WV Culinary Team: Soup, The Ultimate Comfort Food, Made Easy – Charleston Gazette-Mail

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A few passing clouds. Low 43F. Winds light and variable..
A few passing clouds. Low 43F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: December 3, 2021 @ 5:26 pm
Beef Barley Vegetable Soup: even more amazing with the vegetables!
The Parmesan Potato Soup — well worth the effort to track this elusive recipe down!
When a college student home from school requests the Tortellini Toscana Soup, that’s a ringing endorsement.

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Beef Barley Vegetable Soup: even more amazing with the vegetables!
The Parmesan Potato Soup — well worth the effort to track this elusive recipe down!
When a college student home from school requests the Tortellini Toscana Soup, that’s a ringing endorsement.
It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving and, if you’re anything like me, you’re done with baking for a while.
At Thanksgiving I bake turkey, side dishes, rolls and pies. After it’s over, I just want something quick and easy that can feed our family and provide enough in case neighbors or friends drop in. Soup fits that bill.
I think of soup as the ultimate comfort food that is great when chilly weather hits.
My favorite soup recipe — of course — has a story behind it. My very good friend, Lisa, and her family, moved to the Hilton Head area from West Virginia a few years ago. We vacation at Kiawah, which is not too far of a drive from there, so we are able to see each other a couple of times each year.
Last year, we met Lisa, her husband and daughter at one of our favorite Kiawah restaurants. All of us ordered salad before dinner, except Lisa — who ordered the soup of the day. When it arrived, she tasted it and immediately insisted we all do so as well. It was an unusual combination of potato soup with fresh parmesan and the result was definitely spectacular.
After we returned home from our trip, Lisa and I continued to talk about how good the soup was. We hatched a plan to scour the internet in search of the recipe (or one that came close).
Each of us chose a different parmesan potato soup from two different websites and promised to share results. We both reported back that neither recipe came close to the one we had tasted at the restaurant.
Disheartened, I decided I was going to call and ask the chef if he would give me the recipe or at least share the ingredient list. I called on a weekday afternoon hoping the chef might be available.
The hostess said he was busy preparing dinner but if I sent an email to the restaurant, she would see that it got to him. I composed a quick message telling him how much we had enjoyed the soup and asked if he might share his recipe. I figured that would be the end of it and he would not respond.
I was shocked to open my email the next morning to find he had indeed responded with the full recipe, although he apologized that the ingredients were proportioned to the massive quantities he prepared in the restaurant. I mathematically adjusted the recipe for a much smaller batch and made the soup.
The ingredient quantity adjustments weren’t correct once reduced (super salty and garlicy) and it took me several tries (actually, days) of adjusting them to arrive at the recipe I’m sharing here. Lisa and I agree this one tastes just like the soup she was served that night. I hope you love it as much as my family does.
Interestingly enough, another one of the recipes I’m sharing comes from the same soup-loving friend, Lisa, who had a crockpot full of her Beef Barley Vegetable Soup waiting when we met her in Hilton Head for a girl’s weekend last year.
We had left after work one day and arrived around midnight without dinner, so this soup really hit the spot for all of us. That particular night, Lisa forgot to put the vegetables in the recipe but it was still amazing.
The tortellini soup recipe I’m sharing is a concoction I’ve been serving my family for years. I started the base from a copycat recipe of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana Soup. I’ve tweaked it to my family’s tastes and added ingredients like tortellini and tomato paste. This is the meal that my son asks for when he comes home for college.
I hope you find a recipe here that you can easily make and serve your family as December arrives and the busy holidays are upon us. Serve it with your favorite crusty bread and a glass of wine to savor this ultimate comfort food.
Sarah Long is the author of the cookbook “College Cooking 101: Fast Food Without a Kitchen.” You can contact her at SarahHLongAuthor@gmail.com and follow her on social media on facebook @SarahHLongAuthor, Instagram @CollegeCooking101, and Twitter @SarahHLong1.
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 shallots, diced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 ½ tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup white wine
1 quart chicken broth
2 large potatoes, diced
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups shredded fresh parmesan cheese
1 sprig of fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
In a large cooking pot, sweat onions, shallots and garlic in oil until the onions become soft on medium/low heat (do not allow to brown). Add white wine and simmer until wine reduces by about half (about 2-3 minutes). Turn the heat up to medium and add chicken broth, potatoes and salt. Simmer until potatoes are tender (about 12-15 minutes). Add the cream and heat through, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low. Begin to add the fresh parmesan a little at a time, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add thyme.
Serves 6-8
3 peeled potatoes, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 lbs. beef stew meat
1 can petite peeled tomatoes (14.5 oz)
2 boxes beef broth (32 oz each)
3 carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup barley (fix separately in water according to package directions)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon pepper
Brown onions in oil, then add stew beef. Add other ingredients. Cook on medium until it boils, then reduce to low. Cook for 1 ½ hours.
Serves 8
½ pound Italian sausage
½ onion, diced
½ teaspoon garlic
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup of crushed tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
1 cup of kale, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
1 cup of fresh baby spinach
2 cups of tortellini
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup fresh parmesan cheese, for topping
In a large pot, sauté sausage, onions and garlic for 5-7 minutes (until sausage is no longer pink). Add chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. Add kale, spinach, tortellini and cream and simmer 5 more minutes. Top with fresh parmesan.
Serves 3-4