Tag Archives: soup

Homemade Veggie Soup

This easy homemade vegetable soup is a textbook Mediterranean diet recipe and a delicious way to amp up your veggie intake. It’s loaded with zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, chickpeas and fresh herbs. It’s cozy, comforting, vegan and gluten-free, but trust me, meat eaters will love this vegetable soup as much as veggie lovers do. Take it from us!

This soup recipe is an amped up version of healthy vegetable soup with a host of nourishing ingredients like garlic, onions, whole tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes and chickpeas. Fresh herbs, lime juice, and a good dash of warm spices (turmeric, coriander, and paprika) give this soup a Mediterranean twist.

This soup recipe is similar to Italian minestrone soup, minus the pasta. Remember that virtually all vegetables will work in an everyday vegetable soup recipe like this one. Homemade vegetable soup is a great way to use up what veggies you have on hand, so feel free to substitute.

Our changes? Instead of cannellini beans, we used double the amount of Alubia white beans that had been soaked overnight for another dish. We also increased the suggested 32-ounce whole tomatoes to one 28-ounce can, plus another 14-ounce can, and hand crushed them in a large bowl. *Finally our six cups of broth was made up of equal parts bean broth, homemade chicken stock and beef bone broth.

Homemade Veggie Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 8 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, washed, dried, stems and leaves separated, then each chopped
  • 1 medium-size yellow or red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, tops removed, sliced into rounds or half-moons or diced
  • 2 golden potatoes, peeled, small diced
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp. sweet paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 28-oz. + 1 14-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand in large bowl
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp. dry thyme
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)*
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts, optional

Directions

  1. Sauté Mushrooms: In a large pot heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from the pot and set aside for now.
  2. Add fresh veggies and spices: Add more olive oil, if needed and heat. Add the chopped parsley stems, (save the leaves for later), onions, garlic, celery, carrots, zucchini and small diced potatoes. Stir in the spices, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetables have softened a bit.
  3. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes: Now add the chickpeas, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and broth. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover partially and cook for 15 more minutes.
  4. Return mushrooms to the pot: Uncover and add the sauteed mushrooms. Cook for just a few more minutes until mushrooms are warmed through.
  5. Add finishing touches: Finally, stir in the parsley leaves, lime zest, and lime juice.
  6. The finish: Remove from the heat. Remove bay leaves. Transfer the vegetable soup to serving bowls and top with toasted pine nuts, if you like. Add a side of your favorite crusty bread or pita along with extra lime wedges and crushed red pepper.

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Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadsheh

Moroccan Lamb Soup with Chickpeas and Lentils

A new one on us, this aromatic Moroccan dish—called harira—traditionally is served during Ramadan to break the daily fast. As Milk Street explains, it’s sometimes vegetarian, other times meaty, and depending on the the cook, its consistency may be thick and hearty, or light and brothy. I personally thought it was too brothy and prefer a thicker base. This could be accomplished be cutting back on the amount of water and/or adding more lentils which absorb liquid.

While the original recipe calls for lamb, you could substitute an equal amount of boneless beef chuck. For convenience and a time-saver, we omitted the step of soaking dried chickpeas and simply stirred in one can of drained chickpeas into the soup at the end. This is noted in the recipe below.

Serve with lemon wedges and a drizzle of grassy extra-virgin olive oil, and offer crusty bread for soaking up the broth. A nice toasted slab of crusty bread with a schmear of garlic butter was the perfect antidote.

Moroccan Lamb Soup with Chickpeas and Lentils

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 6 medium celery stalks, sliced ½ to ¾ inch thick
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. sweet paprika
  • 14½ oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 lbs. boneless lamb shoulder or beef chuck, trimmed and cut into ¾- to 1-inch chunks
  • ⅓ cup lentils du Puy (French Lentils)
  • 1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or a mixture, chopped, plus more to serve

Directions

  1. On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select Normal/Medium Sauté. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the celery, onion, garlic, ginger and 2½ teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cinnamon, paprika and 1½ teaspoons pepper, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and 4 cups water, scraping up browned bits. Add the lamb, lentils and chickpeas; stir to combine, then distribute in an even layer.
  3. Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 15 minutes.
  4. When pressure-cooking is complete, let the pressure reduce naturally for 15 minutes, then release the remaining steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the drained chickpeas, parsley and/or cilantro. Serve sprinkled with additional herbs and drizzled with oil.

