By EVELYN CAIRNES
Two extraordinary soups that helped me survive frigid February have been added to my collection of favorite bowls. The first is from the cookbook “Supper with Sharon, a Shumate Family Cookbook,” which is dedicated “to all those who not only enjoyed the cooking of the late Sharon Shumate, but also her warmth in family and friendship . . . in whose kitchen magic was made.”
Sharon, who grew up and was married on Grosse Ile, was well known on the island for her outstanding cooking ability and baked goods. Her husband, the late Tom Shumate, was recognized throughout the Downriver area and nationally by duck hunters and artists for his realistic carved wooden duck decoys.
The hard-cover, ring-bound cookbook was lovingly compiled by Sharon’s granddaughter, Madison Thomas of Wyandotte, who arranged to have more than 100 recipes in Sharon’s own handwriting published with an adjacent printed version of each.
I was intrigued by Sharon’s recipe for Fork Soup, which I cut in half when I made it. The soup really is thick enough to eat with a fork, which I did, and loved every bite. Because in March the average temperature is only 37 degrees, you may want to serve a hearty bowl of soup. Sharon suggested serving it with buttered pita sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and toasted in the oven. I sprinkled the soup generously with Parmesan cheese instead.
SHARON’S FORK SOUP
1 pound ground beef, browned
1 cup slivered onions
1¼ cups diced celery
14.5-ounce can whole tomatoes, smashed
1 cup V-8 juice
¼ cup barley
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 raw potato, cubed
½ of a 12-ounce package frozen mixed vegetable
Brown beef and onions, adding additional cooking oil if necessary. Drain well. Add remaining ingredients, except frozen mixed vegetables. Cook over low heat for 3 to 4 hours. Stir frequently to prevent barley from sticking. Thaw the frozen vegetables in cold water and drain well. Add the vegetables and cook about 5 minutes just before serving.
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My other new-favorite bowl is a slow-cooker chicken soup recipe shared by Shelley Dalley, of Grosse Ile, who is known for her awesome gourmet main dishes and desserts. Shelley stopped by on Valentine’s Day with a huge serving of the scrumptious soup, the recipe and her melt-in your-mouth heart-shaped cornmeal buttermilk biscuits. Because I don’t have a 6-quart slow-cooker, I used my 3½-quart Crock Pot with no problem. I substituted dried thyme and rosemary flakes for fresh (you can find equivalents on the web) and chopped frozen spinach for fresh.
SHELLEY’S LEMON CHICKEN ORZO SOUP
1½ tablespoons canola oil
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 cups chicken stock
1 medium-size sweet onion, diced
3 medium-size carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 springs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
½ cup orzo pasta, uncooked
4 cups fresh baby spinach
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Add to skillet and cook until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Place chicken in a 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in stock, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 to 6 hours. Uncover and stir in pasta; cover and cook on high heat for an additional 30 minutes or until tender. Stir in spinach until wilted. Add lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!
(Contact me at Evycairns@aol.com.)