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Carrie’s Kitchen: Like homemade soup? Try these three delicious recipes

This winter hasn’t been too cold, but it’s still been gloomy. I’m not sure if the precipitation has been above average or not, but there have been many damp days, and my front yard is about equal parts mud and grass. If this doesn’t let up soon, I’m going to strongly consider painting the interior of my house yellow to emulate sunshine.

In the meantime, I’m using the wood stove plenty so I can at least feel comfortable, and I’m giving in to my desire to just eat soup all the time. Do you like soup? Growing up, my family ate soup rather regularly, and my husband loves soup as much as I do, so I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago that not everyone loves soup. I still don’t quite get it, unless you’ve never ventured beyond canned soup, which tastes overly-salted, the vegetables get mushy, and there’s that undertone of preservatives.

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Homemade soups are delicious! Homemade broths make them the best (easily achieved by putting a chicken carcass in a slow cooker with some onion and celery tops), but even without homemade broth, if you take time to pre-brown the onions, garlic and other veggies, it’s not going to taste watery, or like seawater.

First up, I have this loaded baked potato chowder recipe. I have two other recipes I’ve used regularly for potato soup, but I liked that this one also had corn and carrots in it, something I hadn’t tried before. I also don’t usually put the sour cream in, but if I want it to be a little extra special, I do. This recipe says to half your petite potatoes, but use your judgment on whether they should be quartered. I also recommend saving some of the bacon to add at the end as a topping, so it remains nice and crisp. But overall, it was a great soup, and it had those carrots and corn so I felt like it was a little healthier. Every bit counts some days!

Second, I was attracted to this sausage and tortellini soup. It’s a pretty simple soup, with a chicken broth, just one can of diced tomatoes, and then lots of crumbled sausage, cheese tortellini and spinach. Because it’s so simple, you probably do want to use a really good broth here. I’m tempted to use more vegetables as well. Perhaps if I cut them up very small my children won’t notice…

And finally, a homemade tomato soup recipe. I’m a big fan of cream of tomato soup (you know, mixing a can of condensed tomato soup with a can of milk) with my grilled cheese. But really, the soup is just to dip my sandwich in. I wouldn’t even eat the leftover soup except I want to set a good example about not wasting food to my kids. But once I started making homemade tomato soup? It was amazing. Even without cream, having a broth base and rich tomatoes, it has so much flavor and robustness that it can now pull its own weight. In fact, it makes grilled cheese and tomato soup worthy of being a dinner entrée, rather than just a lunch. This recipe includes cooking tiny pasta like ditalini or macaroni in it, which will continue to soak in the broth the longer it sits, so plan to eat it all in one sitting if you can. Perhaps at a grilled cheese and tomato soup party?

Enjoy!

Loaded baked potato chowder

1/2 pound bacon, cut in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth, plus extra

24 ounces petite red potatoes, halved

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup frozen corn

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1/2 cup half and half

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 scant teaspoon salt

Pepper, to taste

Chives, for garnishing

Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Cut the bacon in half and cook it in the soup pot, drain out on to a paper towel and wipe out the excess bacon fat, but leaving any stuck-on bacon bits in the pot.

Add the olive oil, onion and garlic to the pot, sauté for 3-5 minutes. Mix in 2 tablespoons flour, stirring for 1 minute.

Pour in the chicken broth, let it come to a boil. Add the potatoes and bacon. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Add in the carrots and corn, simmer another 10 minutes covered (add an extra splash of chicken broth if the liquid gets too low).

Turn the heat off. Add the half and half, sharp cheddar and sour cream, stirring well in between each addition. Add pepper to taste. Serve and top with chives.

Sausage tortellini soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 links Italian sweet sausage, (½ pound) removed from casings and crumbled

½ cup red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

8 cups chicken stock

14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes

12 ounces cheese tortellini, fresh or frozen

6-ounce bag baby spinach, stems removed and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium low heat. Add the sausage and onion and cook for 5-6 minutes, breaking up the chunks of sausage with a fork and knife.

Add the garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally for an additional 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and chicken broth. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Add the tortellini and cook for the time specified on the package. Cooking times will vary depending on whether you are using fresh or frozen. The tortellini should be slightly firm to the bite.

Stir in the spinach and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Tomato Florentine soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

½ tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons dried Italian seasonings

2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano variety

4 cups vegetable or low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups small pasta such as ditalini, mini penne or macaroni

2 cups baby spinach stems removed

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Croutons, optional, for serving

Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving

Using a Dutch oven or stockpot, add olive oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes.

Add garlic, brown sugar, salt, pepper and Italian seasonings; stir and continue cooking for 2-3 more minutes.

Add tomatoes, undrained, and broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to medium.

Add pasta and cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add spinach and cook for 5-7 more minutes, or until spinach has wilted and pasta is tender. Stir in balsamic vinegar.

Top with croutons and grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

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