Roasted Bell Pepper Soup


I’ve lived most of my life in Connecticut and so I am used to cold winters, snow and all that comes with it. I don’t mind really. I actually love the change of seasons and think it makes life more interesting.

But it’s those first days of chill that take some getting used to as we transition from summer’s heat and the gradual change of temperature when autumn comes..

Those are soup days.

I recently made this Roasted Red Pepper soup. It’s exactly what’s needed when the weather turns.

Also makes a good first course for Thanksgiving dinner.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

  • 5-6 sweet red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley plus more for garnish if desired

  • 1/3 cup raw white rice

  • 5 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers under the broiler, about 4-6" away from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes, until the skin has blistered. Turn the peppers and repeat this process until the entire surface is blistered and lightly charred. Remove the peppers and place them in a paper bag. Let rest at least 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the skin and discard the stem and the seeds. Cut the peppers into pieces. 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the rice. Add the peppers and stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and cook at a simmer for 25 minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender.

Makes 6 servings

Cream of Asparagus Soup


I know asparagus are available all year, but they have the most depth of flavor right now, when you can get the local ones that taste like springtime. Like asparagus are supposed to taste.

On the other hand, although I would suggest making this soup now, it's good any old time because its very simplicity gets the most out of the asparagus taste.

The dish is versatile too: make it dairy or dairy-free (see the recipe options).

And easy: 8 ingredients including salt, pepper and garnish.

Makes a lovely first course for summer dinner.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, butter or a mixture of olive oil and butter
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white rice or a small, chopped all-purpose potato
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 13/ to 1/2 cup cream or coconut milk
  • chopped chives, scallions or Aleppo pepper for garnish

Wash the asparagus and chop the spears into chunks. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and asparagus and saute for 1-2 minutes to soften the vegetables slightly and coat them with oil. Stir in the rice, pour in the vegetable stock and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Puree the ingredients in a blender or with an immersion blender. Stir in the cream, reheat and serve garnished with chives, scallions or a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper.

NOTE: this may be served chilled OR hot.

Makes 4-6 servings

Onion Soup with (or without) Cheese Croutes


I'm looking out the window at the dark sky and a rage of snow. The wind is sweeping it all into deep drifts that I know are going to block my front door.

My husband had the need to walk outside to get the mail (nothing first class, just the usual circulars for cruises and grocery items).

I stayed inside making soup.

This is definitely soup weather.

For example, this onion soup, which is fabulous all by itself, but especially satisfying with a thick crusty, cheese croute on top.


French Onion Soup

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups heated vegetable stock (or with beef stock if you serve without the croutes)
  • 1/4 cup sherry, peferably Oloroso type
  • cheese croutes (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over low-medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until onions have softened and become caramel-colored. Add the flour and mix ingredients together for 3 minutes. Gradually add the stock, stirring gently. Cook, partially covered, for 35 minutes. Add the sherry and cook another 5 minutes. Serve the soup as is or topped with cheese croutes. 

Makes 8 servings

Cheese Croutes:

  • 8 (1"-thick) slices of French bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 1-1/4 cups freshly grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the bread slices on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Brush the bread tops with the olive oil and rub the surface with the cut side of the garlic. Turn the bread slices over and bake for another 15 minutes. Just before serving, place the soup in oven-proof bowls and top each with one slice of the bread. Sprinkle the cheeses evenly on top. Place the bowls on a cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes or until the cheese melts and is bubbly.


Carrot Soup with Cloves

Carrot soup is a classic for Rosh Hashanah. One year I cooked some with harissa and coconut and my husband said it was the best soup he ever tasted. There's a slightly different version in my cookbook, The Modern Kosher Kitchen.

But I'm always trying new recipes -- because for us, carrot soup is beyond holiday festive. It's a healer, a comforter. Ok, not like chicken soup.  But still -- it's a dish I make for new moms or when someone isn't feeling up to par or when anyone I know is a little grumpy or sad.

This carrot soup recipe welcomes even before you taste it with its scent of cloves and cinnamon. I used Aleppo pepper for heat, but if you don't like spicy, you can leave it out.



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium all-purpose potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Add the carrots, potato, ginger, cloves, cinnamon stick and Aleppo pepper. Stir to mix the ingredients. Pour in stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Remove the cloves and cinnamon stick. Puree the soup. Add the coconut milk, stir to blend the mixture until it is uniform in color and heat through.

Makes 4-6 servings


Saigon Chicken Pho

Last March Ed and I travelled to Vietnam and Cambodia. We had wanted to go to both countries for years, Angkor Wat (in Cambodia), the big draw of course. But when we were young adults it wasn't possible because of the Vietnam War, which, btw, the Vietnamese call The American War.

