Jeanna Richelson eats soup every day.
A three-time oral-cancer survivor, Richelson has not been able to eat solid foods for three years because of her treatments. Everything, she said, goes into her Vitamix.
“I feel great,” she said. “I think I’m eating healthier than I’ve ever eaten.”
Her favorite, she noted, is a roasted red pepper soup with a variety of vegetables.
For someone like Richelson, soup can be a viable way to get all her nutrients. For those who don’t have her challenges, however, soup can be a healthy and delicious meal or side, especially as the cold months approach.
The autumn chill sees many more people ordering soup, said Peggy Roselle, owner of Out of the Blue Cafe and Kites on Brainerd Road.
“Not that many people out there today remember when Mom made soup,” she said, “but I think it makes you feel like Mom’s house or Grandma’s house. When I was little, I went home for lunch and had soup. It feels like home.”
Marc Epstein, chef at River Street Deli in Coolidge Park, said the autumn and winter weather lends itself to hearty soups.
“I do a chicken potpie soup that tastes almost exactly like chicken potpie,” he said. “I do a roasted red pepper with chicken and bow-tie pasta. We do twice-baked potato soup.”
The cream of spinach soup at the deli, he said, is a favorite among customers and sells out most Thursdays.
One of the house specialties of Out of the Blue is tomato soup with roasted garlic and dill, and each day, the cafe features an additional soup, usually either from a recipe of Roselle’s mother or grandmother, or one she created herself. A memorable example, she said, is a pumpkin chipotle soup.
“And we do all the standard things,” she said. “A potato [soup] and ... a chunky garden vegetable with tomatoes and winter vegetables. We have a shrimp bisque that’s very good, and our French onion is better than others because it’s not salty.”
For Caroline Little, soup has been a favorite since childhood.
“I don’t know why,” she said. “Even in the summer, I used to eat soup all the time. There’s something simple about it. It fills you up without being too much. It’s a good way to get a lot of ingredients and hearty vegetables all in one [serving],” she said. “You can get a hearty meal without having to eat broccoli.”
Her favorites include chili and corn chowder, which she thickens with potatoes, because she tries to limit her intake of cream in soup.
“I feel like that’s why I eat soup,” said Little, “because it’s a lower-calorie sort of meal. ... My mom is a bit of health nut. She never liked to use a lot of heavy creams.”
Her mother’s quick broccoli soup is another favorite, as is the tomato zucchini soup at Whole Foods.
“I love, love, love [it],” she said. “It’s so good, but last year I just wore it out.”
Soup is also considered a healing food.
“Generations of parents have spooned chicken soup into their sick children,” according to the website for the Mayo Clinic, noting that its possible anti-inflammatory properties can be helpful in fighting a cold.
Roselle said her choice of soup to eat when sick is a Southwest green chile chicken soup. “For me, that’s kind of a cure-all.”
Corn Chowder With Jalapeño Parsley Puree
For the puree:
5 fresh jalapeño chilies
1⁄4 cup olive oil
11⁄2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon water
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (depending on how much you like garlic)
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
Salt, to taste
For the chowder:
1 onion, chopped fine
2 ribs of celery, chopped fine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth
21⁄2 cups water
11⁄2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 3⁄8-inch cubes
4 cups fresh corn kernels including the pulp scraped from the cobs (organic frozen mixture of white and yellow corn works just as well)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced (very important; adds a great finishing touch to the soup)
For the puree: Broil the jalapeños on the rack of a broiler pan under a preheated broiler about 2 inches from the heat, turning them about every 7 minutes, for 20-30 minutes or until the skins are blistered and charred. Transfer the jalapeños to a zipper-lock bag and let them stand, covered tightly, until they are cool enough to handle. Peel the jalapeños, cut off the tops and discard all but 1 teaspoon of the seeds. In a blender, puree the jalapeños and reserved seeds with olive oil, lime juice, water, garlic, parsley and salt. The puree may be made 3 days in advance and kept covered and chilled.
For the chowder: Cook onion and celery in vegetable oil over moderate heat, stirring, until the celery is softened. Add broth, water and potatoes; simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in corn and thyme; simmer for 5 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
To thicken, purée in blender 2 or more cups of the chowder, depending on the consistency you prefer your soups, and return to pot.
Serve the chowder with a small dollop of the jalapeño and parsley puree swirled into it. Add salt and pepper to taste as well. For added crunch, sprinkle with tortilla chips.
— From epicurious.com, interpreted by Caroline Little
* * * * *
Pumpkin Chipotle Soup
1 (4- to 5-pound) pumpkin, roasted and cubed
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups broth (either chicken or vegetable broth will work)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 cup pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 cups half-and-half
Roast pumpkin, separate from the peel, and cut up after it cools. Measure out 6 cups, and freeze any extra pumpkin for future use.
Melt butter in 4-quart saucepan. Add onion and garlic, and heat until softened, not browned.
Add small amount of broth, and simmer for 5 minutes, then add to pumpkin.
Place pumpkin (with onion and garlic) in blender or food processor with remaining broth in batches to puree.
Return to saucepan and add curry, salt and chipotle
Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes
Stir in half-and-half (may add water, if needed, to reach desired consistency).
If needed for sweetness, add sugar.
May be served with a dollop of sour cream and chopped jalapeños.
— Peggy Roselle, Out of the Blue Cafe and Kites
* * * * *
Jeanna Richelson’s Cream of Roasted Red Pepper Soup
1 red pepper, roasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion
Handful of baby carrots
1⁄2 cup mushrooms
4 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 yellow squash
3 or 4 red potatoes or a large baking potato, cubed and peeled
1⁄2 cup edamame
1⁄2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
Cut red pepper in half, and roast in oven or toaster oven at 450 F until skin begins to turn black, 20 to 30 minutes, turning to roast all sides evenly. Peel when cool.
In olive oil, sauté onion, carrots and mushrooms until tender. Add water and chicken bouillon. Add squash and potatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Check to see if the potatoes are done by piercing with a fork.
Add the peeled, roasted red pepper and edamame during the last 10 minutes.
In blender, blend until smooth all ingredients with just enough of the broth to cover. Return mixture to pot, and add half-and-half, whisking for one minute on medium-low heat.
Note: For faster cooking, chop all veggies into small pieces.
Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...