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My associations with soup are inextricably linked to childhood and a familiar red and white can.
Now, I employ a soup-making method much like the mix and match approach my mother applied to get us dressed and off to school with ease-find Part A, then

find a complementary Part B, and top it off with matching

Accessory C.
Considering the essential role herbs play in developing full taste, I set out on a grass and vegetable matchmaking spree.

For each of the following recipes, I sought the right herbs to bring out the best
flavors of the ingredients and the texture and color seemed to fall
into place naturally.
Of course, I think these soups are much more exciting than the corduroy and turtleneck combos of the 70’s, but that’s up to you to decide for yourself.

Beautiful Garden Pea Soup

This bright, fresh-tasting soup is a lovely first course for a luncheon. Preparation is swift and straightforward, and the garnishes make it unique, whatever the season.

Mint leaves, whole or slivered
Pomegranate seeds

1. In a food processor or blender, in batches, puree peas, stock, and mint. Transfer puree to a medium pot and add lemon juice.

2. Gently heat soup over medium-low heat until just hot, adding more stock or water, if desired, to achieve desired consistency. Serve topped with garnishes of choice.

Makes about 4 cups.

PER SERVING: 100 CAL (6% from fat), 5g PROT, 1g FAT, 18g CARB, 415mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 5g FIBER

Ingredients

  • 1 pound frozen green peas
  • thawed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (or more)
  • Possible garnishes: Mint leaves
  • whole or slivered
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Drizzle of cream
  • Edible flowers

Instructions

1. In a food processor or blender, in batches, puree peas, stock, and mint. Transfer puree to a medium pot and add lemon juice.

2. Gently heat soup over medium-low heat until just hot, adding more stock or water, if desired, to achieve desired consistency. Serve topped with garnishes of choice.

Makes about 4 cups.

PER SERVING: 100 CAL (6% from fat), 5g PROT, 1g FAT, 18g CARB, 415mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 5g FIBER

 Bombay Tomato Soup

Almost sweet, somewhat mysterious, quite addictive.

Ingredients

  • One 12-ounce can tomato paste
  • One 16-ounce can tomato puree
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • Two teaspoons each: cumin
  • cinnamon
  • ground coriander
  • One teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • or to taste
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Two tablespoons coconut milk
  • Two teaspoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. In a large pot, whisk together tomato paste, tomato puree, vegetable stock or water, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and cayenne. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Stir in orange juice, coconut milk, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Makes about 5 cups.

PER SERVING: 123 CAL (11% from fat), 3g PROT, 1.5g FAT, 23g CARB, 303mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 4g FIBER

Roasted Red Pepper and Mushroom Soup with Sage

A satisfying, hearty soup with earthy undertones. The addition of rice or potatoes can make it a meal in itself.

12 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, sauté onions and mushrooms in oil until browned, about 15 minutes.

2. Transfer mushrooms and onions to a large pot. Add vegetable broth, roasted peppers, sage, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve topped with toasted walnuts, if desired.

Makes about 6 cups:

PER SERVING: 58 CAL (32% from fat), 1g PROT, 2g FAT, 8g CARB, 275mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 2g FIBER

Ingredients

  • One medium onion
  • chopped
  • One tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • One 12-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers
  • drained and chopped
  • Two tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • or 2 teaspoons dried
  • One teaspoon hot sauce
  • or to taste
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toasted walnuts for garnish (optional)

Instructions

1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, sauté onions and mushrooms in oil until browned, about 15 minutes.

2. Transfer mushrooms and onions to a large pot. Add vegetable broth, roasted peppers, sage, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve topped with toasted walnuts, if desired.

Makes about 6 cups:

PER SERVING: 58 CAL (32% from fat), 1g PROT, 2g FAT, 8g CARB, 275mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 2g FIBER

Celebration Pasta Soup

More than soup, this is a family experience. It will call anyone in the vicinity to the table, merely with the aroma.

Two teaspoons olive oil
12 whole fresh basil leaves

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces pasta
  • such as rotini
  • elbow
  • or bowties
  • Two cloves garlic
  • chopped
  • Six Roma tomatoes
  • chopped
  • One red bell pepper
  • seeded and diced
  • One medium onion
  • chopped
  • Two ribs celery
  • diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Two teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
  • Two bay leaves
  • One teaspoon cumin
  • One teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • or to taste
  • 4 cups tomato juice or Mediterr-Asian Broth (recipe follows)

Instructions

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain well and put in a large bowl. Add olive oil, basil leaves, and half of the garlic. Toss to combine, cover, and set aside.

2. Return pot to heat. Add remaining garlic, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, celery, parsley, seasoning, bay leaves, cumin, red pepper and tomato juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add cooked pasta and cook for 15 minutes more.

Makes six servings.

PER SERVING: 125 CAL (13% from fat), 4g PROT, 2g FAT, 23g CARB, 609mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 4g FIBER

Simple Mediterr-Asian Broth

This broth is soothing to sip all by itself, and it also works well as a base for many vegetable soups.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • 4 cups water
  • Two tablespoons wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • Four large garlic cloves
  • peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning blend
  • 1-star anise
  • (a star-shaped
  • Dark brown pod is native to China. Found in the spice section of Asian markets and most supermarkets.)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Instructions

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine onions, 1/4 cup of water, and vinegar or lemon juice. Simmer until onions have softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add garlic, tomato juice, herb seasoning, and star anise. Return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

3. Add orange juice and remaining water and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain broth; discard solids. Food will keep at least a week in the refrigerator.

Makes about 5 cups.

PER SERVING: 71 CAL (2% from fat), 2g PROT, 0.1g FAT, 16g CARB, 710mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 2g FIBER

Sharmin Begum

The author Sharmin Begum

I have loved spicy food, Mexican in particular, since I was a child as my father was from El Paso where I acquired a taste for it on our many visits. I have cooked Tex-Mex all my adult life, but about 7 years ago I began cooking authentic Mexican food using my own ingredients and making my own tortillas, tamales, etc. On one of my visits to NM I attended the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta and took some excellent cooking classes at the Santa Fe Cooking School and the Old Mexico Grill. I love New Mexican food equally as well as Mexican.

I also grow my own chile peppers, tomatillos, and herbs like cilantro and epazote because they are not available locally.

I got into web publishing because I enjoy “meeting” fellow Chile-heads from all over the world and sharing my passion with them.

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