Soup is easily my favorite thing to make for family dinners. You make soup in stages, which works well for me because I can prepare for the next stage while the first is cooking. You can serve soup with a variety of toppings that suit a variety of taste buds. You can make it smooth or chunky, or some smooth and some chunky, depending on tastes as well. Most soups are pretty low in fat, and you can cram all sorts of vegetables in there that may not be accepted in any other form. I make enough to have leftovers to freeze - I'm always happy to pull out a container of soup for a quick lunch or dinner. You can serve it as part of a larger meal, or as the main event with some toast, cornbread, muffins, etc. Of course, we don't have a lot of variety with our soups at the moment - I only have a handful that I make, and I just vary the toppings and sides - but I'm working on it...
The soup I make most often is "Martian Soup" - I've mentioned it several times before, but I've never tried to post the recipe, mostly because I don't follow a recipe when I make it, and I hardly ever make it the same way twice. I got the name from a cookbook, I think - but I never actually followed the recipe that came with the name. It's probably similar, though. It's basically a spinach-potato soup, but you can use other green vegetables instead - I sometimes use broccoli and spinach, or zuchinni and spinach. I almost always use spinach, because it gives it a really nice color - but that varies as well, depending on the ratio of green to potatoes, etc. Once I tried making it with beet greens - don't do that, the red stems make the color look like duck poop. Still tasted good, though.
Anyway, I made a pretty good batch today, and I remembered to jot down the ingredients, so I can give you a pretty good idea of how to make it - and you can vary it how you like, depending on what you have in the crisper.
- 1-2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 32 oz container organic chicken broth, or 4 cups homemade
- 5-6 small boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 small zucchini, diced (I just happened to have a few that needed using - you could skip this...)
- 2 bunches of spinach, stems removed (from the big ones, anyway, I usually don't bother with the little ones...)
- 1 handful flat leaf parsley, stems removed
- nutmeg - to taste
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- salt - to taste
To serve (any or all):
- plain yogurt
- chopped cooked sausage
- shredded cheddar cheese (Parmesan is also good)
- chopped green onions
- chopped flat leaf parsley
- Put a dutch oven or soup pot on medium. After a minute, add the olive oil (I don't really measure this, I just do a few glugs.)
- Add the onions, give a stir, and put on the lid. This is usually when I chop the celery and garlic, keeping an eye on the onions and possibly turning the heat to medium-low so they won't burn.
- When the celery and garlic are ready, add them in, give a stir, and put the lid on. Stir them occasionally until they are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle a bit of salt (be careful if you're using box stock unless it's low-sodium, but it is usually good to add salt in stages instead of all at once at the end. I just do a good pinch of kosher salt. If you put salt in there too early, the onions will not cook properly, so make sure they have a full 10 minutes to cook.) Now add the stock, and bring to a simmer.
- While the stock is heating, I chop the potatoes, being sure to keep an eye on the stock so it doesn't get into a good boil. Add the potatoes and let them cook while you chop the zucchini.
- When the potatoes are soft when you pierce them with a fork (about 10 minutes), add the zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes more.
- Now you can take the pot off of the burner, and stir in the spinach and parsley until they are wilted.
- Blend the soup with an immersion blender (if you don't have one, blend it in batches in a blender) until it is smooth. I spend a bit of time at this, because Picky likes it really, really smooth.
- Once you are done, return it to the pot if you used a blender, and add the lemon and nutmeg (I just grind in a bit - if you are using already ground nutmeg, just add a few shakes).
- Now you can gently reheat the soup if you need to, and taste it for salt. Serve it at the table with some or all of the toppings suggested. I like it with a big dollop of yogurt (everyone is always so afraid to try this! I'm telling you - it's good!! I finally got Picky to try it tonight in addition to her cheese topping, and she loved it!), Picky likes it with cheese, and DH likes it with sausage and green onions.