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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Soup’s On!

By Sherrie Norris

Creatures of habit that we are, we start thinking about comfort foods as soon as the leaves begin to turn and the thermometer begins to dip. While both of those events are a little slower coming to the High Country this year, we know that the inevitable is at hand, so we need to start thinking about what’s on the way.
There’s no better way to get through the chilly days of Autumn than with soup for lunch or dinner. Not only is it satisfying, but many soups are filled with nutritious vegetables that will stick with you when nothing else will. And, of course, a sandwich (grilled cheese for me!), a loaf of homemade bread or a “cake” of cornbread is the perfect accompaniment. Hope these quick and simple soups help take the chill off in the coming days.

Easy Bean Soup
3 cups dried pinto beans
2 thick slices ham, diced
2 carrots, shredded
2 celery stalks, diced
2 med. potatoes, diced
Cover beans with water in a pot, cook slowly for about 2 hours, or until beans are soft and ham is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining ingredients, simmer until vegetables are soft.

Quick Creamy Vegetable Soup
3 cups water
1 Tbsp. salt
2 cups mixed vegetables (frozen is fine)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
Bring water and salt to a boil. Add vegetables and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the canned soup. Simmer until heated through. May add your choice of meat, if desired.

Simple Cheeseburger Soup
1 pound ground beef
1 can nacho cheese soup
2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
Cook ground beef in medium saucepan until no longer pink; drain, stir in soup, potatoes and water. Cook 8-10 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sour cream; cook 1 to 2 minutes, but do not boil. Makes about 4 (1-cup) servings. May be doubled as needed.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

4 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbs. minced yellow onion
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 (14-oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (14-oz.) can whole tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream or half-n-half
4 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped
Parmesan cheese

In a medium to large saucepan, add olive oil over medium heat to sauté garlic and onion for about 3 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Stir in crushed tomatoes. Add in whole tomatoes, one at a time, breaking them up as you put them into the pan. Stir in chicken stock, salt, pepper and sugar until combined, then cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to low and stir in cream and chopped basil. Simmer for a few minutes before serving.

Potato Cheese Soup

2 Tbs. butter or margarine
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped onion
4 cups potatoes, diced and peeled
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Dash of paprika (optional)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Fresh chopped parsley
In large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté celery and onion until tender. Add potatoes and broth. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Mash potatoes with hand-masher or mixer. Stir in milk and seasonings. Add cheese; heat only until melted. Garnish with croutons and parsley. Makes about 8 servings.