Recipe file: Sonoma’s favorite soups

Posted on January 23, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Leslie Nicholson | Sonoma Sun

A bowl of homemade soup is always a great meal during the cold weather months. As we focus on healthy foods after our holiday feasting, soup is one of the best ways to get your fill of comfort food, while also keeping your commitment to healthy eating.

 Simple and fresh ingredients are essential for any soup recipe. The best thing is that soups are not difficult to make. And who doesn’t enjoy having a pot of soup simmering on the stove and filling your kitchen with wonderful aromas of vegetables, herbs, and spices?

 Soup is also warm and comforting, which we can all use a lot of these days. If you are lucky enough to have a porch drop-off of soup by a friend, it makes you feel connected while we are socially-distanced. Who doesn’t feel grateful for a gift of homemade nutrition and wellness?

 Thank you to all who took the time to contribute their favorite soup recipes; I start off with two of my favorites. Next month’s recipes: Valentines Day desserts. Send your favorite recipes to [email protected].

 Garlicky Tortellini, Spinach, and Tomato Soup

Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 9 ounces fresh or frozen cheese tortellini (I prefer roasted chicken tortellini)
  • 14 ½ ounces canned diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 10 ounces baby spinach, washed and stemmed, coarsely chopped
  • 8-10 basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and water, bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook halfway, about 5 minutes for frozen pasta, less if using fresh.

Add the tomatoes with liquid, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook just until the pasta is tender, 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and basil and cook until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Drizzle into the soup and stir. Cook about 3 minutes more. Remove from heat and serve.

 Mediterranean Lentil Soup 

A customer shared this recipe with the staff at Penzey’s Spices in Santa Rosa. I worked for Penzey’s for seven years and loved that regular shoppers at the store would bring us their favorite recipes. This recipe can easily be made into a “soup in a jar” gift. Just combine the Spice Mix ingredients and attach the recipe. Or mix up the spice mix and keep it in your pantry. You will be able to make a quick soup for dinner on a busy night or when you just want a meal without a lot of prep time.

Yield: 4-6 Servings

Spice Mix:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup dried minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2/3 cup lentils
  • 3 cups uncooked brown rice

Additional ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 links (casings removed) or ½ pound of bulk Italian sausage (optional)
  • 1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 8-ounce can of coconut milk
  • 6 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable)

 Warm 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven. Brown sausage, if using. Add can of tomatoes and cook 5 minutes on medium low. Add 6 cups of broth and Spice Mixture. Stir well, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer. Cover tightly, simmer gently on low for 1-1 ½ hours. Add more broth if needed. Add coconut milk. If rice is not cooked, cover and simmer for another 10-20 minutes.

Connie’s Clam Chowder

Created and contributed by Connie McCann. This recipe serves 6 – 8 with leftovers. It is even better the next day!

  • 1 pound bacon, chopped
  • ½ cube of butter, optional
  • 1 very large or 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 5 large stalks celery, chopped
  • Fresh or dried herbs – sage, tarragon, oregano, thyme, basil …(my husband’s favorite is sage, mine is tarragon)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 51 oz. cans Chopped Sea Clams (Costco SeaWatch)
  • 4 very large or 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • ½ gallon half-and-half or 3 cans condensed milk
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Bread bowls (1 per person)

Sauté bacon in soup pot until brown and crispy. Add butter if too dry. Add onions and caramelize, adding celery and herbs toward the end.

 Over low heat slowly stir in flour until all the liquid is absorbed. Drain clams well and save juice. Over low heat, slowly add clam juice to pot, stirring until smooth. Add potatoes and cook covered until potatoes are tender. Add half and half or milk. If additional thickening is needed, gradually add cornstarch mixed in a little milk. Add clams until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste – I like lots of pepper!

 Cut tops off bread bowls. Scoop out the center, leaving some to soak up chowder. Heat bread bowls, tops, and centers in the oven. The toasted centers are good served on leftover chowder. Oyster crackers on the side are optional.

 Connie’s Curried Squash and Quinoa Soup 

Also created and contributed by Connie McCann:Our squash came up in Mom’s compost from Thanksgiving centerpieces in about 2006. I save the seeds each year and (with help of Leslie for several years now) have been growing them since. You never know what you are going to get, as they cross-pollinate. Good with some winter and butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots…equal to about 4 or more large squash.”

