Hunan Soup for the Soul

© Katherine Stetson

This soup was inspired by a trip to Hunan. It double and triples easily and most of the ingredients can be swapped out for what is on hand. Just don’t forget the five-spice powder!

For two servings:

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • coin of fresh ginger, about 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic-chili paste (Sambal)
  • a few shakes of Szechuen Pepper
  • 10 drops of sesame oil
  • fresh lo mein noodles
  • 1/4 cup shredded chicken or pork (optional)
  • chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)
Heat the stock with the celery, scallion, ginger, and seasonings over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender. Add the noodles and continue to simmer until tender. Add the (optional) shredded meat.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro and a few more drops of Sesame Oil.



Soupy Black Beans with Smoked Sausage

© Katherine Stetson

Ham stock is one of the most divine things I know and its uses are endless!

  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • plenty of spring water
  • 1 pound black beans, rinsed
  • ½ pound link smoked sausage
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2” pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • sea salt, to taste, at the end of the cooking
  • freshly ground pepper


  • Fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh salsa or salsa verde
  • Fried tortilla strips

Pour beans into a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Set aside while preparing the ham stock.

Lightly brown sausage in a skillet or on a charcoal grill.  Slice or dice into desired size.  Set aside.

Place ham bone in a large stock pot or Dutch oven and fill pot with water ¾’s of the way up the bone.  Add the onion, carrots and celery. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for at least two hours.  Skim off any foam or scum that surface.

Remove ham bone from pot and discard.  With a slotted spoon, check for any ham remnants and discard.  Blend stock and aromatics in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth.  Return pot to stove and add drained beans and remaining ingredients (except smoked sausage and salt).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 hours or until beans are evenly tender.  Add smoked sausage and cook an additional 10 minutes.  Taste soup and add additional herbs or salt, as desired.

Serve with an assortment of garnishes.


© Katherine Stetson

A superb spring and summer soup.

  • 2 leeks
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 russet baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • bunch of fresh chives
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cut away dark green leek tops and reserve for another use.  Trim off the root end and quarter the leeks lengthwise.  Separate layers and rinse thoroughly under running water to remove any sand or silt.  Chop or slice the leeks into small pieces.

In a soup pot over medium heat, combine olive oil, butter, leeks, onion, shallot and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and still pale.  Add the chicken stock, water and potatoes and bring to a low boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Pour mixture into a non-reactive bowl and let cool.

Whisk in the heavy cream and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Top each serving with freshly snipped chives.

Spinach and Crab Bisque

© Katherine Stetson

The crab can be substituted with sautéed bay scallops or fresh oysters added to the bisque just long enough to poach.

For two generous servings, or four small ones:

  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup dry white wine (sauvignon blanc or Pinot Grigio)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 9 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces jumbo lump Atlantic Blue crabmeat
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a medium stockpot, melt two tablespoons of the butter.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent.  Sprinkle mixture with flour and nutmeg and stir for a minute or so to lightly toast the flour.  Add the wine and stir until thickened and bubbling.  Stir in chicken broth and spinach and cook just until spinach is tender. Use an immersion blender to blend soup in its pot, check seasonings and add the cream.

In a small skillet, melt remaining tablespoon of butter and sauté the crab lightly until heated through.  Divide hot soup amongst bowls and top with the crabmeat and a grind or two of black pepper.

Kimchee Chigae

© Katherine Stetson

For each serving:

  • 1 cup spring water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 2/3 cup ripe kimchee, cut into inch long pieces
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Tofu Croutons
  • ¼ cup minced, cooked pork (optional)
  • 1 cup prepared, warm rice

In a small saucepan, bring water and bouillon cube to a boil.  Reduce heat and add kimchee and sesame oil and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes until reduced slightly.

Place rice in a deep soup bowl and pour in the kimchee broth.  Add tofu and scallions and serve immediately.

Hearty Minestrone with Country Sausage

© Katherine Stetson
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ pound bulk breakfast sausage
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 medium zucchini, cubed and sautéed in olive oil until lightly caramelized
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups Swiss chard or spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 white wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 cups cooked small shell pasta
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, as garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, as garnish
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, as garnish

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, brown sausage in olive oil, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks.  Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and continue to cook for five more minutes until vegetables are softened.

Add remaining ingredients except for pasta, basil, parsley and Parmesan and simmer for 40 – 60 minutes.

When ready to serve, stir in the pasta and ladle into bowls, topping with the fresh herbs and parmesan.

Curried Onion and Macintosh Apple Soup

© Katherine Stetson

6-8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 Macintosh apples
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, quartered and thinly sliced, divided
  • 6 celery stalks, chopped
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • sour cream, for garnish
  • croutons, for garnish

In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice with 3 cups cold water.  Peel, core and cut apples into small dice.  Add apples to lemon water and set aside.

In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add half the onion and sauté until slightly golden.  Set aside.

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter.  Add remaining onion, celery and thyme.  Cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle vegetable mixture with flour, curry, turmeric, cumin and paprika and stir briefly.  Add wine and 1 cup chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened.  Add remaining stock and return soup to a boil.

With the soup off the stove, use an immersion blender to blend soup to a smooth consistency.  Return soup pot to stove over medium heat. Stir in drained apples, sautéed onion and cream.  Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.  Serve, garnished with croutons and a dollop of sour cream

Onion Soup Gratinée

© Katherine Stetson

Be sure to give the onions plenty of slow and gentle heat in order to extract their complex sugars.

For four servings:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat or a mix of the two
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon crushed thyme
  • 2 ½ cups yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cognac (or dry sherry)
  • 2 1’2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2-3 cups dry toasted croutons, one-inch square
  • 2 cups grated Fontina or Gruyere or Emmentaler or any combination of the three

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and butter over medium flame.  Add onions and thyme and sauté slowly for 45 minutes (or longer), stirring occasionally until a rich golden color is achieved.  Add cognac and black pepper and stir until liquid has evaporated.  Add stock and wine and bring to a gentle simmer.  Check for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as needed.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place four oven-safe soup crocks on a baking sheet.  Fill crocks three-quarter’s full with onion soup.  Top with a layer of croutons and half a cup of cheese.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is nicely brown and bubbling.  Carefully remove crocks to an under-liner and serve immediately.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.