Posts Tagged ‘soup’


20190108_203400346222080.jpgToday was a chilly, rainy-icy-snowy, gray day — in other words, the perfect day for hearty soup.

I made one of my favorites: Garden-in-a-Pot Soup from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper.  This time around I stuck a little more closely to the recipe.  Usually I use it as a jumping off point to use up whatever might be in the refrigerator or on the counter which needs using up.

My soup broth/stock is made with Rouxbe’s fabulous vegetable boullion.  Seriously, for vegetarians (or even meat eaters, although I do love the stock I make from the Thanksgiving turkey), this bouillon is the way to go.  You put a bunch of vegetables in the food processor, add what seems like a scary amount of salt (but I promise it is still way less than store bought boullion, especially since you don’t need much to get intense flavor), and keep it in the freezer.  It dissolves immediately in water, and it is 100% real food.  No weird little hard cubes or paste.  I add it to soup, rice, and marinades — pretty much any recipe which calls for stock.

The other step which makes this soup so good is the first one.  Instead of sauteing the aromatics over higher heat, you cook them covered over low heat, trapping the moisture and flavors.  Seasonings are simple — tomato paste, sweet paprika (although I used smoked because that is what I had), basil, and a splash of wine if anything starts to stick — and the vegetables do the rest.  The only fat in the recipe is the olive oil used to coat the pan at the beginning.

I added a can of red beans for the first time.  They add some heartiness and meld smoothly with the other ingredients.

My soups tend to come about a bit thin.  I am not good at reducing for some reason.  But my solution is to just make rice in my Instant Pot, and serving the soup over it.  Keep the rice separate when you put away the leftovers so that it doesn’t soak of all of the broth and turn your soup into a very stiff stew … unless that is what you like.  Then by all means.

Noodles are another option.  Or bake up a potato, cut it in half, mashed it slightly, and pour the soup over it … or a hearty slab of garlic sourdough bread.  Dip in your favorite cracker.  If you want a little garnish, there are the classics of cheese and sour cream.  My new favorite is homemade popcorn lightly seasoned with garlic salt.  Whatever your pleasure, you really can’t go wrong.

The recipe does make a large pot of soup, so you can feed a bunch of people at once, or you can keep it all to yourself and eat all week.  It freezes well, too.

In a word: Yum!


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It is getting to be farmers’ market season again, and I think that I am even more excited than I was last year.  I signed up for a CSA program in January, which means I get a discount on everything I buy from a particular farm.  It worked out well last year, even though I didn’t sign up as early.  The farmer grows the sorts of things I like to eat.  He has chickens, too, so a couple of weeks ago, I bought a dozen eggs laid by chickens I have actually met.  The eggs were all slightly different colors and sizes, and delicious!

Anyway, with new crops of vegetables on their way, I have been working my way through the last of the frozen vegetables, trying to make sure that nothing gets shifted to the back, hidden and forgotten.

On Sunday, I decided that I should use up the last bits of the Thanksgiving turkey, which I thought were hiding in a corner somewhere, freezer burned and forgotten, and given their state, slow cooked turkey soup sounded like a good plan.  I even considered using the crock pot, but in the end decided I wanted to play a more active roll in the preparation.

When I went searching for said turkey, however, it was nowhere to be found, so someone must have beaten me to it.  Luckily, I had two rather large, locally and organically grown chicken breasts from the same farmer, so turkey soup became chicken soup.

Step one: defrost the chicken.  I was a little concerned about using chicken because raw chicken has a certain squish factor which kind of grosses me out.  Solution: cut up the chicken with a nice sharp nice before it has completely defrosted and then pop the pieces into the microwave for a few minutes to finish the defrosting process.

Step two: start defrosting cubes of turkey stock (made from the carcass of the aforementioned Thanksgiving turkey).

Step three: brown the chicken.  I am not very good a browning meat.  Unless I can do it in one big chunk (like a roast), I don’t have the patience to make sure that the small bits are spread out properly so that they brown instead of steam and then turn them in a timely and coordinated manner so that they brown evenly without burning or cooking too much.  I know that everything tastes better if I do it right, but true to form, after two batches, I just dumped the rest in and sauteed until I didn’t see any more pink showing on the outside and then piled it all on a plate.

Step four: the fabulous mirepoix — onion (sweet this time), carrots, celery and garlic.  Sauteed in the little bit of fat from the chicken and a bit of olive oil, adding white wine to deglaze as needed.  Sauteed might not be the correct term as I use lower heat and longer time.  Added a few grinds of salt and pepper somewhere along the line.

