March 17, 2011

Garlic & Soup-a-Palooza

Over the years, soups are something I've discovered that I love to make, am good at making, and enjoy immensely. That being said, an excellent soup can take time, much more time than I usually have when I get home at night. Sure I could freeze homemade chicken and beef stock to have at all times, but that doesn't happen often. When you don't have the option of homemade, there is no shame in store-bought stocks especially at 7 P.M. on a work / school night. (By the way, for my money, Kitchen Basics is the best brand on the market).

This post isn't just about soup though, it's also about garlic butter... homemade garlic butter to be exact. Having a tub of garlic butter waiting and ready in the fridge, is a blessing. Whereas, you can find decent chicken stock at a store, you can't really find garlic butter at all. What a shame, because it's perfect for bread, a quick saute of any seafood, to let melt over a steak, for basting poultry, and for a million other little tasks. And the key to the quickest, most satisfyingly garlicky butter? Garlic paste. I've touted the joys of garlic paste before and I won't quit. It's a life saver. 

So, below are two nights of incredibly easy, classic soups with a twist, and of course... garlic butter.

Garlic Butter
1 cup unsalted softened butter (or substitute, I use Smart Balance)
3 tbs garlic paste
1 heaping tsp fresh pepper
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

-Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix very well. Taste. Adjust pepper or garlic paste to your liking. You might have to add salt, not all garlic pastes are equally salty.
-Store in air-tight container and put in fridge. Will last as long as any other butter would. 

Garlic bread made with said butter, served alongside soups:

Tortellini and White Bean Soup
Tortellini of your choosing (about 1 cup dry, 2/3 cup fresh)
1 15.5 oz can of Cannellini beans, drained but not washed
1 cup raw greens of your choosing (I used spinach, you can use kale, escarole, etc)
32 oz. Chicken Stock
Grated Parmesan cheese

-Boil stock, add tortellini. 
-When tortellini is a minute from being finished, add greens and beans. Let cook until everything is hot and wilted.
-Serve soup with a heavy sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and garlic bread. 

Mushroom, Barley, and Sausage Soup
3/4 lbs cleaned mushrooms, sliced (I use baby bella because they have more bite, but feel free to use white button mushrooms, too)
1 tbs garlic butter
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 - 3/4 lbs sausage of your choosing, cut into 1/2" pieces, (I used lamb sausage from our local butcher, but use what ever you like. I've even used kielbasa in the past.)
1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill (about one large bunch)
35 oz beef stock (slightly more than a box or large can. The barley will soak in some broth)
Sour Cream

-Saute the mushrooms in the butter until color changes and slightly softened (about 3 minutes). Add sausage, saute with mushrooms for a minute. Add broth, bring to boil.
-Add pearl barley and let boil until cooked, about 15 minutes. The pearl barley will never be fully soft and instead, will have the texture of al dente pasta.
-Add dill before taking off the heat. Serve with sour cream and garlic bread.


  1. I've really got to stop reading this blog when hungry - man that garlic bread looked good. I had maple cookies and wine for dinner tonight...happy Jewish-New-England-Lame-o St Patrick's day to me!

  2. The garlic bread is just the perfect companion for soup! Your soups look excellent - I especially love the tortellini one!

  3. Oh my goodness. I want that tortellini soup right this very minute! I'd completely forgotten about garlic paste. Now I HAVE to track some down. :-)