More of the Soup Saga

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert

The first two recipes in this weeks soups are classics. They are based on food culture although the slant of the dish may change according to your whim-subtract or add more heat or put in your own secret ingredient. The 3rd recipe is a homey soup full of flavor based on herbs and garlic while adorned with a bright orange egg yolk from a local free roamin’ hen.


Serves 6

 If you have been lucky enough to eat the extraordinary Cioppino in Little Italy of San Francisco, you know it’s memorable being loaded with seafood in a spicy red sauce. Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network has a lovely version from her Italian background. I love the fennel which enhances the fish.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 5 cups fish stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound manila clams, scrubbed
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
  • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut or salmon, cut into 2-inch chunks

 Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion,  salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

 Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open). Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.

 Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.


Hoppin’ John Soup

Serves 8-10

 Although this classic Southern dish usually celebrates New Year’s it is way-healthy for any time of year. Complete with a ham bone or hock, chopped vegetables, collards and the star-black-eyed peas, which are for good fortune in the coming year. Serve it over rice, if you like or just have a huge warm bowl-full of the soup.

  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 smoked ham bone or two hocks
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped cooked ham
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound collard greens, ribs removed, leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 5 cups cooked long-grain white rice
  • Chopped tomatoes and scallions, for garnish

 Bring peas, ham bone, and 8 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, skimming foam occasionally, until peas are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain peas, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid along with ham bone; set aside.

 Heat oil in a 12-qt. pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped ham, chiles, garlic, jalapeños, carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add reserved black-eyed peas, ham bone, and reserved cooking liquid, along with collards and 12 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until collards are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Spoon rice into bowls and ladle soup over rice and add garnishes.


Garlic Soup with Poached Egg

Serves 1

 It’s no surprise Yoga Journal would feature a soup like this-gentle, yet quite feisty with the focus of garlic and herbs. It’s a healer!

  • 2 cups broth of choice
  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced plus another for rubbing bread
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Drop of distilled white vinegar
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 thick slice peasant or French bread, toasted and rubbed with raw garlic
  • 1 egg
  •  Sauteed spinach, rapini (broccoli rabe), kale, watercress or collards greens, kept hot

 Heat broth in a small pot with the herbs and sliced garlic along with salt to taste. Simmer 10 minutes.

 Place the slice of garlic-rubbed toast in the bottom of a soup bowl; drizzle with olive oil.

 Crack the egg into a cup. Add a drop of vinegar to the soup. Tip the egg into the soup and cook until the white is just set.

 Place the greens on top of the toast Ladle the egg on top of the greens and pour broth around. Top with freshly ground pepper. Serve.