When you're looking for something quick, warm and comforting, you can't go wrong with a bowl of soup. Each of these recipes contains only a handful of ingredients and comes together in no more than 30 minutes.
Spinach soup with nutmeg and creme fraiche: Tender spinach coarsely pureed in chicken broth, the simple flavors deepened with rich and tangy creme fraiche, freshly grated nutmeg and a little lemon zest. Simple, yet satisfying.
You can find the recipes below.
GARLIC SOUP WITH MUSSELS
Note: From "The Bistros, Brasseries and Wine Bars of Paris," by Daniel Young.
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and bearded
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 baguette, cut into 12 half-inch slices
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Gruyere
1 to 2 teaspoons piment d'Espelette (you may substitute medium-hot chili powder)
1. Place the mussels, wine and 1 cup cold water in a large saucepan over moderately high heat. Cover and cook until the shells open, 4 to 6 minutes. Strain the mussels into a colander, collecting the juices in a bowl placed below.
2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over low heat, add the garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until pale gold, 3 to 4 minutes (do not let brown).
3. Add the mussel juice to the garlic, raise the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat to very low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, remove the mussels from the shells. Lightly toast the bread.
5. Remove the soup from the heat. Combine the egg yolk, vinegar and a couple of tablespoons of the soup in a mixing bowl and beat vigorously with a whisk until the mixture gets foamy. Slowly pour the mixture back into the remaining soup, continuing to beat with a whisk.
6. To serve, place a few baguette slices, 3 to 4 tablespoons of grated cheese and some mussels on the bottom of 4 wide soup bowls, cover with soup, and dust with piment d'Espelette.
Each serving: 493 calories; 24 grams protein; 35 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 24 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 105 mg. cholesterol; 695 mg. sodium.
POTATO LEEK SOUP WITH CILANTRO-ANCHOVY CHOP
Note: Taste the cilantro before buying to be sure you have a bunch with assertive flavor.
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch cilantro stems, tied with kitchen thread
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 can oil-packed anchovy fillets, unrinsed
1 clove garlic
2 leeks, white part only, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon ( 1/8 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup cream
1. Put the cut potatoes in a medium saucepan with the salt and cilantro stems, cover with about 4 cups cold water or more to cover by a half inch or so. Bring to a boil, then boil until the potatoes are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Discard the cilantro stems; reserve the potatoes and their cooking water.
2. While the potatoes cook, mince the cilantro, anchovies and garlic together on a cutting board until very fine, almost like a paste. Reserve.
3. In small saucepan, saute the sliced leeks in the butter until tender but not browned, about 5 minutes.
4. In a food processor or blender, combine the leeks, potatoes and cooking water and pulse to puree, in batches, until very smooth. Do not overprocess the mixture or the potatoes will be gummy. Strain through a sieve, pressing on the solids.
5. Return the potato puree to the saucepan, add the cream and bring to a simmer. Taste for salt, remembering that the anchoiade can be salty; if the soup is too thick, add more cream or water.
6. Serve in soup bowls and divide the cilantro-anchovy chop among the servings, a spoonful swirled on top of each.
Each serving: 256 calories; 7 grams protein; 21 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 15 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 60 mg. cholesterol; 545 mg. sodium.
SPINACH SOUP WITH NUTMEG AND CREME FRAICHE
Adapted from "A Year in My Kitchen" by Skye Gyngell
10 ounces young, tender spinach leaves
2 tablespoons butter
2 large shallots, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
Generous 2/3 cup crème fraîche
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
Grated lemon zest
1. Wash the spinach very well in several changes of water. Spinach tends to hold dirt, so make sure you wash it until the water runs clear. Drain and shake the spinach dry.
2. Place a large pan (big enough to hold the spinach) over medium high heat. Add the spinach and cook until it just wilts (the water clinging to the leaves after washing generates enough steam for cooking), about 2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat. Drain the spinach in a colander, squeezing out any excess moisture, and set aside.
3. Rinse and dry the pan. Add the butter and melt gently over low heat until softly foaming, then add the shallots and sweat for 5 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, then season generously with salt and pepper.
4. Add the spinach and turn once or twice to combine, then pour in the stock and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a simmer, then immediately remove from the heat. Don't overcook it or the spinach will turn color. Coarsely purée the soup using an immersion blender, or using a stand blender, in batches as necessary. Don't purée it too fine or the soup will seem watery.
5. Return the soup to the pan and stir in the crème fraîche. Add the grated nutmeg, then check for seasoning — adding a little more nutmeg, pepper and/or salt to taste. Salt in particular is key to the flavor of this soup. Reheat gently and sprinkle with grated lemon zest just before serving. This makes a generous 5 cups of soup.
Each serving: 176 calories; 8 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 14 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 32 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 156 mg sodium.