Soup's On! Make It Hearty And Homemade

IN THE KITCHEN

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Snow might be scarce around the Rim country, but the temperatures are low enough to make the thought of a bowl of soup mouth-watering.

Nothing is better on a chilly winter's day than a hot, steaming bowl of soup.

Now considered more of a comfort food, it has been part of the culinary history of every culture throughout the ages.

Today, homemade soup is a simple and satisfying dish that just about everyone enjoys. It takes only minutes to combine a few staple ingredients to create savory soups.

The key to a great-tasting soup is start with a good base -- commercial or homemade broth instead of water.

Some soups to try: Lima Bean Soup; Butter Bean Soup; Basque Vegetable Chowder; Hearty Bean and Barley Soup; and Italian Tortellini Soup.

Lima Bean Soup

(Takes 10 minutes to prepare; 40 minutes to cook; serves six.)

4 slices bacon, diced

1 large onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic

2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth

1/2 cup water

2 small potatoes, peeled and quartered

4 (15-ounce) cans large lima or butter beans, rinsed and drained; or 6 cups cooked, dry-packaged large lima or butter beans

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Using a stock pot, cook bacon until browned. Remove bacon from pot, set aside, leaving drippings. Add onion, celery and garlic to drippings and cook until browned. Add broth, water, potatoes and 1 can of beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Put half broth mix in blender and combine until smooth. Repeat with remaining broth mix, then return to pan, add bacon, remaining cans of beans and parsley.

Heat, season with pepper to taste and serve.

Butter Bean Soup

(Takes 15 minutes to prepare; 30 minutes to cook; serves six.)

3/4 cup finely chopped carrots

1 1/3 cups finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 quarts vegetable or chicken broth

2 (15-ounce) cans large lima or butter beans, rinsed and drained; or 3 cups cooked, dry-packed large lima or butter beans

1 cup chopped tomato

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

Sauté carrots, celery and onion in butter in stockpot until onion is tender, takes 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Add broth, beans and tomato and heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots and celery are tender, takes 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in seasonings and serve.

Basque Vegetable Chowder

(Takes 10 minutes to prepare; 20 minutes to cook; makes 12 servings.)

1 1/2 cups chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup flour

1 1/4 quarts milk

4 (15-ounce) cans large lima or butter beans, rinsed and drained, or 6 cups cooked, dry-packaged large lima or butter beans

1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (16-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or sharp Cheddar cheese

Sauté celery and onion in butter in stockpot until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes; add flour and cook, stirring 1 to 2 minutes. Add milk and rest of ingredients, except cheese and heat to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add cheese and stir until melted.

Hearty Bean and Barley Soup

(Takes 15 minutes to prepare; 40 minutes to cook; makes 6 servings.)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large carrots, coarsely chopped

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 (14-ounce) cans vegetable broth

1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup pearl barley

2 cups firmly packed chopped fresh spinach

Heat oil in stockpot, add carrots, celery, onion and garlic, cook until tender. Add tomatoes, broth, beans and barley. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook 30 minutes or until barley is done. Stir in spinach and season with pepper to taste. Heat through.

Italian Tortellini Soup

(Takes 15 minutes to prepare; 35 minutes to cook; makes 6 servings.)

1 large onion, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed, or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

32 ounces or 4 cups chicken broth

2 medium zucchini, chopped

4 Italian plum tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 cups cheese-filled tortellini

1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Grated Parmesan cheese

Using a stockpot, combine onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and 2 cups of the broth, heat to a boil, cover, lower heat and cook for 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Add remaining broth, zucchini, tomatoes, tortellini and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook 15 minutes or until tortellini is done. Serve topped with grated Parmesan.

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