The Chef’s Corner: SOUP

Both Brenda Gleckman and Joan Thormann came up with soup recipes for us for the new year… Sweet and Sour Cabbage soup and Mushroom soup.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup from Brenda Gleckman

Filling, warming, richly flavorful, almost a meal by itself is this old school Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup.This recipe is healthy, low fat, and perfect for a cold winter day.

For those of us lucky enough to remember our Eastern European mothers’ and grandmothers’ delicious Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage, that recipe, in soup form, will elicit a flood of wonderful food memories. It may permanently erase from your minds those dull, tasteless diet cabbage soup recipes that circulated among diet conscious friends decades ago before the internet.


1 pound lean or extra lean ground beef

2 TBS olive oil

6 cups of water

4 cups reduced sodium beef stock or broth

2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained

1 medium head cabbage sliced in one inch slices

2 cups onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

3/4 cup ketchup

1/2 cup brown sugar or 12 packets sugar substitute

1/3 cup cider vinegar

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. Brown beef in a very large soup pot in 2TBS of olive oil.Add all the ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and turn heat down to simmer for 30 minutes or until cabbage has softened but is not mushy.

Makes about 22 cups of soup

Mushroom Soup from Joan Thormann

Cold weather is here, so it’s time for comforting soup. I found this delicious easy made-from-scratch recipe in a low-fat recipe book.  I modified the recipe, and whoever I serve it to loves it.

One fall day, our Brookline condo association had a get together.  People brought soup, bread, or dessert. I brought my mushroom soup.  Present at our potluck were a number of residents who had emigrated from Russia, including Yuriv, the building manager.  He took one cup of mushroom soup and then finished a second one.  After he had enough soup for the time being, he circulated around the room asking who made the mushroom soup.  Yuriv finally found me and said, “I must to have this recipe.”  I don’t know if he or his wife ever made the soup but I did give him the recipe.


10 oz. sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped onion or chopped scallions

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine

3 Tablespoons flour

2 1/2 to 3 cups 1% or 2% milk

2 chicken bouillon cubes or 2 porcini mushroom boullion cubes

1/2 cup light sour cream or nonfat yogurt

5 Tablespoons sherry

  1. Heat about a teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan.  Stir the onions or scallions in the pan, cook until they wilt about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir.  Cook until the mushrooms are brown and about half their original size. Add 2 tablespoons sherry if mushrooms stick. Set aside when done.
  2. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Stir in the flour quickly to make a roux.
  3. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring as you  pour it in, to get rid of lumps of flour.
  4. Add the bouillon cubes and continue to stir the milk mixture until it thickens to your taste.  Sprinkle in more flour or add more milk as necessary.
  5. Stir the onion mushroom mixture into the saucepan.
  6. Remove sauce pan from the stove and stir in the sour cream or yogurt.
  7. Stir in sherry to taste, and serve.

Makes four or five servings.

Note: For those who are not concerned about calories, you can use full fat milk, sour cream, or yogurt.  You may also enjoy using cream for some of the milk.


Brenda Gleckman

Retired psychotherapist and medical school educator, Brenda has been a BOLLI member since 2004 and a “foodie” all her adult life. She made her first attempt at cooking in August 1960 when she was a  new mother living in a third floor walk-up in Washington DC without air conditioning. She was determined to make a pot roast for her husband, a sleep deprived intern at Walter Reed.  When the roast she was searing slipped off the fork into the pot and the hot oil jumped onto her nearly bare chest, she ended up in the ER. But that did not deter her,  an early and avid follower of Julia Child, and she collected and cooked recipes from every ethnicity. Her recipe for guacamole has gone “viral” and has bestowed upon  her the title of “Guacamole Queen.”  She cringes when occasionally someone asks if she gives out her recipes.  “Why wouldn’t I?” she answers. “It gives me great pleasure to share recipes for good food.”

Joan Thormann
During her last five years before retiring from Lesley, Joan ended up teaching teachers to teach online–by actually teaching them online.  If you know people who need help in this area, she shamelessly asks you to let them know they can find her book on Amazon. 
When Joan isn’t occupied with life maintenance, she paints watercolors, makes quilt tops, and listens to audiobooks. Two years ago, she started taking classes at BOLLI and enjoys learning from the SGLs and classmates.