My Favorite Cream of Tomato Soup

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

Tomatoes are in season and I am loving it.  I have been enjoying tomato sandwiches, tomato salad and fresh tomato sauce.

This is a great recipe for some of those fresh tomatoes. A simple soup, with lots of flavor, it is a favorite of mine. So much better than the canned tomato soup of my childhood.

I enjoy it served hot, but I also eat this soup cold. On a  hot day, this soup, served chilled, is a wonderful change from a salad with dinner.

I prefer to use fresh tomatoes, but I have used my home canned tomatoes, in a pinch. If you want a stronger tomato flavor- use a couple extra tomatoes.



Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

 3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 rib celery, chopped fine

3 whole cloves

1 small bay leaf

3 T. butter

3 T. flour

1 t. salt

3 c. milk or half and half


Peel and chop tomatoes. Place tomatoes in saucepan with onion, celery, cloves and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and cover, simmering 15 minutes. Melt butter in a large saucepan then stir in flour and salt. Cook mixture until bubbly. Add milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Puree tomato mixture through a strainer, food mill or in a blender or processor. Add to milk mixture and heat through. Serves 6.

Cold Beet and Watermelon Soup

Beet and Watermelon Soup

I really love this soup. On a hot day, it makes a great first course. I love salads, but sometimes I just want something else.

It couldn’t be easier. You just blend up equal parts of watermelon and beets. Thin the mixture down with some stock. Add a bit of mint, and you are good to go.

I got this recipe from a friend of a friend. I tweaked it a little from the original, but it is pretty much the same. It is so simple and a great soup for a hot day.

The sweetness of the watermelon pairs nicely with the earthy flavor of the beets. The mint also adds a nice little pop of flavor. The color is pretty cool, too.

I shared this recipe with a friend and she said she just drinks it like a smoothie. I find it a refreshing start to any meal, especially on a hot day.


Cold Beet and Watermelon Soup

1 part diced beet (cooked)

1 part diced seedless watermelon

a spring of mint

Put in blender

Add Chicken or Vegetable stock to taste/consistency

Add salt if desired

Dollop with Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream or even Greek Yogurt, if desired.

Garnish with fresh mint.

With any cold soup- chill well after you make it. You might even want to chill the bowls and spoons.

Corn and Bacon Chowder

Corn and Bacon Chowder

I was defrosting my freezer and found local sweet corn I had frozen last summer. I had forgotten all about it. I wanted to make soup for a dinner, so I decided to use the frozen corn to make this chowder. I also had a pound of bacon, which gave the soup a wonderful smoky flavor. I cooked the bacon in the soup pot, allowing it to get pretty crisp. I removed as much of the fat as I could, but left the bacon in the pot. Then, when I cooked the onions and added the stock, all the little brown bits of bacon in the pot added even more flavor. It came out great!! A perfect dish for a chilly evening.

Corn and Bacon Chowder

1 lb. bacon

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

6 c. chicken stock

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed

6 c. corn – I used frozen corn

2 cups half and half or milk

¼ c. flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot sauce to taste

Fresh chopped parsley


Cut bacon in 1-inch pieces and fry in a Dutch oven until crisp. Tip pot and spoon out most of the fat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add carrots and stock. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, then add the potatoes and corn. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. In jar with a tight fitting lid, combine 1 cup of the half and half or milk with the flour. Put on the lid and shake until mixture is smooth.  Stir into the pot along with the remaining half and half or milk and cook, stirring often until mixture thickens up. Adjust seasoning to taste. Stir in parsley and serve.  Serves 6.


Curry Pea Soup

Curry Pea Soup

Not all homemade soup takes hours to make. This soup is  fast and easy to make- and full of flavor. Unlike a lot of pea soups- this one is made with fresh peas- not dried split peas. Technically, frozen peas.   It cuts down on cooking time and gives a very different taste to the soup.

I made this soup on a snowy evening, but I could see eating it in warmer weather, too. With some fresh mint. it would make a lovely Spring soup.

While peas were the center of the soup, taste wise – I added extra veggies for more depth of flavor.

The curry powder added lots of flavor, too.Curry powder is a mix of different spices. Some can be quite spicy, others are milder. I make my own.

I added the peas near the end of cooking time to preserve as much of their natural color as possible.


Once the veggies were tender, I pureed the soup. It ended up the most beautiful shade of green.


Curry Pea Soup


3 T. olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

2 c. cauliflower

6-8 c. stock- I used chicken, but vegetable stock would work, too.

