Soup’s On

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Cold winter days demand hearty soup.

There are two important building blocks necessary to making a high-quality soup. First, start with a base of diced aromatic vegetables, such as onion, leeks, garlic, carrots and celery. Second, use a high-quality chicken, vegetable, meat or fish stock.

Two hearty winter soups that are perfect for this chilly season are Kale, Sausage and Cannellini Bean Soup and Lentil Soup With Ham And Vegetables. Both are substantial and nourishing enough to stand alone.

Add crackers, crusty bread or corn bread. Serve fresh pears or apples with cheese to complete the meal.

Bon appétit!

Kale, Sausage And Cannellini Bean Soup(Serves 6)1 pound spicy Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Canola oil, if desired

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, minced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 to 2 teaspoons marjoram, or summer savory

Optional: A few pinches of red pepper flakes

4 cups vegetable stock

4 cups chicken stock

2 24-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 pound Lacinato kale, washed and center ribs discarded with leaves cut crosswise into thin slices, reserving 1/4 cup for garnishTo prepare:Sauté the sausage and kale in a large stockpot over moderate high heat until sausage is browned.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Pour off most of the fat.

Add onion to the pot and cook over moderate heat until aromatic.

Add garlic, carrots and celery, adding oil if necessary, to the pan.

Season the vegetables with salt, pepper, marjoram and red pepper flakes.

Continue sautéing until the vegetables being to soften.

Add beans and sauté about 10 minutes.

Add stock or water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Return browned sausage and kale to the soup and bring to a slow simmer.

Cook until the kale is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes, skimming any fat off the top.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Ladle into warm soup bowls and garnish with reserved kale.Lentil Soup With Ham
And Vegetables(Serves 6)1 pound fresh ham steak, cubed

2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock

2 cups Le Puy green lentils, sorted and washed under hot water

1 bay leaf

1 small onion, studded with 1 whole clove

2 teaspoons sea salt

Olive oil, for sautéing

2 large leeks, chopped white part only

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

2 teaspoons thyme

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup chopped onion, for garnish (or 1/2 small bunch chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to tasteTo prepare:Cut lean pieces of ham into small dice.

Brown the ham on both sides, until cooked, in a large skillet over high heat.

Transfer ham to a plate.

Add 2 cups of water to the skillet.

Bring to a boil.

Transfer the liquid to a measuring cup, scraping up the bits in the bottom of the pan.

Add the chicken or vegetable stock.

Bring washed lentils, 8 cups cold water, bay leaf, clove-studded onion and salt to boil in a large stockpot over high heat.

Reduce heat and simmer until tender, for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and sauté leeks until translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add garlic, celery and carrots.

Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add red bell pepper, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook until aromatic.

Add the vegetable mixture and ham to the pot of tender lentils.

Continue simmering until the vegetables are tender and the soup is flavorful, about 30 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Bring the soup to a boil and season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Garnish with chopped onion or parsley and serve at once.

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