A Spoon's Best Friend

Recipes for steaming soups and stews

When the weather outside is frightful, there’s nothing more delightful than something piping
hot from the kitchen.

From hearty stews to creamy purees to soothing broths, a steaming bowl or mug of soup is the ultimate comfort food.

And, with all the holiday hustle
and bustle, it’s good to know there’s something you can make
in one big pot.

The following five cookbooks are filled with cozy recipes that chase away the chill and warm the heart:


“The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy”

By Domenica Marchetti
Published by Chronicle Books

Zuppa di Cipolle al Pecorino (Onion Soup With Pecorino)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds yellow onions or a mix of yellow and red, halved and
thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced, fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup dry Marsala
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups low-sodium beef broth, heated to a simmer
Freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When it has melted and begins to sizzle, add the onions and stir to coat well.

Sprinkle in marjoram and salt, reduce the heat to low and let the onions cook, un-covered, stirring from time to time, 45 minutes, or until they are golden and velvety soft.

Raise the heat to medium-high, and pour in the Marsala. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes, or until some of the wine has evaporated.

In a small bowl, stir together the tomato paste and 1/4 cup of the broth. Reduce the heat to low again and simmer, partially covered, 45 minutes.

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with salt. Place two toasted bread rounds in each of 4 shallow bowls, if desired. Ladle the soup over the bread and sprinkle each serving with a tablespoon or two of cheese.


Makes 4 servings.

“One Dish Meals”

By The Culinary Institute of America
Published by Lebhar-Friedman Books

A Really Big Chili

1/2 cup canola oil
3 pounds lean pork loin, cut into
a small dice
Salt as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups small-dice yellow onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato puree
1 cup diced green chiles
2 fresh jalapenos, minced
3 tablespoons mild pure chili powder, or to taste
3 tablespoons ground cumin, or to taste
2 teaspoons ground oregano
4 cups diced, red-skinned potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons green Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
Four 8-inch tortillas, warmed


Heat the oil in a casserole or Dutch oven over high heat until it shimmers.

Season the pork generously with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the hot oil, working in batches if necessary, and sauté, turning as necessary, until browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the pork to a bowl and set it aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the casserole or Dutch oven and sauté them, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the broth, tomato puree, chiles, jalapenos and the browned pork, along with
any juices it may have released to the pot. Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

Stir in half the chili powder, half of the cumin and half of the oregano. Add the potatoes, green Tabasco and vinegar and continue to simmer, adjusting the seasoning with additional chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, until the pork is fork tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Serve in heated bowls topped with the Monterey Jack and accompanied by the tortillas.


Makes 8 servings.


“Williams Sonoma Food Made Fast Soup”

By Georgeanne Brennan
Published by Oxmoor House

Potato-Cheddar Soup

4 slices bacon
1 leek, white part only, halved, rinsed and
thinly sliced
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded, sharp Cheddar cheese


In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the pan and return the pan to medium heat.

Add the leeks and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the cubed potatoes
and the broth and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low.
Cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Raise the heat to medium, add the milk and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and bring to just
a simmer.

Using a food processor or blender, process the soup to a smooth puree. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat it to serving temperature.

Add the cheese and stir until melted.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, crumble the bacon
on top, and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

“The Culinary Institute of America Book of Soups”

Published by Lebhar-Friedman Books

Cream of Mushroom Soup

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
8 cups chopped mushrooms (about 1-1/4 pounds)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced (about 1-1/4 cups)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken broth
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 cup sliced mushrooms (about 2-1/2 ounces)
1-1/2 cups heavy cream, heated
Fresh lemon juice
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add
the chopped mushrooms, celery and leeks. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.

Whisk in the broth gradually. Add the thyme sprig, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a skillet. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté them until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove them from the heat.

Remove the thyme and discard.

Puree the soup, and then strain it through a cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve. Return the soup to the pot and place it over low heat.

Add the heavy cream and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Heat the soup,
but do not let it boil.

Serve in heated bowls, garnished with the cooked, sliced mushrooms.

Makes 8 servings.

“One-Pot Cookbook”

By Jesse Ziff Cool
Published by Chronicle Books


Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

8 ounces dried, broad egg noodles
Olive oil for tossing
1 (2-1/2 to 3-1/2-pound) chicken, cut
into eight pieces
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery or fennel,
coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
3 dill sprigs
5 black peppercorns
2 cups assorted vegetables, such
as peas, corn,
chopped bok choy, spinach, kale or green beans
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


If you prefer a clear soup, cook the noodles ahead of time in a large pot of salted, boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse them under cold water.

Place the noodles in a large bowl, toss them with a little olive oil and set them aside or refrigerate them until they’re ready to use.

In a very large, heavy pot, combine the chicken, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, thyme, dill and peppercorns. (If you want a deeper, nuttier flavor for your soup, brown the chicken parts first in a little oil.)

Add enough cold water to generously cover the chicken and vegetables and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.

Immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, at least 2 hours, or until the broth tastes rich and full. Be sure that the broth doesn’t come to a rolling boil, or it
might become cloudy.

Strain the broth through a colander set over a large bowl and set it aside to cool.

If you want to remove the fat, refrigerate the broth until the fat rises to the top and congeals, then spoon it off.

Pick the chicken meat from the bones and return the meat to the pot, along with 5 to 8 cups of the broth. If you haven’t already cooked them, add the noodles and vegetables and simmer about 10 minutes, or until the noodles and vegetables are tender.

If you have already cooked the noodles, return them to the pot for a brief time to warm, about 2 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle soup into warm bowls.

Makes 6 servings.