French onion soup

French onion soup gratinée from The Depot Restaurant in Seaview, Washington.

Soup, please!

Comfort. The word itself, and all that it implies, couldn’t be more welcoming during these chilly, damp and anxious days. True comfort for me, after pajamas, is soup. Warm, delicious, aromatic, healing soup.

It’s been a long slog since March, and, like me, you might be tired of your own kitchen undertakings. How many times have you stared into the cupboards or opened the refrigerator, and asked, “What now?” Well, lucky us, a few local chefs are willing to help bring a little encouragement and cheer. Below they share ideas for concocting comfort.

Loaves

Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe decorative artisan loaves.

Blue Scorcher Red Lentil Coconut-Curry Soup

Submitted by Karmen Hughes of the Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe

Makes approximately six servings.

Soup ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 2 cups yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cups potatoes, washed, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups carrots, washed, peeled and diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 32 oz. of coconut milk
  • 1 lime zest and juice
  • ¼ cup torn fresh basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon salt
Beef pho

Beef pho, made by Chris Holen.

Place lentils and bay leaves in 2 quarts of water, bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat, stirring occasionally until lentils are cooked (approximately 20-30 minutes). When done, add coconut milk and curry paste, stir and keep on low to prevent burning until potatoes and carrots are added. Remove bay leaves.

Sauté onions in olive oil with a pinch of salt until translucent, then add to lentils. In a separate pot, add 1 quart of water, a pinch of salt and bring to a gentle boil. Add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add carrots and cook for an additional 10 minutes or just until tender. When cooked, drain and reserve cooking water to add to soup later. Add cooked onions, carrots, and potatoes to lentils.

Curry paste:

  • ¼ cup fresh garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Put coarsely chopped garlic and ginger in food processor with curry powder and until blended into a paste. Heat coconut oil in a skillet and add the paste. Sauté, gently stirring, for several minutes to open up the flavors. This can be done a day or more ahead of time and stored in a fridge. And don’t fret about the spices or curry, Pat’s Pantry downtown has a bounty to choose from.

To finish the soup, stir in the lime zest and juice, salt, torn basil leaves and cayenne. Add some of that saved potato/carrot cooking water as needed for desired consistency.

Vegan pho

Vegan pho, made by Chris Holen.

Hughes notes that for even more heartiness, the soup can be served with cooked rice. She garnishes each bowl with a dollop of yogurt, a swirl of pomegranate molasses, chopped cilantro and a slice of lime.

Chicken pho

Chris Holen’s rendition of chicken pho.

Phở the Fun of It

“Chef Daddy” Chris Holen is busy making Phở (pronounced fuh), these days at his newest restaurant, Nekst.

“Everyone’s flipping for our Phở,” Holen said. “Since the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup is such an ‘eat-it-now’ dish, we decided to design a kit with everything you need to make it at home.”

Whether beef, chicken or vegan, everything is at the ready for simple assembly — appropriate broth, spices, noodles, veggies, tofu and meat included. If you’re not handy in the kitchen, no worries, Holen provides a video link demonstrating how to create your delectable Phở. Order the handy kits online (or already prepared Phở for takeout) at nekstevent.com. Holen also has cooking tips and a world of culinary delights featured on his “Chef Outta Water” Youtube series.

Hungarian mushroom soup

Bridgewater Bistro Hungarian mushroom soup with garlic focaccia bread.

Soup to-go

For those daunted by, or tired with, doing it yourself, other local soup favorites include Tom Kha Thai coconut soup at Nisa’s Thai Kitchen in Warrenton, French onion gratinee at The Depot in Seaview, Washington, Bridgewater Bistro’s Hungarian mushroom soup and “heat up and eat” broth or soups at the Astoria Co+op.

If it’s clam chowder that you crave, try Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro, Fort George Brewery, Bridgewater Bistro, Mo’s, T. Paul’s Supper Club or The Depot.

So many options. Now, just add a hunk of warm, crusty homemade bread or find a variety of hearty, delicious loaves from Blue Scorcher or the Co+op and dig in.

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