Step five: seasonings.  Look in the pantry or on the spice rack.  Shake in a bit of whatever strikes your fancy. I used a couple of different herb mixtures I like to keep on hand.

Step six: more wine.  I poured in what was left in a couple of open bottle which had been in the fridge for a while, probably about a cup and a half.

Step seven: everything else — a saucepan full of turkey stock (four to six cups), the browned chicken, chopped up green beans (local, organic, frozen at the end of the summer), red potatoes, probably two cups of water to make sure everything was covered and a tablespoon or two or my favorite homemade vegetable bouillon.

Step eight: bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, tasting for seasoning and doneness along the way.

Step nine: enjoy a hearty meal and store the leftovers.  (This recipe makes roughly a vat of soup.  There will be leftovers unless you are feeding many and/or large appetites.)

You could server it over rice or noodles.  You could throw in tiny pasta (or not so tiny pasta, as you like).  Beans would probably work, too.  I am hoping that it freezes well, and I can vouch that it improves as leftovers.

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Title: Italian Country Cooking: The Secrets of Cucina Povera
Author: Loukie Werle
Photographer: Alan Benson
Publisher: Fall River Press (owned by Barnes & Noble, which would explain why I found this lovely book in a remainder stack for $12.98)
Copyright: 2007

Although I spend quite a bit of time reading and daydreaming about France and Paris when it comes to food (especially cheese), wine, fashion, art, history and scenery, when I read a book like this, I can’t help thinking that perhaps I should daydream about using Italy as a home base for visiting France rather than the other way around.  Not that I haven’t also long been a fan of Italian food, wine, fashion, history, art and scenery, but the daydreams usually have me somewhere in Paris and/or rural France.

The first section of Italian Country Cooking is devoted to pasta, which is probably my second favorite food after cheese, so I was hooked right from the start, and I want to make just about every recipe in the chapter.  Meanwhile, the gorgeous photographs make me want to shop for vintage rimmed soup bowls in which to serve these fabulous dishes.

The recipes in the second section focus on rice and grains.  Another win, given that I love risotto, with the bonus of a few farro recipes I want to try out with the farro I purchased before I really had any idea of what I would do with it.  Polenta falls into that category too, and now I have ideas for that as well, namely Lasagna di Polenta (polenta lasagna with three cheeses).  The Bomba di Riso (rice cake with provolone and sausage) is also on the “to try” list, once I figure out which pan I can use.

Moving on to beans and legumes, the Pasta e Ceci (chickpea and pasta soup) is a beautifully written example of how to really build a soup, layering in the flavors for a hearty result, and while I am very proud of my “improv” lentil soup, the Minestra di Riso e Lenticchie (lentil and rice soup)looks as if it could be equally good.  (Incidentally, I have discovered that the secret to really good lentil soup is to cook it longer than you think you should.)

Salads and vegetables are up next, and I dare you to resist the Asparagus Gratinati (asparagus and provolone gratin).  You will probably learn a thing or two about leafy greens.  I know I did.

La Vignarola (Roman springtime stew) has a detailed description for preparing artichokes which almost has me convinced that I can do it, but they still scare me a little, especially since the author does not offer suggestions of what to do with the outer leaves and so called “hairy choke.”  I am wondering if I could maybe cheat and just buy artichoke hearts, except that I really want to try to cook something starting with a whole, raw artichoke.  If the artichokes do get the best of me, I could always console myself with Torta di Patate (potato pie with smoke mozzarells and salami).

Having cleansed the palate with salad and veggies, it’s on to eggs and cheese.  Frittata al Forno (frittata with scamorza) offers incentive to (learn to) use the broiler, even in the midst of summer when tomatoes are at their peak.  Or perhaps try the recipe for a baked omelette which sounds more like a crepe.

Moving from the land to the sea, recipes for fish and other seafood, especially mussels and clams, are up next.  There is a swordfish recipe which promises to be “very lemony, herby and garlicky,” and all I could think was “Sign me up!”

As an aside, the author does show a strong penchant for rosemary, which I don’t care for, but I think a substitution could be made without undermining the recipes.  The same is true for chiles.  In fact, I think that almost all of the recipes could be adapted with ease to individual preferences and tastes, not to mention to what is actually available to hand.

Other meats follow in the next two chapters — chicken, beef, veal, lamb, including several recipes for offal, and even a couple of recipes for rabbit and one for oxtails.  The final two chapters round out the meal, er, book with bread and pizza and desserts.

There are recipes simple and complex, vegetarian and meat loving.  Anyone with a love of hearty, classic Italian food should find recipes in this book to make, enjoy and share.

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