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Adapted from a recipe by Julia Rackow for Milk Street

Ribollita

Such a thing as too many veggies? This recipe adds a pound of kale—that’s right, a full pound—to softened onions, carrots and celery, combined with beans and tomatoes. It’s simply a matter of bringing the other vegetables to the party in a simmer, then adding the kale and topping with the thick, toasted, crusty slabs of multi-grain bread. The whole dish bakes in the oven for a few minutes to crisp the toast and the Parmesan.

Confession, the supermarket carried kale, but it was lousy looking at best, so we opted for the substitute of escarole. And for a time-saver we used canned cannellinis, in fact we used two cans, about double the original amount!

This might be just the ticket to feast on after indulging in all that rich food during the holidays. Make sure to get a thick crusty multi-grain loaf of bread that is cut into 1-inch thick slices and toasted. Add extra parmesan when serving, if desired.

Ribolita

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans
  • 1 15-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 lb. chopped kale or escarole
  • 4 large, thick slices whole-grain bread, toasted
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Drain the beans; if they’re canned, rinse them as well. Add them to the pot along with tomatoes and their juices and stock, rosemary and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so the soup bubbles steadily; cover and cook, stirring once or twice to break up the tomatoes, until the flavors meld, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Fish out and discard rosemary and thyme stems, if you like, and stir in kale. Taste and adjust seasoning. Lay bread slices on top of the stew so they cover the top and overlap as little as possible. Scatter red onion slices over the top, drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  4. Put the pot in the oven and bake until the bread, onions and cheese are browned and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. (If your pot fits under the broiler, you can also brown the top there.) Divide the soup and bread among 4 bowls and serve.

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Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman for NYTimes Cooking

Russ’s Raid-the-Fridge Bean and Vegetable Soup

In cooler weather months, The Hubs likes to make weekly pots of soup, perfect for lunches, or evenings when we don’t feel like cooking. In this instance, he took stock of what we had lurking in the refrigerator and pantry and devised a recipe based on a previous Tuscan-inspired soup as a general template.

In addition to green bell peppers, we also needed to use up some hatch peppers, jalapeños, and some little red peppers that were gifted to us. We had all of the rest of the ingredients on hand too. A slice of homemade, whole-grain focaccia toast with a schmear of roasted garlic paste rounded out the meal.

Keep in mind that you need to soak the beans overnight in salted water, to soften the skins. Add the tomatoes toward the end of cooking, since their acid keeps the beans from becoming too soft.

Russ's Raid-the-Fridge Bean and Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Table salt
  • 1 lb. dried Navy beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 1-lb. ham hock
  • 1 large onion, chopped medium
  • 2 medium celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 jalapeños, small chop
  • 3 green bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 4 cups ham or chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. Cajun spice
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sprig fresh marjoram

Directions

  1. Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add onion, celery, jalapeños, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 16 minutes.
  4. Stir in garlic, Cajun spice and smoked paprika and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, bay leaves, and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are almost tender (very center of beans will still be firm), 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Remove pot from oven and stir in tomatoes. Cover pot, return to oven, and continue to cook until beans are fully tender, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
  6. Remove pot from oven and submerge marjoram sprig in stew. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the ham hock, stripping it of any usable meat to throw back into the soup. Discard bay leaves and marjoram sprig and season soup with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. If desired, use back of spoon to press some beans against side of pot to thicken stew. Serve over toasted bread, if desired, and drizzle with olive oil.

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Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup with Sage Pesto

Soup isn’t typically a dish that comes to mind during hot weather spells. But I couldn’t help myself when I saw this fiber-rich recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (ATK). So on a rare cool, cloudy day in mid-summer, I spent some afternoon time preparing this Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup with Sage Pesto, with the intentions of having it for dinner on the following night.

Instead of the usual creamy, rich, puréed style of butternut squash soup, this heartier version can stand on its own as a meal. It features chunks of squash paired with creamy cannellini beans to give the soup some heft.

