I don't know anything better than a big a bowl of soup on a cold night and the soup season is finally here...at least in the Midwest! While soup can be enjoyed all year, there is nothing that warms the belly more than a steaming bowl of soup and it is time to get on board the gravy train...or the um, soup train!
Not only does soup taste great, but it can also be a fun way to feed your guests. With easy recipes (and a little time) it is possible to make a couple of varieties of soup to choose from and create a dinner spread to die for.
Best of all, it is so cheap! Even making a soup with high-end ingredients will still yield a lot more for your grocery dollar than other dishes just because you can stretch those ingredients so much further than you can with traditional entertaining dishes.
Soup also makes a satisfying lunch when you are at home and not entertaining. Two of my favorite soup recipes happen to come from my handy copy of The Tightwad Gazette and they are used frequently when I want to whip up something fast and satisfying. These recipes, for Tuna-Cheddar Chowder & Creamy Tomato Soup, pair well with a yummy toasted cheese.
Tuna-Cheddar Chowder (Courtesy of The Tightwad Gazette)
2 carrots, shredded
1 onion chopped (I omit this)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk (or half & half or cream- whatever you have on hand!)
1 can tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cheddar cheese
In a large saucepan, saute the carrots and onion in the butter until the onion is transparent. Mix in the flour. Add the chicken broth and milk. Heat and stir constantly until thick and bubbling. Add the tuna, celery seed, Worcestershire sauce, and salt, and heat through. Add the cheese and stir until it melts. Recipe serves four.
Creamy Tomato Soup
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
24 ounces milk (refill tomato paste can four times- can use milk, half & half, or prepared powdered milk)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
Put tomato paste in a small saucepan. Add the milk using the can, rinsing throughly. Add the salt and the celery seed. Cook on medium heat stirring occasionally. Recipe serves four.
For Dinner or Entertaining Guests:
Italian Veggie & Pasta Soup (This recipe is almost like a goulash because it is thick and hearty. My girlfriend made this and actually served it over the elbow macaroni instead of making it as a soup. It is very hearty and reminds me of the Olive Garden minestrone soup that they serve)
Beef Stew (Scroll down for this recipe)
Taco Soup (Scroll down for this recipe. This is a huge hit in our house! Serve with loads of tortilla chips!)
How about some sides and toppers for your soup? There is a recent article on Wise Bread this week that is an excellent starting point for creative soup toppers!
Soup Sides or Toppers:
Rosemary & Cheese Bread Sticks (These pair well with my Italian Veggie & Pasta Soup)
There are two big benefits, in my opinion, to serving soup when you are entertaining. One benefit is that you can serve this dish right out of the pot and it won't look tacky.That means less dishes for you to do and more time to visit. This is a definite bonus for a busy mom who enjoys entertaining, but not the cleaning up portion of the evening!
The second benefit is that you don't have to wait for your guest to arrive or try to keep food warm if they are late. Keep your soup on a low simmer or on the warm or low setting of your slow cooker and it will be ready when your guests show up!
Oh, and did I mention soup is cheap too? That has to be the best benefit of all!
Do you have a favorite soup recipe that would work well for entertaining? Do you have any special soup toppers that you put out for your guests?