Elegant Soups Made Easy

Elegant Soups Made Easy
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Elegant Soups Made EasyMy husband and I returned from a rare night out, having used a gift card we’d been given for a nice restaurant. I loved the soup I'd had before dinner, and recalled other soups I'd had over the years. As I looked up similar recipes, I realized they were rather time consuming and often included expensive ingredients.

I took three classic recipes and altered them a bit to save time, and switched a few ingredients around to save money. The results were wonderful, and each recipe ended up as a "keeper" for our family. 

Below are the recipes, but first I have a few comments on ingredients and methods. A 16 ounce package of bacon will be enough for the French Onion Soup and the Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup. I made one soup, and then froze the remaining uncooked bacon until I was ready to make the other soup. Don't spend a lot of money on quality bacon because it doesn't matter how thin the pieces are, since they can be thrown in the soup pot and cooked until crisp. 

The French Onion Soup takes the most time, but once the onions start cooking, they only need to be stirred occasionally. I asked my son to help watch the pan, and worked on other things while it was cooking. This soup is also the richest, and works best as an appetizer. The other two soups are hardy enough to make a meal if combined with bread and salad.


French Onion Soup 


4 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 large sweet onions, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 cup red wine or water

4 cups beef stock

1 cup water

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 small French baguette, sliced

8 ounces shredded Italian cheese 

Melt butter in a Dutch oven or a soup pan on medium heat. Add the sliced onions, spreading them over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the salt evenly over the top of the onions. Cook on medium to begin but lower the heat if needed. They should only simmer, so they brown lightly and slowly. Continue to cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally. They will be softened, and will turn a deep brown in color. If the onions seem to be sticking, add a bit more oil or butter, and reduce the heat more. 

Once the onions are cooked, sprinkle the tablespoon of flour over the onions and stir well. Add the thyme, black pepper, wine, water and beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook the soup for about 30 minutes. Don't cover all the way, but place a lid on part way, so steam escapes. 

At this point the soup is finished after the 30 minutes, but restaurants place toasted bread with cheese on top of each oven proof bowl and broil or bake until the cheese is melted. You can toast the pieces of bread lightly, and top with cheese, then put the piece of cheesy bread on top of the soup if you don't have ovenproof bowls. The soup can also be topped with cheese in each bowl as soon as it's finished and the cheese will melt on its own. 

Note: I used sweet onions, but white or yellow onions can also be used. If using another variety that isn’t sweet add a tsp. of sugar to the onions while cooking.


Spicy Italian Potato Sausage Soup 


1 pound ground hot Italian sausage

4-5 pieces of bacon, chopped

1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced and halved

2 tsp. minced garlic

5 cups water

5 cups chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream (8 ounces whipping cream)

3 large potatoes, peeled, sliced thinly and halved 

Sauté the Italian sausage in a soup pot. Drain any excess fat and set aside in the same pan, sauté the bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for 10-15 or until the onions are soft. Stir often and lower heat if needed-- the onions and garlic should not darken, only very lightly brown. Add the stock and water to the pan and heat until boiling. Add the sliced potatoes and cook until softened, about half an hour. Add the heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated, but not boiling. Stir in the sausage, heat through again and serve. Serves 6-8.


Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup 


10-12 slices bacon

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups milk

3 cups water

1 can cream of chicken soup

4 large potatoes

2-3 green onions, chopped

8 ounce bag shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Wash/scrub the potatoes, prick with a fork, and microwave until just tender. Cut in half and set aside to cool. Place bacon in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Cook until lightly browned and crisp. Remove and set aside to cool. While the bacon is cooking, scrape the potatoes out of the shells into a bowl, breaking up any large pieces. Set aside.

When the bacon is removed from the pan, turn on medium heat; whisk the flour in the bacon drippings until smooth. Gradually stir in milk and water, whisking constantly until thickened. Add the can of soup, and stir until combined. Stir in the potatoes. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix in bacon, cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with the green onions before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

Note: I used the bacon drippings instead of butter and margarine, wanting the taste of the bacon. It’s all fat, but some cooks don’t like using drippings. It’s fine to use about ¾ cup of margarine or butter in place of the bacon fat. In that case, cook the bacon in a skillet, rather than the soup pot.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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