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Lenten soup

Spicy sweet potato kale soup.

The season of Lent has begun and along with that is the tradition in many churches of providing soup lunches or suppers prior to services. There is something about sharing a warm bowl of soup and bread with friends that is very satisfying. If you are interested in trying a new soup recipe, here some choices you may want to prepare for family and friends.

Spicy sweet potato kale cannellini soup

If you are looking for a vegetarian soup, this should fit the bill. It is satisfying and will warm you up. If you prefer to have meat added, cut Polish sausage in chunks, brown it and add to the soup when you add the beans and kale. Also, if you are not going vegetarian, chicken broth can be substituted for the vegetable broth.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4-5 medium), cubed

2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

3/4 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 (14 1/2-ounces each) cans vegetable broth

2 (15 ounces) cans cannellini or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained

3 cups chopped fresh kale

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or plain yogurt

Optional toppings: olive oil, shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In 6-quart stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir 6-8 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in sweet potatoes, apples, honey, seasonings and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, covered, 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or cool soup slightly and puree in batches in a blender; return to pan. Add the beans and kale; cook, uncovered, over medium heat 10-15 minutes or until kale is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream or yogurt. Serve with toppings as desired.

Source: Taste of Home, “Healthy Recipes,” 2018.

Potato and leek soup

Potato soup is always a popular choice and this recipe, which is made in the slow cooker, has vegetables added for extra nutrition and flavor. It is one you can put together in the morning and forget about until dinner time.

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth

3 potatoes, peeled and diced

1 1/2 cups cabbage, chopped

1 leek, diced

2 carrots, chopped

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoons black pepper

2 teaspoons caraway seeds

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup sour cream

1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the chicken broth, potatoes, cabbage, leek, carrots and parsley. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker. Stir in the salt, pepper, caraway seeds and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Remove bay leaf. Combine some of the liquid from the soup with the sour cream in a small bowl. Add the mixture back to the slow cooker and stir in the bacon.

Source: “Rival Crockpot Cook Book.”

Too easy chicken tortilla soup

It doesn’t get much easier than this soup you can put in the pot and then forget about. Another advantage to the recipe is that it only has a handful of ingredients. Three ingredients are all it takes to make the soup, along with cheese and chips for the topping.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 pound raw skinless chicken breasts

Seasoning salt, black pepper

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup black bean and corn salsa

1/2 cup reduced-fat Mexican-blend cheese

1 ounce lightly crushed baked tortilla chips (about 15 chips)

Directions:

Place chicken in a slow cooker, and season salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon each). Add broth and salsa. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours, until chicken is fully cooked. Transfer chicken to a large bowl. Shred with 2 forks. Return shredded chicken to the slow cooker, and mix well. Serve topped with cheese and crushed chips.

Source: “Hungry Girl,” Premiere Issue, Spring 2018.

Forest Hills zucchini soup

For a hearty and flavorful soup that has an Italian flair, serve this one that also can be doubled as a spaghetti sauce if desired. It was one of the favorites in a soup class I taught.

Makes 3-4 quarts

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian sausage links, (mild or hot) cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 pound ground beef

2 cups celery, sliced 1/2-inch thick

2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion

2 (28-ounces) cans tomatoes in sauce

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 green or red bell peppers cut in 1/2-inch pieces

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Brown sausage and ground beef in a large Dutch oven or stockpot; drain off fat. Add celery; cook 10 minutes, stirring often. Add remaining ingredients, except bell pepper and cheeses. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Add bell pepper; cover and cook 10 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls at serving time and sprinkle generously with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Brown under broiler if desired.

Source: “Apple-hood & Mother-pie,” Handpicked Recipes from Upstate New York, The Junior League of Rochester.

Bernie Mason has written the Local Flavor column for the Billings Gazette for three years or so. She was Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.

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