I have a few comfort food soups for this post. I’m just getting into the joys of golden broth soups like the Turkey and Rice Soup, but The Sister is the real pro at those. She’s been teaching me the joys of soups. However, I have creamier soups that I’m a whiz with, and are what I’ll be writing about today. Since all of these are thicker soups they are perfect for autumn and winter, or even nice rainy days, but you can still eat them any time of the year like we do. One is a soup that I started making as a teenager, the other a copycat recipe from Pinterest, and the last is a family recipe.
Butternut Squash Soup
This is a completely vegan recipe that I found back in the nineties from an issue of Vegetarian Times magazine. The only non vegan thing about it is the dollop of sour cream that I personally decided on adding as a garnish to the dish at the very end. I suppose one could use some other form of vegan cream like coconut milk or such, if they wanted it creamy. Everyone whose been eating this all these years has really raved and enjoyed this. It was also the very first soup I ever made. I generally only make this in autumn when butternut squashes are in season, but have thought about buying extra butternut squash and freezing or purchasing the already cut up version in the super market, so I can make it any time that I wish.
Vegetable Soup Stock:
- ends and skins (no roots) of 1 – 2 onions, rinsed and coarsely chopped
- garlic clove peels
- 2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp dried garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground, dried chili powder
- water to cover
Place vegetables and spices in stock pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain and store cooled stock in air-tight container in the fridge. Do not over cook
- 1/4 C butter
- 1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 – 4 C cooked and puréed butternut squash*
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 C soup stock
- sour cream to garnish
Melt butter in large saucepan and stir in the onion. Add salt and pepper and cook until onion is very brown, about 30 minutes on low – medium heat. Stir frequently and keep covered. Add cooked squash and stir in stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, at least 45 minutes on low – medium heat. If too watery, simmer uncovered until reduced. Serve in bowls, topped with sour cream.
- I generally want a smoother soup than this prepares. The squash is puréed, but there will be bits of onion in it. I generally boil and strain the pieces of squash, then after I’ve cooked the onions, I put it all into my blender and purée both items together, return it to the pot and finish out the recipe. You’ll not want to do this step while both are still piping hot.
- *Squash. Also it’s not said in the recipe, but you’ll want to cut all the skin off of the squash and core it to get all the seeds and strings out, then cut it into pieces like you would for potatoes and then boil until soft. Though this is intended for butternut squash, you can certainly experiment with pumpkin or other winter squashes if you wish.
- This does not make a lot of soup. The original title had, “for small families” tacked on to the end. It serves about four. If you are serving more people, or want left overs, you can double this recipe. You will have to make more stock though. There is always a little left over, but it’s not enough for a second batch.
Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
This is an Olive Garden copycat recipe that The Sister and I found on Pinterest. This is our very favourite thing at Olive Garden, so of course we wanted to make it at home. Now, I can’t help you with making gnocchi from scratch as we haven’t tried that yet, but we have been lucky enough to find prepackaged gnocchi on several occasions around here, so we’ve just gone the sort of easy route there.
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 C onion, diced
- 1 C celery, diced
- 1 C carrots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme*
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1/4 C flour
- 2 C chicken broth
- 4 C half & half
- 2 C cooked chicken, cubed
- 1 lb gnocchi, prepared*
- 2 – 3 C baby spinach, roughly chopped*
In heavy bottom pot, heat butter and oil on medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and thyme and cook until softened, about 5 – 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in flour and cook a few minutes. Slowly whisk in broth, then the half & half. Stir in chicken. Simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add gnocchi and spinach, and cook until the spinach is wilted.
- *Thyme. We never have fresh thyme, so we use dried. We add it in with the salt and pepper.
- *Gnocchi. The prepackaged that we get is like a package of noodles. You’ll just follow the boiling directions on the package. There are great recipes out there for making gnocchi from scratch though, so feel free to search away if you’d rather have an entirely hand-made dish.
