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Home Cooking: A trio of cozy soups to warm your heart

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
Home Cooking

What’s a good Catholic girl doing making chicken soup with homemade matzo ball? Blame it on mom. I’m visiting her this week in Florida, her father was Jewish, and she has a very nasty bronchitis.

So in an attempt to cheer her up, help her to feel better and make soups that are easy to digest as well as being full of good nutrition — and nostalgia, for that matter — I’ve made a couple of soups that will bring her joy and, I pray, good health.

So we’ve got chicken soup with matzo balls, a beef borscht in honor of the years that she lived in Kiev, Ukraine, and finally a fish soup that I made one snowy afternoon in Breckenridge when I wanted something cozy to enjoy by the fire.

I hope you’ll enjoy each of the soups as much as mom did. And believe me, she is a tough customer to please at the age of 92. She’s lived around the world, and she knows what she likes.

Chicken soup with matzo balls
Photo by Suzanne Anderson

Chicken soup with matzo balls

The chicken soup can be made a day ahead and finished the next day.

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Ingredients

  • 3-pound chicken
  • 2 quarts of chicken stock
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 head of garlic, with top cut off
  • 2-inch piece of ginger peeled
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds and stalk
  • 2-3 bay Leaves
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Put everything into a large stock pot and bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes until the chicken meat is cooked. Remove the chicken and let it cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove the meat (placing it on a plate to keep cool in the fridge). Return chicken carcass back to the stockpot and allow it to continue to cook for an additional 30-60 minutes, skimming off any scum from the top. Then strain the stock and discard the bones and vegetables.

While the stock continues to cook, make the matzo balls.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of matzo meal
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (or chicken schmaltz)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2-3 tablespoons parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grating of nutmeg
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

Directions

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, mix well and let rest in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. Form into 2-inch balls, and then put them into your chicken broth to cook for 30 minutes. Remove the cooked matzo balls, then add in three thinly sliced carrots and celery stalks. Cook the vegetables for 5 to 10 minutes, just long enough to allow the carrots to become tender, add in the chicken meat for 2-3 minutes, just long enough to warm.

Place a matzo ball in each soup dish, and gently ladle in vegetables, chicken and broth. Serve immediately.

Beef borscht
Photo by Suzanne Anderson

Beef borscht

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • 3 carrots, sliced thin
  • 3 celery stocks, sliced thin
  • 3 large beets, grated
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 red cabbage, half-inch strips
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • 4 cups of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In the bottom of a Dutch oven or large pot, quickly brown the beef in a tablespoon of canola oil. Add the vegetables and the chicken stock and water allow it to come to a boil, turn it down to a medium simmer and skim any beef scum off the top of the water, and then allow it to cook for one hour. Serve with fresh dill fronds and a dollop of sour cream.

Creamy cod chowder
Photo by Suzanne Anderson

Creamy cod chowder

Ingredients

  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 slices of bacon, 1-inch pieces
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4-1 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 2 pounds frozen cod fillet
  • 3 springs of thyme
  • Scraping of fresh nutmeg
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Add the bacon lardons into the bottom of a stock pot or Dutch oven and allow the bacon to gently render its fat. Add the vegetables and sauté in the bacon fat. Add a fresh scraping of the nutmeg and one or two grinds of freshly ground pepper. Add 3 cups of stock and 2 cups of half-and-half and cook over a medium to medium-low heat. Add the vegetables and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender. Add 3 sprigs of thyme to the cooking liquid. 

In a separate small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of flour and allow the flour to cook in the butter for 2-3 minutes to form a roux. This roux will thicken your chowder. Add 3/4-1 cup of dry white wine to the roux, then whisk the roux into the chowder. Bring the chowder back to cooking temperature and add the cod fillets and cook until just thawed. Carefully remove the fish and cut into large chunks, return to the soup and cook until warmed through. Taste and adjust your seasonings.

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Home Cooking” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson taught herself to cook after college when she discovered dinner parties were a cure for loneliness. Her latest cookbook is “A Year in the Mountains Cookbook.” She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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