Showing posts with label soup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label soup. Show all posts

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chestnut and Celery Root Soup Recipe


My CSA or community supported agriculture box of produce from Eatwell Farms challenges me with every delivery this season. Bok choy? Cabbage? Celery root? Sure I have a recipe or two for each of those, but week after week and I get bored and need to find something new. As much as I love celery root salad and mash I think I've discovered a recipe I like even better, Chestnut and Celery Root Soup. It would be perfect to serve on Christmas or on New Year's Eve. 

This is the epitome of a shortcut recipe with few ingredients and a reliance on a couple of convenience items namely roasted, peeled and vacuum packed chestnuts I find at Trader Joe's and canned chicken broth. I've mentioned it before, but when I don't have homemade chicken broth, I find Swanson's to be the next best thing. The prep for this soup takes more time than the cooking and it's just a matter of peeling, slicing and dicing onions, celery root and an apple pear. 

Chestnut and Celery Root Soup is really very elegant and rich despite the fact that it has no cream in it. I took my inspiration from a Daniel Boulud recipe I found on Dorie Greenspan's blog, In the Kitchen and on the Road with Dorie Greenspan. That recipe is much more of a chef recipe than mine, but trust me, mine is delicious! It has lots of depth and  a nice balance of sweetness and earthy flavors. 


Chestnut and Celery Root Soup
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon oil
1 small onion, peeled and sliced thinly 
1 apple pear (you could use an apple or a pear if you prefer), peeled and diced
1 celery root, peeled and diced 
1 14.5 ounce can chicken broth or homemade
1/2 cup cooked and peeled chestnuts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Nutmeg
Cream or sour cream, optional for garnish

Instructions

Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan. When the butter melts, add the onion. Cook gently for 5 minutes or until soft, then ad the pear and celery root and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, then fill the can with water and add that as well. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes or until the celery root is very tender. 

Add the chestnuts to the soup and puree in the blender in batches until creamy. Season with salt and add a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg. Serve with a swirl of sour cream or cream and a few bits of chestnut if desired. 

Enjoy! 

Monday, April 08, 2013

Smoky Tomato Soup Recipe

It's easy to get so caught up in the idea of eating seasonally that we forget that there are certain things that aren't necessarily seasonal, for example vegetables grown in hothouses or greenhouses like Belgian endive, cucumbers and mushrooms, also preserved produce--jams, pickles, chutney, frozen and canned foods. Which brings me to canned tomatoes, which are a great choice for recipes since fresh tomatoes are in season for a fairly short period of time.

While I wouldn't use a canned tomato on a sandwich, they are a must for most tomato based sauces. Lately I've come to appreciate canned fire roasted tomatoes for their lovely smoky flavor. They are great in stew or chili and a sneaky shortcut when making this zippy soup. A nice option in this shoulder season when somedays still feel like Winter, it's something you can make from pantry staples--a few aromatics, cans of tomatoes and broth. Having tried many brands of fire roasted tomatoes, I like Hunt's best and while I prefer homemade, Swanson's is the only canned chicken broth I use.

Another little trick in this soup is the addition of cream cheese. I don't typically keep heavy cream on hand so I am always looking for other ingredients to add creaminess to recipes. In this case a tiny bit of cream cheese adds a lot of richness. But in all honesty this soup is really wonderful even without it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan Soup Recipe


I've started off this year eating more soup. It's amazing what can go in soup. I mean, pretty much anything. And many classic comfort food dishes can be transformed into soup. Macaroni and cheese, baked potato, even eggplant parmesan.

I got the idea to make this soup when I was contacted by Whole Foods about a Parmigiano Reggiano promotion they were planning. I wanted to make something with the flavors of eggplant parmesan, but lighter and healthier. I used a few croutons and roasted the eggplant, instead of breading and frying it and skipped the mozzarella altogether. And you know what? It still pretty much has the flavor of eggplant parmesan! I thought I was being terribly original, but it turns out there are several eggplant parmesan soup recipes out there on the internets.

I topped my soup with a couple tablespoons of Pamigiano Reggiano. It's the cheese that really makes the soup into something special. It adds that distinctive flavor and texture. I'm sorry that you can't see in the photo that the soup has chunks of eggplant in it. You could puree it if you prefer a smoother soup. Also the croutons absorb a good bit of the soup and add even more body to it. Best of all, it's very healthy, so you can help yourself to a second bowl. I won't tell.

Eggplant Parmesan SoupMakes about 6 servings

Ingredients

1 large or 2 small eggplant cut in 1/2 lengthwise (about 2 lbs)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Croutons
Fresh basil leaves, optional

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut eggplant in half, lengthwise and place cut side down on a lightly greased foil-lined broiler pan. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until eggplant is tender. Allow eggplant to cool. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, sauté 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Scoop out the eggplant from the shells and chop roughly, discard the shells. To the dutch oven add the chopped eggplant along with the tomatoes, water and salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top each serving with croutons and two tablespoons of Parmigiano Reggiano. Garnish with torn basil, if desired.

