Showing posts with label soups and chowders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label soups and chowders. Show all posts

10 February 2016

Mellow Red Lentil Soup

I'd picked up a bag of red split lentils around Christmas, because winter is Soup Season, but then the weather kept being so mild and spring-like that, while I still wanted soup, the thick rib-stickingness of lentil soup did not appeal. But then it starting snowing and now it looks as if it will never stop snowing. Hooray. Winter is finally here ... and now it can just go away already.


This soup is based on Chobani's "Red Lentil Soup" but I've mixed it up a little to create, imho, deeper flavors. I really don't know why the original recipe doesn't call for blooming the spices or sweating the onions in the butter first -- doing either (or both) creates a soup with deeper, more integrated flavors and a superior aroma.

I also used low-sodium fat-free chicken broth instead of water, doubled the amount of pepper, and threw in some sweet curry powder for extra flavor. Swapping the butter out for olive oil and omitting the pepper-infused butter drizzle was just because 1) I have lots of olive oil and 2) I didn't want a buttery soup.

Making this soup was also a great excuse for busting out the jar of Aleppo (halaby) pepper I'd picked up at Penzeys after I'd run out of crushed red pepper flakes. I wanted something a bit less brash and generic than red pepper flakes and the sales associate recommended Aleppo. It has a lovely smoky aroma and the heat is about on par with an ancho chile.

Mellow Lentil Soup

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sweet curry powder [Penzeys Maharajah Style]
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped peeled carrot
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 oz bag red split lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 qts low-sodium fat-free chicken broth [Pacific Organic]
  • 4 oz cup plain Greek yoghurt
  • Salt and black pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil, Aleppo pepper, and curry powder in a large Dutch/French oven. Add carrots, onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring regularly, until onion is translucent and everything is very fragrant.
  2. Add lentils and broth. Bring pot to boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove pot from heat. Stir in yoghurt and process with an immersion blender until desired level of smoothness is reached. Season to taste.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed. Soup will thicken as it sits. If desired, add a bit more broth when reheating to loosen it.

When I make this again, I think I'll cut out the yogurt and replace some of the broth with coconut milk. The yogurt adds a welcome creaminess, yes, but the coconut milk would do the same while eliminating a step. Also, I just like the idea of red lentils, curry, and coconut.



03 February 2016

Slow Cooker Sausage & Bean Soup

I had half a pound of raw sweet Italian sausage in the fridge, leftover from the "Tomatoey Macaroni & Bean Soup," and while at first I was all "I'll make a slow cooker Italian sausage pasta sauce all chunky with vegetables and heavy on the garlic" I actually ended up making a soup, because soup is definitely in season now ... and I'm not done experimenting with grilled cheese. The Husband picked up a lovely hearty loaf at Brooklyn Baking Company and it toasts up just wonderfully. Vastly superior to the "farmhouse" white I'd picked up in the Stop & Shop bread aisle.

Anyway, this soup tastes pretty great, is easy to prepare, and reheats well. To make it even easier, I did most of the prep -- chopping, browning, etc -- the night before and just dumped everything into the slow cooker the following morning. I had originally intended to throw the zucchini in with everything else at the start of cooking, but then I thought it might go a bit squishy and no-one wants squishy zucchini. Twenty minutes at the end was just enough time to soften (but not squishify) the zucchini.


Slow Cooker Sausage & Bean Soup

Yield:4-6, depending on appetite

Ingredients

  • ½ lb ground sweet Italian sausage
  • ½ finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 15.5 oz can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups low-sodium fat-free chicken broth [Pacific Foods]
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • Salt & pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. Brown sausage in a hot skillet. Transfer sausage to slow cooker. Drain oil from skillet. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until onion is translucent.
  2. Put onions, garlic, beans, tomatoes, carrots, celery, seasoning blend, bay leaf, and broth in with the sausage. Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours.
  3. Add zucchini, stir, and cook for another 20 min or until zucchini is desired tenderness.
  4. Remove bay leaf, season to taste, and serve.

27 January 2016

Tomatoey Macaroni & Bean Soup

Let's face it, a hearty soup and crispy-yet-oozy grilled cheese is just the best winter food pairing in the world and I'd eat it every day at every meal if I thought I could get away with it. Certainly, last weekend's snow storm was the perfect excuse for getting out the grill pan and experimenting with cheeses to find the perfect combination of melty deliciousness. At the moment, that seems to be a 50/50 blend of Cabot's Colby Jack and Seriously Sharp cheddar -- it's marvelously gooey and sharp.

