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Winter is season for soup

Every day can be a "Souper Bowl" day. (Linda Smith / For the Enterprise)

As I'm writing this, the smells of a very large stockpot of homemade turkey wild rice soup are wafting in from the kitchen. I'm afraid there isn't a recipe to share here, though, as I cook soup in the tradition of my mom and my grandmother before her: use what you have in the kitchen and throw in a cup of this and a pinch of that and simmer until done. If you're new to soup making or aren't comfortable with my slapdash methods, I think you'll find one or more of the recipes below tempting to your taste buds.

Chick-Chick Soup

4 c. chicken broth

4 garlic cloves, minced

2/3 c. brown rice

1 (15-oz.) can cooked garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained

1 c. celery, sliced

1 c. carrots, sliced

1 or 2 small bay leaves

1/2 t. dried thyme

1 t. salt

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. sliced onions

2 T. fresh parsley, chopped, or 1/2 T. dry

2 c. chicken, cooked and cut into chunky pieces

Combine the chicken broth, garlic, brown rice and chickpeas and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, bay leaves, thyme, salt, water, onions and parsley and simmer for 15 minutes more. Add chicken and heat. Remove bay leaves and serve. Makes four 2-cup servings.

White Bean Chicken Chili

1 lb. dried large white beans

6 c. chicken broth

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 onions, chopped

1 T. vegetable oil

2 (4-oz.) cans chopped green chiles

2 t. cumin

1 1/2 t. oregano

1/2 t. cayenne pepper

4 c. chopped cooked chicken breasts

3 c. (12 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Sort and rinse the beans. Combine the beans with enough water to cover generously in a bowl. Let stand for 8 to 10 hours. Drain and rinse. Combine the beans, broth, garlic and 1 of the onions in a stockpot and mix well. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat. Simmer for 3 hours or until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally and adding additional broth if needed for the desired consistency. Sauté the remaining onion in the oil in a skillet until tender. Stir in the green chiles, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper. Add the onion mixture to the bean mixture and mix well. Stir in the chicken and simmer for 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the cheese. Serves 8 to 10. Note: Substitute canned beans for the dried beans and reduce the cooking time to 45 to 60 minutes. Tip: To take away the "tin can" taste from canned green chiles, rinse them and dry sauté in a nonstick skillet for a few minutes before adding to the dish.


2 T. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c. chopped onions

1 c. chopped celery

2 cans (6 oz. each) tomato paste

1 (10-oz.) can beef stock

2 qts. water

1 c. chopped cabbage

1 (10-oz.) pkg. frozen peas and carrots

1/2 t. dried rosemary

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. ground black pepper

1 (16-oz.) can kidney beans, undrained

1 c. small elbow macaroni

Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large soup pot and sauté the garlic, onions and celery for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, stock, water, cabbage, peas and carrots, rosemary, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add the kidney beans and macaroni and cook for 15 minutes more. Top each bowl with the Parmesan cheese just before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Wild Rice Chowder

1 1/2 c. water

3/4 c. uncooked wild rice, rinsed

1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 c. butter

4 c. water

4 chicken bouillon cubes

2 medium peeled, cubed potatoes

1/2 c. chopped carrots

1/2 t. thyme leaves

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/8 t. pepper

1 bay leaf

1 (17-oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained

2 c. half-and-half

1 lb. (3 c.) cooked ham, cubed

2 T. chopped parsley, for garnish

In medium pan, combine wild rice with 1 1/2 c. water. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 40 minutes or until rice is tender. Do not drain. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level off. In large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté onion and garlic in butter until crisp-tender. Stir in flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in 4 c. water and bouillon. Add potatoes, carrots, thyme, nutmeg, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add corn; cover and simmer additional 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in half-and-half, ham and rice. Cook until thoroughly heated. Do not boil. Remove bay leaf. To serve, garnish with parsley. Makes 8 servings.

Chipotle Black Bean Chili

1 lb. 95-percent-lean ground beef or turkey

1 c. onion, chopped

1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, undrained

1 (8-oz.) can unsalted tomato sauce

2 T. chili powder

1 T. finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (wear disposable gloves while chopping)

1 t. ground cumin

3/4 t. dried oregano

2 (15-oz.) cans black beans, undrained

Optional toppings:

1/4 c. shredded nonfat or reduced-fat Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

1/2 c. sliced scallions or chopped red onions

Coat a 3-qt. pot with cooking spray and add the ground beef or turkey. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring to crumble, until the meat is no longer pink. Drain off and discard any fat. Add the onions, cover and cook for several minutes, or until the onions are tender. Add the remaining ingredients, except for beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve hot, topping each serving with some cheese and scallions or onions if desired. Note: For a milder taste, substitute salsa for the chiles.