Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Soup Month: Broccoli, Red Pepper and Cheddar Chowder

I don't know if this is a chowder. It's a blended soup. It has some of the elements of chowder - potatoes, butter, cream, garlic, onions. But, it's a blended soup. I didn't name it, however, so I'll just leave it alone. I got this recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, Michelle over at Je Mange la Ville. Michelle is a wonderful cook and writer, and she is the one who inspired me to start this blog in the first place.

She used sweet potatoes instead of a russet; I changed it up again and used two Yukon Golds. But, I might use just one potato next time. And, of course, I added a touch more garlic. I had to add quite a bit more salt to my pot; this may have been the result of the extra potato.

I enjoyed this soup, particularly the warm cumin flavor. Broccoli-cheese soup is one of my favorites, and this was great with the sweet red pepper added.

Broccoli, Red Pepper and Cheddar Chowder based on a recipe from Gourmet Magazine, via Je Mange la Ville

1 small head broccoli
1 Yukon Gold potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 large garlic cloves, grated
2 T unsalted butter
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
2 T flour
3 cups Cheddar, grated
couple dashes of Tapatio or other hot sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream, optional

1. Cut off the bottom of the broccoli stem. Finely chop remaining stem. Cut the rest of the broccoli into florets. Cook florets in 2 CUPS of lightly salted, boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, place the broccoli florets in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking, then drain. Save the cooking water. (I didn't read closely enough and missed the part about using only 2 cups of water to cook the broccoli florets.)

2. Melt the butter in a 3-4 quart heavy pot over medium heat. Add potato, onion, red pepper, broccoli stems and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8-10 minutes.

3. Add cumin, salt, pepper, and mustard and cook, stirring, one minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add reserved broccoli water and chicken stock and simmer (partially covered) for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cheese and continue to cook and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the hot sauce to taste.

4. Puree 3/4 of the chowder in a blender or food processor until smooth, and then return to pot. (I used my immersion blender, but I think in this case, an actual blender would yield better results.) Add reserved florets and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in cream. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

Soup Month has been great. I tried some new recipes and found some new favorites. I learned that cauliflower can be a luscious treasure. However, I didn't seem to find time to tell you about my go-to soup. It's my trademark. It's the first soup I learned how to make, though it has grown and changed just like I have since that time. I promise I will share it with you soon. After all, Soup Month may be over, but the soups must go on!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Soup Month: White Bean Soup with Sausage and Red Chard

This was the first time I made this soup. I based it on a recipe from Recipe Zaar, but added way more beans and garlic, used chard instead of kale, and 2 kinds of sausage.

There are so many kinds of white beans. I bought some dried navy beans last time at the store because they were the cheapest. So that's what I used here.

The original recipe was for more of a brothy soup containing the beans, sausage, etc. I was going for a more bean-y soup loosened with a little chicken stock.

A note on soup preparation: Rarely do I get a mise-en-place set up. I usually start by chopping an onion (all soups start with onion) and let the pot heat up at the same time. Then, I let the onion cook over medium-low heat while I prep and add the rest of the ingredients. This time I was waiting for the beans to soften, so I got my chopping out of the way.

Now that's some garlic! I wish I had bought more chard. The sausage almost overwhelms it. Speaking of sausage, I used some mild Italian sausage and some elk kielbasa that I had hanging around my freezer (Thanks, Dad!!). I liked the contrast of two different textures - the soft ground sausage melting in with the beans, and the drier, more toothsome, kielbasa.

White Bean Soup with Sausage and Red Chard based on this recipe from Recipe Zaar

1/2 lb mild Italian sausage, ground
2 T olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
9 large garlic cloved, minced (or grated)
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (if using full-sodium, skip the salt)
6 cups canned white beans (or 3 cups dry, soaked overnight)
1 lb kielbasa (elk or otherwise), sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. chard, stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces (I only bought one bunch chard; should have gotten 2-3)
1 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, working to break into bite-sized pieces, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving any rendered fat in the pot.

2. Add the remaining olive oil to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the celery and cook about 2 minutes more.

4. Stir in the garlic, pepper flakes, salt & pepper and cook about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

5. Reduce the heat to medium, add both sausages and HALF the beans.

6. Mash the remaining beans with a fork or potato masher and add them to the pot, stirring to distribute.

7. Stir in the chard. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and continue to cook until the chard is tender, about 20 - 30 minutes. (You may cover the pot loosely to prevent too much reduction in the broth.)

8. Stir in the lemon juice and zest just before serving.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Soup Month: Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Prosciutto and Parmesan

My mom used to make cauliflower soup when I was young. I didn't know what was in it, and I didn't care. I loved the velvety-smooth texture, the rich, buttery flavor and the sharp, peppery bite. I always meant to get the recipe from her (and I'm sure I did, but lost it before I ever made it).

