PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS
For a filling meal on a cold day, try one of these winter soup recipes.
A hearty, inexpensive homemade soup is an ideal dish to fill (and cheer up!) Your family and friends on a cold day. Even better, the following winter soup recipes – which my mother often served in my Minnesota childhood – can be prepared for just a dollar or so. The thick, nutritious meals with one dish will satisfy five or six very hungry teenagers or adults!
Thick potato soup with butter buns
Put 5 or 6 medium-sized diced potatoes, 1 large diced onion and 1 or 2 stalks of chopped celery in a large kettle. Add just enough water to cover the vegetables and cook them until they are barely soft enough to be pierced with a fork.
Then melt 1/2 cup margarine or butter over low heat in a pan and add 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste. Stir the mixture until smooth and thick (only a few strokes). Add 6 cups of milk a little at a time and continue to heat the sauce while stirring constantly until it is quite thick and hot. (A whisk really helps keep the lumps out.) Now pour this mixture into the large kettle, with the vegetables and water, and bring the next soup to a boil.
In the meantime, prepare the dumplings. Simply cream 2 tablespoons butter or margarine with 2 eggs, then stir in 6 tablespoons whole wheat flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
When the soup starts to boil, pour in the dumpling dough, cover the kettle and let the flavors mix for 8-10 minutes.
Creamy vegetable soup with parsley buns
If you want to make a “lighter” soup (with more dumplings than the potato recipe requires), put 3 cups of water or meat broth in your soup kettle with 2 medium onions (chopped), 2 or 3 diced celery stalks. , 2 sliced carrots and 1 pint of tomatoes. (You can also add two diced potatoes, or a cup or so of any of your other favorite fresh or frozen vegetables if you like.) Cook until the firmest ingredients are barely tender.
Then melt 1/2 cup margarine or butter in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and stir the mixture until it forms a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the flour-butter mixture into the kettle with boiling vegetables, and cook the soup until it thickens and the vegetables reach a “finished” consistency.
To make the parsley buns, sift 2 cups whole wheat flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt together. Cut in 1/4 cup chopped parsley and 1/4 cup baking fat until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. Then mix 1 lightly beaten egg with 3/4 cup of milk, and then mix this liquid in the flour mixture until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Finally, drop the dumpling dough, one spoonful at a time, on top of the boiling soup. Cover the kettle and let the dinner simmer for 12 minutes before serving.
Navy bean soup
Here’s a soup that will satisfy a horde of cold and hungry troops! (But since the recipe begins with dried beans, you will need to start this meal the evening before you plan to serve it.)
Pour 1 pound of navy beans into a kettle, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, fill the kettle with 2 or 3 liters of water and let it sit for about 12 hours before boiling the beans (in their soaking water to save all the nutrients) at low heat.
Most people simmer fresh or smoked pork along with navy beans (hickory smoked chicken is also really good in this soup!), But if meat is not in your diet, try adding 2 diced potatoes, 1 pint to 1 liter of tomatoes, 1 liters. chopped onion, 2 or 3 stalks of celery and 2 or 3 sliced carrots.
Then add the spices you like (Tabasco sauce is nice). Just remember that beans take much longer to cook than most other vegetables, so let them simmer for a few hours before adding the fastest ingredients.
Homemade tomato soup
Although this soup is easy to prepare, it is a lot lighter and not as filling as the other recipes I have presented – making it “just right” for a lunch or dinner when everyone is a shadow less than voracious.
All you have to do is heat 1 liter of tomatoes in a kettle or large saucepan until very hot. At that time, add 1 liter of milk and 2/3 teaspoon baking powder, and heat the mixture again (but do not let it boil). Season the soup with salt, pepper and celery, salt and chives if you like.
That’s all there is to it! It is just as easy to make as canned tomato soup – and of course a lot more delicious than the purchased product!
Cream of cauliflower soup with chives
Another of our favorite soups is often on late summer menus here in Minnesota, as that’s when our cauliflower ripens. (You can also use frozen cauliflower, from the supermarket or from your own store of canned garden products.)
To make this delicacy, just break a cauliflower head into mouth-watering chunks and place the pieces in a soup kettle with 2 to 3 stalks of sliced celery (no onions this time, they would drown out the delicate cauliflower flavor). Add enough water to cover the ingredients and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are barely tender.
Then – use 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 6 cups milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste – make a white sauce exactly as described in the potato soup recipe, and add it along with 1/4 cup chives to the kettle. Serve the soup piping hot.
(If you want a really rich dish, drop some blobs of cream cheese and let them melt into the soup just before serving.)
A touch of your own
All of my mom’s soup recipes can be customized. For example, you can make them thicker or thinner, with or without dumplings and with fewer or more ingredients. I have simply told you how three generations of my family like them best.
Editor’s note:MOTHER EARTH NEWS ‘recipe tester / taster Jane McKay whipped all five of Kay Vaughter’s winter soups together, and she – as well as a number of “volunteer” evaluators – rated the dishes as satisfying and very tasty. All in all, it would be hard to imagine any better or cheaper ways to “heat” a winter meal!
Published November 1, 1979
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