Posts Tagged 'Soup Recipes'

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

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

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.


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

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

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

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

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)

French Onion Soup

How do I love thee, Pioneer Woman?  Let me count the recipes.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ree Drummond (aka Pioneer Woman), she’s an “accidental country girl” who blogs about life on an Oklahoma ranch with her cowboy husband and four children.  Cooking is one of the central themes of her Web site, and every single thing she makes looks abso-freakin’-lutely delicious.  Every.  Single.  Thing.

I’m a relative latecomer to the Pioneer Woman party, so I haven’t actually made all that many of her recipes yet.  (OK, I’ll admit it.  I’ve only made one.  But that Vanilla Bean Ice Cream might be the most delicious thing to ever come from the marriage of a saucepan and a freezer.  Plus, I just bought her cookbook, so surely more will come!)  I’ve been lucky enough to have things made for me, though.  One of my best memories from last winter was the day my friend Christopher brought all of the ingredients for Pioneer Woman’s French Onion Soup over to the old condo and spoiled Dr. O and I with dinner.  (What friends I have!  I tell you.)  It’s absolutely to die for, and I’m sure the stick of butter and cup of wine have a lot to do with it.

I’ve been meaning to make it for well over a week now, but The Sickness took me down before I could get to it.  Thankfully, my ingredients survived the delay.  I’m not even going to put you through the paces of step-by-step instruction today because nobody does it better than Pioneer Woman herself.  Visit her site to check out the recipe (with a photo for each step!).

French Onion Soup

This soup is just so, so good.  Make it!  It takes some time (about 2 hours total), but most of that is just sitting around waiting for things to happen.  If you can melt butter and slice onions, success is sure to be yours.

One thing, though…  I’m used to using unsalted butter in all of my cooking, and Pioneer Woman uses salted butter in hers.  Plus, she suggests using regular-sodium beef broth with the low-sodium chicken broth; silly goose over here bought all low-sodium.  Due to the combination of unsalted butter and low-sodium broth, I did end up having to add several healthy pinches of kosher salt to my soup to get it to taste the way I wanted it to taste.  So, either go with the salted butter and regular-sodium beef broth or be prepared to season.

Recipe link: French Onion Soup

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili

I (lightly) catered a party last month for a friend who is involved in the Junior League of Denver, and she gave me a copy of Colorado Classique (the new Junior League of Denver cookbook) as part of my payment.  The JLD cookbooks are a well-known source of fantastic recipes, so I was really excited to receive my very first one.  I had the pleasure of tasting the peanut butter bars from the book at my friend’s house (absolutely incredible – I’ll be making and posting them soon), but I wanted my first selection from the book to be something well-suited for the winter-like weather we experienced here in Denver last week.  I chose to go with the Kielbasa Black Bean Chili, and boy did I choose well.  Dr. O and I enjoyed it so much that I have another pot simmering on the stove right now so we’ll have some to enjoy with football tomorrow.

To make the stew, I started off by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in my 8 1/2-quart Dutch oven.  (You could probably get away with one that’s a bit smaller.)  Next, I tossed in 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) of turkey kielbasa (quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces) and cooked it until it started to brown.  (This took 10 minutes at my house; the recipe indicated 12 minutes.)

Using a slotted spoon, I transferred the kielbasa to a bowl and set it aside.  You need to have to 2 tablespoons of oil in the pot before the next step, so add or subtract from the drippings if necessary.  (My turkey kielbasa didn’t render much fat but did soak up some oil, so I had to add oil to the pot.)  Still using medium-high heat, I added 2 cups of chopped onions, 1 coarsely chopped red bell pepper, 1 coarsely chopped green bell pepper, and 4 chopped garlic cloves to the pot.  I sauteed them until they were beginning to brown (6 minutes at my house, 10 minutes in the recipe).

To the vegetable mixture, I added four 15-ounce cans of black beans (drained and rinsed), a 32-ounce box of chicken broth, a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice (undrained), 3 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 3 small bay leaves, 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried oregano, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin.  I brought the chili to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduced the heat to medium, covered it, and simmered it for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, I returned the kielbasa to the pot and reduced the heat to low.  I simmered the chili, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When it was nice and thick, I seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste and served it with sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili

I could happily eat this once a week through the end of winter…  It’s amazingly delicious, warm, and comforting.  Plus, the recipe yields 8 servings, so we were able to have dinner twice plus a lunch for Dr. O on one night’s worth of cooking.  It was wonderful the first night, but a tip included with the recipe was spot on: The chili really was even better the next day.  This makes it perfect for casual entertaining; I’m going to put the chili, Dutch oven and all, into the refrigerator and then just gently reheat it tomorrow for the game.

TIPS:  The bottom of my Dutch oven got pretty brown when I was browning the kielbasa, and the onions picked up the color when they were sauteeing.  It didn’t cause any problems with the chili in terms of flavor or appearance, so don’t worry if this happens to you.