And what soup did I pair with all those grilled cheese sandwiches? A hearty-but-not-heavy tomato and bean soup. It went together all easy-peasy, was extremely yum, and the leftovers (little as there was) reheated really well. It's just my preference, but I mashed half the beans in this soup to thicken it up for real stick-to-your-ribs-ness. You could leave them all whole, but you'll have a thinner soup. Either way is good for dunking grilled cheese, though.


Tomatoey Macaroni & Bean Soup

Yield: 4-6, depending on appetite

Ingredients

  • ½ lb ground sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 32-oz carton low-sodium fat-free chicken broth [Pacific Foods]
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni [Hodgson Mill Ultragrain Elbows with Quinoa]
  • 2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • Grated parmesan, if desired

Instructions

  1. Brown sausage over medium heat in a large French/Dutch oven. Remove browned sausage from pan, draining off the oil.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and everything is very fragrant.
  3. Add the seasoning blend and chicken broth to the pot. Heat broth to boiling. Add the macaroni and cook for 5 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Pour one can of drained beans into a bowl and smoosh with a fork or potato masher. Add to the pot along with the other can of drained beans, crushed tomatoes, and sausage. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until everything is heated through and soup is thickened.
  5. Serve garnished with grated parmesan, if desired.

26 December 2015

Easy Corn Chowder from Christmas Leftovers

As always, I over-estimated the amount of sides needed to feed everyone Christmas Dinner and have a fridge full of leftover mashed potatoes, braised cabbage, and corn. There's a tiny bit of tenderloin left (I'm quite good at calculating out the meaty needs of four people, so why not the vegetables?) which I knew we'd use for sandwiches and what goes so well with sandwiches? Soup!


I used all the leftover corn, but only a little leftover garlic mashed potatoes in this recipe. There's still three(ish) cups remaining and I'm probably going to take the easy route with them and make cheesy, chivey potato pancakes for supper.

Also, the corn and mashed potatoes, being Christmas leftovers, were already seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, parsley, and the like so I did not season the soup very much. Therefore, you will need to adjust the seasonings according to your own tastes!

Anyway, the soup is tasty (of course), easy, and comforting. Just the thing for the day after Christmas when we're -- or at least I'm -- hungover on sugar, cheese, wine, and too much excitement. And by too much excitement, I mean working on a jigsaw puzzle until midnight and then sitting on the couch until 2 AM, telling The Husband how he should be playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Easy Corn Chowder from Christmas Leftovers

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 1 medium celery rib, diced small
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 1 32 oz carton low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 oz finely diced peeled potato
  • 10 oz leftover corn
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp chopped dried rosemary
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½-1 cup leftover garlic mashed potatoes

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large French/Dutch oven over medium. Add carrot, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until onion is tender and fragrant. Add broth, bay, and potatoes and bring pot to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  • Stir in the corn, cream, and seasonings and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the potatoes -- starting with a half cup and increasing if needed -- until the soup is thickened to your liking. Remove bay leaf and adjust seasonings as needed.

Of course, this soup makes too much for two people, thus creating leftovers of its own. However, soup is an easy leftover to deal with as it's perfect for every meal -- even breakfast -- and is always ready to go.

And, just for kicks, the puzzle it took way too long for four reasonably clever adults to complete (wine may have had something to do with it?):


09 December 2015

Easy Tomato & White Bean Soup

Last weekend I made a pot of fire-roasted tomato and white bean soup that was so good, I put it on this week's menu plan. I love soup and happily eat it for supper, lunch, and even breakfast. Does it matter that the thermometer says it's a balmy 47°F out and my irises are poking spring-green tips out of the mulch? No, it matters not a whit. It's soup season.

So, yeah, expect to see more soups. I know foodie social media is all about cookies this time of year, but I don't really feel like baking yet ... I crave savory things. Stews and soups. And grilled cheese!


I used chicken broth because it is what I had on hand. Feel free to make the soup vegan by substituting vegetable broth.

Easy Tomato & White Bean Soup

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1½ tsp olive oil
  • 1.5 oz minced carrot
  • 1 oz minced shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 4½ oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 15 oz can Great Northern beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • 14&frac12 oz can fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a French/Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrot, shallot, and garlic. Cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes or just until tender and fragrant.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, seasoning, pepper, beans, and broth. Cover. Bring pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes longer. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve.
  3. Want a thicker, creamier soup? Remove two cups of soup from the pot and puree with an immersion blender, then whisk back into the pot.