Enjoy!

My thanks to Whole Foods for providing me a gift card and inspiring me to create this recipe

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chilled Corn Soup Recipe

Chilled Corn Soup
It's not Summer until you've eaten a peach over the sink, nibbled on cherries, and enjoyed a stack of fresh blueberry pancakes. One of the most highly anticipated Summer treats aside from all the luscious fruit, is fresh corn. When I see Brentwood corn, I buy it. It's sweet, tender and pairs wonderfully with all types of shellfish, blueberries, lime and avocado.

Corn is high in starch and carbohydrates but it's also a good source of Vitamins B1, B5, and C, folate, dietary fiber, phosphorus, manganese and protein. I use white and yellow corn interchangeably. White seems a bit sweeter and yellow a has a rounder flavor, if that makes sense. Corn should be cooked as soon as possible, after it has been picked. It's particularly good in fritters, pancakes, succotash and salads. If you eat it on the cob, try squeezing lemon or lime juice over it and dipping it in something spicy like smoked paprika or chile powder. Another way to enjoy it is with crumbled Mexican Cotija cheese. Slather the hot cobs with mayonnaise and dip it in the cheese. Messy, but good.

At a recent visit to the delightful SolBar restaurant at Solage in Calistoga, I got a kick out of the menu which was divided down the middle into healthy dishes and indulgent ones. The soup of the day was a chilled corn soup and it had no cream in it. I was intrigued. After a little experimenting I found you can get the maximum flavor by limiting the ingredients to a minimum. This recipe is vegan and the exact amounts of salt and lime will vary depending upon how sweet the corn is; the sweeter the corn, the better the soup!

Note: I use a conventional blender, but I have a feeling that if you use a Vita-Mix you will get even better results! If you have one, try it and let me know.

Chilled Corn Soup with Avocado
Serves 4

Ingredients

6 ears of fresh shucked corn, yellow or white
2 limes
salt
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced

Instructions

Remove the corn kernels from the cob, using a chef's knife. Place the corn in a saucepan with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until the corn is tender, just a couple of minutes, no longer. Strain the corn out of the water, reserving the water, and place in a blender. Puree the corn with enough water to give it a smooth texture. Strain the corn puree through a strainer and and add some of the reserved water to achieve the desired consistency. Squeeze the limes into the soup and salt to taste. Chill the soup then serve with a garnish of avocado.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lentil & Mustard Greens Soup: Hunger Challenge Recipe

Lentil & Mustard Greens Soup

Hunger ChallengeI was really optimistic that I could make a successful lentil soup on a budget. I was pretty sure it would be tasty and it took very little time to make. It was filling and healthy and comforting. Lee said it was delicious. I used 2 bouillon cubes to try and get flavor into the soup, but what it really needed was spices and a bit of lemon juice. Some aromatics like carrots and celery would have been good too, but I was afraid it would push me over budget.



Lentil & Mustard Greens Soup
Total: $1.81 for 2 servings

Ingredients

8 ounces lentils 62.5¢
2 bouillon cube 28¢
1/2 organic onion 17¢
1 clove garlic 2.5¢
5 cups water
1 Tablespoon Smart Balance 9¢ (you could use butter or oil)
5 ounces, frozen mustard greens 62¢

Instructions

Chop the onions and garlic. Heat a large saucepan and add the Smart Balance. When melted, add the onions and cook stirring for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the garlic, water, bouillon cube and lentils. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 25 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and mash some of the lentils using a potato masher, add more water if necessary and the mustard greens. Heat through and serve.

Rude awakening:
* I stayed just under budget, but there was no money for salad or a glass of wine, let alone dessert.

GET INVOLVED!

♥ Learn about the San Francisco Food Bank

♥ Join the Hunger Challenge

Donate and a receive a thank you special thank you gift!

1. Click on donate to go to the donation page.
2. Fill out the necessary info and make a donation of $50 or more.
3. About 2/3 of the way down the form, look for a header that says, “Food Drive/Event Information (not required)”
4. Use the drop-down box to select “Bloggers Hunger Challenge,” so we’ll know you are participating.
5. Be one of the first 12 people to donate $50 or more and you’ll receive a brand new free cookbook as a thank-you.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Pear Pecorino Potato Soup: Recipe

pear pecorino potato soup
I know what you're thinking. What kind of still life is that? In addition to being a study in ingredients that start with the letter "P"; pear, potatoes, pecorino and pepper are also the main ingredients in a most delicious soup.

You don't have to look hard to find a number of recipes featuring the combination of pear and the dry Italian sheep's milk cheese, pecorino. What's truly amazing is the range of recipes. Salads are an obvious choice, and there are sandwiches too. But how about ravioli from Lidia Bastianich? Ice cream from David Lebovitz?

