I keep reminding myself that I lived in a 10 X 14 foot house made of wattle and daub with a tin roof in Ethiopia and was perfectly happy.  That now my favorite season is here.  Autumn in all her guises makes me happy.  I remind myself daily in my gratitude book of all the things that I’m thankful for and that I too often take for granted-taste and sight, touch and sound, health, family and friends, lots of stuff stuff like a computer, a car, a cell phone, etc., the morning walk with friends, the roses which have suddenly decided to lavish themselves on the world again.

But I’m stressed and depressed, subject to the free-floating anxiety of a fragile economy, and that means I find myself standing in front of the fridge looking in vain for that futile food that will satisfy the hunger and ease this dis-ease.

In this state, I must cook or I must go horizontal and mindless in front of the tube.  I prefer to cook soup since it requires a lot of chopping and pureeing and focused attention.

Herewith, soups to get you through a dark night of the soul or this winter in America.  These are all soups from leftovers –asparagus, canned tomatoes, a heck of a lot of garlic and some cooked chicken.

Cream of asparagus soup

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, about a pound
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 5 cups chicken broth  (I use the stuff in the jar unless I’ve gotten one of those roasted chickens recently and have made stock from the leftovers)
  • thyme
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pan of boiling water

Cut 1 ½ inch tips from asparagus tops and reserve for garnish.  Chop up the rest into 1/2-inch pieces.

Cook onion in butter in a 4 -quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces, salt and pepper to taste, one cup of chicken broth, cover, turn down the heat and let cook until the asparagus are softened and tender.   Add remaining chicken broth, thyme, and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.

In boiling water, cook the reserved asparagus tips until just tender, 3-5 minutes.  Drain.

Purée soup in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Put pureed soup in pan, stir in cream, lemon juice, salt and pepper and heat through.

Serve with toasted croutons and garnish with asparagus tips.  Serves 4 generously

Chicken Velvet

  • 3 cups leftover cooked, boned and cubed chicken
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup warm heavy whipping cream
  • salt & pepper and lemon juice to taste

In a 3 quart saucepan, melt butter and blend in flour. Gradually add warm milk, 2 cups of the chicken stock and warm cream, stirring constantly.

Simmer for at least 20 minutes.  Add chicken, the remaining chicken stock and seasonings. Remember, simmer, don’t boil or the cream will cuddle.

Transfer batches of the soup to a blender or food processor, return blended soup to pan and reheat.

Serve six.

Roasted Garlic coup

  • 30 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sliced onions
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 30 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock or chicken stock made from powder
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 350°F. Drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper in a ceramic baking dish large enough so that the unpeeled garlic cloves are in a single layer.  Add unpeeled garlic and toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

When cooled, squeeze out roasted garlic paste into a bowl.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add roasted garlic and raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes.

Add chicken stock, cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, purée soup in blender until smooth.  Return soup to saucepan; add cream and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide cheese among four bowls, ladle soup over cheese and serve with a lemon wedge for each bowl.

If your family doesn’t like the smell of garlic, wait until they’re gone because making this soup is guaranteed to send them scattering, along with any vampires in the ‘hood.

Tomato Soup from canned tomatoes

Olive oil
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 14.5 oz cans tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth

½ tsp cayenne pepper or dash of Tabasco to taste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
2 c milk  or half and half

Lemon juice

In a 3-4 quart saucepan, sauté onion and garlic in oil over medium high heat until soft.  Add tomatoes, broth, salt and honey. Simmer 45 minutes. In batches, puree soup until smooth. Add milk or half and half. Heat until warm.  Serve.

Till next time.

Melkam  Megeb.  Bon appetit.  Buen provecho.  Mànmàn chī!  Guten Appetit!  Dober tek!   Selamat makan! Nush olsun! Svādiṣṭ khānā