I served this soup with waffled grilled cheese sandwiches I made by splitting Pillsbury Grands! biscuits open like a book, smearing them with butter, stuffing with shredded Red Leicester, smooshing shut and then waffling for 3 minutes. They were pretty tasty, but might have been better if I'd combined with Red Leicester with a "meltier" cheese like Gruyère? I shall have to experiment with all the cheeses ...

21 November 2015

Creamy Vegan White Bean & Tomato Soup

I was supposed to go to attend a workshop Friday morning and then run a bunch of errands (including much-needed grocery shopping), but my car had other ideas and chose to spend the day at Firestone. Happily, The Husband found the time to pick me up from Firestone and bring me home, so I could do useful home-based things ... and not put a chair through the television in the waiting area, which was playing nonstop daytime talk shows that just ... UGH.

So. Home! No groceries! The lunch I'd planned on eating at a twee juice cafe was obviously impossible. What could I make that would feed both of us? Soup, of course. Comforting, filling, healthful soup. Without carrots or celery, because they were still at the grocery store, unbought.

But I had beans. And garlic. And tomatoes. And vegetable broth.


I pureed half the beans with my food processor to give the soup a dairy-free creaminess. Not that we're dairy-free! I just didn't see the point in "wasting" the remaining milk for The Husband's tea. (Again, no groceries). I also used vegetable broth in this soup, because it was going to be a vegetable soup so why meat it up? I know some people don't like to use vegetable broth -- claiming it tastes "sweeter" than chicken -- but I find College Inn Reduced Sodium Garden Vegetable Broth tastes quite vegetal and is definitely not "sweet."

Anyway, this turned out to be quite a yummy dairy-free vegan bean soup. Well-seasoned, creamy, and tomato-y with just a little kick from the pepper. As with many soups, it's even better the next day so try not to eat it all at once!

Creamy Vegan White Bean & Tomato Soup

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz chopped sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15 oz cans great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth [College Inn]
  • 14.5 oz can no-salted-added fire-roasted diced tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • 1 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend [Penzeys Tuscan Sunset]
  • ½ oz dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium in a large French/Dutch oven. Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring regularly, until onion is translucent and everything is very fragrant.
  2. Meanwhile, combine one can of beans with one cup of broth in a blender or food processor and puree.
  3. Add puree, remaining beans and broth, tomatoes, seasoning blend, parsley, and pepper to pot.
  4. Bring pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, about for ten minutes. Season with salt to taste, if desired.

09 November 2015

Warming Curried Coconut Squash Soup

My coworker asked me for my dairy-free butternut squash soup recipe and ... I couldn't find evidence I'd ever made one! Yet it seemed like the kind of thing I would have made one winter? Soup's my thing, after all, and butternut squash is the Squash of Squashes as far as I'm concerned. So I concocted this soup which uses coconut milk and vegetable broth, making it not only dairy-free but vegan. Hurrah.


I used Penzeys Maharajah-style curry powder in this soup as I wanted a richly aromatic, but not necessarily hot, soup. Yes, then I added two teaspoons of sriracha. It's a different kind of heat, I tell you. Feel free to use a hot curry powder and omit the sriracha. Or use both and cheerfully weep whilst eating this soup. It's all up to you.

Warming Curried Coconut Squash Soup

Yield: 4 generous bowlfuls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 20 oz package chopped butternut squash
  • 6 oz peeled chopped apple
  • 9 oz carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium fat-free vegetable broth
  • 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp sweet curry powder [Penzeys Maharajah Style]
  • 1 Tbsp coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sriracha

Instructions

  • Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and cook onion and garlic until both are fragrant and golden.
  • Add all ingredients to slow cooker insert and cook on High for 4 hours or until squash is falling apart.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree soup until desired smoothness is reached (I like mine a little chunky). Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

01 March 2015

Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup

This unending, bitterly cold winter has left me starved for color -- leading me to run amok in the produce and florist departments of the local grocery stores. Apparently, I was fixated on orange and red this week as I returned home one day with an armful of sunset-orange roses, garnet-red vegetable smoothies, and an orange cauliflower.


Seriously, why eat a plain ol' white cauliflower when you can have an orange one? Also, its label said orange cauliflower has 25% more beta-carotene than the white variety and, as eating fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene may reduce risk of heart disease, I'm all for orange cauliflower.


And then I thought, well, since it's freakin' cold outside and I'm doubtlessly going to turn the cauliflower into soup, why don't I combine it with that other beta-carotene power house, carrots? And what's extra warming on a day spent digging out Death Mountain for the umpty-umpth time? Curry.

