Local chefs share special soup recipes

A warm way to counteract the bleak winter cold is to make a generous batch of homemade soup. Besides bringing warmth and joy to the table, it also provides delicious, comforting nourishment. By making your own soup, you can limit sodium, avoid additives and fillers, and fill your pot with healthy ingredients, like pure, fresh vegetables.

Since January is National Soup Month, why not celebrate it with some new recipes from four North Shore chefs? Their soups are so easy to prepare and so satisfying, you’ll want to try them all.

At Casa Corona in Marblehead and Hacienda Corona in Lane, signature black bean soup is owner-only chef Felix Bracamontes who grew up eating in Mexico. “All recipes [in my restaurants] “From my mom and my grandmother,” says Bracamontes, who started his restaurant career doing dishes in Reading, California, at the age of 16. “I did it for two years, and then one day a friend was a chef [in a nearby Mexican restaurant] He said, “Hey, come and learn to cook with me because you won’t have much life doing the dishes.” After I saw the space was for rent on a flight to Marblehead.

“The size looks good, and it has a large kitchen. I got the deal done in less than three days,” says the chef, whose brother, who also works in the restaurant industry. Bracamontes serves black bean soup with sour cream, queso fresco, and pico de gallo. “When I taste it, the flavors remind me of my grandmother and mom.”

Portuguese Azorean Soup

Manny Lapa, chef and general manager of Azorean Restaurant and Bar in Gloucester, serves the same Portuguese kale and choriço (also known as chouriço) soup that he enjoyed growing up in Lisbon. “It’s full of goodness—you have beans, you have cabbage—it’s a complete meal,” says the chef, who adds elbow noodles to the soup because his mother made it that way. “It was a way to stretch the soup and give it some substance. For me, soup and a loaf of bread are a meal. Put a glass of wine with it, and I’m fine.” In addition to using high-quality broth, laba peels potatoes because they tend to lose their peel when cooked. To prevent the choriko from crumbling, keep it whole until you add slices to each bowl. “This soup is actually best when it’s two or three days old,” says Lappa, who eats soup most nights after serving because it’s easy to digest.

Serves 6-8


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onion cut into cubes
1 pound of chouriço, carved in several places
2 tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine
6 cups beef or chicken broth
Handful of turnips (about 1 pound), trimmed and coarsely chopped
1½ cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 cup cooked red beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked cannellini or large white beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup uncooked pasta
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, whole chouriço, and garlic. Saute, taking care to avoid burning the garlic, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth to the pot with the turnip, potatoes, beans, pasta, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes and pasta are tender.

3. To serve the soup, remove the choriko from the pot and cut into strips. Add several slices to each bowl and top with the soup.

Settler Restaurant, Moroccan veloute marinated in spices

Moroccan pumpkin soup with spices

Aaron Chambers, chef and co-owner of French-Mediterranean Restaurant Steller in Salem, always has soups on his menu, such as Moroccan pumpkin marinated in spices. “Until I was 19, I was a vegetarian, so at my house we ate a lot of soup, and it was always vegan,” says the British-born chef. Ninety-nine percent of settlement soup is vegetable. We have a lot of people who come into the restaurant with different allergies and limitations that I want options for them, like savory soup, which doesn’t need dairy to be velvety and creamy.” In various cuisines, including a two-Michelin-starred restaurant in England, a hotel restaurant in Dubai, an Indo-French fusion site in Washington, D.C., the Manhattan Bouloud Café, and the former Bouloud Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston.

“I love spices, and when I was in Dubai I would go to the spice market, where I would taste things I had never seen before,” Chambers says. “So, I always like to mix a little North African with my Mediterranean food, which I do, and the pumpkin and warm spices in this recipe work really well.”

Serves 6-8

Harissa is a hot pepper paste that is native to Algeria and Tunisia. Ras al-Hanout is an Arabic spice made with warm spices such as cinnamon, allspice and ginger.


4-5 pounds sugar pumpkin or squash, stem, halved, and seeds
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium sized Vidalia onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
1 tablespoon harissa
4-5 cups low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
1½ tablespoons Ras El Hanout, plus extra for garnish
cup raw pumpkin seeds
Half a cup of Greek yogurt
Zest from 1 orange


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Drizzle the whole squash with 4 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay the squash, skin-side-up, on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Roast the squash 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. When the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.

3. Place a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-low heat and add the butter. When the butter melts, add the onions, celery, and carrots. Saute vegetables until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme and harissa. Cook for 5 minutes.

4. Add 4½ cups of the broth to the pot, along with the roasted pumpkin and ras el hanout, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally to prevent burning. Let the soup cool slightly.

5. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until completely smooth. Transfer the velut back to the soup pot, and add more broth if the soup seems too thick. Bring to a boil over low heat and season with more salt and pepper to taste.

6. Turn on the broiler.

7. Combine pumpkin seeds with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Evenly scatter the seasoned seeds on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil; Roast until it turns golden brown.

8. Mix the yogurt with the orange peel and season with a little salt and pepper.

9. To serve, ladle the soup into plates, top with a little yoghurt, some crunchy pumpkin seeds, and a sprinkle of Ras El Hanout.

Poisson Rouge (red fish soup)

When chef Glenn Farga and his wife opened Allie’s Beach Street Café in Manchester-by-the-Sea four years ago, Poisson Rouge soup was one of the first dishes they put on the menu. “We serve rustic French dishes, such as Coq au Vin and Beef Bourguignon, as well as some French-Vietnamese and Creole cuisine,” says the chef, who has learned to cook at various restaurants in New Jersey and New England. Varga based his Poisson Rouge soup on a Haitian appetizer of red snapper in a sweet and spicy tomato-based sauce seasoned with annatto, which he says is key to the soup’s color and flavor.

“We added some clam stock to [Haitian snapper recipe] It is made with large pieces of fresh local haddock. We put a few fried bananas in it, and you get this nice, sweet and spicy mix.” Varga makes all his stock from scratch and soup is one of the most important dishes a restaurant can serve. “It just speaks of something home-cooked and spiritual, and it comes from the heart of the home.”

To save time, Varga says you can substitute packaged plantain chips for fresh, fried plantains. Most supermarkets contain annatto powder (in Goya aisle) and jerk seasoning.

Serves 6-8

Soup ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup sweet red pepper, diced
½ cup: peeled carrots, celery, diced onions, diced leeks
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon jerk seasoning (store-bought is fine)
1 teaspoon crushed annatto seeds
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
6 cups fish broth (or clam juice)
2 cups canned peeled tomatoes with juice
Salt and Pepper
3 pounds haddock or other flaky white fish


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ripe plantain, peeled and sliced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander
6-8 lime wedges


1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat.

2. Add the next nine ingredients. Fry vegetables and spices for 3 minutes.

3. Add the fish and tomato broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the soup for 25 minutes.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the fish and cook until it flakes easily, about 10 to 12 minutes. Keep the soup warm.

to make decorations

1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat.

2. Add the plantain slices and cook until both sides are golden, about 6 minutes. Arrange the bananas on a plate lined with a paper towel.

3. To serve, place an equal part of the plantain in each soup bowl. Pour the soup on top and garnish each serving with some avocado and cilantro. Let each person squeeze a slice of lemon over the soup.

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