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Randi Kreiss

Grab your ladle: The soup’s on the table


This column is back by popular demand. Well, in truth, only one reader, shivering through the freezing weather, remembered that I once wrote about winter soups, and asked me to do another one. My pleasure.

I cook every night, and over the years, I’ve gathered a collection of recipes, tweaked to a healthier way of eating. Mind you, we aren’t fanatics, but I’m happy to avoid any soup made with cream or excessive amounts of butter. Also, there’s no meat in these preparations.

These days, weeks and months through the pandemic, I have been making big, and I mean big, pots of soup, and then, before my husband can see how much is there, I siphon off a quart or more and hide it in the freezer. This neutralizes his portion-control issues and addresses my what-if fears, like if we both get sick at the same time, how will we eat?

But let’s not go down that dark path. Let me share a few faves:

Manhattan clam chowder

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 1 red or green pepper, diced

• 2 celery stalks with leaves, diced

• 2 small cans chopped clams, including juice

• 2 bottles clam juice

• 1 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes

• 1 bay leaf

• ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

• ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

• 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In large pot, heat garlic, add onion, celery, peppers and sauté. Drain clams and set aside. Add all other ingredients and simmer 30 minutes. Add clams and adjust seasoning. Serve with wedges of toasted homemade sourdough bread, which is another whole story.

Chicken tortilla soup

• Buy a roasted or rotisserie chicken, or use raw chicken thighs or breasts, cut into pieces (about 3 cups)

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 cup chopped onion

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 8 cups chicken broth

• 1 large can chopped tomatoes

• 1 teaspoon cumin

• 1 can fat-free refried beans

• 1 can mild green chilies

• 1 tablespoon lime juice

• ¾ cup diced avocado

• ½ cup chopped cilantro

• ½ teaspoon pepper

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• Parmesan cheese

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips broken into the soup. Add more spices and cheese to taste.

Mushroom barley soup

• 14 cups chicken stock or broth

• 1¼ cups pearl barley

• 3 tablespoons olive oil

• 3 cups chopped onions

• 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• 1/3 cup chopped dried shiitake mushrooms

• 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

• 1 parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced

• 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

• Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil. Add fresh mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes. Add sautéed mix with all other ingredients to large pot of chicken stock. Rinse barley before adding. Simmer for 1 hour. Adjust spices.

Spinach egg drop soup (can be doubled)

• 4 cups chicken broth or stock

• 1 bag fresh spinach

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• Juice of 1 fresh lemon

• 1 egg, beaten

• Salt and pepper 

• Fresh parsley or cilantro to taste

Sauté minced garlic. Add all ingredients except egg to broth and simmer 5 or 6 minutes. Just before serving, pour egg into simmering soup, forming the egg drop threads. Serve immediately.

Best ever shrimp soup

• 1 pound shrimp

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 onion

• 2 16-oz. cans chopped tomato with jalapeno

• 3 cloves minced garlic

• 1 can mild green chilies

• 2 bottles clam juice

• ½ cup white wine

• Salt, pepper, bay leaf, oregano lime juice, all to taste

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add all ingredients except shrimp and simmer 20 minutes. Add shrimp and cook 5 minutes. Serve with rice.

Classic Covid-relief chicken soup

• 1 whole organic chicken

• 12 to 14 cups chicken stock or broth

• 3 carrots, diced

• 3 stalks celery, sliced

• 1 peeled turnip, diced

• 2 peeled parsnips, sliced

• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Wash chicken, season with salt and pepper and immerse in large pot of chicken stock. Add all ingredients; simmer one hour. Remove chicken from pot and shred cooked chicken back into the soup. Serve with rice or matzo balls or thin egg noodles, or all three.

Trigger alert and disclaimer: After my first soup column, more than 10 years ago, one disgruntled reader wrote to say that my soup gave her gas pains. I say the old gasbag probably overindulged. These soups are nutritious, delicious and good for the soul. If you are prone to flatulence, proceed with caution (and one portion).

Copyright 2021 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.