If you haven't already, y'all need to pull together your all-time favorite soup recipe(s) and post 'em, so you can link up and be part of BooMama's Soup-Tacular. If you don't want to share a recipe, at least go feast your eyes on nearly 200 (and counting) soup recipes from all over the blogosphere.
'Cause soup does a body good, y'all.
Here's one of my little family's tippy top soupy-supper faves, from Bon Appetit, February 2002.
I hasten to tell you, in case you don't know, that in this recipe the ingredient Fennel refers to the actual bulb and stems of the fennel plant - yes, one in the same plant that's grown from fennel seed, (which is often used as a flavor additive in sausages and Italian sauces, etc.) The fennel bulb can be found in the produce department of most major groceries. It looks a bit like celery, but has fern-like fronds at the end of each stem, and the base or bulb is rounder and well, bulbier, frankly, than the celery's bottom half. A raw fennel bulb/stalk smells a bit like anise, or licorice, and may be off-putting to you at first if you aren't a fan of such flavor. Only persevere, dear friend, and do just as the recipe says, not omitting the fennel. Because once cooked, this vegetable loses its pungency and mellows to a gentle, sweet but still pleasingly spicy-flavored tender bite in the soup. I promise. Have I led you astray so far?
After braving it in this recipe the first time, I've grown to love fennel so much now that I slice it thin in salads and even stir-fry it in with other veggies on occasion as a side dish.
If you can't find fennel, ask for Anise. Some stores lable it under that alternate name.
You must try these new things, dear one - in the trying and opening, you will keep yourself young, fresh and alive. Like a fennel bulb, only prettier and without the big round bottom.
So sayeth the Okra. Long may she pontificate.
Cheese Tortellini Soup with Cannellini, Kielbasa and Kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces fully cooked smoked kielbasa sausage, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
10 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
4 cups chopped kale (1/2 bunch)
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained
1 9-ounce package cheese tortellini
1 cup grated Asiago cheese* or Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add next 6 ingredients and sauté until vegetables are soft and kielbasa is brown, about 12 minutes. Add broth and bring to boil. Stir in kale and cannellini. Reduce heat to low and simmer until kale is wilted, about 4 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly; cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Add tortellini to soup. Simmer until pasta is just tender but still firm to bite, about 5 minutes.
Ladle soup into bowls. Serve, passing cheese separately.
* Available at Italian markets, specialty foods stores and some supermarkets