Soup’s On to support children’s charities

  • November 15, 2014

TORONTO - As a food columnist for 22 years at Canada’s largest newspaper, Catholic writer Mary McGrath tasted a lot of soup. Now she’s serving up her favourite recipes in a book to support children’s charities. 

McGrath, now retired, tested every recipe she ever wrote about in the Toronto Star. She decided to ladle out the best of them in her third cookbook, Soup’s On

“A couple of people told me that they thought The Star soup recipes were exceptionally good,” McGrath said. “And maybe that’s what spurred me on.” 

For her third cookbook, she chose soup as the theme because it’s “the easiest way to feed a family,” she said. It can be made with whatever you have on hand, including leftovers. Soup can freeze, be reheated and served with bread, and it’s a low-cost meal, she said. 

The cookbook contains 64 soup recipes and 11 recipes for bread. 

Her collection of quick, affordable and festive recipes was put together with the help of editor Deanna Dunn and award-winning designer Jo-Ann Dodds, both of whom worked at The Star

With Dunn and Dodds offering their expertise for free and McGrath covering the publishing costs, Soup’s On — along with McGrath’s two other cookbooks Shortbread Sampler and Delectable Collectibles — has generated $28,000 for The Star’s Fresh Air Fund, which sends kids to summer camp, and the Santa Claus Fund, which provides Christmas packages for kids. 

“Everybody likes a charity that helps children,” said McGrath, a graduate in food and nutritional science from Brescia College at Western University in London, Ont. 

“Children are helpless, and if you don’t do things for them, they may not reach their potential. There are more and more single families and more and more children living below the poverty line, not even at it. So I think it’s important to realize that they are a group that needs a lot of help.” 

Two of McGrath’s favourite recipes include Thai chicken soup, which she says is close to what Thai restaurants serve, and turkey soup made with turkey bones and leftover meat, which she calls “way above average” because a chef created it. 

McGrath recommends collecting recipes and self-publishing as a great way for organizations to fundraise. She cites the Toronto Reference Library as one source groups can go to for advice on publishing. Soup’s On can be purchased at 

With Christmas coming, McGrath agreed to share the Soup’s On recipe for turkey soup. 

Turkey Soup 

It takes talent to turn bare bones and bits of leftover turkey into a great soup, and home cooks were delighted when executive chef Tony Roldan visited The Star test kitchen in October 1980 and showed us how it could be done. Simmering the turkey carcass in water for just 30 minutes is one of the secrets to success. 


Turkey carcass and neck 
2 tbsp unsalted butter 
1 tsp curry powder 
1 bay leaf 
••• tsp dried thyme 
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
••• cup chopped peeled yellow onion 
2 cups diced celery 
2 cups diced peeled potato 
1 cup diced peeled carrot 
1 cup diced peeled turnip 
Any leftover turkey meat, cut into small pieces 
Salt and freshly ground pepper 

Break turkey carcass into pieces; discard piece at the posterior end of the bird. Place bones and neck in a large soup pot. Cover with water and boil for 30 minutes. Skim off fat. Remove bones and strain stock through cheesecloth. Pour stock into a soup pot and set aside. 

In sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter. When foam subsides, add curry powder, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and all vegetables. Cook, covered for 8 minutes. 

Add cooked vegetables to strained turkey stock along with any leftover turkey. Bring stock to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot. 

Makes about 9 cups. 

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