So, "Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup" was born. It's really good, even if I do say so myself, and will definitely warm up your frozen insides. I use Penzeys Maharajah Style Curry Powder, which is wonderfully fragrant "sweet" mix that adds lots of rich flavor, but not a lot of heat. I figure, if I need more heat, then I'll stir in a little sriracha as the mood moves me at serving time. I frequently eat soup for breakfast, after all, and find flavorful but mild soups work best first thing in the morning. Bring on the heat at lunch time and supper!

I used plain unsweetened almond milk for this recipe, since the folks at the cardiovascular life-style modification clinic are quite keen on non-dairy milks like almond or soy. Obviously, you may use whatever kind of milk you like best.

Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped small
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped small
  • 1 tsp curry powder [Penzeys Maharajah Style]
  • 1 large head orange cauliflower, cut into chunks
  • 5 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 6 cups low sodium, low fat chicken broth [Pacific Foods Organic]
  • 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk [Almond Breeze]

Instructions

  1. In a large French/Dutch oven, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent. Add curry powder and cook, stirring frequently, until it is very fragrant.
  2. Add cauliflower and carrots. Stir to scrape up any browned-to-the-bottom bits and. Add broth. Broil pan to a boil. Reduced to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Using an immersion ("stick") blender, puree until as smooth as you like. Stir in 1 cup of almond milk and cook for an additional minute or until hot. Season as needed with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder.

I say this recipe serves six, but I really mean it serves one hangry woman for two days. What that translates to regular folk is probably six cups.

07 February 2015

Chicken Soup Is The Thing

We all woke up under the weather at Chez Savory Tart so today has been all about comforting food like bananas, saltines, big cups of tea, and chicken soup. Yeah, because chicken soup really is good for what ails you. (And I forgot how much I actually like saltines).


The soup took, maybe, twenty minutes to make and might seem a little bland to healthy people, but was just the thing for we tender-tummied folk. I usually cook with low-sodium chicken broth, but since we were a bit dehydrated, I stuck with the regular, full sodium version. Both the broth and the chicken were organic, because that's just the way I roll.

Easy Chicken Orzo Soup

Yield: 4 generous bowlfuls

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ chopped carrot
  • ½ chopped red onion
  • ½ frozen peas
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup orzo
  • Half a lemon
  • Dried parsley, as desired

Instructions

  1. In large pot, bring chicken and broth to boiling. Then reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from broth and seat aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and cook carrots and onion until tender.
  3. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, dice into small cubes.
  4. Add vegetables, peas, chicken, orzo, and water back into the large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the orzo is tender.
  5. Stir in parsley and a generous squeeze of lemon. Serve.

08 November 2014

A Soggy Saturday Means Soup

This soup is based on a Taste of Home recipe for "Stuffed Pepper Soup" that went a little awry. First, I intended to simply halve the original recipe. Then, I thought it needed additional seasoning. Then, I realized the original recipe wanted cooked rice instead of raw. So mine is a very rice-y soup. But still yummy!


Stuffed Pepper Soup

Yield: 6 generous servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef [Nature's Promise Organics]
  • 1 small red onion, chopped [Farmers' Market]
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped [Connecticut Garlic & Harvest Festival]
  • 2 32 oz containers beef stock [Nature's Promise Organics]
  • 28 oz crushed fire-roasted tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • 1 cup medium grain rice
  • 1 large chopped green pepper [Farmers' Market]
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher flake salt
  • 1 Tbsp parsley flakes
  • 1 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend [Penzeys]

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a French oven. Add onions, garlic, and beef and cook until beef is no longer pink.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat; cover and gently simmer for 30-40 minutes or until rice is cooked the way you like it.
Medium-grain rice became my white rice standard in 2010 when The Husband bought a bag by mistake. Medium-grain rice is, unsuprisingly, shorter and plumper than long-grain rice. In my experience, it's also a little bit stickier. I find that I prefer it's flavor and texture and now use it wherever I would use long-grain white rice.

21 August 2014

Improv Challenge: Beans & Bacon

I'm a sucker for Campbell's "Bean With Bacon" soup, but I don't eat it as often as I crave it as it's full of salt. And, yes, I know the Healthy Request version has half as much sodium, but that's still too much considering I'm likely to eat the entire can in one sitting. Also, quite frankly, the stuff I buy now seems neither as beany nor as delicious as the Campbell's "Bean with Bacon" of my childhood memories!

