Time for soup!

Published 11:56 am Friday, February 9, 2024

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“February is the border between winter and spring” 

-Terri Guillemets 


Winter is still with us bringing cold rainy or snowy days. Then it teases us with some warm springlike temperatures. Crocus and daffodils begin poking through the cold dirt and mulch. It’s the perfect month for a bowl of hot, tasty soup to warm us until those March winds start to blow.

Linda: I remember a chicken and rice soup you used to make. It was delicious. When I owned my Colorado ice cream store I served soup every Wednesday in my store in the winter. This soup was 

a favorite.

Lucy: It’s filled with chicken and mushrooms. The wild rice makes a hearty soup. I can still buy the original Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice packages. That’s what I’ve always used. You cook the rice before adding to the soup.

Linda: Recently, while browsing through my favorite Debbie Macomber “Cedar Cove Cookbook,” I discovered an easy recipe for homemade tomato soup. She included a recipe for pita croutons. And of course, it’s perfect with yummy grilled cheese sandwiches. I call it Saturday Night Tomato Soup. It seems like the perfect weekend soup for a day filled with errands and shopping. It calls for San Marzano crushed tomatoes. I found the Cento brand and also Hunts San Marzano-style whole tomatoes. 

Lucy: San Marzano is both a type of tomato and a region in Italy. The San Marzano tomato is a type of plum tomato, but it’s longer and thinner than the typical plum tomato. It is known for its flavor and quality as a canning tomato. San Marzano production is protected by a European designation of origin certification. It’s considered the gourmet of canned tomatoes. 

Linda: That’s why Hunts has to call it San Marzano-style tomatoes. They aren’t actually grown in that region of Italy. Since authentic canned San Marzano are available, it’s fun to splurge and use the best. With the Super Bowl approaching, do you have a soup suggestion that would be good for the big football day?

Lucy: I do have another delicious recipe. It’s called Swiss Potato Soup. It’s made using Swiss cheese with cubed potatoes. The potatoes need to be cubed small enough to cook in the soup, but not so small that they will break up if cooked for a while. I shared it with my neighbors who always love being my taste testers. They loved it and thought the Swiss cheese was good with the potatoes.

Linda: The temperatures have dropped today. I’m ready to get these recipes out and start cooking. There will be a Landrum Farmers Market Pop-up market on February 17. We’ll have a booth and hope some of our readers stop by.


Lucy’s Chicken Wild Rice Soup

14 servings (3-1/2 quarts).


2 quarts chicken broth

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1/2 cup additional chicken broth

3 cups cooked wild rice

2 cups cubed cooked chicken



In a large saucepan, combine the first 8 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. In a Dutch oven, melt butter; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually whisk in broth mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in mushroom soup and additional chicken broth. Add rice and chicken; heat through.



Saturday Night Tomato Soup and Swiss Cheese Pita Croutons

Serves 6


2 tablespoons butter 

2 shallots, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, minced 1 bay leaf 

2 28-ounce cans whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes, crushed

2 tablespoons brown sugar 

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup whipping cream (or slightly more to taste)

Chopped fresh basil, for garnish 



Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add shallots; cook 5 minutes, until softened, stirring often. Stir in garlic and bay leaf; cook 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and their juices and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing tomatoes against the side of the bowl. Remove bay leaf. Transfer mixture to a blender. Puree until smooth. Return to pot over medium heat. Stir in broth and warm through. Add heavy cream. Heat and stir to warm. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish servings with chopped basil and pita croutons. 


2 pita pockets ½ cup finely shredded Swiss cheese Salt, to taste.


For croutons: Preheat oven to 350° F. Slice pitas in half crosswise; separate to form 8 semicircles. Arrange on a baking sheet and sprinkle the rough sides of the pita with the cheese; season with salt. Bake 13 minutes, until golden and crispy. Cut or break into 2-inch wedges. 


Swiss Potato Soup

4 servings 


5 bacon strips, diced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups water

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups 2% milk

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese



In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp; remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. Saute onion in drippings until tender. Add water, potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.

Combine flour and milk until smooth; gradually stir into potato mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir

until thickened and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in cheese until melted.

Sprinkle with bacon.