1 lb. peas- I used frozen- you could use fresh shelled peas, if you have them

2 T. curry powder

2 T. fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot sauce to taste


Heat oil in soup pot. Add onion, and cook over medium heat, until tender. Add the celery and cauliflower and cook a few minutes longer. Add 6 cups of the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until veggies are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add the peas and seasonings and continue cooking 5-10 minutes more. Puree soup, adding more stock if it is too thick. Adjust seasonings and serve. Serves 6.

Homemade Vegetable Soup Base

Vegetable Soup Base Ingredients

I have made a lot of stuff from scratch- could I make my own soup base? I could and I did! Not soup stock, but the stuff in jars that you just mix with water for instant broth. I wanted a no-meat soup base for when I was cooking meat-free.

I made a vegetable soup base that is a mixture of vegetables, both fresh and dried, herbs, mushrooms, nutritional yeast,  spices and salt. There is pretty good amount of salt, but I wanted to be able to store it in the fridge and be safe.

It worked out that every teaspoonful of the finished base has less than 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Not great, but a lot less than bouillon cubes.

If you want to make yours with less salt or no salt- you’ll have to freeze the mixture in ice cube trays and take it out of the freezer as needed. Sort of like your own bouillon cubes.

The nice part is, I can now make a vegetable soup easily and I know exactly what is in it. It can also be added to chicken or other meat-based stocks, in place of the salt, to add extra flavor.

Homemade Vegetable Soup Base

4 carrots, peeled and cubed

3 celery ribs, washed and cubed

1 large sweet onion, peeled and cubed

3 green onions, washed and cut up

1 c. sun- dried tomatoes, soaked in water 30 minutes, and drained

1 c. dried mushrooms, soaked  in water 10 minutes and drained

1 c. chopped cabbage

1 c. parsley, chopped

1/2 c. chopped sweet pepper

1/4 c. nutritional yeast, optional

2 T. turmeric

8 oz. salt- I used sea salt and used a scale to weigh it. It’s around a cup but will differ if you are using a coarse salt

Combine all ingredients, except the salt,  in a food processor and blend until smooth. I have a decent size Cuisinart and still had to do this in batches. Combine in a bowl with the salt and stir well to blend. Store in a clean jar in the fridge until ready to use. I ended up with about 5 cups of soup base. To use, add about 1 teaspoonful to a cup of hot water for vegetable broth. Use less or more according to your taste. Use in place of salt in other soups, stews and sauces.


Finished Soup Base

Finished Soup Base

Vegetable broth made from the base

Vegetable broth made from the base

Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder

When I think of seafood chowder, I usually think about a creamy mix of some sort of shellfish, like clams or shrimp,  with assorted veggies.

This chowder is a little different. It is a mix of fish and veggies, but there is no dairy or shellfish. Almost like a Manhattan style clam chowder, minus the clams!!

It is a nice alternative to those who can’t eat shellfish, but still want to enjoy a bowl of chowder. The chowder is both hearty and light at the same time, if that makes sense.

You can use any mild fish you happen to like. I have used salmon, catfish, cod and flounder in the past, and liked the way all of them tasted in the chowder. The recipe calls for Roma tomatoes, but any tomatoes would work. I used a pint of my home canned tomatoes, since I don’t have fresh this time of year.


Fresh Fish Chowder

1 medium carrot, sliced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 large leek, white part only, cleaned and chopped
5 c. chicken, vegetable or fish stock
2 c. plum tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 lb. firm white fish cut into 1/2 inch cubes – I used flounder
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. paprika
2 T. oil
In broth cook the carrot, celery and leeks 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and potatoes and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes longer. Season to taste. Meanwhile mix the flour and paprika together and dredge the fish in it. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat and cook the fish until lightly browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Before serving add fish pieces to the soup and simmer 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread. Serves 6.

Mom’s Secret Ingredient Clam Chowder

Clam and Tripe Chowder

My Mother’s clam chowder had an odd ingredient in it. The ingredient made it very special, but yes, I will admit a little strange. In keeping with sharing mom’s recipes this week, I thought I would share the clam chowder story with you.

The mystery ingredient is in there because of my Uncle John. He was my Mother’s older brother and a real smart guy. One day he and my Mom were talking about clam chowder. My Mom had made a big pot of it. She was on a tight budget and was saying that she wished she could afford to put in a lot more clams. She didn’t use canned clams- she bought fresh ones and they cost a lot of money. She made a really good clam chowder.

My uncle wondered if she could add tripe to her chowder. He said that the texture was sort of like clams. Tripe didn’t have a strong flavor on its own and surely it would absorb the flavor of the clams. He said he thought they could put them in and no one would ever know. My mother thought about it and agreed, but said the tripe, normally cut in strips, would not look like clams.

She then figured out that if she put the tripe through her meat grinder on coarse, the tripe would look a lot more like clams and might just work.

