Soup’s On!

It’s easy to make comforting homemade soup—from Italian pasta with meatballs or turkey and bean soup to creamy asparagus or pea soup. Here are recipes to keep you cozy.
Pasta e Piselli with Little Meatballs

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Even in the event of a weather “warm up” by our Minnesota standards, it’s still plenty cool out there and the perfect time to cozy up with a bowl of homemade soup. Plus, we still have several months of soup weather ahead, so I have gathered a variety of recipes here to keep you going with different delicious ideas. Whether you prefer a hearty bowl with meatballs or turkey, or a creamy veggie variety, we’ve got you covered with these recipes from expert chefs, which appeared in Real Food. Plus, scroll down for links to additional ideas I have highlighted here. Stay warm!

Pasta e Piselli with Little Meatballs

Makes 4 Servings as a Main Course Soup | Recipe by Erica De Mane

Pasta with peas is a classic dish in Naples and elsewhere in Southern Italy. It’s made both as a straight pasta dish and as a soup. When I was a kid, I was always served it soupy. My Puglian grandmother often added baby meatballs, making it a full meal. I loved that, so I’m sharing that approach here. —Erica De Mane

For the Meatballs
1 pound ground chicken
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg
⅓ cup dry breadcrumbs, preferably homemade
½ cup grated Grana Padano
1 large spring garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
6 large sprigs of thyme, the leaves chopped
10 basil leaves, well chopped

For the Soup
¾ pound ditalini, or another small pasta such as orzo or elbow
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 cups homemade chicken broth, or very high-quality store-bought broth
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
2 cups freshly shucked peas or frozen peas (not baby ones), defrosted
Zest from 1 lemon
4 or 5 gratings of freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup grated Grana Padano cheese
12 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade, for garnish

  1. Place all the ingredients for the meatballs together in a mixing bowl. Mix gently and quickly with your hands, just until everything is blended. You don’t want it getting too compact; that’ll make your meatballs tough. Form the mixture into ½-inch balls (the smaller the better for soup) and lay them out on a flat plate. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to firm them up.
  2. Set up a pot of pasta cooking water and bring it to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt. Drop in the ditalini and cook al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well, and place in a bowl. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.
  3. Pour the chicken broth into a large soup pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the bay leaf and boil down for about 5 minutes, just to concentrate the flavor. Turn the heat down a little and add the peas and meatballs. Let simmer just until the peas are tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the ditalini to the broth, along with the lemon zest. Season with black pepper. Simmer 1 minute longer to further blend the flavors. Check for seasoning. Serve in large soup bowls topped with a big sprinkling of Grana Padano. Garnish with the basil. If you prefer to serve the soup later, you can gently reheat it.

Variation: If you happen to have fresh pea shoots, you can garnish each bowl with a few of those instead of the basil.

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Tarragon

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Tarragon

Makes 4 to 6 Servings | Recipe by Robin Asbell

This soup may be the dish that convinces even a skeptic to love asparagus. The creamy, smooth soup is pale green and has a hint of tanginess from the sour cream. The tender tips float on top, showing off their delicate buds. Thick and flavorful, all this soup needs is a chunk of crusty bread to make a fabulous meal. —Robin Asbell

2 pounds asparagus
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion
2 tablespoons white rice
3 cups vegetable stock
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups packed baby spinach, chopped
2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Set up a steamer for the asparagus tips. Trim the hard bottoms from the asparagus. Cut the tips from the asparagus and reserve. Chop the stems in ½-inch pieces and reserve separately.
  2. In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onion until tender and clear. Add chopped asparagus stems (not tips), rice, stock and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes, until rice is very soft. Stir in the spinach and cover for 1 minute, just to wilt.
  3. Steam the asparagus tips over simmering water for about 2 minutes. Reserve.
  4. Transfer the hot soup to a blender or food processor and secure the lid. Place a folded towel over the top of the container and be careful of the hot liquids as you puree. When the mixture is smooth, add the sour cream and process to mix. Return to pan and add tarragon and pepper, and taste for seasoning.
  5. Serve each bowl with asparagus tips and fresh tarragon sprigs on top.
Turkey and White Bean Soup with Pistou

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Turkey and White Bean Soup with Pistou

Makes 4 to 6 Servings | Recipe by Robin Asbell

If you have canned navy beans, a carrot, and an onion on hand, you are halfway to soup. This savory bean soup is made extra special with a generous spoonful of pistou—the French version of Italy’s pesto—swirled into every bowl. —Robin Asbell

For the Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 (15-ounce) cans navy beans, with juices
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
2 cups (about 12 ounces) cubed cooked turkey (see Cook’s Note)
½ teaspoon salt

For the Pistou
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive
oil, plus more if needed

  1. For the soup: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic and rosemary and sauté, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
  3. Stir in the navy beans and their juices, tomatoes, cooked turkey and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
  4. For the pistou: Place the basil, parsley and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process to grind finely. Add the salt and olive oil and process until smooth, adding a little more oil if necessary to make a smooth paste.
  5. Serve soup in bowls, drizzled with pistou.

Cook’s Note: You can use 12 ounces deli turkey or substitute rotisserie chicken for the 2 cups cubed turkey.

Baby Green Pea Soup with Marjoram

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Baby Green Pea Soup with Marjoram

Makes about 4 servings | Recipe by Serena Bass

This is a flexible and delicious soup. In chilly weather, I use either fresh or dried marjoram. Keep the recipe on hand and it can be served with mint in the spring and summer, and it is just as good chilled as it is warm. For a pre-dinner portion, I would serve no more than ¾ cup of this in a pretty cup on a saucer with a teaspoon on the saucer since soup can fill you up fast. —Serena Bass

1 small Vidalia (sweet white) onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups (15 ounces) frozen baby peas, warmed under the hot tap (reserve 2 tablespoons peas for garnish)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)
Whipped heavy cream, for garnish (optional)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram, for garnish

  1. Put the onion, olive oil, butter and salt in a pan over medium-low heat. Cover with a lid, or crumpled baking paper and sweat gently without browning for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. While the onion is cooking, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the peas to the onions and stir to coat with oil then pour on the boiling chicken stock.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes. Add the pepper and blend to a smooth cream in a blender (not a food processor).
  4. Spoon on the optional heavy cream, scatter with the marjoram and the reserved peas.

Cook’s Notes
• When buying the peas, look for frozen baby green peas. Larger peas are not as sweet and tender.
• If you are cooking onions or garlic and you don’t want them to brown, add salt to them, as that will pull out the water and they will sweat rather than fry. If you do want them to brown, add the salt last.
• If you don’t have a blender, you can use a food processor, but the soup will not be as velvety smooth.
• The leftover soup will keep in the refrigerator for 2 days or 2 months in the freezer.

Nutrition information (per serving)
Pasta E Piselli with Little Meatballs: Calories 876 (262 From Fat); Fat 30g (Sat. 11g); Chol 135mg; Sodium 1181mg; Carb 98g; Fiber 9g; Protein 57g
Asparagus Soup with Tarragon: Calories 282 (200 From Fat); Fat 23g (Sat. 12g); Chol 66mg; Sodium 717mg; Carb 16g; Fiber 3g; Protein 6g
Turkey & Bean Soup: Calories 429 (143 From Fat); Fat 16g (Sat. 3g); Chol 73mg; Sodium 1192mg; Carb 40g; Fiber 15g; Protein 33g
Baby Green Pea Soup with Marjoram: Calories: 180, Fat: 10g (Sat: 3g), Cholesterol: 10 mg, Sodium: 970 mg, Carb: 18g, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 7g, Protein: 7g

Chicken, Rosemary, and Farro soup and Chicken, Olive, and Red Pepper sandwiches

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Hungry for More?

Hearty Slow Cooker Chicken Soup, Plus Sandwiches

Enjoy two meals from one—Chicken, Rosemary, and Farro soup today and flavorful Chicken, Olive, and Red Pepper sandwiches tomorrow

Butternut Squash, Leek and Potato Soup with Crunchy Kale Recipe

Seasonal flavors come together in a rich and creamy soup—without the addition of cream.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Black Bean Soup with Avocado and Chorizo Recipe

Warm up inside and out with a steaming bowl of this easy-to-make homemade soup.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Give comforting and good-for-you squash soup a southwestern accent for a perfect cold-weather lunch or simple supper.

Smoky Chicken, Tomato, Brown Rice, and Corn Soup

Embrace the chill with this easy-to-make pot of savory soup.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.