Because the bulb portion of the squash is difficult to cut into cubes that will cook evenly, and because it naturally cooks faster than the dense neck portion, ATK suggests cutting the bulb into wedges, cook them in the broth until soft, and then mash them to make a “squash stock”—giving the soup base body and flavor.

A swirl of freshly-made sage pesto made in a mini food processor, lends the right bright, fresh finish. The pesto is so good, you may be tempted to eat it directly from the bowl. If you have any leftover, use it as a condiment on any number of other edibles; or stir into pasta.

Since The Hubs detests walnuts, I opted to use pine nuts—a common ingredient in pesto. If you are intent on keeping it vegetarian, use vegetable broth. Keep in mind, whatever stock you use, a homemade version is always a better bet because of the depth of flavor it offers.

Purchasing precut chunks of squash allows for ease of preparation although you may have to dice some of those chunks into 1⁄2-inch pieces for Step 5. To bulk up the meal further, serve with a slice of toasted crusty rosemary olive oil loaf.

Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup with Sage Pesto

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Pesto

  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ cup fresh sage leaves
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz. (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
  • Salt and pepper

Soup

  • 1 2- to 2 1/2 lb. butternut squash
  • 4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade; or vegetable stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 15-oz. cans cannellini beans
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Grated Parm for serving

Directions

  1. FOR THE PESTO: Pulse pine nuts and garlic in food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses. Add parsley and sage; with processor running, slowly add oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl, stir in Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. FOR THE SOUP: Using sharp vegetable peeler or chef’s knife, remove skin and fibrous threads just below skin from squash (peel until squash is completely orange with no white flesh remaining, roughly 1/8 inch deep). Cut round bulb section off squash and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds; cut each half into 4 wedges.
  3. Bring squash wedges, broth, water, and soy sauce to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer vigorously until squash is very tender and starting to fall apart, about 20 minutes.
  4. Using potato masher, mash squash, still in broth, until completely broken down. Cover to keep warm; set aside. (For a creamier base, you may want to use an immersion blender.)
  5. While broth cooks, cut neck of squash into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add leeks and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks have softened and tomato paste has darkened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add squash pieces, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add squash broth and bring to simmer. Partially cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Add beans and their liquid, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is just tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing pesto and extra Parmesan separately.

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Adapted from a recipe by Steve Dunn for America’s Test Kitchen

Tuscan Spring Soup

In Tuscany, the advent of spring doesn’t signal the end of soup season, like it might here in the Northeast. But it does mean the soups that are served take on a different tone. Tender vegetables meet a rich, meaty broth in this light Tuscan-inspired soup—just perfect for a not-too-hot Spring evening.

And while a hallmark of Tuscan cuisine is its rusticity, this soup is all about luxury. In stark contrast to the typical hearty Tuscan soups, which often cleverly repurpose scraps, only the finest ingredients go into a typical “garmugia”—a pairing of pricey meats and the season’s freshest vegetables.

In garmugia, meat is a seasoning, not the main event. To that end, Milk Street omits the veal, as the combination of beef broth and pancetta (plus a simmered rind of Parmesan) gives the soup a wonderfully savory depth that enhances the vegetables without competing with them.

For their clean vegetal flavors and year-round availability, this soup opts for scallions, asparagus, artichoke hearts and frozen peas. By cooking the vegetables in sequence—starting with the sturdiest, ending with the most delicate—each ingredient retains its character, ensuring that they’re not overcooked. The artichoke hearts are simmered first, then the asparagus, followed by the peas, all topped with a finishing sprinkle of scallion greens for a burst of zingy freshness.

“Each bite of the finished soup is a spoonful of spring in a bowl, no matter the season.”

Milk Street instructs you to simmer the optional Parmesan rind into the mix to boost the umami notes. Canned artichoke hearts do well here, but frozen artichokes also work—just defrost and pat dry before use (you’ll need about 2 cups). To serve on the side, make savory Parmesan toasts that are perfect for dipping into the broth.

Don’t use ultra-slender asparagus, which will end up overcooked. Look for spears about the size of a pencil. To retain the bright-green color of the peas, don’t allow the soup to boil after the peas are stirred in.

