Tag Archives: Soup

On Starting Anew over a Bowl of Soup

And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust in the magic of new beginnings.”
This year began differently for me. Not by choice, but it did. Normally I enjoy having New Years Day off of work to contemplate the year just past and the one ahead. In all the years working as a cook I cannot remember working this day…the private club of which I’ve been employed for more than a decade is closed on this day, and all the restaurants I’d worked prior were closed on this day. And even when I did a short stint at a whole foods co-op as kitchen manager I arranged the schedule so I had off. But this year—on New Years Day—I worked, not at any of the jobs aforementioned; I worked my part-time job which I started just a few weeks ago. Initially I didn’t want to do this but my supervisor asked if I would and I said yes. I’m trying to say yes to more things in my life these days, but I’m jumping ahead as I often do.
The night prior I had a date with my two pugs, Netflix, and a bottle of red wine and hoping to make it until midnight (I did). I made lentil soup for dinner, and in trying to live more in the moment (something else I’m attempting to do lately), I really focused on what I was doing. At my full-time job, where I am in charge of a full kitchen, this is often difficult for me because of multi-tasking (which is actually an illusion). But at home I can really focus on just one thing and really appreciate the moment. So as I slowly sauteed the vegetables and garlic in olive oil I was fully aware of all of my senses. And when I added the fragrant spices they filled the air with an aroma that I remember from my youth.
I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog prior that I am partially of Lebanese decent; my dad’s family was from the “old country.” I have very fond memories of my youth and on this evening as the spices tickled my nostrils I was transported back to the smell of my sitto’s (grandmother’s) house. It was the same aroma I would smell when we would enter her house on a winter’s day and the windows would be steamed up and sitti and my aunts—who were busy in the kitchen—would stop long enough to hug and kiss me and my sisters and pinch our cheeks. And on this evening—the last night of 2014—as I stood in my tiny home kitchen with my pugs at my feet while I made lentil soup—I was not alone, at least not entirely…I could feel the presence of my ancestors as if they were standing before me in the flesh. I felt comforted, and I thanked them aloud. I thanked them for all the hard work they did and all the love that they gave, and for making me the person that I am.
The next morning, on New Years Day, I awoke pre-dawn to the sound wind. My old Allentown house shook and creaked as the wind and snow howled outside. Ugh, I thought…I really wished I could just climb back under the covers. But I bundled up and rode the smaller of my two cargo bikes to work, the one fitted with studded snow tires. And it was to my fortune that the wind was to my back…I was quite literally pushed to work. What a gift. And in an attempt at being present I welcomed the wind rather than dread it (this no doubt would have been more difficult if the wind were at my face rather than my back). And as I blew past the new and half-built medical campus on Main Street the tarps billowed and howled and the outstretched arm of the crane swayed as if waving to the clouds. There was not a car or person in sight and it was beautiful, it really was.
My part-time job is working in a home where people have nowhere else to go. The juxtaposition to my daily full-time job is easily apparent. And it is humbling on so many levels. It’s just a few hours a week and I work alone in the kitchen, so rather than having a full staff to do things for me I do it myself (which I enjoy). But the best part is being able to serve people a good meal who may need it the most. Food can nourish far more than the physical body.
So what does any of this have to do with soup and a new year? Nothing and everything, I suppose. I, like a lot of people, had a whole list of resolutions—things to give up and things to take up—most of which will be forgotten by the end of the month. And as I rode to work just after dawn on the first day of the new year it came to me that changing my thoughts changes my reality, and that my resolution(s) can be distilled into that one thing. The wind howled and at points almost pushed me off my bike, but by welcoming it—being in awe of it—I enjoyed the ride rather dreaded it.
It is a proven fact that when one changes their thoughts they change their outlook, and that happiness truly can be a choice, even in the most difficult situations. I personally know this, but that alone does not always make it easy. When I remain positive I have positive things happen in my life; and living positively also means (for me) living compassionately. And when I live with a compassionate and thankful heart the world blossoms before me. Inversely, when I live in fear (or with negative thoughts) it’s as if I have blinders on and can only see my own problems (which seem paramount but in reality are not problems at all when it comes right down to it).
So after serving lunch I sat down to my own lunch of another bowl of soup, flat-bread, and an orange which I carried with me to work that morning. Again I thought of my ancestors and how they likely came to this country with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a few things that they could carry. And as I sat and ate to the hum of the refrigerator, I thought to myself that while I may not have everything I want I most definitely have everything I need…way more than I need, actually. And as I sat there I banished the list of resolutions that I had planned and just stuck to one…to change my thinking. Because if I do this I know that everything will work out. Will it be easy? Nope. Not likely. But is it possible? Yes, without doubt…I can start over everyday if that’s what it will take, not just New Year’s Day. And if I do this I know that I can be of more service to others—even if it is just little interactions throughout the day—because isn’t that what we are really here for, to help one another along this journey we call life.
And I don’t know if I was imagining it or not, but as I ate the soup it tasted good…really good. Better than the night before, in fact. And this is what I thought about while eating lentil soup in a large kitchen lined with stainless-steel while the wind whistled and howled outside on the first day of the new year.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world be be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
 
