FD: Dixie Burmeister Column January 21, 2009

Slow, easy does it for delicious, tummy-warming wintertime soup

As promised, I am continuing this week with soup tips, hints and a few of our family soup recipes with, of course, crock-pot recipes in spite of the fact there was a featured article with recipes on slow-cookers on last week’s food page.

Having crowned myself the queen of crock pot cooking, I decided I was going to stick with my plan. After all, how many of you have one-, two-, three-, four-, five- and six-quart crock pots in your kitchen?

My husband, Fred, thinks I have “crock-pot insecurity.”

But before I write more about soup, here’s a medical note.

Starting Monday through Jan. 30, you can go to http://www.mesahealth.org (683-6636 for those who can’t go online) to make an appointment for the Grand Valley Health Fair’s early blood draw in February, which offers a low cost blood chemistry. There are more details at the Web site.

Soup tips

• Roasted meat and poultry bones make the best broth. Save those bones!

•  Herbs added at the beginning of cooking soups will lose some of their flavor after cooking all day. Taste toward the end of cooking and add more if needed.

•  Soups and stews should simmer, never boil.

•  Quick and delicious soups are your pantry: spaghetti sauce mixed with broth, canned beans, canned tomatoes, pasta, chicken stock, cans of chicken, seafood, etc.
Add a can of clams and some frozen corn to deli potato soup for a great meal. Think outside of the can/box/package. Add fresh/frozen vegetables to canned soups. So many possibilities.

•  Remove the fat from soups for a healthier and better tasting dish. Refrigerate broths, soups and stews overnight to remove the fat collected on top. In a hurry? Use a spoon to scoop it, a stale piece of bread to skim the fat, or add ice cubes as fat clings to them — throw away.

•  To thicken soups: Puree part of the cooked veggies or add instant potato flakes to cream soups.

•  Add wine to soup? Rule of thumb: 1/4 cup per quart of soup.

•  Use cold water when making broth for browner and richer tasting.

Chef Fred’s Easy/Tasty Chicken Soup

Remove the meat from a supermarket rotisserie chicken to use for dinner, leaving some chicken on the bones. Save any liquid that collects in the bottom of the deli container.

Place the bones, any leftover chicken and drippings in a crock pot along with enough cold fat-free chicken broth to cover the chicken bones, a cut up carrot, a stalk of celery and a little onion. We do this late in the evening so it can cook on low all night.

The next morning, strain the broth. It’s ready to make homemade chicken noodle soup, using a package of grandma’s frozen noodles that look and taste like grandma’s used to. You can cook the noodles or in the crock pot turned on high for a few minutes, but don’t let the noodles get mushy. You can also add some frozen vegetables if you like.

A bean soup success story

We purchased a spiral sliced on sale during the holidays, and I baked it the other day.

Then we had the best bean soup, according to Fred, that I’ve ever made.

The bone had a fair amount of meat left on it. I placed it in the crock pot, covered it with cold water, the saved, de-fatted liquid from the baking pan and a can of chicken broth.

It cooked overnight on low. I strained it, put it back in the crock pot, added a few cans of white beans, diced onion, celery and diced carrots and cooked it for a few hours low.

The rich, deep colored broth was the best I had ever made. Many soups freeze well as does this one, if there’s any left.

Roberta’s Family Favorite Minestrone Soup

From my sister

3 14– to 15–ounce cans beef or vegetable broth
1 14 1/2–ounce can of Italian stewed tomatoes
2 cans beans, one white cannenelli beans and one red kidney both drained, rinsed
6 ounces tomato juice
1 individual serving of V8 juice
1 1/2 cups frozen Italian vegetables
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Parmesan or Romano shredded cheese, optional

Cook above ingredients in the crock pot all day low or simmer for an hour on the stove.

About 20 minutes before serving, add 1 cup uncooked pasta — your choice. My husband prefers all white beans, and I like to add more of the frozen vegetables. Serve with shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese.


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