Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! The weather has been extremely unpredictable and many people have been dealing with fighting off colds and the flu. During wintery weather, there’s nothing like a steaming hot bowl of soup to warm you up and keep you hydrated.
Microwaved soups don’t stick to the pot, so cleanup is ever so easy. Use a large cooking container to prevent boil-overs. I often use an 8-cup batter bowl (also known as an 8 -cup microwaveable bowl), because it comes with a handle for easier handling. If you have a soup tureen which is microwaveable, it is ideal to use for both cooking and serving. Place a glass pie plate under the cooking container to catch boil-overs and eliminate messy cleanups.
When making veggie-based soups, I usually use my food processor to quickly chop, slice, or shred the vegetables. I often puree the cooked soup in my processor. If you don’t have a food processor, preparation just takes a little longer. Use a sharp knife to chop the vegetables and an immersion blender to puree soups.
Packaged dry soup mixes (e.g., bean and barley, split pea soup) are a quick shortcut when you’re short on time or energy. Although they take nearly the same amount of time to cook in the microwave as when cooking them conventionally, they never stick or scorch. Reduce cooking time by 25% as a guideline. Add your own chopped vegetables such as carrots, celery, and onions to packaged soup mixes for improved flavor.
Large batches of soup can be cooked conventionally and then divided into family-sized batches or individual servings. Freeze until needed, then thaw and reheat in the microwave. Stir soups once or twice for even heating, and to prevent them from erupting. A 10 –12 oz serving of refrigerated soup takes 2–3 minutes to reheat on High power.
Here are some of my favourite soups that come together quickly and are perfect winter fare. Enjoy – and stay healthy!
CHICKEN SOUP (JEWISH PENICILLIN)
You don’t have to be Jewish to love chicken soup! A steaming bowl of golden broth is sure to cure colds or flu. Some cooks like to add turnip or celery root to the broth. “Chicken soup for the bowl” is the ultimate comfort food.
3 1/2–4 lb chicken, cut up
10 cups cold water (approximately)
2–3 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 medium onions
4 to 6 medium carrots
3 to 4 stalks celery
1 parsnip (optional)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh dill
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Trim excess fat from chicken, but don’t remove skin as it adds flavour. Place chicken in a large soup pot. Add water, covering chicken completely by at least 1 inch. Add salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove scum from surface of soup.
- Add onions, carrots, celery, and parsnip to pot. Reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for 1 1/4 hours.
- Add garlic and dill and simmer 15 minutes longer. Adjust salt to taste. Season with freshly ground pepper. Remove pot from heat and cool completely.
- Strain soup, reserving carrots and chicken. Refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, discard hardened layer of fat from surface of soup. Remove and discard skin; dice chicken.
- Reheat soup with diced chicken and carrots. Serve with noodles.
Makes 8 generous servings. Freezes and reheats well.
EASY CHICKEN DUMPLING SOUP
4 1/2 cups Chicken Soup (above)
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup matzo meal
- Place soup in a 2-quart microwaveable bowl or 8-cup batter bowl. Microwave uncovered on High until boiling, about 10 minutes, stirring at half time.
- Meanwhile, combine egg, water, salt, and matzo meal in a medium bowl and mix well. Let stand for 5 minutes to thicken slightly.
- Remove soup from microwave. Drop dumpling mixture, a teaspoonful at a time, into hot soup. (If you dip the spoon into the soup each time, the dumplings will slide right off!)
- Place soup back into microwave. Microwave, uncovered, on High for 4–5 minutes, until dumplings float to the top.
Makes 3–4 servings. Do not freeze.
Stovetop Method: Heat soup in a large pot on the stovetop. Prepare dumpling mixture as directed. Drop dumpling mixture, a teaspoonful at a time, into simmering soup. Cook until dumplings float to the top.
CHINESE CHICKEN & CORN SOUP
Adapted from MicroWays by Norene Gilletz
This is one of my favourite soups which I’ve adapted to cook in the microwave. Simply scrumptious!
2 cans (14 oz/400 g each) cream-style corn
4 cups chicken soup (preferably homemade)
2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2–3/4 tsp Oriental sesame oil
6–8 drops hot sauce (e.g., Tabasco)
2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- Combine corn with chicken broth in an 8-cup batter bowl or microwaveable bowl. Microwave uncovered on High power for 15 minutes, until boiling, stirring at half time.
- Stir in cornstarch mixture, soy sauce, and sugar; mix well. Microwave uncovered on High about 3 minutes longer, until thickened. Stirring once.
- Remove soup from microwave. Pour in beaten eggs in a thin stream, stirring gently to break into shreds.
- Stir in sesame oil and hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with green onions.
Makes 6 servings. Do not freeze.
QUICK GREEN PEA SOUP
Adapted from Norene’s Healthy Kitchen by Norene Gilletz
Surprise! Instead of using dried green peas, this scrumptious soup uses frozen sweet green peas. It’s perfect when you have vegetarians at your Shabbat table.
4 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
4 cups baby spinach leaves, lightly packed
2 medium carrots, cut in chunks
1 medium potato, peeled and cut in chunks
2 lb/900 g pkg frozen sweet green peas (no need to thaw)
8 cups vegetable broth
3–4 cloves garlic
2 tsp curry powder (or 1 tsp ground cumin)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3–4 Tbsp minced fresh basil
- Heat oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden.
- Add remaining ingredients, except basil, to soup pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Using an immersion blender, puree soup while still in the pot, or puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Stir in basil and adjust seasonings to taste.
Makes 6–8 servings. Reheats and/or freezes well.
Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of twelve cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org