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Jan 13, 2007 05:25 PM

Soup Cook-off - Help!

I've entered a soup cookoff fundraiser for a soup kitchen and I need help with what to make. I think a good strategy is to wow people with a tiny taste of soup that may be too intense, rich, etc. to eat a whole bowl full. The problem is that most of my soup recipes (lentil, chicken noodle, etc.) are not exactly flavor sensations.

I'd like some ideas for soup bases and garnishes that will really knock everyone's socks off in a 2 oz tasting cup. Thanks.

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  1. Here's one that I really love, from Gourmet magazine, for Leek, Potato & Sausage Soup. It was originally published in 1993, I think, and I've kept it in my repetoire ever since. I usually serve it with a couple of slices of toasted & lightly buttered baguettes.

    Another one, Black Bean with Salsa, comes from an unknown source. I've tried it a couple of times and been very happy with it. You can make it as hot or as mild as you like, depending on what kind of salsa you choose to mix in. The final garnish is a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of sliced green onion but you could change that up to just a few thin slices of avocado and a lime wedge.

    Black Bean and Salsa Soup
    Makes 4 servings

    2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
    11⁄2 cups vegetable broth
    1 cup chunky salsa
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    4 tablespoons sour cream
    2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

    1. In an electric food processor or blender, combine beans, broth, salsa and cumin. Blend until fairly smooth.

    2. Heat the bean mixture in a medium saucepan over medium heat until thoroughly heated. To serve, ladle soup into 4 individual bowls and top each bowl with 1 tablespoon of the sour cream, and 1⁄2 teaspoon green onion.

    1. There's a recipe in Diet for a Small Planet for a Turkish Barley-Buttermilk Soup. Okay, it sounds kinda iffy, but it's really, really good! The author says she made it for a cooking demonstration and the initially skeptical host couldn't stop eating it through the whole segment. It basically involves barley, onions, buttermilk, and dill, with a pat of butter melting over the top.

      1. This recipe gets raves from my family and friends.

        ITALIAN SAUSAGE SOUP (so easy and so delicious)

        1 pound sweet Italian sausage-removed from casings and broken up
        1 clove garlic, minced
        2 (14 ounce) cans beef broth (I use Swanson)
        1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style tomatoes (I use diced)
        1 cup sliced carrots
        1 (14.5 ounce) can great northern beans, UNDRAINED (I use S & W brand and the label says "small white beans")
        2 small zucchini, cubed
        2 cups FRESH baby spinach - packed, rinsed and torn into smaller-sized pieces (the baby spinach in the clear bags)
        1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
        1/4 teaspoon salt

        In a stockpot or Dutch oven, brown sausage with garlic. Drain the sausage well to remove the grease). Stir in broth, tomatoes and carrots, and season with salt and pepper.
        Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
        Stir in beans WITH liquid and zucchini. Cover, and simmer another 15 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.

        Remove from the heat, and add the spinach, pushing it down, into the hot broth.
        Replace the lid, allowing the heat from the soup to cook the spinach leaves.
        The soup is ready to serve, 5 minutes after adding the spinach.

        Adapted from

        1. A rich and creamy corn chowder comes to mind. Garnish with freshly fried crisp bacon bits

          2 Replies
          1. re: Candy

            Ina Garten's cheddar corn chowder would work nicely. You'll get bit of corn, potato and onion in each serving and the topping of fried bacon will really put it over the edge. This is one of my favorite soups.

            1. re: Candy

              I was going to suggest something similar--Southwestern chicken corn chowder, made with cayenne, poblanos, and heavy cream.

              A Mexican pinto bean soup with bacon and cilantro would also be good.

              Agree with Candy that rich will help make the impression you want.

            2. Peashoot, You might also research ideas at