Soup Season: Nothing says dead of winter like soup. Soup is warming, tasty and can be quick to make

Soup Season: Nothing says dead of winter like soup. Soup is warming, tasty and can be quick to make.

by Mary Bailey

All you need is stock or miso, a can of tomatoes, or even some Walter’s Caesar mix to make delicious, warming and substantial soups. Homemade stock is best and not hard to make with the carcass of a cooked chicken and some bay leaves. Canned will do in a pinch; try the President’s Choice brand of organic, low-sodium chicken stock.

Tomato Soup with Onions and Herbs
This is a riff on Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce. It makes a very rich soup. If you have an rind of Parm in your fridge, toss it in with the tomatoes and stock. Drizzle with sour cream or plain yogurt if desired and serve with a grating of Parmigiano. It’s also nice with fresh parsley, chopped fresh fennel or more fresh basil.

1 can San Marzano Italian tomatoes
5 T butter
1 med onion, chopped
½ sm carrot (about a ¼ c, chopped)
pinch dried oregano
3 c chicken or vegetable stock
sm handful basil leaves
kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper

Put a large knob of butter in a stockpot over medium-low heat. Sweat the carrot and onion with the oregano in the butter until soft. Deglaze with a splash of white wine. Raise the temperature slightly to cook off the wine. Add the rest of the butter, the tomatoes and stock. Simmer for about half an hour to 45 minutes. Check for seasoning and add the torn up basil. Simmer on low for about another 20 minutes,take out the cheese rind if using, then use an immersion blender to break up the tomato chunks. (You could put in a blender instead but watch the hot soup.)

Serves 4.

Ned Bell’s West Coast Bouillabaisse
“Bouillabaisse—a fisherman’s stew from Marseilles—was traditionally built around whatever was pulled up in the nets and traps that day. The fishers would sell their catch in neat fillets, then toss all the trimmings and bycatch, along with some shellfish, into a broth infused with aromatics such as fennel and garlic. Just about any firm white fish or shellfish would be delicious in this tomato-based broth. You can keep it simple with just halibut and clams or follow in the fishermen’s footsteps and add a little of everything.” –Ned Bell, Lure

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 bulb fennel, sliced and fronds reserved for garnish
1 sm red onion, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 c dry white wine
4 c Walter Caesar Mix (or 3 c tomato juice and 1 c clam juice)
4 c fish stock (page 69) or vegetable stock (page 41)
1 T chili flakes, plus extra for garnish
1 T fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
2 T canola oil
6 scallops
sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 T unsalted butter
½ lb live clams, scrubbed
½ lb live mussels, scrubbed and debearded
2 lb skinless firm fish fillets such as halibut, salmon, or lingcod, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ lb mixed shellfish such as peeled and deveined shrimp and/or crabmeat
tender celery leaves, for garnish
4 scallions, chopped, for garnish
chopped fresh chives, for garnish
6 T chili mayo (page 34), to serve
crusty bread, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes or until onions are tender and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits. Pour in the Caesar mix (or tomato juice and clam juice), stock, chili flakes, fennel seeds, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and flavours are more concentrated.

Heat the canola oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Pat-dry the scallops and add to the pan. Allow to sear undisturbed for about 2 minutes or until browned. Season with salt and pepper, flip the scallops over, and sear for another 2 minutes. Add the butter and baste. Transfer to a plate.

When ready to serve, add the clams and mussels to the broth. Cover and cook until they just begin to open, about 3 minutes. Add the fish and mixed shellfish. Cover and cook another 3 to 5 minutes or until shells are fully open and fish is cooked through. (Discard any clams or mussels that haven’t opened.) Stir in the scallops.

Divide soup among bowls, or serve family style from the cooking pot or a warmed tureen. Sprinkle each bowl with fennel fronds, celery leaves, scallions, chives, and chili flakes. Top with 1 tablespoon chili mayo. Serve with crusty bread and lemon wedges on the side.

Serves 6.

