Archive for the 'Soup' Category

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup

Hi, all! Long time, no post. Since my husband and I started eating a mostly Paleo diet last year, I just haven’t been as inclined to write. Most meals are simple foods, simply prepared (but delicious!). I definitely repeat recipes a lot these days, whereas I used to try something new almost every day. Still, I had a friend request dinner ideas recently, so I’ll try to get back into the swing of things. (And I make no promise that absolutely everything I post will be healthy. A girl’s gotta live a little!)

Since we’re having another snow day here in Denver, I thought it would be the perfect time to post Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup from the October 2010 issue of Everyday Food. This recipe – like so many of my favorites these days – is what I like to call “accidentally Paleo.” It wasn’t created with the Paleo diet in mind, but the ingredients comply perfectly.

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup
Serves 4
Prep time: 15 min. | Total time: 55 min.

Ingredients:
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (boneless, skinless will work fine too)
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and diced medium
1 small yellow onion, diced medium
2 tablespoons olive oil (or coconut oil)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water (I use Costco’s organic chicken stock)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Method:
Preheat oven to 425°. In a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet, toss together chicken, squash, onion, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer and roast until squash and chicken are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool. Transfer squash and onions to a medium pot and add broth, cumin, and coriander. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. With a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon, mash some vegetables until soup is thick and chunky. (I just give it a few pulses with my immersion blender.) Discard skin and bones from chicken; cut meat into small pieces and add to soup. Stir in lemon juice; season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, top with fresh cilantro, if desired.

roasted_chicken_and_butternut_soup

I do love this soup. It’s hearty and filling thanks to the chicken, but it certainly isn’t heavy; the squash and lemon create a light texture and bright flavor. This one of several recipes I make in big batches and then freeze individual portions for future lunches. (I’m no longer a Lean Cuisine addict – hooray!)

Recipe link: Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup

Moroccan Meatball Soup with Sweet Potato

When you make a recipe that’s a bit of a letdown, do you ever give it a second chance? Today’s recipe – Moroccan Meatball Soup with Sweet Potato – is one that I practically live on these days, but it almost didn’t make it to the “repeat recipe” pile after my first try.

When I first made this soup, I used a medium pot as the recipe suggested; in my opinion, at least, a “medium” pot has about a 3- or 4-quart capacity. Once I got to the second half of the recipe, though, and saw the mound of sliced sweet potatoes and carrots that I needed to add to the pot, I knew I was in trouble. Since there wasn’t much else to do, I pulled my 5.5-quart enameled cast iron pot out of the cabinet and forged ahead.

We had the soup for dinner that night. While Dr. O said he enjoyed it, I was less than impressed. Still, there was plenty left over for lunch, so we both dug in again the next day.

Overnight, something magical happened. The previously bland soup seemed so rich and flavorful. I think the seasoning in the meatballs – the majority of which I had lost when I had to switch pots – had a chance to seep into the broth, completely transforming the soup.

Since I was able to see the recipe’s true potential, I decided to give it another chance. Using the 5.5-quart enameled cast iron pot from the beginning this time, I was able to develop a gorgeous fond while cooking the onions and spices. I deglazed the pan with a bit of chicken broth later in the recipe so those delicious browned bits wouldn’t go to waste. In terms of flavor, it made all the difference in the world.

Moroccan Meatball Soup with Sweet Potato
Serves 4 – 6
Prep: 20 min. | Total time: 50 min.

Ingredients:
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, diced small
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into thin half-moons
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
7 cups chicken broth
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Method:
In a medium pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium. Add onion and cook until softened, 8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, cumin, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and add beef. Using your hands, gently combine (do not overmix), then form beef mixture into 1-inch balls.

Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pot and heat over medium-high. Add sweet potatoes and carrots and cook until bright orange, 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir to coat. Add broth and bring to a simmer; cook until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add meatballs and simmer until cooked through, 12 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro to serve.

Source: MarthaStewart.com

My notes:

  • I used a large pot instead of a medium pot. (Lesson learned!)
  • I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil.
  • I used a 1.5-pound package of organic 85% lean ground beef from Costco for the meatballs. Since my meat had a higher fat content, I skimmed the fat from the soup at the end.  The easiest way to do this (once you’ve had your initial serving of soup, if you’re hungry), is to chill the soup in the refrigerator.  The fat will rise to the top and harden, and you can remove it with a spoon.
  • I used a mandoline to make quick work of slicing the sweet potatoes and the carrots.
  • In addition to seasoning the onion mixture in the first step, I seasoned the meatball mixture as well.

