Category Archives: Soup

Sausage, White Bean and Arugula Soup

soup with titleIf you were to join me for lunch lately, you’d be eating a lot of soup. We might have Chicken and Rice Soup, Lettuce Soup or maybe this Sausage, White Bean and Arugula Soup. I don’t think it’s any secret that soup makes an ideal lunch food: It’s easy to make ahead and reheat for lunch; it’s usually full of veggies and other healthy things; and it freezes well. As much as I love cooking, making lunch can feel like a chore if I’m deep in other projects. Pulling a single serving of soup out of the freezer gives me one less thing to worry about.

Since tomorrow marks the first day of autumn, I thought this hearty soup would be a great way to usher in the new season. A blend of hot and sweet Italian sausage is the key to creating a spicy, flavorful broth. The paprika in the hot sausage adds ample heat, while the fennel of the sweet sausage lends it that characteristic Italian flavor. White beans add creaminess and wilted arugula provides a touch of bitterness.

soup horizontal_620pxThe traditional accompaniment for white beans and sausage is a bitter green called escarole, but this Italian cousin of endive proved elusive when I went grocery shopping. I figured my readers might also have trouble tracking it down and decided to use a more readily available green—arugula. If you can find escarole, use it; otherwise, arugula makes a fine substitute.

Happy autumn, friends! And enjoy the weekend.

Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Serves 4-6 as an entree


½ pound bulk hot Italian sausage
½ pound bulk sweet (mild) Italian sausage
7 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups packed arugula
2 (15 oz.) cans white beans (such as great northern or cannellini), drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 large tomato, diced
salt and pepper
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Make the Sausage, White Bean and Arugula Soup

Brown the sausage in a large pot over medium heat, breaking the sausage into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is cooked, about 7-10 minutes, stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic softens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the arugula and cook until it wilts, about 2 minutes. Add the white beans, chicken broth and diced tomato, stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least ten minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with grated parmesan.

Lettuce Soup

lettuce soup plainI know. Lettuce soup sounds less than appetizing. I wasn’t so sure about it at first either. As far as I was concerned, lettuce was best served crisp in a salad. After all, what better way to appreciate the cool, cunchy ribs of romaine or the delicately sweet leaves of red oak lettuce than chilled, gently torn and drizzled with olive oil and vinegar? Surely raw was the best way to appreciate the essence of lettuce.

But then there were the exceptions, poking and tugging their questions at my assertion: What about braised Swiss chard? And grilled iceberg lettuce wedges? Or the oh-so-popular kale and spinach smoothies? When I considered the many forms in which leafy greens appear at the dining table, lettuce soup began to sound a little less odd.

These are the thoughts that scuttled through my mind from the moment the cashier at La Boulange announced that the soup of the day was Herbs and Lettuces. I’m not sure whether it was my brief internal discourse on the essence of lettuce or the cashier’s reassurance that “It’s actually really good!” that convinced me, but I decided to live the wild life and order the lettuce soup.

A few minutes later a cup of dark green soup drizzled with olive oil arrived at my table. I swirled my spoon into the soup and inspected before I ate. It was pureed, much like a cream soup, and maintained its dark color throughout. I lifted the spoon to my lips and tasted. Not bad. In fact, it actually was “actually really good!” The soup was smooth and vegetal—oh wait, I’m describing soup not wine—the soup had a bright, herby-sweet vegetable flavor. What was lacking in texture (alas those cool, crisp ribs of romaine!) was made up for by concentrated lettuce flavor. I knew I would order this soup again.

It wasn’t until I tried recreating lettuce soup at home that I realized one of its chief virtues: Lettuce soup was the perfect vehicle for using the leafy greens so often wilting in my refrigerator. (That never happens to you?) Not only that, it provided a noble end for some sad looking spinach and freezer-burned green peas. A glug of Sauvignon Blanc, a swirl of crème fraiche and plenty of salt and black pepper were all that was needed to give the soup a boost—and prove that lettuce, whatever guise it assumes, is still lettuce.

This soup can be on the table in thirty minutes, but because the flavor improves with time, consider making it in advance.

Recipe adapted from 

Serves 4-6


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 head of lettuce, washed and roughly chopped (9 cups)
2 cups spinach, washed
1 cup of fresh or frozen green peas
1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
3 cups of water
¼ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
¼ cup crème fraiche or sour cream

Make the Lettuce Soup

Head the olive oil in a large pot over low heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about six minutes. Add the garlic and coriander and sauté for one minute, stirring frequently so garlic does not brown. Stir in the lettuce, spinach, peas, potato cubes and water. Increase heat to medium, bring soup to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove pot from heat and blend the soup until fairly smooth with an immersion blender or in batches in a standing blender. (Be extra careful when blending hot liquids! We don’t want any accidents.) Stir in the white wine and sour cream or crème fraîche. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.


Cream of Broccoli and Green Pea Soup

Cream of Broccoli and Green Pea Soup
After months of infrequent rain showers, we’re finally getting a deluge of rain, and it’s to soups that I’ve been turning to stave off the chill. When I saw the recipe for Cream of Broccoli soup in the April issue of Everyday Food, I knew it would be a good use for the head of broccoli that had been in the refrigerator for, well, let’s just leave it at too long. Unlike the many cream soups that get their creaminess from a generous dousing of cream, sour cream or even mascarpone, this soup’s creamy texture comes from using a roux (and a little bit of heavy cream).

