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Archive for the ‘soup’ Category

Last Monday was Labor Day (well, you probably knew that). It was also farmers’ market day in my neighborhood. And since I didn’t have to go to work, I spent a good hour wandering around fruit, vegetable, and bakery stands rather than rushing in 15 minutes before they close on the way home from work. The weather was glorious and I lingered at each vendor, tasting here and there, sniffing and thumping, making the perfect choices. Since I was having a friend over for dinner, I bought an abundance of summer produce – heirloom tomatoes, plums, zucchini, and eight cucumbers. Eight? Yes, I had an idea.

Last year at another nearby farmers’ market, a local chef, Chris Parsons, was sharing tastes of a recipe from his restaurant, Catch. I took a  few spoonfuls of the smooth light green concoction and immediately knew that I had found the perfect recipe to take advantage of the free Greek yogurt that Stonyfield Farms shared with me and my blog.  I was a quick convert to Greek yogurt and have never looked back. But back to that summer soup. I asked Chris for the recipe and he emailed me a few days later. But the weather turned cold, and warm soups beckoned.

And then all of a sudden, it was summer again. With work a little crazy and much weekend travel, my days of leisurely cooking have suffered. But I couldn’t let another summer pass without making that creamy cucumber soup that so enchanted me last year. Labor Day was the day to slave away in the kitchen with a cool breeze blowing through my open windows.  So I made a dinner of cucumber gazpacho followed by ceviche, and kept the oven off.


Cucumber Gazpacho

I made a few adjustments to Chris Parson’s recipe and have copied it verbatim at the end of this post. The soup is very simple, but the yellow curry topping gives an extra kick. And I like a little kick. I used nonfat yogurt instead of whole milk yogurt, and then added some full-fat labne to the garnish to thicken it up.

Soup

- 8 cucumbers

- 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

- 1/4 C red wine vinegar vinegar

- 1.5 Torn day old bread

- 1 C Greek nonfat yogurt

- Kosher salt and white pepper to taste

Prep. Peel half the cucumbers. Split all and removed seeds. Roughly chop.

Mix. Toss the cucumbers, oil, vinegar, bread, and yogurt into a big ziplock bag (none of my bowls could fit all the ingredients with enough room to mix). Shake and allow the liquid to soak into the bread for ~10 minutes.

Blend. Throw the mix into a blender and liquefy in two batches. Add salt and pepper to taste. I didn’t bother to strain the soup because I liked the flecks of green (and I couldn’t find my strainer).

Chill. The soup is a little bit thinner than the one I tried because I used nonfat yogurt. Once you chill it for a few hours, it thickens up a bit and also gives the flavors some time to develop. (I found the soup better the next day).

Garnish

- 1/2 C nonfat Greek yogurt

- 1/2 C 1% milk

- 1/4 C labne

- 1 t yellow curry powder

- 1 t ground cumin

- kosher salt and white pepper to taste

Whisk together all the ingredients. Refrigerate.

Serve soup in bowls with a swirl of yellow garnish across the top.

***

CUCUMBER GAZPACHO
Chris Parsons, Catch

8 each Cucumber, 4 of them peeled, Split and seed all. Rough chop.
1/4 C Evoo
1/4 C Sherry Vinegar
1 C Torn day old bread
1 C Greek Whole Milk Yogurt
Kosher Salt and White Pepper to Taste

Toss in a bowl like a salad, blend in blender and strain. Adjust seasoning.

Greek yogurt Bubbles
1/2 C Greek Yogurt
1/2 C Whole Milk
1 t Yellow Curry Powder
1 t Toasted Ground Cumin
Kosher Salt and White Pepper to Taste

Wisk together. Buzz w/ hand blender to froth.

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last all week

With a rainy Sunday and a long week of work ahead, today was a day for cooking. In an effort to break my eating out every lunch habit, I set to work on a hearty last all week soup. The recipe is  simple, hearty, and plentiful. And that’s it. Happy almost Monday, everyone!

