Maven Moment: Warming Winter Soups

pasta and bean soup

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The winter is a wonderful time to make soup. Soup is so warm and nourishing after the excesses of the holidays.

My family has always started eating winter soups early in the season with turkey soup made from the bones of the Thanksgiving turkey. Next, came the tradition of eating tortellini en brodo (tortellini in broth) on the day after Christmas (St. Stephan’s Day). After all of our Christmas feasting, those simple soups were really good, and easy on the tummy!

Mom made all kinds of winter soups. Her classic soup was a bone broth (she could get beef bones for free or for next to nothing from the butcher in those days). She added inexpensive stew beef, some carrots, celery, onions, and two or three tablespoons of tomato sauce for color (we called it “mom’s orange soup”). She served it with little pastas like orzo or ditalini.

Other soups that Mom made included lentil, chicken, pasta e fagioli, and white beans with escarole. In her later years, she made a root soup using cassava, yam, potatoes, carrots, and stew beef. The recipe came from her friend Carmen who always made this soup in the winter because she felt that all of the nutrition “went into the root” at this time of year. It was a terrific soup, just right for the cold weather.

A particular favorite of mine is a bread soup that comes from my great-great-grandmother, Catherine. She would take the water that she had boiled beans in and pour it over stale bread in a bowl. Then she added a little olive oil, salt pork, and maybe some parsley (she saved the beans for another meal.) She had lots of bellies to fill and this simple soup made a frugal, filling meal.

I continue our family tradition of putting up big pots of soup all year round. But I most enjoy winter soups that warm the house and fill it with a yummy scent. I start the soup first thing and then sit down to read and enjoy a big mug of coffee. In a few hours, I have a really good meal for lunch and at least three portions to take to work next week!

Feature image by Valter Cirillo from Pixabay 

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Joanna Lacey
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