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Archive for the ‘soup’ Category

Out-of-Control Soup

soup1Did you ever go to your refrigerator to look for something you positively knew was in there only to find 23 things you forgot you had and never finding what you were looking for until you moved that plastic container shoved wa-a-a-y in the back? You know, that “science experiment” about growing mold? 

Well, I did just that yesterday. Among the 23 things I had forgotten were 2 shrivelly carrots, a partial bag of spinach,  half of a red onion, a lonely, slightly slimy leek, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary, some leftover corn, part of a yellow bell pepper, a few slices of Genoa salami, about a cup of chicken broth, and some grated parmesan. Before long, I had a plan. “Soup,” I said!  

Obviously, that frig was out of control and I made a solemn promise to clean it out…later. 

But I had a more immediate task. I got out a medium-sized, heavy saucepan, drizzled in some olive oil, and got to work. The slime on the leek was confined to the green ends which I wasn’t going to use anyway. I halved the white part lengthwise and rinsed it well under running water. Then I sliced it and put it aside. I chopped the red onion, the bell pepper, and peeled and chopped the poor limp carrots.

All those little foundlings I threw into the pot with the hot oil. I stirred it and let it cook a while to start tenderizing the veggies. In the meantime, I opened a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of cannellini, which I drained and rinsed (the beans, not the tomatoes). When the veggies were slightly tender, 3 cloves of garlic, minced, were thrown in. I stripped the leaves off a sprig of thyme and the leaves from the rosemary  sprig, chopped them roughly and added them. Then I added the broth, the tomatoes, some salt and pepper, and the salami, cut up into tiny bits. It looked a bit skimpy so I added another 14 oz. can of chicken broth. I brought this concoction to a boil and then lowered the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so. Finally, I dumped in the beans, corn  and the baby spinach, coarsely chopped, and put the whole thing in the crockpot on low.

It was only 10:00 in the morning and we were still full from our weekend bacon and egg breakfast. I knew we had errands to run and wouldn’t want to spend much time fixing lunch later. The crockpot was the answer. I could keep the soup warm and ready for a few hours with no problem. 

Later, after we had picked out and bought our Christmas tree, we were ready for lunch. I sliced up some fresh “No Knead” bread, ladled out the soup, and sprinkled some parmesan over it. Boy! Was it delicious! I enjoyed it again today for lunch. No recipe, just plain old soup.

Try it yourself. I bet you can find some leftovers to throw into a soup pot and make a tasty meal. Chicken, torn up cooked hamburger, shredded roast beef or pork, cut up ham, cabbage, green beans, peas, pasta, rice – you name it. Add some broth, or just water and a bouillon cube if that’s all you have on hand (hold the salt until you taste it), or tomato juice. You probably know instinctively what combinations you would enjoy. Make the most of your food dollar and use those little bits of leftovers.

Now, I must tackle the frig and see what else I can salvage.

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Soup’s On!

In the autumn, I automatically am drawn to making soup, especially hearty ones. Give me a recipe with beans, pork, onions, lots of garlic and a potato or two and I’m good to go. A week ago I made soup with potatoes, sausage, beer and cheddar cheese. It was delicious. No beans in it, but it was still good.

I love lentil soup. I make it a few times each year and always make too much of it. I tried to save it by freezing it but the lentils were too mushy when I thawed the soup and reheated it. I won’t do that again. I guess I’ll have to discipline myself to make only a half recipe or give half of it away. 

The best recipe for lentil soup that I ever found was from Cooking Light magazine. I have a love/hate relationship with Cooking Light. I have been disappointed in about half of the recipes I tried from that magazine and enjoyed about half. I suppose that’s not a bad ratio, but the disappointing recipes were very disappointing and some of the ones I enjoyed were “doctored up” by me and not followed exactly as written. However, this one for lentil soup was followed exactly and I was very pleased with it and therefore recommend it with no reservations. 

Read the ingredient list carefully before you start to make it. It calls for fresh dill and I wouldn’t try substituting dried, if I were you. 

