Monday, June 02, 2008

Getting Stewed?

Or just want a new soup recipe?

Check out the latest in soups and stews at Blog Appetit, the parent blog. Now that Blogger offers categories, I'm not copying everything dealing with soups and stews over here, but you can still see the latest here.

These include recipes for Chinese Greens and Chicken Meatball Soup, Raw Mint Soup, Beef Posole, Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup and more.

Please check it out.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Click here for more soups and stews

Sorry I haven't been keeping this up to date, but you can see all my soup and stew recipes at Blog Appetit.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Salmon Chowder and Rosemary Red Soups

My friend Leslie P (I have a number of friends named Leslie for some reason), emailed me recipes for some soups she has had success making. Thanks, Leslie.

The salmon chowder is rich and hearty, the beet-carrot soup is vegan and full of flavor.

Here's her recipes in her own words ( I think she always wanted to be a blogger, if the truth were known):

Salmon Chowder

1 Cup Smoked Salmon ( we always have cans around) cut in chunks.
2 TBS.Butter, 1/2 C. Chopped onions, 1/4 c. sliced celery, 1/2 c. green pepper , 2 TB. flour, 1 1/4 C. Chicken Bouill.., 1/4 c. s. cream., 1 tsp dill, pepper, chopped parsley.
Melt butter, saute onion, clery, pepper. Stir in flour, add bouillon- cook over med. til boiling.
Add s. cream, dill pepper, smoked salmon.
Heat 2-3 min. Top w/ parsley

Rosemary Red Soup
(this one is really good)

3 med. carrots, 1 Beet, 1 TBS olive oil, 1 lg. onion, diced- 1 c. dried red lentils, 6 cups water/stock, 2 Bay leaves, 1 Sprig Rosemary- (3")- 1 TBS Oregano, 2-3 TBs Miso.
Scrub and chop carrots and beet, Heat oil in soup pot, add onion and saute til soft. Add carrots and beet, saute a few min. more, wash and drain lentils, Add lentils, water, bay leaves, rosemary and oregano to sauteed onion. Bring to Boil, Lower heat and simmer 40 min. Remove Bay leaves and stems . Puree Soup in Blender w/Miso- gently reheat before serving.

She is promising me a poblano soup one, too. Can't wait.
About the photo: Beets and other good root vegetables at the Berkeley, CA, farmers' market.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cioppino Sauce Makes Quick Soup

I needed soup and I needed it fast. Today's quickie soup inspiration -- a carton of fresh cioppino base (a tomato and vegetable sauce for a seafood stew or soup). I got mine fresh from Safeway, but Trader Joe's sells a jarred version and I've seen others around. It is part of Safeway's fresh signature soup line and lists for only $2.99, but it is on sale for $2.99 OFF through March 6th, so if you act quickly it costs you nothing.

I tossed mine in a pan, dropped in about a half pound of cubed, cooked potatoes and heated it all through. (The Safeway cioppino base was only 25 ounces, so adjust your add ins accordingly.) Tasty, spicy soup!

It would also work well with cooked crabmeat (real or krab).

If you are a Manhattan clam chowder fan like me, it would also make a good base for that.

Or, you could also make it into a real cioppino.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Green Chicken Soup

I was overdue for making a soup (a staple here at the Blog Appetits) and had agreed to limit my forays to the market for a while to “eat down” the pantry and freezer to make some room for any new purchases later. (Whenever I source a recipe this way I refer to it as “going freezer shopping,” hence the first part of the post’s title.)

While shuffling the contents of my freezer looking for inspiration I came across a package of boneless chicken breast tenders, a bag of Trader Joe’s Organic Greens with Envy and some frozen chicken stock (maybe a quart or so?). The frozen vegetable mix featured shelled edamame, spinach, green beans, broccoli florets and asparagus tips.

It made up into a light but full-flavored homey chicken vegetable soup. The smell of the simmering chicken soup was warming and cheery on a rainy winter day and made me feel well taken care of and loved. The soup itself looked bright and fresh and reminded me that spring would soon be here. (An aside, it might be a nice non-traditional "green" dish for St. Patrick's Day if you are looking for something other than corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew or green bagels.)

You could substitute canned or boxed chicken stock if that’s what you have hiding in your pantry, but homemade always packs a taste punch. Substitute whatever fresh or frozen chopped green vegetables you have on hand, but be sure to include something green and leafy, something green and a bit crunchy, and perhaps fresh or frozen shelled edamame or canned or frozen lima beans. There is little added fat and lots of nutrients in the vegetables, so it is a good-for-you-soup, too.

Other cuts of chicken on or off the bone will work well, too. You could skip the chicken entirely, but poaching the poultry in the soup adds of depth to the flavor even if your stock is not homemade.

Green Chicken Soup

All amounts approximate
Serves 4

Oil spray or 1 tsp oil (I used grapeseed)
1 small or ½ large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
16 ounces frozen or fresh chopped green vegetables
1 quart chicken stock
¾ to 1 pound (or more) boneless chicken breasts or breast tenders (frozen or fresh) OR other chicken on or off the bone
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Spray the bottom of a large pot or add 1 teaspoon oil. Heat over medium high flame. Add onion and sauté until just softened. Add minced garlic and sauté until beginning to brown. Add frozen or fresh vegetables and sauté until vegetables are beginning to defrost (if frozen) or just beginning to soften (if fresh). Add chicken stock. Stir all ingredients well, making sure to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pan. Heat soup until simmering. Add chicken pieces (no need to defrost frozen boneless chicken) and poach in broth until just cooked through. (You may need to adjust heat to keep from boiling. Timing will depend on size, thickness, bone in or out, frozen or not, so keep you’ll need to watch. Do not overcook.) Remove chicken from the pot and cut or shred into bite size pieces. (If you’ve used chicken with skin and bones, remove those from meat, cut or shred the meat.) Add meat back to pot. Heat soup through, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

You’ll be amazed at the good, clean taste and depth this simple soup has (especially if you’ve used a quality or homemade chicken stock). If you want more spice, you can certainly add hot sauce or other seasonings either to the whole pot or your bowl. You might also try adding a teaspoon or two of fresh, minced ginger when you add the garlic for a more Asian-flavored soup.
I ate mine straight. Noah added a spoonful of shredded Parmesan cheese and stirred it through. Gary added some leftover cooked pasta to his bowl first then ladled in the hot soup. If your stock was not very rich, you could stir in a dash of a good quality olive oil to your serving to pump up the flavor a bit. Try lemon oil for a refreshing taste.

Variation: Make it with good quality vegetable stock and tofu and you can have a Green Greens Soup.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Thai Curry in a Hurry

It was cold (for us) in northern California today. I wanted something hot in temperature and spice. I was thinking a lot about the wonderful Pim of Chez Pim. The first time I met her she had made a group of us Menu for Hope II volunteers a pot of steaming Thai chicken curry.