Image

This is such a great recipe! The meatballs and starchy vegetables make the soup so hearty and filling, and I love the Moroccan spice. Don’t skip the sprinkle of cilantro (unless you hate cilantro, of course); it adds a fantastic layer of flavor to the dish.

Since Dr. O and I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible, I make a batch of this every week (along with another dish, to keep things interesting). I freeze individual portions, and we put them in the refrigerator to thaw overnight for lunch the next day. It beats the heck out of a Lean Cuisine!

Recipe link: Moroccan Meatball Soup with Sweet Potato

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

We’ve been undergoing a bit of a food revolution in our house over the past few months, trying to eat as cleanly as possible (when we’re home and can control it, at least!) in the interest of being our best and healthiest selves. We eat lots of organic meat and eggs, lots of fruit and veggies (keeping the Dirty Dozen organic, at least), and a little organic dairy, and we’ve majorly reduced our beer and wine consumption. It’s been tough, but worth it. Lest you think we’re going crazy, I did bring a caramel apple pie to my friend Christopher’s amazing Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed every single bite. (Life without any indulgence hardly seems worth living, am I right?) Still, we’re doing the best we can as often as we can.

Changing our lunch habits has been a major challenge throughout this process. I used to alternate between Lean Cuisine and turkey sandwiches; Dr. O was eating the previous night’s leftovers, or (horror of horrors!) Lean Pockets, in the event of an emergency. Since I really wanted to get away from processed food, I bought a bunch of glass Snapware at Costco and committed to stocking my freezer with homemade frozen lunches. I’ve made lots of delicious recipes (I’ll share them, promise!), but today’s recipe – Moroccan Vegetable Stew from Peace Meals – is one of my favorites. There’s a lot of prep work with the veggies, but the stew is really simple and tasty. Plus, the ingredients fill my five-quart slow cooker to the brim, which means I have plenty of lunches to freeze.

Moroccan Vegetable Stew
Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon dried cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
5 cups vegetable broth (I use organic chicken broth, since that’s what I keep on hand)
2 1/2 cups diced eggplant, about 2 medium
2 cups peeled and sliced carrots, about 5 small
2 cups cauliflower florets, about 1 small head
2 cups sliced zucchini, about 2 medium
1 cup chopped onion, about 1 medium
29 ounces canned stewed tomatoes (I use Muir Glen)
15 ounces canned garbanzo beans
1 cup chopped toasted almonds
3/4 cup currants
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt (optional)

Method:
Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-low. Add the garlic and spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes; be careful not to burn the garlic. Scrape the garlic and spices into a slow cooker. Add the broth and the remaining ingredients (except the yogurt) and stir. Cook on high for 6 to 7 hours. Allow to cool slightly. Purée 3 cups of the stew in a blender or food processor and return to the slow cooker, stirring to combine. Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt, if desired.

Source: Peace Meals

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

This is such warm, delicious, comforting food. You probably have to like eggplant in order to enjoy this one, but I just adore the way all the vegetables in this dish come together. I also love, love, love the hint of sweetness from the currants and the slight heat from the cayenne pepper.

The first time I made this stew, I was in a huge hurry, rushing to get out the door for some reason. I nearly skipped the almonds since I didn’t want to take the time to toast and chop them. It would have been a huge mistake! I thought it was so strange to put nuts in a slow-cooker stew (surely they would get spongy, right?), but they add such a wonderful texture and flavor to the dish.

TIPS: When I first made this stew, I cut my vegetables into fairly large pieces since I assumed they would cook down quite a bit (especially the eggplant and the zucchini). It didn’t really happen. Now, I use a small dice for the onion, a small-medium dice for the eggplant, and half-moons for the zucchini (and larger carrots). Also, I just put my hand blender right into the slow cooker for a few seconds at the end, rather than dirty my regular blender or food processor.