Red Lentil Soup

This soup reminds me of one that I had when I was in Cairo a few months ago. I based it on one I found in the NYT and then I upped the Middle Eastern factor with a more than liberal sprinkling of cumin and the addition of sumac which adds a sour note. The lemon juice at the end adds extra freshness.

Serves 6-8.

-3-4 T olive oil

- 2 onions, chopped

- 4 cloves garlic, chopped

- 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste

- 1 heaping T cumin

- a few pinches cayenne pepper

- 1 heaping t sumac

- 6-7 C vegetable broth

- 1.5 C red lentils

- 1 C brown lentils (not French/de Puy lentils)

- salt and pepper to taste

- lemon juice

Heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic about 4-5 minutes until soft.  Add tomato paste, cumin, cayenne, and sumac, sauteing for another 5 minutes. Add broth and lentils and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes until lentils soften. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a few splashes of lemon.

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the first snow

Snow always makes me feel like a little kid. Especially the first big snowstorm of each year. Memories of waking up to see the window sill coated white. Lying in bed, awaiting that early morning call from the phone chain letting my parents know that school was canceled. Sledding with friends in the park that was just next to my house. And of course, hot cocoa when we returned home, noses and hands chapped despite gloves and scarves. Then ready to head out for more.

This year’s first snowfall was a bit of a letdown. Less than an inch but still sticking to the grass and sufficiently cold to cause traffic issues on black ice. Nonetheless, I slept in, bundled up in blankets and quilts, and had a nice indoor Sunday. And I realized that I could fight it no longer — soup season was officially here.

So, my inaugural soup this Winter (oh, even writing the word seems like an admission of the season despite a couple more weeks before the calendar agrees) is a spicy butternut squash one. No sweet squash here — I always prefer main course types to be savory. And this one has a kick of spice that hits you nicely, keeping your cheeks and tongue warm long after the soup has reached your belly.

Here’s to soup season and many cozy nights.

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Adapted from Simple to Spectacular by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman. What I love about the cookbook is that it presents a limited number of dishes, each with five variations ranging in difficulty as the title suggests. This particular recipe is second in the butternut squash soup repertoire. It calls for roasting the squash twice – once on the stovetop and once in the oven. When pressed for time, I have skipped the stovetop roasting with only a small drop in the richness of squash flavor. And don’t forget to roast the seeds — they taste a little bit like popcorn.

- 2 T extra virgin olive oil

- 2-3 cloves minced garlic

- 2 medium or 3 small butternut squash (original recipe calls for 2 lb of squash, but I never pay attention to weight)

- 1/2 – 1 t red pepper flakes (to taste)

- 1 t thyme

-  4 C broth (vegetable, chicken, etc)

- Parmesan (optional)

- salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Prepare the squash. Peel, seed, and cut the squash into 1-inch chunks. I would really encourage you to wash the seeds off and roast them.

Pan-roast. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large skillet that will fit at least 6C of liquid — I have often done this directly in a large ovenproof pot. Add garlic, squash, red pepper flakes, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the squash, stirring every few minutes until squash starts to brown. This takes 10-15 minutes.

Oven-roast. Put the skillet in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, checking and shaking 2-3 times.

Back to the stove-top. Take the skillet out and put it back on the stove-top over medium  heat. Add the stock. Cook another 15-20 minutes until the squash is very tender. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If it is too thick, add some water.

Serve with some grated Parmesan or roasted squash seeds.

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soupe à l’oignon

The East coast seems to have been hit by a fair amount of rain over the past few days. I am accustomed to the summer thunderstorms that we often get in my hometown of DC — that crash-and-tumble excitement, the flashes of light thatbrighten the sky, a few torrential downpours that reveal a rainbow and hidden sun. Less so the Eeyore-inspired drizzle gray of Cantabrigia both new and old that has visited us here for the past few days. Combine that with a pulled muscle in my neck from dance class on Sunday and I need some comfort food.