Tuscan Spring Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
  • 3-4 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens reserved separately
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1½ qts. low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 chunk Parmesan rind (optional), plus ½ oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (¼ cup)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. crusty white bread, sliced ½ inch thick
  • 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and quartered
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths on the diagonal
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed

Directions

  • Heat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the element. In a large saucepan over medium, combine 1 tablespoon of oil and the pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta has rendered its fat and begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the scallion whites and thyme. Cook until the scallions are lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the broth, the Parmesan rind (if using) and ½ teaspoon pepper, then bring to a boil over medium-high.
  • Meanwhile, brush both sides of the bread slices with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, then place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan, then broil until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.
  • When the soup reaches a boil, add the artichokes, reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  • Add the asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is just tender, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Stir in the peas, reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring, until the peas are heated through, about 3 minutes; do not allow the soup to boil.
  • Off heat, remove and discard the thyme and Parmesan rind (if used). Stir in the scallion greens, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with additional oil and serve with the Parmesan toasts.

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Recipe by Shaula Clark for Milk Street

Barley Soup with Mushrooms and Kale

What a powerhouse of healthy ingredients! First, there’s the barley. This versatile grain has a somewhat chewy consistency and a slightly nutty flavor that can complement many dishes. It’s also rich in many nutrients and packs some impressive health benefits, ranging from improved digestion and weight loss to lower cholesterol levels and a healthier heart.

And mushrooms are a low-calorie food that packs a nutritional punch. Loaded with many health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they’ve long been recognized as an important part of any diet. Plus, the anti-inflammatory effect of mushrooms has been shown to greatly improve the efficiency of the immune system.

Kale, one of the so-called “superfoods” is also packed with nutrition that puts it high on the list of world’s healthiest food, not to mention it is low in calories and has zero grams of fat.

All health info aside, the soup is just darn tasty too! Because our onion wasn’t very large, we also included a shallot. Instead of lining a strainer with cheesecloth, The Hubs drained the hydrating porcinis through a coffee filter, which prevents any grit seeping into the broth.

It will keep for about three days in the refrigerator, but the barley will swell and absorb liquid, so you will have to add more to the pot when you reheat. We added one cup of mushroom broth when we reheated a few days later.

Barley Soup with Mushrooms and Kale

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced thick
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
  • 3/4 cup whole or pearl barley
  • 1 1/2 qts. chicken stock, or beef stock
  • A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme, parsley and a bay leaf
  • 8 oz. kale, stemmed and washed
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl or a Pyrex measuring cup, and pour on two cups boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Set a strainer over a bowl, and line it with cheesecloth, or better yet, a coffee filter. Lift the mushrooms from the water and squeeze over the strainer, then rinse in several changes of water. Squeeze out the water and set aside. Strain the soaking water through the cheesecloth/coffee filter-lined strainer. Add water as necessary to make two cups. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until just about tender, about five minutes.
  4. Add the sliced fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are beginning to soften, about three minutes, and add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue to cook for about five minutes, until the mixture is juicy and fragrant.
  5. Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms, the barley, the mushroom soaking liquid, and the stock or water. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, stack the kale leaves in bunches and cut crosswise into slivers. Add the kale to the simmering soup, and continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. The barley should be tender and the broth aromatic. The kale should be very tender. Remove the bouquet garni, taste and adjust salt, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and serve.

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Recipe from The NY Times

Mediterranean Shrimp and Scallop Soup

In just over an hours time, you can enjoy this lovely, nutrient-packed Mediterranean soup. We substituted 8 ounces of cod for a half pound of the shrimp, giving us a trio of seafood. Typically, we would use our own homemade shellfish stock, but since we were plum out, we incorporated a mix of bottled clam juice and boxed seafood broth.

First, you’ll give the scallops a quick sear in a hot pan. Next, you’ll sear your shrimp in the same pan for about 2 minutes, you want to see some pink but don’t worry about fully cooking it yet. Remember, you will be adding the seafood to the hot soup later, so don’t overcook the shrimp. In addition to the aromatics and fresh herbs, fresh lemon juice is the perfect finishing touch.

The original recipe indicated that it would take 35 minutes from prep through to finished soup. Unless you are a samurai chef, it’s not possible. It took me at least 35 minutes just to do the prep alone. Plus, more time was needed for the liquid to return to a boil in a couple of instances. So plan on a minimum of about 70 minutes.

