I’ve always had the dream of being that mom on the block who just always happens to have a big kettle of brothy soup simmering on the stove, on the off-chance that the neighborhood kids playing kickball in the street want to come in out of the cold and warm up to a steamy mug of goodness. Word would spread, and perhaps some neighbors would drop by, lured by the savory smells wafting out of our always-opening front door. I’d smile warmly (I’m certain I wouldn’t be on a work deadline of any sort), and I’d hand them a bowlful of liquid heaven, along with a hunk of crusty bread for dipping.
Turns out, though, my four girls don’t play kickball, and I don’t allow them in the street anyway. Plus, as I type, just days from November, I’m wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Soup is a year-round affair, if you ask me, but even here in San Diego, fall and winter seem to call for it all the more. Everyone loves soup this time of year, right? It makes us feel comforted and cozy. But in case you needed them, here are six more reasons to love soup:
1. Soup’s a no-brainer way to lose weight.
Yes! Did you know there are studies showing that simply starting meals with a healthy soup promotes weight loss? I love habits that do the work for me. All you have to do is adopt the habit. Why not start with my White Gazpacho or the Roasted Tomato Winter Gazpacho in my cookbook?
5 more reasons to love soup
I’ve worked from home full time for just over two years now. Other than the inevitable occasional stir-craziness, I love everything about reporting to my little home office each day. Truly the only thing I really struggle with is what to eat for lunch each day.
During the warmer season, it’s easy enough to throw together a salad as my midday meal. Once the days start to cool, however, a giant serving of crunchy greens is the very last thing I want. That’s when I put operation soup into effect.
On Sunday afternoon, I make a pot of soup that I can eat from all week long. Then I can scoop a bowlful out each day at about 1pm. Paired with a few crackers or a piece of toast, it makes lunchtime so much easier.
I like to go for vegetable-based soups for these lunchtime meals because they hold up well during the course of the week. Split peas are good, as are roasted pumpkin with coconut milk soups. Right now, my heart belongs to Fleuri’s Curry Lentil Soup from Rachael Ray. It’s creamy, it keeps like a dream and it’s just perfect for The Weekender.
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Butternut squash, broccoli-cheddar and simple barley soups may be all the rage once the cool weather settles in, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to the tried-and-true classics all season long. This fall, cozy up to a piping-hot bowl featuring creative twists on the usual favorites, like Food Network Magazine’s Potato-Fennel Soup (pictured above).
This potato-based soup can be on the table in only 40 minutes, and it features leeks cooked three ways — boiled, broiled and sauteed — for the most flavor-forward results. After cooking potatoes with some of the leeks until tender, add broth and a splash of milk before pureeing the mixture in a blender. The secret to this soup lies in the from-scratch broth, made by quickly simmering leeks, fennel and water; using this instead of everyday water guarantees the most concentrated taste. If you’ve never before cooked with fennel, know that it has a subtle licorice-like flavor, but don’t worry: This decidedly savory soup doesn’t taste at all sweet.
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Now that fall is officially here, the days are getting shorter and the nights chillier, which means it’s once again time to welcome warm, comforting soups to the table. Instead of sticking with everyday chicken noodle or the usual blend of broccoli and cheddar, take advantage of fall produce by opting for butternut squash soup. This autumn superstar vegetable is packed with good-for-you vitamins, and when it’s roasted and pureed into a silky soup, the results are creamy and satisfying — ideal for simple lunches and make-ahead dinners alike. Check out Food Network’s top-five recipes below for butternut squash soup to find classic and creative bowls from some of your favorite chefs, like Ina, Giada and Alton.
5. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Curry Condiments — The star of Ina’s curry-scented squash-apple soup is a toppings bar featuring fresh scallions, sweetened coconut and crunchy cashews.
4. Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini — Finished with a slice of cheesy toast, Giada’s smooth puree is made extra flavorful thanks to sauteed garlic, carrots and onions, plus chopped fresh sage leaves.
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About a week ago, the weather in Philadelphia went from unbearably hot to blessedly cool. The air is crisp during the day and just chilly enough in the evening that socks and a second layer are necessary. After an oppressively warm, muggy summer, it is once again a joy to go outside.
I find myself making some of my normal autumn habit changes: I’ve traded my cold-brew coffee for a morning mug of hot, milky tea. Cozy scarves are back in the wardrobe rotation. And I’m making pot after pot of soup.
During the warmer months, dinnertime salads are my weeknight standby. I keep cleaned lettuce, kale or spinach in the fridge, and many nights I will top bowls of greens with chopped cucumber, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and cold chicken. Once the fall weather arrives, however, I am happy to swap out the salad routine for batches of soup that last all week.
In the last seven days, I’ve made creamy broccoli and cheddar, beef and red beet borscht and Guy Fieri’s Smoked Chicken Minestrone. The broccoli puree and the borscht are familiar recipes, but the minestrone was new. The recipe spoke to me because it included instructions on how to smoke chicken in your oven. I’ve long thought that home smoking was something best done in an outdoor rig, so I had to try this in-house technique.
