Nothing beats winter's chill like a hearty bowl of soup

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

Winter is in full swing and temperatures have continued to plummet.

When the troops come home after a hard day out in the cold, nothing tastes better than some homemade soup.

Whether it's for lunch, dinner or just a feel good snack, soup is perfect for this time of year.

Herbed Beef Soup

(makes eight cups of soup)

1/2to 3/4pound lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

2 to 3 stalks celery

2 large peeled carrots

1 potato, peeled

several sprigs fresh parsley

1 can (one pound) stewed tomatoes

2 tomato cans water

1/2teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, and thyme (or 1 1/2teaspoons Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

In a 2 12 quart saucepan, fry crumbled ground beef until lightly browned. Pour off the accumulated fat.

In a food processor, process the onion, celery, carrots, potato and parsley until chopped fine, or chop fine by hand.

Also chop up any large pieces of tomato. Add chopped vegetables to the ground beef along with water, herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the soup covered for about two hours, stirring occasionally.

Next we'll try one that is easy to make and will taste much better than the canned variety. This soup is very warming and rich. Using light cream will make a creamier, richer soup. Milk will lower the calorie count but still produce a tasty soup.

Cream of Mushroom

(makes about one quart)

1/2pound fresh mushrooms

2 shallots, finely minced

4 tablespoons butter ormargarine

1/4cup flour

2 cups best quality chicken stock

1 cup light cream or milk

salt and pepper

Trim and discard the ends of the mushroom stems. Chop the remaining stems fine and slice the mushrooms, cutting slices in half if the mushrooms are very large.

Melt the butter or margarine in a heavy saucepan, over medium heat, add the mushrooms and the shallots, cook, stirring constantly with a wooden or plastic spoon for 4 to 5 minutes.

Sprinkle flour into the pan and stir quickly to dissolve the flour in the mushroom juices. Stir in the chicken stock and allow it to come to a low boil, stirring constantly.

When the soup has thickened, stir in the cream or milk, stirring constantly. Do not allow to come to a boil after adding the cream or milk, so lower the heat as needed. If the soup seems too thick, add a little more stock or milk.

Here's a soup that you'll be proud to present to the troops.

New York Clamand Tomato Soup

(makes 6 to 8 servings)

1 pint shucked hard shell clams or, 2 cans (6 ounces each)

2 strips lean bacon, chopped

1/2cup finely sliced leek, or 4 large green onionswith tops, sliced

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable juice cocktail

2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 can (14 1/2ounces) tomatoes, undrained and cut-up

1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn

diced sweet peppers for garnish

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoonsdried thyme leaves

2 teaspoonsWorcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

1/4teaspoon salt

1/8teaspoon hot red pepper sauce

Coarsely chop the clams, reserving the juice. If using canned clams, drain the clams, reserving the juice. In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Remove the bacon, reserving the drippings. Drain the bacon on paper towels and set aside.

Add the leek, celery and garlic to the reserved drippings. Cook over moderate heat for five minutes, or until the leek is tender. Add the vegetable juice cocktail, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, bay leaves, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, marjoram, salt and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered for 45 to 60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in the clams, reserved clam juice and bacon. Heat through, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

David Kelly has worked as a chef for more than 40 years. He has shared his recipes, tips and experiences in Culinary Corner for 21 years.

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