From the Hart: Soups to keep you warm this winter |  Lifestyles

From the Hart: Soups to keep you warm this winter | Lifestyles

Oh, January! The holidays are behind us, spring is still in the distance and here we are sitting shaking. But on the freezing, chatty, rainy days, everything works better with a bowl of hot soup and a pan of crispy cornbread.

You know, soup is one of the most versatile dishes in the world. If you do not have one of the ingredients, replace something else. When my children were small and the money was scarce, I learned to manage. Store broth was a luxury. I still store the hard ends of asparagus and the accessories from celery and onions, and when I get a gallon freezer bag full of them, I boil them up into broth. It really makes rice and soup a lot more flavorful instead of using plain water.

I also like to have a freezer container in the door of the freezer, and when I have half a serving of vegetables left over, just add it to the container. When the container is full, it’s time to make soup. Do not feel that you need to have exactly what the recipe calls for. After all, in most cases, a recipe is just a guide. Adjust it and make it your own.

1 c. Diced potatoes or egg noodles

1 or 2 ribs celery, cut into slices

1 tbsp. barley (or ¼ c. or thereabouts of cooked rice)

1 large can of diced tomatoes

1 qt. vegetable or beef broth (or 1 qt water and 2 tbsp. instant beef broth)

1 bag (16 oz.) Frozen mixed vegetables

Mix the ground beef with baking soda and 1 tsp. salt. Let it sit for about 20 minutes while you peel the potatoes and get everything else ready for use. (The soda helps retain moisture in the meat instead of letting it all boil out.) Heat a 3-liter pan and cook the beef mixture and onions until the meat is lightly browned. Add all the remaining ingredients. Put lid on and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the raw vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

TIP: You can use chopped leftover roast or steak instead of minced beef – no need to brown further; simply sauté the onions in a little oil before adding the other ingredients.

My very dear friend, Andrea Linton-Brunson, shared this recipe with me years ago. I made it recently and realized I had forgotten how good it is! I replaced the water with chicken broth and added two cloves of diced garlic. Give it a try!

1 can cream chicken soup

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Cook until done, but not too soft. If you like thick soup, pour off some of the water before adding the rest of the ingredients. Add the onion to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn down the heat and stir in the cream of chicken soup. Add Velveeta and cook on low level until melted. Season to taste. Make it even better by topping with grated cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon and green onions.

For the last 2 or 3 years of my precious stepfather’s life, this chicken noodle soup was just about everything he wanted to eat (except candy!). It’s still a favorite in our family.

2 chicken breasts (or bone quarters)

2 rounded tbsp. chicken broth (or 6 to 8 cubes)

Salt and pepper to taste (or Mrs. Dash’s)

12 oz. pkg. fine egg noodles

Boil chicken in water. Remove, cool, bone and chop the meat. Add broth to the water and stir until dissolved. Add vegetables, spices and chicken, and cook for 20 minutes. Add noodles and cook for another 20 minutes.

Mona Tucker writes her “From the Hart” recipe column the first Wednesdays of the month.

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