Suddenly, that's all I wanted for dinner. Since I refuse to go to the market before major holidays (partly because of parking and lines, partly because I always seem to be the one behind the person asking the meat counterman or woman "can you recommend a cut of beef for pot roast that will cook quickly?"), I had to make the curry with whatever I had on hand.

Luckily, I've done that before. Read my ingredients and technique list here . This time, I cut up an onion, softened it in some vegetable oil over medium heat (I was using an earthenware casserole), added six cloves minced garlic, about a pound and half of boneless, skinless thighs and breasts, cut into pieces, two tablespoons of Thai red curry paste, 1 can (approx 12-13 ounces) light coconut milk, about 12 ounces chicken broth, and five-to-six ounces of regular coconut milk. I also added two sliced carrots, about a pound of Chinese long beans (you could use green beans) trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces, a red bell pepper, cut into a large dice, and a one-pound bag of Trader Joe's peeled and cubed butternut squash. When the chicken was about cooked through, I added a half pound of cubed firm tofu. There were lime wedges to squirt over individual portions of the lip tingling (but not overpoweringly hot) soupy stew (or stewy soup?). I served the curry in bowls over jasmine rice, but you could also use Asian wheat or rice noodles.

Of course, curry in a hurry works best if you consider Thai curry paste and coconut milk pantry staples. If you don't already, I highly recommend them. The paste (I used red for this recipe) is available in many Asian and specialty markets. Coconut milk (not the coconut cream used to make pina coladas or other drinks) is available in Asian and Latin speciality stores. Light (which doesn't have the thicker, fatty part of the milk) is available from some manufacturers. Feel free to just use all regular if you can't find the light version.

This website offers red curry paste, coconut milk and a wide range of other Thai foods by mail if you don't have access to local Asian stores. It also has a lots of recipes on how to use the various ingredients.
Photo credit:

Friday, October 20, 2006

Chicken Vegetable Soup in a Hurry

Sometimes you just don’t have time for a soup to simmer all day. You need soup in a hurry, but you are still crave something fresh and good, you just want it now. Try this recipe for instant soup relief. I came up with it when I faced a similar dilemma. I was looking in my fridge and pantry to see what I could do to soothe that soup craving when I spotted the food processor and thought “aha, I’ll shred the vegetables for speedier cooking.” No food processor? Try chopping the veggies into a really small dice.

Sheer genius. Sheer delicious. Even if I do say so myself.

Do try to use the Moroccan raz el hanout seasoning (sometimes spelled ras el hanout). It adds a mysterious curry-like note with a bit of floral and a bit of heat. I’ve suggested a replacement mixture just in case it’s not right there on your spice shelf. (I got mine in Paris; remind me to tell you about it someday.) Here is a recipe if you would like to make the spice blend up yourself. The lemon zest and juice add a nice, clean tingle to the fresh taste of the vegetables, the earthiness of the chickpeas and the light spiciness.

Chicken Vegetable Soup in a Hurry
Makes about 8 servings

You can make this Vegetable Vegetable Soup by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken.

Note: Cut vegetables in 1 to 2 inch chunks before shredding, so your shreds are bite site.

2 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil or mixed
1 medium onion chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch dried red pepper flakes
2 large carrots, shredded
1 medium-large red bell pepper, shredded
2 large zucchinis, shredded
Salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon Moroccan raz el hanout seasoning (recommended if available) OR ¼ teaspoon combined TOTAL of equal parts ground turmeric, ground cinnamon and ground ginger
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 quart good quality chicken broth (homemade or store bought)
1 -15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Chunks of avocado and fresh tomato for garnish (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to turn translucent and soften. Add garlic. Sauté until garlic is beginning to brown. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and stir and fry to release the flavors. Add the shredded vegetables and sauté until beginning to soften. Add salt and pepper to taste and the Moroccan or other substitute seasonings, lemon rind, chicken broth and drained chick peas. Bring mixture to a simmer, cover and cook until vegetables are tender, broth is heated through and the tastes have melded. Stir in lemon juice. Taste and correct seasonings if need be. Serve with selected garinsh(es) if desired.

This just occurred to me -- If you are planning in advance to make this soup, you can probably find shredded vegetables at a supermarket salad bar. That will speed things up even more. You can also add some leftover roasted chicken meat to the soup for a heartier meal.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Turkish Greens, Roasted Potato and Portobello Mushroom Stew

The Well Fed Network's Paper Palate site has published my roundup of my favorite Jewish cookbooks.

I really put those books through their paces this current Jewish holiday season. My menu ended up featuring the foods of the Turkish Sephardic Jewish community. A large reason for that was in remembrance of a friend who was of Turkish Sephardic heritage who was a wonderful cook.

From Olive Trees and Honey I read up on some of the Turkish holiday food traditions. I also made some wonderful pumpkin pastries called borekas from that book. I took a number of ideas from a variety of cookbooks and added my own touches to create a Sephardic chicken soup with vegetables and matzoh-fafalel dumplings. From the Book of Jewish Food I adapted a recipe and created a chicken and black-eyed pea dish for my main course. I also served a vegetarian main dish of greens, potatoes and portobello mushrooms which was inspired from a traditional Turkish recipe. My version was adapted from the book Vegetarian Turkish Cooking by Carol Robertson. My recipe is very different from hers, but she deserves credit for sparking my imagination.

As part of a mezze or appetizer plater I served small hot-sweet pickled cherry peppers stuffed with hummus (chickpea dip). Noah made apple pie for dessert. Now, apple pies aren't traditional Turkish Sephardic food, but apples are a European tradition for the Jewish New Year and Noah does like making apple pies, so that's how that came about.

Here's my greens stew recipe. It is very flavorful and flexible. You can use other types of greens and it can be a main dish or side dish.

Turkish Greens with Potatoes and Portobello Mushrooms
Serves four as a main course, more as a side dish

Olive oil or olive oil spray
2 large potatoes, peeling optional, cut into 1" chunks (I used yellow finn, but regular baking potatoes work well)
1/4 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food)
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
3 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds of portobello mushrooms, wiped cleaned, stems discarded, black gills cut away (see note) and cut into 1" chunks
2 pounds of fresh mixed greens washed and cut into large, bite size pieces (I used a mixture of chard, collard and turnip, but you could use beet, spinach, mustard or kale as well)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup of vegetable stock or water
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar

First roast the potatoes. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking pan with olive oil or oil spray. Add potatoes. Brush the potatoes with a bit more oil or use spray. Sprinkle with red pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Put in oven and roast until cooked through and browned, turning potatoes occassionally. This should take approximately 45 minutes or so.

