By now, even the most fervent cooks have grown a bit weary as the holidays and high entertaining season begin to fade into the distance.
As with nature, cooking has its own seasons—enter the time for comfort cooking. Soup tops the list, providing warmth against winter’s chill and soothing what ails us—one glorious spoonful at a time. Our editors from across the Twin Cities celebrate soup’s restorative qualities by sharing some of their favorite recipes.
Tortellini and Spinach Soup
Renée Stewart-Hester, editor of Lake Minnetonka, Maple Grove and Plymouth magazines
This recipe is my go-to when I don’t have the time or inclination to pull together a healthy, warm meal. The wine brightens up the flavor profile, and there’s plenty left in the bottle to serve along with the soup. If you’re not a huge fan of spinach but appreciate its health benefits, this soup’s for you—the spinach flavor is muted.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3 15.75 oz. chicken broth
- 18 oz. cheese tortellini
- 1 ¼ cup tomatoes, chopped
- 6 oz. baby spinach
- 1 Tbsp. butter
Over medium heat, heat olive oil in a soup pot. Add garlic, and stir for 30 seconds. Add the broth and wine, and bring to a boil. Cook for two minutes. Add the tortellini, and cook for six minutes. Add tomatoes and spinach, and cook for two minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Add butter, and cook until it melts. Serve immediately.
Notes: Spinach, related to beets and quinoa, offers loads of nutrients and antioxidants, including Vitamin C, which promotes immune function. It also benefits eye health, reduces oxidative stress, helps prevent cancer and aids in reducing blood pressure.
Smoky Fish Chowder
Angela Johnson, editor of Edina and St. Croix Valley magazines
A good friend from Hibbing, Minn., introduced me to the delicious flavor of smoked fish, an Iron Range hallmark. Often available at local farmers markets, smoked fish is terrific on crackers, but I’ve always wanted to try Sara Moulton’s recipe for Smoky Fish Chowder. Here’s the recipe. It’s creamy, flavorful and filling, the perfect winter soup.
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 8 oz. Canadian bacon, chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium celery sticks, finely chopped
- 1 lb. potatoes, 1/3-inch cubes
- 2/3 tsp. dried thyme
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 2 ½ cups homemade chicken stock or canned broth
- 3 cups whole milk
- 12 oz. smoked trout fillets, skin removed
- Smoked paprika for garnish
- Optional: Chopped dill leaves, parsley or chopped chilies for garnish
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, and add bacon. Cook until light brown, about five minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the onion and celery. Cook them for five minutes or until onion is softened. Add flour to the saucepan, and stir to make a roux, about two minutes. Add chicken stock and milk, and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Add potatoes and thyme, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 12 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Break the trout flesh into bite-sized pieces, and add them to the pan along with the reserved bacon; cook until heated through. Serve soup sprinkled with paprika and chopped herbs or chilies.–saramoulton.co
Notes: Trout is closely related to salmon and can be a good alternative to often-overfished salmon. It’s a great source of protein and can encourage healthy bones, muscle development and boost energy levels with B-vitamins, including niacin, an essential mineral for a healthy nervous system and brain function.
Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup
Hailey Almsted, editor of Woodbury Magazine, and Patrick Miehle, Woodbury resident
This is the ideal hearty, winter soup—and a family favorite! It’s vegan (perfect for my sister!), low-fat and pairs perfectly with a toasted sandwich. The topped gremolata adds contrasting bitterness, brightness and spice, creating a tasty soup recipe you’ll be sure to write down for later.
- 2 lbs. carrots
- 1 Tbsp. roasted ginger (more or less to taste)
- 32 oz. vegetable stock
- ¼ cup finely chopped carrot tops
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped raw ginger
- 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Pinch of salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Peel and cut carrots to evenly sized pieces; lightly coat in olive oil and spread out over a baking sheet. Bake for a total of 45 minutes—20 minutes in, flip carrots and add chunks of peeled ginger; cook for remaining 25 minutes. Add carrots and one Tbsp. roasted ginger to blender, slowly add vegetable stock (reserve one cup broth). Screen mix through mesh into a medium-sized stock pot, heat up to desired temperature. Add in remaining broth (if needed), along with salt and pepper to taste. Add all gremolata ingredients to a bowl and mix; sprinkle on top of the soup.
Notes: Ginger, a flowering plant originating from China, has powerful medicinal properties and is closely related to turmeric, cardamom and galangal. It’s used to calm digestion, reduce nausea and help to fight common colds.
White Chicken Chili
Nancy Eike, editor of White Bear Lake Magazine
This is my go-to soup recipe. With the precooked chicken and minced garlic, it’s about as easy-peasy as it gets. You can also serve it with a stack of warm tortillas to sop up some of that glorious just-the-right-amount-of-heat chicken chili broth.
- 1 lb. of precooked rotisserie chicken, shredded (or 4 breasts)
- 1–2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 15 oz. can white beans, drained
- 1 4 oz. can diced green chilies, with liquid
- 1 tsp. oregano
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- Fresh cilantro, chopped (I use a LOT of cilantro.)
Add olive oil to stockpot; warm. Place onions and garlic in heated oil; cook until onions become translucent. Add chicken broth, beans, chicken, green chilies, oregano, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and cilantro. Simmer on low for at least 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla strips, Mexican cheese and freshly sliced avocado.
Notes: Did you know that, according to some health experts, cilantro is not only delicious, but good for you—it’s an antioxidant, helps diminish sodium intake, lowers blood sugar levels and more? Don’t like cilantro? Blame your genes! There is a genetic variant in some people that makes cilantro taste like soap.
What’s in your bowl?
Bisque or Chowder: Bisque is a smooth French-style soup made from crustaceans (lobster, crab, shrimp and crayfish). The shells are used to make stock, and the meat is incorporated into the finished dish. Chowder features seafood or vegetables but is typically chunky and made with cream, milk or a roux.
Bouillon or Consommé: Bouillon is usually a seasoned broth made by straining water in which beef, chicken or other proteins have been cooked. (Some of us are more familiar with the version of dissolving bouillon cubes from the grocery store in hot water.) Consommé is a clear version of bouillon as it uses egg whites to collect the excess fat and sediment from the broth.
Gazpacho or Vichyssoise: Both are traditionally served cold. Gazpacho is a Spanish-style soup with tomatoes and other vegetables and spices. Vichyssoise is thicker and made using boiled and pureed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock.
Stew or Callos: Stew is a combination of solid ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy, while callos, common in Spanish cooking, contains beef tripe and chickpeas, blood sausage and bell peppers (and other vegetables) and, sometimes, chorizo sausage. It can be slow-cooked in a paprika-infused tomato sauce.
Stock or Broth: Stock is made from chicken or beef bones and creates a thicker liquid. Broth is made mostly from meat or vegetables and tends to be thinner and more flavorful.
Velouté-based Soup or Pureed Soup: Cream veloute-based soups are thickened with a roux, while puree soups rely on a puree of the main ingredient for thickening.