Category Archives: Soups

Tuscan White Bean and Farro Soup

3 bowls 2We’re not really a big game-playing family. The one and only time I ever played a board game with my husband was early on in our relationship. We were on the same team for a friendly game of Trivial Pursuit. The category was sports and leisure and it was a baseball question, the only sport I know anything about. I got so excited that I knew the answer, I shouted it out. Unfortunately, it was the other team’s question. My husband declared a moratorium on game playing with me after that.

But, on a visit to see us in December, my youngest son started a game of tag, and it’s still going on. Sadly, he was playing tag with a wicked cold. He caught it first, passed it on to my husband, and now I am “it”, sneezing and coughing my way through January. Normally, when I’m sick, I lose my appetite, so I sort of got excited about being sick at the beginning of January. I figured this would be the perfect way to lose my December cookie weight. But this cold left me feeling ravenous. I couldn’t seem to eat enough to make me feel satisfied. I was craving bowl 45°Soup seemed like the perfect remedy. Hot enough to soothe my sore throat and packed with lots of starchy things to make me feel full. This is my take on the classic Tuscan soup, Minestra di Faro Lucchese. (Farro soup in the style of Lucca). I used Mark Bittman’s New York Times recipe as my starting point and adapted slightly from there. mise en place I added a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste to the sauteed onions and celery, to really deepen the flavour of this soup. I also slipped in a big pinch of red pepper flakes. While spicy heat is not a typical addition to the classic recipe, my tastebuds were so dulled by my cold that I wanted the soup to really pack a punch of flavour. Plus, spicy food makes my nose run, so I figured that the soup would work to cleanse my sinuses. The final adaptation I made was the addition of a rind of Parmesan cheese to the simmering soup. I always save my rinds and keep them in the freezer in a zip-loc bag to add to soups and stews. serving soupThis soup does not fall under the “fast food” category. You need to soak the beans the night before. You could use canned beans, but I think that the texture would not be the same. The original recipe called for adding the farro and beans at the same time. I found that the beans needed at least 90 minutes of simmering to get tender, so I added the farro during the last 30 minutes of cooking, so that it would still retain some chew, the way I like it. I also waited and added the carrots at the end of the cooking time, rather than at the beginning with the celery and onions, so that they would not be too mushy.

Serve with lots of chopped Italian parsley and fresh basil for a hit of verdant freshness. Don’t forget the Parmesan cheese.

Click here to print recipe for Tuscan White Bean and Farro Soup.

1 bowl on grey napkin


Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup with Coconut Bacon

bowl-72-dpiIf the combination of butternut squash and tomato sounds a bit strange, you’re not alone. It seemed like an odd pairing to me as well, when I read about it on But when I considered the elements more carefully, it made perfect sense. Butternut squash on it’s own makes quite a sweet soup, which I always enjoy for the first few spoonfuls,. But then it becomes cloying and not terribly nuanced. It always reminds me of baby food. But give the squash a shot of acid, in the form of a tomato and we’re talking a whole different ballgame of flavour. Rich and complex, each spoonful offers a fresh perspective.

The most difficult part of making this soup is cutting the butternut squash in half. Even when I use my 12 inch chef’s blade, my knife always gets stuck halfway through the squash. Then I lift the whole thing in the air and fling it back down on the cutting board, praying that the force will split the squash and I will escape unbloodied. It usually works.

Once you get the squash cut in half, scoop out the seeds, give it a slick of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place each half facedown on a parchment lined baking sheet. Tuck a peeled clove of garlic under each half and roast in a hot oven for about 45 minutes, until soft.