Red Lentil Lentil Soup with Spinach
Makes about 2 quarts
4 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups red lentils
8 cups chicken broth
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups (4-6 ounces) fresh spinach, chopped
¼ cup lemon juice
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot; saute for a few minutes, then add the garlic and saute another minute or two. Add the tomato paste, cumin, turmeric, coriander, hot pepper, and salt, then cook and stir the tomato and spices for a minute or so. Add the lentils broth, bring to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Allow the soup to cook for about an 30 minutes, then add the potatoes and simmer another 30 minutes or until the soup thickens and the lentils become very soft. If it becomes too thick, add additional broth or a little water. Stir in the spinach and simmer for just a couple minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the soup from the heat.
For additional Lebanese-inspired recipes, click here.

Shellfish Chowder!

Super rich and creamy and chock full of shellfish, if you like seafood this is a recipe for you. This is just a basic recipe…change seafood and ingredients that you like. If you’d like additional chowder (and gumbo) recipes, along with its background, history, and lore, follow this link to an article I wrote some years ago.

Seafood Chowder

Makes 10-12 cups

2 lobster tails

1 pound shrimp

2 dozen mussels

2 dozen small clams

4 cups water

2 cups white wine

____________________

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

½ cup flour

4 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup sherry

1 cup heavy cream

Combine the shellfish, water, and wine in a pot just large enough to contain it. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook the shellfish for about 15 minutes. Strain the shellfish from the broth, reserving both separately. When the seafood is cool enough to handle, remove it from their shells, discard the shells, and dice the seafood as needed.

Heat the butter in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. When it begins to bubble add the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook the vegetables for a couple minutes then add flour and cook another couple minutes while stirring. Next stir in the tomato paste, paprika, and kosher salt; stirring it to blend with the flour mixture. Add the reserved broth, and using a wire whisk, mix it until smooth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a low simmer. Cook the soup for about 5 minutes, then add the cooked seafood to the pot along with the sherry and cream. Simmer the chowder for another 5 minutes before serving.

Shellfish Chowder!

Super rich and creamy and chock full of shellfish, if you like seafood this is a recipe for you. This is just a basic recipe…change seafood and ingredients that you like. If you’d like additional chowder (and gumbo) recipes, along with its background, history, and lore, follow this link to an article I wrote some years ago.

