It’s turning to that time of year now when the sun starts setting earlier and the walks home from work are getting brisk. For me, nothing is more comforting when the chill is in the air than a steaming bowl of homemade soup.
Soup is one of those dishes that just I don’t think to make for some reason, but when I do, I’m always reminded that I need to do so more often.
The beauty of soup is the flexibility you have when making one. You can make it an elaborate affair with homemade stocks, pureeing, sieving, and garnishing (a la Thomas Keller in one of my all time favorite recipes, Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter, Sage, and Nutmeg CrÃ¨me Fraiche), or you can go super simple.
On a busy weeknight, I have to shelve my Bouchon cookbook in exchange for simple and quick, but that doesn’t mean I have to skimp on flavor! Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve been turning to lately…
Heidi’s Miso Soup recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I love the simplicity and clean flavors of this classic Asian favorite. Tofu and soba noodles lend some healthy heartiness, spinach bumps up the nutrition quotient even more, and miso, green onions, cilantro, and red pepper flakes combine to create an amazing broth.
I recently saw this homey recipe for Tomato Soup from Allison at Local Lemons and it pretty much made me immediately crave a big bowl of tomato soup and grilled cheese to dip in it.
Allison shares my obsession with Early Girl Tomatoes and had similarly gone on a bulk quantity buying/jarring spree. Her version of Homemade Tomato Soup is sublime – she roasts her tomatoes with cipollini onions, garlic, and balsamic vinegar to intensify the vibrant flavors.
For my lazy girl’s version, I just browned a little minced garlic and added some of the whole peeled tomatoes I had jarred. A sprinkle of salt, a dash of cream, a whir of my immersion hand blender, and voila! Fresh, simple, fast, and delicioso. It helped that my tomatoes were summer sweet. If buying canned ones, try looking for San Marzano tomatoes.
On nights when I need something extra comforting (read: with butter and cream in it), I turn to Ruth Reichl’s recipe for Mushroom Soup from her book, Comfort Me with Apples. In the book, this recipe enters the story as the ultimate comfort food on a cold and emotionally trying evening.
The mushrooms and beef broth are fortifying, the half-and-half pure decadence, and I love the touch of nutmeg at the end. The perfect soup to cozy up to this Soup Season.
Recipe by Ruth Reichl (from Comfort Me with Apples)
½ pound mushrooms
½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef broth
2 cups half-and-half
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1. Thinly slice the mushrooms.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy sauté pan. When the foam subsides, add the onion and sauté until golden. Add the mushrooms and sauté until brown.
3. Stir in the flour, and then slowly add the broth, stirring constantly.
4. Heat the half-and-half in a saucepan or in the microwave. Add it to the mushrooms, along with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and a bay leaf.
5. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes; do not boil.
6. Remove the bay leaf and serve.