The sweetness of the pear is complemented by the sharpness of the cheese and amazingly it works as well hot as it does cold. The combination is so good, it can make you rethink the ubiquity of those other classic combos like peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese. I mean, you don't see peanut butter and jelly salad or macaroni and cheese ice cream! If any molecular gastronomists are reading please, don't go there.

It was all those pear and pecorino combos that inspired me to come up with a variation on a simple classic, creamy potato soup. Not only does this soup have very few ingredients, it takes very little time and effort to make. It's a rich and complex soup, the creamy potato backdrop accented with a little sweetness from the pears, a little sharpness from the cheese and just a tiny bite of pepper. It also pairs well with many different sandwiches, though probably not peanut butter and jelly!

Pear Pecorino Potato Soup
Makes about 4 cups (recipe can easily be doubled)

Ingredients

4 medium to large russet potatoes
1 pear
2 cups water
1 cup broth (I used chicken broth but any mild broth is fine)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Peel and chop the potatoes into thumb-sized chunks. Peel, core and chop the pear. Add pear and potato to saucepan and cover with water and broth. Simmer until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until fully melted. Add the milk and a few grinds of pepper. Puree in blender in batches, until thick and creamy. Taste and season to taste.

Enjoy!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cream of Broccoli and Pesto Soup Recipe




I often skip online blogging events these days. But the idea of inviting bloggers to dinner is a very nice one indeed. Too bad my apartment is so small and my table virtually impossible to get more than three chairs around. Truth be told, other than house guests I haven't had people over in ages.

So what would I serve? That is a tough question. Of course it would very much depend upon which blogging friends were to dine here. For vegetarian friends I would probably make my eggplant lasagna. For meat eating friends a roast chicken and crispy roast potatoes because, really, who doesn't like that? For seafood eating friends I would make a luscious oniony risotto with shrimp and peas or asparagus and a drizzle of lemon oil.

For a starter, I would make a cream of broccoli soup with pesto. Why? Because I made it this weekend and it was a real hit. I'd be curious to see if they like it as much as I do! I would pair it with a nice Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. For dessert it would truly depend upon the season, but I'm guessing a pear tart which I would serve with a late harvest Riesling.

Note: I will link to a few bloggers when I hear back from them, so far Catherine of Albion Cooks has agreed to the challenge. A special thanks to brand-new food blogger, Julia of A Slice of Cherry Pie for inviting me to participate.

Cream of Broccoli and Pesto
serves 4 as a first course

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon oil or butter
1/2 onion chopped
1 big bunch broccoli, stems peeled and chopped, florets broken into small pieces
2 cups chicken stock (or vegetarian broth ok)
2 cups milk
1 heaping Tablespoon pesto

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or pot. Saute the onion until golden, but not very brown. Add the stems and cook for another minute or two then add the florets. Cook for another minute then add the chicken stock. Place lid on the pot and cook for a few minutes, until the broccoli is just tender but still bright green.

Add the milk and pesto and stir to combine. Simmer for five minutes, until reduced slightly, remove from stove. Puree in batches, in the blender until very smooth. Season with salt to taste.

Enjoy!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cucumber Avocado Soup: Recipe


Last Summer I spent my birthday up in the Napa valley. I stayed at a spa, went wine tasting and ate out, of course. It was sunny and relaxing and just a little bit indulgent. I had a terrific time and especially terrific meals, the highlight of which was a cool creamy soup at chef Douglas Keane's restaurant Market, in St. Helena.

Frankly the soup ingredients sounded like a spa treatment--yogurt, cucumber, avocado, was it a soup or a facial? Inspired to create my own version I gathered a whole bunch of fresh green ingredients and started experimenting. If your cold soup repertoire consists of gazpacho, try this one on for size. It's a great solution for dinner on a hot night, especially since it can be made in minutes and without heating up the kitchen.

So how is my soup different from Keane's? Rather than using red wine vinegar, I used lime juice. I used only yogurt, no buttermilk. I also peeled the cucumbers which means the soup does not need to be strained. I garnished the soup with a little diced cucumber and some dill. But on reflection I remembered Keane's soup had some mint. No bother. I am convinced mint, dill, chives, cilantro or chervil would work.

Note: Though raw and vegetarian, this soup isn't vegan, but it easily could be. I tasted the soup before adding the yogurt and it was very good that way. So if you want to leave it out, by all means do. Either way it makes a very virtuous meal.

Cucumber Avocado Soup
makes 4 servings

Ingredients

4 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into small, about 1-inch chunks (2 - 3 cucumbers)
1 cup avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed up (2 -3 avocados)
2/3 cup plain yogurt (nonfat is fine)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)
pinch sugar
pinch salt

1/4 cup cucumber diced for garnish
fresh herb of choice for garnish (dill, cilantro, mint, etc.)

Instructions

Puree the cucumbers in a blender until completely smooth. Add the avocados, yogurt, lime juice and blend, blend, blend until silky smooth.