Seafood Chowder
Makes 10-12 cups
2 lobster tails
1 pound shrimp
2 dozen mussels
2 dozen small clams
4 cups water
2 cups white wine
____________________
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
½ cup flour
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup sherry
1 cup heavy cream
Combine the shellfish, water, and wine in a pot just large enough to contain it. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook the shellfish for about 15 minutes. Strain the shellfish from the broth, reserving both separately. When the seafood is cool enough to handle, remove it from their shells, discard the shells, and dice the seafood as needed.
Heat the butter in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. When it begins to bubble add the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook the vegetables for a couple minutes then add flour and cook another couple minutes while stirring. Next stir in the tomato paste, paprika, and kosher salt; stirring it to blend with the flour mixture. Add the reserved broth, and using a wire whisk, mix it until smooth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a low simmer. Cook the soup for about 5 minutes, then add the cooked seafood to the pot along with the sherry and cream. Simmer the chowder for another 5 minutes before serving.

Curried Split Pea Soup!

Ok, so here’s another recipe that is super easy, really delicious, nutritious, and also satisfying in a cold day. Yellow Split pea soup with curry. The basic recipe is below but you can also add or subtract to it as you like (it’s equally good without curry, for example, but I happen to like the spice). Tonight, in addition to the ingredients listed in the recipe I also added a diced green pepper, a diced tomato, and a bit of tandoori spice. The is also good if mad with red or green lentils rather than split peas. If the recipe is too large cut it in half; this soup freezes well also.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Curry and Caramelized Onions

Makes about 3 quarts

Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil or clarified butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add a diced onion and cook it—stirring frequently—for about five minutes, or until it start to brown, then stir in 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute or so. Lower the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons (or more) of your favorite curry powder, and add any of your other favorite spices as well (such as extra cumin, turmeric, coriander, or chilies; all of which should be in the curry powder already). Stir the spices for a minute or so in the hot fat to bring out their flavors, then stir in 3 cups of yellow split peas and about 10 cups of chicken broth (if you want to keep this vegetarian use vegetable broth). Season the soup with a teaspoon of kosher salt (being careful if you are using canned broth which is already salted) and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Allow the soup to boil for a minute then turn it down to a simmer. Cook the soup for about an hour—stirring it frequently—and add more liquid if it becomes too thick. Just before removing it from the heat stir in about 1/4 cup of fresh lemon or lime juice and—if you have it on hand and enjoy it’s flavor—also stir in a handful of chopped cilantro.

Lentil Soup with Vegetables and Lebanese Spices

This is a variation of my more traditional Lebanese Lentil Soup recipe; in this version I added many more vegetables. This is super easy to make and yes it tastes as good as it looks. The vegetables I added are simply suggestions (it’s what I had on hand), use whatever you like. This is easily a meal in itself, and if you reduce the liquid and make it thick enough you can serve it over rice. And while it is a large-ish quantity, this soup freezes well. This soup is delicious and appropriate year-round but is especially fitting during the colder months.

Lentil Soup with Vegetables and Lebanese Spices 

Makes about 12 cups
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cups diced cabbage
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Lebanese seven spice mix
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup lentils
1 (15oz.) can diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken broth
1 potato, peeled and diced
2 cups (about 5oz. Fresh spinach, chopped
½ cup lemon juice

Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat then add the onion pepper, carrot, and cabbage. Sweat the vegetables for a few minutes then add the garlic; cook the vegetables a couple minutes longer. Stir in the seven spice mix, turmeric, and salt; cook for a minute or so, then add the lentils, tomatoes, chicken broth, and potato. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cook the soup for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it becomes too thick add additional broth or water. Stir in the spinach and cook it for about 5 minutes. Then stir in the lemon juice and simmer another five minutes, or until the lentils are very soft.

Lebanese Seven SpiceMix 

Makes about 4 tablespoons
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Mix the spices together and store in an airtight container, or use as needed.

Urban Simplicity.

Cool as a cucumber (and avocado) soup recipe…

This soup is really delicious and really easy to make. I know…I say that all the time, right? Well, all you have to do is put the ingredients in a blender and puree them. Seriously. Easy, delicious, and healthy…what’s not to like. This is also a great recipe for the crazy heatwave that has gripped much of the country. I hope you try this…you’ll be glad you did.


Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Soup


Makes 6-8 cups


1 English cucumber, seeds removed

1 ripe avocado, skin and pit removed

¼ small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

2 cups orange juice

2 teaspoons sea salt

½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper (optional)


Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until very smooth. 

Mulligatawny!

Before I talk about the recipe I have to make a few other comments. You may be wondering why on earth this guy would be posting  a recipe for soup in the middle of summer, or at least early summer. Nonetheless, it’s hot outside. Well, the answer to this is twofold…one is that it was on the menu where I work (so I had to make it), but also because I really enjoy this soup. But the less obvious reason (to most, I think) is that even though spicy food is often thought of as “warming foods” for cold weather, spicy foods originate in hot climates and are naturally eaten there. Spicy foods, in fact, act as a natural air conditioner of sorts…they make you sweat which cools you off. Spicy foods are also known to stimulate the appetite, which may be lacking during steamy weather (interesting how nature takes care of us). Anyhow, mulligatawny is a curried chicken and rice soup of British-Indian origin. It is really easy to make and really delicious (it freezes well also, in the even you make too much of it). The recipe below is a basic one; when I make it for myself I add more hot pepper or a splash of hot pepper sauce. It is, without doubt, a meal in itself.

Mulligatawny
Makes about 3 quarts.
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 slices ginger, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
4 tablespoons flour
1 apple, diced
6 cups chicken broth
3 cups diced, cooked chicken
1/2 cup cooked white rice
Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot, add the onion, celery, carrot, and red bell pepper, sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar, curry, cumin, pepper, salt, and hot pepper, sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 5 minutes over low heat while stirring. Add the apple, stir in the chicken broth and chicken; simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the rice just before serving.

Carrot Vichyssoise with Curry, Yogurt, and Parsley Purée

I’ve posted this recipe before but not in quite a while. It is an excellent spring soup and can be served hot or chilled. The only variation in the recipe (there always has to be one) is that I did not include a recipe for the parsley puree. This is done easily by combining washed parsley and plain yogurt in a blender and pureeing until very smooth. And the images below illustrate how to garnish it as if it were served in a restaurant. The only tools you need are an ordinary squirt bottle and a knife. There are plenty of designs and this is a simple one. Draw lines in the soup and gently draw the tip of a pointy knife back and forth through the puree. 

Carrot Soup with Ginger, Curry and Yogurt
Yield: 2 quarts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoon honey or sugar
1-1/2 pounds peeled, diced carrots
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a heavy soup pot. Add the onion, ginger and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the curry and honey; sauté 2 minutes. Add the carrots, broth, and salt. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower it to a simmer; skim any impurities that may rise to the surface. Cook the soup for approximately 45 minutes, or until the carrots are very soft. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the yogurt. Transfer the soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor and purée until very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and warm it, but do not boil (boiling it may curdle the yogurt). Serve hot or chilled. 

How to Make a Really Flavorful Vegetable Soup in Twenty Minutes (seriously!)

Okay, so it may take longer than twenty minutes to cut all the vegetables, but if you have them cut (or in my case–being the chef–have someone else cut them for you), this is a really quick and simple process. What is a soup anyway? Just some chopped up stuff cooked in broth, right? Well, partially, but it’s more than that. The modern English word comes from the Middle English sup or sop, referring not only to the dish but also the act…to sup is to eat; this is also from where the word supper arose. It also referred to the practice of placing a stale piece of bread in a bowl prior to pouring a thin or meager soup, giving the meal more substance. Anyhow, the way to make any vegetable soup taste really good takes three things…lots of vegetables, a good and flavorful broth (read this article on broths), and the method or sweating the vegetables; meaning covering them and letting them sort of stew or sweat in their own juices prior to adding broth. Soup is without doubt one of the world’s great comfort foods (and one of the oldest). For an actual recipe for this soup, read this post. For many other soup recipes, click here.

