Soup Beautiful Soup

BY Bill Walsh

“His name was in the newspapers that day
Spelled out in tall black headlines
And thousands of people were talking about him.
When I saw him
He sat bending his head over a plate
Putting soup in his mouth
with a spoon.”

—Carl Sandburg “People Who Must”

Why wouldn’t he? There is no other single food that has earned a higher comfort quotient than soup and the suddenly famous — or more likely infamous — gentleman of Sandburg’s poem may need a bit of coddling. There is perhaps no other food that has so long a history unchanged from its current form. One would be hard pressed to name another food after which so huge a segment of our culinary habits is named. (The word restaurant traces to 16th-century France where it was used to describe street vendors’ highly concentrated inexpensive soup called restaurer.)

As easy as duck soup. In the soup. Soup kitchens. Thick as pea soup. The soup Nazi. Primordial soup. Stone soup. No other dish lends itself so adroitly to the language. No other food can displace its first-course eminence. Soup is first in war first in peace first in the hearts of our countrymen. In the immortal words of Lewis Carroll give us “soup beautiful soup.”

Plus it’s January; it’s cold out there. There is no better time to settle down with a bowl especially a bowl of one of these favorites from members of the magazine staff.


Hearty Cream of Tomato Soup

Begin with basic white roux
(Any creamed soup can be created from this basic white roux. Add cooked vegetables and meats if desired.)

1-2 ‑pints English Country Cream (Can be found at Harris Teeter)
4 ‑tablespoons English Country Butter (Can be found at Harris Teeter)
4 ‑tablespoons unbleached whole wheat flour (Can be found at Tidal Creek Co-op)
1 ‑teaspoon Herbalmare seasoning (Can be found at Tidal Creek Co-op)
Dash black cayenne pepper to taste

1. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in small slope-sided sauce pan. 2. Using a fork stir in 4 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour. Stir constantly and rapidly adjusting the heat so the mixture doesn’t heat too quickly or it will separate. 3. Slowly add the cream stirring constantly as the mixture thickens turning down the heat as you go. 4. Add Herbalmare a dash of cayenne and black pepper to taste.

For Soup

1-2 ‑tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
6-8 ‑fresh skinned whole tomatoes (may be chopped depending on individual taste) or substitute 2-3 cans organic tomatoes

1. Add garlic to roux and then fold in tomatoes. 2. Turn heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are cooked through. 3. Add cream as needed for desired thickness. This mixture may be blended and returned to heat for creamier consistency.


3 tablespoons butter
4 leeks white part only sliced fine
½ medium onion sliced
3 ‑medium potatoes peeled and sliced
2 cups chicken broth
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon chives finely chopped

1. Melt butter in large pot and add leeks and onion. Cook over low heat stirring often until tender but not brown. 2. Stir in potatoes broth pepper and salt. Cook over high heat until mixture reduces by half and potatoes are tender. 3. Remove from heat cool slightly pour into processor or blender and blend until smooth. 4. Let cool. Mixture will be very thick. 5. Add cream and blend with whisk. If too thick slowly add milk while stirring until desired consistency is achieved. 6. Stir in chives and adjust seasonings to taste. 7. Chill thoroughly and serve in chilled soup bowls or cups. Also delicious served hot. Serves 4-5.


Spinach Tortellini Soup

2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3 13 oz cans vegetable broth
8 oz fresh or frozen tortellini
10 oz spinach thawed
16 ‑oz stewed tomatoes with onion celery green peppers
Grated parmesan cheese

1. Saute garlic and butter for 2-3 minutes. 2. Add broth bring to a boil and reduce heat. 3. Add spinach and stewed tomatoes continue simmering for 10 minutes. 4. Just before serving add the tortellini and cook 6-7 minutes. 5. Add parmesan cheese to taste.


Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Lime Sour Cream

10 slices bacon finely chopped
2 ‑medium red onions chopped (about 21/2 cups)
6 garlic cloves finely diced
1 141/2-ounce can chicken broth
11/2 cups canned diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
4 ‑151/2-ounce cans black beans drained but not rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 ‑bunch cilantro washed and chopped with stems removed

1. Put the bacon into a large heavy pot and place it over medium heat. Cook until it starts to give up its fat about 4 minutes. 2. Stir in the onions and cook stirring until they start to turn translucent about 4 minutes. 3. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. 4. Add the broth tomatoes ketchup Worcestershire chili powder and beans. Stir. 5. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes.
6. Season with salt and pepper. 7. After the soup has simmered for 10 minutes stir in the cilantro. Cook until the soup is thickened about 5 minutes. 8. Stir in the lime juice.
9. Ladle into serving bowls and swirl the cilantro lime sour cream on top (recipe on page 25).

Cilantro Lime Sour Cream

1/2 cup sour cream
2 ‑tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ‑tablespoons fresh cilantro finely chopped

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Keep chilled until ready to serve.


Tomato Lentil Soup

2/3 cup dried lentils
4 carrots sliced thinly
2 celery stalks sliced thinly
1 medium onion sliced
4 cups water
1 cup tomato paste
Seasonings to taste — salt pepper thyme tarragon dill or hot sauce

1. Put first five ingredients in large saucepan and simmer for three hours adding more water as necessary. 2. Stir in tomato paste season to taste and heat through.

This soup is simple tasty and healthful and hearty enough to stand up to ground or stewing beef or sausage or anything else you might care to add. It will maintain its character when a little hot sauce is splashed in the bowl.


Tortilla Soup

6 ‑6-inch corn tortillas preferably a little old and dried out
¼ ‑cup high smoke-point oil such as grapeseed oil or peanut oil
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 ‑medium Anaheim poblano or jalapeño chile seeded veins removed chopped. You can also mix chiles
4 cups chicken broth
1 ‑can (14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes undrained
½ ‑teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
1½ cups shredded cooked chicken
1 ripe medium avocado
½ ‑cup (2 oz) shredded Monterey Jack or other mild melting cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime cut into wedges

1. Start with somewhat old dried-out tortillas or put fresh tortillas on a baking sheet and put them in the oven at 200 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes to dry them out a bit. Cut tortillas in half; cut halves into ¼-inch strips. 2. In 3-quart saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat. Fry strips in oil 1/3 at a time until light brown and crisp. Remove from pan; drain on paper towels. 3. Heat oil remaining in saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion in oil 2 minutes stirring frequently. 4. Add garlic and chile. Cook 2 to 3 minutes stirring frequently until vegetables are crisp-tender. 5. Stir in broth tomatoes and salt. Heat to boiling. 6. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. 7. Add chicken; heat through.

To serve:

1. Peel and pit the avocado. Cut into 1-inch slices.
2. Divide half of tortilla strips among 4 individual serving bowls; ladle in soup.
3. Top with avocado and cheese; garnish with remaining tortilla strips and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.