Chill thoroughly if not already cold, correct seasonings with salt and sugar. Serve each portion with a garnish of about one tablespoon of diced cucumber and minced herbs or a dollop of yogurt.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pappa al Pomodoro: Recipe


Tuscans are infamous for being stingy. But when it comes to food that's not necessarily a bad thing. They are experts at cooking beans and even make a delicious soup called "cooked water" that is chock full of vegetables and topped with an egg. While living in Florence, I learned to make pappa al pomodoro, a typically Tuscan version of comfort food on the cheap. Thanks to Derrick over at Obsession with Food for hosting IMBB25 Stale Bread which reminded me of this dish that I love and hadn't made in ages (and just happens to use stale bread).

Pappa is "pap" or baby food. But imagine a thick soup that is infused with ripe tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, basil, and flavored with extra virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese. Pappa al pomodoro is classically Italian; it's not about fancy technique, but simple, excellent quality ingredients. Not only is it easy to make but it's easy to procure the necessary high quality ingredients practically year round.

While you can make it with fresh tomatoes, it's much easier to use canned tomatoes, and save yourself the hassle of peeling them. There is no definitive version of this recipe, if you want to add more garlic, more basil, red chili flakes, go right ahead. Just use the best quality ingredients you can. And whatever you do, don't confuse pappa, with papà (dad) or il papa (the pope)!

Pappa al Pomodoro

Ingredients

1 loaf stale bread, preferably Tuscan style or country bread
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 leaves of basil
28 oz can peeled tomatoes with juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
2-3 cups water, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Rip the bread into small pieces and soak it in water for until thoroughly wet, drain off any excess water. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add celery, carrots, onions, garlic and basil. Cook vegetables over medium-low heat until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Smash the canned tomatoes or squeeze to break them up and add along with their juice and the tomato paste. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the bread and the water to the tomato sauce. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until thick. Add the remaining olive oil and taste. Serve with shredded basil, grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Because the cheese is salty, add salt and pepper at the table.

Enjoy!

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Stuart's Pozole: Recipe


I used to work with a sweet young Southern gal. She told me her aunt made the best biscuits in the world but that she wouldn't part with her secret recipe. Shame. Really. What's the point in hoarding a great recipe? I just don't get it. Giving it to a family member is one way you know the recipe will live on. And so will you.

A friend of mine died earlier this year. I didn't know him for all that long, but we did share recipes just the same. He was famous for his pozole and shared the recipe freely. Though he was ill, it didn't occur to me that he would die. I was in denial I guess. But I can't tell you how happy it makes me to cook his pozole and remember him. I can't think of a better way to be remembered.

Pozole is a soup made from hominy, red or green chiles and usually pork. It comes from Jalisco in Mexico and is traditionally served at Christmas time. This is not a quick and easy type of recipe. Though it's not very complicated it does take some time to make especially since there is a separate sauce that needs to be prepared. It's perfect to do on a slow Sunday afternoon. To make this one right, you'll need to purchase some special ingredients and have all the "fixins" to serve it with on hand. But with a little planning it isn't that hard to do really. And it's definitely worth the effort.

Note: I only made a few changes to this recipe. I decreased the amount of broth and I toasted the chiles before soaking them. I also think a little cayenne is nice to season along with salt and pepper. This combination of a stew and a soup gets better over time so make a big batch and and stick some in the freezer, it keeps very well.

Stuart's Pozole
makes a huge pot! enough for at least 8-10 servings

Ingredients

2 large cans white hominy (28 oz) or four 15 oz cans
1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, boneless, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 white onion, diced (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
1-2 carrots, diced (not too small)
2 bay leaves
white wine vinegar to taste
cayenne to taste
fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup lime juice
2 quarts chicken stock
1 pint rojo sauce

Rojo Sauce
4 dried ancho or pasilla chilies
1 (15 oz.) can tomatoes
1 med. onion, cut up
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Accompaniments:
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
2 avocado, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
6-10 radishes
3 limes, wedged
1/4 cup diced white onion
Sour cream
Mexican oregano

Instructions

Cut chilies open. Discard stems and seeds. Cut chilies into small pieces with scissors or a knife. Open them up as flat as you can and toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat to release the oils. Toast them for 4-5 minutes maximum. Place in bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 45 to 60 minutes. Drain.

Place tomatoes in blender container; cover and blend until nearly smooth. Add the drained chilies, onion, garlic, salt and sugar; cover and blend until smooth.

In 1 1/2 quart saucepan combine tomato mixture and cooking oil. Cook and stir over medium heat about 10 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Makes one pint.

1) In a large (five qt) stock pot, saute the onion (all but the reserved) and carrot in a little olive oil until tender. Don't allow them to color, just soften.

2) Add in pork shoulder to pot and cover completely with chicken stock. To this mixture add the garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until pork is fall apart tender. (usually an hour or so depending on the size of the roast.

3) Remove pork and let cool until easy to handle. Then shred with 2 forks leaving some large pieces as well. Set aside for later.