Now comes the fun part. No need to scoop the flesh out of the shell. It just peels right off in one piece. It reminded me of when I was little and I’d watch my mom peel apples with a paring knife. She’d get all the peel off in one long coil. I thought she was magic! peeling-the-skin-off-is-funOnce the squash is cooked, sauté some onions, jalapeño and ginger until soft. Add the squash, canned tomatoes and some liquid (water, chicken or vegetable broth) and let the whole lot simmer for about 20 minutes. An immersion blender makes quick work of pureeing.dicing-onionsOk, let’s get to the coconut bacon! Which is’t really bacon at all, just coconut flakes tarted up with some liquid smoke, tamari sauce, maple syrup and brown sugar. The whole lot gets baked until brown and crispy.coconut-bacon-contains-no-actual-baconCoconut bacon is the genius idea of Molly over at mynameisyeh. It is crunchy, a little bit smoky, salty and sweet. It is the perfect garnish for this soup and any leftover is fantastic in salad. I must admit , I’m a little bit addicted to it. soup-for-3f

Click here to print recipe for Butternut-Squash-Tomato-Soup-with-Coconut-Bacon.


Coconut Corn Soup

3-bowlsGetting dressed in September is tricky business. I’m longing to pull on my over-the-knee suede boots and let the sweater layering begin, but it’s still too warm to fully embrace fall. Transitioning from summer to fall requires a skilled hand in the kitchen as well as the closet.

This month, the markets are still full of fresh corn, but I’m craving something a little heartier than corn on the cob or corn salad. This soup perfectly bridges the gap between summer and fall. The recipe for this soup comes from Food editor Anna Stockwell intended this to be a pureed chilled soup for the dog days of summer. I decided to transition her recipe to fall by serving it hot. I added a large diced jalapeño to give the soup a little moxie and only pureed half the soup so that it was still chunky.sauteeing-onions-and-spicesGrated ginger adds a welcome zing and turmeric makes the soup a very vibrant yellow. Save the corn cobs and add them to the simmering soup. They really bump up the corn flavour. Coconut milk makes a splendid replacement for  chicken stock in this soup. adding-cobsAvocado, lime and toasted coconut flakes are beautiful and delicious garnishes. I can’t think of a lovelier way to ease into fall.pot-of-soup


Click here to print recipe for coconut-corn-soup.


Chilled Melon Soup

One bowl 1The first time I ever saw two different kinds of soup in the same bowl, I thought it was just so magical. Corn soup on the left and Black Black Bean soup on the right. And they just stayed on their own sides of the bowl, never crossing that center line and mixing! Like at a Chassidic wedding. How did they do it? The secret is to have two liquids of roughly the same consistency, and to pour them at the same time, from opposite sides into a shallow bowl.

Pouring melon soup 6I got all fancy for you and poured my soups into glass pitchers. But you can just use two 1/2 cup measuring cups and it will work perfectly.

My friend Margo served these melon soups to us a few weeks ago at a big gathering at our cottage. They were so refreshing and light, I had to get the recipe to share with you. I couldn’t believe it when she said that it was simply honeydew pureed with mint and canteloupe pureed with orange juice! I added a touch of lime to my honeydew soup.Melons and Citrus

ready to pureehoneydew soupcanteloupe soup

Click here to print recipe for Melon Soup.

Two bowls 1

Chilled Fresh Tomato Soup

3 black bowlsI know what you’re thinking. “Really?? Who needs another gazpacho soup recipe?” But before you abandon this post and surf on over to see what’s new for fall at Joe Fresh, just hear me out. This is a little different than your typical cold tomato soup. Half the tomatoes get roasted, for a smoky depth of flavour, and the other half are left fresh, to enhance their tangy bright nature. Combining fresh and roasted tomatoes was the brainchild of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. They featured this soup in their July 2012 issue. I tarted it up a bit with some summer toppings.

Squeeze in a dollop of tomato paste to ramp up the umami factor. Sprinkle in a dusting of smoked paprika and cayenne and this soup is humming. Throw in some roasted garlic and shallots for fun.Ingredients Yes, I’m going to ask you to turn on your oven in August, but it will be worth it. Once everything is roasted, puree the whole lot, along with some fresh tomatoes and strain it for a velvety smooth texture. straining 1straining 2Finish it off with corn, avocado and basil and you have summertime in a bowl. Have I got your attention yet?white bowl 2

Click here to print recipe for Chilled Fresh Tomato Soup.

black bowl