And then way led upon way, we took other roads more or less travelled until finally this trip got on our radar and we grabbed the opportunity.

It was a revelation in many ways. Because of the politics. Because these days Vietnam is a friend and trading partner. Because Vietnam is thriving, entrepreneurial and modern whereas the only photos I had in my head were horrific ones from the 1960s (and if you have any desire to see those they are on full display in Saigon's War Remnants Museum). 

I also didn't realize how totally different Vietnam and Cambodia are. In every way: culture, ethnicity, religion, language, food, the look of the people.

I vowed to try cooking some of the food we sampled in both countries. 

So far, so good. Especially the pho, one of Vietnam's iconic dishes.

Chicken Pho -- basically chicken noodle soup -- is what your bubbe would make if she were Vietnamese. It's nourishing, flavorful, rib-sticking, comforting, warmth-giving. Perfect now that the cold weather is upon us, at least here in Connecticut. 

Really. Try this pho. I can't stop wanting some.

Fyi, the second photo is a scene from the breathtakingly beautiful Ha Long Bay in what used to be called North Vietnam. The third photo is the scene in Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) where the helicopters took off on that fateful day in 1975 when the Americans left.



  • 3-1/2 to 4 pound chicken
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • One 2 1/2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 3 1-inch thick slices fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 8 ounces dried rice noodles
  • 3-4 chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • garnish to taste with thinly sliced jalapeno peppers, bean sprouts, basil leaves, mint leaves, lime wedges. Sriracha (in the United States)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken in a soup pot and cover with water. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 4-5 minutes, removing the debris that rises to the top. While the chicken in cooking, place the star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick and peppercorns in a single layer in a small dish. Roast the spices for 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the roasted spices to the soup pot. Add the onion, ginger and brown sugar. Simmer the soup for about 2 hours, until the chicken is very soft. Strain the soup. Remove the chicken to a carving board and, when cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones. Cut the breast and thigh meat into julienne shreds. (Use the rest of the chicken for other purposes or add more to the soup.)

Keep the soup stock hot over low heat. Cook the rice noodles according to package directions.

To serve, place some rice noodles in serving bowls. Pour the stock over the noodles. Scatter scallions and cilantro into each serving bowl. Garnish as desired with jalapeno pepper slices, bean sprouts, basil leaves, mint leaves and lime wedges.

Note: in restaurants in the United States it is customary to serve Pho with Sriracha sauce on the side, to splash into the soup. Not the case in Vietnam, where fresh chili peppers do the job of spicing the soup.

Makes 8 servings

Creamy Irish Potato Soup

You know that old ad that says you don't have to be Jewish to eat Levy's rye bread? I feel the same way about Irish food. I'm not Irish, but love Irish food. Especially Irish Soda Bread and Irish Oat Scones

Ed and I visited Ireland several years ago and despite warnings to the contrary we found the food there was scrumptious. We had salmon almost every night, and I remember fondly one dish of broiled salmon with a horseradish crust. So simple, fresh and fabulous for dinner. 

And of course, we had lots of those famous Irish potatoes. Mashed with kale or cabbage. And just plain boiled.

Oh, I do love those earthy, mineral-y potatoes.

Every year on St. Patrick's Day I make one or more of these recipes, and sometimes Irish potato soup. Classic Irish potato soup usually starts with bacon, but for a vegetarian version of that smoky, bacony flavor, roast some shiitake mushrooms (see below) and add them as a final garnish. But the soup is also wonderful if you skip that step and garnish with some fresh, chopped chives.

Creamy Irish Potato Soup

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, optional
  • 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, optional
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, optional

Heat the vegetable oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes, stir for a minute. Pour in the vegetable stock. Add salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Puree the ingredients in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pan. Add the cream and heat through. If desired, serve with a garnish of chopped chives or chopped, roasted shiitake mushrooms.

To make the roasted mushrooms: while the soup is cooking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rinse and dry the mushrooms and coat them with the 2 teaspoons vegetable oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes or until well browned. Chop and sprinkle over the soup.

Makes 6 servings

Academy Award Winning Borscht

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I always watch the Academy Award Show. I don't know why, because I don't go to the movies that often and don't really care what clothes anyone is wearing or which celebrity showed up with someone or no one.

But, as Tevye says, "it's tradition."

I watch because that's what I always do.

And usually with Ed, of course, and with Eileen and Jeff, who also don't go to the movies very often.

We will have dinner of course, and popcorn of one kind or another

I thought that for dinner I would make something representative of the one movie we did see: Bridge of Spies, about the negotiations for the return of Francis Gary Powers of the then-famous U2 spy incident.

The four of us are all old enough to remember Powers, whose plane "somehow accidentally got lost in USSR airspace" (so we were told back then when we were children). And of course we remember, when it was news, the spy exchange of Powers for Rudolf Abel (played, in my opinion, miraculously well by Mark Rylance).

