the remaining onion broth over the bread slices and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan over the layer. Form another layer using the remaining read, onions, brother and cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, until the broth has nearly all been absorbed and the cheese on top has formed a gratin. Divide the soup among six wide warmed bowls, keeping the crusty surface intact. Heat the reserved onion broth, pour about 1/2 cup around each serving.


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Ah, cauliflower – one of the only ways I think you can appreciate it’s unique flavor is to puree it into a soup. This is from Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli.

(Cauliflower is kind of funky with wine, but we had it with a Gruner Veltliner and there were no complaits. Jazz, definitely. Coltranes’ Ballads was nice.)
Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1.5 lbs fresh cauliflower (as fresh as possible)
5.5 cups hot water
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as chervil or Italian parsley

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the onion in the oil over low heat without letting it brown, about 15 minutes. Add the cauliflower, salt to taste, and 1/2 cup water, raise the heat slightly, and cover the pot tightly. Stew the cauliflower for 15-18 minutes, or until tender. Add another 4.5 cups hot water, bring to a low simmer, and cook an additional 20 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender to a very smooth, creamy consistency. Let it stand for 20 minutes, it will thicken slightly. Thin the soup with 1/2 cup water, if necessary. Reheat it, serve hot with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, chopped herbs and freshly ground pepper.


This is a soup my mom has made for me since I was a baby. Apparently, I had a topical allergy to escarole, but I loved the soup so much she’s make it for me anyway. I’d slurp it up and it’d run down my chin and neck leaving red bumps for a few hours. I didn’t care, so neither did she.

(Sauvignon Blanc was nice this week with this soup, and the Big Night soundtrack on the stereo.)
Serves 4-6

3/4lb ground meat (I use turkey, or whatever I can find that’s organic)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 eggs
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Coarse salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 bunch escarole, trimmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
Dried hot pepper flakes, optional

Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, 1 egg, 1/4cup of each cheese, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix thoroughly, then form into 1″ balls. In large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over med-high heat. Add meatballs and cook, turning, until browned all over. Set aside on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

In a large soup pot, heat remaining oil over med-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are tender and garlic is soft, but not browned. Add stock and bring to boil. Add escarole, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add meatballs and simmer another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 eggs and remaining cheeses in small bowl and stir with a fork to blend gently. Slow pour egg mixture into hot soup, stirring constantly. Cover and simmer just until egg bits are set, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and serve immediately.


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

This is a recipe I adapted from something I found in an old Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I substituted her rice noodles with buckwheat, and took out the sugar, just to give a little nutritional value to what otherwise is basically a (don’t get me wrong, delicious) coconut milk fest.

(We had this with Belgian Ale and the Monsoon Wedding Soundtrack)
Serves 2

Coarse salt
1 bunch (from an 8oz package) Japanese soba (buckwheat) noodles
1 can (14oz) unsweetened coconut milk
1 3/4 cup stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
4 garlic cloves
1 2″ piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into 1/8″ thick rounds
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 fresh lemongrass stalk, bottom 4 inches only, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Cook noodles until al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Bring coconut milk and stock to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, process cilantro, garlic, and ginger in a food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 seconds.

Add cilantro mixture, fish sauce, and lemongrass to broth; simmer 6 minutes. Discard lemongrass. Add noodles; cook until just heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice. Divide noodles among bowls, top with cilantro.


Here’s the Black Bean Soup Brenda sent to me. My husband hasn’t been feeling well for a few days, so I decided to give his digestive system a break and save the beans for another week. Brenda says it’s the best black bean soup ever.

Serves 4

1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup sundried tomato halves
1 cup boiling water
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinced and drained
1 15 oz. can chicken broth
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon tabasco
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Sour cream: (combine and mix well)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Combine water and sundried tomatoes in small bowl, let stand. Drain and reserve soaking liquid. Chop tomatoes. Saute bacon and onion over medium-low heat until onions are tender, at least 5 minutes. Drain off fat.

Add tomatoes and soaking liquid, beans, chicken broth, garlic, cumin and
tobasco. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream, 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, coriander and lime juice. Set aside.

Remove from heat, stir in 1/4 cup cilantro leaves.

Blend in batches. Serve topped with dollop of sour cream.