Spring Chicken Soup

9 06 2011

Lemon and dill brighten a soup packed with chicken and spring vegetables

Soups are perfect for showcasing the best of each season, from asparagus in the spring to cabbage in the fall and winter. Packed with spring vegetables, this particular recipe is light and summery, making it ideal for warmer weather. A bit of lemon and fresh dill brighten it up and give it a bit of zip.

Some Helpful Tips: Dill is best when it’s fresh (vs. cooked) so add it at the very end of cooking. Don’t use dried dill – it doesn’t have much flavour. Use fresh lemon juice and always zest a lemon whole, before cutting it open to juice it.

This soup is delicious served with fresh Cheddar-Herb Biscuits or Cheddar Toasts (or just some plain bread if you’d rather not fuss!)

Spring Chicken Soup

Makes about 9 to 10 cups

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 X 12 oz. (350 grams) chicken breasts or thighs/legs, bone in and skin on
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 large spring onions (or 1 small regular onion), chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (you could also you a couple of garlic scapes, chopped finely)
  • The zest of one lemon, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 lb. (450 grams) thick asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 12 oz. (350 grams) baby red potatoes (about 2 cups), cut into quarters
  • 6 cups good quality chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (or more, to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Pat the skin of the chicken dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. In a large stockpot or enameled cast iron pot (5.5 quart or larger), heat the olive oil on medium-high.  Add the chicken pieces and brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  2. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate. Add the carrots, leeks, celery, onions and garlic to the pot. Sauté until just beginning to soften, about three minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and thyme and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the asparagus pieces and potatoes. Pour in the chicken stock. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pot and make sure they are submerged in the stock.
  4. Cover the pot and simmer gently on medium heat for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the chicken pieces from the soup. Remove the skin and discard. Using a fork, pull the meat off the bones. Chop it into small pieces and return the chicken to the soup, discarding the bones.
  5. Add the lemon juice,dill and chives and simmer the soup for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve: Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with more fresh dill and chives if desired.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!
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Curried Parsnip Soup

22 03 2011

Parsnips are often overlooked but they are surprisingly delicious and versatile

We have finally welcomed spring after a long winter. Unfortunately, in many areas, there will not be a lot of new local produce available for at least six to eight more weeks.  However, there is an overlooked vegetable that is usually the first crop harvested each spring (sort of): Parsnips!

Parsnips are root vegetables that look like white carrots, although they taste a bit nuttier and sweeter.  In Ontario, parsnips are typically planted in the spring.  While most of crop is harvested in the fall and stored for the winter (much like potatoes and carrots), some parsnips are left in the ground through the winter and harvested in March and April. As a result, parsnips are considered both a winter and spring vegetable.  They are also delicious but sadly under appreciated. They can be used in soups, stews, dips and pasta sauces.

This soup is the perfect antidote to grey March days.  It’s hearty and warming and can be dressed up with the addition of seafood or shredded duck confit (the original recipe called for mussels but the soup is delicious without them). Be sure to use vegetable stock and skip the garnishes if serving vegetarians.

Curried Parsnip Soup

Makes about 6 cups

  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 lb. (454 grams) medium sized parsnips, peeled and cut into rounds 1/8” thick (equals about 8 parsnips)
  • 1 medium tart apple (such as a Granny Smith), peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (preferably low-sodium)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Items to garnish (optional) – shredded duck confit, steamed mussels or sautéed scallops
  1. In an enameled cast iron pot or medium stockpot, heat butter on medium until melted. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add parsnips and stir into the onions. Let parsnips cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and sticking. Add the apple cubes and cook for another minute. Add curry and nutmeg and stir through until combined.
  3. Add stock and bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes, until parsnips are very tender. Remove parsnip mixture from the heat. Using a regular blender or immersion blender, carefully puree soup until very smooth. Return pureed soup to the pot and place back on medium heat.
  4. Add cream and stir through. Heat the soup until it’s warmed through and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. To serve: ladle some soup into each bowl.  If using any of the garnish ideas, place a couple of cooked mussels, sauteed scallops or a small amount of shredded duck confit in the centre of each serving.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Curried Parsnip Soup can be dressed up with steamed mussels, sautéed scallops or shredded duck confit

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Creamy Tomato Soup

19 01 2011

Tomato Soup with a grilled cheese sandwich is a classic cold weather meal

Tomato soup is a classic winter favourite.  Paired with crackers or a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s the perfect meal on a cold and gloomy day. Canned soup is quick and easy but making your own doesn’t take a lot of effort and you can control how much salt and additives are in the finished product. It can also be made in advance and re-heated for an easy meal on busy days.