So I decided to just go ahead and make my own version of the soup for August's Improv Challenge. Sure, it's hot and humid out. Sure, the air conditioner is constantly cycling on. It's the best time ever to make soup! Or not. But I wanted soup and soup I would have.


I started by looking at the ingredients on the back of the soup can:
COOKED PEA BEANS, WATER, TOMATO PUREE (WATER, TOMATO PASTE), BACON (CURED WITH WATER, SALT, SUGAR, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM ERYTHORBATE, SODIUM NITRITE), CARROTS, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2 % OF: MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, SALT, SUGAR, ONION POWDER, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, YEAST EXTRACT, NATURAL SMOKE FLAVORING.
And then converted them into something I could handle:
Canned small white beans, lower-sodium bacon, tomato paste, carrot, celery, onion, bay, thyme, low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, salt, pepper, liquid smoke.
The soup I ended up with was surprisingly tasty for a first attempt ... although, admittedly, not exactly like the canned version! It's smoky, bean-y, and bacon-y and that's good enough for me. (I do find myself thinking I might get better results using finely shredded bits of smoked ham instead of bacon? My mom makes her split pea soup using the meaty bone from her Easter ham and that might work here, too).
White Bean & Bacon Soup

Ingredients
1 1lb 13oz can small white beans, drained and well rinsed
[Goya]
6 strips lower-sodium bacon, chopped fine
3 Tbsp tomato paste [Amore]
1 carrot, chopped small
1 small onion, chopped small
2 ribs of celery, chopped small
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 bay leaf
½ Tbsp dried thyme, crushed
3 cups low-sodium fat-free chicken broth [Pacific Foods]
Salt and pepper, to taste
Liquid smoke, to taste [Lazy Kettle]
Crispy bacon, for garnish

Directions
Pretend it is late October. Cook bacon in large heavy pot on medium-low for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly, or until bacon is crispy and as much fat as possible has rendered out. Remove bacon.



Drain all but 1 Tbsp bacon fat from pot, reserving fat for another use. Add celery, carrots, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and covered in bacon-y goodness.


Add the beans, broth, bay, thyme, and tomato paste. Cover and allow to gently simmer on low for 30 minutes.


Remove bay leaf. Puree a little of the bean mixture with your immersion blender (or puree a few cups in a "proper" blender) so your soup is half puree and half chunk (or however you like it best). Stir in bacon. Let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes (this will help the soup thicken).


Season to taste with salt, pepper, and liquid smoke. Garnish with additional crispy bacon bits, if desired.
(I apologize for my photos! I had to take them with my phone as my camera has gone missing. We had people over last weekend and I did a quick tidy hide-all-the-things before they arrived ... and I hid my camera so well I still don't know where it is!)



23 July 2014

More Beanz!

My bush green beans are quite ... prolific ... this year and I'm having a little trouble keeping up! Usually, by the middle of July, the plants have fallen prey to some hungry critter or been crispified by drought and bean production is over. This summer ... well, I'm pretty sure my cats have zeroed out my neighborhood's rabbit population and, thanks to cooler than normal temps and some decent rain, my bean and chard bed is a dense jungle! I'm not bothered that the chard is getting monstrous (it will be good whenever I harvest it) but leave beans too long and they go all woody and "untasty."

Over the weekend, I made a bean and tuna salad using one of Plated's recipes but subbed with my own green beans instead of their haricot vert as those were brownish and unappetizing looking. Anyway, the salad was dead easy to throw together -- just blanched beans, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, parsley, dill, shallot, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, dijon, sea salt, and black pepper -- and I'll definitely make it again with more garden beans and cherry tomatoes (if, by happy coincidence the beans are still bearing when the tomatoes ripen).


The bean salad was meant to be served with oil-poached tuna, but I chose to poach my tuna in low-sodium fat-free chicken broth because the Plated recipe called for poaching the tuna in 1½ cup extra virgin olive oil and my parsimonious brain was like "Dude! That's $7 worth of oil! Duuuude! And you only keep two tablespoons! The rest gets thrown away?! WTF?" Anyway, the salad was fine served with broth-poached tuna as I ended up flaking the tuna and tossing everything together to make two meals for work.


I also made an easy minestrone with green beans, garden basil, canned tomatoes, and a farmers' market zucchini I had kind-of forgotten about in the back of the crisper. It came out pretty well for something that was just "Well, I'll saute some onion and garlic and carrots and celery and then add some chopped green beans and broth and herbs and zucchini and tomatoes and salt and pepper and just keep fiddling until it tastes right."

