Sorry it’s been a while since I last posted – a combination of the holidays, vacation, and just plain lazy I guess!  Well, my New Years Resolution was to do at least 3 posts per week…. and go to the gym….. and loose 40 pounds…..  and drink less wine….. Well, I think the posts have the most chance of happening! 
It’s Sunday, and Lynne and I are doing our favorite thing – sitting in front of the fire, watching movies, cooking and eating!  We actually are starting a diet tomorrow, so today is kind of a last hurrah!  Have some peanut soup simmering, and I am probably going to make Fettuccini Alfredo, with a home made sauce – super easy.  But this is a column about soups. 
I LOVE making soup!  Hot ones, cold ones – just about all kinds!  Got a ham bone after the holidays?  You have the base for a beautiful 16 bean soup. Bag of dried beans, water and throw in the bone, add some mashed potatoes and viola – home made soup!  
The best thing about soups,  is it doesn’t take a graduate degree in chemistry to make them!   9 out of 10 have the same base – water, onion, celery, butter, flour and chicken stock.  At that point, it’s just a matter of what flavor you want!  Everyone loves home made soup – especially if they are a little unusual.  We have had soup parties, – with 3 or 4 kinds of soups in crock pots, and served in paper cups.  Easy finger food for a crowd that is more substantial than simple chips and dip!
A storage tip:  Freeze leftovers in plastic zip lock bags in servings for one or two – freeze flat.  They take up little room in the freezer, and are easy to microwave for a quick easy meal.  One last tip – most soups require the base to be blended after it boils for a bit – always be SUPER careful when blending hot liquids – they can explode out of the top of a blender with suprising force, and can not only make a huge mess, but injure as well.  Always use small, slow pulses until fairly smooth.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes:
Butternut Squash Crabmeat Bisque:  This is a perennial favorite in our house!  Simple to make, easy to freeze, and REALLY good!
Ingredients:
Ø      Two bags frozen butternut squash
Ø      2 cups water
Ø      1 large celery stalk, chopped fine
Ø      1 medium onion, chopped fine
Ø      2 tbs butter
Ø      2 tbs all purpose flour
Ø      3 cups chicken broth
Ø      Salt and pepper to taste
Ø      ½ cup heavy cream
Ø      3 cans high quality crab meat, or 1 lb fresh crab meat, claws

   

Directions:
1        Thaw squash, place in a 3 quart sauce pan, with celery, onion and water.  Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender.  Remove from heat, do not drain.
2        CAREFULLY blend mixture with a hand blender or food processor until smooth, put aside.
3        Melt butter in large sauce pan, and slowly stir in flour, whisking constantly until smooth and bubbly.  Remove from heat
4        Stir chicken broth into flour mixture, heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir for one minute.  Stir in squash mixture, add drained crabmeat, and heat to just boiling.
5        Add heavy cream, stirring constantly till hot – do NOT boil
Peanut Soup. 
This is Colonial Williamsburg’s King’s Arms Tavern’s signature soup.  We have made it for company, and many think it a bit strange..” Peanut soup.. really?”  It may sound a little strange, but boy is it fantastic – and I have yet to see ANYONE who doesnt like it!  A GREAT winter soup!
 Ingredients:
Ø       ½ stick butter
Ø      1 medium chopped onion
Ø      2 stalks diced celery
Ø      3 tbs flour
Ø      8 cups chicken broth
Ø      2 cups smooth peanut butter
Ø      1 ¾ cups ½ and ½
Ø      ½ cup finely chopped peanuts for garnish
Directions:
  1. In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. 
  2. Add onion and celery, cook till translucent, stirring often
  3. Stir in flour, and stir till thickened
  4. Add chicken broth, increase heat, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened.
  5. Lower heat, and puree with hand blender
  6. Whisk in peanut butter and cream, whisking often – do NOT boil
  7. Serve topped with chopped peanuts
Serves 10 to 12
Pumpkin Gorgonzola Soup.   This is a simple, elegant Fall/Winter soup that is perfect for company. 
Ingredients:
Ø       1 15 oz pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
Ø      1 ½ cups chicken bullion
Ø      1 tsp ground sage
Ø      1 12 oz can evaporated milk
Ø      ¾ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Ø      2 large green onions, finely chopped
Ø      Pinch of nutmeg
Ø      Tsp salt
Directions:
  1. Cook pumpkin, broth, 1 onion and sage in a large saucepan, until mixture comes to a boil
  2. Stir in evaporated milk and most of the cheese
  3. Reduce heat to low, stirring frequently until cheese is melted
  4. Serve garnished with remaining sliced green onion and cheese
Vishyssoise.   This is a classic French soup, served chilled, that most have heard of, and associate with fancy French restaurants.  The truth is, it is a super simple soup to make, sure to impress your guests with your cooking prowess!  Even though it is a chilled soup, this can be served year round.
Ingredients:
Ø       1 tbs butter
Ø      1 medium onion, diced
Ø      2 medium potatoes, peeled and coursly chopped
Ø      1 stalk celery, chopped
Ø      1 can, 14.5 oz chicken broth
Ø      1 ½ cups half and half
Ø      ¼ tsp salt
Ø      ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Ø      1/8 tsp black pepper
Ø      Chopped fresh chives for garnish
Directions:
  1. Melt butter in large pot over medium heat.  Cook onion until translucent
  2. Stir in potatoes, celery and broth, raise heat and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until vegetables tender
  3. Puree in blender – CAREFULLY
  4. Pour into large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients except chives
  5. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled
  6. Serve garnished with chives.
Well, there you have it – four awsome soups that aren’t your grandma’s chicken noodle!  All of these are great soups to serve for company, or just make to enjoy on a cold winter day.
Bon Appetit!