Soup in the Sukkah

Well, the holiday of sitting outside in a little hut, open to the weather, to eat meals has arrived and with it autumn.  After weeks of almost completely consistent hot, dry weather last night blew in cloudy, rainy drizzly, cooler weather and tonight is the first night of Sukkot.  Some hearty souls, I am sure, ate outside tonight – we did not.  After making the various blessings (wine, the holiday, sitting in the sukkah, shaking the lulav) we went inside and ate our dinner without having it diluted by water dripping from the ceiling.  Half the years of my life meals in the sukkah have been taken in short sleeves and the other half featured heavy wool sweaters, red noses, and sometimes even shovelling snow off the table to eat.  On those years soup was a mainstay for the holiday, it looks like this year might well be the same.  So, here are a few soupy suggestions.  I bring you Harvest Festival soups that keep you warm while you dwell outside, use some of the lovely fresh produce you or your CSA have been growing, and should include something for everyone.  Be warm, eat soup, and remember – this is moadim l’simcha, time for joy.

Chicken, Lentil, and Rice Soup (filling and delicious and appealing to all ages)

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 onions (both yellow, both white, one of each)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup dry green lentils
  • 1 cup raw brown rice
  • 2-3 cups chopped, shredded, or chiffonade greens (bok choy, chard, kale, spinach)
  • 1 ear of raw corn kernels, cut off the cob
  • 10-12 small red or yellow potatoes
  • 10 cups cold water
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot heat the oil over medium high heat.  Meanwhile, chop the onions then add to the hot oil.  Add in the ground chicken and garlic and cook, stirring and chopping the meat so you get bite-sized and smaller pieces, until meat is mostly cooked but onions are not browning.  Add the water, lentils, and rice.  Turn up heat and bring to a boil while washing, trimming, and cutting the potatoes into bite-sized chunks.  Then add the greens, the corn, and the potatoes to the soup.  Turn heat down and cover soup – the heat should be enough to keep a low boil but not enough to cause the soup to boil out or rattle the lid.  Cook covered until lentils and potatoes are soft, about 1 1/2-2 hours.  Season liberally with salt and pepper to your taste, serve hot with tortillas, crusty bread, challah, stale bagels, corn chips, crackers, or nothing at all.  Enjoy.

Asian Lentil Rice Soup (here is another lentil rice soup but with a totally different taste profile, it also happens to be vegan and gluten-free)

  • 1 1/2 cups dry green lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups raw brown rice
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms
  • 3 cups well chopped bok choy or napa cabbage or a combination
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini
  • 3 Tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs coarse ground black pepper (this will make the soup spicy, use much less if you don’t want spicy)
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 12 cups water
  • kosher salt

In a soup pot put lentils, rice, and water and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and cook at a low boil for half an hour.  Meanwhile, chop the onions and mince the garlic.  Add to the soup.  Halve then slice the mushrooms and add to the soup.  Add the chopped greens and the black pepper.  Cover pot and cook at a low boil another hour, check lentils.  They should be soft.  If not, cook another 15 minutes before adding vinegar.  Add vinegar.  Just before serving season with salt and stir in the sesame oil.  Serve soup hot.  Breath in the delicious steam then slurp.

Vegetarian Green Chile (this one is soupy, not thickened with flour) (* ingredients are optional, add to suit your taste)

  • 3 yellow onions
  • 7-10 roasted green chiles (anaheim, pasilla, or the like)
  • corn kernels cut from 2 ears
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs cider vinegar
  • *1-2 Tbs ground cumin
  • *1 small can diced tomatoes, drained
  • *1/2 lb button mushrooms, quartered
  • *1-2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, chopped
  • *1-2 cups cooked and drained white beans, pinto beans, chick peas
  • *1-2 cups cooked chopped chicken meat
  • *1 lb firm tofu, crumbled

Chop the onions.  Peel, seed, and chop the chiles.  Put them together with the water in a soup pot, turn on high.  Peel and dice the potatoes and add to the pot.  Add the corn, oregano, and several shakes of black pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 45 minutes.  Add in any *optional ingredients and the vinegar.  Cook another 45 minutes.  Season with salt and adjust flavor with pepper and extra oregano as needed.  Serve hot with cheesy toasted tortillas, chips, plain tortillas, whatever strikes your fancy.  This soup is even better the next day. 

Simple Italian Fish Stew (oh, yum, and so filling) 

  • 2 yellow onions
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 small crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 peppers (red, yellow, orange, green)
  • 1-2 zucchini or yellow squash
  • 1 lb firm fish (I think cod is the best but you can use half salmon, too)
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 6 cups water

Chop onion and garlic.  In a soup pot heat the oil over medium high heat then cook the onions and garlic until they are soft.  Add the water and canned tomatoes and turn heat up.  Seed and chop the bell peppers into bite-sized pieces and add to the pot.  Allow to come to a boil then turn down to a low boil.  Cook for 15 minutes then add the squash, cut into bite-sized pieces.  Add the dried herbs, capers, and vinegar.  Cook another 15 minutes then add the fish, cut into bite-sized chunks.  Cook at a low simmer for another half hour then serve hot with garlic bread, crusty loaves, pasta on the side, or plain.  This is so, so good and warming and filling. 

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