Vegetarian Chili

After enjoying glorious temperatures for the past couple of weeks, we’re back to comfort food weather here in Denver. (82° to 42° in 24 hours?  So Colorado.) Today’s recipe is one of my favorite recent discoveries: Vegetarian Chili from the May 2010 issue of Everyday Food. It’s quick and easy, but it’s also hearty and has great depth of flavor (thank you, chipotle chile powder!). I made it last month up in the mountains for a group of friends that included a vegetarian and several meat eaters. While my sassy meat-eating friends refused to call it chili since it’s meatless, one of them also said it was in his top five “soups” of all time. I’ll take it!

Vegetarian Chili
Total time: 35 min. | Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3/4 cup (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

Method:
In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and garlic is soft, about 4 minutes. Add cumin and chile powder, season with salt and pepper, and cook until spices are fragrant, 1 minute. Add zucchini and tomato paste; cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste is deep brick red, 3 minutes. Stir in black beans, pinto beans, and both cans diced tomatoes. Add 2 cups water and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a medium simmer and cook until zucchini is tender and liquid reduces slightly, 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Source: Everyday Food, May 2010

Vegetarian Chili

I’ve been on the hunt for a good vegetarian chili recipe, and I have to tell you, this is IT. I love the smokiness of the chipotle chile powder (it makes the dish!), the sweetness of the tomatoes, and the crisp-tender texture of the zucchini. The chili is chunky, hearty, filling, and delicious. Since the flavor is actually better than most meat chilis I’ve tried or made, it’s perfect for entertaining vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

My only warning: If you don’t enjoy spicy food, you’ll want to cut the amount of chipotle chile powder considerably. As it’s written, the chili is quite warm (but certainly not unbearable), and that’s if you use canned tomatoes with mild green chiles. As a person who has been working to increase my tolerance for spicy foods, it pushes my boundaries just a bit. Our friends loved the amount of heat, but they did notice that it built up as they ate. Sour cream will offer some relief if you need it.

Recipe link: Vegetarian Chili

TIPS:  I was shocked to see the cheapest option for chipotle chile powder at my usual grocery store was $8.19. Yikes. Thankfully, I was able to find a jar at SuperTarget for $4.99. Even better if you have time: Go to a local spice store (Savory Spice Shop is my favorite!) and buy an even smaller (and less expensive) quantity.

Green Chile Stew

It’s snowing like crazy here in Denver today, and it isn’t supposed to stop until tomorrow morning.  To me, one of the best parts of hunkering down for a snowy weekend is cooking warm, comforting food like today’s recipe – Green Chile Stew. I’ve enjoyed delicious green chile with pork many times at the Gomez home in New Mexico, but I’d never tried making any myself (probably because it took a long time to work up my spicy food tolerance to the point where I could handle the dish!). Motivated by the batch of roasted Big Jim chiles in my freezer (thanks, C.Go!), I decided to give this one a try.  Our noses ran from the heat of the chiles, for sure, but we enjoyed every bite.

February 3rd Snow

And it's still coming down!

Green Chile Stew
Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds lean pork, cubed (I had a 1.5-pound pork tenderloin in my freezer, so I used that)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 to 8 green New Mexico chiles, roasted, peeled, seeds and stems removed, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced (optional)
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I was not about to deal with peeling a tomato, so I used a drained 14.5-ounce can of peeled diced tomatoes)
3 cups water (or chicken stock) (I used chicken stock)
Salt to taste

Method:

Heat the oil in a pan and brown the pork.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.

Combine the pork mixture and remaining ingredients in a Dutch oven and simmer, covered, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.  Check occasionally and add a bit more water if needed.  Season to taste.

Per serving (with six servings): 245 cal; 8 g fat (2 g sat fat); 2 g fiber; 9 g carb; 33 g protein

Source: The Southwest Table by Dave DeWitt

Green Chile Stew

Ohhhh, this was so good.  Simple and delicious.  I was afraid the pork might be tough or dry after cooking for so long, but it was moist and tender.  I’ll definitely use a tenderloin again the next time I make this recipe.  I loved the broth and the heat from the chiles, and the potatoes were perfectly cooked.  (Though the potatoes bulked up the stew nicely, I’ll admit that I wondered if I was committing green chile sacrilege when I put them in.)  Yay for advancing in our spicy food training!

Recipe link: Green Chile Stew

Acorn Squash Bisque

Last week’s kitchen equation: Dr. O had sinus surgery and deserved some liquid TLC + two lovely acorn squashes in my refrigerator (the very end of my final CSA delivery!) = a batch of Acorn Squash Bisque.  It’s easy, delicious, and perfect for comforting someone you love (including yourself!).

