Soup Saga 2013

 Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

It’s that time again when a heart-warming full meal in a bowl fits the bill. Most of the winter months, I find I’m craving that bowl food. This year the Soup Saga will continue for 2 weeks bringing you some exciting, some comforting potages to warm you and let the sun shine from the inside out.

Baked Greek Chicken Soup

Serves 6

 The following recipe may look a bit involved but you are actually making 2 dishes-luscious wine-roasted chicken and from there a lively Greek style soup. If eating the chicken first is appealing, go for it, and make the soup out of leftover chicken and wine broth. A tip here many will love, is to also sprinkle some feta cheese on top.

  •  4 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned 
  • 2 bone-in chicken breast halves, halved crosswise and skinned
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil 
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 cups dry white wine 
  • 1 cup chicken stock 
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced roasted red or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cup sliced, pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 ­tablespoon fresh lemon juice

 Preheat oven to 325°.

 Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and  pepper. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of chicken to pan, flesh side down. Cook 4 minutes or until browned; remove from pan. Repeat with remaining chicken. Set chicken aside.

 Add  garlic to pan; cook for 2 minutes to brown, stirring occasionally. Add wine; cook for 2 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return chicken to pan, flesh side up. Combine stock and flour in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add stock mixture to pan.

 Stir in oregano and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 325° for 45 minutes or until chicken is done and very tender. Remove pan from oven. Remove chicken from pan and shred 1/2 of the chicken for the soup and keep warm. Remaining chicken can be used at another time.

 Heat pan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced bit. Adjust salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf.

 Add roasted bell pepper, pitted kalamata olives, green onions and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice to soup mixture, stirring. Serve with more sprigs of oregano. 


Curry Parsnip Soup with Cashew Mango Crostini 

Serves 4

 Delectable and smooth as this soup is, it’s healthy with only about 2 tablespoons of half and half per serving. The loaded crostini adds a beautiful crunch and complementary flavors to the soup.

  •  2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 8 ounces carrots, peeled and diced
  •  1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  •  2 teaspoons curry powder
  •  3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  •  1/2 cup half and half
  •  salt and pepper to taste
  •  pinch red pepper flakes (if desired)

 Cashew Mango Crostini 

  • 1/3 cup dry roasted and salted cashew halves
  • 1/3 cup freshly diced mango
  • 1/3 cup freshly diced cherry tomatoes
  • Squeeze fresh lime juice
  • 4 slices French baguette or whole grain bread, toasted until crisp

 Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. saute the onion in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the parsnips, carrots, garlic and curry powder, and saute for a couple of minutes to release the flavors. Mix the bouillon cube into the boiling water, and pour into the saucepan. Stir to remove any bits of vegetable from the bottom of the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes or until parsnips are soft and easy to break with a wooden spoon.

 Remove from the heat, and blend with a hand mixer or immersion blender. Stir in the half and half and red pepper flakes, if using; heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with the loaded crostini and another dash of curry powder.

 For the Crostini

In a small bowl, mix the first 4 ingredients. Just before serving mound on the crostini pressing slightly to secure the toppings. Place one on each bowl of soup and serve immediately.


Bacon Brussels Sprouts Soup 

Serves 4

Hearty and filling, Brussels sprouts tinged with bacon are the shining stars here. Don’t forget that veggies from the Cruciferous (cabbage) family are some of the healthiest going!

  •  1/4 pound lean nitrate-free bacon, finely diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced fennel bulb
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • lemon thyme sprigs
  • 2 cups chicken broth, more for thinning
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream

 In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Put some aside to sprinkle on yogurt for garnish.

 Saute the onion, celery, carrots, fennel and garlic in the bacon fat over low heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and stir them to coat with the bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

 Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, covered until the sprouts are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Ladle the soup in a serving dish. Garnish with yogurt, lemon thyme sprigs, bacon pieces and serve.