A roux is mixture of equal parts of flour and fat, oftentimes butter, that is briefly cooked before being added to broth or milk. The roux thickens the liquid with which it’s combined and adds depth of flavor. Rouxs are commonly used to thicken classical French sauces (think béchamel and bordelaise), New England clam chowder and Creole dishes such as gumbo. If the idea of making a roux is intimidating, don’t worry: the hardest part is knowing how to pronounce it (“roo”). This soup offers a simple way to experience firsthand how flour and butter can thicken broth, and in no time at all, you’ll have conquered the roux and added another technique to your cooking toolbox.

bread and soup

Serves four.
Recipe adapted from Everyday Food, April 2012.

In my version of Cream of Broccoli soup, I’ve added green peas. Feel free to use all broccoli or throw in any other vegetables you have waiting to be used.


¼ cup (½ stick) butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
¼ cup all purpose flour
4 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 cup water
12 oz. broccoli
4 oz. (scant 1 cup) frozen green peas, defrosted
¼ cup heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper

Make the Cream of Broccoli and Green Pea Soup

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the onions and cook the flour, about 1 minute. Cooking the flour before adding the liquid removes the raw taste of the flour. Pour the broth and water into the pot and stir to incorporate. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into florets and the stem into 1-inch chunks. Add the broccoli and peas to the simmering broth and cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until broccoli is tender.

Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the hot soup in the pot to a smooth consistency. Alternatively, puree the soup in a blender (puree soup in small batches, filling blender only halfway) and return to the pot. Stir in the heavy cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Baked Tilapia with Fennel-Scented Tomato Sauce

tilapia ingredients Sam and I love cioppino, the tomato-based stew filled with chunks of white fish, shrimp, clams, mussels and whatever other seafood scraps the fishmonger has on hand. Cioppino was invented in San Francisco, and I can see why: the Bay and ocean provided plentiful seafood and the foggy weather begged a hot, filling stew to warm you up.

Making cioppino at home can be an elaborate and expensive process because it requires so many different kinds of seafood, which is why I usually get my cioppino fill by ordering it at a restaurant. When we’re craving cioppino but want to eat at home, we make a pared-down version—Baked Tilapia with Fennel-Scented Tomato Sauce. This recipe has become a staple in our kitchen because it can be on the table in less than 45 minutes and we usually have everything in the pantry except the tilapia.

orange, chili, fennelTilapia is a fairly inexpensive and sustainable seafood choice. When you’re buying tilapia, you’ll probably only find farmed tilapia. The Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch recommends U.S. farmed tilapia as a “Best Choice.” (South American tilapia is a “Good Alternative,” while one should “Avoid” Asian Tilapia.)

baked tilapia with fennel-scented tomato sauceIf you’re anticipating a busy evening, make the sauce the night before and store it in the refrigerator. You could even make several batches of the sauce and store it in the freezer, ready for whenever you need a quick meal.  
Recipe adapted from The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook.


1 tablespoon olive oil
½ large onion, sliced
2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with juice (this also tastes wonderful with in-season fresh tomatoes!)
¼ cup dry white wine
2 (3 x 1-in.) pieces orange peel
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
? teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
4 (4-5 oz.) tilapia fillets (or other firm white fish fillets)

Make the Baked Tilapia with Fennel-Scented Tomato Sauce

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over low heat. When hot, add the onions and sauté until soft but not caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice, white wine, orange peel, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. Stir occasionally and simmer for about 12 minutes, until sauce is slightly reduced. For a smoother sauce, blend with an immersion blender. For a chunky sauce, leave as is.

Place the tilapia fillet in a medium baking dish. Salt and pepper both sides of the fillets and top with the tomato sauce. Bake for 6-7 minutes, until fish is opaque in the center. Serve with crusty French or Italian bread and a green salad.

Ribollita: Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup

ribollita 1Nearly four years ago, when my friend Laura and I were visiting Florence, it was Ribollita—a kale and white bean soup thickened with stale bread—that consoled us. Our entire ten day trip had been punctuated by the cold: it was December, snow was falling and we could never get warm enough. It didn’t help that the cafes charged extra money if you wanted to sit down to drink your cappuccino. In the San Lorenzo Mercato, though, we found a stall selling soup, and if you were lucky, you could nab a seat at the communal table. We ordered the Ribollita, handed over a few crumpled Euros and scurried into two open seats at the table. Never mind that we were eating from paper bowls with plastic spoons, elbow to elbow with strangers; each spoonful of Ribollita bolstered our spirits and satisfied our stomachs. Finally, we were warm.

ribollita kaleribollita ribollita kale and white beans

Recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.

Makes 8 hearty servings.


2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2-3 medium carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound lacinato kale (dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale, cavolo nero), chopped
4 cups cooked white beans, divided
8 cups water
½ pound (4 large slices) crustless loaf of bread, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 parmesan rind (optional, but oh so good!)
zest of one lemon

Make the Ribollita

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat. Add onions, celery and carrots and cook for 10-12 minutes, until beginning to soften. Stir occasionally and do not let the vegetables brown. When vegetables begin to soften, add the garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the diced tomatoes and crushed red pepper flakes and simmer for 5 minutes to further soften vegetables, stirring as necessary. Add kale, 3 cups of white beans and water to pot and mix thoroughly. Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to add the kale in batches to wilt it in order to make room for all of it. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes or so, until the kale is wilted.

Meanwhile, mash the remaining cup of white beans into a thick paste; add a little water if necessary. After the kale has wilted, stir the mashed beans, pieces of bread and parmesan rind (if using) into the soup. Simmer the soup for 30 or so more minutes, until the bread thickens the soup and the vegetables are thoroughly cooked. Taste the soup and add salt to taste. To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and top with lemon zest.

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