December 6, 2017

Comforting soups you may not have heard of

Winter is a time of comfort food, between the holiday gatherings that likely feature family recipes and once-a-year favorites and the unwelcoming weather that makes people wish for warm, calming meals. A classic winter favorite is the traditional chicken noodle soup.

As winter brings chilly weather to Austin, culinary students might begin to seek out soup and stew recipes to warm them up. Here are a few simple ones to give a try:

Chicken stew

Try a chicken stew recipe for a heartier version of the classic chicken noodle soup. This recipe from Delish shows how easy it is to put together a filling, comforting meal:

Begin by heating butter in a large pot over medium heat, and throw in your chopped carrots and celery. When the veggies are tender, add your aromatics: onions and garlic. Once these become fragrant, add some flour to thicken the juices your vegetables gave off.

Next, add your raw, whole chicken breasts, chicken broth, quartered baby potatoes, thyme and a bay leaf. Add salt and pepper, then bring the mixture to a simmer. Let the stew simmer until the chicken is fully cooked and tender and the potatoes are soft.

Chicken stew is ideal for a chilly day.Chicken stew is a hearty take on a long-time classic.

To finish your stew, take the chicken out and shred it into small pieces, then return it to the stew. Top it all off with some fresh parsley.

Kale and white bean soup

Kale is a winter vegetable worth exploring. Its durability makes it widely versatile, and this kale and white bean soup recipe from Bon Appétit demonstrates this perfectly.

Heat thinly sliced chorizo along with onions and garlic in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the chorizo is golden and the onions are soft, toss in your coarsely chopped kale. Stir the mixture occasionally until the kale wilts.

Add a can of white kidney beans that you’ve drained and rinsed. Conversely, you can soak white kidney beans overnight, then let them simmer with the soup to take on the flavor of the chorizo, onions and garlic. While this method takes some prior planning and extra time, it’ll result in tastier beans in your soup.

After your beans are added, stir in chicken broth and let the whole soup simmer to let the flavors combine. Serve with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

Lentil and egg stew

What’s wonderful about soups and stews is the endless creative combinations of flavors and textures. This lentil and egg stew from Bon Appétit demonstrates how a creamy, savory egg yolk can perfectly complement a steaming hot bowl of lentil stew:

Begin by making a soffritto by pulsing onion, garlic, carrots and fennel in a food processor. Heat the soffritto in a large pot over medium heat with some oil and salt. Once the combination is soft, add tomato paste. Cook until the mixture looks like an evenly dispersed puree and is golden brown, but if it starts to brown too early, add some water.

Next, add six cups of water and your lentils. Carefully lay a Parmesan rind on top making sure it doesn’t fall through to the bottom, where it might melt and stick to the bottom of the pan. The goal is to have the cheese evenly mixed in. Bring the combination to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Keep your stew at a simmer until the lentils are fully cooked.

While your lentils cook, prepare your spinach by trimming the stems and microwaving it in a bowl with a small amount of water and salt. It’s done when it’s slightly wilted and bright green. Wring out the spinach, then add it to your stew. Add some water if it’s too thick, but you’ll want some thickness to cook your eggs properly.

Carve out four divots into the top of your stew. Crack one egg into each and cover. Once the eggs are set, serve with a splash of vinegar, top with Pecorino and eat with fried garlic bread.