Kitchen Confidential: The Joys of Winter

. January 2, 2015.
chicken-taco-soup1

by Pat Nowak

When the days are short and the snow is blowing, is there any better way to warm up  than a hot bowl of soup? Soup is versatile—it can be as light as chicken soup, or as hearty as chili.

The history of soup is probably as old as the history of cooking. The act of combining various ingredients in a large pot to create a nutritious, filling, easily digested, simple-to-make food was inevitable. It was the perfect choice for both sedentary and travelling cultures; rich and poor, healthy people and invalids.

Soup and its variations—such as stews—evolved based on taste and the availability of local ingredients. Today, we see New England chowder, Spanish gazpacho, Russian borscht, Italian minestrone, French onion, Chinese wonton and Campbell’s tomato—all of them variations on the same theme. And from that, the distinction in taste is limitless. A pinch of sea salt here and the addition of vegetables, cheese, or beans there, and you have an extensive catalogue of soup recipes.

I live in a neighborhood where women love to cook, but more importantly, they like to experiment with new recipes. I asked some of them to share their recipes. No need to fret about those chilly, winter days—these soups will hit the spot.

baked-potato-soup

Taco Soup

1 – 48 oz. can tomato juice

1 – 12-16 oz. can corn, drained

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 lb. hamburger

1 c. onions, chopped

1 pkg taco seasoning mix

1 pkg tortilla chips

Shredded cheese

Sour cream

Brown the hamburger with the onions. Drain if needed.  Add kidney beans, seasoning mix, tomato juice, and corn.  Heat for 20 minutes longer.  Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded cheese.  Serves 6 -8.

— Cynthia Beekley

Italian Soup

1 lb. Italian sausage (mild)

28 oz. tomatoes (chopped)

8 oz. tomato sauce

14 ½ oz. chicken broth

1 t. basil

1 t. oregano

16 oz. Birdseye Freshlike frozen Pasta Combos (garlic flavor seasoning)

Brown sausage; add tomatoes and chicken broth, tomato sauce, basil and oregano. Stir, bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in bag of pasta, cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve with Italian bread.

— Karen Fraker

Chicken Chili

1 rotisserie chicken, storebought.

Sauté garlic and chopped onion in butter and add to chicken

1-2 boxes chicken stock 

1-2 cans white kidney beans

1-2 cans diced tomatoes (chili ready spices)

Shredded Mexican blend cheese

Shredded pepper jack

Mix all ingredients and add pepper or spices to your individual taste

– Maggie Dame (Recent winner of the Hidden Harbour Chili Cook-Off)

Easy Potato Soup

48 oz. of chicken broth

1 lb. bag of frozen hash-browns 

¼ c. dehydrated onion or sauté real ones 

1 can of cream of chicken soup 

1- 8 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese cut into small pieces 

Stir all ingredients in a pot – when the cheese and the soup are melted transfer into a crock pot to keep warm or serve. Optional: add fried bacon or diced ham.

– Cheryl Johnson

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