Is there anything more comforting than a simmering pot of soup on the stove, bubbling up with its rich flavors, while its savory aromas waft through the air? When the soup’s on I’m filled with an automatic calm and an undeniable sense of comfort, it’s practically what I sustain on all winter long! It’s not just a food but a feeling. 

As winter sets in, even the late season veggies call it quits, and my garden starts succumbing to the nip of winter frost. The temperatures cool on Martha’s Vineyard and the tempo of the Island slows down and chills out too. The days are shorter and the light is fleeting, so we cherish it that much more. Evening beach walks are no longer a viable option so I make the most of the precious sunlight by day. 

With colder temperatures becoming the norm, gone is my patio furniture, replaced by a huge stack of wood that sustains our home. In our vegetable garden our unheated tunnel adds protection and instead of freezing acts like a refrigerator, keeping any remaining produce chilled. Winter leaves us without an abundance of fresh vegetables, but I still want to continue to eat healthy, so I turn to soups to provide comfort and nourishment.

A whole pot of soup can supply several meals throughout the week, and I’ve even been known to enjoy it for breakfast. There’s really no rules when it comes to savoring soup, and I’m in constant pursuit of the next batch. 

I’m always looking out for new soups and brothy bowls to try. They’re fun to cook, a treat to eat, and they freeze well, which makes them easy to enjoy at a later time too.  Luckily, I’m surrounded by inspiration within easy reach, from the three cookbooks I’ve worked on;  Whole in One by Ellie Krieger, Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton, and Chef Deon’s Island Conch Cookery by Deon Thomas.

I recently discovered one of my new go-to soups in Whole In One by the talented nutritionist Ellie Krieger. In Whole In One Ellie shares a handful of scrumptious soup recipes, but her butternut squash soup is particularly tempting this time of year. She adds a drizzle of tahini for a creamy richness and a crispy chickpeas for a fun, healthy, crouton-like crunch. Ellie describes this soup as a “glorious bowl of goodness that is the epitome of modern comfort food,” and we concur. It’s hearty, protein rich and spiced for the season. And the best part, like all of her recipes in Whole In One, it can be made in a single pot with no fuss and limited clean up, which my husband Philippe loves, because in our household whoever cooks doesn’t do the dishes!

Butternut Squash Soup with Tahini and Crispy Chickpeas, from Whole In One by Ellie Krieger

Makes 4 servings, Serving Size: 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 7 ½ cups butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 cup canned no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • ½ cup packaged crispy chickpea snacks
  • (plain or lightly salted)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 

 

Instruction

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes; add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Stir in the squash, chickpeas, salt, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, and cayenne.
  2.  Add the broth and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. (Alternatively, allow to cool slightly, then puree it in several batches in a regular blender.) Stir in the honey.
  4. Place the tahini in a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of cold water. Add more water by the teaspoon until the tahini is loose enough to be drizzled. Serve the soup drizzled with the tahini, garnished with the crispy chickpeas and parsley.

The soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.

Per Serving: Calories 390; Total Fat 12g (Sat Fat 1.5g, Mono Fat 6g, Poly Fat 3g); Protein 13g; Carb 58g; Fiber 8g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 550mg; Total Sugar 12g (Added Sugar 4g) Excellent source of: copper, folate, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, protein, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K. Good source of: calcium, iron, molybdenum, niacin 

When we’re craving a hot bountiful bowl of deep broths and substantial veggies we turn to Susie Middleton’s Ramenesque Noodles in Rich Vegetable Broth recipe from Simple Green Suppers, the cookbook we photographed for her in 2017. This hearty creation is also vegetarian, but packs a ton of flavor and a punch of protein. Her rich vegetable broth is enhanced by miso, tamari, and ginger making a “lovely destination for a tangle of noodles and a variety of sautéed vegetables.” Her colorful selection of late-season veggies make it bright and beautiful, and it’s a mixture you’ll want to recreate again and again.

