Simple soups for the winter |  WYPR

Simple soups for the winter | WYPR

As we noticed several weeks ago, there is no better time of year for homemade soups than right now. Soup making is one of those activities that invites creativity and improvisation. Chef Jerry Pellegrino goes all out to let your imagination run wild in the city while standing in front of the soup kettle.

We are very convinced that people’s eating habits are hugely affected by the seasons, so when we slip into the cold of the dark winter, we need food that will brighten our mood. Based on the theory that cosiness is the best antidote to frost and gloom, we would like to talk about a couple of pots with simple soups that are guaranteed to warm you all the way through.

Scotch Broth

Saute ½ cups chopped raw carrot, onion and celery in a large soup pot in 1-2 tbsp olive oil. When they begin to wither and brown, add half a cup of dry white wine. Cook over medium-high heat until the wine is reduced by half, then remove from the heat.

Brown approx. 1 1/2 pounds of lamb shank in olive oil in another pan. Once browned on all sides, cover the shank with about 4 cups of beef broth and simmer gently for about an hour. When the shank is done, the meat will fall from the bone. Remove the bone and discard. Remove the meat, chop it roughly and add the vegetables to the soup pot. Pour in the remaining beef broth, add a bay leaf and bouquet garnish of rosemary, thyme and two chopped cloves of garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Add 1 cup of pearl barley to the soup and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Adjust spices, remove bay leaf and bouquet garni and serve hot.

(Vegetarian alternative: use vegetable stock and sautéed portabello mushrooms instead of lamb.)

Green lentil soup

This dish has a pronounced Indian flavor.

Begin by soaking three large ancho chilies in 1 1/2 cups of warm water until soft. Remove stem and seeds, cut roughly up and return to water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer without a lid. When there are only approx. ½ cup liquid back, transfer to a food processor and puree, making a paste. Set aside.

Saute a mirepoix of chopped carrots, onions and celery (about ½ cup each) in two tablespoons of ghee (Indian clarified butter). Cook until tender and the onion begins to turn golden. Add 1 tablespoon each freshly ground cumin and fennel seeds and anchochili paste, and stir well and cook for about two more minutes. Add a cup of dry white wine and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Rinse two cups of untreated green lentils in a sieve. Add 5 cups of vegetable or mushroom broth to the soup pot. Bring to a boil and add the lentils. Reduce the heat when the mixture boils again and simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the lentils begin to soften. When about half tender, add about 4 ounces of paneer cheese cubes. Cook for another 15 minutes, or until the lentils are completely tender. Remove about a third of the soup and puree in a food processor, then return it to the soup to thicken it. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Split Pea Soup

In your heavy soup pot, fry 8 slices of bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Saute ½ cup each of chopped carrots, celery and onions in the bacon fat. When they are quite tender, add 1 medium shallot, finely chopped and two large cloves of garlic, also finely chopped. Boil for about a minute and do not burn. Pour 6 cups of strong chicken broth into the pan and bring to a boil. Add a pound of split peas, which have been well rinsed. When it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer and add a meaty ham bone. After about an hour, the meat should be about to fall off the ham. Season with salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper to taste. Remove the ham bone and remove any remaining meat that you bring back to the pan. Use a submersible blender to process the soup until the peas have been well pureed. Crumble the bacon, and put it in the pan and fry for another ten minutes. Adjust spices and serve.

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