A Few of My Favorite Things with Katina Holland

Six Soup-er Suppers

It has certainly been cold outside lately.  We did manage to have some relief this week with temps that were a little warmer, but it has gotten cold again. Temps that make you want to curl up under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa or hot tea watching television or reading a good book.  Soup is a simple dish that is easy to make and helps heat the kitchen as it simmers on the stove top.  When you sit down with a bowl, it warms you as you eat it.  January happens to be National Soup Month so I thought this was a perfect time to write about it!

By definition, soup is a liquid dish made by boiling vegetables and sometimes meat or seafood in stock or water.  Most often, soup is served hot, but some countries actually prefer a cold serve soup.  I will save that for a summer column.  Soup is one of those things that you can easily make using whatever you want to toss in it.  Readymade stocks and broths make it even easier to throw something together.  There is no right or wrong ingredients when it comes to soup either.  You can easily experiment using your favorite vegetables and meats and make it your own. 

There is no way to be sure when soup was actually created but most likely there has been some form of soup since the beginning of cooking over a fire.  In times when food was scarce, dumping random ingredients in a pot to boil was not only cheap, it was filling. The simple structure of soup made it easy for rich and poor alike to make, and simple ingredients made it easy to digest for the both the healthy and sick. There are many variations of soup in the many different cultures of the world, but the basics remain the same to this day. 

The first colonial cookbook in the U.S. was published in 1742 by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia.  It was based on The Compleat Housewife and Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion and included several recipes for soups and bisques.  The Frugal Housewife, published in 1772, was the first to include an entire chapter on soups.  English culture dominated early colonial cooking, but as new immigrants arrived, soups from other nations gained popularity. Most notably, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were renowned for their potato soups. The first American cooking pamphlet dedicated to soup recipes, Soups and Soup Making, was written in 1882 by Emma Ewing.  These days you can get whole cookbooks dedicated to soup like the Ultimate Soup Cookbook published by Reader’s Digest.

In Paris in 1765, Monsieur Boulanger took note of the popularity of broths, consommés and other meals made up of inexpensive bowls of soup amongst the local people. After a hard day of physical labor, people always loved to eat soup. The French called them “restoratifs” which means something that restores your strength.  Boulanger decided to open a shop that would specialize in and serve soups for everyone to enjoy without having to cook themselves. It became known as “restaurant” because of what he was serving.  We have soup to thank for the entire restaurant industry! How crazy is that?!  In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened the first restaurant in the U.S. in Boston called "The Restorator", and became known as the "Prince of Soups". 

In the 19th century, commercial canning was invented and soon cans were on the shelves of stores everywhere.  Doctor John T. Dorrance was a chemist with the Campbell Soup Company. He invented condensed soup in 1897.  Today, Campbell's Tomato, Cream of Mushroom, and Chicken Noodle Soup are three of the most popular soups in America. Americans consume approximately 2.5 billion bowls of these three soups alone each year.  In total, Americans consume more than 10 billion bowls of soup each year! That is a lot of soup!

Fun Facts: There are several soup related days we celebrate.  February 4th is National Homemade Soup Day, National Turkey Neck Soup Day is March 30,  December 29th is National Pepper Pot Soup Day and December 6th is National Gazpacho Day just to name a few!

According to Guinness World Records, DENK Communicatie from the Netherlands prepared a 7,042.3 gallon vegetable soup in Poeldijk, Netherlands, on May 16, 2009.  The ingredients included 4,623.01 gallons of water, 16,402 lbs. of tomatoes, 2,755 lbs. of cucumbers, 992 lbs. of bell peppers, 7 lbs. of parsley, 2,503 pieces of garlic, 275 lbs. of tomato paste, 716 lbs. of salt, 7 lbs. of pepper, 12.68 gallons of olive oil and 22.58 oz of basil cress.  I am glad I didn’t have to chop all those vegetables!  There are other records relating to soup including juggling cans of soup in a cascading pattern, fastest time alphabetizing letters in a can of alphabet soup and tallest soup can tower balanced on a forehead.

Did you know? The pop culture catchphrase "No soup for you!” is used as a response to someone's request or demand that will not be fulfilled. It originated from a 1995 episode of the TV show "Seinfeld.”

This weekend join me in the kitchen for some simple soups that are delicious.  You may even have the ingredients on hand.  Check your pantry and let’s make some down home, homemade soup!


Fish and Vegetable Soup

1 Tbsp unsalted sweet cream butter 

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 ½ cups chicken broth (from 32-oz carton) 

1 cup frozen sliced carrots

1 cup frozen cut green beans

½ cup frozen corn

Pinch of salt, to taste

½ tsp dried basil leaves

¼ tsp dried oregano leaves

¼ tsp pepper, to taste

1 lb firm white fish fillets (I usually use cod or haddock depending on what I can find at the store), cut into 1-inch cubes

In 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or just until garlic begins to brown.  Stir in all remaining ingredients except fish. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 8 minutes.  Add fish; cook uncovered 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fish flakes easily with fork and vegetables are tender.  The time it takes to cook the fish will depend on what type of fish you get.  Some fish may take up to 30 minutes.