Ramenesque Noodles in Rich Vegetable Broth

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 ounces dried Chinese curly wheat noodles or baked ramen noodles
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus 2 pinches
  • 1 tablespoon white (shiro) miso
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari
  • 1/2teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 3 cups late-season vegetables, sliced or chopped into similar-size pieces (a combination of four or five of the following: bell peppers, onions or shallots, mushrooms, eggplant, cauliflower or broccoli, bokchoy, napa cabbage, and/or red or green cabbage)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cups Rich Vegetable Broth (the recipe calls for Susie’s Rich Vegetable Broth which is also in Simple Green Suppers, but you can substitute with your favorite vegetable as needed)
  • 2 soft-cooked eggs or poached eggs (see Note below), optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup sliced sliced scallions (any parts)

 

Instruction:

  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles until done, about 2 minutes. Drain them well in a colander and rinse briefly under cold water. Let dry a bit in the colander, then transfer to a medium bowl and season with a big pinch of the salt.
  2. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the miso, tamari, sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
  3. In a medium Dutch-oven or large saucepan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the vegetables and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are browned in places and starting to shrink, but still a little bit firm, 5 to 7 minutes. (Alternatively, you can stir-fry each type of vegetable individually and set aside separately, for arranging in the bowls at serving time; add a little oil to the empty stir-fry pan before continuing with the recipe.) Add the ginger and cook, stirring, until just softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the Rich Vegetable Broth and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Whisk the miso mixture into the hot broth and remove the pot from the stove.
  4. Divide the cooked noodles between two wide, deep soup bowls and ladle the broth and vegetables all over. (Or arrange the separately cooked vegetables “around the clock” over the noodles, then pour in the hot broth.) Add 1 egg to each bowl and season the eggs with a pinch of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Garnish with generous amounts of chopped cilantro, sesame seeds, and scallions. Serve right away with a fork, spoon and napkin.
  5. Note: to poach 2 eggs: Fill a wide, deep skillet with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and bring to a very gentle simmer (about 180°F). Crack 1 egg into a small bowl and slip it gently into the simmering water. Repeat with the other egg. Lower the heat to just below a simmer and leave the eggs to cook for4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift the eggs from the water and serve immediately, or if cooking ahead, transfer to a plate to hold. 

Sometimes there’s nothing like a creamy chowder to warm your soul, especially here in New England. But my favorite chowder doesn’t include clams it includes conch, whelks really, which can be caught daily in the waters around Martha’s Vineyard. 

My friend chef Deon Thomas dedicated a whole cookbook to the northern sea snail and his New England Conch Chowder promotes sustainability by using the abundant local shellfish. The dish is a spin off from the classic New England Clam Chowder, and it’s a totally dairy and gluten free soup that uses coconut milk and herbs and spices for added flavor.

New England Conch Chowder

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground conch / 454g
  • 1 medium diced sweet potato
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 2 cups diced chayote / 270ml
  • 2 cups diced celery / 200ml
  • 1 cups chopped green onions / 64ml
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger / 7.5ml
  • 1 de-seeded and julienned red jalapeno
  • ¼ cup chopped dill / 9ml
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves / 6ml
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce / 15ml
  • 2 tablespoon MV sea salt / 29.58ml
  • ½ cup coconut oil / 118.3ml
  • 4 cup organic coconut milk / 960ml
  • 2 quarts hot water / 1.892L
  • ½ cup cold water / 118.3ml
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch / 44.37ml

 

Instruction:

  1. In a 5-quart pot bring the coconut oil to searing temperature, add the ginger and thyme leaves stirring quickly, sautéing for aromatics. 
  2. Add all the ground conch and stir with a whisk to brown evenly, separating the conch as it begins to congeal.
  3. Add half the coconut milk and half the hot water,  cover and cook for 15 minutes then add the diced vegetables.
  4.  Add remaining coconut milk and hot water and continue cooking for another 15 minutes at high heat. 
  5. Add the chopped herbs, pepper julienne, and fish sauce, reduce flame and simmer.
  6. Mix the cornstarch with the ½ cup of water to a slurry and thicken soup to desired consistency.
  7. Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.