We served ours with toasted garlic bread nuggets and a side salad.

Mediterranean Shrimp and Scallop Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. sea scallops
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut in 3 pieces each
  • 8 oz. cod, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, chopped
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano, divided
  • 3 8-oz. bottles clam juice
  • 1 qt. seafood broth
  • 2 15-oz cans diced tomato
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill, stems removed
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Directions

  1. If using scallops, pat them dry and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently add the sea scallops. Sear for about 1 ½ minutes on each side. Scallops should form a golden brown crust. Sprinkle a large pinch of dried oregano. Quarter each scallop and transfer to a dish and set aside for now.
  3. To the same cast iron skillet, add a little more extra virgin olive oil if needed. Again heat over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add the shrimp; sear for about 2 minutes on both sides. You want to see some pink, but don’t worry about fully cooking it (you will finish cooking it in the soup.) Remove from the heat and sprinkle a generous pinch of dried oregano.
  4. In a medium heavy cooking pot, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil on medium-high. Add the chopped peppers, onions, garlic, tomato paste, salt and the remaining dried oregano. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the seafood broth and clam juice and bring to a boil. Add the diced tomatoes. Cook on medium-high for 3-5 more minutes.
  6. When the liquid returns to a boil, add the orzo pasta. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 8 minutes until orzo is tender. Add the cod about 4 minutes after you stir in the orzo.
  7. Stir in the baby spinach, parsley, dill, and lemon juice.
  8. Finally, stir in the scallops and shrimp to warm through (about 1 to 2 minutes.) Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Add crushed red pepper flakes for some heat, if you like. Serve with your favorite crusty bread.

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Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadsheh

Slow-Cooker Sausage and Kale Minestrone

Here’s a wonderfully warming soup for a cold Winter’s day. Once you’ve prepped the ingredients, there’s not much you have to do for several hours. It’s made even easier if you buy bulk sausage, so that you don’t have to meddle with removing casings. And if spicy is not your thing, go ahead and use mild Italian or turkey sausage.

With lots of super-flavorful turkey stock leftover, we used that as the base, ramping up the overall deliciousness! Serve with a slice of crusty garlic bread toasted under the broiler.

Slow-Cooker Sausage and Kale Minestrone

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 12 oz. spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
  • 5 oz. baby kale leaves, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the sausage to the skillet, and cook, stirring to crumble with a wooden spoon, 4 minutes.
  2. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned and the vegetables are lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup of the stock; cook 1 minute, stirring and scraping to loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.
  4. Transfer the sausage mixture to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the remaining 5 cups stock. Cover and cook on LOW until the vegetables are tender, about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in the pasta; cover and cook on LOW until the pasta is al dente, about 1 hour.
  6. Stir in the kale and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, and serve hot.

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Recipe from Cooking Light

Cream of Carrot and Caramelized Apple Soup

The day before a small dinner party, we made this wonderful soup by Mikel López Iturriaga which combines carrots, apples, leeks and onions as the main stars. Our overall meal revolved around a veggie- and fruit-centric theme, despite the fact the main entrée was a herb-stuffed pork loin roast. So this soup fit into the rotation nicely as the first course.

With the addition of honey, we were a bit concerned the soup may be too sweet, but the alliums countered that sweetness and the mint and yogurt finish provided a cool refreshing note. The finished soup is silky smooth and creamy, yet there is no cream in it!

One of the best we’ve ever eaten, it is moving on up into that Top Ten range of best soups ever. Of course, anytime you make a recipe that calls for stock or broth, you’ll enhance the depth of flavor by using homemade, as opposed to the bland store-bought varieties.