Urban Simplicity.

A Really Simple (but Superbly Delicious) Homemade Chicken Soup Recipe with Homemade Whole Wheat Noodles

What is it about chicken soup? Even when I go through one of my “very-little-meat” phases I still welcome and crave this simple food. It’s a sort of cultural phenomenon…every culture and nationality has their own version of this humble dish. One of my favorite names for this recipe is “Jewish Penicillin,” making reference to its supposed properties to cure the common cold. And historically speaking it is likely one of the oldest recipes…next to cooking over a live fire, putting things in a vessel and boiling them is one of the oldest known cooking methods. There are plenty of ways to make this dish, and a seemingly endless variety of ingredients one can use, but this is a version I made the other day. It is easy and delicious. The homemade noodles were an added bonus, but if you want to make the recipe and use store-bought (or none at all) it will be equally delicious. This is also a good Base recipe,” meaning one in which you can add or subtract flavorings or ingredients to make it your own. The addition of chilies would make this interesting, as would a bit of fresh ginger and soy for an Oriental flare. More garlic, a splash of lemon, and a few sprigs of cilantro (and a sprinkling of curry) would give it a distinctive Near East flavor. You get the picture. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go have a second bowl of soup…

Chicken Soup with Homemade Whole Wheat Egg Noodles


Makes about 5 quarts


For the soup:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (trimmed of fat)

3 quarts chicken broth (homemade or store-bought)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

4 stalks celery, diced

3 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 medium turnip, peeled and diced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 bunch parsley, chopped
For the noodles:

1½ cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten (optional)

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons cold water

To Make the Soup:
Combine the chicken and chicken broth in a soup pot and bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, make the noodle dough.


Combine the whole wheat flour, gluten, eggs, and water in a bowl and mix until it begins to form a mass. Knead the dough—either by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook—until it is a smooth dough (about eight minutes with an electric mixer or 12 by hand). If the dough is too dry add another tablespoon or two of water. Cover the dough with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Remove the chicken from the broth to a plate and allow it to cool a bit. Strain the broth and set aside; clean the pot to start the soup.


Heat the vegetable oil in the soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion, celery, carrot, and turnip. Cook the vegetables for about five minutes while stirring. Add the garlic, turmeric, and salt; cook another five minutes. Stir in the broth; bring to a boil, then lower to a slow simmer. Dice the cooked chicken and add it to the soup.


While the soup is simmering roll out the noodle dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough very thin as they tend to plump a little when they cook. Cut the noodles as thin or thick as you like, or in whatever shape that you like. Drop them into the simmering soup, shaking off any excess flour as you pick them up.


Simmer the noodles in the soup for 5-10 minutes, or until the noodles feel tender but are not falling apart. Just before removing the soup from the heat stir in the chopped parsley.

Broth, Bouillon, Brodo (y Caldo)

Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.”
LouisP. De Gouy

A couple things…

Firstly, I have relatively little trouble eating (and ultimatley sustaining on) meatless or near-meatless meals. Actually, I prefer it. But I have to admit the one thing that would keep me from being a full-blown vegetarian is meat-based stock or broth…or what a vegan friend of mine refers to as “meat juice.” Rice cooked in water is bland, but cook it in a rich broth and it is a meal unto itself. If you have a rich broth and want a soup the flavor is already accomplished…whatever else you add is simply a bonus. I add chicken stock to most things I cook aglio e olio. The famed chef, Auguste Escoffier–whom which chef De Gouy worked under–has said that (and I’m paraphrasing) with a good stock anything can be accomplished. Stock/broth, to me, is a form of alchemy. And I love how the kitchen smells with a broth slowly simmering away (home kitchen or work kitchen). Today at work was slow and I made seven pots of the golden stuff (about 40 gallons) and the kitchen smelled amazing. Anyhow, for recipes and lore about soup and stock read this article I wrote for Artvoice a couple years ago. In the meantime…simmer. 

