Friday, January 14, 2011

Love Bounty

From left to right:  Chicken Vegetable base, All Vegetable base, Tomato Vegetable base, Beef Vegetable base, Tomato Vegetable Puree base (both).

You prepared your garden, planted, weeded and watered, harvested, preserved and now it's National Soup Month.  You're about to be "garden fulfilled"!

No matter how extensive your pantry of preserved garden produce is or even if you have to buy ever single thing at the grocery, it's winter and time to make soup.

As you're pondering what kind of soup to make, get a little list going of what you might grow in your garden this coming summer to add some home-grown ingredients.  A garden full of vegetables or a few pots of herbs can make a taste difference in home made soups.
Soups are perfect for the carnivore, the vegan and everyone in between.  They can be calorie wise or a blow out of whole cream, fats and solium.  They can be hot or cold, served in a bowl or cup, used for dinner or dessert, made ahead, froze, canned, put in a thermos, with meat, vegetables or fruit.

There is actual data that proves chicken soup IS a benefit if you have a cold/flu.  Mothers everywhere knew that long ago.  I can't imagine a soup that isn't filled with nutrients and love.

What's the benefits of home-made soup?  Increased taste, lower sodium, enhanced nutrients, cheaper, and satisfaction.  When Mick Jagger cried, "I ain't got no satisfaction." he was surely crying about a lack of homemade soup!

Not that store bought soups haven't come a long way and not that any of us don't use them occasionally.  Who hasn't loved finding your name in a bowl of alphabet soup?  Or, throwing in a can of cream of mushroom soup to thicken a dish?  Or simply opening a can of chicken noodle for a quick lunch on the run?  No I'm not a foodie snob by any stretch ~ I just really love homemade soups.

Jeffrey Goard, Bishop Hill, IL potter - Photo from

We're such big soup eaters, I have a set of round-bowl soup spoons and several types of soup bowls.  The photo (below) is a picture of my favorites:  The spoons are from the Schenck China Company - Schenck/Shenk was my maiden name.  The shape of the spoon bowls is why I purchased.  The soup serving bowls are from Jeffrey Goard (above) at the Bishop Hill Pottery.  These thrown-pottery bowls are the perfect size and shape for soup.

Here's one of our favorite soup recipes:  Diane's Cream of Tomato Soup.

4          Slices of Bacon (cut into very small pieces)
1 T       Butter
1          Onion - chopped fine
3/4 C    Flour   (use enough to soak up fat but not more)
5 C       Tomato Vegetable Juice *
Pinch    Kosher Salt
1/2 C    Sugar
1 T        Basil
1 C       Sweet heavy cream (may eliminate if you want less calories)
             Black Pepper & Hot Sauce (optional)
             Water or clear broth, as needed

Fry bacon until semi-crisp (I leave in but you may take out, drain and top soup when ready to eat).  Add butter and melt.  Add onion and fry on low until soft (not brown).  Add flour and cook three minutes, stirring to get all the meat scraps included.  Add all of the tomato juice at once (careful it splashes and sizzles).  Turn burner on high and whisk until the flour is blended completely.  (you have just made a rue)  When this starts to bubble, turn down on low.  Add salt, sugar, basil, and other optional seasoning.  Simmer for ten minutes, stirring often to keep from sticking.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.   If it becomes too thick, add a little water (or clear broth) until right soup consistancy.  This soup burns and sticks easily if you don't stir and keep watch.  Turn off heat and add cream, whisking the entire time so it won't curdle.  Makes a good 6 servings.  (Reheat only in the mircowave as additional stovetop cooking will either burn or curdle.)

Serving suggestions:  Top with croutons and cheese or with a dollop of sour cream.  Always good with a grilled cheese sandwich.

*  My tomato vegetable juice includes tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, carrots, celery, herbs and other vegetables as I have available in the garden.  I don't put salt in my canned vegetables.  This allows me to adjust the seasonings for the dish that's being prepared.  Store bought canned version (such as V-8) would work, but, cut down on the salt.

Have a happy National Soup Month - or maybe let's make it a National Soup Year!     

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