My love for soup was revived over the weekend at The Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School, and just in time as it has started to get cold and the snowflakes are appearing. The course I
took was on Winter Soups. My mother and her best friend Sarah joined me. (Both are avid cooks, and very creative in the kitchen when it come to making things healthy but flavorful). The instructor was Cathy Walthers a private chef, cooking instructor and food writer. She is an author of several cookbooks but this class featured recipes from her book Soups + Sides.
If you have never been to the Stonewall Kitchen in York, Maine, I highly recommend it, for home-cooks or just people who love good, quality food! I was first introduced to Stonewall Kitchen in 2002 by my food science class at UNH. We had a personalized tour of Stonewall Kitchen factory by Jim Stott one of the co-founders and
owners. To this day that tour and his passion for food is one of my fondest memories of my undergraduate degree in nutrition. From there my relationship with Stonewall Kitchen has blossomed with my mother and I taking all our beach guest up for samples of jellies, relishes, sauces, salsas, mustards and so much more. We always follow our sampling with what else; purchasing of our favorite products! We typically finish the day with a delightful lunch at their in house Cafe, featuring dishes using Stonewall Kitchen products.
This past weekend was my first time attending their new end-ever the The Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School. When you first walk in, it is very impressive. You feel like you are
on a T.V. set of celebrity chef from the Food Network! With stainless steel Viking appliances, pristine white cabinets and granite counter tops, the room is set up with high top tables, set for all the guest to eat, facing TV screens and our featured chef and her 3 assistants framed by shimmering pots and pans. Cathy Walthers refereed to it as one of the best looking kitchens she has ever cooked in and I couldn’t agree more.
Cathy Walthers start the class reminding us that “Everyone loves soup—the ease, comfort, and wholesomeness” of this dish. Cathy has an ease in the kitchen that is so friendly and welcoming. She made feel you could cook any of her soups like a pro and encouraged us to be creative with adding your own
personalized spin. Her recipes are simple but she always seems to add a twist by using a new ingredient that adds a fresh taste to classic dishes. Soup is a dish the is satisfying without making us ‘full’. The class featured 4 Winter Soups, that I am so happy to share with you.
The first soup was Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chilli with Cilantro Pesto. This soup was hands down my favorite! The meatiness of the butternut squash really gave the dish texture and the spices add a bold flavor. The Cilantro Pesto added this brightness that made your taste buds tingle. Best part about this soups was it simple ingredient list and short period of cook time. Also Cathy pointed out this dish freezes well.
The second soup was Chicken and Escarole Soup with Orzo. Traditionally I have not always been a huge escarole fan, but this soup brought me over from the dark side. Homemade chicken stock in this dish is what made it “sing” to me. I never really appreciated homemade stock until I tasted this soup and herd Cathy speak about it. The stock is where all flavor for soup is developed. This soup is also a great way to introduce dark leafy greens to your family’s lunch or dinner. Cathy pointed out in place of the escarole you could use kale, chard or spinach. With my new adventures in cooking I am going to try to make homemade stock. I see now how a few, extra, simple steps can bring a dish to the next level.
The third soup was a Quick French Lentil Soup. This soup featured new ingredient for me called umeboshi vinegar. The vinegar is from “asian plums” and added a light, citric flavor to the soup. This dish would be a great to bring for a healthy lunch. Again so simple to make and quick to cook.
Our final soup was Italian Wedding Soup with Kale and Mini Meatballs. This soup would be fantastic as a main couse. The meatballs were moist and the perfect size. To cut the fat, you could also make the meatballs out of ground turkey. A helpful hint Cathy gave was if you making your meatballs from ground turkey do not bake them in the oven. Rahter cook them on the stove top in a frying pan. This will help keep them nice and moist! The other interesting thing I learned was how to use the rind of fresh parmigiana cheese. Cathy will place the rind in the broths of her soups to add flavor. Let me tell you what a difference that made. You had the salty, zing that parmigiana adds in each bite.
“Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish, game or any other dish? Who would not give all else for two pennyworth of beautiful soup?” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Soup is a great for your soul and your health. My challenge for you this week, is to get rid of those soup cans and dust off your pots and pans to get creative in the kitchen with some homemade soup. Share with us your favorite soup recipes.