She was pretty smart, too.

So the plan was hatched. The next time my Mom made clam chowder she got tripe, ground it and cooked it until tender. She then added it to her clam chowder and invited family over to try it. Everybody loved the chowder and a couple of people even commented on how many clams were in it. So there it is – the story of why I put tripe in my clam chowder. Unlike my Mother I use canned clams. And unlike her and my uncle, I do tell people what is in it, before they eat it.

Clam and Tripe Chowder

1 lb. tripe


2 large onions, chopped

8 cups water or stock

2-3 cans clams, undrained

2-3 c. peeled and cubed potatoes – about 3-4 potatoes

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk- or 1 1/2 cups half and half or heavy cream

2 T. flour, optional

1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley

salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce to taste

When I bought the tripe at the store the package said it had been scalded. Not sure that matters but I figured I’d mention it. I took the tripe and ground it in my meat grinder. If you don’t have a meat grinder, you can cut the tripe up a bit and chop it up in a food processor. Pulse on and off until it is chopped up to the size you want. In soup pot heat the oil and cook the onion until tender. Add the tripe and the water or stock. Simmer, covered, until the tripe is tender, about 90 minutes. Some of the water cooked off, but that was fine with me. Add the clams and their liquid, season to taste and allow to simmer another 30 minutes or so. Add the potatoes and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. At this point you can add just the milk or you can add the milk and the flour- depending on how thick you like your chowder. If you are thickening it- place some of the milk in a jar with a tight fitting lid along with the flour. Put the lid on and shake well until flour is mixed into the milk and there are no lumps. Add to the chowder with the rest of the milk and the parsley. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook about 5-10 minutes longer. Stir from time to time so the chowder won’t burn. Adjust seasonings and serve. Serves 6-8.

Busha’s Mushroom Soup

Busha’s Mushroom Soup

Since I decided to share some of my Mother’s favorite recipes this week, I had to include this soup.  Sharing this family recipe with other people makes me happy. My Busha (Polish Grandmother)  and my Mother both made this soup. They would be pleased to know that someone is still making it.

There are many variations of mushroom soup in Eastern European culture. Some have barley, others add sauerkraut. This is my family’s version. Plenty of mushrooms in rich stock, slightly thickened, and made creamy with the addition of sour cream. Ours is served with kluski noodles.

This soup is a tradition in my family. When I was a kid, my Busha would make it every Easter. My Mom made it for Christmas Eve. Now my niece makes it, and we have it the day before Thanksgiving.

It is one of those dishes that brings back so many wonderful childhood memories. I love the rich, earthy flavor of the mushrooms, and the slightly sweet/sour flavor of the broth. It is made with dried mushrooms, usually. I can  remember watching my mom get out a big bowl and soaking the mushrooms to get them clean, and to soften them, before starting the soup.

I use dried shiitake mushrooms, but often add fresh mushrooms as well. Sometimes I use other dried mushrooms, too. I like to have a variety of mushrooms  in the soup. I use chicken stock. If made with vegetable stock, it could make a great meatless meal.



Busha’s  Mushroom Soup


4 qt. Chicken, beef or vegetable stock

5 c. dried mushrooms, about 4 0z. I use Shiitake.*

Water for soaking

½ c. flour

1 pint sour cream

¼ c. balsamic vinegar

2 T. sugar

1 Lb. Kluski-style noodles, cooked and drained


Soak mushrooms in water for 1-2 hours.  Lift mushrooms carefully out to leave any sand in the bowl of water. Rinse and drain. Set aside.  Bring stock to a boil and add the mushrooms. Simmer, covered for about 1½ hours, or until mushrooms reach desired tenderness. Mushrooms will retain some “chewiness”.  In medium bowl whisk sour cream into flour gradually until smooth. Stir in vinegar and sugar until smooth.  Add a small amount of the hot soup to the sour cream mixture, whisking until smooth.  Continue adding hot soup to the sour cream mixture until sour cream mixture is warm. Add the warm mixture to the pot of soup and stir to combine. Return to simmer and simmer 1 minute, stirring continuously.   Place desired amount of kluski into bowls and ladle over the hot soup. Serves12.

Note:  You can add a variety of fresh mushrooms to the soup to make it even more special. You might use portabellas; crimini, button or whatever mushrooms are at the store that day. Add in addition to the dry mushrooms; don’t reduce the amount of shiitakes.

You can use other cooked pasta. Mom said you might want to try spaetzels or even gnocchi. You might also need more than one pound of kluski, depending on how much pasta your family likes in their soup.

*The dried shiitake mushrooms can be found at specialty grocery stores, some larger grocery stores and at Asian markets.


