Soup – Versatile, Delicious, and Fragrant

What can beat the convenience of a one-dish meal simmering in a pot on the stove or in a slow cooker, filling the house with fragrant aromas?  Nothing answers that question but soup!  I mentioned in a recent post Simple Soothing Soup that to me soup is liquid comfort food.  Soup is a delight to the senses of taste and smell as well as being satisfying to a ravenous appetite!

Making Your Own Soup

Advantages to making your own soup include:

*It will taste better than any canned soup you could buy, especially if you use fresh ingredients.


*You have a variety of soups from which to choose – hot or cold, sweet or savory, thick or thin, bland or spicy.

*You can control what ingredients go into your soup, including spices, herbs and other flavorings.  

*You control the amount of sodium and fat that is in your soup.

*You can make a large amount of soup at one time and freeze it in smaller containers for future use. (Exception: soups with milk or cream don’t freeze well.)

*You can blend or puree the soup to a smooth consistency, especially nice for those with dental or oral problems.

Two Recipes  – Key West Black Bean Soup and Lentil Soup Crescenti Style

Key West Black Bean Soup is adapted from a recipe given me years ago by a representative of Eatem Soup Bases.  Chicken Soup Base may be used in this recipe in place of chicken bouillon cubes.  (I just happened to have the bouillon cubes in my pantry.)  Before making this soup, I cooked chicken breasts in water until they were done and then I used the broth from cooking the chicken breasts as part of the liquid for this soup, instead of using water.  

Key West Black Bean Soup could also be made in a slow cooker.  Just put all the ingredients, including the chicken, in the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-8 hours.  Whether cooked in a pot on top of the stove or in a slow cooker, if you desire a thicker soup just mash a few of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken the broth.  The complete recipe may be found  by clicking here.

Key West Black Bean Soup

A Brief History about Slow Cookers and Mable Hoffman

The recipe for Lentil Soup Crescenti Style first appeared in Crockery Cookery, probably the first cookbook ever written with recipes for slow cookers, which we all called Crock Pots in those days.  (Crock Pots are to slow cookers as Kleenex are to tissues, Band-Aids are to bandages, Jello is to gelatin – you get the picture.)

Slow Cookers or Crock Pots first arrived on the scene in the 1970’s.  Millions of them were sold in the ’70’s as they were marketed to working women who could put food in the slow cooker before leaving for work and come home to a hot cooked meal.  Slow cooker sales dropped off in the ’80’s, probably with the introduction of the microwave oven.  

Mable Hoffman authored Crockery Cookery which became a New York Times Bestseller in 1975 because she was definitely at the right place at the right time as new owners of slow cookers were clamoring for recipes specifically designed for them.  She published 18 cookbooks over a span of 25 years, with one-third of them dedicated to the slow cooker.  She personally built a collection of slow cookers so large she eventually lost count of how many she owned.

She also worked as a Food Stylist for Better Homes and Gardens and was a consultant and recipe developer for Sunkist Growers.  She died in 2010 at the age of 88.  Thanks to Mable Hoffman for leading the way in revolutionizing cooking for the working woman!

The popularity of slow cookers has waxed and waned over the years but a survey by Consumer Reports in 2011 reported that 83% of American families owned a slow cooker.  Slow cookers are as popular as ever!

The design has changed very little over time except now most slow cookers have a removable insert, making cleaning easier.  Some of the newest models have temperature controls and timers and one even has a refrigerated setting so food can be placed into it the night before.  Fancy!  

Lentil Soup Crescenti Style is a hearty soup with beef neck bones (soup bones), carrots, potatoes, onion, celery, tomatoes and lentils, flavored with marjoram. After cooking for several hours, the beef bones are removed from the soup and the meat is cut off and returned to the pot with the cabbage and zucchini.  For the complete recipe, click here.  

Slow cookers are nice to have in the hot weather months as the kitchen doesn’t get hot when using the slow cooker to prepare a meal.  On a cold day it’s a treat to come in from work or play and smell a wonderful soup waiting for you to eat.  

Try one of these soup recipes soon!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!!

Janet

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