28 March 2014

Comfort Me With (Slow Cooker) Chicken Soup

We were supposed to have sushi tonight, but work drama and an incipient cold had me hankering for soup. Happily, there were frozen chicken breasts and mixed vegetables in the freezer, so soup was go. (Seriously, is there any food more comforting than a big bowl of soup? Oatmeal on a bitter grey January morning comes close, I guess? Or that first scrambled egg and toast after days of gippy tummy?)

There's really no proper recipe for this soup -- I put three frozen boneless chicken breasts into the slow cooker insert with some chopped celery ribs, carrots, onion, garlic, and tomato. Added low-sodium fat-free chicken broth until everything was just covered. Topped it all off with Bell's salt-free poultry season and a bay leaf and let it cook on low for 6 hours.

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

Then I shredded the chicken with two forks, added a 12-oz packaged of frozen mixed vegetables, chopped parsley, some hilopetes (pinky-nail-sized square Greek egg noodles) I'd picked up at the Polish grocery, and enough broth to almost fill the insert. I cranked the slow cooker up to high and let it cook for another hour. Then I removed the bay leaf, tasted, and adjusted the seasonings as needed.

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

Not only was the soup pretty darn tasty and comforting, it made the whole house smell like home. Each time I stepped back into the house between appointments and errands, I took a great lungful in and felt ridiculously contented by the aroma. Soup, it's Feliway for humans.

15 February 2014

Eating A to Z: B is for Bay Boletes & Barley

I've found that Polish import shops are excellent places to pick up an interesting variety of good quality dried mushrooms for much less than regular grocery stores or, godloveaduck, Williams-Sonoma. Unfortunately, as a non-Polish speaker, I'm frequently at a loss as to what kind of mushroom I'm purchasing. This doesn't stop me, of course, and when I get home and run them through Google Translate, I find they're never so weird that I don't know what to do with them.

Most recently I purchased a 20 gram package of dried Bay Bolete. Bay Bolete is found in both North America and Europe and, according to the internets, make a perfectly okay substitute for porcini. They dry very easily and can be used in soups, stews, and sauces.

Mushroom & Barley Soup

Of course, I used mine in soup for February's Eating A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge hosted by Meal Planning Magic, Sparkles and a Stove and Alida's Kitchen as now is the season for hearty soups that speak comfort and warmth. This is a real ribsticker, so feel free to add extra broth (or vegetable juice!) for a soupier soup.
Bay Bolete Mushroom Barley Soup
Serves 4 as a main dish

Ingredients
¾ oz dried mushrooms [IMBA Suszony Podgrzybek Krajanka aka bay bolete]
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, diced small
2 celery ribs, diced small
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend [Whole Spice]
2 8 oz containers fresh crimini mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp concentrated beef base [Penzeys Beef Soup Base and Seasoning]
3 Tbsp sherry [Taylor]
1 Tbsp tomato paste
4 oz quick-cooking barley
32 oz low-sodium fat-free chicken broth [Pacific Organic]
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and leave to soak for 25 min.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch/French oven and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and seasoning blend. Sauté for 5 mins on a medium heat or until softened. Drain the dried mushrooms, saving the liquid, and finely chop.

Add both mushrooms to pan. Sauté for another 5 mins, then add the concentrated beef base, sherry, tomato paste, barley, broth, bay leaf, and strained mushroom liquid.

Cook for 30 mins or until barley is soft. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with garlic bread or biscuits.

Mushroom & Barley Soup

20 January 2014

Lazy Sunday Sausage & Mushroom Soup

We couldn't be bothered leaving the house on Sunday for nonsense like food when there were chunky books like The Crow Trap to be read, but it's hard to concentrate on who might be a murderer when your insides are full of rumblings and grumblings.

So, I made soup. A warming, comforting soup that was sure to quiet any body's rumblings and grumblings. And, more importantly, a fast soup that didn't take me away from Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope for too long.

Lazy Sunday Sausage & Mushroom Soup @ Savory Tart

Lazy Sunday Sausage & Mushroom Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb loose-pack sweet Italian pork sausage meat
1 large carrot, quartered and sliced
2 large celery ribs, halved and sliced
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
8 oz sliced mushrooms
5 oz small twist pasta
40 oz lower-sodium fat-free beef broth
8 oz chunky tomato sauce
1 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Heat the oil in the bottom of a large heavy pan like a Dutch or French oven. Add the sausage and cook, bashing about with a spoon to break up the sausage, until no pink remains.