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili
Serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
1 1/2 pounds turkey or beef kielbasa or Canino’s Bratwurst, quartered lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups chopped onions
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 32-ounce box organic chicken broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
3 – 4 tablespoons chili powder, depending on desired spiciness
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 small bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons salt, or more to taste
Sour cream and chopped green onions for topping


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add kielbasa or bratwurst and saute 12 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer kielbasa or bratwurst to a bowl.  If necessary, add more olive oil to drippings in pot to measure 2 tablespoons, or discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings.  Add onions, both bell peppers, and garlic.  Saute 10 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Add beans, broth, tomatoes with juice, chili powder, sugar, vinegar, bay leaves, oregano, and cumin.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.  Return kielbasa or bratwurst to pot.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until chili is thick, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.

Chili can be made a day ahead.  Cool slightly; cover, and chill.  Rewarm before serving.

Source: Colorado Classique


Summer is officially here and I am absolutely loving the produce.  It was my turn to host the Gourmet Club meeting this month, so in honor of summer and all of its bounty, I decided the theme would be “farmer’s market fresh.”  The goal was to use ingredients that might be found in a farmer’s market at this time of the year and also for the dishes to have a fresh edge – light, crisp, not cheese-laden, etc.

My fellow foodies brought the appetizers and desserts (they were fantastic!), and I handled the main part of the meal since I was hostessing.  After much (and I mean way, way too much) thought, I decided on Gazpacho with Grilled Ciabatta as our first course and Emeril’s Fish Provencal with Orzo and Zucchini Salad as the main.  I’m going to share the Gazpacho with you today (mostly because I had a chance to snap a photo of it before we ate it!).  It’s a bit time-consuming to prep all of the produce, but this is a fantastic dish for entertaining because it actually tastes *better* if you let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving it.  It’s great for summer too because there’s no heat involved; what sounds more refreshing than a chilled summer soup on a warm evening?

To start, I roughly chopped 1 hothouse cucumber (halved and seeded but not peeled), 2 red bell peppers (cored and seeded), 4 plum tomatoes (cored), and 1 red onion into 1-inch cubes.  (They don’t have to be perfect because everything ends up in the food processor anyway.)  I put each ingredient separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulsed until it was coarsely chopped.  The recipe cautions you not to overprocess the ingredients, and the exclamation point in the recipe is for good reason.  During my test run of the recipe, I think I pulsed each ingredient about seven times; Dr. O suggested the soup would make a nice salsa.  When I made it for Gourmet Club, I pulsed each ingredient about four times, which gave me just the right amount of chunkiness.  (I did process the red onion until it was pretty finely chopped, though.  Few people enjoy a big bite of raw red onion.)

After each ingredient was processed, I transferred it to a large bowl.  I added 3 minced garlic cloves, 3 cups of packaged tomato juice, 1/4 cup of white-wine vinegar, 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon of kosher (coarse) salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  I thoroughly mixed everything together, covered the bowl, and chilled the gazpacho in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve it (about 8 hours, though you can chill it for far less time if necessary).


This soup is super delish; it’s light, fresh, and flavorful.  I adore this recipe even more because it lets me make and clean up my mess long before company arrives.  This is another case, though, where the soup can only be as good as what you put into it.  Make sure you get the freshest possible produce and use top-quality olive oil – the flavor difference will be worth it!

TIPS:  If you’ve never specifically used a hothouse (or English) cucumber, they typically come in a plastic wrapper at the grocery store.  They have thinner skin, less conspicuous seeds, and milder flavor than a regular cucumber.

Recipe link: Gazpacho

Tortilla Soup with Black Beans

Is it just me, or is January official “sick time” for a significant percentage of the population?  Dr. O was sick over New Year’s, I’ve had a cold that just won’t let go (officially since the day *after* Dr. O recovered – nice, huh?), and it seems like most of our friends have had some sort of ailment in recent weeks.  Blah.

On those crappy “sick” days, soup just really seems to do the trick.  Chicken noodle is the classic, of course, but I thought it might be fun to try the Tortilla Soup with Black Beans recipe from the January 2009 issue of Everyday Food.  With only 15 minutes of effort required from start to finish, it’s the kind of meal I can handle whether I feel on top of my game or not.

First, I heated 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  I added 4 minced garlic cloves and and 1 teaspoon of chili powder, cooking and stirring the mixture until it was fragrant (1 minute).  Next, I added 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) of diced tomatoes (juice included), 2 cans (15 ounces each) of black beans (rinsed and drained), 1 can (14.5 ounces) of reduced-sodium chicken broth, 1 package (10 ounces) of frozen corn kernels, and 1 cup of water.

I seasoned the soup with salt and pepper, brought it to a boil, and then reduced it to a simmer.  I added 1 cup of crushed tortilla chips and cooked until they were softened (2 minutes).  Finally, I removed the soup from the heat, stirred in 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice, and seasoned again with salt and pepper to taste.  I served the soup with extra crushed chips and lime wedges.

Tortilla Soup with Black Beans

(I really hate this picture.  I seem to be in a bit of a slump with the camera lately, which is why I hope to pick up some photo tips from a friend’s new photography blog.)