Cream of Carrot and Caramelized Apple Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. carrots, peeled, chopped into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 3 Golden Delicious apples, washed, cored and peeled
  • 1 1⁄2 large leeks, trimmed and washed thoroughly, chopped into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1 1⁄2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups (1 qt.) chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 oz. apple liqueur
  • 4 sprigs thyme, tied in a bundle
  • 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Peel and chop the leek (white and light green parts only), the onion, and the carrot into half-inch pieces. Poach them covered in a large soup pot over medium-low heat with a pinch of salt and about 3 tablespoons olive oil for about 20 minutes or until the onion is tender. Do not brown the vegetables.
  2. Add the broth and thyme bundle, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until carrots are very tender.
  3. Meanwhile, core and peel the apples, then cut each into 8 segments. Place on a large plate and daub them with the honey.
  4. Place the butter in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over a medium heat. When it is melted and hot, add the apple segments making sure that the broad side of each one makes contact with the bottom of the skillet. Caramelize them for about 5 minutes or until they achieve a dark golden color, then turn them and caramelize the other side, about another 5 minutes.
  5. Once the apple pieces are tender and golden, add them to the soup pot. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the apple liqueur and stir to loosen the fond on the bottom of the skillet. Return the skillet to a medium-high heat and boil for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add this sauce to the soup, cook the soup for a couple minutes more and then puree the mixture until it is velvety smooth and no pieces of the apple peel are visible. If the soup appears too thick, add some additional broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Allow the soup to rest for several hours. It’s best made the day before you plan to serve it.
  8. When ready to serve, bring the soup gently to a simmer.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, cumin, mint, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve the hot soup with a tablespoon of the yogurt as garnish.

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Recipe from Mikel López Iturriaga for El País

Persian-Style Chicken, Mushroom and Barley Soup

Soup season always gets us excited because the options are endless—they can range from light and brothy, to heavy and creamy, and about everything in between. Here, this satisfying meal-in-a-bowl is a riff on the Persian dish called soup-e jo and came to us from Milk Street Magazine.

Though barley’s natural starch lends the soup body, béchamel, a mixture of butter, flour and milk, also is traditional for added richness and thickening. For ease, the béchamel is skipped and instead a tablespoon of flour is simply mixed into the sautéed onion and mushrooms, with a swirl of a little cream at the very end.

Fragrant spices give the soup color and complexity, and the fresh mint lifts and brightens the flavors. If you so choose, you can also include dill. The soup was hearty enough as a meal on it’s own, but a side salad would be a welcome addition.

TIP: Don’t use whole-grain barley, as it requires a significantly longer cooking time than pearled barley.

Persian-Style Chicken, Mushroom and Barley Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 12 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered if small or medium, cut into eighths if large
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 qts. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh mint, dill or a combination, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and the mushrooms release moisture, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the cumin, turmeric, flour, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, until well combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in the barley and chicken, followed by the broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium-low and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 40 minutes.
  4. Off heat, stir in the cream and half of the herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining herbs.

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Recipe by Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street

Salmorejo: A Spanish Tomato Soup

On one of our numerous trips to Spain, we took a cooking class in Seville at Taller Andaluz de Cocina. One of the recipes was making a Salmorejo—sometimes known as ardoria or ardorío—a traditional soup originating from the Andalusia region in southern Spain. It is composed simply of tomato, bread, extra-virgin olive oil and garlic.

The soup is served cold and is garnished with chopped Spanish serrano ham and diced hard-boiled eggs. Unfortunately, the grocery store was not carrying either jamón serrano or Ibérico, but push-come-to-shove, prosciutto is an acceptable substitute. Although reminiscent of gazpacho, Salmorejo is more pink-orange, and is also much thicker and creamier in texture, because it includes more olive oil and bread.

A Spanish-themed dinner was planned for a belated birthday of some good friends. For starters, our drinks, tinto de verano, were paired with a tomato-pesto Manchego cheese appetizer. While The Hubs made a seafood paella on his grill, and Spanish music played softly in the background, our guests, Maria Odili and Steve, took the opportunity to do a bit of dancing.