While the potatoes are roasting make the stew. Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a large saucepot with a lid. Add the onions and saute for a minute or two until beginning to soften and then add the garlic. Saute to until the garlic is just beginning to brown. Add the mushroom chunks and continue to saute for a few minutes. Add the greens. Mix well with the mushrooms and saute a minute or two. Add the sugar and the vegetable stock or water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and put lid on pot. Cook covered for 20 minutes or until the greens have cooked through. Taste and correct seasoning. (Add more sugar if the greens are too bitter, more salt and pepper if they are too bland.)

Prepare the tomatoes. Toss the tomato chunks with oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

When the greens are cooked, assemble the dish. Put the greens and mushroom mixture in a large serving bowl. Add in roasted potatoes and toss until combined. Top with a wide ribbon of the tomato salad mixture as a garnish.

Note: Portobello mushrooms have dark brown-black gills under the cap. These gills darken any stewed mixture they are in. To avoid this, simply slice the gills off the underside the mushroom caps after you remove the stems. This is an optional step, but I do it whenever I want to avoid the coloration issue.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup

“So Little Gold for So Much Work” – Gary, Blog Appetit Does Soup husband, when realizing there would only be two and a half servings of soup.

I like making soup. My husband likes eating soup. Any soup product that results in less than eight servings with something left over for the freezer (the frozen soup is henceforth somewhat confusingly known as “liquid gold”) is considered unfortunate.

This soup was designed to use my “use it or lose it" veggies: a bit less than a pint of tired cherry tomatoes; two very soft large tomatoes, and a beginning-to-wrinkle red bell pepper. I decided to make a roasted garlic and tomato soup and served it with grilled cheese and avocado sandwiches made in the panini grill. There were just enough veggies for soup for two with a bit left over, which Noah, the future pastry chef, slurped down.

(By the way, this soup was very easy to make, so Gary was a bit inaccurate in his assessment of the soup-to-work ratio.)

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup
2-3 Servings

This recipe can be easily doubled. The roasted garlic is a predominant taste, so if you are not garlic fiends like us you may want to use significantly less.

Olive oil spray or olive oil
6-8 peeled garlic cloves, whole
Pint basket (more or less) of cherry tomatoes
2 large tomatoes, sliced in half
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and halved
Quart of chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh basil and/or parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Spray baking tray with olive oil spray or grease lightly with oil.
Spread garlic and vegetables on the tray. Large tomatoes and pepper should be cut side down. Spray or lightly grease tops of vegetables.
Roast, stirring garlic and cherry tomatoes occasionally until tomatoes and peppers are softened and blistered and the garlic is browned, about 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool a bit. Put into a large pot with any juices from the baking pan, add stock and salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat until vegetables and garlic are cooked all the way through and are very soft.
Take off the heat and puree with an immersion hand blender or in batches in a regular blender.
Add chopped herbs and reheat. Serve topped with some fresh chopped basil or perhaps a bit of chopped ripe avocado.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Caribbean Greens Soup (Callalo) With Foo-Foo

Continuing my culinary journey to the Caribbean (see this jerk chicken write up for Part One), one of the many highlights of the evening was with soup of greens, okra and crab. This soup was amazing, even people who swore they don't like or were scared of okra had seconds. The okra thickened the soup and gave it a full, deep flavor and a pleasant, intriguing taste. The coconut milk sweetened the greens and the smokiness of the paprika really played well against the crab meat. It can be easily adapted for those who don't eat shellfish or who want a vegetarian version.

What are foo-foo you ask? They are plantain "dumplings," easy to make and perfect for the soup. You can skip this step, but why?

While some of the ingredients are exotic, the recipes themselves are fairly simple and not overly time consuming, and the flavors will wow you. Many of the ingredients can be found in large supermarkets or in Caribbean, Asian or Latin specialty markets.

The following recipes were adapted from my guidebook to the foods of the Caribbean -- The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz. (Ortiz is one of my favorite cookbook authors. I hope to write more about her and her amazingly authentic cookbooks sometime soon.)

Callalo Soup (Caribbean Greens Soup)
Serves 6-8

This soup is best the same day it is prepared. Leftovers are fine, but lack some of the zing of the first day's bowl.

1 pound Swiss chard, cleaned, hard stems cut off and discarded and leafy greens cut into bite-sized pieces
6 cups chicken or vegetarian stock
1 finely chopped onion
3 chopped garlic cloves
3 green onions (scallions), rinsed, roots cut off and chopped. Use white and pale green parts.
1/4 tsp dried ground thyme
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (for a discussion of smoked paprika and where to buy it, please see the corn soup recipe here) or 1 teaspoon paprika and a few drops of liquid smoke. (See note below.)
1/2 pound cooked crabmeat (or about the same amount of tofu cubes or poached, shredded chicken breast)
1/2 cup coconut milk
10-12 ounces sliced frozen okra
salt and pepper to taste
hot pepper sauce (such as Pickapeppa, Tabasco or Blog Appetit's own Below the Belt Hot Sauce
One recipe of foo-foo (see below)

Combine the Swiss chard with the stock, onion, garlic, green onions, thyme, vegetable oil and smoked paprika (or paprika and liquid seasoning). Cover and cook over a medium-low heat, keeping contents to a slow simmer until the greens are tender. Add the crab meat (or chicken or tofu), coconut milk and okras and cook about 10 minutes until the okras are taste done. Season to taste with hot sauce, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put two or three foo-foos in each bowl, ladle hot soup over the dumplings and serve with hot sauce on the side.

Soup Note: If the smoked paprika or liquid smoke are not available, it is okay to leave them out, but you will lose a bit of smoky complexity to the soup. If you are making the soup without the crab, you might use cubes of smoked tofu or tempeh to add that flavor back in.

Serves about 6-8

Traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, modern technology has cut down on the effort needed to make these delicious dumplings. Keep your hands well oiled when forming them so the starchy plantain mixture doesn't stick to your hands. Form them while the soup is cooking. I oiled a baking dish and put each finished dumpling into the dish as it was formed. When done, I covered with foil and kept warm in a low oven until the soup was ready to serve.

3 green plantains (do not substitute bananas), unpeeled
about 2-3 tablespoons of water
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt

Put the plantains in a large pot with water to cover. Cook until the plantains are tender, about a half hour. (You can check this by poking them with a fork). When the fruit inside the peel is soft, drain and carefully peel. Cut each plantain into three or four large chunks and put into a food processor. Puree, adding the water as needed to keep the mixture smooth but still very thick. It should form a ball around the blade. Adding a bit at a time, add salt and process to mix in. Taste a bit of the puree. It should have a nice balance but not be highly salted, since the soup is already flavored.

Oil hands (and keep oil or PAM spray handy) and pinch off about a walnut-size amount of the puree. Roll in your hands until rounded into a ball and put into prepared dish. Continue with rest of puree, re-oiling hands as necessary.