Remove sausage to a paper towel-lined colander and let drain. If there's a lot of fat at the bottom of the pot, pour it off until only a tablespoon remains.

Add the carrot, celery, onion, peppers, and mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Add in the broth, tomato sauce, and pasta. Give everything a good stir and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Portion into bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan, if desired.
You could use a a can of diced tomatoes instead of the chunky tomato sauce. I just happened to have leftover tomato sauce that needed eating up. The variety I used, Simply Enjoy (Stop & Shop's house brand), was ridiculously chunky -- more like a big jar of diced tomatoes someone had added a little puree to. It worked fine in the soup, but was too chunky for the pasta dish I'd originally meant it for and I had to smooth it out a bit with my immersion blender. The flavor was good, though. A fresh, bright tomato flavor with lots of garlic bits.

The pasta will keep absorbing liquid so, when you take any leftovers out of the fridge, you may find your soup is now a stew. Just add a little broth to the pot when reheating or, if (like me) you enjoy stewy soups, leave it as it is.

19 October 2013

P/F/G Challenge: Dressed-Up Tomato Soup

Bought a few cans of Campbell's Harvest Orange Tomato Soup on a whim last summer and, as with most things purchased on a whim, they've been shoved to the back of a cupboard and pretty much forgotten. The Harvest Orange actually tastes rather nice -- smooth and mellow like the orange tomatoes I grow, with none of the excessive sweetness I associate with Campbell's regular condensed tomato soup -- but not so nice I want to eat it regularly.

Really, canned soup is not my thing and the only soup I regularly buy is Campbell's Tomato Bisque (or Amy's Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque), because it forms the gravy for my mother's meatloaf. However, I didn't have anything hot to take for lunch this week so the Harvest Tomato soup was suddenly very desirable! However, heating it up with milk seemed a bit boring, so I subbed light cream for milk and then jazzed it up a bit more with curry powder, cashew butter, and a little sriracha.

Dressed-up tomato soup

Dressed-Up Tomato Soup
Makes 3 servings

Ingredients
1 tsp unsalted buter
2 tsp curry powder
[Penzeys Maharajah]
¼ cup nut butter [cashew]
1 can Campbell's Harvest Orange Tomato Soup [Pacific Organic Free Range Low Sodium]
1 cup light cream
1 low-sodium chicken broth
Sriracha, as desired

Directions
Melt unsalted butter in saucepan over medium.

Add curry powder and heat, whisking, until spices bloom.

Add in nut butter and whisk until combined.

Add in can of soup and whisk until combined.

Slowly whisk in light cream and broth and heat thoroughly.

Season with sriracha as desired.
The soup was good this way -- rich, tangy, and very aromatic -- and made a filling lunch when paired with salad and buttered toast fingers. It's quite thick, so you might want to add a bit more cream if you like a looser soup.

11 October 2013

Soup Makes Space

Last Saturday, I opened the freezer to get out some tilapia fillets and a precariously-perched container of blueberries hurled itself onto the floor, scattering berries around the kitchen. And then the bananas tried to escape and it was clearly Time To Do Something About The Freezer.

Bet you're thinking I made another banana bread, right? Well, I didn't! Not yet, anyway. I corralled all the loose frozen bananas into a gallon storage bag, shuffled the vegetables and meats around so they were once again grouped by like, and tossed some unfortunate freezer burnt ice cream cups. And then I made a big pot of soup from all the open vegetables packages.
Vegetable Barley Soup
Serves many

Ingredients
9 oz frozen chopped swiss chard
8 oz frozen diced butternut squash
3 oz frozen chopped onion
3 oz frozen chopped peppers
2 oz frozen corn
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt-free Italian seasoning, as desired
32 oz low-sodium chicken broth
[Pacific Organic Free Range Low Sodium]
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup quick-cooking barley

Directions
Whack the packages of frozen vegetables against your kitchen counter to loosen. Dump the frozen vegetables, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning into the slow cooker insert. Stir. Add bay leaf and broth. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.

Stir in quick-cooking barley, cover, and cook on LOW for 30 minutes.

Remove bay leaf. Taste. Season as desired.

Soup will thicken as it sits so you may need to add a little more broth when you reheat the leftovers, if you want a properly soupy soup.
Overall, this was a pretty good soup. Hearty and rich with vegetable goodness, it made a week's worth of filling breakfasts and lunches. (I admit that, on a few cold and sleepy mornings, I spiked my breakfast bowl with a little sriracha).