Acorn Squash Bisque
Prep time: 20 min. | Total time: 35 min.
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 acorn squashes (3 pounds total)
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half

Method:
Place squashes on a paper towel and microwave on high just until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from the microwave, and halve each squash lengthwise (to speed cooling).  When cool enough to handle, scoop out and discard the seeds.  Scrape out flesh into a bowl; discard skin.  (To prepare in oven, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out and discard seeds.  Place squash, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet; cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Roast until almost tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 25 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh, discard skin, and proceed with step 2.)

In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium.  Add onion; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add squash, thyme, broth, and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to medium, and cook until squash is very tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Working in batches, puree mixture in a blender until very smooth, about 1 minute. Return to pan; add half-and-half, and season generously with salt and pepper.  Thin bisque, if needed, by adding more water.  Serve garnished with thyme.

Source: Everyday Food, November 2007

My notes:

  • I prepared my squash in the microwave.  Mine were two different sizes, and one of them needed more like 10 – 12 minutes for the flesh to be tender enough to scoop out.  The flesh will still be a lot firmer than you’re used to if you’ve roasted squash before, but it will finish cooking in the broth and water.
  • I used my immersion blender instead of transferring the soup to a regular blender.  (Best tool ever!)
  • I did not need to thin my bisque.

Acorn Squash Bisque

Yum!  This soup was creamy and comforting – just what we needed.  I’ve written before about not being super crazy about acorn squash, but this had such a mild flavor.  If I hadn’t made it myself, I might have thought we were eating potato soup… Perhaps this recipe would be good for pulling a fast one on the squash averse.

Anyway, we loved it, and I’ll certainly make it again.

Recipe link: Acorn Squash Bisque

Green Grape and Marcona Almond Gazpacho

I’m up to my eyeballs in Thai recipes that I’m testing for this month’s gourmet club meeting, but I realized today that I haven’t posted a word about last month’s amazing Spanish-themed meeting.  We had a terrific meal!  I was on appetizer duty and so much of the Spanish recipe content out there centers around tapas, so I had lots to choose from.  My final choices were Tomato-Rubbed Bread with Manchego Cheese (the favorite!), Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Shrimp Salad (soooo good), and the one recipe I actually managed to photograph: Green Grape and Marcona Almond Gazpacho.  I’ve made tomato and cucumber-based gazpacho before, and this one was so different.  It’s creamy, fruity, nutty, and easily made ahead – perfect for entertaining outside in the summer.  Here’s the recipe:

Green Grape and Marcona Almond Gazpacho
Makes about 8 cups

Ingredients:
1 large garlic clove
2 1/2 large seedless cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice (5 cups), plus 1/4 cup finely diced peeled cucumber, for garnish
1 1/4 cups whole green grapes, plus 1/4 cup diced grapes, for garnish
3/4 cup Marcona almonds
3 cups crustless 1/2-inch dice of good white bread
4 scallions, white and tender green parts, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup packed watercress leaves
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:
In a small saucepan of boiling water, cook the garlic clove for 10 minutes; drain.

In a blender, working in batches, puree the garlic with the 5 cups of diced cucumber, the 1 1/4 cups of whole green grapes, 1/2 cup of the almonds and the bread cubes, scallions, watercress, water, olive oil, and sherry vinegar until very smooth. Transfer the soup to a large pitcher and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

To serve, chop the remaining 1/4 cup of almonds.  Stir the gazpacho, then pour it into shallow bowls.  Garnish the soups with the finely diced cucumber and grapes and the chopped almonds and serve.

Make ahead: The gazpacho can be refrigerated overnight.

Source: FoodandWine.com

My notes:

  • I left out the watercress because my grocery store didn’t have any.
  • I was able to find Marcona almonds at Costco.  I had to buy more than I needed (of course!), but they’re incredibly delicious and made a great snack.
  • If you go to Costco for the almonds, you might at well get English cucumbers while you’re there as well.  You can get three for the price you would typically pay for two at a regular grocery store.

Green Grape and Marcona Almond Gazpacho

I would say this soup is best suited for adventurous eaters since it’s served cold and the flavors are a bit unexpected.  Visually, one might think avocado or peas, but the flavor is definitely a combination of fruit and nuts.  We all agreed that there was almost a pear flavor (despite the fact that the recipe didn’t contain any pears), which was, I think, a combination of the cucumber and the grapes.  The almonds stood out wonderfully in the flavor profile, and they also gave the soup its creamy texture.  This gazpacho would be a fantastic, light first course for an outdoor dinner party or would make a great addition to any Spanish-themed menu.

