coconut curry chickpea soup spoon

Coconut Curry Chickpea Soup

Few things are better in the winter than a big bowl of hot soup (unless there’s a grilled cheese with the soup, which is better), and this easy Coconut Curry Chickpea Soup definitely fits the bill. The curry powder, coconut milk, lime juice, and brown sugar give it special flavor and sweetness, while the chunks of potatoes, zucchini, chickpeas, and fresh spinach add hearty heft.

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easy homemade minestrone soup

Easy Homemade Minestrone Soup

Summer just came and went, didn’t it? One minute I was breathing in the ocean air at Rye with my family and escaping the heat at a beer garden with my girlfriends in Brooklyn, and the next, I’m using the entire length of my arm to wipe the fallen leaves off my car in the morning and choosing this year’s pumpkin carving design.

My first foliage season away from Boston has been, in a word, glorious. My ride to work takes me by a pasture with grazing cows, now framed with color, and the postcard-perfect church next door to Yankee HQ has a beauty of a tree next to it. I love the fall — the rich colors, spicy smells, and the return to knee socks and soft sweaters. The holidays are coming up. The soup kettle is ready. Let’s do this!

I’ve already been making lots of soups and stews now that the evenings have turned cold (if not downright freezing) and this easy homemade minestrone soup is always an early favorite.

Convenience comes in the form of canned beans, seasoned tomatoes, and veggie broth, while garlic, onion, pepper, and baby spinach still give you plenty of fresh ingredients to work with. Italian herbs (fresh or dried) lend robust flavor, and a generous handful of Parmesan brings it all home.

It’s everything you want in a soup — hearty, filling, and packed with flavor. Of course, I also insist on a hunk of bread or a toasted English muffin or bagel on the side. Who wouldn’t?

Feel free to halve the recipe, but I like making a big batch so I can freeze several servings for later.

Happy fall and happy soup weather!

Easy Homemade Minestrone Soup
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Ingredients
2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
1 14- to 15-oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 14- to 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 tsps. Italian seasoning
2 cups dry pasta (rigatoni, penne, or shells)
3-4 cups baby spinach
Shaved Parmesan for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent.
  2. Add the tomatoes, beans, broth, water, seasoning, and pasta. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, then cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until pasta is barely tender. Add more water if necessary.
  3. Stir in spinach, then ladle into bowls and top with fresh grated Parmesan.

Yield: 8 servings.

Click to view and print the recipe for Easy Homemade Minestrone Soup.

Black Bean and Portobello Mushroom Soup

The weather last week was decidedly cooler (and wetter), so I turned to my favorite Spicy Black Bean soup recipe to warm things up – only this time I also added mushrooms.  As a non-meat eater, I am in love with beans and mushrooms for their ability to thicken soups with rich flavor and texture.  By pureeing most of the soup and then adding more beans, you get the best of both worlds…a creamy, earthy base with something to chew on.

Black Bean and Portobello Mushroom Soup

Ingredients
1 large or 2 small onions, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth
2 large cans black beans (29 oz. each)
2 large portobello mushroom caps
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. chili powder

  • In a large pot add the broth, onion, pepper, celery, and mushrooms.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add half of the beans (or 1 can) and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Puree the soup in a blender, food processor, etc. in batches or all at once if you can fit it.
  • Return pureed soup to pot and add the rest of the beans and the seasonings.
  • Allow to simmer for at least another 15 – 20 minutes, but we all know soup tastes better the longer it simmers and sits, so wait as long as you can!

Soups are very forgiving so you can tweak the ingredients to suit your taste.  I suggest enjoying a hot bowl with a pepper jack grilled cheese or seasonally-whimsical english muffin pizza (like I did with the help of a ghost cookie cutter). 

I also suggest wearing your pajamas and eating candy corn for dessert.

This past weekend I managed to make 2 big check-marks on my Autumn List…the Keene Pumpkin Festival and apple picking.  More on those soon, but I would love some suggestions for what to do with my apple supply.  Galette?  Crisp?  Muffins?  Sauce? 

Help!

Campbell’s Soup

I have soup on the brain lately, so naturally I started wondering about the most famous of American soup companies.  Campbell’s! 

In 1869, fruit merchant Joseph Campbell and icebox manufacturer Abraham Anderson decided to start a canning company in Camden, New Jersey.  By 1877, the partners had separated and Joseph Campbell expanded the canning business to include ketchup, salad dressing, mustard, and other sauces.

When Campbell retired in 1894, Arthur Dorrance took over as company president.  It was Dorrance who made the Campbell’s brand what it is today when he reluctantly agreed to hire his nephew John, a chemist who enjoyed a challenge.  He accepted a low salary and a lack of sufficient lab equipment to help the company figure out a way to improve their product and increase their profits.  He realized that if he could eliminate water, soup’s heaviest ingredient, it would be lighter and cheaper to ship.  The result was condensed soup, which passed the responsibility of water provision onto the consumer.  Hopefully Uncle Arthur showed his appreciation with a big bonus and a wedge of humble pie.

In 1898 Campbell’s adopted it’s classic red and white can design, which has changed very little over 110 years (though I am glad to say it does now come with a pop-top), and sales continued to increase.  Under the leadership of William Beverly Murphy during the late 1940’s through the early 1970’s, Campbell’s went public and acquired many new brands, including Pepperidge Farm, Franco-American, V8 vegetable juice, Swanson broths, and Godiva.

I don’t know about you, but Godiva seems a little out of place to me.  Maybe Campbell’s thought so too, since they sold it to a Turkish manufacturer in 2008 for $850 million.

Always big proponents of advertising, Campbell’s is well-known for the “Campbell Kids” and their “M’m M’m Good” slogan.  What I remember the most from my childhood is the creepy commercial with the alien.  Artist Andy Warhol also increased the brand’s iconic status when he incorporated the Campbell’s can design into a series of pop art silkscreens in 1962.

Over time, tastes have evolved enough that nobody considers condensed soup very delicious on its own anymore.  More often than not it is used as an ingredient in casseroles, dips and (I have learned) sometimes even cakes…proving that the Campbell’s test kitchen chefs had a whole lot of time on their hands, and a blind belief that there wasn’t anything condensed soup couldn’t conqueror.  intrigued by this bold claim, I turned to the “Surprise Cakes and Cookies” section of my undated but very vintage Campbell’s “Cooking With Soup” cookbook for a sweet recipe.

I found Tomato Soup cake.  Pretty straightforward.  I didn’t want to make an actual layer cake with the called-for cream cheese frosting, so I added raisins and baked it in a loaf pan instead.  I also swapped the shortening for butter.  The result was…well…I suppose edible, but not pleasant.  Maybe it’s because I know it’s in there, but all I can smell and taste is the metallic tang of tomato soup.  Basically it wants to be pumpkin bread…

But it’s not.  And I knew it wouldn’t be.  I just couldn’t help myself…