Keep foo-foos warm and serve with Callalo Soup.
Photo Credit: Amazon

Monday, May 22, 2006

Summer Farm Stand Corn Soup

My husband has a taste for farm stands. Not any farm stands, but only those selling locally grown, in-season fruit and vegetables. The sight of corn back in the stores reminds me of last summer. We were returning from the Sierras through San Joaquin County in California when he spotted a new (to him) farm stand. After a quick u-turn, we parked, climbed out of the air conditioned car into the baking hot Central Valley summer and checked out what the stand had to offer.

The farm stand checked out. Among its offerings were pale green mountains of fresh, sweet corn. I picked out six likely looking ears. The young salesgirl told me it would be cheaper if I bought a dozen.

“You could always give them away,” she said as she took my dollar. I was skeptical about taking all 12, but just the six ears would cost me $1.50, so I picked out six more, wondering how fresh they could be if the stand was pricing the corn like this. Now I wish I had bought three dozen.

The corn was sweet and fresh and the yellow cobs dotted with an occasional white kernel. It was so hot I was afraid the delicate corn would pop in the car on the way home, but it survived fine.

That first night, I stripped four ears of their silk and thin inner husks, wrapped them up in the remaining outer husks and soaked them for about a half hour in water. I then plopped them onto a hot barbecue where I roasted them, turning occasionally until some of the kernels had blackened and when I slit one with my fingernail, it cut open easily and a bit of juice ran out.

I removed the corn from the grill with tongs and used oven mitts to protect my hands as I stripped the hot and ashy husks off the ears. We feasted on corn with chipotle hot sauce and squirts of lime juice. That’s when I made the decision, I would be keeping – and cooking with – all the corn.

The next night, I turned our leftover grilled chicken into fajitas. I shucked and cut the kernels off a few ears and put them in a preheated, dry frying pan in one layer. I let them pan roast a bit and gave the pan a good shake and continued like that until a few of the kernels began to brown and I could smell the aroma of roast corn. I added chopped bits of red pepper and red onion and a bit of water. I stirred until the pepper and onion had softened a bit and added salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

It made a tasty side dish, but I was sorry I hadn’t added a handful of the fresh corn kernels (which were sweet and juicy raw, not the least starchy) to the homemade tomatillo salsa I had served with the fajitas.

The next night, I still had leftover grilled chicken, so I turned it into a Thai peanut sauce stir fry. I again cut the kernels off a cob of corn. The raw kernels were still sweet and milky and I combined them with a large peeled and thinly sliced cucumber into a Thai vegetable salad, with a dash of salt, a grinding of fresh black pepper, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, a handful of chopped fresh cilantro, a drizzle of Asian sesame oil and a very healthy splash of seasoned rice vinegar.

With the remaining ears, I made a summer corn soup.

Summer Farm Stand Soup

This recipe depends on the freshness and flavor of your vegetables. The taste of the stock you use is also important. I used homemade, but a good quality store bought would also work.

Makes 6-8 servings

Tablespoon or two of olive, grapeseed or vegetable oil
Half of medium yellow onion, very finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
Pinch of curry powder
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4” dice
Two medium ripe, red tomatoes, cut into ½” chunks
4 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off the cob
2 zucchinis, cut into ½” chunks
One quart of chicken or vegetable stock
Hot sauce or red pepper flakes (optional and to taste)
½ cup of prepared basil pesto (optional)

Heat a large pot. Add oil to bottom and swirl to cover.
Add chopped onions and stir frequently until softened, about three minutes. Add garlic, continue to stir until onions and garlic just begin to become golden. Add the curry powder. Sauté with the onions and garlic until aroma is released. Add bell pepper and sauté a minute or two, then add the tomato pieces. Sauté for a minute or two, then add the zucchini and corn kernels. Sauté for a minute or two until vegetables have begun to soften and give up some of their juices.

Add stock and simmer until vegetables are cooked but not mushy. Taste. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce or red pepper flakes (if using) to taste. Puree, using a hand blender (or in batches in a regular blender and then return to pot), about one fourth to half the soup depending on how thick you’d like it to be. (Be careful, soup will be hot).

Add minced basil. Stir basil throughout.

Can be served warm, room temperature or cold. (If serving cold, taste again and adjust seasonings before serving. You may need more flavoring.)

Optional: just before serving, swirl about a tablespoon of basil pesto atop each bowl.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Portuguese Potatoes and Potato and Greens Soup

One of the biggest culinary revelations I had in Portugal was the wonderful, nutty taste of the Portuguese potatoes. Somehow the potatoes there were just have a bigger, fuller, potato flavor. You (or at least I) could have made a meal just from the potatoes.

The closest I could describe the potato taste is that of a freshly dug, organic Yukon gold or yellow finn. Buttery, rich and satisfying. Lucky for me, big slices of boiled potatoes were the side dish of choice for many dishes. Potatoes are also the main ingredient in the famous Portuguese soup, Caldo Verde. It is basically water, potatoes, olive oil, Galician cabbage and seasoning. Some books describe it has having a garlicky sausage sliced in (and I've made it that way) but in Portugal I was never served Caldo Verde (Green Soup) with it.

Because our potatoes are not as flavorful as the Portuguese, I've adapted the recipe from Jean Anderson's comprehensive The Food of Portugal cookbook to reflect my recent experiences with the soup in Lisbon and Porto as well as making it here at home. (The book is available from the always dependable Iberian resource The Spanish Table.)

Be sure you pick a potato that will mash well. Anderson recommends an Eastern or Maine potato, which is probably like an Idaho or Russet.

Caldo Verde
Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 large onion, chopped fine
1 large garlic clove, minced
4 tablespoons of a flavorful olive oil (divided) -- try one from Spain or Portugal if you can. You want something with a bit of a bite to the flavor
6 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 quart water
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
6 ounces thinly sliced dry garlicky sausage such as chourico, chorizo or pepperoni, optional. (I used turkey pepperoni in the version pictured above. You could also try one of the new soy sausage products.)
2 teaspoons of salt, divided (more or less to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (more or less to taste)
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, optional
1 pound mixed sturdy greens. To replicate the flavor of Galician cabbage (see left) I used half collard, half kale. You could also use some turnip greens. The greens should be washed, trimmed of thick stems and veins and sliced into thin threads. (I rolled the greens into bundles and fed the bundles through my Cusinart using the slicer blade. It worked well and takes longer to explain than do! Just make sure your shreds are what Anderson calls "filament" thin.)

In a heavy soup pot, heat three tablespoons of the oil and then add onion and garlic. Saute for a few minutes over medium heat until they begin to color. (Anderson advises being careful not to brown them since that will make the soup bitter.) Add the potato slices and saute, stirring for two to three minutes until they too begin to color. Add the water and stock, cover and simmer until potatoes are very soft, about 20 to 25 minutes.

If you are using the optional sausage, prep the slices while the potatoes cook. Fry the sausage slices in a skillet over low heat until most of the fat is cooked out. Drain on paper towels and pat to get off excess fat.