Cookies? Nah…I want dinner. Mac and cheese? Maybe, but I had bucatini 2 nights ago and I don’t generally eat much pasta. My fridge is unusually bare after having made two big meals over the past few weeks, so I needed to scrounge around. I had just barely enough onions to throw together an onion soup, a meal in a bowl with the rich taste of caramelized onions, warm broth, toasted bread (or stale baguette, which I always seem to have around), and strings of melted cheese. When I was younger, this used to be my favorite dish to order in a restaurant, and the fancy presentation with cheese dripping off the side of a piping hot crock always impressed me. The childhood memory and thoughts of a steaming meal are a perfect recipe for uber-comfort on a weary dreary evening.

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Soupe à L’Oignon Gratinée (ou pas)

This is such an easy soup to make with ingredients that you probably have lying around your kitchen. Onions. Butter. Spices. Leftover dry white wine or Vermouth. Boxed or dried vegetable (or chicken or beef) stock. The homey richness comes from giving the onions enough time to caramelize. I do not use beef stock and still my soup comes out a deep dark brown with an earthy flavor.

Makes ~ 4-6 servings, depending on size of your bowls. I made 4 bowls that turned into 3 full meals (I was really ravenous that first night).

I’ve written this recipe the way that it came together — my apologies for not writing it in “standard recipe format” with a list of ingredients followed  by directions, but this was my thought process as I was throwing this easy soup together and I wanted to preserve the feeling. I’ve highlighted quantities to make your lives a little easier.

Melt 1/4 C butter in a medium or large soup pot.

Slice 3 yellow onions, 1 red onion, 1 shallot (or whatever mild onions you have around the house) into thin half moons. Light a candle nearby to reduce crying.

onions and shallot

every single onion and shallot I had in my kitchen

Caramelize onions in butter over medium heat with 3 generous pinches salt, stirring  every 5-10 minute. This took me about 30-45 minutes. If you burn the onions, it’s not too big of a deal. Just turn the heat down a bit and keep stirring. You want the onions to turn a really dark brown but not to turn to mush. The red onion retained a bit of its purplish color.

onions translucent, after 10 minutes

onions translucent, after 10 minutes

caramelized onions, 30+ minutes

caramelized onions, 30+ minutes

Deglaze with ~1/2 C dry white wine – I used an open Pinot Grigio  that I had in my fridge (this was probably not the driest, but it worked pretty well…and I took a few sips while cooking) – and increase heat until most of the liquid evaporates (can also use vermouth). Make sure to scrape up all the good onion bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Add herbs: 1/2 t savory, 1-2 T thyme crumbled through your fingers

Add 4 C broth: vegetable or fake (or real) chicken/beef broth. I am embarrassed to admit that I used some of that powdered parve broth substitute because that’s all I had around. Yup, this stuff is little more than salt and MSG. But the soup still turned out great.

Add 3 bay leaves.

Bring to  boil, then simmer ~30 minutes.

Remove bay leaves before serving.

This makes ~ 5 cups of soup which is great plain or you can serve it gratinée: sprinkle with cut bread crumbs from stale baguette and  shredded cheese.The traditional cheese to use is gruyère but I have never found a good kosher one. I used some Raclette which I had left over from my zucchini tart, and it was a pretty good substitute. I also tried some Ermitage Royal Camembert that I had in my fridge, and this worked surprisingly well.

ready to compose

the broth is really dark

ready for the oven

ready to pop into the oven

 Pop in oven at 350°F for 10 minutes to melt cheese or put under broiler for 2-3 minutes (watch to avoid burning too much).

