Quick soups to celebrate our new year the right way

Happy new year and happy national soup month!

The Burmeister clan actually got started early on the January Soup Celebration with our family tradition of having soups and appetizers on Christmas Eve.

Every year it’s Julie’s Mexican Meatball Soup and Cynthia’s Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (I shared her recipe in previous column).

To kick January off, while taking down holiday decorations and to make my life easy, I fixed my husband, Fred’s, favorite version of an old fashioned bean soup that keeps morphing over the years.

I found packages of odds and ends of spiral sliced ham in 1–2 pound packages. These packages are frozen and so handy. They’re perfect for omelets, casseroles and Fred’s bean soup. It’s top quality ham and beats working with the ham hocks and all.

Keep in mind that ingredients for soup can vary in amounts, depending on personal taste. Soup is forgiving and can be easily changed.

■ Keep on hand canned/boxed broth and the more intensive flavored stock (which Swanson and other companies now produce) for quick, delicious soups. I use both to add a rich flavor.

■ Roasted meat or poultry bones make terrific stock to add to commercial stock.

■ Roasted vegetables add “personality.” Pureed in blender, they’re perfect to thicken soups.

■ Fresh ingredients make good soup. Frozen is a close second.

■ Add dried herbs at beginning of cooking soup, fresh herbs at the last.

■ Use less salt if adding wine, no more than 1/4 cup per quart of soup.

■ Boiling toughens meat. Simmer, only!

■ To thicken: Blend small portion (of soup) in blender until smooth; add back to soup. Instant potato flakes also work.

■ Keep leftovers in fridge one to two days. Chilling thickens soups so you may need to add extra liquid.

■ To freeze: Soup must be chilled. Place desired amount in freezer containers leaving 1/2 to 1-inch headspace to allow for expansion.

■ Freeze creamed soups? Cream/milk may separate, many say, but just mix them back together.

■ Freezing may change textures a bit. Making a soup batch just for freezing? Undercook potatoes or rice a bit.

■ Add cooked pasta just before serving.

Quick Soups

■ Clam chowder: Sauté 3–4 stalks sliced celery and a chopped small onion in the juice from a can or two of clams. Prepare dehydrated potato soup mix per instructions, adding the sautéed vegetables and juice along with the clams & simmer until soup is done. Thin with chicken broth.

■ This soup is our forever favorite (freezer friendly). Toss in soup pan: 1 large chopped onion and 1 green pepper, 2 minced garlic cloves, 15-ounces canned chicken stock, one, 15-ounce cans of black, white and pinto beans (rinsed/drained), 2 cans stewed tomatoes, 1 cup Pace Picante sauce, 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 cups frozen corn. Bring to a boil then simmer 15 minutes, OR, cook on low all day in Crock-Pot and add frozen corn at last. May also add: cooked meat, chili peppers, other vegetables, or a can of enchilada sauce. Garnish with sour cream, lime juice, cilantro, shredded cheese. Serve with corn or flour tortillas.


Fred’s “New Favorite” Homemade Bean Soup Recipe

Freezers love bean soup.

1 pound or more spiral sliced ham pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 large carrot, sliced

2 “golden” potatoes, finely diced

2 cans navy beans, drained/rinsed

1 cup or more celery, finely sliced

Fresh ground pepper

4–6 cups, more/less depending on desired “soupiness,” canned chicken broth/stock

Fresh ground pepper

Remove any meat fat. Place ingredients in Crock-Pot; cook on low all day. Optional: add a bay leaf, other veggies or what ever you’d like. Chill leftovers, serve the next day or freeze for future use.

Serve with corn bread and a citrus green salad.


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