When the potatoes are soft, take the pot off the burner and use a potato masher to mash the potato slices right in the pan. When the potatoes are as smooth as you can make them, add the optional sausage, half of the salt, all the black pepper and the optional red pepper, put the pot back on medium heat, cover and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for about five minutes. Add in the sliced greens and cook uncovered until the greens are tender (about five minutes). Add in the last tablespoon of olive oil and taste to adjust for salt and pepper. Depending on how salty your chicken stock is you may or may not need to use the last teaspoon (or even more) of salt.

Serve with a nice crusty bread and perhaps a little hot sauce on the side for those who like their food a bit more spiced. Tabasco is fine, but try to find a sauce made with piri-piri, small Angolan peppers which are the hot stuff of choice in Portugal.

Bom proveito!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Is it Pot Roast or is it Soup? You Decide, But Warning, Either Will Have a Kick

Pot Roast with a Kick

If you are like me you like your pot roast so soft that the meat falls apart when you look at it. As much as I try to limit my red meat intake, there is something about the lushness of well braised or stewed beef. Maybe it’s the mouth feel -- rich, moist and succulent. Maybe it is how beef’s taste and texture, almost its gravitas, transforms and gentles seasonings so that a spicy sauce is tamed, making for a wonderful contrast of sauce and meat. (This pot roast recipe has an extra bonus – you can make it into a soup instead. See the Kramer Soup Variation at the end of the recipe for directions.)

The sauce carries a bit of a kick from the chili powder, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. It is a warm, spicy, almost hot taste with a smoky note. If you would like your sauce hotter or milder, adjust the seasoning accordingly. (New to chipotle peppers? You can find them canned in adobo sauce in many supermarkets, Latin grocery stores and on-line gourmet sites. Be careful just to use two chiles with the specific amount of sauce. The rest will store practically for eternity in a plastic storage container. Click here for Wikipedia's take on the ingredient.)

Of course, I can’t just eat a hunk of meat, so the pot roast sauce is filled with vegetables and greens. Serve it over noodles or potatoes. It would also be wonderful over soft polenta. Making it ahead only improves the taste (and ups the heat, beware) and leftovers reheat beautifully. Or you can shred the leftover beef and use as a taco, burrito or enchilada filling. Since I only eat red meat every now and then, I’ll freeze any extras in the leftover sauce and save it for a “no time to cook day.”

Pot Roast with a Kick
Serves 6 to 8

Note: This is a slow-cook recipe. Start early in the day or make it the night before.

1 tablespoon grapeseed or other vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and quartered and each quarter cut into thin slices
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon or more or less to taste of chili powder
3 pounds boneless beef chuck roast
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
2 teaspoons of adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can
2 large carrots, cleaned and sliced into half inch rounds
2 red bell peppers, seeds and stem discarded, cut into one-inch pieces
1-28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, roughly chopped with all liquids reserved.
8 ounces dry red wine
2-3 cups chicken broth or stock
Salt to taste
1 bunch kale, cleaned, large stems discarded and chopped into half-inch pieces. (This needs to be a sturdy green, so turnip or collard greens would be okay substitutes, spinach or chard would not.)
Additional salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or roasting pan with lid on medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until just starting to turn color and soften. Add in garlic, red pepper flakes, ground black pepper, oregano, cumin and chili powder. Sauté for 20-30 seconds to release the aromas.

Add chuck roast and sear and brown on all sides. If your pan is too small to do this without steaming the meat, cut the roast in two and sear in batches. It should just take a minute or two for each side to brown. (Once the meat has browned, lower heat to medium if needed to keep onion mixture from burning.)

Add the chipotle chili pieces and adobo sauce. Let sauté a minute, but stand back and put on the exhaust fans, because the fumes can sting your eyes! Add carrots and bell peppers and sauté around the roast for a few minutes, then add the cut-up tomatoes and their can of juice. Mix well to combine vegetable ingredients.

Add red wine and then chicken stock until total level of liquids in the pan comes up to three-quarters the height of the chuck roast. It is this moist environment that will infuse the roast with flavor, soften the tough meat fibers and give you a wonderfully soft texture.

Bring liquids to just under a boil, reduce heat to low. Taste (carefully, it will be hot) for salt. If needed, try adding ¼ to ½ teaspoon or more or less as desired. (Some chicken stocks have higher levels of sodium than others.)

Cover pot and let simmer on low heat for one hour. Every half hour or so, flip the chuck roast so the other side is submerged in the liquid and the bottom becomes the top. After an hour, add chopped kale. Cover and simmer for another hour, again, flipping the chuck roast every half hour.

After two hours, check the meat. If it has reached the desired tenderness (i.e., soft and succulent), skip to finishing your pot roast. If it hasn’t, keep cooking and check (and flip) every half hour until done. Chuck roast needs long, slow cooking to become completely tender.

Finishing Your Pot Roast – Remove meat from pot and cover with foil to keep warm if desired. Stir liquids and vegetables left in pot and scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Raise heat to medium high and bring the cooking liquid and vegetable mixture to a boil. Let it cook down until the sauce thickens and reduces down so it is not too liquidy for your taste. Taste again and add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Return to simmer and add meat back in to reheat if necessary.

To serve, remove meat and slice, serve with sauce over noodles, pasta, polenta or other.

Kramer Soup Variation

Add 2 cups of peeled new potatoes, quartered (or chopped if large) into approximately one and one half inch pieces, when you add the kale.
When the roast AND the potatoes are tender, remove the meat from the liquid and vegetables, but do not reduce down the mixture.
Let the meat cool a bit then shred the meat by pulling the fibers apart with two forks. Return meat to liquid mixture being sure to mix well and getting up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. If the sauce is not “soupy” enough, add chicken stock until desired “soupiness” is achieved. Heat through. Taste for salt and pepper and add if necessary.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Let Them Eat Bread With Their Soup Soup

Trust me, dear Blog Appetit readers, that I do cook things from scratch. How else would I get all the leftovers I tend to turn into soup?

This week's creation was consumed before I could get a photo, but I do have a related photo to share. The bread I used for the soup was very reminiscent of the huge, rustic round loaves baked by Poliane Bakery in Paris. The photo you see is from my trip last spring where I was able to go to the basement of the famous boulangarie and see the baking process first hand.

Let Them Eat Bread With Their Soup Soup

This was created from the remains of my dinner last Friday night. We had roast chicken, braised butternut squash with mixed greens, and the rustic bread (as well as roasted potatoes, a green salad and a glass of red wine, which did not go into the soup although the cut up potatoes and the glass of wine would not have been amiss).

The flavor of the braised squash and greens is important to the soup, so here's what I did for that. (So it's kind of two recipes in one post!)

