'Tis the season for soups, stews to shine

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 23 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

Harvest Pumpkin Soup with Cheddar is one of the recipes featured in "Soup's On! 100 Savory Soups, Stews and Chilis Made Easy," by Valerie Phillips and published by Covenant Communications. Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor and blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com.

Valerie Phillips

With outside temperatures dropping, it’s time for warmer food, like soups, to shine.

A pair of recently released cookbooks — “Soup’s On!” by Valerie Phillips (Covenant Communications, $19.99) and “Lion House Soups and Stews” (Deseret Book, $19.99) compiled by Brenda Hopkin, the Lion House head baker, and David Bench, the Lion House executive chef — include recipes for soups, stews, chowders, bisques, chowders, chili, gumbos and a few cold soups. Both Phillips and Hopkin love soups, especially this time of year.

“Soups are winter’s answer to salads,” said Phillips, who was the Deseret News’ food editor for 10 years and who now blogs at chewandchat.blogspot.com.

Growing up, she grew tired of sandwiches in her school lunches so her mom started putting soups in a Thermos. Also, when she, her husband and their young son were living in Saudi Arabia and traveled through parts of Asia and Europe, many times, cooked soups generally seemed safer than fresh salads.

In “Soup’s On! 100 Savory Soups, Stews and Chiles Made Easy,” Phillips developed 75 recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or fewer (in testing them, she set her timer for 30 minutes to see how it would work) and 10 are slow-cooker recipes or put-in-the-oven-before-church recipes like the Root Beer-Braised Beef Stew.

She uses shortcuts like using pre-cut, dried or frozen ingredients, like frozen hash browns instead of chopping potatoes and freeze-dried onions from food storage. Phillips also includes other soup-cooking tips, like making a weekly menu to efficiently use ingredients, be flexible and stock up on convenience items when they are on sale so things are in the pantry when needed.

While precut fresh vegetables are more expensive, “it’s worth if it you do use it,” Phillips said. Getting some precut fruits and vegetables from a grocery store’s salad bar can be an option.

She recommends having a smaller cutting board that can fit in a dishwasher for the things that do need to be chopped. Also, she worked on ordering the ingredients to make sure the ones that needed to be cooked longer went in first and the ones that needed to be crisper went in last.

“I like peas nice and crisp and so I add them toward the end,” Phillips said.

Phillips includes several recipes and the short stories behind them that she picked up during the time she was food editor at the Deseret News, including Larry H. Miller’s Seafood Gumbo, the Biggest Loser Resort’s Roasted Red Pepper Bisque, the Hotel Utah Borscht, and RJ’s Stuffed Pepper Soup from the now closed RJ’s near Kirtland, Ohio.

And there are few others inspired by restaurants, like the Roasted Garlic Bisque inspired by one at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA restaurant in New Orleans; the Creamy Pear, Blue Cheese and Bacon Soup was inspired by a soup served from the hands of Victor Durrant, chef of Red Rock Junction in Park City at Salt Lake City’s annual Art and Soup fundraiser; a Chickpea and Spinach Soup inspired by soup at the Oasis in Salt Lake City and the Presto Zuppa Toscana inspired by Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana.

Unlike baking cookies and treats, there isn’t an exact science to soups.

“The beauty of soups is that you can be creative and add things that most of the time not hurt it,” Phillips said.

“If something doesn’t turn out quite right, something else can be added to it, Hopkin said. “There’s always something to do to fix it.”

If there is a little too much salt, then add some sugar to counter it, Hopkin recommended.

“Lion House Soups and Stews,” includes about 80 soup recipes, with about 20 that have variations for a slow cooker, and 10 bread recipes, including bread bowls, drop biscuits and the Lion House Dinner Rolls.

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