The Soup that I Grew…

There is, I believe, nothing more satisfying than a good bowl of soup and homemade bread. Okay…so maybe there is, but you’ve got to admit the combination is really good. Anyhow, believe-it-or-not, I am still harvesting vegetables from the garden in the rear of my house (yes, in October and in Western NY). I made this yesterday and ate it with a few slices of whole wheat bread (click here for multiple recipes and pics on how to make whole wheat bread). The unseasonably warm temperatures yesterday plummeted by about 30 degrees in 2 hours, and the house sure felt–and smelled–cozy with a pot of curried vegetable soup on the stove. There’s a really basic recipe below; use it more as a guide…add or subtract whatever vegetables and spices you like (or add meat as well). Some of the vegetables that I harvested and used in this recipe are pictured below as well.

Curried Vegetable Soup
Makes about 12 cups
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 turnip, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 teaspoons crushed hot pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup diced cabbage
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup chopped kale
8 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice

Heat the oil in a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, parsnip, and turnip. Cook the vegetables in the oil for about five minutes, allowing them to release their flavor but not brown. Add the garlic, curry, turmeric, cumin, hot pepper, and salt; saute for another couple minutes. Stir in the cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes and kale; stir to coat the vegetables with oil and spices. Stir in the broth. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the soup for 30-60 minutes, skimming as necessary; if it becomes to thick add more broth. Taste it for seasoning, and add the lemon juice just before serving.

"Tis the Season…

Yes, whether we like it or not, it is that time of year again. The weather is getting colder. And with it lighter foods give way to heartier ones, and one of my favorites is soup. I’ve posted this recipe before, or at least variations of it, but it is so delicious and easy to make I thought I’d post it again (it is a crowd-pleaser). The recipe–and the picture above–both utilize butternut squash, but this recipe works great with nearly any hard squash…it’s great with pumpkin. I add a bit of sugar in the recipe, but if you stay away from sugar simply omit it (or add more if you’d like it sweeter). A fresh chili or two is great also (but not included in the recipe)…spicy and sweet and creamy compliment each other. I also used heavy cream in the recipe, you can make it lighter with the use of milk or no cream at all, but it wouldn’t be as rich. And lastly, if you want to make this vegetarian or vegan , substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth (don’t use water, it would be too bland) and soy milk to replace the cream. Anyhow–and just to reiterate–this recipe is delicious and easy to make…and it’s a great one to experiment with as well.

Butternut Squash Bisque with Apple and Toasted Walnuts
Yield: 6 cups
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoonsflour
2 tablespoonssugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds peeled and diced butternut squash
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/2 cup small diced apple

Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat and add the onions. Sweat the onions over medium heat for 5 minutes or until they are translu­cent. Add the flour and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and diced pumpkin; sauté another minute. Add the stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Add the cream and simmer for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Puree in a blender or food processor. After ladling the soup into warm bowls, garnish it with the toasted walnuts and diced apple.

Urban Simplicity.

Gazpacho Blanco (receta y fotos)

All I really need to say in this post is that this soup is really simple to make and delicious and that you should make it. But I’ll say just a  few more things. I made this for a luncheon I served at work today. It is a cool and refreshing soup, but also one that is bursting with flavor and nutrition. And it is quite possibly closer to the original Gazpacho recipe than the tomato based one we have come to know. If you’re interested in what I mean by this read this article that I wrote for Artvoice last month; it also includes additional recipes for cold soups and a bit of the history behind them. What is not included in the recipe below is the bright red squiggles on top of the soup. It’s pureed roasted red peppers (with a bit of salt and garlic). If you want to see how to roast a pepper on your home stove read this previous post (which has step-by-step instructions and pics).