Before you start smoking your chicken, read these tips
The summer heat may still be beating down upon us, but craving a bowl of soup is a year-round comfort. This week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week, Food Network Magazine’s Italian Wedding Soup, gets a twist with the addition of orzo, a tiny rice-shaped pasta that adds a delicate texture.
For more everyday recipe inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Get Healthy board on Pinterest.
Get the recipe: Food Network Magazine’s Italian Wedding Soup
Most people I know put away their soup pots when summer rolls around. And while I understand the inclination (who wants to heat up their kitchen with a long-simmered thing when it’s 90 degrees F?), I am of the belief that soup is a four-season food.
In my mind, there’s no better way to make quick, easy work of all that garden and farmers’ market produce than with a simple soup. All spring I’ve been making pureed soups with peas, asparagus and sorrel, and I’m happily anticipating the coming glut of tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant.
Those three make a blissful soup when roasted, pureed with a little stock and seasoned with garlic, basil and grated Parmesan cheese. They can also be grilled, if you insist upon keeping the heat out of your kitchen.
I always take note when I spot a good soup for the spring and summer months (I shop for recipes the way other women hunt for shoes). Thanks to this habit of mine, when a giant head of escarole appeared in my first CSA share this weekend (along with parsley, tarragon and spring onions), I knew just where to turn: Rachael Ray’s Peas and Potato Soup With Tarragon Pesto.
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Enchiladas, burritos and tacos may be traditional fare on Cinco de Mayo, but when it comes to feeding a crowd this weekend, look to big batches of warm chicken tortilla soup to make entertaining a cinch. A no-fuss favorite that will impress your guests, tortilla soups are packed with bold spices and hearty ingredients like beans and vegetables; plus they become an all-in-one-meal when made with moist, juicy chicken. Check out Food Network’s top-five chicken tortilla soup recipes below to find the ultimate roundup of flavor-packed favorites from chefs like Guy, Rachael, Trisha and the Pioneer Woman, then browse Food Network’s entire collection of Cinco de Mayo eats and drinks.
5. Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup With Tequila Crema — After marinating chicken thighs in a mixture of garlic, cumin and chili powder, Guy grills and shreds them, then tops the chicken with a jalapeno-laced broth, fried tortilla strips and cool sour cream spiked with tequila. Click the play button on the video after the jump below to watch him make it.
4. Chicken Fajita Tortilla Soup — Rachael brings all of the flavors and textures you look for in classic fajitas to a satisfying soup by simmering chicken tenders with onions, peppers and jalapenos in a tomato broth and serving each bowl with crunchy tortilla chips, shredded cheese and creamy avocado.
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Winter comfort food at its finest, French onion soup is a hearty, complete meal in bowl that needs no adornments other than a generous blanket of rich, creamy cheese and perhaps a slice of crusty bread. The key to making any French onion soup is properly cooking the onions. Instead of quickly sauteing them until browned, it’s important to cook them over low heat for a long period of time until they’re soft, boasting a deliciously sweet taste and deep golden, caramelized color. Check out Food Network’s top-five French onion soup recipes below to find out how your favorite chefs and stars put their signature spins on this crave-worthy seasonal soup.
5. Rachael’s French Onion Soup-Topped French Bread Pizzas and Salad With Dijon Vinaigrette (pictured above) — Rachael takes the classic ingredients of French onion soup out of a bowl and turns them into an eat-with-your-hands meal by piling sherry-spiked onions and a duo of decadent cheeses atop French bread and then baking.
4. Anne’s French Onion Soup — “Caramelized onions are very sweet and require a fair amount of salt,” Anne says of her simple-to-make soup, which is why she strongly recommends tasting the broth before serving.
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Whenever I’m at a loss as to what I should make for dinner, I make a pot of soup. I appreciate the fact that you can make something warming and filling with just a few ingredients and I love the fact that a batch of soup nearly always yields enough for lunch the next day.
In fact, we eat so much soup around my house that in late January, my husband asked for a soup break. Looking back, I realized that we’d eaten a batch or two every week since November. Once I figured out just how much soup I’d been feeding him, I was fine with taking a little rest.
Nearly all my soups start out the same way: I saute onions, leeks or shallots in a bit of olive oil and then start adding whatever other vegetables are in my fridge that need to be used. Then there’s the liquid. I use stock if there’s some to be had, or water with a little bouillon concentrate or a splash of wine for flavor.
Finally, salt, pepper, herbs and a long, slow simmer. Unless I’m working with tough cuts of meat that need a lot of cooking, the last thing I add is protein — like slivers of chicken breast, beans or little cubes of ham — to prevent it from overcooking or falling to bits.
Before you start cooking, read these tips