With nighttime temperatures dipping into the 30s and 40s, winter has definitely arrived in Southern California. A nice hot bowl of soup is a great way to cozy up to the table and ward off the chill.
Thea Bauman’s Chickpea and Escarole Soup with Crispy Bread Crumbs is easy, fast, flavorful and satisfying. The crunch factor from the homemade breadcrumbs is a definite plus. Also on the easy, flavorful side is Genevieve Ko’s Creamy Tomato Soup. Forty minutes of the 60-minute preparation don’t really require much attention while the soup simmers, giving you time to whip up a grilled cheese sandwich and/or a green salad to enjoy with it. Mayi Brady’s Roasted Tomato Soup is just as hands off and gets some extra rich flavor from roasting the tomatoes.
Black Bean Tortilla Soup is a nice twist on the classic, chicken broth and roasted tomato base of the tortilla soups of Mexico City, or the tomato base thickened with ground tortillas typical of California tortilla soups. Diana Kennedy further pushes the tortilla soup envelope with her vibrant Sopa de Bolitas de Tortilla (Tortilla Ball Soup) — the tortilla balls are dumplings that you make from tortillas and cotija cheese and lightly fry before simmering in the broth.
Also very aromatic is Jet Tila’s Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup), rich with the flavors of Thailand: makrut lime, galangal, fish sauce, lemon grass and heat (as much or as little as you like) from Thai chilis. Deborah Madison’s hearty, vegetarian Red Lentil Soup with Berbere fills the senses with the Ethiopian spice blend.
On the creamier side, Russ Parsons’ Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger uses apple cider vinegar to achieve what he calls “profound squash flavor.” Also flavored with ginger, but in a more brothy way, is Grub’s Spinach-Mushroom-Ginger Soup. Parsnip adds a dimension of sweetness to the stock while roasted mushrooms and cabernet sauvignon impart rich flavor to the soup.
A bit more understated but no less complex, Sonoko Sakai’s Miso Soup with Tofu and Enoki Mushrooms is made with your choice of koji or mugi miso. Some misos are saltier than others, Sakai notes, and advises that when making miso soup, always taste and make adjustments.
Creamy or brothy, pureed or chunky, spicy or not, these soups can be a first course, an accompaniment to a salad or bowl of pasta or the full meal. Yes, you have options.