Gazpacho Blanco
Makes about 6 cups
1/2 cup sliced almonds
4 slices bread, crusts removed, diced
2 cups yogurt
2 cloves garlic
2 jalapeno chilies, seeds removed and minced
1 pound green seedless grapes (about 3 cups)
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, diced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Spread the almonds on a small baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes in a moderate oven. Transfer the toasted almonds with the remaining ingredients to a bowl. Mix well and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth. Serve chilled or at room temperature

Two Chilled Soups

Here’s a couple really simple chilled soup recipes to satisfy your appetite while keeping the kitchen cool. One is traditional and another contemporary; both are delicious. These are part of an article I recently wrote for Artvoice newspaper; to read the entire article–which includes additional recipes and the stories behind them–click here (yes, a bit of shameless self-promotion…I’m getting better at it). Anyhow, I hope you try them; they are exceedingly easy to make and really delicious.

Gazpacho
Makes about 5 cups
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 English cucumber, diced
2 slices bread, crusts removed, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse until desired consistency. Let stand 10 minutes; served chilled or at room temperature. Optional garnishes include but are not limited to: diced raw onion, hard cooked egg, parsley, and olives.
 
Thai-Spiced Watermelon Soup with Riesling
Makes about 6 cups
1 cup Riesling wine
3 slices ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 serrano chilies, seeds removed and minced
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
6 leaves fresh basil, coarsely chopped
6 cups diced seedless watermelon, rind removed (about 2 lbs)
the juice of two limes

Combine the wine, ginger, garlic, chilies, lemongrass, and sugar in a small pot. Bring the wine to a boil then lower it to a simmer; cook the seasonings for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the basil, and allow the seasonings to steep for about ten minutes while the liquid cools. When the liquid is at room temperature strain it, pressing as much moisture from the seasonings (reserve the liquid; discard the seasonings). Combine the liquid with the watermelon and lime juice in a blender and process until smooth. Serve chilled or at room temperature. 

Tomato Soup Recipe

This is one of the simplest soups to make but as simple as it is it is equally satisfying. I made this at work today (albeit a larger batch than in the below recipe) and thought I’d share it.


Creamof Tomato Soup
Yield:2 quarts
3tablespoons unsalted butter
2shallots, peeled and minced
2cloves garlic, peeled and minced
8cups diced tomatoes
1cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4cup chopped basil leaves
1teaspoon kosher salt
1/2teaspoon black pepper
1cup heavy cream

Heatthe butter in a small soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallots andgarlic; cook them for a couple of minutes, until they are translucentbut not browned. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, basil, salt and pepper.Bring to a boil then lower to a slow simmer. Cook the soup for about30 minutes. Add the cream and cook for a couple minutes. Transfer toa blender and process until smooth.

The Goodness of Beer

The above image is The Waitress by Edouard Manet

A little over a week ago I posted this recipe for Potato Bread with Beer…and also stated that it was not made with 100% whole wheat flour. Which is fine…it’s still a very good recipe, but these days I prefer whole wheat. Anyhow I thought I’d re-post it with the below version that is all whole wheat, along with a soup recipe which contains beer as an ingredient. For more recipes that include beer as an ingredient, and if you’d like to read an article I wrote on the subject–including history and personal stories–click here.
 
Whole-WheatPotato Bread with Beer and Cheddar
Makestwo loaves
2 cups cooked and mashed potatoes, room temperature
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2cup beer, room temperature
2 teaspoons instant yeast
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4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup beer, room temperature
3/4cup milk, room temperature
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2 eggs
1/4cup honey
1/4cup olive oil
3 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
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2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)

Placetwo bowls side-by-side. In one bowl combine the mashed potato, 1 cupof flour, ½ cup of beer, and two teaspoons of yeast; mix just untilcombined and cover with plastic wrap. In the second bowl combine the4 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 cup of beer, 3/4 cup milk; mix justuntil combined and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the bowls to restfor 20-30 minutes.