 

BEST LENTIL SOUP (from Cooking Light magazine)

2 T. olive oil

1 1/2 c. chopped onion

1/2 c. chopped celery

1/2 c. chopped carrot

2 garlic cloves, minced

5 1/2 c. water (or combination of water and chicken broth)*

1 1/2 c. dried lentils

2 T. chopped fresh dill, divided

2 bay leaves

1 dried red chile pepper (if you only have red pepper flakes, use those, to taste)

1 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 T. balsamic vinegar

3/4 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper 

3/4 c. (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; cook 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.

Add water, dried lentils, 1 tablespoon dill, bay leaves, chile, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon dill, vinegar, salt, and black pepper; discard bay leaves and chile. Sprinkle with cheese.

*I sometimes use the combination 4 c. broth and 1 1/2 c. water. I also sometimes add some cubed ham or sliced polish sausage.

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Alas, No Egg Salad

The Easter Bunny ran out of hard-boiled eggs by the time he got to our house last Sunday. He only brought a little bit of candy, a few books, and some Lego toys in the four Easter baskets he left behind. That was fine with me; I didn’t want to find broken egg shells all over or, even worse, smelly old forgotten eggs under furniture. Our egg hunt was in the backyard with plastic eggs the treasure to be found.

We had a great meal to celebrate the day. Twelve of us enjoyed a family meal together. My sister flew in from New York City, and my daughter and her family drove from Tennessee. We had devilled eggs, ham, asparagus, green beans and carrots, au gratin potatoes with goat cheese, fruit salad with celery seed dressing, hot rolls and cupcakes for dessert. The food was all delicious and I hope everyone had as good a time as I did.

We had some ham left, enough potatoes and vegetables for two servings, and plenty of fruit salad to spare. We had a Honey-Baked ham, spiral cut, and I served the ham at room temperature, choosing not to reheat it and risk it drying out too much. I have done it both ways in the past and prefer it served right out of the package without reheating.

The day after Easter I took the remaining ham off the bone and packaged it up. I covered the bone with water in my Dutch oven and simmered it for a few hours to make a good ham stock. I refrigerated it and this morning removed most of the congealed fat that had collected on top. With the ham stock as a base, I made split pea soup which is one of my favorite soups. Give me a big bowl of split pea soup, some cheddar and good bread and I’m a happy soul. I had all I needed on hand, so it was quick and easy to make. Here is the basic recipe I used:

SPLIT PEA SOUP WITH HAM

1 T. olive oil, and 1 T. butter 

1 lb. package split peas, picked over and rinsed

6-8 c. broth (I used ham broth but chicken is fine)

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

3 T. parsley, chopped

1 t. fresh thyme, stripped from stems

1 bat leaf

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 c. ham, chopped in small bite-sized pieced

salt and pepper to taste

Tabaso sauce, to taste (optional)

1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter. Add the carrots, celery, onion and cook until the onion is translucent and soft, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring another minute.

2. Add the broth, the peas, parsley, and thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour.

3. Add the ham pieces and the potato and continue simmering until it is tender and the peas are super tender and starting to dissolve. 

4. Taste the soup and add black pepper and salt to taste. Add Tabasco sauce by drops to taste.

5. Cool the soup in shallow bowls quickly and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

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 I know it’s not spring yet. Darn it. I keep telling myself that winter was invented in order for us all to really love spring.

Well, I really love spring. I eagerly anticipate the rebirth of flora, little green nubs pushing up through the still frigid ground, reaching for sunkissed warmth; swollen buds on branches of stark naked trees. The return of the robin, chirping in the early morning darkness, gives me a sleepy smile as I lay abed before arising. The different aroma of the outdoor air, slightly sweet in its earthiness. Ahhh, spring.

images.jpgI was talking with my mother yesterday about the wonderful availability of fruits and vegetables in the groceries of today. We mentioned how much we both like the stronger tasting vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and of course, asparagus.

