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Warm up with a comforting soup, bread

When you are looking for a no-fuss dinner with a comforting feel, guaranteed to fill you up and make you warm, reach for the soup pot. Crostini is the perfect bread to serve with any soup.

TOMATO-CHEDDAR SOUP

MELT:

• 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

• 2 cups diced onions

• 2 Tbsp. minced garlic

• 2 Tbsp. tomato paste

• 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

ADD:

• 2 cans whole San Marzano

tomatoes in juice (28 oz.)

• 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

• 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

OFF HEAT, STIR IN:

• 1 cup whole white milk

• Salt and pepper to taste

• Sliced fresh basil

• Shredded sharp cheddar

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat; add onions and sweat until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste and pepper flakes; cook 3 minutes. Add tomatoes; lightly crush with your hands or the back of spoon. Stir in broth and bring to a boil; cook 15 minutes. Puree soup using a hand-held blender or mixer, or in batches in a regular blender. Reduce heat to medium and stir in 4 cups cheddar, a handful at a time, letting each addition fully melt before adding the next. Off heat, stir in milk; season soup with seasonings. Garnish servings with basil and cheddar if desired. Makes 12 cups.

CHICKEN COCONUT CURRY SOUP

• 1 Tbsp. coconut oil

• 1 cup diced onions

• 1 cup diced red bell peppers

• 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced

• 2 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced

• 2 Tbsp. red curry paste (Thai kitchen)

• 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

• 3 tsp. light brown sugar

• 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast,

cut into bite-sized pieces

• 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• 4 cups chicken broth

• 1 can chickpeas (16 oz.), drained and

rinsed well

• 1 can coconut milk (13.66 oz.) be sure it is

full-fat milk, not diet

• 1 tsp. fish sauce

• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

• 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

• Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and bell peppers; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and brown sugar; cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chicken and cook until opaque, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour; cook 3 minutes. Add broth, chickpeas, coconut milk and fish sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in cilantro and lime juice; season soup with seasonings. Makes about 10 cups.

PARMESAN AND BOURSIN

CHEESE CROSTINI

• 12 slices of a store-bought baguette,

1/4-in thick slices

• 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 4 Tbsp. garlic and herb boursin cheese

• 1/2 cup shredded parmesan

• Sprinkle of paprika

Preheat broiler to high with rack 6 inches from the element. Brush both sides of the bread slices with oil and seasoning; place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Broil the baguette slices until toasted, about 2 minutes per side. Watch closely or it will burn. Spread 1 tsp. boursin cheese on each slice and top with 2 tsp. of the parmesan cheese and sprinkle paprika on each slice. Broil until cheeses are bubbling and starting to brown, 1-3 minutes only. Makes 6 servings.

HINT OF THE WEEK: Serving soup as a first course before the main dish? Allow one cup per guest. When serving hearty soup as a main course, allow at least 2-3 cups per guest. Pasta on the menu? Keep the pot from boiling over by coating the lid with a little vegetable oil first.

Patti Howerton is a retired accountant and caterer and can be reached at phowerton@ gmail.com