4) To the stock, return to a simmer and add the lime juice and the Rojo Sauce until the stock takes on a rich ruby hue. At this point add in the drained hominy and return to simmer. Add a splash of vinegar at this point to taste. I usually add about a tbsp for a 5 quart pot of stock.

5) When all ingredients are at a simmer, add back in the shredded pork and simmer very slowly for about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add cayenne to taste.

6) Ladle into large bowls leaving plenty of room for all the goodies to come. I top mine with shredded cabbage, avocado slices, diced onion, and cilantro. Then a squeeze of fresh lime - and the topper - a sprinkle of dried Mexican oregano over the top of the whole thing. Regular oregano is OK but the Mexican variety is so much tastier in this - more earthy. Add a dollop of sour cream if you like. You can also add hot chipotle sauce or hot sauce if you like a little kick.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Zucchini Mint Soup Recipe & meme


I've been tagged to participate in the latest meme by Gastronomie. This one instructs bloggers to do the following:

1. Delve into your blog archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five people to do the same.

"Or laziness."

That was the 5th line of the 23rd post of this blog. The post had to do with not cooking. Not cooking is something I can relate to right now because I am nursing a cold. My energy and appetite are below normal.

Soup seems like a lazy food to me, especially when cooking is a bother. Of course soup takes some effort to make but after that it is easily reheated. Lucky for me I like soup for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

So here is a recipe that uses something I have too much of at the moment, zucchini. This is my absolute favorite recipe using zucchini and is closely adapted from a recipe by Peter Gordon from his World Kitchen cookbook. It's a super easy recipe and uses very few ingredients.

The five blogs I tag are:

Chocolate & Zucchini because of the zucchini of course!
Becks & Posh the blog that just returned from vacation
FoodGoat a blog that's been around longer than mine
Simply Recipes that recently posted a zucchini bread recipe
Lulu Loves Manhattan a blog that recently celebrated it's one year anniversary

Zucchini Mint Soup
Serves 4 as a first course or 2 as a main course

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped, about 1 cup
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
2 cups finely grated zucchini
2 1/2 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 cup sliced fresh mint
Sour cream or yogurt, optional

Instructions

Saute the onion in a medium size pot until golden brown and soft. Add the pine nuts and cook for another minute or so until toasty brown. Add the succhini and continue to cook for two minutes. Add the stock and cook for another five minutes. Make a slurry of the flour and a couple tablespoons of water, stir into the pot. Bring to a boil. Add the parmesan and mint. Season to taste. Serve with a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt if desired.

Enjoy!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Beluga Beauty Soup Recipe


Do you make impulse purchases? Sometimes when I buy things on impulse, I have no idea what to do with them. For example--black lentils. These tiny glistening little jewels are so pretty to look at, they might just call out to you too, if you saw them on the shelf.

Once I got home I looked through various cookbooks and online for recipes using these gems. What I learned was that black lentils are also called beluga lentils because they look like caviar. They are also more "meaty" flavored than other lentils. They hold their shape well and make good salads or soups. I didn't actually find that many recipes, though you can use them pretty much in place of an other type of lentil.

A big thanks to Cathy of My Little Kitchen for hosting Is My Blog Burning: Beans, giving me the perfect excuse to break open the bag of black lentils and create a new recipe. Combining a recipe from Judy Rogers of Zuni Cafe and an Indian curried soup, I came up with this quick and easy vegetarian soup that is very satisfying. I hope you like it too.

Beluga Beauty Soup

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch cayenne
1/2 cup diced sweet red and or yellow peppers
1/2 cup finely diced onion
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 cup black "beluga" lentils
4 to 5 cups water
salt to taste

Instructions

Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium-large pot. Add the spices and cook a few moments until fragrant. Add the peppers, onion and garlic. Continue cooking until the vegetables soften, about two minutes. Add one teaspoon of salt and four cups of water and the lentils and simmer covered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Simmer uncovered for five minutes. Remove a half cup of lentils and mash, then return to pot. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or cayenne as desired. This soup is good just as it is but if you want to fancy it up you could garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream and chopped chives.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Curried Butternut Soup Recipe


As each new season arrives I begin to think that it's my favorite. The colors, the scents, and the flavors of fall are just beginning to tantalize my senses. For sure it's the rich and eye-catching colors that grab me first; the pumpkins, pomegranates, pears and apples are so beautiful they almost beg to be put on display.

Of course anything that is associated with Thanksgiving is also a hallmark of fall. Pumpkin, pecans, cranberries, even brussels sprouts. Just the words alone make my mouth water in anticipation. It seems in preparation for the winter, flavors intensify. Not that the flavors of summer aren't intense, but they have a different fresh delicate succulent quality about them that disappears in the fall.

All sorts of winter squash are turning up at the market right now. Hardy vegetables that have some staying power. They wait until you are ready for them, unlike summery tomatoes and basil that say "use me or lose me!"

