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It's Time to Get Canny About Making Soup

November 28, 2001|ABBY MANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It usually seems as though a robust, main-course soup takes all day to prepare. But not so with these recipes.

Although they have plenty of ingredients, some of the key ones are canned--meaning it takes just minutes to assemble everything and then just a little extra cooking to bring the flavors together. Canned stock works fine (though if you have homemade, use it). And the food processor makes mincing and chopping quicker.

New England Scallop Chowder

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour

Shrimp would be a delicious substitute for the scallops in this chowder.

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6 slices bacon, diced

1 sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Maui, diced

1 1/4 cups diced celery

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons flour

2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced in 3/4-inch pieces

2 1/4 cups milk

1 cup frozen corn

1 pound sea scallops, rinsed, diced in 3/4-inch pieces

2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley or snipped chives, for garnish, optional

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Cook the bacon in a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 3 minutes. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.

Add the onion, celery, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the onion is softened but not browned, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour. Cook 1 minute.

Slowly stir in the clam juice. Cook, stirring, until warm, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the milk and cook until hot but not boiling. (This can be made a day ahead to this point and refrigerated. To serve, gently reheat the soup until hot. Add more milk if the soup is too thick.) Stir in the corn. Cook 1 minute. Stir in the scallops. Cook, stirring often, until the scallops are just opaque, about 2 minutes. Taste; adjust the seasoning. Serve hot, garnished with parsley or chives, if using.

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4 main-course servings. Each serving: 348 calories; 1,229 mg sodium; 65 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 33 grams carbohydrates; 28 grams protein; 2.79 grams fiber.

White Bean Chowder With Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Spinach

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour * Vegetarian

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2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 onion, chopped

3 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed, drained well

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

3 cups vegetable broth

1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 pound mushrooms, stems trimmed, sliced

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Freshly ground pepper

1 (6-ounce) bag baby spinach, rinsed, stems trimmed

2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley or snipped chives, for garnish, optional

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

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Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Reserve 3/4 cup of the beans and place the rest along with the rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth.

Transfer the puree and the reserved beans to the pot. Add the vegetable broth, vinegar, tomatoes, mushrooms, salt, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste) and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (The chowder can be made 2 days ahead to this point and refrigerated, or frozen up to 1 month. To serve, gently reheat the soup until hot.)

Stir in the spinach leaves. Cook 1 minute. Taste; adjust the seasoning.

Serve hot, drizzled with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and garnished with parsley or chives, if using. Pass the Parmesan cheese.

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4 main-course servings. Each serving: 544 calories; 1,294 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 90 grams carbohydrates; 29 grams protein; 18.63 grams fiber.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage and Smoked Sausage Soup

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour

Any precooked sausage can be substituted for the kielbasa sausage. Rustic rye or pumpernickel are good bread choices here.

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2 teaspoons oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 cabbage, quartered, cored and roughly diced

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes with added puree

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can beef broth

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup water

1 pound smoked beef kielbasa sausage, split lengthwise, then cut in 1/2-inch thick slices

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato soup

3 to 5 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley or snipped chives, for garnish, optional

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Heat the oil in a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, crushed tomatoes, beef and chicken broths, sugar, paprika, red pepper flakes, allspice, salt, pepper to taste and the water. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.

Add the sausage and tomato soup. Simmer 10 minutes longer. (This can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen up to 1 month. To serve, gently reheat until hot. Add more water if the soup is too thick.)

Stir in 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Taste; adjust the lemon juice and seasoning. Serve hot, garnished with parsley or chives, if using.

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6 main-course servings. Each serving: 327 calories; 1,713 mg sodium; 38 mg cholesterol; 19 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 30 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams protein; 2.77 grams fiber.

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