Winter Greens and Mushroom Soup
This is a great way to use up less than stellar veg. Add beans or barley for protein or texture. This recipe could be halved and you can leave out the pancetta if you desire a vegetarian option. You could also add cream at the end for a richer option.

2 T olive oil
4 slices smoked pancetta, chopped into small cubes
2 shallots, finely diced
1 sprig thyme, finely chopped
2 c assorted wild mushrooms (you could use dried, soak for 20 minutes first)
1 scant T butter
1 t dried red chili flakes
5-6 c greens such as kale, Swiss chard or beet leaves, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces.
⅓ c white wine
5-6 c chicken or vegetable stock
kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook pancetta for about 5 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy. Add shallots and thyme and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and butter. Cook for about six minutes until brown and slightly crispy looking. Deglaze the pan with wine. Add chili flakes and chard stems. Add stock, and cook for about 20 minutes until stems are tender on medium-low. Add greens and cook for another 20 minutes or so. Add cooked beans or barley at the same time as the greens if using. The barley may take a bit longer. Season.

To serve: Grate Parmigiano over and drizzle with a good olive oil.

Serves 4-6.

Chicken Soup with Ginger and Turmeric
This east meets west chicken soup is ideal when you feel the sniffles coming on. The turmeric and ginger add freshness and a depth of flavour. If freezing, leave the noodles out.

1 sm (3½–4-pound) chicken, with most of the skin removed  (or use chicken thighs)
2 med onions, unpeeled, quartered
2 heads garlic, chopped
1 4-inch piece ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
1 T ground turmeric
2 t black peppercorns
2 t coriander seeds
kosher salt
4 med carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces on diagonal
2 stalks celery, cut like the carrots
8 oz dried udon or spaghetti or egg noodles
thinly-sliced scallions, for garnish
chili oil for garnish, (optional)
squeeze lemon juice

Place all ingredients up to the carrots in a large pot. Pour in cold water to cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and gently simmer until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 155°F, about 30-35 minutes. The chicken will look firm and white. Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool slightly; keep stock simmering. Remove the rest of the skin from chicken; discard. Pull meat from bones and shred into bite-size pieces; set aside.

Heat oven to 400ºF. Place bones in a roasting pan with ½ c white wine. Roast for about 20 minutes. Return bones to stockpot. Increase heat and bring stock to a boil and cook until reduced by about one-third, 15-20 minutes. Add salt to taste. Strain stock into a large pot and discard solids. Add carrots and celery, bring to a simmer and cook until carrots are tender, about 5 minutes. Check seasoning.

If serving right away: Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente. Strain. Divide noodles among bowls. Add shredded chicken meat to stock and cook just until heated through. Add squeeze lemon juice. Check seasoning again. Ladle soup over noodles. Top soup with scallions and drizzle with chili oil.

Serves 4-6.

Roasted Squash Soup
Love that you roast a few ingredients, put them in a blender and boom, you have soup! Adapted from Bon Appetit.

2 acorn squash (or kabocha, butternut etc)
5 med shallots
1 Fresno chile (or 1 canned chipotle pepper)
olive oil
kosher salt
1 c plain Greek yogurt
¼ c (approx) water
1 T white wine vinegar
1 t curry powder
¼ t cumin (optional)

Preheat oven to 425ºF Cut the squash in half, scooping out seeds and innards. Rub the cut side with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and place the halves cut side down on a sheet pan in the oven. Roast for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, chop the garlic head across the middle and the shallots and chile in half lengthwise. Place on the pan holding squash and drizzle with oil and season with salt. Roast for another 20 minutes, or until everything is soft and coloured.

Scrape the squash meat (add the skin if you like) into a blender. Add the shallots, chile, roasted garlic (squeezed out of the head), yogurt and water. Pulse. Once it’s a bit less chunky, add salt to taste, the vinegar and spices. Blend until smooth. Add more water if too thick.

To serve: Pour into bowls and top with a bit more yogurt, chopped chives or parsley, cracked black pepper, finishing salt and slices of toasted and olive-oiled bread, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

Soup lover Mary Bailey is the editor of The Tomato.