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baked at 350

broiled, 2-3 minutes

broiled, 2-3 minutes

NOTE: if you want to make this for a meat meal, use margarine (I’ve done it before, it does work out) and obviously omit the cheese. You can make the soup completely parve with veggie stock, or use a meat or chicken stock. You could try melting soy cheese, but I’ve never tried it so can’t speak about how this will taste. I really do like this soup without cheese almost as much as I like it gratinée

***

As I was making the soup, I put on one of my favorite albums – a South African band called Mafikizolo‘s first recording called “Sibongile” that I bought when I was in Cape Town a few years ago. (Apparently, this CD has been discontinued and I can’t find mine; I have it loaded on my ancient 20 gig iPod that is on its last legs. I’ve backed it up, but if it dies, my music may be gone forever…sad Zahavah.) Sibongile means “Thank you, God” in Zulu, the album was released after two of its members survived a bad car accident. I love that they wear retro ’50s outfits and can pull off hats with panache to go with their swingy bluesy vibe, have a broad range of styles (some of their more recent music — not what I’ve uploaded here — is more clubby with a techno beat), and take pride in their roots (from what little I know) with references to townships in their recent album title and their music.

Here are some of my favorite songs from this album (the first three songs) that I play to chase away the clouds.

“Gugo’thandayo” – check out the stylin’ hats

 

“Marabi” – very toe-tapping, cheerful with a nice relaxed rhythm

 

“Ndihambe Nawe” – a little bit more of a percussive beat

 

Here is a newer song that I just dicovered:

“Emlanjeni,” meet you at the river

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loads of kale

There has been a lot of talk about CSAs – community supported agriculture – in the world at large and in the Jewish community. For example, check out the past few Hazon Food Conferences and their The Jew and the Carrot blog.

I first learned about CSAs when my good friend, Meira, the source of the  pretzel chicken “nuggets” recipe, joined a CSA in New York and cooked interesting dishes with her fresh local vegetables. She always introduced each dish with, “I got this squash/cabbage/spinach from Eve, my Jewish female farmer.” She really seemed to feel a kinship with her farmer, especially after going to some sort of outdoorsy event way out on Long Island and driving past the Garden of Eve farm!

So, I was excited when my own local community decided to partner with a CSA. But I was also a bit apprehensive. Sure, there are a lot of pros – supporting local farmers and guaranteeing their livelihood, getting in tune with a more agrarian life (and a little reminder of the importance of the harvest in Jewish festivals), eating fresh (and almost entirely organic) produce, etc. And my friend Laura, whom I call “farmer Laura” since she will be be spending the summer as an ADAMAH Fellow — is organizing the CSA partnership and was quick to point out some of the logistical virtues partnering with this particular farm — Heavens Harvest — notably that they provide timely recipes that incorporate that week’s harvest and pre-pack everyone’s share (or half-share for couples or three-tenth-share for those single people out there…they’ve even thought of us!) which is apparently a vast improvement over other CSAs that have you bag your own which can take forever.

Despite all of these benefits, I was worried about one con – the loads and loads of kale that I would very likely be stuck with at the end of the season.

See, apparently kale is a very hearty leafy green and grows when other veggies can’t quite make the cut. So if the weather is really bad, kale will dominate.

Of course, I have never cooked kale. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten kale.

But, I’m open to new things and in preparation for joining the CSA, I decided to buy some kale and make something with it. In case I needed a push over the edge, the label on the rubber band around the kale was written in French, calling the leaves chou vert frisé. I once had a boss who could convince me to do any menial task by telling me, “it’s French…you’ll like it.”

So I bought some curly green cabbage and tried a recipe on a card near the grocery store entrance.

looked like a bouquet, so I put the kale in a vase

looked like a bouquet, so I put the kale in a vase

Based on my experience, I think I’ll be joining the CSA…

Kale and White Bean Soup with Parmesan Crisps

Kale and White Bean Soup with Parmesan Crisps


Adapted from Whole Foods Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup recipe card.

