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Soup's On!

Jan./Feb. 2008 California Country magazine

Soups that turn a winter day into a warm memory.



Soups that turn a winter day into a warm memory

Warm up to winter--and a soul-satisfying bowl of soup. While soup may be on the menu throughout the year, it never tastes quite so good or feels quite so comforting as when winter's chill grips the air, making the pleasures of summer seem a distant memory.

But thanks to California's hothouse growers, the fresh taste of summer--whether it's ripe tomatoes or aromatic basil--is always on hand to liven the pot. Combine these flavorful ingredients with a bounty of other favorites from the Golden State, then sit back and let it simmer.

As for the perfect partner, here are two can't-miss options: a fresh loaf of one of California's many artisan breads or a warm, gooey sandwich hot off the skillet. Soup's on!

Tomato Basil Soup


Tomato Basil Soup

Serves 6 to 8

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
3 lb. tomatoes, cored, peeled and quartered (or use three 16-oz. cans of peeled tomatoes)
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
8 to 10 sprigs fresh basil, for garnish

Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add tomatoes, broth and chopped basil. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring constantly for the first 5 minutes.

Transfer soup to a blender and blend until smooth. (Or, use an immersible hand blender.) Using a strainer, pour soup back into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and gradually stir in cream; simmer until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish each serving with a sprig of basil.

Easy Pumpkin Soup


Easy Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6 to 8

1 tbsp. margarine
1 onion, diced
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/3 cups vegetable broth
1 (16-oz.) can pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, plus additional for garnish
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, cook onion in margarine for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add cream, broth, pumpkin, sugar and 1/2 tsp. nutmeg. Cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for the first 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and finish with additional nutmeg on top.

Chicken Veggie Noodle Soup


Chicken Veggie Noodle Soup

Serves 6 to 8

1 onion, diced
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrot
6 cups chicken broth, divided use
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 oz. uncooked noodles of choice, thick preferred
1 1/2 cups cooked and diced chicken breast

Combine onion, celery, carrot and 1/3 cup broth in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring constantly for the first 5 minutes.

Stir in remaining 5 2/3 cups broth, parsley, thyme, rosemary, vinegar and pepper and bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender. Stir in chicken, reduce heat to medium and simmer until heated through.

Grilled Tomato and Basil Panini with Fresh Mozzarella


Grilled Tomato and Basil Panini

Serves 3

1 loaf California Truckee Sourdough Ciabatta or your choice of handcrafted California bread
Softened butter
2 large tomatoes, cubed
8 to 10 leaves fresh basil
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 (8-oz.) tub Mozzarella Fresca Bocconcini

Cut the loaf of bread into thirds, then slice in half horizontally. Spread butter evenly on the uncut portions of the bread; set aside. Place tomatoes in a bowl. Tear basil into small pieces and add to bowl. Stir in olive oil, salt and pepper. With a large spoon, transfer the tomato mixture to the bottom slices of bread. Slice mozzarella on top of tomatoes. Put the top slices of bread on the sandwiches and place in a sandwich maker. Cook on medium to high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until bread is crispy to the touch. Cut in half to serve. (The sandwiches may also be cooked in a skillet.)


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