Quick Red Bean Soup 6 ounces smoked sausage, andouille, or smoked ham, cut into small dice
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup chopped yellow onions
6 tablespoons chopped celery
6 tablespoons chopped green bell peppers
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 (16-ounce) cans cooked canned red beans
3 cups chicken stock or canned, low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup cooked long-grain white rice, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped green onions, for garnish

In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
To the fat in the pan, add the oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, bay leaf, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the red beans and their juices, cooked sausage, and 3 cups of the chicken stock, stir well to mix, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick and reduced slightly, about 30 minutes, adding more stock as needed if the mixture gets too thick.

Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. (If desired, the soup can be pureed at this point using a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor.)

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top each portion with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cooked rice. Garish each serving with scallions and serve immediately.


Ham and Split Pea Soup
1 pound dried split peas
1 ham hock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound Smithfield ham, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
Parmesan Truffled Potato Chips, recipe follows

Place the peas in a large pot or bowl, cover with water by 2 inches and soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain the peas and set aside.
Score the ham hock. Place in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and cook, stirring, until just soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Add the ham hock and ham and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown. Add the drained peas, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add 8 cups of water, the bay leaf and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. (Add more water as needed, if the soup becomes too thick or dry.)
Remove the bay leaf and discard. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve immediately with Parmesan Truffled Chips on top.

Parmesan Truffled Potato Chips:
2 pounds red bliss potatoes, scrubbed well and patted dry, skins left on
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon truffle oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Using a mandolin or very sharp, heavy knife, slice the potatoes into rounds as thin as possible, and place in a large bowl of water to prevent discoloration.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot to between 340 and 350 degrees F.
Pat the potatoes completely dry. Add to the oil in batches and cook until golden brown, stirring with a long handled spoon to turn and cook evenly, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and place in a large bowl. Toss with the cheese, truffle oil, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.


Split Pea Soup with Ham Hocks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1-pound bag split peas, rinsed and picked through
1 1/2 pound smoked ham hock
2 quarts chicken stock, water, or combination
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, saute onion, celery and carrots over medium-high heat. Add peas and ham hock and cover with stock by a couple inches. Bring to a simmer and cook about 1 hour until soup is thick and peas have almost disintegrated but not quite. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Remove ham hock and let cool. Pull meat from ham hock bone and shred. Garnish with ham and pepper.


Cold Cucumber soup

4 avg cucumbers, peeled. seeded, and thinly sliced (or 2 long English cukes)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Chicken broth, enough to barely cover veggies in pot
1/4 tsp salt
5-6 grinds fresh black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 - 1 tsp dried dill weed (twice that amt if using fresh)
1 pint sour cream

Place sliced cukes and onions in a 2 quart saucepan. Barely cover with chicken broth. Add salt and pepper. Cover pot and bring to a bare simmer over medium low heat. Cook until veggie are soft and transparent. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Strain veggies, reserving liquid. Puree veggies in a blender until smooth. Add reserved liquid, lemon juice and dill weed. Add sour cream and whisk until all is evenly blended. Adjust seasonings. Refrigerate until ice cold.

This is very refreshing and delicious. For you canners out there, this can be prepared up to the point of adding the sour cream. Process @ 10 lbs pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts. Then just open a jar, add the sour cream, chill and serve.


Hamburger Soup (or any meat)

1 lb. of Hamburger (or any meat)
1c. chopped onion
1c. chopped potatoes
1c. chopped carrots
1c. chopped celery
1 can tomato Sauce or tomatoes
5c. water

salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
2 T. boullion

After cooking add 1 c. each corn and peas Heat again until vegies are tender.

The beauty of any soup, is use anything you have on hand. Your choice of spices, vegies and meat.


Bean Soup

*all amounts are relative...adjust to taste.*

1 med onion, diced
2 large carrots, grated
1 small-med sweet potato, diced small
1 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1-2 cups cooked or canned beans...your favorite. I LOVE black eyed peas in this!!
water...amount to make it as soupy as you like
2-3 vegetable boullion cubes (or use canned/homemade vegetable stock in place of water)

Saute veggies in a little olive oil, until beginning to get tender. Add beans and saute 2-3 minutes longer. Add water or broth...salt/pepper to taste. Serve with warm homemade bread or make it thick like stew and serve over rice..


Cheesy potato/sausage soup

8T butter
8T flour
6 C milk
1/2 block of cream cheese, diced
about 8 oz shredded cheddar (american works fine also, velveeta will work in a pinch...my opinion, cheddar is better )
4-5 potatoes, cooked, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 lb (fully cooked) smoked sausage, keilbassa etc...whatever you like, cut into 1 inch slices
salt/pepper to taste.

Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil until just translucent. Set to side. In soup pot, melt butter. Add flour and cook until thickened. Add a little milk and whisk until smooth, then add in the rest of the milk, whisking so it gets no lumps. Cook over med-high heat until thickened, stirring frequently (will stick to the bottom of the pan if you don't !) Turn heat down to low. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add cooked potatoes, sausage and veggies. Cook over low heat until heated through. Salt/pepper to taste.

This soup takes watching, as it will scorch if you aren't careful, but its so good...thick, hearty and really filling!!!

This can be adapted, add cooked broccoli and chicken in place of sausage. Or leave out the cheese, add chopped chicken and sauteed mushrooms. Or add a bag of mixed vegetables (already cooked, great way to use up leftovers) in place of the sausage.