Makes ~ 5 cups soup or 4 servings.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced onion

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

1-2 t thyme (to taste)

1-2 t oregano (to taste)

5 C ersatz chicken broth (i.e., parve chicken soup powder + 5 C water)

4 cups packed chopped kale (i.e., 1 bunch, chopped)

2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced; or 20-25 baby carrots cut into thirds

1 small can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes

1 small can (14.5-ounce) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Parmesan crisps (see recipe below)

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion ~3 minutes until softened, then add garlic and cook together another 2-3 minutes.

Add 1t of each herb and carrots to pan and mix.

Add tomatoes, broth, and kale and mix a few times. Cover saucepan and allow kale to steam until tender, ~5 minutes.

Add drained cannellini beans when kale tender. Keep on heat until parmesan crisps finished to allow beans to warm.

Serve with parmesan crisps or sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

122-cropped

Parmesan Crisps

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Spread ~1T of parmesan cheese in ovals on parchment (1T per oval)

Parmesan crisps, uncooked

Bake in oven 5-7 minutes — WATCH VERY CAREFULLY –  these can burn really quickly. Remove before your smoke alarm goes off (like mine did the first time I tried this!).

Parmesan crisps, baked

The crisps will peel very easily off of the parchment paper.

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Yes, you guessed it…I’ve started going to yoga. I am officially a Cantabrigian (n, a native resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts according to Merriam-Webster Online dictionary). Granted, I still try to look like a ballerina in class, I can’t hold a single pose, and I giggle when the teacher says “namaste,” but I do enjoy it and feel great afterward. After class a few weeks ago, I wanted to extend the healthy glow and was super hungry, but had virtually no vegetables in my fridge except for an almost full bag of shredded carrots a week past their use by date. They looked fine, showed no growth, and were not slimy at all. I figured I could turn them into a soup. I’m sure some of you out there are already horrified and will never eat in my home again, but come on….there are starving children somewhere in the world, this was much better than eating Ben and Jerry’s straight from the container, and I wouldn’t run this type of risk for guests. Moving on.

I checked out C&Z and searched for “carrot soup”– Clotilde had a recipe for carrot-mint soup and one of the comments mentioned replacing the mint with coriander. This sounded like a good starting point. I played around a bit and here’s what I came up with. It was great and will definitely reappear on my table for guests (with fresh carrots…).

carrot coriander cilantro soup

Carrot-Coriander-Cilantro Soup

Inspired by Chocolate & Zucchini’s Soupe de Carotte a la Mente I consider this a quick and easy meal because except for chopping the onion, there is virtually no prepping required, and everything is in one pot. The only major clean-up is the pot, your immersion blender, and a few utensils.

Serves 4 as starter or 2 as main

2T olive or vegetable oil

½ onion (red or white), chopped

1-2 t garlic, minced (1-2 cloves)

1 T coriander

~10 oz bag shredded carrots (can also use baby carrots or large peeled and cut carrots)

Ersatz chicken broth mix + 5-6 C water (or chicken or vegetable broth) – I use Osem brand but it does contain MSG

1.5 T chopped cilantro*

1 T lemon juice (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium heat; saute onion and garlic in oil until translucent

Add coriander; stir and heat until coats onion/garlic mixture and becomes fragrant – approximately 5 minutes

Add carrots and stir frequently until begin to soften, approximately 10 minutes

Add enough broth to cover carrots and at least 1 inch (if using ersatz chicken broth, don’t worry too much about mixing with powder beforehand)

Bring to boil, then turn down heat and simmer for ~15 minutes until carrots soften.

If using larger carrots, this might take longer; when carrots are soft, use immersion blender to puree, but allow some chunks to remain

Remove from heat and add cilantro, lemon juice if using, and salt and pepper to taste (may not need salt if using ersatz chicken broth powder); serve hot

* I keep chopped herbs in my freezer so they are ready to use in soups and other dishes. If my basil or mint plant is overgrown, or I have bought too much, I chop up the herbs, wrap in plastic in a roll so it is easy to measure by eye, and then store in a freezer bag. When I want to use these “fresh” frozen herbs later, they defrost really quickly, especially when dropped in a pot of soup.

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