Recipe adapted from bettycrocker.com.


Loaded Potato Soup

2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed 

1 medium onion, chopped

Garlic powder, to taste

2/3 cup unsalted sweet cream butter

4-6 cups milk, more or less as needed to make it as liquid as you want it

1 tsp ground pepper, more or less to taste

2 cups Velveeta Queso Blanco, cubed

12 strips bacon

2 cups sour cream

1 cup green onion, diced

In large skillet, cook bacon until crisp.  Drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon and set aside.  Cook onion in bacon drippings about 6 minutes stopping just before onion is completely tender.  Place potatoes in large pot and just cover with water or broth.  Heat to boiling and cook potatoes until tender.  Drain potatoes and return to pot.  Lightly mash potatoes leaving chunks to your taste.  Honestly, I just use leftover mashed potatoes when I have them to make this soup and it works just as well.  Add onion, garlic powder, butter, 4 cups milk and pepper.  This is going to be kind of thin at this point, but the Velveeta helps thicken it.  If you want to go easy on the milk for now and just add it if you think it’s too thick, then start with 2 cups of milk and add more as you think it’s needed.  Heat over medium high heat until bubbly.  Add Velveeta, bacon, sour cream and green onion.  Feel free to save some sour cream, bacon and green onion for garnishing the serving bowls if desired.  As the cheese melts, keep an eye on thickness of the soup.  If you want it thinner, feel free to add more milk.  Cook until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.  


Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup

1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, depending on how much chicken you want in your soup

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped

1 cup fresh green beans, broken in half

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 10.5 oz cans Healthy Request cream of chicken soup, I like Healthy Request because it has the lowest sodium content

½ tsp thyme or 1 tsp Italian seasoning works really well in this recipe too

1 tsp pepper, more or less to taste

2 cups heavy cream, you can also use half and half 

1 package refrigerated cheese tortellini

Place Crockpot liner in slow cooker.  Add chicken, broth, cream of chicken soup, onion, garlic, thyme and pepper.  I like my carrots to not be completely soft. So, I cover and cook the chicken alone for 4 hours on low and then add my carrots and green beans.  If you like your vegetables completely soft, go ahead and add them when you start the chicken.  Cook for an addition 2 hours, 6 hours total, or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred.  Return shredded chicken to slow cooker. Add heavy cream and tortellini and cook for 30-60 minutes or until tortellini is ready and soup is thoroughly heated.  Serve with garlic breadsticks if desired.


Pizza Soup

This is a fun recipe that is easily changed to accommodate your tastes.  I don’t care all that much for marinara sauce so I use Alfredo in mine, but feel free to use stewed tomatoes if you prefer.  The meat is also something you can easily change to make it more your own.  I don’t like pepperoni and tend to use Canadian bacon or hamburger meat instead.  Feel free to use your other favorite pizza toppings as well, such as olives, pineapple or spinach. 

2 cans reduced sodium chicken broth

1 15 oz jar Alfredo sauce

2 cups Canadian bacon, cut into quarters

1 medium onion, chopped

½ cup sliced mushrooms, optional

1 yellow pepper, seeds removed and chopped—If you like more spice, feel free to use green or red pepper and even leave some seeds in. 

1 ½ tsp oregano

½ tsp ground pepper, more or less to taste

1 pkg refrigerated cheese ravioli

Italian blend cheese for topping individual servings

Place Crockpot liner in slow cooker.  Add all ingredients to slow cooker except ravioli and cheese.  Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours.  Add ravioli to slow cooker and cook another 15-30 minutes or until ravioli is thoroughly heated.  Serve topped with a sprinkle of Italian blend cheese.


Southwest Chicken Soup

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast

2 14.5 oz cans reduced sodium chicken broth

16 oz frozen corn

1 medium onion, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 4oz can chopped green chilies

2 tsp taco seasoning

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp garlic powder

2 cups Velveeta Queso Blanco, cubed

Place Crockpot liner in slow cooker.  Add all ingredients except Velveeta.  Cover and cook on low 7 hours or until chicken is cooked through.  Shred or cube chicken and return to slow cooker.  Add Velveeta and cook another hour or until cheese is melted.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home Slow Cooker Throughout the Year Cookbook.


Taco Soup

I am not a fan of beans so I generally leave most out of my recipes, but feel free to add kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans or other beans of your choice.

2 lbs lean ground beef 

1 medium onion, chopped 

1 yellow pepper, chopped

2 can Northern white beans

1 4oz can diced green chiles 

½ tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 1.25oz pkg taco seasoning mix 

1 ½ cups water 

1 1oz pkg ranch dressing mix 

1 15oz can white hominy, drained—I can’t always find hominy in our Wal-Mart.  You can also use a can of corn for this. 

In a large pot, brown the beef and chopped onion over medium heat. Drain off any grease. Add chilies, salt and pepper, beans, water, seasoning mixes, hominy, and yellow pepper to the beef and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Top with shredded cheese, and serve with chips.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.


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