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Traditional meager meal doesn't sacrifice flavor. Make this special soup during the season of Lent.

I love to make soup as much as I love to eat it. It is soothing and is a great way to use vegetables coming to the end of their shelf life in the fridge. Also, soups are commonly consumed during Lent as a meager meal. It's part of the sacrifice and focus on fasting and eating more mindfully.

While soups can be the cornerstone of a meager meal, they don't have to be tasteless. Pattianne, a friend of mine who is just beginning to enjoy culinary success, made a delicious carrot ginger soup and shared her recipe with me. She said it was easy to make which is always a bonus.

My sister Carol shared the recipe for the Minestrone alla Romagnola, a recipe which calls for a rind of parmesan cheese to be added to the soup. That is a lovely way to add extra flavor and richness to the broth. Minestrone alla Romagnola is a classic minestrone soup made by Italian maven Marcella Hazan.

And finally today I share a recipe from Mark Bittman for a delightful Prosciutto and Parmesan broth that you can make and then use as the base for soup. You simply simmer prosciutto, a couple Parmesan rinds, a couple cloves of garlic and a sprig or two of rosemary in water. Bittman says the broth should not take more than 15 minutes to make, then you simply refrigerate it until you are ready to make soup. It should be a lovely base for just about any type of soup.

Give it a whirl.

Part of my focus during Lent is to avoid falling into the rut of preparing the same seven dinners each week. These soup recipes are sure to help.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Carrot Ginger Soup

Makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons sweet cream butter

2 onions, peel and chopped

6 cups chicken broth

2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated

1 cup whipping cream

Salt and white pepper

Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Parsley sprigs for garnish

In a 6-quart pan over medium high heat add butter and onions and cook, stirring often, until onions are limp. Add broth, carrots and ginger. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced.

Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Don't fill the blender more than halfway. Be careful when blending hot liquids as the mixture can spurt out of the blender. Pulse the blender to start it and then puree until smooth. Return the liquids to the pan and add cream, stir over high heat until hot. For a smoother flavor bring soup to a boil, add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and parsley sprigs.

Recipe courtesy of FoodNetwork.com, and Pattianne Carmichel.

Minestrone alla Romagnola

This is the classic minestrone recipe by Italian maven Marcella Hazan.

1 pound zucchini

½ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup onions, sliced very thin

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup celery, diced

2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced

½ pound green beans

3 cups shredded cabbage

1½ cups canned cannellini beans, drained

4 cups beef broth

2 cups water

Parmesan rind

2/3 cups canned plum tomatoes, with juice

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Soak the zucchini in a large bowl of water at least 20 minutes. Drain and dice fine. Soak the green beans in water, drain, trim and dice. In a large stockpot mix the oil, butter and sliced onion. Turn the heat to medium low and cook until onion wilts and becomes pale gold, not no darker. Add the diced carrots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the celery and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the shredded cabbage and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. Add the broth, water, cheese rind and tomatoes with juice. Salt very lightly. Stir thoroughly. Cover the pot and lower the heat to simmer. When the soup has cooked 2 1/2 hours, add the drained cannellini beans. Stir and cook another 30 minutes. Just before serving remove the cheese rind. Swirl in the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Note: while one vegetable is cooking peel and cut up another.

Recipe courtesy of Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking.

Prosciutto-Parmesan Stock

Makes about 6 cups

This recipe is meant to be fast, so by simmer Bittman means as little as five minutes and no more than 15. You can season the stock at the end with salt and pepper to taste, or wait until you're ready to turn it into full-fledged soups.

4 ounces sliced prosciutto (or some prosciutto rinds or ends)

3 pieces of Parmesan rind

2 crushed garlic cloves

a rosemary sprig

Combine some prosciutto rinds or ends, a few pieces of Parmesan rind, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a rosemary sprig and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, simmer then strain. Refrigerate the broth until you are ready to

use it to make the soup of your choice.

Recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman as published in the New York Times.

Barb Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-479-2374 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.


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