On Parade: Hearty Soups and a Soft and Creamy Pie

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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?

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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?

Recap on the links:  Soups are here and Cream Pie is here.

Dorie Greenspan