The Salmorejo was our initial course, and boy was it a hit, we think even better than the version we made in Seville, with everyone enjoying seconds! After the paella, lots of laughter and more wine, those that still had room feasted on Maria’s homemade peach cobbler. Not a shabby way to spend a midweek evening at all…

Salmorejo

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. ripe tomatoes
  • 4 oz. stale bread, torn in pieces and moistened with water if too dry
  • 4 oz. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and green shoot removed
  • 2 tsp. table salt
  • 2 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped, for garnish
  • 2 oz. jamón serrano or Ibérico, diced, for garnish

Directions

  1. Core the tomatoes and cut into quarters while holding them over blender jar. Add the bread, garlic, salt and vinegar. Blend all ingredients until smooth, scraping sides of blender jar as needed.
  2. With the blender on, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream to create a creamy, salmon-orange emulsion. Taste and even out the flavor by adding more salt and vinegar if needed. Remember that the garlic and vinegar flavors will taste stronger after resting in the refrigerator.
  3. Before serving, garnish the soup with chopped boiled egg, diced ham, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

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Recipe from the Taller Andaluz de Cocina in Seville, Spain

Pasta e Piselli (Pasta and Peas)

Recipe adapted from one found in a recent Cook’s Illustrated magazine, the traditional Italian dish Pasta e Piselli, like its better-known cousins pasta e fagioli and pasta e ceci, combines peas with small pasta to form a hearty soup; all of which come together in one pot. Always a plus for a weeknight meal.

The pasta is cooked in a broth flavored with sautéed onion and savory pancetta, simultaneously infusing the pasta with savoriness and thickening the rich, silky broth. As well as using homemade chicken stock, we doubled the pancetta to four ounces, both of which provided more depth of flavor.

At the end of the cooking process, frozen petite peas (sweeter and less starchy than fresh peas), are added—in our case it was 2 cups as opposed to 1 1⁄2 cups because that was the contents of the bag. Immediately afterward, the pot is taken off the heat to preserve their tenderness and bright green color.

A sprinkle of Pecorino Romano contributes richness and tangy depth. Last-minute additions of minced herbs and extra-virgin olive oil punch up the aroma and flavors of the dish. You can substitute small pasta such as tubetti, ditali, elbow macaroni, or small shells for the ditalini, but do so by weight, not by volume.

TIP: For a vegetarian version, omit the pancetta, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and add an extra 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. Pecorino Romano adds a welcome sharpness. Cook’s Illustrated does not recommend substituting Parmesan in this recipe.

Pasta e Piselli (Pasta and Peas)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped fine
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 2½ cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 2½ cups water
  • 7½ oz. (1½ cups) ditalini
  • 1½ to 2 cups frozen petite peas
  • ⅓ cup minced fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh mint

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, pancetta, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add broth and water and bring to boil over high heat. Stir in pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid returns to boil. Reduce heat to maintain simmer; cover; and cook until pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in peas and remove saucepan from heat. Stir in parsley, Pecorino, and mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, drizzling with extra oil and passing extra Pecorino separately.

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Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Pasta e Fagioli alla Russ

Growing up in the Midwest, Pasta e Fagioli wasn’t anywhere on my culinary radar. When I moved East decades ago, I quickly learned it was quite common in this region of the country. Minestrone, is a similar type of soup but the main difference between it and pasta e fagioli is the variety of vegetables in minestrone. Fagioli (pronounced fazool) is mainly pasta and beans in a broth, although this version includes kale and herbs among other plant additives.

A traditional Italian soup, it started as a peasant dish, being composed of inexpensive ingredients.

The key to a soup with fully developed savory flavor starts with the soffritto—a mix of aromatic vegetables that are slowly cooked in the first stage of cooking. Take your time sweating down the vegetables until they are completely softened before letting them take on any color. You’ll be surprised by how much volume they lose and how much liquid they release and by how much unquantifiable richness they lend to the final dish, which is nothing more than a combination of humble ingredients.

Even though we soaked our dried cannellini beans overnight,
it still took several hours before they became creamy.

To up the flavor quota, Russ used two smoked ham hocks and 1 quart of homemade ham stock and included fresh rosemary and thyme, all of which are noted in the list of ingredients below. This recipe is doubled from the original Bon Appétit version, so you can easily cut it in half if desired. Be prepared that this soup is time consuming, so you’ll want to schedule a long lazy afternoon to make it.

Pasta e Fagioli alla Russ

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dried medium white beans (such as cannellini), soaked overnight if possible*
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 carrots, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, coarsely chopped
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzlingFreshly ground black pepper
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn
  • 4 Parmesan rinds (optional)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 3-3 1/2 qts. water and/or ham broth
  • 1 lb. small pasta (such as ditalini)
  • Finely grated Parmesan, crushed red pepper flakes, and crusty bread (for serving)

*If you haven’t soaked the beans, do a power soak: Place beans in a large pot, cover with water by 1″, and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, remove pot from heat, stir in a palmful of salt, cover pot, and let beans sit 1 hour.

