On Parade: Hearty Soups and a Soft and Creamy Pie
And now that you’ve had dessert, how about some thick, stick-to-your-bones soups? I did three recipes for soup for Parade’s HealthyStyles magazine: Spicy Black Bean and Pepper Soup (in the picture), Curried Carrot Soup with Apples and Raspberry-Red Beet and Tomato Soup.
Soup is so easy-going that even as I was writing the recipes, I was thinking about what you might do to make them your own. I’ll tell you some of the tweaks I like to make and hope you’ll share yours.
Sometimes, with the Pepper Soup, I’ll add a little chipotle pepper and a touch of the adobo it’s packed in. And, of course, you can make the whole pot a little hotter by using more chili powder or, when the soup is cooked, seasoning it with a dash of jalapeno Tabasco sauce. Whatever I do, I always finish the soup with a squirt of fresh lime juice. It’s a tiny addition that makes a big difference. Actually, when doesn’t fresh citrus make a difference?
I often finish the Curried Carrot Soup with diced fresh apples that I toss in a little curry powder. And, just because everything goes better with cream, I might add a dollop of sour cream or even creme fraiche. When I do that, I put the apples in the bottom of the bowl, pour over the soup, then finish with the cream. This way, the apples soften a little under the heat of the soup and they turn up as a surprise with the first spoonful.
As you’ll see, I use canned beets in the beet soup — it puts the soup in the realm of weeknight meals and last-minute warm-ups. (I’ve found that the soup is better when you start with canned whole — not diced or sliced — beets.) But when I’ve got a little more time, I start with fresh beets. I scrub 1 pound of beets, trim the tops (I always leave an inch of green on top), drop them into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook them until tender. I can’t tell you how long that will take, since beets are famously variable. But when I can pierce them easily with the tip of a knife, I drain them and keep 1 cup of the cooking liquid for the soup. Then I run them under cold water, peel and chop them. If I make the soup with fresh beets, I might not puree it. But pureed or chunky, I like the soup with sour cream, the traditional topping for borscht, and sliced scallions or even finely diced red onion — the crunch is particularly nice when the soup is pureed. Of course, the soup is also good with crisp bits of bacon — again, what isn’t?