Warming Soups for Chilly Spring Days

The days are bright, crisp, and brimming with the anticipation of a ripening spring. But as the sun sets, and the shivering night winds hurry families to their homes, a bowl of homemade soup will be a shared pleasure long remembered in years to come.

So popular are soups that entire cookbooks are devoted to them, from the homeliest of fare to the most elegant. The Wooden Spoon Book of Home-Style Soups, Stews, Chowders, Chilis & Gumbos by Marilyn M. Moore features an easy Stacked Irish Stew. Layered ingredients are the secret to this comforting treat. For late spring's promise of fields filled with luscious berries, jot down the simple directions for Strawberry Soup, perfect for dessert on the deck.

Soup and so much more describes Soup Suppers: More than 100 Main-Course Soups and 40 Accompaniments by Arthur Schwartz. Schwartz, a radio and newspaper food critic, has gathered his recipes with a New Yorker's eye for delicious diversity. The Genoese Minestrone With Pesto is perfectly practical in spring, now that fresh herbs are available at many grocery stores. He packs his book with delightful extras such as Swedish Almond Cake and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, to finish off a meal nicely or accent a lighter selection.

Spring vegetables can be the most delicate and welcome of all. Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons: A Treasury of Bountiful Low-Fat Soups and Stews by Nava Atlas has 100 soups that incorporate low-fat and high-fiber foods in simple yet memorable ways. She describes her Spring Vegetable Soup as "brimming with fresh produce in a light, mildly seasoned broth, this is just the soup to serve as an introduction to a festive spring meal such as an Easter dinner or a Passover seder". The Asparagus and Spinach Soup With Wild Rice and Wild Mushrooms marries varied colors with pleasing textures.

David Paul Larousse's The Soup Bible adds a generous dash of history to many of the recipes. The emphasis here is on classic continental cooking for the chef who does not shy away from making his own stock. Recipes run the gamut from Rohan Consomme (game consomme garnished with poached plover's eggs and lettuce chiffonade) to the less problematic Boston Clam Chowder. An interesting read if only to expand one's culinary horizons.

On the lighter side of cooking, Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson is simply fun, especially for those who have a beloved child in their lives. Preschoolers and older children can enjoy making berry yummy Pretend Soup with good things such as yogurt, bananas, and frozen or fresh berries. Children can also create Carrot Pennies and Homemade Lemon-Lime Soda Pop. All recipes are kid-friendly and affectionately illustrated.

Soup on the Web:

There are thousands of recipes for good soup on the Web. Here are several places to begin your explorations:

Crockpot Soup Recipes from About.com
http://southernfood.about.com/library/crock/blsoup.htm
From Almost Clam Chowder to Winter Vegetable Soup, these recipes cook slowly all by themselves so there's time to do other things.

 

Mexican Soups and Stews from Cooking Light magazine
http://www.cookinglight.com/food/world-cuisine/mexican-soups-stews-00400...
Wonderfully spicy recipes you can make at home.

 

Soup Recipes from Allrecipes.com
http://www.souprecipe.com/default.asp
Soups are listed by category and are rated by home cooks, whose reviews may be read on-line. Look for Awesome Chicken Noodle Soup and No Peek Irish Beef Stew.

 

Soups and Stews from Diabetic Living http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/diabetic-recipes/soup/soups-and-stews/
Fireside Beef Stew, Chicken Vegetable Soup, Sweet Potato Soup with Toasted Pecans and twenty-one other good-for-you recipes.