Butternut Squash and Greens Braise

Saute 1 medium onion, chopped, in 2 tbls grapeseed oil until softened. Add 3 cloves garlic, chopped. Saute until slightly golden. Add spices, about 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, 1 tsp Herbes d' Provence seasoning, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of cumin. Cook briefly until aroma of spices is released. Add about one pound of butternut or other winter squash cubes (weight after peeling and trimming). Saute until squash pieces have browned a bit. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock, stir and let simmer. Add about 3 cups of chopped mixed greens (such as collard, turnip, kale, chard, mustard, spinach etc.) Mix and stir, add another 1/2 cup of chicken stock and let simmer until greens and squash are soft. (Add more chicken stock as cooking if needed). Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

The Soup Itself

This is really more a procedure than an exact recipe, since I don't know exactly how much butternut squash and greens saute and roasted chicken you have left, so please adjust the amounts to work with your available ingredients and preferences.

You'll need:
Leftover Butternut Squash and Greens Saute (I had about a half recipe left)
Chicken Stock (I used about 5 cups for my soup, you might need more or less)
Additional Mixed Greens, chopped (I used 2-3 cups)
Chicken meat, cooked, cooled and shredded into large bite size pieces (I used just over a cup, but only wanted a light chicken presence.)
Salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce (optional)
Thick slices of rustic, artisan-style bread (I used a country style loaf made from organic wheat, sea salt and water. If something like that isn't unavailable, use any sturdy, flavorful bread)
Grated cheese, optional (I used a cheddar)

Put left over squash and greens saute in large saucepan or pot. Heat over low to medium heat for a few minutes. Add chicken stock. How much? Until it looks like soup to you. You can always add more. Bring mixture to simmer. Add additional chopped mixed greens. I like a lot of greens in my soup, so I must have added another two-three cups. Stir well and let simmer a bit. Then add in your chicken meat. Quantity depends on how much chicken you want in each bite and how much soup you are making. Figure on one to two cups.

Cook soup until heated through and the additional greens have softened. Taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you want a spicy soup, add a few dashes of your favorite hot pepper sauce. Stir to combine.

To serve, place a piece of the sliced bread in each bowl and ladle the hot soup over the bread. Sprinkle some grated cheese over the top if you'd like.

The hot soup seeps into the bread and softens it. You eat the soup by scooping up bits of the bread with the other ingredients. Filling, not too fattening. Warming. And tasty. Very tasty.

A note on leftovers of the leftovers: It warms beautifully in the microwave. Just put your slice of bread in a microwave safe bowl before you ladle in the soup. Sprinkle the cheese on after you have heated the soup.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Chili -- Slow Cooker Meal for a Pressure Cooker Day

You may wonder, what did the Blog Appetits have to eat while Mom was eating her way through the Fancy Food Show? They had chili. I made a huge batch on Saturday night and it kept us well fed for the duration.

This chili started life as a photo on the cover of the January/February issue of Cooking Light. Gary saw it and immediately began requesting chili. I didn’t use the magazine’s recipe, but I borrowed generously from its spicing. This makes a chili that’s somewhere between mild and medium. If you like it hotter, goose up the hot stuff.

Because my man wanted a slow meal with lots of different kinds of beans on a busy day, I used canned beans and made this in the pressure cooker. You can adapt it for regular cooking by making it in a large skillet and simmering until the mixture was cooked through and thickened. (You might need to add a bit more liquid.) You could probably adapt it to a slow cooker as well. Proceed through browning the meat, reduce the liquid to 1 ½ cups each of water and stock, put all ingredients but the corn meal in a slow cooker and cook on low or medium for 6-8 hours. About a half hour before serving, switch to high, uncover and add in the corn meal, giving it a good stir every now and then.

Turkey Chili with Four Types of Beans
Serves 6 - 8

1 ½ pounds ground turkey (I used 7 percent fat, labeled "lean.")
1 ½ tablespoons sweet paprika
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons grape seed or other vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 canned chipotle chiles, chopped
1 -15 ounce can of black beans
1-15 ounce can of small white beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 ounce can of adzuki beans (or pinto or kidney if adzuki are unavailable), rinsed and drained (The adzuki beans add a slight nuttiness to the dish.)
1-15 ounce can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken stock, homemade or purchase low-sodium
2 cups water
1-28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
¼ cup of corn meal

Toppings: plain yogurt or sour cream, chopped cilantro, lemon wedges, avocado slices, shredded cheese, fresh salsa, etc.

In a large bowl, mix paprika, garlic, 2 teaspoons of chili powder, 1 tsp of cumin, ½ teaspoon of dried oregano, black pepper and salt with ground turkey. Combine well.

Heat oil in a large pressure cooker. Working in batches if need be, brown the seasoned ground turkey mixture, breaking up the meat into clumps as it browns. Add the onion, 1 tablespoon cumin, 2 teaspoons oregano, 1 tablespoon chili powder, and chopped chipotles. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened. Add in drained beans, diced tomatoes with their juices, water and chicken stock. Stir well.

Place and lock lid on pressure cooker. Bring up to pressure and cook at high pressure for about five minutes. Open vent and allow steam to escape until all pressure is released. Take off lid.

Over medium heat, stir in the corn meal and cook until the chili is slightly thickened.

Serve with toppings as desired.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Soup -- Thai Chicken Curry Transformed

That Pim.
Thoughtful, dedicated, talented, well-traveled and a good Samaritan to boot. Oh, did I mention she can really cook? And blog? Check out Chez Pim for yourself.

I was one of her raffle helpers a few weeks ago for Menu for Hope II and she served us a wickedly good Thai curry noodle dish that has haunted me ever since. Thanks to Brett of In Praise of Sardines I now know we had khao soi, a northern Thai curry chicken and noodle dish. (The photo above shows the accompaniments Pim served with the curry.)

That dish inspired my own, much less authentic version of a Thai Chicken Curry. I very loosely adapted a recipe from Thai Table. I used Thai red curry paste, some chopped onions, bite-size pieces of chicken breast, fresh green beans sliced into thirds, small, round eggplants cut into chunks, cubes of tofu, a combination of light and regular coconut milk, and water to make a very spicy and soupy stew which I served over rice and later noodles. (Dear Reader, I confess I made a LOT of the Thai chicken curry.) It was good. It got better (and hotter) each day. After a few days, I wanted to change the taste profile, so I added a 28-ounce can of diced organic tomatoes with their juice, reheated the stew/soup and ladled into my soup bowl. I served whole grain flatbreads warmed on a griddle to eat alongside the my newly christened Thai Chicken Curry and Tomato Soup.

It was great. But it was not nearly as wonderful as Pim's.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Vacation Condo Soup With Tomatoes, Vegetables, Sausage and Chicken

When the weather outside is frightful, a good soup can be delightful.

Never did that statement ring truer than over New Year’s weekend here in rainy California. To counteract the damp weather and to fill my in-laws’ freezer with something easy and good to eat during our recent visit, I made a batch of Vacation Condo Soup.