Butternut squash is so wonderfully easy to cook and just tastes like fall to me. Some of my favorite things to do with butternut squash are to use it in risotto, a tagine or soup. I really can't resist making a pureed butternut squash soup. There are endless variations for it. The one I made recently included an onion, an apple and some curry spices--cumin, chili and ginger. I finished it off with a can of coconut milk.

Note: I use a pressure cooker and a hand blender to make this soup quickly, but you could easily make this in a conventional pot and blend in a blender, a little at a time. You could also cook the squash in the microwave to speed things up, just cut it in half and place it in a glass container with some plastic wrap over it and cook until done.

Curried Butternut Soup

Ingredients

1 large or 1-2 small butternut squash
1 onion
1 apple
2-3 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon chili powder, any type you prefer
1 can coconut milk

Instructions

Peel, seed and chop the squash. Peel core and slice the apple into chunks. Chop the apple. Place all the vegetables and the apple in a pressure cooker and add enough water to almost cover halfway. Add the spices and cook on medium pressure for 10 minutes. Add one can of coconut milk. Puree the soup using a hand blender, then add salt to taste.

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Cheddary Corn Chowder:Recipe


Oh how I look forward to Wednesdays! It's not just the middle-of-the-week mark, it's also the day that most major newspapers publish their food sections, and the day my organic produce box is delivered. So why do most newspapers publish a sports section every day and a food section only once a week? Another unsolved mystery of the universe. After all, eating on a daily basis is fairly typical so a daily food section makes perfect sense...

This week the produce delivery signaled that summer is surely on the way in. The box included lots of summer "sweeties" like cherries, peaches, strawberries and corn. When corn is fresh it can be one of the sweetest vegetables around. It also has vitamin C and trace amounts of beta carotene. Unfortunately it can lose up to 40% of its sugar content after as little as six hours of room temperature storage, so if you buy it freshly picked cook it as soon as you can. If you don't, it's likely to turn starchy.

Though I grew up eating boiled corn on the cob with butter, I now prefer it grilled like you find in the streets of Mexico served with a wedge of lime and a sprinkle of chile powder. Off the cob it's good in a salsa or soup. If you want to oven-roast it, here's how: Peel back the corn husk and rip out the corn silk. Fold the husk back over the corn and place in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. If you like the corn slightly charred, let it cool enough to handle then pull back the husks and hold over an open flame until charred to taste. There not much to do with the corn cobs, except perhaps save them up and build yourself a corn palace and give the folks in Mitchell, South Dakota a little competition.

Cheddary Corn Chowder
2-4 servings

Instructions

3 ears of corn, cut kernels from cob and save the cobs
2 small potatoes, or one large one sliced into thin slices
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped or diced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 thick slice of bacon or 2 thin slices, diced (optional)
1-2 Tablespoons oil
1 can (14 oz) chicken or vegetable broth
1 can (14 oz) water
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup milk
1 Tablespoon flour
1/4 cup or so shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients

Heat the oil and bacon in a medium soup pot. When it starts to sizzle, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Saute until soft, but not brown. Add the corn and saute another couple of minutes. Add the broth and water and potatoes and the corn cobs. Cook until the potato is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Add the smoked paprika and the milk mixed with the flour. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove the corn cobs. Using a hand blender, puree about half the soup or put half the soup in a blender and puree. Mix, heat through then turn the stove off and stir in the cheddar cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper (it will need several large pinches of salt) If you like grill seasoning or any other flavored pepper you can use that.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Leek & Potato Soup Recipe


If I told you that I had a fabulous soup recipe with only three ingredients in it, would you believe me? Leeks, potatoes and water or chicken broth. Oh and a little butter to saute the leeks in, that's it.

It seems to be a mantra these days that by using the best ingredients one really doesn't need to do much to turn out a great meal. Leek and potato soup epitomizes this thinking. You can add milk or cream or top it off with a dollop of sour cream if you want to fancy it up, but it's really not necessary. Based on my own research (which is corroborated by the reviews of other cooks who have reacted to the multitude of leek & potato soup recipes posted on epicurious.com) complicated preparations with more ingredients tend to distract rather than enhance.

There is something so comforting about leek and potato soup. Its pale matte green color is comforting. Its smell is comforting. And of course the taste, mellow oniony leeks and potatoes combined together in a thick pottage is, well, comforting. Either smooth or chunky its soft texture and mild flavors are as soothing as flannel sheets. It's a great soup to go with a sandwich or just on its own. And it's the best antidote to a day of gustatory indulgence where you want something just short of another meal. Does this happen to you on the weekend sometimes? If so, you're not alone.

Here is my recipe for leek and potato soup. It's a soup that actually does not need fancy spices or herbs to make it taste good...ok I lied, this soup does need plenty of salt and pepper!