29 September 2013

Carrot Fest '13: Carroty Red Lentil Soup

It's officially autumn now, which means it's officially Soup Season! And, oh so conveniently, I happen to have a whole lot of carrots on hand -- a prime soup-making ingredient.

Weighty Carrot
Mighty (delicious) carrot
I wanted something warming, rich with the flavors of ginger and sweet curry, and hearty. Not heavy, stick-to-your ribs, nap-inducing hearty, but something that could stand pretty well on it's own as a meal. I ended up using Food.com's "Red Lentil and Carrot Soup With Coconut for the Crock Pot" recipe as my base, but tweaked the seasonings and liquids to suit me.

Because I was using my monster carrots, I only needed one carrot for this recipe. It weighed over a pound!
Carroty Red Lentil Soup

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small red onions, finely chopped
2 heaping tsp sweet curry powder
[Penzeys salt-free Maharajah Style Curry Powder]
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
28 ounce can whole tomatoes, including juice [Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted Whole Tomatoes]
2 cups red lentils, well rinsed
1 lb carrots, peeled and diced
Juice of half a lemon
3 cups turkey broth
14 ounce can light coconut milk
Sriracha, if desired

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and cook until soft. Add curry powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and bring to a boil, bashing the tomatoes about with a spoon to break them up.

Place carrots, lentils, lemon juice, and broth in slow cooker insert. Add tomato mixture and stir to combine.

Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

Add coconut milk and, using an immersion blender, blenderize soup to desired level of smoothness. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Spoon into bowls and garnish with a  squiggle of sriracha.

Carrot Lentil Tomato Soup

10 August 2013

Delicious Curried Carrot Soup in 30 Minutes

See this cookbook? Cook's Illustrated's The Best Recipe: Soups & Stews? Owned it since 2001, but never cooked from it until yesterday. I think it is actually one of the bookstore's sorryyourpaycheckbouncedsohavesomebooks, that is how long I've owned it! Oh, the shame! The long years this poor cookbook has lurked amongst my other cookbooks, unsplattered and unsmeared.

No more! The carrot soup I made -- "Pureed Curried Carrot Soup" -- was so good that I cannot wait to see what other deliciousness this cookbook has in store for me. Even though I reduced the (olive) oil to one tablespoon and used only one cup (low-fat) coconut milk, the soup was plenty flavorful. Rich, aromatic, warming, and so easy -- this is a soup I could eat every week through the fall and winter!

Carrot soup might sound a bit odd in August, but I harvested carrots last week and, woo boy, did I pull a bumper crop of the orange darlings. Used to think didn't have a lot of luck with root vegetables, but I've harvested enormous carrot crops for two years running so, maybe I've been wrong. Maybe, I've just not known what I was doing?

Anyway, I had a metric buttload of carrots and they needed eating up as I really had no place/way to store them for long. So ... soup!

26 April 2013

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup

This soup was inspired by a recipe for "Red Lentil Soup" in Michele Scicolone's The Mediterranean Slow Cooker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). I'd been meaning to try her recipe for weeks, but never had quite the right ingredients on hand. I decided to just go ahead and do the best I could with what I had. And I think I did.

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup

This is delicious soup, subtle and savory, that will fill you up without leaving you feeling filled up. It doesn't need any accompaniment, although a bit of fresh fruit never goes amiss, and is just as good for breakfast as for lunch or dinner. I've mostly been eating it for breakfast as my tummy's been a bit sensitive lately and this lentil soup's a gentle way to start the day.
Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup
Makes 6 generous servings

Ingredients
1 pound red lentils, rinsed, drained, and picked over
1 large red onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 14.5 oz can Muir Glen fire-roasted adobo-seasoned petit diced tomatoes
3 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 dried bay leaf
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk

Directions
Combine all in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until the vegetables are tender (Do the sweet potatoes break up a bit when you stir the pot? You're good). Remove bay leaf. Puree soup with immersion blender. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
If you can't find the adobo-seasoned tomatoes (while I found them at the grocery store, they don't seem to exist on the Muir Glen website) just use a plain can of fire-roasted tomatoes and add a teaspoon or so of adobo seasoning.

I also made "Balsamic Chicken with Capers" from the The Mediterranean Slow Cooker and they were everything chicken from a slow cooker should be -- tender, moist, and richly flavored. And so easy to throw together as it asks for ingredients that are always in my kitchen. I did not remove the skin from the chicken before cooking and it seemed almost to melt into the meat as the fat rendered out during the cooking process. Yum! I will definitely make this recipe again.

Balsamic Chicken Thighs