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Our winter weather has been frigid, which makes it the best time of the year to serve hot and delicious homemade soup. Here are some great recipes for you to try. Enjoy!

Russet Potato and Vegetable Soup

1 tablespoon butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

6 cups chicken broth

3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 medium carrots, sliced

2 medium celery stalks, minced

1 zucchini, sliced

1 teaspoon dried dill

1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and black pepper to taste

1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and onion; sauté for 8 to 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Add chicken broth, potatoes, carrots, celery and zucchini; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add dill, parsley, salt, pepper and cornstarch-water mixture. Stir well

And continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the soup is slightly thickened. Ladle into bowls to serve. Yield: 8 servings.

Ditalini Pasta and Bean Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup carrots, sliced

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14-1/2-ounce) can vegetable or chicken broth

1-3/4 cup water

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1-1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Dash of black pepper

8-ounces ditalini pasta (1/2 of 16-ounce) box, uncooked

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Lightly coat Dutch oven or large soup pot with cooking spray. Add oil and place pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, green pepper and garlic; sauté until vegetables are almost tender. Add vegetable or chicken broth and next 7 ingredients; bring to a boil. Lower heat; cover and simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pasta to vegetable mixture; cover and simmer 15 minutes until pasta is tender. Serve into bowls, top each serving with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Yield: 8 servings.

Ham and Cheddar Chowder

2 cups peeled, cubed baking potatoes

1/2 cup water

1 cup chopped onion

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

1 (16-1/2-ounce) can cream-style corn

1-1/2 cups (6-ounce) shredded Cheddar cheese

1-1/2 cups chopped, cooked ham

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine potatoes and water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving liquid. Set potatoes aside. Add water to reserved liquid to equal 1 cup.

Cook onion in butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until tender. Reduce heat to low. Add flour, stirring until blended. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add reserved liquid and milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add potatoes, corn and remaining ingredients; cook until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 cups.

Hearty Vegetable Beef Soup

6 cups water

1-1/2 pounds meaty beef shank crosscuts

1 tablespoon instant beef bouillon granules

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 (14-1/2-ounce) can low-sodium tomatoes, cut up

1 cup loose-pack frozen whole kernel corn

1 cup cubed, peeled potatoes

1 cup loose-pack frozen cut green beans

2 medium carrots, sliced

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1 medium chopped onion

1/4 cup sliced celery

In a large soup pot, stir together water with the next 6 ingredients. Bring to boiling; reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours. Remove meat. When meat is cool enough to handle, cut it off the bones and chop it coarsely. Discard bones, if desired. (Bones make a good flavor; you can leave them in during the whole cooking process). Strain broth through a large sieve and pour it into a metal bowl. Place bowl in ice water to solidify the fat from the broth. Skim off the fat; return broth to soup pot. Stir in meat, tomatoes and next 7 ingredients. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and slowly simmer about 45 minutes more until vegetables are tender. Yield: 4 servings.

Danish Pastry Apple Bars

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup shortening

1 egg yolk

Low-fat milk

1 cup cornflakes

8 to 10 baking apples (Cortland, Rome Beauty or Granny Smith), peeled and sliced

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

Sifted powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Lightly beat egg yolk in a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to egg yolk to make 2/3 cup liquid total; mix well. Stir egg yolk mixture into flour mixture; mix well. Divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll half the dough to an 18x12-inch rectangle. Fit into and up the sides of a 15x10x 1-inch baking pan that is lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. Sprinkle with cornflakes; top with apples. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples. Roll remaining dough to a 16x12-inch rectangle; place over apples. Seal edges; cut slits in top for steam to escape. Beat egg white and water; brush over pastry. Bake at 350º about 45 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cool, sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yield: 32 bars.

Marble Cake

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2-1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup nonfat yogurt

Whisk cocoa, sugar and water in small bowl until smooth; set aside. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In another bowl, beat unsalted butter for 30 seconds until creamy. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar with the butter on high speed 2 to 3 minutes until lightened in color. Whisk together in small bowl the egg, egg whites and vanilla and beat into butter mixture. On low speed, beat flour mixture into butter mixture, in 3 parts, alternating with nonfat yogurt in 2 parts. Stir 1-1/2 cups batter into cocoa mixture. Using a large spoon, scoop 3/4 of plain batter into bottom of pan without smoothing surface. Spoon all chocolate batter over plain batter without smoothing the surface. Distribute remaining plain batter on top, spacing dollops so some chocolate shows through. Use table knife to marble 2 batters gently without blending completely. Pour batter into a greased and floured 6-cup fluted tube or bundt pan and bake at 350º for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Tap sides of pan against counter to loosen cake. Invert cake and cool, right side up, on rack. Yield: 10 servings.

Kitchen Tip:

Always make stock in a large quantity and freeze it in plastic bags. That way, when you want to make a soup or boil vegetables, you can easily pull the bag out of the freezer.

Any comments, questions or favorite recipes? I would like to hear from you. Please email me at Please write “Helen’s Kitchen Request” in the subject line to make sure that I receive your email!

Chicken Soup with Orzo

1 (3-pound) package chicken pieces

3 quarts water

1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1-1/2 cups sliced carrots

1 cup diced celery

2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)

Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse chicken under cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Combine chicken and 3 quarts water in a stockpot; bring to a boil. Add the onion, chopped carrot, chopped celery and peppercorns; bring to a boil. Partially cover; reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Remove chicken from broth; reserving broth; cool. Remove chicken from bones; cut into bite-size pieces. Strain chicken broth through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Add enough water to broth to measure 10 cups; pour broth mixture into stockpot. Add diced carrots, diced celery, basil, oregano, salt and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Add chicken and orzo; cook 8 minutes or until pasta is done. Yield 8 servings.