I have been asked to share my soup recipes and I do so gladly because soup is good for the soul. Did you know January is National Soup Month, so celebrate by making a pot of soup!
Two of my favorite quotes on soup come from Louis Pullig De Gouy, the world-renown chef. He was the owner and head chef of many different restaurants around the world. His longest venture was his 30-year association with the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. He was the first chef of the Gourmet Magazine when it began in 1941.
*Soup is cuisine’s kindest course. It breathes reassurance; it steams consolation; after a weary day, it promotes sociability, as the five o’clock cup of tea or the cocktail hour.
*Soup is the song of the hearth… and the home.
On days I made soups and my kids were little I made a point to read the book, Stone Soup by Marcia Brown. We enjoyed reading the story and were grateful for the bounty of food we had to make a soup with ingredients other than just a stone. Occasionally we took turns throwing in a stone, only to be fished out before serving but we made memories to hold on to!
My Dad’s mom came from Germany when she was 16 years old. She was alone after her father found a new wife and the new wife thought this 16-year-old girl to be a bother. Grandma was on her own and became a nanny, housekeeper, anything to survive. One thing, she did become was a good cooker and baker. There is only one story of her cooking that went awry, and it really was not her fault but…Grandma had made a wonderful soup on a cold wintery day. She and grandpa feasted on the hearty goodness. Cleaning up after supper Grandma always scraped all the leftover scraps into an old soup pot and put it out on the cold screened-in-porch for the “dog’s scraps.” The porch was a cold place to store food when the icebox was full. The same practice of cleaning up and saving of scraps happened after every meal. So, after the second day, the pot was looking much like a soup pot full of stew by now. Grandma had to go into town for groceries and took longer than she thought. Grandpa was hungry so he went about helping himself to the stew he found out on the porch. Grandpa never did not have a very strong sense of smell. Grandpa said that’s why he could do a good job out in the barn, “Smells never bother me.” Well, without a strong sense of smell, he also didn’t have a strong sense of taste! When grandma came home and was going to take the dog slop out, she noticed the pot to be less than she expected she asked grandpa if he had fed the dog while she was gone. His reply was, “No, I didn’t yet. I had lunch first. By the way, you know that stew you made, out on the porch. It’s a little thicker than usual.” Bless Grandpa’s heart. He was a kind, gentle, loving man and husband.
Grandma used to get hungry for food from the “Old Country” and when she did, this is one of her favorite soups to make.
German Sauerkraut Soup
Makes: 4-6 servings
4 strips bacon uncooked, diced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon quality smoked Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, I lightly crush in my hand
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
4 cups chicken broth
18 ounces German Sauerkraut, drained (about 3 1/2 heaping cups) Do NOT substitute with American sauerkraut.
- In a soup pot fry the bacon until brown. I have found dicing or cutting the bacon before cooking is easier than crumbling after cooking and I like the chucks of bacon better than the crumbles for flavor.
- Add the onion and cook until lightly caramelized, 5-7 minutes. I have found if you don’t care for onions or they don’t care for you, you may use onion powder, but this is one recipe that I do use the real onion. You may always increase the onion to two whole onions.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute. The same with the garlic, I use the diced garlic in oil. You may increase the amount to suit your taste.
- Stir in the tomato paste and spices and cook another minute. Enjoy taking in the amora. Yum. You may feel the need to add a pinch of salt but do so very carefully there may be enough salt already to taste.
- Add the chicken broth and sauerkraut and bring to a boil. I use unsalted chicken broth in all my cooking and for sure in this recipe. I buy canned Frank’s Bavarian Sauerkraut; it has caraway seeds and a full flavor. You may use a jar of German style sauerkraut just be sure not to use just plain American sauerkraut it does not have the robust flavor you need to make this soup to taste authentic.
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. This is one sou that comes together pretty quickly but as most soup it is so much better the second day, by the third day it spectacular and if you are blessed enough to have any left by the fourth day you will experience a bit a heaven when you take your first spoonful.
- If you were in Germany having this soup it would be served with a dollop of crème fraîche or our sour cream.
Beef Stew Recipe
Makes: 4-6 Servings
3-4 carrots, cut into -inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped finely
3-4 stalks celery chopped into 1-inch pieces
½ cup shredded cabbage or coleslaw
2 potatoes peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
1 handful of green beans cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup of peas
1 red tomato peeled and diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried parsley
1-1/2 pounds stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups beef broth
Mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes
- In a resealable plastic bag, I combine the flour, salt and pepper.
- Add beef and shake to coat with flour.
- Place meat in heated oil Dutch oven pot and brown meat in oil on all sides.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer to another bowl.
- Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and sauté vegetables in same pot until tender, 5-6 minutes stirring occasional so not to burn.
- Add meat back into pot and add the beef broth and simmer.
- I turn the fire down low and cook all afternoon. It is better the second and third days.
Yield: 6-8 servings.
Note: you can be very flexible with this soup/stew. Use the vegetables you have in your fridge. This is a good recipe to use up those leftovers. I had a friend who when her kids were little, froze her leftover veggies and after a week or two, she had enough to make a tasty stew so as not to waste a single bit of veggies. Be flexible; I have used dried cherry tomatoes from the fall harvest, canned green beans, frozen peas, added something, left something out when not found in the fridge, use your imagination. You will learn what goes and what if not as popular but if made with love it will be delicious no matter what!
I serve this stew with a tossed green salad and a crusty loaf of bread. You can serve it over mashed potatoes or a bowl of noodles or rice, it’s your call. It can be a meal fit for company over or a cozy meal for two after a day of hiking or other outdoor activities.
I have added a dash of red wine, a cup of stout beer, a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar, balsamic or white vinegar. My grandpa from Holland used to make this stew and added a tablespoon or two of vinegar to “Give it flavor.” I must agree a bit a balsamic vinegar does add another layer of flavor. I add the liquid of your choice after the meat has been browned and before I add the vegetables. This helps to deglaze the pan and save all those wonderful flavors that add such character to your stew. Enjoy!