Directions

  1. Pulse carrots, leek, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat ⅓ cup oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add chopped vegetables, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables start to sweat out some of their liquid, about 4 minutes. The goal at this stage is to slow cook the soffritto until the vegetables are very soft but have not taken on any color.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so and reducing heat if mixture starts to brown, until vegetables are softened and juicy, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add ham hock and cook, uncovered, stirring and scraping bottom of pot every 5 minutes, until soffritto is starting to brown in places and has lost at least half of its volume, about 10 minutes more.
  4. Add beans and their soaking liquid, tomatoes, and kale; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then add Parmesan rinds (if using) and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook soup with lid askew, adding water (or stock, if you have it) as needed to keep beans submerged by 1″, until beans are very tender, 1–3 hours, depending on size and age of beans.
  5. Fish out and discard Parmesan rinds. Remove ham hock and use a fork to pull meat off the bone. Return meat to soup; discard bone and any large pieces of fat.
  6. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling well-salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions. Drain pasta and add to soup, then taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. (Do not try to skip a step by cooking the pasta in the soup. The noodles will absorb all the available liquid and the liquid will be thick and gummy.)
  7. Divide soup among bowls. Top with Parmesan, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Serve with bread for dunking if desired.

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Adapted from a recipe from Bon Appétit

Russ’ Rustic Ham & Navy Bean Soup

Super flavorful and hearty, you’ll be wanting more of this soup after just one spoonful. The key to its success is homemade ham broth, not something most home cooks have readily available, but Russ gives you step-by-step directions below. That being said, the ham broth is essential. If you don’t have any, it becomes an altogether different soup, both in taste and process.

It is a huge time commitment, so pick a day where you have a large chunk of it to work with. And if you also need to make ham stock, do that a day or two (or week) ahead of time.

Whole-grain cracker strips made a nice rustic accompaniment.

This is a good recipe to use after a large ham dinner such as at Easter, or some other family gathering or pot luck party.

Russ' Rustic Ham & Navy Bean Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dried navy beans, soaked in 4 quarts of water with 3 tablespoons of salt for 8-24 hours
  • 4 thick slices bacon, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 ham bone
  • 2 1/2 -3 cups ham, shredded or diced
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 8 cups ham broth (see recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. pimentón dulce (smoked paprika)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Rinse beans under cool water and remove any small stones or debris. Add 4 quarts water and 3 tablespoons of salt to a large pot and stir until salt is dissolved. Add the rinsed beans and soak at least and up to 24 hours.
  2. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add the diced bacon, and cook until bacon has released its fat and is fully cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and sprinkle with a large pinch of salt. Sauté the vegetables until the onions begin to soften. Drain and rinse the soaked beans and add to the pot, then add the bay leaf, ham bone, and ham broth*. Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a simmer (be careful not to boil it to avoid bursting the beans), then lower heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. 
  4. Once beans are tender, stir in the ham and cooked bacon and continue to simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme branches. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the pimentón and parsley.  Serve.

*Note:  If you don’t have pre-made ham stock, you can make your own easily following the instructions below. 

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Ham Stock

Ham Stock

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. smoked ham hocks or smoked pork necks or a mix, lightly rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed (no need to peel it)
  • 1 large stalk celery with leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. whole peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 quarts water

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large soup or stock pot over medium-high.  Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot and sauté them until they are caramelized.  Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pot, and boil until the wine is reduced by half.
  2. Add the ham hocks and/or smoked pork necks and the remaining ingredients, including the water, and bring the pot to a simmer over high heat.  Immediately lower the heat to medium-low or low and continue to simmer the stock, uncovered, until it reduces by a half, skimming any foam or scum that rises to the surface (about 2–4 hours). Do not stir the stock while it simmers.
  3. Strain the stock through a colander into another large pot or container.  When the solids have cooled enough to handle, you can pick the meat off the shank and/or neck bones and reserve for the soup.  At this point, you can proceed with the Ham and Bean Soup recipe above.

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