Marion cooks up a delicious, hearty Potato, Parsnip and Carrot Soup with sausage and dill, based on childhood memories, and I revisit a simple, satisfying soup with white beans, sausage and leafy greens. Recipes below.
Unseasonably cool weather [and mind you, we're not complaining—we love it] put Blue Kitchen in full soup mode this past weekend. We both made hearty, warming soups. I’ll let Marion tell you about hers first. And if summer is still being summery where you are, you’ll find links to a couple of chilled soups at the end of this post.
My mother didn’t care for cooking. She loved to bake, and my childhood is crowded with memories of amazing pastries—braided challahs; tiered cakes iced and decorated with tiny! marzipan! fruits and vegetables!; sheets of napoleons so good that I don’t even bother to taste napoleons any more because they will be a disappointment; cinnamon rolls at once austere and intense. But the cooking? Oh, well.
There were exceptions, of course. For special occasions, roasted geese and ducks. Anything she ever made with a potato–latkes, kugels, salads. One of her attempts at Americana, chuck roast sprinkled with—yes!—dried onion soup and baked in aluminum foil, which I recall thinking was amazingly wonderful. And her soups. Elegant clear very gold chicken soup. Mushroom barley soup. Borscht, starting with the single most gristly ugly piece of beef at the store plus some dirty beets from the yard and transforming it all into this tart, clear purity. And potato soup with lots of fresh dill.
This dish is a modest homage to those wonderful bowls. On Sunday, we came home from an afternoon riding our bikes along the lakefront and tramping around Lincoln Park and then riding our bikes some more. The weather was more like early October than late August, cool, cloudless, with the sky that autumnal deep dry blue and a brisk wind, and we were STARVING. What did we have in the fridge? These very ingredients, and half an hour later they were dinner.
Potato, Parsnip and Carrot Soup
Serves 3 to 4
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, not peeled but cut into approximately 1-inch chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 teaspoons butter
4 to 5 ounces kielbasa, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus a little more for garnish
Put the potatoes in a heavy pot, then add the diced parsnip and carrot to the pot. Add water just to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potato is cooked—about seven or eight minutes [see Kitchen Notes]. Turn off the heat.
Transfer about half the soup—both the vegetables and the liquid—either to your food processor or, if you prefer to use a wand, to a deep bowl. Add the butter to it. Purée, either pulsing your processor or zapping around with the hand wand.
When the soup is completely smooth, add it back into the soup pot and stir to blend. Put in four or five ounces of diced kielbasa and two tablespoons of fresh, chopped dill. Heat everything through and simmer for two or three minutes. Serve hot, garnished with more dill.
If you wish, instead of butter use olive oil, and omit the kielbasa. Honestly, this soup is hearty and delicious and satisfying even without the butter and sausage.
Wet or dry? The water content of potatoes varies quite a bit, depending on the variety you use and on the time of year. Newly harvested potatoes have a higher water content than potatoes that have been in storage for some time. [I learned this the hard way, making potato gnocchi that gobbled an unimaginable volume of flour.] This variation in water content also affects the cooking time.
White Bean Soup with Sausage and Chard
Well, that’s what it was when I first wrote about it. But this time around, this soup was thisclose to being replaced by carryouts from Chipotle. We had spent much of Saturday on chores and schlepping, and I had neither the time nor the inclination to mess with even something so simple as cleaning and chopping Swiss chard. But when I thought of replacing the chard with baby spinach, the soup seemed suddenly much more doable that night—and more desirable than any carryouts.
Like Swiss chard, spinach is chock full of nutrients, antioxidants and other cancer-fighting properties. Crucifers also promote heart health and protect bone density. Unlike chard, baby spinach can be bought in pre-washed bagfuls, which is why it made the cut last Saturday night.
Two other key ingredients in this soup are white beans and kielbasa. The beans are good for you because they deliver lots of protein and fiber. The kielbasa is good for you because it tastes good and will make you happy, and that can make you healthier. Seriously.
Two more ingredients play a big role in shaping the flavor of this soup, elevating it, making it more complex—thyme and white wine. You’ll see what I mean when each of them hits the pan and fills your kitchen with wonderful aromas.
Okay, enough blah, blah, blah. Here’s the recipe for White Bean Soup with Sausage and Chard. Feel free to make it with Swiss chard, spinach or even kale.
Too hot for soup? Chill with these
Here are a couple of delicious chilled soups. And as it happens, one of these is mine, the other Marion’s: