As cold, blustery weather approaches, the family repertory of soups rapidly changes. Instead of the cool, light soups of summer, we turn to thick hearty concoctions that warm the soul as well as the body.
Traditionally, Americans have considered meat, or at least bones, a necessary ingredient for the basic stocks. It's just as easy, however, to devise delicious high-protein soups that are composed of vegetables. In fact, many cultures -- especially those where meat is not so readily available -- have done just that for years. Take, for example, the classic Russian yogurt-barley soup, the Indian curried lentil soups, or the Italian meatless minestrone soups.
Following is a selection of satisfying winter soups -- all made without any meat. Each is nutritious enough to be a meal in itself, although you might want to serve it with a salad and some fresh whole-grain bread.
Many of these soups include vegetablebouillon cubes as an ingredient. The cubes, available at health food stores, are each usually large enough to make two cups of plain broth. If you wish, you may substitute vegetable bouillon powder or even meat bouillon cubes (if you are not strictly vegetarian) purchased in the supermarket. Since these are typically portioned for one-cup servings, you might find it necessary to increase the amount used. POTATO-VEGETABLE CHOWDER (6 to 8 servings) 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 medium onions, chopped 3 ribs celery, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 5 cups water 6 1/2 to 7 cups thinly sliced, peeled potatoes 1 1/2 teaspoons basil 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1 cube vegetable bouillon 3/4 cup instant nonfat dry milk 1 cup whole milk 3 cups frozen corn 1 cup frozen peas
Heat oil in a large saucepan or soup pot; then saute onions, celery and garlic until onions are soft. Add water, basil, pepper, salt and vegetable bouillon to pot. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Use an electric mixer, potato masher or large fork to break up cooked potatoes. Beat until almost smooth or leave some potato depending on the texture preferred.
Dissolve instant nonfat dry milk in whole milk, then stir into soup. Add corn and peas. Simmer about 7 minutes, until corn and peas are cooked, stirring frequently. Check sesonings. Serve immediately. YOGURT-BARLEY SOUP WITH MUSHROOMS (4 to 6 servings) 1 cup raw barley 2 1/2 cups boiling water 1 quart cold water 2 cups plain yogurt 4 large eggs 2 tablespoons flour 2 tablespoons (or more) finely chopped onions or scallions 2 cups sliced, raw mushrooms 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 to 2 teaspoons salt About 2 tablespoons fresh green herbs such as parsley or chives
Add raw barley to 2 1/2 cups boiling water, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes or until barley is tender, but not mushy. (This can be done in advance.)
Stir the yogurt into the cold water and momentarily set aside.
In a large saucepan, beat the eggs with a wire whisk and gradually add the flour. Then whisk in the yogurt mixture. Put the saucepan over high heat, stirring often, and keep the mixture simmering until it thickens slightly. (Do not boil.)
Stir in the cooked barley, onions, mushrooms, butter and salt. Then simmer about 15 minutes more. Sprinkle with fresh herbs just before serving. (Soup thickens even more as it cools.) CURRIED LENTIL SOUP (6 servings) 1 package (1 pound) dry lentils 10 cups water 1 cube vegetable bouillon 2 tablespoons instant minced onions 2 ribs celery, including leaves, sliced 1 carrot, sliced 2 teaspoons curry powder (or to taste) 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon sugar (optional) Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and pick over lentils. Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy pot.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a low boil for about 1 1/2 hours or until lentils are very soft. Check pot bottom occasionally to make sure lentils are not sticking. Serve with whole-grain bread to complete the protein.
Note: This soup is especially delicious when made with the tiny, beige, authentic Indian lentils. However, any easily available lentils will do. MEATLESS MINESTRONE SOUP (6 to 8 servings) 3/4 cup dry white navy beans 3 tablespoons vegetable (preferably olive) oil 2 medium onions, chopped 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 2 cans (14 ounces each) Italian plum tomatoes, including juice 1 cup red wine (or vegetable broth, if preferred) 8 cups water 1 cube vegetable bouillon (optional) 1 teaspoon dried marjoram 1 teaspoon dried thyme 2 carrots, cubed 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed 1 celery rib, chopped About 2 cups shredded cabbage 1 package (10 ounces) frozen Italian green beans, regular green beans or peas, thawed 1/2 cup marcaroni or small shells 1 tablespoon chopped parsley Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 2 or 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus more on the side
Soak the navy beans in water overnight to soften them. (Or, if you forget, bring them to a boil in some water, then allow them to rest off the heat, for 1 hour.)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or soup pot, then saute the onions and garlic a few minutes. Add tomatoes, wine (or broth) and drained beans. Add water (including the liquid from the beans, if desired), the vegetable bouillon cube, if desired, marjoram and thyme. Simmer mixture about 2 hours covered.
Remove about a cup of the cooked beans, mash them and return them to the pot. Add the carrots, potatoes and celery. Simmer about 10 minutes more. Then did the cabbage, green beans or peas and macaroni, and continue to simmer until all the vegetables are tender and the macaroni is cooked.
Add the parsley and salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in the cheese and serve some extra cheese on the side to be added to each bowl. BROCCOLI-CHEESE SOUP (6 to 8 servings) 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 medium onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 7 cups water 1 cube vegetable bouillon 8 ounces whole wheat macaroni or tortiglioni (curlicues) 3 cups finely chopped fresh broccoli 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup whole milk 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk 1/2 pound shredded colby or cheddar cheese 1/4 pound shredded Swiss cheese 3 tablespoons flour
Heat oil in a large saucepan or soup pot. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add water and vegetable bouillon. Heat to a rapid boil, stirring occasionaly to dissolve bouillon. Gradually add noodles, broccoli and salt so that water continues to boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until noodles and broccoli are tender, about 9 to 10 minutes.
Dissolve nonfat dry milk in whole milk, then stir into soup. Toss cheeses with flour, then add very gradually to soup, continually stirring. Continue heating until cheese is thoroughly melted and soup is hot. sLightly simmer a few more minutes. Serve.