February in New England is often cold and raw. A perfect month for soup! While many commercial soups are off-limits for us, home-made soup is easy to make, forgiving, and much tastier than the stuff in the can. What's more, very often the ingredients can be tossed into a slow cooker and left on the counter during the day so we can come home to a kitchen full of aroma and a hot comforting meal.
Refrigerator Minestrone (submitted by Bobbie Coughlin)
This is one of our favourite soups. First you empty out the vegetable compartment of your fridge. Nearly anything that's in there will work. Carrots, celery, peppers, potatoes, summer or winter squash...whatever. Peel or de-seed them and chop them up. Put them in a pot. Saute some chopped onion and Too Much Garlic. Add that to the pot. Pour in some canned chopped tomatoes (Hunt's and DelMonte are among the GF brands.) Add an equal amount of water. Splash in some dry red wine. Season it with basil and oregano. Then let it cook until about an half and hour before you want to eat. At that point, add pinto beans--either a can (Eden is GF) or about a cup of cooked beans*. About ten minutes before serving, add a handful of GF pasta. We prefer Papadini lentil orzo, but any small GF pasta or broken bits of spaghetti will do. Ladle it out and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
*To cook dried beans, first wash them and put them in a large pot, covering them well with water. Either leave them to soak overnight or heat to boiling, then turn off, and leave to soak for an hour. Pour off the water, and cover them again. (This helps eliminate the gassiness. Of course, if you have pre-adolescent boys, they will think you are elimiinating the fun part.) Then simmer them until tender--usually about an hour. This works for any variety of bean.
Ham and Split Pea Soup (submitted by Bobbie Coughlin)
Place a good meaty ham bone in a Dutch oven or slow cooker. Add 2 cups of split peas. Chop two large onions, about three cloves of garlic, one potato, two or three carrots, and if you have it, some butternut squash. Add this to the pot. Season it with thyme and a little bit of cumin. Cook for at least an hour--all day is even better. Just before serving, pour in about a quarter of a cup of dry sherry. (Beware of cooking sherry! Not only is it inferior wine, but it is often not GF--as I learned the hard way. A good dry sherry is much better for cooking and should be GF.) Serve with sour cream or yogurt cheese.*
*Yogurt cheese is thickened yogurt. It has the flavour and consistency of sour cream, but not the fat, calories and cholseterol. You can make it by straining yogurt through a few layers of cheesecloth--suspend the yogurt over a bowl and let it "drip-dry." Donvier makes something they call the Wave--a plastic container with a fine strainer that does the same job very tidily. You should use yogurt that does not have pectin or other thickeners in it. Stoneyfield Farm Plain yogurt is GF and works very well for this.
Betsy's Creamy Potato Cauliflower Soup (submitted by Beth Hilson of the Gluten Free Pantry)
1 1/2 cups diced peeled potatoes
Cook above ingredients until tender. Mash (do not drain).
Prepare white sauce as follows:
2 Tbs. butter
Bring ingredients to a boil and stir continuously