Recipe links: Tomato-Rubbed Bread with Serrano Ham (I substituted Manchego), Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Shrimp Salad, and Green Grape and Marcona Almond Gazpacho

North Woods Bean Soup

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t been cooking much.  I felt like I had to break the takeout cycle for at least the beginning of this week, though, since we’re about to have an indulgent weekend in honor of Dr. O’s birthday.  When I went back into the kitchen on Monday night, I had several recipe requirements: easy, tasty, fast, preferably healthy.  It certainly hasn’t been soup weather in Denver lately (it was 74° on Monday!), but I had a soup recipe that fit the bill perfectly: North Woods Bean Soup from the January 2002 issue of Cooking Light.  I first made it last winter, and the fact that I could easily recall how delicious it was made it worthy of a repeat.  Here’s the recipe:

North Woods Bean Soup
Makes five 1 1/2-cup servings

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
1 cup baby carrots, halved
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
7 ounces turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 (15.8-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 (6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach leaves

Method:
Heat a large saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and kielbasa; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes. Add the broth, Italian seasoning, pepper, and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

Place 2 cups of the soup in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Return the puréed mixture to pan. Simmer an additional 5 minutes. Remove soup from heat. Add the spinach, stirring until spinach wilts.

North Woods Bean Soup

This soup is so good.  It has so many of my favorite ingredients – turkey kielbasa, carrots, fresh spinach – and puréeing part of the soup makes it seem rich and hearty (instead of super healthy).  This is another recipe where I need to go several rounds with the salt and pepper to get the taste I want (Cooking Light recipes are never salty enough for me!), but the extra effort is worth it.  I’m not asking for cooler weather, but if it comes, I’ll just use it as an excuse to make another batch of this soup.

TIPS: This probably has more to do with the size of my carrot pieces than it has to do with the lower boiling temperature of water at high altitude, but I had to extend my initial simmering time (immediately after the broth was added) to 8 minutes instead of 5 minutes to adequately cook the carrots.  I figured they wouldn’t purée very well if they were too firm.

Recipe link: North Woods Bean Soup

Lentil Vegetable Soup

When my friend had surgery a few weeks ago, I wanted to bring him some food to make his life a bit easier in the following days.  It seems, though, like so many deliverable foods tend to be heavy: lasagnas, casseroles, enchiladas, etc.  (I should probably mention that my friend’s enchiladas are better than mine anyway!)  I was looking for something healthy and portable that would stand up to reheating; Ina Garten’s Lentil Vegetable Soup was a perfect solution.  It requires considerable prep work and the cooking time is long, but the results are absolutely delicious.  Plus, I nearly filled two 12-cup storage containers with soup when all was said and done. That’s plenty for eating, freezing, or sharing.

Full disclosure: Depending on your knife skills and how quickly you move in the kitchen, you should probably count on 15 – 30 minutes of vegetable prep work before you can really get rolling with the recipe.  I’m going to write about the process as if the vegetables are already ready to go.

To start, I sorted and rinsed 1 pound of green lentils.  (Thank you, Gomez family, for teaching me long ago that this isn’t meant to happen bean by bean!)  The recipe specifically calls for French green lentils; my grocery store had one type of lentil (not French, I’m sure), so I took what I could get.  I put the clean lentils in a large bowl, covered them with boiling water, and let them sit for 15 minutes.  Once the time had passed, I drained the lentils and set them aside.

Meanwhile, I sautéed 4 cups of chopped yellow onions (3 large onions), 4 cups of chopped leeks (white part only – I needed 3 large leeks), and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic with 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of coarse salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin in a large stockpot over medium heat.  After 20 minutes, I added 3 cups of medium-diced celery (8 stalks) and 3 cups of medium-diced carrots (6 carrots) and sautéed everything for 10 more minutes.  Next, I added 3 quarts of chicken stock (three 32-ounce containers), 1/4 cup of tomato paste, and the drained lentils.  I covered the pot, brought the soup to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered the soup uncovered for an hour.  (At this point, the lentils should be cooked through.  Keep simmering if they’re too firm for your taste.)  Once the hour had passed, I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste (I didn’t have to add much) and stirred in 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.  I delivered the soup to my friend with a container of freshly grated Parmesan for sprinkling on top.

