Soup – the gift that keeps on giving. It’s true. Think about it. When did you ever make a batch of homemade soup that only lasted for one meal? Never, right? But that’s okay because I’ve never met a soup that didn’t make great leftovers or didn’t freeze well and I bet you haven’t either. Well, as long as it was good soup to begin with of course.  I’m not going to go into the history of soup or fill this space with random factoids about soup, though there is plenty interesting on the topic to be sure and if you are interested, I urge you to type “soup” into your Google (or Yahoo or whatever search engine) search bar and browse at your leisure.  Today’s post is about sharing homemade soup recipes and celebrating homemade soup!

I do have one single-meal homemade soup recipe that I make from time to time. I don’t know how well it qualifies as homemade since one of the key ingredients is instant noodles but it also involves veggies and stuff so I think it does. Goes like this:

1. Put 3 – 4 c. water and one small handful each of mushrooms, chopped red bell pepper, and small broccoli florets into a medium-large saucepan and heat to boiling.
2. Add 2 tbsp. miso paste (I usually mash it up in a cup with hot water before adding it so it liquifies better), 1/2 – 1 tbsp sambal oelek and a couple squirts of soy sauce. Stir.
3. Add one package instant ramen noodles (with soup flavour mix if you want, or not), a couple handfuls of chopped spinach and/or bok choy and the juice of one lemon or lime. Cook 3 minutes or until noodles are tender.

Other optional add-ins include green onions, shrimp or other shellfish, an egg, kimchi, etc.  Serves 2 people, or 1 really hungry person.

I have a lot of favorite homemade soup recipes I make.  A couple of years ago I invented a Roasted Butternut Squash & Chipotle Cream soup.  Sadly, I never wrote down the recipe but here’s my best approximation based on my very weak recollection:

1. Slice 1 butternut squash in half (lengthwise), rub lightly with olive oil and place face down in roasting pan. Roast at 350 until tender. [Optional: can sprinkle some brown sugar and/or salt & pepper for additional flavour].  Remove from oven, scoop flesh out of skin and reserve.

2. In stock pot, saute 1 small sweet onion in butter or olive oil until transparent.  Add 1 tbsp. toasted ground cumin, 1 tsp. ground coriander & 1/2 tsp. turmeric. Cook for 30 – 45 seconds.

3. Add squash flesh and just enough hot chicken, turkey or veggie stock to cover.  Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes to allow flavours to coalesce.

4. Season with 1-2 (or more if you like it really spicy) chipotle peppers (the canned in adobe sauce kind) and s & p.  Cook for another 5 minutes and then blend the whole thing until smooth and creamy.

5. Serve with sour cream or yogourt garnish and fresh cilantro.

Many of my soups use homemade stock. I make giant batches of the stuff and keep it in my deep freeze for a variety of purposes. Usually it’s turkey or chicken, but last Easter I made a ham stock with the leftovers from the Easter Ham and it was really great so I recommend that as an option for those of you who like to make stock.  Eva and I once made a roasted vegetable stock for a vegetarian stuffing we were making for a Thanksgiving dinner for 100 or so people. We concocted this giant vat of roiling liquid chock full of a variety of roasted veggies and seasonings like Bragg’s and fresh thyme and brown butter sage.  The colour was great, the smell was great, the taste should have been great and it was mostly, but also … slightly bitter.  Maybe it was because we’d overroasted some of the veggies, or maybe we should have left out the green peppers.  Anyway, we solved our problem by adding Coca-Cola to it because that’s what we had on hand (it was a temporary kitchen). Which just goes to show that you can put anything in soup.

One of my all-time favorites is a soup my dad makes and it doesn’t even need stock. For some reason, I can never remember the recipe and I repeatedly call him for a recitation, so I thought it would be wise to immortalize it here.

(B’s Dad’s) Portuguese Kale Soup – the illustrated version

Saute 1-2 chorizo or linguica sausages in a small amount of oil.

Add 1 medium onion (diced) and cook on medium heat until onion is transparent.

Stir frequently, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add 3-4 Russet potatoes (diced) and cover with just enough water to cover potatoes.

Cover and cook on medium-low heat until potatoes are almost done (i.e. tender)

Season with 3 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar, 1-2 tsp. Molasses and 1 clove.

Add a can of beans. Preferably cannellini or white kidney beans but red will do.

Fill the pot with as much chopped kale as you can stuff into it. Mix it in, cover and cook until kale is tender (about 15 minutes).

Serve with a nice crusty bread.

For the vegetarian version:

To achieve a meatier taste without actually using meat, cook the onions a little more so that they just barely start to brown. You can use a little more oil or even butter to help encourage that browning – but, as my (Jewish) dad says, make sure that you are careful to cook them only until they are just starting to brown a tiny bit around the edges and no more, or else the soup will taste Jewish, not Portuguese.  Then add about 1 tbsp. of red pimento paste (the seasoning that is used to make chorizo or linguica; your choice whether you want to use spicy or mild), swirl it around in the oil and let it cook a bit, and then a little bit of red wine (because they also use that in making chorizo and linguica) and a couple of drops of liquid smoke (to give the smoked sausage flavour).  Let the wine sizzle just a bit to cook out the alcohol and then add potatoes and proceed as above.

I hope you take the very small amount of time to make this soup. It is truly one of the best soups I have ever had.  It’s easy and satisfying and pretty too.  I wish I could take credit for it, but I’ll give credit where credit’s due. Thanks Daddy-o!

xoxo  B.