The other night, we had a dorm event centered around soup. That is my kind of event! I love soup passionately, and have shared many soups here across the years.
I started to ask my husband which soup he wanted me to bring, then amended my statement to, “Do you want me to make lasagna soup?”
He shook his head vigorously. This is probably his favorite soup that I make, and it’s a great crowd-pleaser for events. It’s hearty and satisfying and really much easier to make than a lasagna. With just a touch of cheese, you get the same lasagna feeling, too, without being weighed down with tons of carbs and dairy products.
Make some soup to survive these last weeks of winter. You won’t be sad to have a bowl of this on your table. And if you need more carbs, it’s a great dipping vessel for crusty bread.
You can never have enough soup recipes during the winter? Am I right? I could eat soup basically for every meal and be happy as a clam.
My assignment for this month’s Secret Recipe Club was Searching for Spice. Corina lives in Surrey, England, and has two little ones. Her recipes are for busy moms, loaded with hearty spices, and delicious. Many of her recipes are ethnic, especially falling into the Indian and Thai food categories. They look delightful, and I’m eager to try one on my husband, like Chicken Biryani with Spinach Raita. (OK, he won’t eat that raita, but I definitely will!)
I’m always a little daunted by recipes that are in metric and have unfamiliar ingredients, but my husband reminded me that Google is my friend and I can do it! Thankfully Corina’s recipe for Pizza Soup looked awesome and had few conversions for me to do.
This soup has big pieces of bell pepper, onion, salami, and mushrooms, making it hearty enough for a meal on its own, which sometimes soup is not. A slice of cheese toast on the top helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes and adds and extra flavor layer. I made just a few modifications. Corin may be ashamed of me, but I can’t handle spicy foods, so I subbed in salami for chorizo and reduced the red pepper flakes a little. If you like spice, by all means, throw in as many as you want. And maybe some jalapeños, too!
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add salami and cook a few minutes, stirring, until it begins to crisp. Add bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, and onion and reduce heat to medium. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent.
Add balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes to the pot, and stir well. Fill the tomato can about two-thirds with water and add it to the soup, stirring. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and some black pepper.
Top bread slices with shredded cheese and a pinch of Italian seasoning and broil until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Ladle soup into bowls, then top with cheese toast. (You can substitute toasted garlic bread as well.)
I needed an appetizer, though, to share with the other women on the retreat I went to this past weekend. So I settled on Parmesan and Herb Chicken Tenders, a Rachael Ray adaptation.
I decided to forgo the frying step in the recipe, simply because I know I can make crunchy, baked chicken fingers; also, it’s another pan I would have to wash. I hate washing dishes.
I also had to make some changes in the herbs. (I didn’t realize the amounts were for fresh herbs, either, so I may have gone a little herbalicious!) We just moved, and the spice containers I use were still packed. I was missing several spices, so I exchanged the rosemary and thyme for plain old Italian seasoning, which I could find. I’m sure fresh herbs would be divine as well.