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Make It Through the Cold and Ice With Comforting Soup

by Kara Kimbrough

It’s February, so it should be cold… right? With “should” being the optimal word. As we’re all too aware, our fickle weather can require heavy coats one day, flip flops and shorts the next. However, this week’s frigid temperatures have definitely signaled the arrival of at least temporary winter weather.

Last weekend, I made not one, but two stockpots of soup. First up was classic vegetable beef, never disappoints. The following day, I experimented with a lentil soup recipe after seeing TV chef Rachael Ray make it recently. It’s definitely an acquired taste and won’t be a favorite of meat-lovers. However, it’s an admirable alternative for those trying to eat healthier.

Winter won’t last long, so enjoy hot soup, stews, gumbos and whatever else you call them before hot weather arrives. To get you started, here are recipes for my weekend of soup-making. Either one you choose will be a pleasant accompaniment to a long winter’s night.

Winter Storm Vegetable Beef Soup

- 1 tablespoon olive oil

- 2 pounds beef stew meat

- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

- Salt and pepper to taste

- 1 small onion chopped

- 3 carrots peeled, halved and sliced

- 2 stalks celery, sliced and diced

- 2 teaspoons minced garlic

- 1 (28 ounce) can undrained diced tomatoes

- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

- 7 cups beef broth

- 2 cups Russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, or equal amount of frozen Potatoes O’Brien (I use the latter)

- 1/2 cup frozen corn

- 1/2 cup frozen English peas

Heat olive oil in an extra large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Season stew meat with salt and pepper to taste; dust lightly with all-purpose flour.

Place half of the meat in the pan in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until browned. Repeat the process with the remaining beef. Place meat on a plate and set aside. Add chopped onion, carrot and celery to the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add beef back to the pan along with the tomatoes, Italian seasoning and beef broth. Bring to a low simmer. Simmer for an hour or until beef is tender.

Add potatoes to the pot and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until tender. Stir in corn, peas and green beans. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Healthy Lentil Soup

- 2 tablespoon olive oil

- 1 onion, chopped

- 2 garlic cloves, minced

- 1 large carrot, chopped

- 2 celery ribs, chopped

- 2 cups dried lentils, green or brown, rinsed

- 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomato

- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

- 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and coriander powder

- Zest and juice of one lemon

- 1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper or ½ teaspoon of Mrs. Dash

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and onion; cook for 2 minutes until vegetables are softened. Add celery and carrot; cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until softened. Add all remaining ingredients except lemon and salt. Stir well to combine.

Increase heat to high and bring mixture to simmer. Using a spoon, scoop accumulated layer of oil, etc., from surface and discard. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until lentils are soft.

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