We really enjoyed this soup.  It isn’t zippy at all – how can it be in the absence of zippy ingredients? – but it *is* flavorful.  I especially enjoyed the hint of lime, plus you can really taste the “tortilla” flavor from the cooked chips.  Mmm.

This makes a TON of soup.  Dr. O and I had it for dinner one night, we had a friend over and served it with nachos the next day (football day!), and we *still* had soup leftover.  Leftovers sure make life easier, though, so I’m going to count quantity as a “pro” here.

Recipe link: Tortilla Soup with Black Beans

Turkey and White-Bean Chili

It has been sooo cold here in Denver lately.  We’re “warm” today at 39F…  It’s pretty sad when that feels almost balmy.  With last weekend’s record-setting cold (which is scheduled to repeat itself *this* weekend!), all I’ve been craving are warm, comforting foods.  Turkey and White-Bean Chili from the September 2003 issue of Everyday Food fit the bill.

In a large, deep skillet, I heated 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat.  I added 1 pound of ground turkey (I bought 93% fat free) and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I cooked the turkey, breaking it up with a spoon, until it was browned (about 9 minutes).

Next, I added 1 large onion (chopped) to the skillet.  The recipe calls for 2 diced jalapenos at this point as well, but I left them out.  (We’re weak, I know!)  I cooked the mixture until the onion was soft (3 minutes) and then added 2 teaspoons of ground cumin and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.  I cooked that mixture for 2 minutes.

Finally, I added 2 cans of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), 2 cans of reduced-sodium chicken broth, and 1 cup of water.  I brought the mixture to a boil, reduced the heat, and simmered until the chili was thick (20 minutes).  I served it garnished with reduced-fat sour cream, sliced radishes, cilantro, and shredded cheese.

Turkey and White-Bean Chili

This wasn’t the best chili I’ve ever had or anything, but it hit the “warm comfort food” spot.  I’m sure the flavor would have been more intense with the jalapeno, but the cilantro filled things in nicely.  Can you believe this is the first time I’ve ever used radishes in my cooking?  I liked the crisp texture and peppery flavor they added to the chili.  Yum, yum.

TIPS:  I’m all about making substitutions to lighten dishes, but using 2% milk shredded cheese in this chili was a BIG mistake.  It’s strangely stringy, and it completely coated everything it touched (including our spoons and the roofs of our mouths).  Yuck.  I can’t say I’d buy it again.

Recipe link: Turkey and White-Bean Chili

Tomato Gazpacho with Prosciutto-Mozzarella Sandwiches

Dallas has been hotter than you-know-where, which tends to make firing up the oven or stove less than appealing. The July/August 2008 issue of Everyday Food has a great spread on oven-free meals for summer, so I decided to try one – Tomato Gazpacho with Prosciutto-Mozzarella Sandwiches – that combined a few of my favorite flavors. All you need to make this recipe is a blender, a knife, and 20 minutes.

To make the gazpacho, I washed, cored and quartered 2 pounds of plum tomatoes (minus 2 tomatoes, which I diced to garnish the soup). I pureed the soup in two batches with 3 minutes of puree time per batch. Each batch was half of the tomatoes, 3/4 cup of tomato juice (1 1/2 cups total), 1/2 tablespoon of red-wine vinegar (1 tablespoon total), and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil (1 tablespoon total). I transferred the pureed gazpacho to a large bowl, seasoned with salt and pepper, and refrigerated it until dinnertime. (It can be prepared up to 1 day ahead.)

To make the sandwiches, I split half of a French baguette horizontally. I drizzled each half with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (2 tablespoons total) and then layered the bottom half with 4 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto and 4 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese. I seasoned with salt and pepper (don’t forget this step!), closed the sandwich, and cut it into quarters. I dished the soup, garnished it with the diced tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil, and served the sandwiches alongside.

This was so good! I’ve never made gazpacho before (and I’ve had few opportunities to eat any kind of chilled soup at all, actually) and I was really pleased by the texture and flavor. The sandwiches were ridiculously simple but incredibly delicious – I *do* love prosciutto and mozzarella.

I think the key to this entire meal is to use high quality ingredients. I bought the best tomatoes, prosciutto and mozzarella I could find, and I used really flavorful extra-virgin olive oil. I also made a 5-minute trip to the store to make sure we’d have a fresh baguette for the sandwiches. Dr. O’s only complaint is that this really isn’t hearty or fulfilling enough for dinner – it’s more of a lunch. If you want to knock someone’s socks off with food for a daytime meeting or a picnic, though, this is a great way to do it.

TIPS: I have a handy little tool that makes coring tomatoes a snap. Check it out here.

Also, make sure you use *fresh* mozzarella cheese for the sandwiches. Fresh mozzarella is soft, typically white, and often packaged as an 8-ounce ball (though sometimes you’ll find it packaged in a plastic container with liquid). It has a really mild flavor, which makes seasoning the sandwiches all the more important. There’s actually a cheese shop here in Dallas – Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Company – that is supposed to have *amazing* mozzarella. I might be due for a field trip this weekend…

Recipe link: Tomato Gazpacho with Prosciutto-Mozzarella Sandwiches

The Daring Kitchen

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