- *Baby spinach. We have a hard time finding baby spinach, so have used regular fresh spinach’ only just the leaves and never the stems. It tastes excellent.
- This does make a fair amount of soup. About 8 – 12 servings. The four of us generally have seconds and there’s enough for two more bowls the next day. But it also depends on the size bowls.
Mother Abernathy’s Never Fail Chicken Dumplings
This is my great-grandmother, Bessie Abernathy’s, recipe. We have two recipe cards for the same recipe; one with the Never Fail part and the other that simply says, “Mother’s Dumplings”, which is why this version is named Mother Abernathy. I could have named them Bessie’s Never Fail… but these seem like a very motherly dish, so I went the other way with my kitschy name. This is my dad’s grandmother, so this is a southern dish from Arkansas.
This is intended to be made from boiling an entire chicken to render stock, and then using that meat for the soup, so that is what I’ll show here. Though that is the way my family has always prepared it, you can always use about 8 cups prepared chicken broth or bouillon cubes and fresh or frozen chicken meat of your choice.
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 Qts water
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 – 1 1/2 tsp pepper
Add ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil and then reduce heat, simmering for 45 minutes. Remove the meat, strain the stock and return to pot. Remove meat from carcass and set aside.
- 1 1/2 C flour
- 5 Tbs water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg, well beaten
- 3 Tbs shortening, softened*
Mix flour, salt, and shortening together. Add water and egg, making a soft dough. Divide into two parts and roll out very thin and let dry for 15 minutes.* Bring stock to a boil. Cut dough into strips ( about 1″ wide x 3″ long) and drop one at a time into the boiling broth. Stir the dumplings using a table knife* and cook until tender. Add cooked, deboned chicken meat.
- *Shortening. If you wish you may use 3 Tbs of butter to make the dumplings.
- *Dough Strips. If needed, you may freeze the dough strips on a cooking sheet. Once frozen you may store them in a Zip-lock freezer bag. If using frozen, do not thaw before dropping into boiling broth.
- *Table knife. My great-grandmother and my grandmothers notes, as well as my dad’s own word of mouth, tell you to use a table knife, because a spoon will tear up your dumplings. Also dad continues to use a knife, even if they were frozen, because he likes very individualized pieces of dumplings.
- This is a very basic recipe and can be fancied up or added to, though people who aren’t family members love the taste of my dad’s chicken and dumplings, so they are a good base. The Sister and I are not allowed to make this our way because things have to be just so with dad, and he is the one who carried this tradition on in his family. He does boil a whole chicken. He does use light and dark meat… as well as fat and whole chicken legs and weird bobbles and bits that I think should never be consumed. While he doesn’t make the dumplings from scratch anymore, opting to buy the pre-made, frozen strips of Mary B’s Open Kettle Dumplings, apparently the taste is spot on. He also likes a very soupy and liquidy chicken and dumplings.
- However, The Sister and I prefer a different version. We make Great Grandmother Abernathy’s dumplings from scratch, but we use only a little bit of dark meat and mostly white; no weird parts or whole pieces. If we boil a whole chicken, we give what we don’t want to dad, other wise we just use frozen chicken breasts that we have cooked. We also add rosemary, which dad detests, only because it is fancy. We also let the dumplings collide and get stuck and torn up and it makes this really great, thick stick to your ribs soup; very homey and comforting.
- When I get the chance, I will make this again, but I want to add small pieces of thinly sliced carrots and celery to the version that The Sister and I already make. I think that would be phenomenal!
- This makes a whole messa chicken and dumplings; in other words, it makes a lot. But it freezes well. Just put in a freezer Zip-lock bag or a type of Tupperware that you know will hold up well during freezing. To reheat, just defrost in the fridge, place the chicken and dumplings in a pot, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer until hot enough to your liking.
I always see recipes with varied measurement abbreviations. I always use the standard form, but if you are not familiar with that, it is as follows.
- C = cup(s)
- Qts = quarts
- Tbs = tablespoon
- tsp = teaspoon
- lb = pound