Mother's Kitchen: Soup's On

When the cook calls "soup's on!" it's time to dig in. Try these recipes for chicken minestrone soup, potato cheese soup, and hot and sour soup.

| February/March 1994

While living on our farm on the upper peninsula of Michigan, my family had a wood-burning stove on which we'd simmer soup all day long. And if you've ever survived a Michigan winter, you know how you come to live for your wood stove. Lunch was regularly signaled by the call of "Soup's on!" and the enticing smell of chicken minestrone or cream of broccoli, which permeated the house and didn't stop there. It frequently traveled right out the flue and down the road. While it may sound unbelievable, the aroma of cooked vegetables could sometimes be detected a mile away.

I remember one soup break in particular. My husband noticed that the stove's flue appeared to be somewhat loose and decided he would "fix" it. As he got down to work, he accidentally disengaged the flue pipe. The little scenario resulted in a soot-covered husband and equally covered two-year-old son. I can also assure you that soot does nothing to enhance the flavor of simmering soup.

Regarding nutrition, a recent study shows that eating a small bowl of soup before dinner helps overweight people to eat less and lose extra pounds (as long as they avoid cream soups). Remember how Grandma used to insist on bringing over hot chicken soup every time you had a sniffle? She also knew what she was doing. The University of Nebraska Medical Center recently determined that chicken soup (or broth) has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces cold symptoms even when diluted up to 200 times.

There are no official rules when it comes to making soup. Use leftover pot roast or chicken legs along with dried beans, pasta, and the green beans junior wouldn't touch during dinner. Store celery tops, carrot ends, onion, tomato, fresh herbs, and other leftovers in your refrigerator or freezer.

Maybe you're wondering how you've managed to stock up your refrigerator with so much broccoli. If so, why not whip up a batch of cream of broccoli? You can avoid using all the butter, milk, or cream that goes into the standard broccoli soup by thickening it with pureed potatoes and other vegetables.

I make at least one pot of soup a week to have on hand during the winter months. That way family members who get hungry at strange times of the day can make their own meals. My son, who has grown quite fond of my soups, even enjoys the occasional cup of soup for breakfast. Best of all, having pre-made soup frees me on those cold nights when I just don't feel like cooking and would much rather curl up in bed.

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