James Holloway’s Soup Recipes

This past weekend, James Holloway, my co-chef for the Monday Night Dinners in Palo Alto, gave a cooking class, the topic of which was four of his favorite soups.  In addition to being a talented chef, James is a warm  and friendly human being with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working for more than ten years.  A lot of James’ personality is reflected in his cooking, as well, and in the recipes he shares with us.

JAMES’ MINESTRONE SOUP

(serves 8-10)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 small leeks, cleaned and chopped

8 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth

1 fennel bulb, chopped

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 bunch parsley, chopped

2 large celery stalks, sliced

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

2 dried bay leaves

1 (28-oz.) can chopped tomatoes, with their liquid

1(15-oz.) can kidney beans

1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans

1 cup dried fusilli or elbow pasta

1 cup chopped green onions

3/4 to 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onions, garlic, and leeks and cook until translucent. Add broth, fennel, tomato paste, parsley, celery, carrots, bay leaf, canned tomatoes and beans, and cook at a slow boil for 30 to 40 minutes, until veggies are tender.  Add pasta and simmer 12-15 minutes.   Season with salt and pepper to taste, finish by adding chopped green onions to the pot. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with Parmesan sprinkles.

HEARTY LENTIL SOUP

(Serves 6-8)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced medium

1 onion, peeled and diced medium

1 celery stalk, diced small

6 medium cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

4 cups mushroom broth (or chicken stock)

3 cups water

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups brown lentils, sorted and rinsed

1 Parmesan cheese rind, about 4 by 2 inches

2 bay leaves

2 cups baby spinach, thinly sliced

salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Garnish with freshly chopped thyme and grated Parmesan cheese.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic and parsley, plus salt, and cook until onions and garlic are translucent.  Increase heat, add broth, water, tomatoes, lentils, Parmesan rind, and bay leaves.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low, and simmer partially covered until lentils are soft, about an hour. Skim top as needed for impurities around the edge of pot. Remove bay and Parmesan rind. Stir in spinach when soup is done, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle soup into warm bowls, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with Parmesan…

CLASSIC CHICKEN SOUP

(serves 7-8)

1 small, whole free-range organic chicken, washed and skin removed (or use pieces such as leg and thigh)

1 large onion, chopped medium

2-3 medium carrots, chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

2 quarts of fresh, cold water

3 bay leaves

2 thyme sprigs

1-2 teaspoons salt,  to taste

black pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients into a medium soup pot and cook on high until it comes to a rolling boil, then lower heat to a simmer, and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Transfer chicken with tongs to a plate, let cool down and remove meat from bones with a knife and your fingers.  Cut or break into bite-sized pieces, and put the meat back into the pot.  Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if you like.

Variations: Simmer soup with other vegetables like fennel or potato or parsnips and rutabaga, add rice or another grain or pasta while soup is simmering for chicken-noodle or chicken-rice soup!

SWEET POTATO COCONUT SOUP

(Serves 7-8)

1 tablespoon oil (olive or canola)

1 medium onion, chopped small

2-3 cloves garlic, mashed

1 medium carrot, diced

2-3 medium sweet potatoes (orange garnets) peeled and diced

3 cinnamon sticks plus a pinch of nutmeg

3 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated or minced

1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk

1 quart water or stock

2 cups milk or soy milk

pinches of salt and nutmeg, to taste

Heat oil a large soup pot. Add onion and garlic with a pinch of salt. Sauté on medium high until coloring, then add carrot and sweet potato with a pinch of salt and sauté two or three more minutes.  Then add coconut milk and stock, and cinnamon sticks and ginger.  Bring to boil, then simmer until all vegetables are very soft, about 30-45 minutes.  Take off heat, remove cinnamon sticks, add the milk and a pinch of nutmeg (optional) and puree with an immersion blender or traditional blender. For a most silky texture, strain soup from the traditional blender into a fine mesh strainer or china cap.  Slowly reheat soup on stove top, as you adjust the seasoning with salt.  Add a bit of sweetener if desired.  This soup should be naturally sweet, however!

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