Couldn't-be-easier Leek and Potato Soup

Ingredients

2 leeks (white and pale green parts only) cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced
3-4 potatoes peeled, cut in half then sliced
1 Tablespoon butter
4 cups or so of chicken broth or water or a combination (home made broth is best, of course)
salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Note: To clean the leeks, place the chopped leeks in a bowl of water and swish around until the leeks are clean. Lift the leeks out carefully, leaving the grit in the bottom of the bowl.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks; stir to coat with butter. Cover saucepan; cook until leeks are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes. Cover and cook until potatoes begin to soften, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add liquid. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in processor until smooth or use an immersion blender directly in the pot. Thin with additional broth, water or milk if soup is too thick. This soup can be very smooth or chunky as you prefer. Season with a good amount of salt and a little pepper. Top with a swirl of creme fraiche or sour cream if you desire.

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Creamy Cauliflower Fondue Soup Recipe


I love the challenge of figuring out what to cook with what's fresh and in season. But I have to admit, I'm getting awfully tired of winter. In the beginning of winter I love all the root vegetables and greens, the hearty stews and pasta dishes, but around now I start really longing for a nice ripe tomato. Oh well, back to reality!

Cauliflower is one of those winter vegetables I haven't really gotten sick of yet so I thought I would make a cauliflower soup. Cauliflower is like a bland version of broccoli, and it makes really great soups. The two standards I make are either a curried version or a cheesy version. Soups are a great way to "eat your veggies" because you can combine so many vegetables in a soup and it just makes it all the more delectable. This soup is no exception.

I created a creamy cauliflower fondue soup this week in part, as a way to use up some Emmenthal cheese I had bought to make fondue. I think it's interesting from the standpoint that while none of the individual ingredients are all that thrilling--onions, carrots, potatoes, or cauliflower, when combined they make a really soul satisfying meal. Of course, adding a good amount of cheese never hurts!

Creamy Cauliflower Fondue Soup

Ingredients

1 russet potato, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a large head)
2 Tablespoons butter
3 cups water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Emmenthal or other Swiss cheese grated
1 teaspoon flour
1 Tablespoon dry sherry (optional)

Instructions

Sauté the vegetables in the butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they begin to brown slightly. Add the water and cover, cook for 20 minutes. Stir in 1 cup milk and puree the vegetables, either in the blender or with a hand stick-blender in the pot. You can make this soup as chunky or smooth as you like, thin down with more milk or water. Take the pot off the heat, toss the grated cheese with the flour and add the cheese to the soup, stir until melted and blended. Season to taste with salt and a tiny splash of sherry, if desired.

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Syrian Lentil Chard Soup Recipe

Syrian Lentil Chard Soup
When I was growing up, "leafy green vegetable" meant spinach. At some point swiss chard was added to the repertoire and then bok choy. But that was really it. Oh sure, we had salad every night, but no other cooked leafy greens. Later on I discovered the sharp bite of mustard greens, the silky mellowness of cooked escarole and the spicy bitterness of turnip greens. These days my organic market delivery brings me kale and collard greens too. But I still like spinach and swiss chard for sentimental reasons.

Another category mainly skipped over in my childhood was legumes. We ate Mexican refried beans, chili beans, and baked beans, but that was about it. I guess if I had been raised in the South I might have been exposed to more beans and greens, but I wasn't. In college on a budget I lived on black beans, and in Italy I discovered white or cannellini beans. Out on my own I experimented with lentil stews and soups of all kinds until I discovered a recipe for Syrian lentil and chard soup. That was it. No other lentil recipes need apply.

Beans and leafy greens make a great combo nutritionally. Leafy greens are high in calcium and live in the non-starchy vegetable category and beans are high in protein and iron. You'll find that lots of soups combine beans and greens. While lentils by themselves are somewhat tasty, they have an earthy flat flavor that really comes to life when combined with the sharpness of leafy greens and lots of lemon juice. To top it all off, this recipe adds sauteed onions, celery and garlic to punch up the flavor even more. It's one of my favorite vegetarian meals, perfectly satisfying me for dinner with a hunk of crusty French bread. This recipe is adapted from one by James Beard.

Syrian Lentil Chard Soup--'Adas bi Haamud

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of lentils
3 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large bunch chard, shredded and chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 rib celery
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Cook the lentils in plenty of water (more than enough to cover) until done, approximately 40 minutes. Add chard leaves and one cup water, reserve the stems. Meanwhile saute the onions, chopped chard stems and celery in a skillet with the olive oil. Crush garlic with a pinch of salt and add to onions, continue to saute until vegetables are softened and golden. Add with the vegetables to the chard and lentil mixture. Stir. Add lemon juice mixed with one teaspoon flour to flavor the soup. Let simmer until it thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

No Recipe Pumpkin Soup Recipe


Necessity is the mother of invention. Nothing could be truer in the kitchen. It's amazing what you can cook when you have very little in the pantry. It can be much more challenging and yet gratifying to try to figure out what do with the ingredients on hand than to come up with a new menu from scratch.