It’s so wonderful that we can now get fresh asparagus almost any time of the year. Of course it is probably much better to have spears poking up from the ground  in your own garden plot, but those of us with green thumbs for ;egetables have to settle for what we can get at the grocery.

As I mentioned here, I enjoyed a delicious asparagus spring pea soup at Panera a few years ago. It was so good that I was motivated to try to work up a reasonble fascimile. I prepared it within a few days so that I could compare my soup’s taste with my memory of what Panera served before my memory became cold. I was pretty well satisfied with  my rendition of the soup and here is the recipe for those of you who await spring and the greening of the Northern Hemisphere as much as I.

Morgana’s Spring Pea and Asparagus Soup 

1 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil

1 small onion, chopped (1/2-3/4 c.)

2 stalks celery, chopped (1/2 c.)

1 leek, split lengthwise, washed well and sliced (light green and white part only)

Mixed fresh herbs (I used thyme parsley, mint, and basil, about 1 T. of each chopped)

1 quart chicken broth (low sodium, preferred)

2 c. water

2 c. green shelled, English peas (fresh or frozen)

1 potato, peeled and cubed

1 bunch asparagus, ends discarded, and stalks sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Dash of Tabasco or other hot sauce, optional 

1 c. whole milk, half and half, heavy cream, or evaporated milk 

 1. Melt the butter in a large stock pot. Add oil and heat to medium high.

2. Saute onion, celery, and leek until tender, about 10 minutes. Don’t let them brown.

3. Add broth, water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add potato. Cook until potato is nearly tender. Add peas and asparagus and cook for 5-10 minutes until asparagus stalks are tender. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco.

4.  Puree in batches in a blender or use a stick blender to puree in the cooking pot. Add milk, or cream and heat just until warm. Be careful not to boil.    This is great with some cheese and a big slice of good bread.

UPDATE:

For those of you who might have been bewildered by my earlier ingredient “2 d. peas”, I obviously had a typo pass by my normally eagle-eyed editor. It was supposed to read “2 c. peas”. These are your garden variety English green peas, not sugar snap, not split peas, not snow peas.

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October 12, 2007

A few weeks ago my friends and I went to lunch for a birthday celebration for one of my knitting buddies. We had a delightful lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, a small, intimate wonderfully decorated spot with a relatively small menu of great, homemade dishes.

I was intrigued by their soup of the day, Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup, flavored with chorizo sausage, originally a Spanish creation, now common in the United States, thanks to the influence of our Mexican heritage citizens. It can be prepared as a fresh sausage or a fermented cured smoked sausage. It’s degree of spiciness, from dried smoked red peppers, varies according to the whims of the producers.

A favorite Mexican breakfast is chorizo con huevos, eggs scrambled in crumbled and cooked chorizo. It is often used to enhance stews and soups, as it was in the soup recipe I enjoyed. I enjoyed it so much that as soon as I had a chance later that same day, I did a quick search on the internet and, much to my surprise, found an identical recipe from the October 2007 Bon Appetit magazine. Obviously, the chef had been inspired by this recipe, and to my good fortune, he prepared it the day I was there to sample it.

I saved the recipe and last weekend I prepared it for lunch with grilled cheese sandwiches. It was a definite hit with me, my husband and the one daughter who was here to try it. The original recipe calls for either Portugese linguica or chorizo. I was able to find the chorizo easily so I used that. I prepared the recipe exactly as written, no substitutions or “tweaking”.

Here is the recipe, thanks to the online treasure, Epicurious, recently redesigned.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
Bon Appétit | October 2007

This hearty soup gets rich flavor from linguiça, a delicious pork sausage from Portugal seasoned with garlic, paprika, and other spices. Spanish chorizo sausage is a great substitute.

Makes 8 servings

Jean Anderson

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 10- to 11-ounce fully cooked smoked Portuguese linguiça sausage or chorizo sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about 2 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound white-skinned potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook until brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain. Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add all potatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Add broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot. Add browned sausage to soup. Stir in spinach and simmer just until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.

Epicurious.com © CondéNet, Inc. All rights reserved.

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