© 2024 NPR Illinois
The Capital's Community & News Service
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Soup's on: 3 recipes perfect for late winter into early spring

Sausage, leek and white bean soup. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Sausage, leek and white bean soup. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

I crave soup year-round. For me there’s no bad time to make (or eat) soup. In the depth of winter, I simmer up hearty pots of beans, vegetables, meat, herbs and stock. But at this point in the season, when the promise of spring is right around the corner, I feel especially drawn to lighter soups to sustain and nourish.

The beautiful thing about making a pot of soup is that there’s enough to share with friends and family for several days of lunch or dinner. Soup also freezes surprisingly well. Place in individual containers or larger well-sealed containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

A word on making stock: when time allows I love making homemade stock. I know many cooks think making stock is time-consuming and somehow complex. But it’s not true. Stock is simply simmering vegetables, or poultry or meat bones with water and seasonings. It’s really that simple. And homemade stock is the most important flavor base in any soup; good stock makes a soup go from good to extremely delicious. However, I have also found that many boxed and canned stocks available in grocery stores are vastly improved from the choices we had a few years ago. Look for organic stock, low in sodium.

These three soups are ideal for late winter/early spring. They are hearty and nutritious but also full of bright flavors. To the promise of a new season.

Sausage, leek and white bean soup

Sausage, leek and white bean soup. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

This is the heartiest of these soups, yet it’s somehow also quite light and brothy. Like all soups, this recipe is highly adaptable: You can also add thinly sliced Swiss chard, spinach or kale during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Or add lightly sauteed slices of zucchini or winter squash. Serve with warm crusty bread.

Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, dark green section discarded and white and pale green sections sliced lengthwise, washed, and thinly sliced OR 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1½ teaspoons dried, crumbled rosemary
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup fresh fennel, cut into cubes
  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage
  • One 13.4-ounce can or box cooked white cannellini beans
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into thin slices, optional
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • Hot pepper sauce, optional
  • Garnish: Crusty bread or croutons


Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1½ tablespoons of the oil over low heat. Add the leeks (or onion), shallots, garlic, salt and pepper and half the rosemary and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a medium-large pot with the stock and the bay leaf over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Add the cooked leeks and onions to the stock (keep the skillet out) along with the carrots, celery and fennel. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 cup water in the same skillet you cooked the leeks in and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the sausages and cook until the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and carefully add the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil to the skillet; cook the sausage for 5 minutes, or until golden brown, tossing them gently from side to side. Remove the sausage from the heat and cool slightly. Cut into ½ inch size chunks. It’s fine if the sausage is not fully cooked through; it will continue cooking in the soup. Add sausage chunks to the soup and then add the beans and remaining rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and a dash of hot pepper sauce (if using hot sausage omit the hot pepper sauce). Simmer for another 15 to 25 minutes or until the sausage is cooked through and the vegetables are just tender. Add the basil (if using) and parsley and season to taste. Serve with warm crusty bread or croutons.

Chicken, vegetable, and rice soup with dill

Chicken, vegetable, and rice soup with dill. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

You can make this healing soup from scratch by simmering up a whole chicken with plenty of vegetables to get a rich stock. You’ll then have an entire cooked chicken to use in the soup as well as leftover meat for salads, sandwiches, tacos, etc. Or, you can use canned chicken stock and rotisserie roasted supermarket chicken. I won’t lie. The homemade takes a bit longer, but your soup will be way more flavorful. But, if you’re pressed for time,  the shortcut provides a really solid soup. In any case this is the soup to lean on when you’re feeling like winter is lasting forever or you’re under the weather. The fresh dill and vegetables wake the soup up and feel bright and soothing.

Serves 6.

Ingredients

The stock*:

  • One 3-pound chicken
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 large onion, cut into quarters
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf


*Or, use 8 cups canned or boxed chicken stock.

The soup:

  • ½ cup white rice, long or short-grain
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 parsnips, finely chopped, optional
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chicken, thinly sliced or cubed, optional


Instructions

  1. Make the chicken stock (optional).
  2. Place the chicken, carrots, celery, onion, parsley, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a large pot. Barely cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and cook for about 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through (the drumsticks will wiggle easily) and the vegetables are tender. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper as needed. Remove the bay leaf. Let cool.
  3. Strain the stock from the pot and use it for the soup; any extra stock can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for several months. Some of the cooked chicken will be used in the soup; leftover meat can be used to make chicken salad, tacos, etc.
  4. Make the soup:
  5. Cook the rice: in a medium pot bring 1 cup salted water to boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the rice has absorbed all the water and is tender. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large pot bring the chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, parsnips, half the parsley and half the dill, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the soup is flavorful. Add the cooked rice and the cooked chicken and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Just before serving stir in the remaining parsley and dill. Serve hot.

Roasted winter squash and carrot soup

This dairy-free vegan soup has a gorgeous rich orange color, sweet and savory taste profile and will fill you with energy. Serve with winter greens and sliced oranges or tangerine salad.

Serves 6 to 8.

Roasted winter squash and carrot soup. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Ingredients

  • 1 large winter squash, like butternut squash, about 2 to 3 pounds, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1 inch rings
  • 3 carrots, peeled, ends trimmed, and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 leek, dark green section discards, ends trimmed, and white and pale green section cut lengthwise and then into small rings
  • 1 ½ tablespoon chopped fresh ginger or 1 tablespoon dried ginger
  • 1 ½ tablespoon fresh chives
  • 8 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • Garnishes: chopped chives, parsley or croutons


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450. On a baking sheet, mix the squash, carrots,  2 tablespoons of the oil, salt, pepper, and half the thyme. Roast for about 20 minutes, tossing once or twice, or until almost tender and edges of the squash are beginning to turn golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large pot over low heat. Add leeks, ginger, 1 tablespoon chives, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring for 10 minutes. Add the stock and remaining thyme. When the vegetables are almost tender, remove from the oven and place into the pot with the stock. Simmer over medium heat, slightly covered, for about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, Add the remaining chives.
  3. Puree with an immersion blender,  blender,  or food processor until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Top with more chives, parsley and/or croutons.


Other favorite soups:

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.