Boy! It’s freezing outside! We native Southern Californians expect our ice to be inside the local skating rink, rather than on the sidewalk. Nothing takes this bone chilling cold away like hot soup and it has been a staple of diets all over the world since the year dot. Our great grandfather told tales of his native Ireland, when his grandmother would gather seaweed and shellfish and simmer them, along with potatoes and other root vegetables, in an enormous pot over the fireplace logs. She made this innovative soup regularly during the harsh winters. It warmed them through and nourished them well in the process. The National University of Ireland, Galway, has some interesting information on sea vegetables and how they were, and are, used, but unless you are willing to wade into the Atlantic to do some winter harvesting, there are much easier ways to enjoy dozens of varieties of this wonderful comfort food.
Our modern word, “Soup”, is derived from both ancient Latin and German verbs, “suppare” and “sup”, which, after centuries as the French “soupe”, ultimately became the English “sup”, and “supper”, and ended up as it is today. The older variations literally meant to soak or to pour broth onto bread and soak it, a splendid idea both then and now. During the Middle Ages, bread was used as a soup’s primary utensil with which to soak up every last drop. It was customary to have soup at the end of the day as the lightest of meals consumed. Soup can be clear or creamy, full of meat and vegetables or a simple, savory stock. It can be hot or cold, and can serve as a lovely dessert during a hot summer evening when made with sweet, succulent melons. No matter what it’s form, it is wholesome, delicious nutrition at it’s best.
After the holiday whirlwind of cooking and entertaining, we all need to make our busy lives a little easier while maintaining our health and tantalizing our tastebuds. In examining all of the ready made soups available in the area, the choice for us is clear. Your local Panera Bread Bakery and Cafe has the most delicious and satisfying soups available for purchase to serve at home. Called Panera’s “Soup for a Group”, one of these serves three to four people and comes with portions of their scrumptious bread so you can soak up every last morsel as our ancestors did! Panera was established in 1981, with it’s headquarters located in St. Louis, Missouri. Currently, there are over 1400 bakery-cafes in forty states across the country and in Ontario, Canada. Although their mainstay is fresh artisan bread, Panera serves a wide vareity of marvelous food and they have a regular soup schedule. On a daily basis, choose from their fabulous French Onion, Low Fat Chicken Noodle or luscious Broccoli Cheddar. On Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, their Vegetarian Black Bean soup is sure to become a family favorite. On Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, it is a rich, creamy Baked Potato soup and on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, be sure to try their Cream of Chicken soup with wild rice. On Friday, Panera’s New England Clam Chowder rivals anything in the Chesapeake.They have lovely desserts as well to complement your winter dinner. Use the store locator to find the Panera Bread Bakery & Cafe nearest to you.
After you’ve recovered from the 2010 holiday cooking marathon, here is a mouth watering recipe for Hungarian Mushroom Soup, brought to you by Robert Deter of Canoga Park, California by way of his son in law, Dr. B. P. Carney of Brandenburg, Kentucky.
Hungarian Mushroom Soup
- 2 cups of chopped onions
- 1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons of flour
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 1 teaspoon of fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon of paprika
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 2 cups of either vegetable or beef stock
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1/2 pint of sour cream
Saute the onions in two tablespoons of butter, reserving the remaining butter. When the onions are cooked and slightly carmelized, add the mushrooms, dill, soy sauce, paprika and 1/2 cup of the stock. Simmer for 5 minutes.
In a separate pan, melt the remaining butter, add the flour and whisk to make a roux. Slowly, add the milk and simmer until thickened. Combine with the onion mixture, add the remaining stock and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring gently and often. Add the salt and lemon juice, a bit of pepper to taste, and serve to your lucky family with a dollop of sour cream as a topping.
We hope you enjoy this really wonderful soup and look forward to bringing you more cold weather comfort food recipes in short order.