When it comes to soups, sky is the limit.  Whether created using the season’s best ingredients or making the most of your pantry staples, soups can be an elegant first course or a hearty meal in itself. From delicate broths to thick stews, they can be luxurious, festive, nourishing and comforting.

The beauty of soups also lies in the fact that they are really easy to make and can be prepared in no time, especially after a full day at work. With vegetable or chicken stock as the base along with some vegetables and a fresh herbs from the refrigerator and few items from the pantry, these one pot concoctions are one of the most economical meals. You could always make more quantities and refrigerate the left over or freeze it for lunch or dinner for some other day. 

I have a new found love for making soups these days and have been working on a few soup-making techniques over the past few weeks. I wasn’t much into making soups at home until recently, when I made this rich creamy soup for dinner on a cold winter night. That kicked off the “soup season” in my kitchen and these days, be it lunch or dinner, soups are totally on!

Join me in my kitchen as I celebrate the “simmering success” of a pot of soup!
 

In my post today, I am covering some popular soup recipes that are available in cans at the supermarket or are usually on the menu of cafés, restaurants or delis. I am putting my own spin on these classics – Chicken Noodle Pasta Soup, Cream of  Chicken & Wild Rice and Beef Barley & Mushroom

All these soups are quite similar in nature. Most of the recipes call for chicken stock along with a few vegetables, some chicken, whole grains or pasta and fresh herbs or condiments from your pantry. You can make vegetarian versions of all of these soups by replacing chicken stock with vegetarian stock and taking chicken out of the equation. 

Basic Veggies

I start my soups by sautéing garlic in olive oil along with some onions and carrots to enhance the flavor of the stock and then add the rest of the ingredients to create a thick, rich stew like soup. I don’t particulary care for celery, so you will not find it in any of my recipes but feel free to add it if you like it. In the recipes below, I have replaced celery with sweet green peas that I always have handy in my freezer.  Also, an essential ingredient in a soup is a well-flavored stock. Someday, I’ll try to make my own, but in the meantime my preference is Pacific Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth.

These soups are really very easy! Try it for yourself and you will never ever go back to the can or the packet. I wish I had tried my hand at it earlier. 

Chicken Pasta Soup

I am not very fond of the old-fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup. I think it’s too bland and mushy and makes me feel all the more down, when I am already sick. I would rather have my comforting khichadi than a bowl of that soup! But my husband and daughter love it. So this one’s for them….

I have replaced the slimy egg noodles in the traditional recipe with some healthy whole grain pasta and squeezed in some lemon juice along with lemon slices to give it a refreshing taste. Lastly, I garnished it with some crispy mushrooms introducing a whole new dimension to the flavor of the soup. Now that’s gotto make anyone feel better!

Chicken & Pasta Soup

Serves 2 meals or 4 first courses

1 chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes

2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

6-8 button mushrooms, sliced (optional for garnishing)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2-3 bay leaves

1 small onion, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

½ cup frozen peas, thawed

½  cup whole grain pasta (rotini or penne)

 4 cups (32 oz. /945 ml /1 qt box) low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

1-2 cups water (if necessary)

1 lemon, ½   juiced & ½  sliced

4-5 sprigs parsley, stems removed, leaves finely chopped

salt

fresh ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium – high heat and fry the mushrooms till they get brown and slightly crispy.  Remove and set aside on a paper towl to soak up excess oil.

crispy mushrooms

In the same pot, sauté  garlic and onions along with the bay leaves in the remaining oil (add more if needed) till they become transluscent, for 2-3 mins.  Stir in the carrots, peas along with the chicken and season with salt, pepper and fresh chopped parsley.

Chicken Pasta Soup

Continue sautéing  for 3-4 mins till chicken is cooked half way through and then add the lemon juice and slices. Pour in the stock and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and continue boiling uncovered for 10-11 mins till the pasta cooks (See the packet of pasta for cooking duration).

Chicken Pasta Soup

Add water if necessary. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for another 10-15 mins.

Chicken Pasta Soup

Ladle the soup in a bowl, garnish with crispy mushrooms and serve hot with side of bread.

 

Chicken & Wild Rice

This soup is widely popular as the Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice or Minnesota Wild Rice soup and is usually a thick and creamy soup (Here’s an example by Sher). In my version, I have taken the cream out of the picture and made it into a rich and flavorful stew-like hearty soup. Rosemary is a strong herb and adding it to this soup gives it a wonderful aroma and enhances the taste.

Go ahead, take a sip!

Chicken & Wild Rice

Serves 2 meals or 4 first courses

½  lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes

2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

½ cup frozen peas, thawed

 4 cups (32 oz./945 ml/1qt box) low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

4 cups water

½ cup fast cooking wild rice

2 sprigs of rosemary

salt

fresh ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium – high and sauté  garlic and onions  till they become transluscent, for 2-3 mins.  Stir in the carrots, peas along with the chicken and season with salt and pepper.

Continue sautéing  for 3-4 mins till chicken is cooked half way through and pour in the stock and water. Throw in the rosemary sprigs and let them float in the liquid as it comes to a boil. Stir in the rice and cook uncovered until the rice is tender and the liquid is reduced to half, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Chicken & Wild Rice

Ladle the soup in a bowl and serve hot with side of bread.

 

Barley & Mushroom

Here’s a vegetarian version of another classic Beef Barley & Mushroom soup. I have modified the original soup by using vegetable broth instead of beef broth and striking beef off the ingredient list (since I don’t cook or eat it). Barley is a rich, nutty cereal grain with an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency and pairs perfectly well with the earthy mushrooms. Barley does take a while to cook, but once added to the simmering broth, there is not much effort needed. Serve with some whole grain bread, a robust red wine, or a salad and make yourself a deliciously healthy meal!

Barley & Mushroom SoupServes 2 meals or 4 first courses

2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

½ cup frozen peas, thawed

6-8 button mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp Italian seasoning

 4 cups (32 oz./945 ml/1qt box) vegetable stock or low-sodium chicken or mushroom stock

4 cups water

½ cup pearl barley

salt

fresh ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium – high and sauté  garlic and onions  till they become transluscent, for 2-3 mins.  Stir in the carrots, peas along with the mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Continue sautéing  for 2-3 mins more and pour in the stock and water. Stir in the barley and cook uncovered until the barley is cooked and the liquid is reduced to half, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Ladle in a bowl and serve hot.

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5 thoughts on “soups on!

  1. Vas,

    The chicken Pasta soup is a super-duper hit….People who havent tried making it, please do so. It’s such a healthy soup full of yummy veggies in it. I just loved the tangy taste in it.

    Will try my hands at Thai food this weekend….

    Thank you for the lovely recipes that you keep uploading !

  2. I liked the post and your writing style. I’m adding you to my RSS reader.

    Greetings from Tim. :)

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