This morning, with bits of snow still on the ground, a cacophony of birdsong flooded my yard–as if it were spring.
The sound stopped suddenly, and I supposed this talkative flock had rested in our large magnolia before heading to its destination. I’m taking it as a sign that spring isn’t too far off.
In the meantime, we still have cold days ahead and I mean to make some favorite soup recipes and keep the fireplace roaring. At least until every morning is filled with birdsong!
Sidenote: Here’s a tip for when you eat out or order in: if you get soup from a restaurant that fails to impress, add butter and a squeeze of lemon. The combination brightens a dull diner soup. For vegetable soups, a teaspoon of basil pesto swirled in, and a sprinkle of parmesan on top, is delicious.
This recipe comes from Jaques Pépin. Recently, he posted a video on Facebook where he made a quick variation of this soup by adding potato flakes instead of chopped potatoes. For a quick lunch, give it a try–adding potato flakes to taste. For either recipe, top with grated gruyere. Potatoes and gruyere cheese are soulmates.
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large leek, damaged outer leaves discarded, split, washed well, and finely minced (3 cups)
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and held in cold water
4 cups (1 quart) homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or chervil
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese or a dollop of softened unsalted butter (optional)
- Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into sticks about 3/4-inch thick and slice the sticks crosswise into 1/8-inch slivers (you will have about 3 cups). The potatoes should be kept in water after peeling, but they should not be washed after they are cut into slivers; this will wash away their starch, which helps make the soup smooth.
- Add the stock, water, salt, and pepper to the leeks, then mix in the potato slivers. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and boil gently for about 12 minutes.
- Serve the soup with a sprinkling of the parsley or chervil on top and, if you like, the grated cheese or a dollop of butter.
Coconut and Chickpea Soup
This is a variation of Epicurious’ African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion (about 6 ounces), chopped
1 medium red bell pepper (about 6 ounces), chopped
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned (see Cook’s Tip)
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (not lite)
3/4 cup cooked white or brown rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Asian fish sauce to taste–or about two teaspoons
Juice from a half of a lime, or to taste
- In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper: cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and chili garlic sauce and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add the broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, curry powder, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.
To make a heartier supper, add a cup of cooked, chopped chicken to the soup.
Serve with fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges.
We hope you enjoy these recipes. Let us know what you think.