Obviously tomatoes are not in season right now but canned tomatoes work beautifully for this recipe. Try to use good quality tomatoes that don’t have a lot of added salt or citric acid. I like Aurora brand diced tomatoes because they have good flavour, don’t have any additives and are affordable.  San Marzano tomatoes are also a good choice but they tend to be a bit more expensive.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Makes about 4 servings – can easily be doubled

(Can be made VEGETARIAN)

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (use vegetable stock if serving vegetarians)
  • 28 oz. (796 g) can of tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream or evaporated skim milk
  • Pinch of sugar, to taste (optional – it’s to balance the acid in tomatoes)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grated swiss, parmesan or old cheddar cheese to garnish (optional)
  1. In a large saucepan or medium enameled cast-iron pot, heat the butter on medium-high heat until melted. Add the onion and sauté until it’s just beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook for another two minutes.
  3. Pour in the stock and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a large spoon and let the soup gently simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes (don’t let it come to a hard boil).
  4. After 20 minutes, remove the pot from the burner and let the soup cool for a few minutes.  Carefully puree the soup mixture with a hand blender until smooth (or transfer to a regular blender and puree – use extreme caution with hot liquids).
  5. Return the pureed soup to the pot and place back on the burner. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, if necessary. Add the cream and stir until combined.  Heat on medium until the soup is hot.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
  6. To serve, top with grated cheese and fresh ground pepper if desired. Serve with crackers, sandwiches or Cheddar Herb Biscuits.

A tip for freezing: Prepare the soup as directed but don’t stir in the cream/evaporated milk at the end.  Freeze the pureed tomato base.  To thaw and prepare: Defrost the frozen soup base and place in a pot.  Add the cream/milk as directed and season as necessary.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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Hearty Stracciatella-Style Soup

15 11 2010

This Stracciatella-style soup is heartier than the traditional version with the addition of chicken, winter vegetables and rice.

It’s no secret that I love to make soups.  I have featured a number of soup recipes, from a quick and simple Peppery Leek and Potato to a more complex Corn Chowder with Bell Peppers.  They’re the perfect antidote to cool, rainy days and nothing is more welcoming than walking into a home with an aromatic soup simmering on the stove.

Stracciatella is a simple Italian egg-drop soup (ie. a beaten egg is dropped into the broth as it cooks).  This recipe is a heartier version, designed to be a meal on its own.  It features seasonal vegetables, chicken and a bit of rice.  No, it’s not traditional (hence the title ‘Stracciatella-Style’) but it is delicious. For a more authentic version, check out Mario Batali’s recipe: Roman-Style Egg-Drop Soup: La Stracciatella.

A note about spinach: You can always use fresh spinach but to be honest, I find frozen spinach easier to work with if I’m using larger amounts in cooked dishes. Frozen chopped spinach should be easy to find in the frozen vegetable section of any supermarket.

Hearty Stracciatella-Style Soup

Makes about 7-1/2 to 8 cups

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large (about 8 to 10 oz. / 225 to 280 grams each) bone-in chicken breasts with skin on
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts only), equals about 1 large leek
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup (packed) thawed frozen chopped spinach or cooked fresh spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6-1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup raw long grain rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (packed) grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with a pinch of salt and ground pepper.  In a large soup pot or enameled cast iron pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high.
  2. Add the chicken, skin side down, and sauté until browned, about five minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side, about another three minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate. Do not drain the oil from the pot.
  3. Add the chopped leeks, parsley, thawed spinach and nutmeg.  Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes.
  4. Pour in 6 cups of the chicken stock (reserve the last 1/4 cup for the eggs) and add the rice.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Cover and let the soup simmer gently (not a hard boil) for 25 minutes.
  5. While the soup is simmering, beat two eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock and 1/4 cup of parmesan until smooth. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. After 25 minutes, remove the chicken breasts from the soup.  Remove the skin and discard.  Using two forks, pull the meat off the bone.  Discard the bones and chop the chicken meat into bite sized pieces.  Return the chopped chicken to the soup.
  7. Pour the beaten egg mixture into the soup, whisking vigorously.  Turn the heat to medium-high and simmer, whisking occasionally for five minutes.  Don’t be alarmed if the soup begins to look curdled – that’s how it’s supposed to look as the eggs cook.
  8. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish each serving with grated parmesan and chopped Italian parsley.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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