• Tommy Centola

Cooler weather makes perfect time for soup

The weather has started to turn cool. It’s time to bring out your stockpots and make some soup. Soups are not only a great way to start a meal, they are also excellent light meals.

Soups fall into two cases, cream based or broth based. The thicker cream based are great with cool temperatures. Both based soups are lighter, lending themselves to being enjoyed year-round. Today, I am sharing soups from both categories, the cream based Artichoke Soup and broth based Red Bean Soup and Sweet Potato and Andouille Soup.

Every time I type artichoke, I am reminded of my mother. It was one of her favorite ingredients to cook with as well as eat. This soup was a popular one at Cannon’s restaurants. You can also add oysters to this for a New Orleans Classic, Oyster and Artichoke Soup.

Artichoke Soup

6 cups Quartered Artichoke Hearts (Reserve Liquid)

½ gal Chicken Stock or Broth

¾ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

½ Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

½ Teaspoon Hot Sauce

1 cup Diced Onions

1 Cup Chopped Green Onions

½ Tablespoon Oregano

½ Teaspoon Thyme

½ Teaspoon Salt

½ Tablespoon White Pepper

1 Tablespoon Granulated Garlic

2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar

3 Sticks Butter

¾ cup Flour

3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Melt butter and sauté onions until transparent. Add green onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Mix chicken stock and artichoke juice. Add flour to onions and stir with a wire whisk. Cook for 2 minutes. Add stock mixture and stir. Add artichokes, lemon juice and Parmesan Cheese and stir. Add Worcestershire Sauce, hot sauce, oregano, thyme, salt, white pepper, granulated garlic, and brown sugar, sprinkling all of the ingredients over the entire area of soup to avoid clumping. Cook for 10 minutes on low temperature.

Red Beans and Rice are a New Orleans Monday tradition. This soup is a way to add a cup to any meal. Even if it is not a Monday.

Red Bean Soup

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

8 ounces Bacon cooked and chopped

1½ cups Onions chopped

¼ cup Green Bell Pepper chopped

1 tablespoon Garlic minced

3 Bay Leaves

8 ounces Andouille Sausage sliced into bite sized disc

2 cups dry Kidney Beans soaked overnight

1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning Blend

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

8 cups Chicken Stock or Broth

1 teaspoon Salt

Cooked Rice

In a large pot over high heat, heat the oil. Add the bacon and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, and Andouille and sauté 2 more minutes. Add the beans and sauté for 2 minutes more. Stir in the Creole seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the salt, cover the pot and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit, covered, for about 20 minutes. Serve with ¼ cup of cooked rice.

Potato soup is found on most restaurant menus. I thought I would do a twist on that classic. I changed the potatoes to sweet potatoes. I also made this a broth based soup. I know you will like this version.

Sweet Potato and Andouille Soup

5 pounds Sweet Potatoes

1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter

1 pound Andouille Sausage, sliced

1 cup finely chopped Celery

1 cup finely chopped Onion

3 quarts (12 cups) Chicken Stock or Chicken Broth

1/2 cup Molasses

Kosher Salt and White Pepper to taste

Place the whole unpeeled sweet potatoes in a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until easily pierced with a knife and the sugars begin to release. Cool, peel and chop the sweet potatoes.

Melt the butter in a large sauce pot and add the sausage. Cook until the sausage is brown. Add the celery and onion and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Add the sweet potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until the flavors blend.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender. Return to the sauce pot and stir in the molasses, kosher salt and white pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through.

I’m not a cold weather person. A cup of soup, however, always helps me to take the chill off.

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