I love to make soup in the fall…and in the winter, too. Some foods just set a certain mood for me. Tacos, pizza, and hamburgers are all fun, party foods and Friday/Saturday night meals. Soups, breads, pot roasts, and anything with mashed potatoes are part of my “cozy” food category. Let me introduce you to one of my favorite soup finds: Cooke Tavern Soups. I use these packaged seasonings and freezed dried ingredients, with a few additional ingredients to create hearty and healthy soups. They have become a staple in our fall and winter menu.
I first discovered Cooke Tavern Soups on a cold and windy day at the Shaker Woods Christmas in the Woods Festival outside of Columbiana, Ohio. Cooke Tavern Soups, from Spring Mills, PA was ladling out samples of their wide variety of soups. One taste (of several) of them and I knew I had found a true gem. I came home with 4 different soup packages and have been ordering more every year. It's become part of my fall tradition to purchase Cooke Tavern Soups.
One of our favorites is the Autumn Harvest Pumpkin Lentil Soup. This soup requires a can of 100% pumpkin as a base instead of a traditional tomato base. It is absolutely delicious and so easy.
Cooke Tavern Soups state the following mission on their website:
Easy, Healthy Meals for Busy People
Cooke Tavern soups offer an easy, tasty alternative to fast food. We test and perfect all our soups, offering only the best for you and your family:
I can attest to all of the above. The ingredients come packaged in sealed cellophane bags with specific directions for the basic soup and additional suggestions for Gourmet Light, Vegetarian Variations, Extra Hearty, Crock Pot Instructions, and Serving Suggestions and Ideas.
Most of the soups make up in about an hour or less, so the crock-pot is not needed.
This is how I make the Autumn Harvest Pumpkin Lentil. (I follow their packaged directions for the Extra Hearty suggestions. My soup ends up being "Extra, Extra Hearty!" Check it out.
You will need the soup packet containing the lentils and seasoning packet.
Additional ingredients are:
6 cups chicken broth (48 oz.)
2 carrots peeled and sliced
1 cup 100% canned pumpkin
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt (optional)
2 cups water
1/3 cup red wine (optional)
First rinse the lentils.
Add the lentils, seasoning packet, carrots, chicken broth and water to a stockpot.
Bring to a full boil and then simmer for 1 hour.
I opt to make the hearty version of this soup, or at least my version which is Extra, Extra Hearty! They suggest you add ¾ lb. of cubed ham, sausage, or kielbasa. I like my soup to have a lot of substance to it, so I add all three! At this point, the creative, throw caution to the wind cook in me takes over, and I add what I have. Usually that means, 8 oz. cubed/cooked ham, slicing up a package of turkey kielbasa, and half a package of cooked and crumbled Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage. This is just my take on the soup and one can vary it, as you like. (You know how I love to have choices!)
While the lentils, carrots, seasoning, chicken broth, and water are simmering for an hour, I prepare my extra hearty meats. I coat the inside of a frying pan with nonstick cooking spray. Next I remove the sleeves from the Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage and cook and crumble it on medium heat. Stirring frequently.
Once the sausage is cooked, I place it on a plate with double paper towels to drain. (I generally only use half of the cooked Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage in this soup. I save the remaining cooked sausage to make an egg, tater tots, and sausage overnight breakfast casserole! More to come on that in another post.)
Next, add 100% canned pumpkin, wine, olive oil, and salt to the stockpot.
Simmer for ½ hour.
All that is left is to add a loaf of crusty bread or corn muffins and you have a delicious, cozy, comforting meal!
Reasons to love Cooke Tavern Soups:
I usually attend the Shaker Woods Festival and purchase a variety of soups from the welcoming folks at the Cooke Tavern booth. I have also purchased the soups online and have found it to be convenient. The soups arrive in a very timely manner and are well packaged.
Cooke Tavern Soups are one of my favorite things to give as a gift for the holidays. One year I gave each of my grade level colleagues a package of soup mix. Another year, I gave my Mom and Dad about four packages of the soup and included all of the nonperishable items to make the soups in the box, too. My dad remarked about what a great gift this was. It was something they could use. There are a number of ways to “gift” this soup.
We have tried all of the following soups and have enjoyed each and every one!
I tend to follow the suggestions for the “Extra Hearty” variations. The Candlelight Corn Chowder makes wonderful seafood chowder.
Often times, I will make a couple of pots of soup when entertaining a group of friends. The soup are easy to make, delicious, clean up is easy, and Cooke Tavern Soups just say, “welcome to our table”.
I always like the backstory behind such a successful, second-generation family business. You can read more of their story at the Cooke Tavern Soup website: www.cooketavernsoups.com.
Sources for ordering Cooke Tavern Soups:
Meanwhile...Soups On! Enjoy!