By JAN MAIN
Soups are the ideal companion for cold, dreary November days.
Hot, nourishing and comforting, they can be made with any variety of ingredients including a host of local vegetables.
Soup serves well as a main course for an easy dinner accompanied by a salad and crusty bread. Any leftover soup is ideal for lunch the next day. For longer storage, place in freezer containers and freeze for up to two months. Remember to date and label containers.
However you like to serve soups, these suggestions from Foodland Ontario are sure to please.
Vegetable Lentil Soup
This hearty soup is bursting with seasonal vegetables: onion, carrots and celeriac also called celery root.
If you have never tried celeriac it is well worth tasting. You may have seen this rather homely looking knobby root in the supermarket and wondered what to do with it. It is a version of celery which lends a nutty flavour, a cross between celery and parsley, wonderful in soups and stews. Choose a celeriac about the size of a small cantaloupe without too many knobs. Trim the outside layer and discard; cut celeriac into batons or cube. This vegetable is available from September to May and is a source of vitamin B, calcium and iron. Celeriac may be eaten raw or cooked.
As lentils absorb liquid, the soup becomes thicker after sitting in the refrigerator. If necessary, add water to the soup ½ cup (125 mL) at a time to the desired consistency.
2 tbsp (25 mL) each butter and olive oil
2 cups (500 mL) diced onions (about 2 onions)
2 cups (500 mL) diced carrots
2 cups (500 ml) diced celery root (also called celeriac)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh Italian parsley, washed, dried and chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) each, dried oregano, salt and pepper
2 cups ((500 mL) dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over (remove any damaged lentils or stones)
1 can (540 mL) diced tomatoes, with liquid
8 cups (2 L) vegetable or beef broth
In large saucepan or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add butter, oil, onions, carrots, celeriac and garlic, stirring occasionally until tender, 5- 7 minutes.
Add parsley, oregano, salt and pepper, cook for 3 minutes. Stir in lentils, tomatoes and broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add 2 cups (500 mL) water; cover and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Pour 1/3 soup into blender or use a hand blender to puree until smooth. Return to saucepan; stir until combined. Serve in bowls. Makes 10 servings.
Leek and Potato Soup with Bacon Garnish
Definitely a meal in a bowl, this classic combination of pureed leeks and potato produces a winning combination of flavours to beat the cold.
The taste is enhanced with the garnish of smoky bacon. If you prefer a vegetarian garnish, substitute chopped green onions. To round out the meal, serve the soup with an assortment of cheeses and a baguette.
4 slices of bacon, chopped
2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups (1 L) low sodium chicken stock
2 white russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (125 ml) whipping cream or milk
Garnish: reserved bacon; 2 scallions or green onions, sliced
In large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate and reserve for garnish.
Discard all but 1 tbsp (15 mL) of fat from pan, add butter and oil; combine over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic, cover and cook on medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add broth, 2 cups (500 ml) water, potatoes, salt and pepper; cover and bring to boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 -12 minutes.
Remove from heat; cool slightly. Pour into blender in batches or use hand blender to puree until smooth. Return soup to saucepan, add cream Heat over medium heat until steaming. Ladle into bowls.
Garnish with reserved bacon and scallions or green onions. Serves 6.