Coming home from vacation means coming home to an empty fridge. If you're lucky. If not, you've probably got some smelly clean up to do. Keeping certain canned foods on hand can insure that you will be able to make a meal from virtually nothing. A few things I always keep on hand are garbanzo beans, jars of artichoke hearts and canned pumpkin puree. With garbanzo beans you can make a one-pot meal, you just combine the beans, cooked couscous and a few chopped steamed vegetables. With artichokes you can make a simple pasta sauce by chopping the artichokes and adding them to store bought tomato sauce. Or just saute some garlic in olive oil and add the artichokes to that--voila! instant pasta sauce. Finally with canned pumpkin you can make a terrific soup.

Here's how I make quick, "nothing-in-the-house" cream of pumpkin soup. In a pot cook 2-3 tablespoons of salsa from a jar over low heat for about 2 minutes, mix in a 14 oz. can of pumpkin puree, a chicken bouillon cube and a cup of milk. You can use some heavy cream or half and half for part of the milk if you have it on hand. Stir and heat on medium, but don't boil. This tastes much fancier than you might think but taste it and add salt, more milk, some water to thin it down, whatever you like.

Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2003

Spinach & Yogurt Soup Recipe


When I was growing up there was a good, inexpensive restaurant my family ate at frequently. They had a very simple menu, mostly fresh fish and burgers, nothing fancy. But every meal started with a salad or their famous Leek and Spinach soup. It was so popular that the proprietor put the recipe up on the window for all to see. As I recall it was a package of Knorr brand Leek and Potato soup mix made according to the recipe box and a package of chopped frozen spinach mixed in at the end. He served it with a thin slice of lemon on top. To this day I keep a package of Knorr Leek and Potato soup mix on hand, just in case.

What I learned from that recipe is that recipes don't have to be complicated to be good. Sometimes the best recipes are the simple ones. Certainly when ingredients are at their peak of freshness and are high quality, less is more. As an example, Italians rarely cook fresh tomatoes. They are so good raw they eat them that way. Canned tomatoes are for cooking but fresh tomatoes are for eating with just a bit of seasoning like fresh basil or salt, pepper and olive oil. Same thing with prosciutto. It is usually served as is, raw. Sometimes it's added to a hot dish, like a pizza, but at the end of cooking, just to warm it, not really to cook it. Why gild the lily?

So last night I was looking for a new spinach soup recipe to go with sandwiches for dinner. I wanted something creamy, but I had no milk in the house. I found a recipe that is the height of simplicity, but very delicious. As per usual I made several changes. The recipe called for frozen spinach but I used fresh, which gave it a much lighter fresher flavor. I also eliminated the tarragon, which I don't think the soup needs. Finally the recipe called for heating the soup after adding the yogurt, but I didn't find it necessary. The soup does not need to be scalding hot to be good. I leave it up to you to decide what to change from my recipe below.

Spinach & Yogurt Soup

Ingredients

1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoon flour
pinch of salt
A couple pinches of nutmeg or 1/3 of a nutmeg, grated
Dash cayenne
I lb fresh chopped spinach, do not dry the leaves after washing
1/2 of a 15 ounce can of canned chicken broth
Unflavored yogurt
Lemon slices for garnish

Instructions

In 6 quart saucepan, saute onion in butter until soft but not brown.

Mix in flour, salt, nutmeg and cayenne. Cook until bubbly.

Add the spinach in batches, with broth. Cook until the spinach melts and cooks down, turning a bright dark green.

Place in blender, about 1/3 at a time (I used a hand blender right in the pot) and puree. Return to saucepan. Taste for seasonings. Ladle hot soup into the bowl, leave room for a 2 large tablespoons of yogurt. Whisk the yogurt into the bowl of soup until smooth and blended, with a mini whisk. Serve with a thin lemon slice on top.

Enjoy!

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Ajo Blanco Recipe

Ajo Blanco
I recently revisited a recipe from the very early days of Cooking with Amy. To say it was flawed would be an understatement. It was tremendously humbling to try to follow my own directions. I've gone back and revised the recipe, especially the techniques and the dreadful photo.

On a hot day, nothing is more elegantly refreshing than this lovely and very easy to make soup. American versions fussy it up with shrimp and extra ingredients and all I can say is, "leave well enough alone!" The beauty of this soup is its simplicity. I hope you enjoy it!

Ajo Blanco
About 4 appetizer servings or two main dish servings

Ingredients

3/4 cup blanched almonds, slivered or sliced
1-2 cloves garlic peeled
2 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 cup white seedless grapes
2 pieces day old French or Italian bread; crust removed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups water; very cold, plus 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Extra grapes sliced in half; for garnish

Instructions

Soak the bread in the cold water and squeeze dry. Place bread, grapes, almonds and garlic in blender and with the blender on slowly pour in the sherry vinegar, olive oil and 2 cups water and blend until smooth. Strain and season pretty aggressively, add an extra 1/2 cup cold water. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Garnish soup with grapes and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Enjoy!