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder – or more – depending on how strong yours is
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon  ginger
  • 2 tablespoons garlic
  • 1 cup quinoa, soaked and rinsed well (optional)
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Add lemon juice and/or honey if needed

Roast squash for about an hour at 350 degrees. Roast onion, garlic and jalapeño with squash, but do not combine. The onion, garlic, and jalapeño are cooked until tender. Remove them from the oven and set aside while the squash continues to roast.

Peel and scoop out squash once it has cooled, discarding seeds and fibrous center, and chop roughly into chunks. Finely dice jalapeño and peeled garlic. Peel and chop onion.

Toast spices lightly in a large soup pot. Add vegetables and 2 cups of water and simmer until very tender. Cool a bit and then blend until smooth with an immersion blender. Add the coconut milk, saving a bit for garnish. Add 2 more cups of water if you are adding quinoa.

If adding quinoa, cook just until tails pop. Add more water if needed. I like mine pretty thick. Serve in soup bowls and drizzle with coconut milk.


Megan’s Vegetable Soup

Recipe adapted (from and contributed by Megan Lee.

“This hearty, veggie packed soup is one of our family favorites. Super versatile – add or leave out your favorite or not so favorite vegetables. Easily made vegetarian or vegan by using vegetable stock and omitting the Parmesan.” 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 2 onions, chopped 
  • 2 cups chopped celery 
  • 5 carrots, sliced 
  • 2 cups chicken broth 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 4 cups tomato sauce 
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained 
  • 1 cup diced green beans 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Parmesan rind (I store them in the freezer when I have one so I have it for this recipe)
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 zucchinis, quartered and sliced 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dry oregano or Italian herbs) 
  • ½ cup seashell pasta 
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping 

Heat large stock pot or Dutch oven with olive oil over low heat, sauté onion and garlic until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add celery and carrot, sauté another 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer on low for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

The Parmesan rind will mostly melt into the broth. Any solid remnants of the rind can be discarded. 

Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions. Drain, do not rinse. 

Ladle soup over 2 tablespoons of cooked pasta in individual bowls. Top with a sprinkle of Parmesan. Serve with crusty garlic bread and enjoy! 


Wild Rice Soup

Sheana Davis writes: “This is one of our most popular soups at our take out at The Epicurean Connection. Also Vegan, Gluten Free, and Vegetarian. We use the Rancho Gordo Wild Rice for our soups.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 cup Rancho Gordo Wild Rice, cooked
  • 1 cup chopped and roasted vegetables of your choice
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Thyme 

In a soup pot, heat olive oil and saute garlic. Add in rice and continue to saute. Add in roasted vegetables, salt ,and pepper and continue to saute. Add in stock and thyme and bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Serve warm with salad and fresh bread.

 Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Recipe created and contributed by Heidi Cullen.

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  •  1 onion, chopped
  •  4 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In saucepan mix chicken broth, onion, broccoli, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Remove the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, process until smooth.

In a separate pan make a roux with melted butter and flour; add salt and a little pepper until paste forms. Add milk and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Add cheddar and stir until it dissolves.

Pour in broccoli mixture and cook until blended. Add more chicken stock if necessary.

Carrot Soup with Tomatillo Relish

Recipe created and contributed by Heidi Cullen

  • 1 ½ cups of chopped onions
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups thinly sliced peeled carrots
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1.5 quarts low sodium chicken broth
  • salt
  • Roasted Tomatillo Relish (see recipe below)

Saute onions in olive oil until soft. Add carrots and potatoes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pan reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally until potatoes and carrots are tender when pierced. Using an immersion blender process until smooth.

Roasted Tomatillo Relish

Rinse 1 pound of tomatillos and place in a 10” x 15” baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes until slightly browned. Rinse, stem, seed and chop.

2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro

1 cup lightly packed parsley

 Transfer tomatillos to a blender or food processor.  Add chili, cilantro, parsley, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Pulse until mixture is coarsely chopped. Makes 2 cups.





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