Soup: a bowl full of comfort.

Ahhh, soup. The word alone can conjure up such a sense of…. warmth. Well-being. Like you’ve just been hugged. I used to work for a Chef that always said you can tell the quality of a restaurant, by their soup. He said if they cared enough about this humble, often neglected course, they were doing things well.

Spicy Chick Pea. Homemade Crisps.

I LOVE soup! Minestrone, Mushroom, Tomato Vodka, Beef & Barley, Cioppino, Cauliflower with Cheese…. so very many to choose from…and every country has their specialties. I’ve been lucky enough to try the famous Tuscan Ribollita, in Florence, at a charming place called Il Latini. It was as I’d always read – absolutely delicious, thick enough to stand on, hearty and filling. So filling in fact, we had no room for another course. Well, that, and the fact that while waiting to get in, we were showered with not only samples of wine that kept coming, but an assortment of antipasti following along behind them… cheese, salami… I’ve not ever seen anything like it before. Or since. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve been there, but knowing how things are in Italy, it will not have changed. If you find yourself there, go.

So back to soup and all it’s virtue. Having recently written about some soups – that have inspired others to get cooking – I wanted to show it some more attention. TLC, if you will. Seriously, how many dishes are made so easily, so quickly and are just so damn good for you??? And how environmentally friendly can a dish be, I mean, c’mon…. buying locally and seasonally really applies here. Think of root and other hearty vegetables in fall/winter…. Butternut Squash, Cauliflower, Parsnip. And what would summer be without Gazpacho, or a gorgeous Melon soup on a hot summer day…

Black Bean with Cheese. Focaccia Bread.

I’ve recently watched a series of Julia Child videos; she made the famous Vichyssoise with three ingredients. Leeks. Potato. Water. I’ve only ever used stock…. but after the foray in my recent Carrot & Ginger Soup find (recipe said to use water, not stock) – can’t wait to try it with just water. Simple. Ahhh.

Think  Chicken Soup. Think of its’ wondrous, amazing properties to restore… feeding both body and soul. Why, there’s even books of that very title – Chicken Soup for the Soul…. that have nothing to do with cooking!

Don’t forget garnishes… toppings… call ’em what you will. For quick croutons… butter up whatever bread is laying around, seriously, and old is best – cube it and fry until crisp and golden (throw in some garlic or herbs to really jazz ’em up!) Or, and this can be fun… check out what’s in your cupboard. From crackers to rice chips, to popcorn…and think of how your kids would love a school of goldfish crackers… floating on top of their lunch!!

Health. Comfort. Nutrition. All good – especially after the decadence of the holidays!

In lieu of a recipe today (how could I choose just one…) I’ve included some pics of soups I’ve  made, and fallen in love with. Below is a link for the Ribollita. And you’ve already seen the one above for Il Latini. Heyyou never know!