Puttin' on The Mitts: Soup for the soul
When Chelsey and I talked about our menu for this week, she mentioned soup and how it's a perfect fit for the weather. Yes, we've been spoiled by abnormally warmer temps but there's something to be said for soup in the winter and fall versus spri...
When Chelsey and I talked about our menu for this week, she mentioned soup and how it's a perfect fit for the weather. Yes, we've been spoiled by abnormally warmer temps but there's something to be said for soup in the winter and fall versus spring and summer. I don't usually make soup in the warmer seasons. I love the idea of a yummy soup simmering all day in the crock pot and the aroma that fills up the entire house.
I knew the exact recipe I wanted to try this week after we chatted. I love the social media site Pinterest, a place to find just about anything and everything. I had "pinned" a soup recipe a few weeks ago but hadn't tried it yet. This week's column was the perfect time to do that.
Thanks to Pinterest and the website Recipes that Crock, let me introduce you to Crock Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup.
I love cooking with a small ingredients list, and even better, this recipe called for things I already had on hand.
Personally, when I make this again, I'm going to add another cup of rice and won't add it until an hour or so before the soup is done. After cooking on low 6-8 hours, the rice lost its texture and was mushier than I prefer.
The next day, I added shredded cheddar cheese to the soup and used corn chips for dunking. It was fabulous.
I'll be making this soup next Tuesday for the Brainerd Dispatch's Soup Group, a fun group of people who take turns feeding each other every Tuesday. It's nice to know from now until April, we're going to have a satisfying and fulfilling homemade lunch on Tuesdays. And we don't even have to leave the building on a cold winter's day.
CROCK POT STUFFED PEPPER SOUP
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
- 2 cups green peppers and/or red peppers, chopped
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup cooked rice
Brown the hamburger with onion in a skillet over medium heat.
Drain and put in the crock pot or slow cooker.
Add the tomatoes (including juice) and the rest of the ingredients.
Stir and mix together.
Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.
Makes 8 servings.
My evolution as a cook rose to the next level when I realized the possibilities of adding ingredients to finish soups -herb oils or butters, vinegar or lemon juice, freshly chopped greens or scallions or chiles.
Layering fresh ingredients and flavors into soups elevates their interest and allows for incorporating things that would not otherwise hold up to a long simmer. The fresh spinach pesto I created to add to this soup would lose its punch if added along with the vegetables or beans in the soup.
Soups and wintertime go together quite well-although using fresh vegetables in season throughout the spring, summer and fall in soups is a recipe for endless possibilities. I love bean soups, and I particularly love how blending a cup or two of beans thickens and gives the impression of a more decadent, creamy soup.
This week, we pay homage to our in-office lunch exchange, the Soup Group, by whipping up a few soups of our own. I hope you're inspired to experiment and try your hand at combining flavors you think go well together. Soup is one of the easiest dishes to improvise and learn to cook on the fly-it's easy to fix by adding more liquid or more seasoning to achieve the flavors you desire.
WHITE BEAN AND TOMATO SOUP WITH SPINACH PESTO
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 4 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
- 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 3 cups cooked or 2 15-ounce cans white beans
- Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 cup packed spinach leaves
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Salt to taste
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.
Saute the carrots and onions for 5-7 minutes, until beginning to brown.
Season with a pinch of salt.
Add the stock and tomatoes, bringing to a boil.
Turn down the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, put spinach, parsley and chopped garlic in a food processor.
Turn the food processor on and slowly add the olive oil until combined.
Stir in the shredded Parmesan and add salt to taste.
Using an immersion blender if possible, blend briefly, just to thicken the soup and make it creamier.
Or, alternatively, scoop 1-2 cups of the soup into a blender, ensuring it's vented to avoid hot soup building pressure in the blender cup. Blend and return to the soup.
Taste for salt and season with pepper, remembering you will add seasoned pesto.
To serve: scoop into a bowl and stir 1 or more tablespoons of pesto into the soup. Serve with toasted sourdough and top with additional Parmesan if desired.