So - borscht of course. So Russian. So delicious. 

This version is loaded with cabbage and other vegetables, so the beets don't overwhelm. You can make it with beef stock (and even add some meat), but also with vegetable stock (and then serve the soup topped with dairy sour cream or plain yogurt).

Academy Award Winning Borscht

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 medium beets, peeled and shredded
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and shredded
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/2 medium green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 8 cups beef or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 tablespoons white vinegar, approximately
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • dairy sour cream or plain Greek style yogurt, optional


Heat the vegetable oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the beets, tomatoes, parsnips, carrots, celery, cabbage and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes. Pour in the stock, add the bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, one hour. Add the potatoes and cook for 45 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and dill and cook for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper or vinegar to taste. Remove the bay leaf. If the soup is cooked using vegetable stock, serve it garnished with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

 Makes 8-10 servings


The Easiest, Most Comforting Tomato Soup


Last week I was at my daughter Meredith's house and she had just finished cooking tomato soup. The fragrance -- warmth, security, satisfaction -- lingered in my memory into the next day.

I had to have some.

And so I did. I cooked a batch at home.

That enticing smell! I had it right there, in my own kitchen.

It was so easy too.

I separated the soup into packages for freezing, but they didn't last. We ate it all, a soup-plateful before dinner over the course of three evenings.

Now I will make some more.

Tomato Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 28-ounce cans Italian style tomatoes, including juices
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup uncooked white rice

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about another minute. Add the tomatoes, stock, basil and salt and pepper. Break up the tomatoes coarsely with a wooden spoon. Bring the soup to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes. Add the rice, cover the pan and cook for another 25 minutes. Blend the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. 

Makes 6-8 servings

Mushroom Barley Soup


The weather fooled me for a while. It was actually in the 60s last weekend. Now it's back to the usual for a January in Connecticut. 19 degrees when I woke up.

That's cold.

That's soup weather. Hearty, nourishing Mushroom Barley soup weather.

My mother-in-law, Pearl Fein, made fabulous Mushroom Barley soup, but I never got her recipe.


Then I saw my friend Liz Rueven's recipe. Liz blogs at, but she created her recipe for Mushroom Barley soup for The Nosher, where it was voted one of the Top Ten recipes on the site for 2015. 

It inspired me, but I was sans crockpot (mine is somewhere in my basement and I didn't feel like looking for it).

So I thought about what I remember loving in my mother-in-law's soup and what appealed to me about Liz's recipe and I came up with my very own version.

It was awesome. VERY similar to my mother-in-law's, except hers was made with chicken stock, mine with beef stock and water.

Either way, this is going into the "repeat" file.


Mushroom Barley Soup

  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound chuck, cut into small chunks (or use flanken)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3/4 cup pearled barley
  • 4 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 4 cups water, approximately
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the mushrooms in a bowl, cover with hot water and soak for 8-10 minutes or until the caps are soft. Remove and discard the hard, inedible stems, if any, chop the caps and set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the meat and cook, turning the pieces occasionally, for 6-8 minutes or until lightly crispy. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until softened. Add the carrots, celery, reserved mushrooms, dill and barley and stir briefly. Pour in the stock and water, add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes. Add more water if you prefer a thinner soup (or if you refrigerate the soup: the barley will absorb the liquid and soup will be very thick).

Make 8 servings


Warm Winter Soup


I guess the warm weather couldn't last. It was December, after all, and I do live in Connecticut.

I did appreciate it though, the unseasonal temperature in the 60s. And I suppose if I wanted that sort of thing all year round I could move to California or Arizona or Florida. 

But I never will. I am a Connecticut woman with a penchant for spending lots of time in New York City.

So I'll get used to the cold and, in addition to the silk undergarments I just bought to wear for when I'm outside and it's freezing, I'll make myself some soup to help keep me warm.

This is the kind of soup I make all the time. The ingredients depend on what I have in the house, but there's always a package or two of dried soup mix, plus onions and carrots and a few ingredients such as dried split peas and barley.

You can add lots to this recipe: parsnips, other whole grains, dried lima beans or red kidney beans. You can also add fresh vegetables at the end of the process (give them time to soften): peas, broccoli, cut up green beans. 

But this is one for cold winter weather, for sure. And look how easy it is to prepare!

Warm Winter Soup

  • 1 6-ounce package dried soup mix (I used Manischewitz Lima Bean and Barley mix)
  • 3 pounds marrow bones
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried green split peas
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the soup mix, bones, carrots, onions, split peas, barley and salt and pepper to taste in a soup pot. Pour in enough water to cover the ingredients by at least one inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for at least 2 hours, or until the soup is thick. 

Makes about 6 servings