“Pumpkin” Ravioli Soup

“Pumpkin” Ravioli Soup

Fall is the time for cooking with pumpkin and other winter squash. I make plenty of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin soup, and so on.  I often am actually using butternut or Hubbard squash in place of the pumpkin. This was the case with this soup. I have made it with pumpkin before, but this time I had a butternut squash, so that is what I used. Many winter squash can be used in place of pumpkin in cooking.

After cooking up one of my butternut squash, I was looking for a way to use some of it in a soup. I decided to use the squash as a filling for ravioli, then just put the ravioli in the soup.

I played with the spices and added some butter to the filling, too. It needed that extra bit of fat for flavor. It worked well. I just cooked the ravioli right in the soup, but you could cook and eat the ravioli without soup at all.

You would cook the ravioli in water. Once they are tender, drain and top with the sauce of your choice. I like brown butter with a little sage, but even a red sauce would be nice with these ravioli. Here is the recipe- for both the ravioli and the soup.


“Pumpkin” Ravioli Soup

24 round won ton/dumpling wrappers
1 cup cooked pumpkin or winter squash
2 T. softened butter
1 T. chopped parsley
1 t. paprika
1 t. nutmeg
½ t. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne

2 T. oil or butter
2 onions, peeled and sliced
6 c. stock- chicken or veggie
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2-3 c. thinly sliced collard greens
Salt and pepper
Dash of hot sauce
Fresh chopped parsley

Combine ravioli filling. Adjust seasonings. Place a rounded tablespoonful of filling on one of the wrappers. Dampen edges with water and place another wrapper on top. Seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Continue with remaining filling and wrappers- you should have 12 raviolis in all. Set aside while making the soup.
Heat oil or butter in a pot and add the onions. Cook until onions are tender. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add carrots and collards and cook until veggies are tender. Add seasonings and bring soup to a boil. Add the raviolis and let the soup simmer gently until they are cooked- about 4 minutes. Stir a little to keep them from sticking, but gently. They get a lot bigger and are sort of delicate. Transfer gently with a large spoon to soup bowls and ladle over the soup. Serves 4- 6.

Busha’s Beet Soup

Busha’s Beet Soup

This colorful, tasty soup, was first made for me by my Busha, my Polish grandmother. Beets are a big ingredient in Eastern European culture. My Mom cooked with them, too.

I have fond memories of spending time with my Busha. I stayed with her on weekends a few times. One of those weekends, she taught me how to make a wonderful coffee cake. I still have the index card where I wrote down the recipe as she went along making it. Busha didn’t write her recipes down much.

Another time, she made beet soup. I loved it. I think the color is what pulled me in. I was a big fan of pink back then. I still am, especially when it comes to this soup.

I prefer to use fresh, raw beets.  You can use cooked beets, or even canned, if you like.

I made homemade spaetzle, but other pasta or cooked, diced potatoes are good, too.

So here is the recipe for the soup and the spaetzle. I always think of Busha when I make it.



Busha’s Beet Soup

1 large onion, sliced thin


5-6 medium beets, about 2 pounds

5-6 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock

1 c. dairy sour cream

1 t. dill weed

cooked spaetzle, recipe follows


In soup pot, sauté onion in oil until starting to brown. Meanwhile, peel and dice the beets. You should end up with 5-6 cups of cubed beets. Add beets and stock to pot and bring to boil. Cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook until beets are tender, about 20- 25 minutes.  Place sour cream in small bowl and ladle in a little of the hot soup, whisking until smooth. Add another ladle of soup and whisk again. Pour this mixture into pot of soup along with the dill weed. Serve with the spaetzle.  Serves 4-5.


Note: You can also pre-cook the beets or use canned beets. Trim off leaves of beets, leaving 2 inches of stem. Leave roots intact. Boil beets in water until tender, which can take as little as 20 minutes for tiny beets or 45 minutes for the large ones. Cool in bowl of ice water and then slip off the skins. Dice and add to soup as if the beets were canned. You don’t need the long cook of fresh beets. Just bring soup up to a simmer.

If you prefer, serve the soup with diced boiled potatoes or kluski, rather than the spaetzle.


You can serve the sour cream on the side, rather than incorporating it into the soup, then allow people to add a dollop of sour cream to individual bowls. Polish beet soup usually adds the sour cream and Russian style is to dollop on the top. Both versions taste good.



3 eggs

1/2 c. half and half or evaporated milk

1/2 t. salt

1 1/2 c. flour


Combine all ingredients and let rest 30 minutes. Drop by small spoonfuls into boiling water. Cook until they float and puff up, about 5 minutes. Drain and serve with soups, stews, sauces or buttered.




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