She gave me a soup cookbook for my last birthday. I made a chicken chili from it last fall and then kind of laid it aside. I picked it back up again the other day, looking for a new recipe to try. Aha - cauliflower soup! It's almost stupefyingly easy. The flavor mostly comes from onions, cauliflower and chicken stock. And maybe a little butter...

The recipe calls for leeks, but I made it with yellow onions one time with great results. Also, 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper is just a tease. I used 1 tablespoon. And, instead of crème fraîche, I used sour cream. Okay, and I used turkey bacon in place of the prosciutto (but didn't get a picture), and maybe I drizzled it with a little truffle oil and topped it with green onions at one point.

This is a good one, kids. We made a batch, ate it ALL in 3 days, and promptly made another one.

Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Prosciutto and Parmesan from Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom

4 T unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (or onions)
12 cups cauliflower florets (from 2-3 large heads)
8 cups chicken stock
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup crème fraîche
Kosher salt
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto (okay, I used turkey bacon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy deep-sided pot (with a lid) set over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté, stirring, until softened, for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower florets, chicken stock, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer and cover pot. Cook until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Purée the soup in batches in a food processor, blender or food mill, and return soup to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.) Whisk in 1/2 cup of the cheese and the crème fraîche. Taste soup and season with salt as needed. (The soup can be made 2 days ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)

3. Cut the prosciutto into julienne strips 3 to 4 inches long and 1/4 inch wide. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add the prosciutto and sauté, stirring constantly, until crisp and browned, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer prosciutto to paper towels to drain.

4. To serve, ladle soup into 6 soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with some prosciutto, chopped parsley, and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Soup Month: Taco Soup

I got this recipe from my soon-to-be cousin-in-law, Maggie. I made it with ground elk instead of beef (Thanks, Dad!!!). This is a very hearty soup great for the cold rainy weather we've been having. It's also very easy - most of it is made by opening cans! You can make it in the crockpot or stovetop. Yeah, baby!

Taco Soup

1 lb. ground beef
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Ro-tel
1 can hominy, drained
1 can of corn, drained (or frozen)
1 can each of kidney beans, pinto beans and ranch-style beans (any kind of beans will work)
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 packet of ranch dressing mix
2 onions, chopped
cheese, hot sauce and sour cream for garnish

Brown the ground beef in a heavy skillet. Drain fat if you want to. Add the taco seasoning and stir till combined. Add to Crockpot if using, or a heavy soup pot for stovetop cooking.

Open all the cans. Drain the hominy and corn, then add to soup pot. Add the beans and tomatoes with their juices. (Instead of Ro-tel, I used a third can of stewed tomatoes with chiles and tomatoes. I also added a can of diced green chiles for fun.)

Add the chopped onions and stir in packet of ranch dressing mix. Stir very well.

Simmer for about 1 hour on the stovetop or 8 hours on low for the Crockpot.

To serve, place in bowls and add garnishes as desired.

I liked this with lots of hot sauce. Next time I may add some jalapenos to make it spicier. Or stir in a jar of salsa.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Soup Month: Black Bean Soup

This is a very satisfying, easy Mexican black bean soup. Made with cumin, lime juice and jalapeno, this soup is great with a little dollop of sour cream on top and some cilantro scattered around.

The recipe is from my first soup cookbook ever: Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. This was given to me by my step-grandmother JoAnn, who now has Altzheimer's and will always think I am dating my ex-boyfriend Kenneth. It was one of the best gifts I have ever been given - you know how it is when someone actually *listens* to you and picks the perfect thing? I love peeling back the front cover and seeing her little inscription: Hope you like trying the recipes- JoAnn. I wish now I had made some soup for her.

You can make this soup with canned black beans, like the recipe states, or with dried black beans. Just soak them overnight first and prepare for a longer cooking time.

And, a big plus for me, this soup is great for the South Beach Diet. Just skip the potatoes.

Mexican Black Bean Soup by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette

1/3 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely
2 tomatoes, peeled & chopped [ I used 1 large can diced tomatoes with juice]
2 - 15 oz cans black beans [30 oz. dry beans that have been soaked 24 hours]
2 potatoes, peeled & diced [I skipped the potatoes this time]
7 cups water [or stock]
1 bouillon cube [omit if using stock]
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped [cilantro from a tube]
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons lime juice [to taste; I use plenty more]
salt & pepper to taste
sour cream as garnish with freshly chopped cilantro all around

1. Pour the olive oil into a good-sized soup pot and saute the onion for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno pepper and tomatoes, and continue sauteing for another 2 minutes over medium heat, until it turns into a regular sauce. Stir often.

2. Add the beans from their cans with their juice, potatoes, water and bouillon. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to low-medium. Cook slowly, covered, for about 20 minutes. [I cook it uncovered because I like it thicker than this recipe makes. Cover it when it is at the desired consistency. I cook it much longer than 20 minutes, depending on on the beans.]

3. Add the cilantro, cumin, lime juice, salt & pepper. Stir well and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and let the soup rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Serve hot and garnish each serving with a teaspoon of sour cream in the center and freshly chopped cilantro around the sour cream.