A souper week

When I first pitched the idea for this blog to him, Mr. Eating The Week (aka Tim) was agreeable and supportive. He’d suggested several times that I get a blog started, and one that would feed him regularly? Bonus.

Nearly two months into this experiment, soup week was the first test of Tim’s resolve. First, there were the skeptical mutterings when I suggested that chili counts as soup. Then the cryptic response to my announcement that vegetable pasta soup was on the menu: “You know how I feel about that.”

But for Tim, the line in the sand was drawn at spinach yogurt soup. I wilted spinach, mixed in garlic and mint, thinned with cold water, and chilled as directed, expecting to reawaken our winter-laden palates with a cool, tangy, summer-style soup. But when I put a bowl in front of him at dinner, I got the “sorry, but” face as he handed it back. “This is dip,” he said.

Truth be told, he’s not wrong. While tasty, this soup (the recipe for which is from the NY Times) doesn’t make a convincing argument against the dip label:

I’m not going to back down on the chili issue, however. This recipe (from Serious Eats) is too good not to be counted in multiple categories – chili, soup, beans, meat-in-tube-shape, etc. And while it does take a while from start to finish (at least 1.5 hours), little of that is active time and the result is a big batch of hearty, flavorful food. Food that is a liquid containing small food morsels, which you eat from a bowl, with a spoon. That’s soup, and I’m sticking by that.

While still not entirely sure how Tim feels about vegetable pasta soup, I’m pretty sure there’s no controversy about the fact that it is soup. And an intensely purple soup, at that – did anyone else start singing the Barney theme song when you saw that photo up top? That vibrantly colored and nutrient-rich vegetable mix is packed into a fairly low-calorie main-course bowl, which is quick to make and freezes well. The full recipe follows below.

At least Tim’s not alone as he perseveres in the face of his wife’s food bloggery. I laughed out loud reading this report from Sally Kuzemchak’s husband about the dire conditions brought on by her Pantry Challenge at Real Mom Nutrition. Are you willing to test the strength of your matrimonial-and-similar bonds with some soup recipes? Then here’s this week’s list:

  • Vegetable pasta soup (recipe follows below)
  • Spinach and yogurt soup, from New York Times (here)
  • Italian sausage chili, from Serious Eats (here)
  • Pumpkin apple soup, from Eating Well (here) – More flavor than I would have expected from such a simple recipe. Make a big batch; it freezes well.
  • Chickpea bread soup, from Cold Cereal and Toast (here)
  • Roasted eggplant soup, from Smitten Kitchen (here) – I haven’t made this yet, but it sounds like a great use for the late-summer eggplant bounty from our vegetable garden.
  • White bean and black olive soup, from Epicurious (here)

I also found the recipe motherload over at Soup Chick. I probably could spend a full day reading through the reams of great recipes; when I do, I’ll note some for the next time I cover soups.

Vegetable pasta soup (text file here)

This is based on a Weight Watchers’ Zero Point Soup, but I make bigger portions, tweaked the spices, and add a small amount of pasta to make it more filling as a main dish.

Instead of the water, you could just use a total 6 cups of broth. The broth-in-a-box that I buy (I’m too lazy to make my own) is roughly 4 cups, so I make up the difference with water rather than break open another broth container.

This soup freezes well; just omit the grated cheese.

(4 servings, approx. 190 calories each)

1 cup (dry), whole wheat pasta
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups water
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic
½ Tbs olive oil
½ head of red cabbage
½ lb green beans (fresh or frozen), cut into ½-inch pieces
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 zucchini, cut into ½-1 inch pieces
Grated cheese (romano or parmesan), to taste

Put a small pot of water on high heat. When boiling, add pasta and cook as directed. Drain and set aside if the pasta finishes before the rest of the soup.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the carrots, onion and garlic and cook until the onions soften, about 5 minutes.

Add all the remaining ingredients except the zucchini and cheese, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add the zucchini, bring to a boil briefly and then simmer over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta and remove from heat. Divide the soup among four bowls, top with grated cheese and serve.


  1. Have you considered covering the other great chili debate? Noodles vs. no noodles. This has been a debate I’ve been a part of for a long time. Some say with noodles is actually goolash (is that still soup?). I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts.

  2. I’m going to go with still chili, and still soup, provided there’s a fairly high liquid-to-morsels ratio. But if it’s a thick noodle-y chili, then I’d side with the goulash camp.

  3. ooo I’m loving this recipe. Don’t worry, the more you experiement, the more your husbnad will come to accept all the new recipes you try and appreciate them!!

  4. Awesome. I’ve been in a soup propaganda war with Tyler since we first met, so I’ll give the purple a try, it looks lovely. I do have one recipe to share that may qualify as “dip” or “sauce” for Tim, it’s SOOO tasty, he may not complain: Vermont Cheddar Soup from Simon Pearce.

    It’s not the lightest or healthiest fare, but a small batch goes a long way.

  5. D, I disbelieve: how could a cup of heavy cream *not* be healthy and light? That does look tasty; it’s going in the queue.

  6. A quick note about the Cheese soup recipe, the yield is massive. Here are my changes, mostly they just cut the recipe in half:
    – 1.5 quarts chicken stock (or a quart and 2 cups of water if you’re using boxed stock)
    – 1 clove garlic
    – 1/3 cup of flour, 6 tbsp of butter (not sure what that ounces business is about)
    – 1/2 cup heavy cream
    – 1 bay leaf
    – 8 oz block o cheddar
    – 1/2 cup carrot
    – 1/2 cup celery
    – 1 cup whole milk
    – 1 teaspoon thyme
    – salt and pepper

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