Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Soups are the perfect winter warm-up

Cathi Litzenberger celebrates 14 years of writing for The Morning Star

Friday is Remembrance day and it is my hope that a majority of Vernon residents will come out to the ceremonies to honour and remember the brave men and women who sacrificed so much for the freedom we enjoy in this country today.

This week also marks the 14th anniversary of my writing this column and as is my habit this time of year, I’m offering a couple of recipes for homemade soup. Few foods offer the same comforting feeling of a good homemade soup.

Foods made with love and thoughtfulness toward who will be eating it also bring a good measure of positive energy and healing to both the body and the soul of the recipients. Energy sent out into the world works that way, so remember to think positively when stirring thoughts into your recipes. The potato soup recipe below is certainly not for the diet conscious except as a wonderful treat, and that it is. If you wish, you can omit the bacon fat and use melted butter with little change to flavour. The super-easy vegetarian crock pot recipe is perfect for a main dish meal and if you’d like to make it even more filling, add extra vegetables of your choice. With the cold weather descending on us this week it is a great time to look through our recipes and have on hand ingredients for making a hearty soup at least once a week.

Ultimate Potato Soup

1 pound bacon, chopped

2 stalks celery, diced

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 potatoes, peeled and cubed

4 cups chicken stock, or enough to cover potatoes

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

3 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until done. Remove bacon from pan, and set aside. Drain off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon grease.

In the bacon grease remaining in the pan, sauté the celery and onion until onion begins to turn clear. Add the garlic, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cubed potatoes, and toss to coat. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Return the bacon to the pan, and add enough chicken stock to just cover the potatoes. Cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.

In a separate pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream, tarragon and cilantro. Bring the cream mixture to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir the cream mixture into the potato mixture. Purée about 1/2 the soup, and return to the pan. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Crockpot Vegetarian Lentil Soup

2 cups lentils

4 cups water

4 cups vegetable broth

1 onion, diced

3 stalks celery, sliced

2 carrots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. oregano

1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

Pre-soak the lentils in water for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Stir together all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on medium heat in the crockpot for 8 to 10 hours. Enjoy! Makes 6 servings.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist.