Pork, Carrot and Cabbage Stew (pictured above)

story by Michael Vyskocil, photography by Nikola Tzenov

Stir Up A Winter Soup Party

The best conversations happen in the kitchen. People at parties so often gravitate to the hub of the home that a kitchen-counter dinner party makes perfect sense. What better welcoming fare is there to serve guests than soup? You can customize the range of choices for your soup-party menu to your tastes, but keep in mind a few points: variety, generosity without waste and plenty of hearty flavors. Not only is soup nutritious, but it is also easy to make in advance.

The following recipes for Maryland Bay Country Crab Soup; Pork, Carrot and Cabbage Stew; and Winter Squash Soup are simple and satisfying to prepare and serve. Add French bread, some wine and an excellent dessert to your soup spread for the makings of a spectacular, relaxed winter gathering.

Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 6 servings.

1 medium onion, chopped2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds winter squash, such as butternut,
peeled, seeded and cubed (about 6 cups)
4 cups homemade or commercially prepared
low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 handful fresh mint sprigs, plus additional
sprigs for garnish (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes2 cups whole milk
Coarse salt, to tasteDairy sour cream (optional), for serving
  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook onion in butter over low heat until tender but not brown. Add winter squash and stock; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until squash is tender.
  2. Place mint sprigs, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and red pepper flakes in a piece of cheesecloth. Use kitchen twine to tie up the corners of the cheesecloth, creating a sachet. Place the milk and sachet in a medium saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Remove saucepan from heat; discard sachet.
  3. When squash is tender, puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to saucepan; add infused milk. Season with salt to taste. Heat soup mixture until hot throughout.
  4. Before serving, pour the soup mixture through a fine sieve. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve topped with mint sprigs and sour cream, if desired.

Pork, Carrot, and Cabbage Stew

Winter Soup Party Taste 2024 Feb March

Pork, Carrot and Cabbage Stew

This stew combines the classic pairing of pork and cabbage with apples and carrots. The culinary traditions of the northeastern Alsace region of France loosely inspire this combination of ingredients.

Makes 4 servings.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons all-purpose flourCoarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium onion, chopped2 ½ cups homemade chicken stock or
commercially prepared low-sodium chicken broth
2 ½ cups water½ pound green cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces2 tart green apples, such as Granny Smith,
unpeeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Coat the pork tenderloin with
    2 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add the pork to the pan and brown, turning occasionally, about 8 to 9 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate.

  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and onion. Cook until the onion softens and becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Stir in chicken stock or broth, water, cabbage and carrots. Season to taste with salt. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce the heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the apples; continue cooking, covered, for 12 minutes.

  3. Add the reserved pork and accumulated meat juices to the Dutch oven before serving. Simmer the stew until the meat is heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Ladle stew into serving bowls; serve immediately.

Maryland Bay Country Crab Soup

Winter Soup Party Taste 2024 Feb March

Maryland Bay Country Crab Soup

This recipe is a version of a Maryland-style crab soup my grandfather made when I was growing up. If the soup is too thick, add 1 cup of water at a time and stir while simmering to thin the soup. If the soup is too thin, add 1 can of tomato paste and simmer, stirring until the soup reaches the desired texture.

Makes 12 servings.

Coarse salt, for cooking water, plus more to taste3 Quarts Water
2 pounds bone-in beef hind shanks4 large carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2-14 ½-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice1 large onion, chopped
2 large stalks celery, chopped1 cup fresh or frozen peas (thawed if frozen)
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat
2 tablespoons (or to taste) Old Bay Seasoning
  1. Bring a large stockpot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add beef hind shanks and simmer, covered, until meat is very tender, about 3 hours.

  2. Add carrots and cook until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add salt to taste, black pepper and cayenne pepper to the stockpot. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and continue to simmer for 15 more minutes. Stir in onion, celery, peas and potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes.

  3. While the soup is simmering, examine crabmeat and discard any remnants of cartilage and shells. Add crabmeat and Old Bay Seasoning to the soup mixture. Simmer for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low until ready to serve the soup. Remove beef bones from the stockpot before serving. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.