Magazine article Sunset

A Souped-Up Party: Offer a Quartet of Soups for Casual Winter Entertaining. (Food & Entertaining)

Magazine article Sunset

A Souped-Up Party: Offer a Quartet of Soups for Casual Winter Entertaining. (Food & Entertaining)

Article excerpt

Soup spells comfort--in my dictionary, anyway--and that's exactly what many people yearn for after the overindulgent holiday season. A mug or bowl of steaming broth can soothe frayed nerves and recharge party conversation to get the new year off to a happy start. Best of all, a selection of soups is a simple way to entertain casually Our flavorful soups range from thin to thick, and all make enough to feed a crowd--they can even be made in advance. Make one soup for 8 to 12 guests, or serve all four for a big group. Have partygoers ladle soup into mugs or small bowls, and offer condiments so they can tailor each soup to their liking. Provide a selection of breads, an easy stand-up salad--vegetable crudites with a dip--and cookies, and the meal is complete. Whether you're ringing in the new year, watching the Super Bowl, or just beating the January chill, it's a perfect way to gather with friends.

Italian Sausage and Pasta Soup

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 35 minutes

NOTES: You can prepare soup through step 2 up to 1 day ahead, but do not bring mixture to a boil; instead, cool, cover, and chill. To reheat, lift off and discard fat; bring soup to a boil.

MAKES: About 5 1/2 quarts; 10 to 12 servings

2 pounds hot or mild Italian
3 carrots (12 oz. total), peeled
  and chopped
1 onion (12 oz.), peeled
  and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 quarts fat-skimmed
  chicken broth
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced
2 cans (15 oz. each) cannellini
  (white) beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 cups dried large shell-shaped
4 quarts spinach leaves
  (about 12 oz.), rinsed
  Salt and pepper
  About 1 cup grated
  parmesan cheese

1. Squeeze sausages from casings into an 8- to 10-quart pan over high heat and stir often, breaking them apart with a spoon, until browned and crumbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Spoon out and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan.

2. Add carrots, onion, and garlic; stir often until onion is limp, 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes (including juice), beans, and basil and bring to a boil.

3. Add pasta, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is just tender to bite, about 10 minutes. Skim and discard fat. Stir in spinach and cook just until it is wilted, about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup from the pan, or pour into a tureen. Offer parmesan cheese to add to taste.

Per serving: 397 cal., 41% (162 cal.) from fat; 29 g protein; 18 g fat (6.6 g sat.); 29 g carbo (5.6 g fiber); 947 mg sodium; 49 mg chol.

Lemon Grass Chicken Soup

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 40 minutes

NOTES: You can prepare through step 4 up to 1 day ahead; cool, cover, and chill. Return to a simmer, then continue.

MAKES: 5 to 6 quarts; 10 to 12 servings

    3 quarts fat-skimmed chicken broth
    2 stalks fresh lemon grass (each
      12 to 18 in. long), or 6 thin strips
      lemon peel (each 1/2 in. by 3 in.;
      yellow part only)
   12 thin (quarter-size) slices fresh
    6 or 7 fresh jalapeno chilies
      (3 to 3 1/2 oz. total)
1 1/4 pounds cabbage
    8 ounces mushrooms
    2 carrots (8 oz. total)
    2 pounds boned, skinned chicken
      breast halves
    4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
    1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes
      About 1/2 cup lemon juice
      About 2 tablespoons Asian fish
      sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
      or soy sauce
  1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
    5 cups hot cooked rice
    2 lemons (5 oz. each),
      cut into wedges
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

1. In an 8-to 10-quart pan, bring broth to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, pull off and discard coarse outer layers from lemon grass and trim off and discard stem ends; rinse lemon grass. Cut each stalk into about 3-inch lengths. With the flat side of a knife, lightly crush lemon grass and ginger. …

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