Lentil Vegetable Soup

Oh, this soup is yummy.  The cumin and thyme help create a rich flavor profile, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had a soup more hearty and comforting.  I simmered mine for the recommended hour, and the lentils were almost al dente – completely cooked, but not even remotely mushy.  The vegetables were crisp-tender (even after an hour of simmering!), which is so much better than the “boiled to mush” vegetables you find in canned soups.  This soup earned the endorsement of my friend, his father, my husband, and my parents (my dad loves lentil soup, so my mom made it the week after I did); it’s definitely going in the “keeper” pile.

TIPS:  I used my 8.5-quart Dutch oven to make the soup; the pot size was just perfect.  Also, if you’ve never worked with leeks, please read this post; grit isn’t good!

Recipe link: Lentil Vegetable Soup

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

The Costco cookbook section strikes again!  When I was there a few weeks ago, I made the mistake of browsing through a couple of cookbooks, one from America’s Test Kitchen and one from Cook’s Illustrated.  I tried to talk myself into getting only one, but there were recipes I really, really wanted to try in both.  In my defense, it’s not like recipes from America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated are as easy to get online as many others; they want you to start a subscription (temporarily free, of course!) to even see what they have to offer.  Needless to say, both books ended up in my basket.  To make it worth it, I decided to start digging for recipes right away.

The first recipe I chose (from More Best Recipes, the Cook’s Illustrated book) was for a skillet strata.  I think my brains were scrambled from pre-Christmas craziness and I managed to completely leave out the salt in the dish.  Not good.  I missed the flavor dearly and it’s never the same when you sprinkle salt on after cooking; I’ll remake and post that one sometime in the next month or two.

The second recipe I chose was for Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup.  My intention was to make this in the week or two before Christmas, but cooking fell below shopping, baking, and traveling on the priority list.  Thankfully, many of the ingredients are shelf-stable or things I typically keep around the house; I finally got around to making the soup last night and only needed a fresh bunch of scallions to complete the ingredient list.

I’ve provided the recipe as written below.  Here are my deviations and special notes:

  • I used the pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • I did not use the 2 tablespoons of brandy.  (I didn’t have any.)
  • I imagine the flavor of this soup depends largely on the quality of canned tomatoes you use.  I used Cento Italian tomatoes and I thought the result was delicious.  There was a bit of basil canned in with the tomatoes, so admittedly, mine might have been more of a tomato-basil soup.
  • When I went to get chicken broth from the pantry, I discovered that I didn’t have any.  (I always have chicken broth!)  I used vegetable broth instead since that’s what I had.
  • I used an immersion blender to puree the soup directly in the Dutch oven instead of transferring it to a blender.  Since I didn’t have to puree in batches, I added the 2 tablespoons of olive oil all at once.  I turned the stove heat off while I pureed.
  • I used scallions to garnish the soup instead of chives.

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

This soup was incredibly delicious and super easy, perfect comfort food for the chilly nights we’ve been experiencing in the Denver area lately.  It really did have smooth, creamy texture (this is directly connected to how thoroughly you puree it, of course) and bright flavor.  The “season with salt and pepper to taste” step near the end of the recipe is not to be ignored, though; I went three rounds with coarse salt and ground pepper until I got the flavor I wanted.  It was worth the effort.  I gave Dr. O a grilled cheese “lesson” while I finished the soup, and we ended up with a terrific meal.  I would definitely make this soup again.

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 medium onion, chopped medium (about 1 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 large slices high-quality white sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Method:
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using), and bay leaf.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes with their juice.  Using a potato masher, mash until pieces no bigger than 2 inches remain.  Stir in the sugar and the bread; bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes.  Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Transfer half of the soup to a blender.  Add 1 tablespoon more oil and process until the soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining soup and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  Rinse out the Dutch oven and return the soup to the pot.  Stir in the chicken broth and brandy (if using).  Return the soup to a boil and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle the soup into individual bowls.  Sprinkle each portion with pepper, the chopped chives, and drizzle with olive oil.

Source: More Best Recipes (Cook’s Illustrated)




The Daring Kitchen

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 559 other followers

I want to cook…

Archives