Vacation Condo Soup is what I make when I don’t have access to a full pantry, a stocked refrigerator and the batterie de cuisine is well, battered, or at best minimal. I have made versions of this in rental condos and “suite” hotel rooms with kitchens across the country. Since my in-laws don’t scratch cook much any more, this recipe was called for.

The soup is satisfying and really plays off the sweet fennel taste of the turkey sausage. It is rich tasting and crammed with vegetables, potatoes, chicken and the sausage. It is a meal in a bowl. My taste testers say this soup is too good just to have when you are on vacation.

Vacation Condo Soup Commando

It is always best if you can scope out your kitchen equipment before you have to shop, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Usually, you’ll have a big dull and/ or serrated knife, a paring knife, a small plastic cutting board, an assortment of pots and pans (including one big enough for a modest amount of soup or half package of spaghetti) and enough other equipment to get by if you keep it simple.

A few condos (usually those owned by individuals and not corporations or timeshares) have had small supplies of cooking oil and spices. More, but not all, have had salt and pepper.

So the plan is to limit knife work, boost flavors without having to spend a lot of money on herbs and spices and keep it easy (after all you are on vacation).

One tip: You can store your soup in the fridge in the pot it was made in with the lid on it. But if you think you might need the pot some other time during your stay, pick up some of those disposable plastic food storage containers during your supermarket foray.

Vacation Condo Soup or, Vegetable Soup with Sausage and Chicken

Makes about six one-and-a-half cup servings.

2 tablespoons of olive or other oil (or 4-6 pats of butter or margarine stolen from the breakfast buffet)
16-19 ounces of sweet Italian-style turkey sausage, sliced into ½ inch rounds, amount depends on package size. (Can’t find it in the market? Regular pork sweet Italian sausage will work, too. Want a spicy soup? Use hot Italian sausage instead.)
1 small or ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or chopped fine
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled (use that paring knife if there is no potato peeler) and cut into ¼ cubes
2- 14 to 16 ounce packages of frozen Italian vegetable assortment. (I recommend C&W’s seasoned Ultimate Tuscan with artichoke hearts, red bell peppers, yellow zucchini, soybeans, Italian green beans and spinach) Yes, of course you can use fresh veggies, that’s what I do at home, just figure on about 4 or more cups of trimmed, chopped vegetables.
2-14.5 ounce cans of diced Italian-style tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic (I used DelMonte. If you can’t find the seasoned diced tomatoes, use the seasoned stewed.)
1-32 ounce box or can of chicken stock, preferably lower sodium
4-6 ounces of shredded, roasted or grilled chicken (I had leftover roast chicken from a restaurant meal the night before. No doggie bag? Look in the market’s prepared foods section for pre-cooked chicken breast. Or use 6-8 ounces of boneless, skinless raw chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces.)
Salt and pepper to taste (bring home some packets from a fast food restaurant or the breakfast buffet if your condo is bare).

Heat the oil or other fat in a three quart pot or larger. When the oil is hot, add the sliced turkey sausage. Sauté until browned on both sides. Remove the browned slices from pot (leaving the oil and drippings in the pot) and let drain on a paper towel-lined bowl or plate. (You may need to do this in batches if your pot is very narrow. Don’t crowd the pot or the slices will steam not brown.)

Add the chopped onions and sauté until softened and a bit golden, stirring up any sausage bits that might be stuck to the bottom on pan. Add garlic and sauté for a minute or so until just colored. Add potato cubes and mix thoroughly. Add frozen vegetables and sauté for a minute or two. Add the diced or stewed tomatoes with their juice. Stir well to combine.

Let simmer for a few minutes for tastes to combine. Add chicken stock. Stir to combine.
Return to simmer. Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. If using RAW chicken, add the bite size pieces now. Simmer an additional 10 minutes (20 minutes total), check potato cubes, if almost soft enough to eat, return browned sausage slices to pot and add in pre-cooked, shredded chicken. If the potato cubes have not yet softened sufficiently, cover and simmer, checking periodically until they are and then add sausage and pre-cooked chicken.

Cover pot and continue to simmer until potatoes, sausage and raw chicken (if using) are cooked through.

Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. (Because of the pre-seasoned ingredients and the commercial chicken stock you may not need to add much, if any, salt.)

This soup is my first submission to Sweetnicks’ weekly antioxidant rich foods cooking round up. For flavorful recipes that are good for you, too, posted every Tuesday, check it out at Sweetnicks. I posted too late for this week’s ARF5-A-Day Roundup, but Sweetnicks assures me I’ll be in the wrap up next Tuesday.

Vacation Condo Soup is brought to you by the following Top 20 antioxidants – cooked artichoke hearts and russet potatoes. Honorable mention to the tomatoes, beans and other vegetables.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Fridge Clean-Out Soup -- Tomatoes, Carrots and Spinach with White Beans

Last week's soup wasn't my most successful at first, in fact it needed quite a bit of amendments before it was pronounced soup.

This was a fridge clean-out soup and it does demonstrate how flexibility saved the soup.

My key inspirations were 1 pint wrinkled cherry tomatoes and half a medium-sized bag of dried out peeled and shaped carrots. (Note: chop up the carrots first otherwise they take forever to soften.) I also had bought some Oxo Indian Herb and Spice bullion cubes which I thought I would give a try.

I sauteed a half chopped onion and two minced cloves of garlic in olive oil. Added the tomatoes and carrots. Let that brown a bit, then added about 8 cups of water and the bullion cube and then let it simmer until the carrots were soft. I then used my immersion blender to puree until relatively smooth.

I tasted it at this point and wasn't satisfied. (Actually, I thought, yikes, there are way too many carrots in this!) I then added a box of chopped frozen spinach from my freezer and a healthy dose of curry powder, a pinch of ground ginger and a good slug of my own Below the Belt Hot Sauce (see info on post below). Better, but not quite soup yet.

I drained and rinsed off a 15 oz can of large white beans, added them to the pot. The next taste was it! I seasoned everything with lots of sea salt and freshly ground pepper and called it soup.

It wasn't a pretty process, but it sure was a tasty soup!

FYI - The photo is not actually of my overstuffed fridge, which prompted this soup, but of my sister's after our Thanksgiving meal. But you get the idea.
Oxo, recipes and product info:
Below the Belt Hot Sauce:

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Souper New Feature and Smoky Corn Soup

We here at Blog Appetit, in an attempt not to become BLOB Appetit, have been long making healthy, tasty, easy soups.

I thought it would be appropriate (as in why didn't I think of this before) to share my weekly creations with you. Most times they are not specific recipes, but more like fridge clean-out lists. Other times they are real recipes with measurements and everything. I hope to post these every week or two (since if I am being a good Blog Appetit I make a new batch every week instead of wolfing down grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch every day) and in the future have the foresight to actually have photos.

