Warming Winter Soups

When the weather turns bitterly cold then there is nothing much better than tucking into a hearty bowl of warming winter soup accompanied by a decent chunk of crusty bread. Even the act of making a soup is comforting and warming in and of itself.

Moreover, a soup can be as complex or as simple as you want. A little stock, some seasonings and a handful of watercress makes an excellent soup. Add a splash of cream and you have a satisfying meal.

The recipes below are for two classic soups: recipes for a winter Minestrone and a traditional Turkey and Cobnut (hazelnut) soup.

Winter Minestrone Soup

8tbsp olive oil
40g butter
3 large onions, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
250g potatoes, finely chopped
200g cannellini beans soaked overnight (tinned beans are fine, too)
2 courgettes, finely chopped
100g French beans, finely chopped
200g Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1.5l chicken stock (fresh is best, but stock cubes also work well)
1 piece Parmesan crust
175g tinned chopped tomatoes
50g grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Add the oil and butter to a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Once the butter has melted add the onion and cook gently until soft and golden brown in colour. Next add the carrot and fry for a few minutes. Add the celery and again fry for a few minutes. Now add the potatoes and again fry for a few minutes. Next add the cannellini beans (if using dried) and the courgettes. Again fry for a few minutes then add the cabbage. Once all the vegetables are in the pot continue to fry (stirring frequently) for six minutes then add the stock, Parmesan crust and the tomatoes. Season and cover with a heavy lid. Cook gently or about three hours checking every half an hour or so to ensure that the stock isn't over-thickening (add more water if it is) but remember that the desired consistency should be soupy and thick. (If using tinned beans add them some fifteen minutes before the three hours is up).

Finally, remove the Parmesan crust, add the grated parmesan and adjust the seasoning. To gain the best flavour leave over night in the fridge and re-heat before serving the following day. Serve sprinkled with freshly-grated parmesan, garnished with basil and accompanied by crusty bread.

The next recipe is for a classic winter soup that makes the most of Christmas turkey leftovers:

Turkey and Cobnut Soup

75g cobnuts (or hazelnuts)
15g butter
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp paprika
225g left-over turkey meat
900ml chicken stock
1 egg yolk
150ml single cream
1 tbsp chopped fresh chervil
salt and black pepper
fresh chervil to garnish

Place the cobnuts on a baking sheet and toast under a hot grill for a few minutes, turning frequently to make certain they are evenly cooked. Transfer to a hand blender of food processor and chop finely.

Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and paprika and fry for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the turkey meat and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then transfer to a blender and purée. Return the soup to a pan.

Meanwhile whisk together the egg yolk and cream and add to the soup. Re-heat the soup (do not boil), stirring constantly then add the chopped hazelnuts and chervil. Cook for 1 more minute then ladle into warmed soup bowls. Garnish with the chervil sprigs and serve.

Source: EzineArticles.com