November has arrived.  In the days before its appearance, our weather has changed from warm to chilly and damp.  I am pulling out soup recipes that don’t usually come to mind during warmer weather, needing something to warm me up from the inside out.

Making soup can be an adventure.  Sometimes I get in the mood for a nice, hot bowl of it, but am not sure what kind.  That is when creativity kicks in, and I start adding things to my pot as they come to mind.  Depending on the type of soup, I often add herbs and spices.  A favorite trick is holding the spice jar over the simmering pot and smelling both at the same time.  If the combination seems okay, I sprinkle some into my concoction.

I’ll never forget the time one of my family members asked what we were having for dinner one evening.  I was in an invention mode as described above, and answered, “Sniff-and-Dump Soup.”  The sarcastic reply: “Well, that sounds really appetizing!” My soup turned out to be quite tasty, but it thereafter remained nameless, especially since it was one-of-a-kind.

As time went on, I learned to write down a list of the ingredients I added to my soup pot.  There were too many times that my family loved my creation, but it was un-repeatable because I couldn’t always remember the combination of ingredients.  After I began writing for the newspaper, this became even more important, as I couldn’t share recipes unless I knew for sure what was in them.

The recipe for chicken tortilla soup is one that I put together after having it at a certain restaurant.  I loved it and wanted to make it for myself.  I am glad that I did because that establishment changed their recipe and it isn’t nearly as good as it used to be.  The other two soups are favorites that I have made for years.


Sara’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

 1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

8 cups chicken broth

1 (4-ounce) can green chiles

1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained

1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (15-ounce) can black beans

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika (for extra flavor use smoked paprika)

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 avocado, sliced

Crispy tortilla strips

1 lime, cut into wedges

4-cheese Mexican-blend shredded cheese

In Dutch oven or large saucepan, sauté onion in olive oil until it begins to soften, stirring frequently.  Add jalapenos and garlic.  Cook and stir for about 3 minutes.  Add broth and next 7 ingredients.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add chicken and cilantro, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Place one or two avocado slices in each individual serving bowl along with some tortilla strips.  Ladle soup into bowls; serve with lime wedges and cheese.


Beefy Tomato Soup

1 pound ground beef

1 quart tomato juice

3 cups water

3/4 cup uncooked elbow macaroni

1 envelope onion soup mix

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

In a large saucepan, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until macaroni is tender.

Yield: 8 servings.

Note:  I used a whole can of tomato juice and only 1-1/2 cups of water. It took a little longer for the macaroni, but it makes for a thicker soup.


Broccoli Soup

2 tablespoons grated onion

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried whole basil

3 cups chopped fresh broccoli

Sauté onion in butter in a Dutch oven.  Add flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Gradually add milk and broth; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened and bubbly.  Stir in salt, garlic powder, and basil.  Add broccoli; cover and cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until broccoli is tender.  Yield: 5 cups.