Last week's soup was great.

Smoky Corn Soup
In a large pot with a little olive oil, saute a small, chopped onion and a few minced garlic cloves and a small, chopped red bell pepper. Add stock or water (maybe 6 cups, you can always add more if it is getting too thick). Add a bag of frozen corn (hey, it's out of season and was in the freezer) and a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice and then simmer.

Here's were you get the smoky part, add a generous teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika. If you don't have that (and you should, it is marvelous), add some Wright's Hickory Liquid Smoke Flavoring. (Be cautious, maybe start with a dash, taste, and work your way up to a slug.) This tasty brew of hickory smoke flavor and I'm not looking to see what else is available in most supermarkets. I also added a pinch of ground cumin, a healthy lashing of ground black pepper and a generous couple of pinches of sea salt.

Let simmer until the corn has softened and correct the seasoning. Serve as is, or do what I did, which was to use an immersion blender to puree about half the soup to make it thicker and creamier. If you don't have an immersion blender, puree in batches in your blender or food processor, curse the mess it makes and go out and buy an immersion blender. (Just kidding.)

Since I hope to post a lot of soup recipes and because the wonderful world of Blogger does not allow for category archives, I've created a new "Blue Plate Special" link for you to view all those soup recipes I am sure I will be posting. Look to the right of this post and check it out by clicking on Blog Appetit Does Soup

Please note since it is actually set up as a separate blog any comments left here won't show up there and vice versa.

One of my food writing classmates was a chef with fabulous soup recipes. I will try to get some of those for you, too.

If you have a soup recipe to share, put the link in your comments or send me an email through the profile feature.

Reource: The Spanish Table is my favorite resource for all things Iberian.

Check out the smoked paprika at

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Vietnam -- Soup with Lemon Grass

This vegetable stall is in Hanoi's December 19th market. The food is all fresh and beautifully arranged. The market is also housed indoors and a bit less rustic than the "Wet Market" in old town and much smaller and more manageable than the Central Market (which has many offerings other than food).

These incredible vegetables show up in much of the food in Vietnam. Even the herbs that you sprinkle on your soup are some how more full tasting and delicious than the herbs we are used to, even here in California.

While I took lots of market and vegetable photos during my visit to Vietnam last summer, I kept forgetting to take a picture of lemon grass to illustrate my "faux" pho recipe. So here's just a food photo I like and a recipe I hope you'll enjoy.

Asian Noodle Soup

About Eight Servings

This soup came about after my husband came back from his first trip to Vietnam. He asked me to cook “something” with lemon grass, a traditional Vietnamese flavor. I began to experiment with the citrusy, woody stalks, looking for a way to enjoy its fresh taste in a clean, vibrant, low-calorie way. A trip to the local produce store inspired this soup, which I nicknamed “faux pho,” after the Vietnamese noodle soup. Most pho soups are beef based, but my favorite was a lighter seafood and vegetable version. (If you can’t find lemon grass, add the extra lime juice, the soup is still wonderful.) Don’t forget to add the toppings to the individual bowls, they really make the dish special.

Soup Stock
· 4 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken stock or light vegetable broth
· 4 - 6 cups water (depending on how thin or thick you want your soup)
· Fresh ginger root, the size of a walnut, peeled and cut into thin slices
· 2 stalks of fresh lemon grass (do not substitute dried), trimmed with root end cut off, outer leaves peeled off and darker top stems discarded, leaving two approximately 8 - to - 10 inch stalks. Slice each stalk into half lengthwise creating four half stalks.

“Hard” Vegetables
· 1/4 cup chopped shallot or red onion
· 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch to ¾ inch dice
· 3 cups of chopped Asian (such as bok choy, baby bok choy, Napa cabbage) or green cabbage. (I used baby bok choy, saving the green leafy part for use later in the recipe and just using the white stalks for this part.)
· 8 to 12 fresh or reconstituted dried shitake mushrooms or 8-12 medium large white button mushrooms stemmed and cut into quarters. (I think the flavor and texture of the fresh shitake are really special in this soup. To use dried, soak in hot water for 30 minutes until soft.)
· 2 large carrots, cut into thin slices

· 3 cups of Asian greens or spinach leaves, chopped. (I used the tops of the baby bok choy here as well as pea sprouts, which look like miniature spinach leaves with a long thin stem. Produce and specialty markets have a variety of Asian greens such as pea sprouts and mizuna.)

· 4 tablespoons of Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce (sometimes labeled nam pla or nuoc mam), available in large supermarkets and specialty stores. If you don’t have it, see soy sauce.
· 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. If you are not using fish sauce, increase to 4 tablespoons
· Juice of ½ of a fresh lime. If you are not using lemon grass, increase to juice of a whole lime
· Fresh small hot red pepper (such as Thai, serrano or jalapeno), cut into thin rings, optional

The Noodles
1/2 pound of dried rice noodles

Look in the Asian or regular market for dried rice noodles about the width of fettuccine noodles (about ¼” wide). In Vietnamese they are called banh pho, but often they are packaged for Thai dishes as pad Thai noodles. If you can’t find rice noodles, fresh fettuccine is a good alternative. Cook before using.

· Bean sprouts
· Chopped mixed herbs – basil, cilantro and mint (mandatory)
· Lime wedges
· Hot sauce, chili paste or other red pepper based sauce
· Hoisin sauce (optional – but I really enjoy it)
· Chopped green onions

Combine soup stock ingredients and simmer for a half hour or until the mixture has picked up the lemon grass and ginger taste.

Add hard vegetables and simmer until almost soft. Add the greens and simmer two to five minutes until they begin to soften. Add seasonings, stir well and cook until greens are cooked through. Discard lemon grass stalks and ginger slices before serving.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and put in the rice noodles. Cook for about five minutes and drain. Rinse in cold water.

To serve, add a portion of the noodles to the bowl before adding the hot soup, which will warm the noodles through. Ladle soup into bowl, top with a handful of bean sprouts and about ¼ cup of chopped mixed herbs. Pass the other toppings so every one can season to taste. A small spoonful of the hot chili paste or hoisin sauce will flavor a big bowl of soup, so add condiments a bit at a time.

Note: The chopped herbs are an important component to the taste of this soup and the bean sprouts add a very satisfying crunch. I urge you not to skip them.

Make it a Meal – Make it more substantial by trying one or both of these options.

1. Add small cubes of firm tofu after the hard veggies have been cooking a few minutes. Try about 4 to 6 ounces if using the shrimp below, or use 8 ounces if just using the tofu.

2. Add in some peeled, deveined shrimp. Add after the greens have simmered a minute or so. Simmer soup just until shrimp are pink and barely cooked through. The shrimp will continue cooking in the hot broth and will toughen if overcooked. Use about a half pound if using the tofu. If not, try a pound or so.

(Originally Posted 1-Dec 2005)