This week I thought it would be a good time to post some soups to help get us through these dog days of winter.
First up is Italian Wedding Soup. This is an abbreviated version of Escarole Soup (Scuddole to you purists!). The first time I heard it referred to as Italian Wedding Soup was at a non-Italian event. I didn’t know what to expect. When it was served, I said, “oh…scuddole!” I only call my quick version Italian Wedding because I use spinach instead of escarole. No need to be misleading. While not as hearty as my mom’s Thanksgiving Scuddole, this version is very tasty and makes for a great meal.
Next up is Tomato Basil Soup, suggested by my friend Jackie. If you like the taste of fresh, sweet basil, this soup is a must. Goes great with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich on a cold, dreary day.
Last up is Snert (aka Dutch Pea Soup), suggested by my friend Jay (originally posted by Holly Moore in a Philadelphia City Paper column, circa 1991). I have not personally tried this recipe yet, but Jay knows his stuff. He makes this soup every year when the weather gets wintry. I’ll be trying this one out real soon!
Enjoy and stay warm.
ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
20-25 mini meatballs, fully cooked (half as big as regular)
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
1 package frozen crinkle cut carrots
1 10oz. package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste
Place broths and meatballs in soup pot. Simmer 10 minutes, add spinach and carrots. Bring to boil,
add pasta and simmer 10-15 minutes. Season to taste, ladle into bowls and garnish liberally with cheese.
TOMATO BASIL SOUP
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Basil leaves (optional)
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in the broth, salt, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes. Stir in basil.
Place half of the soup in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a bowl, and repeat procedure with remaining soup. Garnish with basil leaves, if desired.
SNERT (aka Dutch Pea Soup)
Holly Moore, City Paper, circa 1991
Melt some butter in a heavy stock pot, add two diced onions, two chopped celery stalks and four minced cloves of garlic. Saute until soft, about five minutes, and toss in the split peas. Cook for another five minutes. Then add a pound of smoked ham hocks, 6 cups of water and 2 cups of chicken broth along with a few bay leaves, salt and a hearty sprinkling of coarsely ground pepper, lots of pepper.
Simmer away, covered, for a couple of hours. Then remove the ham hocks and salvage the ham from the bones.
Now comes the fun part. Shun your Cuisinart or blender in favor of a wire mesh sieve. Pour some of the soup into the sieve and using the back of a spoon and a spatula, force it through the wire mesh into a bowl. Keep going until it’s all pureed. Repeat the process a second time – much quicker and easier – from the bowl back into the soup kettle. If you insist, you can use a food processor or blender – works just as well and is much easier. Too mechanically soulless for me, though.
Add the meat from the ham hocks, to the pot. Bring everything back to a simmer.
I use closer to 2 pounds of ham hocks, and add about a pound of diced kielbasa after the soup is done. Enjoy!