Combinethe contents of bowls in the bowl of an upright mixer that is fittedwith a dough hook. Also add the eggs, honey, olive oil, 3 teaspoonsof yeast, and two teaspoons of kosher salt (try not to let the yeastand salt come into direct contact). Run the mixer first on low speed,until it gathers the ingredients together, then on medium speed;knead the dough for about 6 minutes. Add the cheese and knead thedough for another 1 or 2 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightlyoiled bowl or rising bucket, cover it and allow the dough to fermentfor 60 – 90 minutes. Then gently press the dough down and allow itto ferment another 30 minutes.

Dividethe dough into two pieces, shape it into loaves, and place it inlightly oiled loaf pans. Preheat an oven to 425F and allow the doughto ferment and rise for about 45 – 60 minutes. Bake the dough forabout 30 minutes. When it is initially placed in the oven spritz theoven with a little water, lacking a sprayer toss a few ice cubes onthe oven floor to create steam. Rotate the loaves after 15 minutesand spray the oven again. The bread is done when it is golden brownand sounds hollow when tapped with a finger. Remove it from the ovenand their pans and transfer it to a wire cooling rack or clean towelwhich has been folded to double thickness. Allow the bread to cool 15minutes before slicing.

 Potato Bisque with Beer, Bacon, and Cheddar
Makes about 6 cups

3tablespoons unsalted butter
3slices bacon, diced
1small onion, diced
1medium carrot, diced
12ounces beer
3cups chicken broth
3medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1teaspoon kosher salt
1/2teaspoon black pepper
1/2cup cream
1cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heatthe butter in a small soup pot over medium high heat. Add the baconand cook it until it begins to brown. Add the onion and carrot andsauté for 5 minutes. Add the beer, 2 cups of the chicken broth, thediced potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lowerit to a simmer. Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes, or until thepotatoes are very soft. Then add the cream. Purée the soup in a foodprocessor. If the soup is too thick add the remaining stock to thinit. Transfer the soup back to the soup pot over moderate heat. Stirin the cheese. Check for seasoning. Serve hot or cold.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#408)…and what I made with it

A basket full of fresh vegetables, which I turned into a hearty chicken-and-vegetable soup/stew with Near East spices.

Urban Simplicity.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#404)

A canvas bag (on the front rack) containing–among other things–a spare camera, a book, and a few recipes. A cardboard box (on the rear rack) containing 5lbs/2.2kg of whole wheat flour, 2 pints of spiced lentil soup, and two roast chicken dinners.

Urban Simplicity.

Spiced Lentil Soup

I really enjoy lentils….and I’m grateful that I do. Because not only are they super-healthy for you, they are also a great medium for all sorts of flavors and textures…and not just vegetarian recipes. Anyhow, a purveyor at work gave me a couple pounds of these lentils as a sample (pictured above)…beautiful aren’t they? I made the below soup recipe for staff lunch today…it was so good (if I do say so myself) I had a double serving. It’s also really easy to make. And while I used the above multi-colored lentils, any lentil will do…some just take longer to cook than others. The spices I used (pictured below and also listed in the recipe) are also interchangeable…add or subtract whatever suits your personal taste. And listed at the bottom of this post are a few links of other easy and  delicious lentil recipes.

Spiced Lentil Soup
Makes about 3 quarts
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 pound lentils (about a cup)
3 cups diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup lemon juice
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in aheavy soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper; saute untiltranslucent but not browned. Add the garlic and saute another minute.Lower the heat and add the curry, paprika, cumin, turmeric, fennel,coriander, and salt. Stir the spices for about a minute to bring outtheir flavor, than add the lentils; stirring to coat with the oil andspices. Add the tomatoes and broth; bring the soup to a boil thenlower to a simmer. Cook the soup for about 30 minutes, then add thelemon juice. Continue to simmer the soup for another 30 minutes, oruntil the lentils are very soft. If too much liquid evaporates addmore as needed.
 For other lentil recipes on this blog follow these links: