Food & Drink

Readers' hearty soup or stew recipes are filling and flavorful

Sallie Dailey of Winchester said her favorite soup or stew recipe is Sallie's lamb stew. "It never disappoints," she said. The recipe is on Page C4.
Sallie Dailey of Winchester said her favorite soup or stew recipe is Sallie's lamb stew. "It never disappoints," she said. The recipe is on Page C4. HERALD-LEADER

Don't let Central Kentucky's mild winter keep you from enjoying a hearty soup. Most are easy to make and are especially good for sharing.

Carol Russell of Lexington made her favorite soup last week to take "to a friend of mine who's been under the weather these days," she said.

Zachary Horne of Lexington makes soup because it's healthy, cheap and delicious.

"All winter long I keep some kind of fresh soup around. To keep up with variety, I just mix ingredients week to week with whatever is fresh. This time, I had some fresh farmer's market kale."

Horne ended up adding other vegetables he had plus whole barley. The combination made for a very hearty stew.

"I love it because I know that each ingredient is nutritious and adds to the complex flavor. It's pretty well-rounded nutritionally, with fiber, protein and surely a lot of vitamins without very much fat. It really is cheap and can feed a lot of people, or one bachelor for about a week and a half," Horne said.

Sallie Dailey of Winchester recently created a winter taco soup, and her husband "adored it."

"It's hearty and pretty healthy. I've had my (lamb) stew recipe a number of years, and it never disappoints."

We recently asked readers to share their soup and/or stew recipes with us, and we received a wide variety.


Carol Russell's chicken, kale and chickpea soup is a meal in itself. "Since it's so hearty, I usually serve it with a side salad and bread," she said. "I also like to sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top before serving."

Chicken, kale and chickpea soup

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 pound kale, chopped

4 (4 ounces each) skinned and boned chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes, undrained and chopped

2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, drained

1 can (141/2 ounces) can reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

Sauté onion, pepper and garlic in hot oil in a large pot or Dutch oven until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.

Zachary Horne said he didn't include any kind of herbs in this recipe, "but I would imagine thyme, oregano or parsley would work well."

Pinto bean and barley soup

1 cup dry pinto beans

Water as needed

1 tablespoon olive oil

Chunk of pork jowl (or ham hock or other pork product), optional

1 tablespoon anchovy paste (optional but recommended)

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 green chili pepper, chopped

About a tablespoon of whole spices: black pepper, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, star anise, clove

1 small onion, diced

1 or 2 carrots, diced

1 can (151/2 ounces) tomatoes (whole, diced or purée)

1 carton (16 ounces) vegetable stock

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup barley

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon honey

3 or 4 leaves of chard or other greens, stems removed, and chopped

Place beans in a bowl and cover with water. Allow them to soak for 24 hours. Drain and rinse them, then add them to a pan and cover with water. Bring them to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer, covered, while preparing other ingredients. Beans should cook for 30 to 40 minutes.

In about a 6-quart pot, add olive oil, pork product, anchovy paste, garlic, chili pepper and whole spices (keep spices in a tea bag). Set heat to medium and allow it to sizzle for about 1 minute. Add onion and carrot, and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, and cook for a few minutes until it becomes a kind of paste. Then add stock, plus about a cup of water. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add a small amount of salt to taste at this point, along with some paprika. Drain the beans and add them to the pot, along with the barley, bay leaf and honey. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add greens, and cook for 20 to 30 more minutes, or until everything is tender (mostly waiting on the barley at this point). Taste for salt and other seasonings. Remove pork, bag of spices and bay leaf.

Sallie Dailey said beef may be substituted for the lamb.

Sallie's lamb stew

2 pounds boneless cubes of lamb

1 medium onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup seasoned flour

1½ cups dry red wine

2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet

2 cups beef broth

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons thyme

1 teaspoon pepper

6 red skinned potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 pound peeled mini carrots

2 cups frozen small whole onions

1½ cups frozen peas

Brown lamb in stew pot, then add onion and garlic. Sprinkle flour over mixture, and cook until flour is brown; stir in wine, Kitchen Bouquet and broth. Add next 4 ingredients, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Add salt to taste. Cover and simmer 35 to 45 minutes. Stir frequently to keep it from sticking to bottom of pan. Add potatoes and carrots, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add onions and peas, and simmer 10 minutes. Add additional wine or broth to adjust consistency.

"A combination of bacon and smoked paprika gives this tomato soup a strong profile that goes perfectly with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich," said Doug Emerson of Lexington. "Go with the sweet pimentón (Spanish paprika) for a rich taste with little heat, or try the hot for a spicier kick in the soup. For vegetarians, just leave out the meat. This soup has lots of bold flavors to keep you warm on a winter day."

Smoky tomato soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 thick strips bacon (about 3 ounces), thinly sliced, or country ham pieces

1 large yellow onion, diced (about 11/2 cups)

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided

1 tablespoon sweet or hot pimentón (Spanish paprika)

1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes and juice, preferably San Marzano)

2 cups lower-salt chicken broth

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat oil in large saucepan, add bacon, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon renders most of its fat, about 5 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels; let drain and cool, then coarsely chop. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt to pan and cook, stirring, until onion softens and starts to brown lightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, 2 teaspoons thyme and pimentón. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and the flavors meld, about 15 to 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender or working in batches in a regular blender, purée the soup. Return soup to the pan, stir in cream, and bring to a boil. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed, ladle the soup into serving bowls and serve sprinkled with bacon pieces and remaining thyme.

Kim Ammeter of Lexington said the key to the success of this recipe is to make the meatballs the day before or have them ready to go in the freezer.

"I keep several boxes of low-sodium chicken broth in my pantry at all times. It is the basic ingredient for so many soups. When I purchase a rotisserie chicken, I keep the bones and skin to make broth. It is easy to make, then freeze."

Italian wedding soup


1 pound lean ground beef

1 egg, beaten

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese

½ cup bread crumbs

Salt and pepper

Garlic (either fresh minced or granules to taste)

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large carrots, chopped (or more if you trying to get family to eat their vegetables)

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

Bay leaf

2 boxes (32 ounces) chicken broth

1 cup water

½ cup Acini de pepe or other small pasta (ditalini, ditali, orzo, coralini)

1 pound fresh cleaned spinach, chopped fairly small

To make meatballs: Mix all ingredients together and make into small meatballs — about ½ inch in diameter. Cook in a bit of olive oil in a skillet on high. Drain meatballs on paper towels.

To make soup: In deep pot over medium heat, add oil, carrots, celery, onion and bay leaf. Cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add broth and water, and bring to boil. Add pasta. When pasta is fully cooked, add meatballs and spinach, adding spinach in small batches. When spinach is wilted, the soup is done. Adjust seasoning to your taste.

Janette Heitz of Lexington said this is a refreshing and light soup, with fresh cilantro to kick up the taste.

White chili

2 tablespoons cooking or olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

2 chopped garlic cloves

3 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (don't skip this)

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon red pepper sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained

1 can (15 ounces) great northern beans, drained

1 can (15 ounces) butter beans, drained

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

In 4-quart pan, add oil and cook onions, stirring occasionally until tender. Add garlic. Stir in remaining ingredients except chicken. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in chicken, and cook until hot.

Mary Riley of Nicholas ville said this soup is a family favorite. "It makes a big pot and freezes well."

Bub's taco soup

2 pounds ground beef

1 onion, chopped

2 boneless chicken breasts

1 can each black-eyed peas, lima, kidney and black beans, undrained

1 can corn

4 cans (chopped) stewed tomatoes

1 can water

2 packages taco seasoning

1 package ranch dressing

Place ground beef and onion in large kettle, and brown. Boil chicken breasts until done, and cube. Add chicken and remaining ingredients to ground beef. Simmer for 1 hour or in a slow cooker on low for 4 to 5 hours. Serve with corn bread or corn chips, grated cheese and sour cream.

Blanca Ward of Lexington said she has used this recipe for years. "It's easy to put together and the ingredients are quite affordable. Add a loaf of French bread and some wine, and it's practically a feast," she said. "Instead of ground beef, you can use ground chicken or turkey. Use turkey sausage in place of the smoked beef kielbasa sausage. Substitute red wine with white and beef broth with chicken."

Hearty winter soup

1 pound ground beef

1 pound smoked beef kielbasa, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 large carrots, chopped

2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans with liquid

1 can (141/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid

13/4 cup beef broth

1 cup water

1/2 cup red wine

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon coarse pepper

2⁄3 cup elbow macaroni

Brown meat in large Dutch oven over medium to high heat. Add kielbasa, onion and garlic. Cook for 7 minutes. Drain fat. Add remaining ingredients, except macaroni. Bring to boil and cover. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Add macaroni, and cook 10 more minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Amy Cooper of Wilmore said she makes this recipe in a slow cooker. "I either buy precooked pork or have already cooked it in the oven or Crock-Pot. All I usually do is throw it all, sans the puréed beans, in a Crock-Pot and let it heat up about 4 hours or more on low. I add the purée and then heat through."

Pork, kale and white bean soup

1/2 to 1 pound lean pork, cooked

1 medium raw onion, diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup white wine

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes

4 cups (reduced sodium, if you prefer) chicken broth

2 cans great northern, navy or cannellini beans

6 cups kale, chopped

2 teaspoons table salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

In slow cooker, place cooked pork, onion, garlic, paprika and pepper flakes. Add wine, tomatoes and broth. Add half the beans; purée the other half and set aside. Add kale, and cook on low 4 to 5 hours. Add puréed beans, salt and pepper, and serve.

Larry Miller of Ashland said this soup was served in a restaurant in the former Lazarus department store in downtown Columbus.

Canadian cheese soup

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup diced carrots

11/2 cups diced celery

8 ounces butter

1/4 cup onion, minced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups milk

8 ounces American cheese, shredded

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

Fresh chopped parsley and crumbled bacon, for garnish

Heat chicken stock, and add carrots and celery. Cook until vegetables are tender. Set aside. Heat butter in a saucepan; add onion and sauté lightly. Add flour; stir with a whisk. Cook 2 to 4 minutes, making sure flour and butter are well blended. Gradually add stock mixture and milk, stirring constantly with whisk. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and let mixture thicken. Add cheese, and stir over low heat until melted. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and bacon bits.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Janette Sumpter of Monticello shared this recipe.

Jamaican red bean soup

21/2 cups water

1 pound boneless smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cans (16 ounces each) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 cans (133/4 ounces each) beef broth

2 cups red potatoes, 1/2-inch cubes

2 cups sweet potatoes, 1/2-inch cubes

3/4 cup diced celery

1/4 cup minced onion

11/2 teaspoons thyme leaves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons cornstarch

In large pot, combine 2 cups water with all ingredients except cornstarch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Combine cornstarch with 1/2 cup water. Stir until smooth, and add to soup. Stir until thickened.Genie Graf of Midway said a friend, Holly Wethall, gave her a similar version of this recipe about 20 years ago. "We have adapted it to our liking, adding more tortellini and broth, and fixed it regularly ever since. It's a bowl of health," said Graf, the wife of Herald-Leader assistant sports editor Mat Graf.

Tortellini soup

1 bag (19 ounces) bag frozen cheese tortellini

1 can (29 ounces) diced tomatoes (you can use tomatoes with Italian seasoning)

4 cans (14 ounces each) chicken broth (or 2 quarts homemade stock)

10 ounces fresh or frozen leaf spinach

Italian seasoning to taste

Stir all ingredients together in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 minutes or longer.

Makes 6 servings.

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