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Get Your Soup On: Recipes for National Soup Month

January is National Soup Month, get your soup on with some easy and budget friendly recipes.

Steamy, hearty, nutritious and satisfying—that’s what soup is to me. It is my ideal comfort food, the perfect cold weather meal.

I spent this past weekend making a couple of batches of savory liquid meals and even enjoyed a bread bowl of broccoli cheddar soup at Panera Bread.

Yes, that’s where the picture is from! My soup didn't turn out so pretty.

Soup is great for what ails you, keeps the diet in check and is easy and inexpensive to make. It’s also a great way to clean out your pantry or freezer. You can use up leftover ingredients and serve them up in creative ways. Here are a few examples.

I have a few cans of pumpkin puree leftover from Thanksgiving. They never made it into pumpkin pie so instead of letting them take up much needed space on my shelves and eventually expire; I can whip up some bisque.

I love bisque; the word is even fun to say.

Anyway, here’s a recipe my husband impresses everyone with during the holidays.

Pumpkin Bisque

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 cups of chopped onions and about three minced garlic cloves. Cook and stir for about 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika, a pinch of cayenne, and a half of a teaspoon of cumin. Stir for another minute.

Then add 2 cups of chopped apple (Granny Smith) and three 15 ounce cans of pumpkin purée. Follow the purée with 4 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of water. Mix well with a wooden spoon (not sure why a wooden spoon, but that’s what the recipe calls for). Season with a little salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the apples are cooked. Then, transfer soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan. With soup on low heat, slowly add 1 cup of milk and a half a cup of cream. Add salt and other seasonings like thyme and sage to taste. Refrigerate leftovers because this tastes great on the second and third day.

What about chowder? If you’ve got some lonely potatoes in the cupboard and some canned or frozen corn, you can turn them into a winter meal that will warm everyone up.

We had a huge party in August and had some leftover corn on the cob. I cut the kernels off the cobs and froze the corn for later use. This weekend, I turned them into chowder, roughly based on Rachel Ray’s North Country Corn Chowder recipe. Here’s what I did.

Corn Chowder

Dice up about three potatoes and place in a large pot with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning, and salt and pepper. Let the potatoes cook for about five minutes on medium heat.

Add one diced red pepper; some diced onion – my husband doesn’t like onions so I only use a little but you could add one whole diced onion if you'd like; and three celery stalks chopped small.

Let the ingredients mix for another five minutes, then add three tablespoons of flour to the vegetable mixture and combine. Add 15 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth, and 10 ounces of frozen corn, thawed and drained. Follow that with a quart of milk. The recipe calls for whole milk but I used skim.

My soup turned out a little runnier than it should have been but it was still pretty good. I also added some more Old Bay Seasoning and a little cayenne pepper for an added kick. My husband thought it was pretty tasty but a little runny. I’m sure it will thicken up when it’s reheated.

Cans of green beans, peas or tomatoes taking up too much space on your shelves?

Combine them and make a healthy vegetable soup. Sometimes, I take all the ingredients and plop them in the crock pot and let them mix all day. By the way, it’s also National Crock Pot Month, so this is a great way to use that crock pot. Add some tiny and fun shaped pasta to the soup and your kids will love it and it's perfect for a thermos lunch.

Easy Vegetable Soup

In a crock pot, combine 2 or 3 cans of chicken or vegetable broth; a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes, whatever you have on hand; a tablespoon of Italian seasoning; salt and pepper; a cup of diced onions; a cup of diced celery; a cup of chopped carrots; a cup of green beans; a can of corn; a can of peas and whatever other vegetables you have handy – fresh, frozen or canned. Canned beans are a great addition as well and give you a punch of protein.

Use about 6-8 cups of vegetables for a heartier soup. Cook for a few hours on medium until the vegetables are soft and the flavors have had time to mix well. Add alphabet pasta or some other small noodle to finish off your meal. Set it all up before you go to work and when you get home, all you need to do is pour into bowls, sit down and enjoy your family. Don’t forget some warm, crusty bread to make it just right.

Winter is definitely an ideal time for soup, chowder, bisque or stew. Enjoy some soup with your family, it's good for the body and sou. If you don't feel like making it, go out to dinner and get your soup on!

Here are some more souper recipes I wrote about last year during National Soup Month.

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