Tag Archives: Soup

On Movement

Last weekend was one of movement. No, not by me. Quite the contrary.

A dear friend of mine left the city. While another moved into the neighborhood (or, close enough at any rate, being two blocks south and only a few more west). Me? I stayed put owing to some serious jet lag exacerbated by substantial flight delays. There’s a laundry list of things that I should have done. A week later, and it’s no smaller. I was going to write it out—then, thought the better of it, as it would be overwhelming to me and boring to you, and that seemed unfair to us both. That’s the kind of woman I am.

I am, apparently, also one who makes things more difficult for myself—if you know me personally, this is no surprise.
What I’m getting at is that I had a nice ending to this very post planned. I was going to tell you that there’s was pot of stew currently bubbling away on my stove and how although it wasn’t quite the season, I was justified since Spring continues to play hide-and-seek. It’s grey out this morning, and I still feel slightly justified in all of this, and I think would be enough to help me make the transition to getting back to work and getting things done. Only, it’s not true. And, it’s lazy writing.

It all comes back to the shoulds, as in, I should have told you about this soup ages ago—when I first made it, and it was weather appropriate and making a connection to my daily life would not have been forced. Never mind that, oddly, soup is one of my ultimate comfort foods and I think nothing of eating it in the height of summer, with the AC on full blast.

The truth? I made this soup because I had the ingredients on hand for something else that I should have made. Getting to things in a timely matter doesn’t seem to be my strong suit currently. I’ll get there. Until then, here’s a recipe for kale and chorizo soup, which is perfect for a day like this one, when there are so many shoulds that you should be doing that the process of doing any seems insurmountable. I’m thinking about making another batch now.

Kale and Chorizo Soup
Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

2 TBS olive oil
1 pound chorizo, cut into 1/2 slices
1 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 large white potatoes, peeled and diced
3 quarts of chicken stock
4 cups kale, rinsed, stemmed, and cut into 1-inch strips
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch of crushed red pepper

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chorizo and onions. Saute the mixture for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and potatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and kale and bring the liquid up to a boil. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and skim off any fat.


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On being social

Upon closer examination, it occurs to me that I’m overly social networked. I’m aware that networked isn’t a word. Indulge me, if you will.

Let’s do a run down of the short list, shall we? There’s Tumblr, for musings; twitter, for even shorter musings (and, integrated with Tumblr, natch); flikr, for hosting; google plus+, for, well, I’m not really sure for what but everyone was using it for a short time, anyway; facebook, for, again, I’m not sure, but because everyone is using it; foursquare, for no apparent reason, really; wordpress, for this very thing; and on and on. You get the idea.

All of this and, at least today, ensconced in warmth of my apartment, the last thing that’s on my mind is being social.

Maybe it’s because it’s cold and snowing here in New York City, and growing up we thought of these as perfect Chinese food days. Or, did, until my mother and sister ended up getting rear ended on New York Avenue, before our local Chinese Restaurant changed locations and, though (thankfully) everyone was okay, this meant that I had to greet the music teacher on my own, which in turn meant a double lesson and if you ever heard me play clarinet when I was in middle school well, you’d know what I’m getting at here. There may have been a period of time where my parents made me practice in the basement of our house. With the door closed. Then again, I chose to play clarinet because it was one of the smallest instruments to carry around aside from the flute, and my sister played the flute and was actually good, and I didn’t want to compete.

Clearly I was never going to be a virtuoso.

I do, however, make a fantastic bowl of hot and sour soup. Without mushrooms and tofu, since it’s my house and I get to do whatever I want. I’ve included the adapted recipe below. It’s just the thing for a cold night such as this one.

Hot and Sour Soup
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
8 cups chicken stock, with 1/4 cup set aside
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 TBS cornstarch
Sriracha, to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs
1 can bamboo shoots, drained
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drainted

In a medium pot, heat chicken chicken stock.

In small bowl, combine sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha and black pepper. Add to soup. Taste, adjusting the heat and sourness of the soup with additional Sriracha or rice vinegar, as needed. Combine cornstarch and reserved chicken stock, stirring whisking until the cornstarch has been well incorporated, forming a slurry. Add the slurry to the soup.

Bring soup to boil.

In a measuring cup, whisk the eggs together. Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a tiny stream, stirring the soup to break up the stream of eggs.

Reduce heat to simmer. Add bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Simmer for five minutes.

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as an appetizer.

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Making Concessions. And soup.

This is my one concession to Thanksgiving.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited about the food as everyone else—in fact, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner just might be one of my favorite meals of the year. And, I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that I’d be happy to make whole meals for the rest of the week out of stuffing.

But, the thing is….


How to say this?

Ok, out with it then.

My family’s Thanksgiving meal is traditionally in a restaurant. Or, at least it has been for the past several years.

There are lots of reasons for this, but mainly, it’s simply that it works for us. We’re all coming from different places and have different dietary restrictions. And, this way we can all sit and relax. Which is really, I think, the point of the holiday.

The problem, of course, is that I really don’t have a stable of recipes. I do, however, have an address book filled with suggestions for Prix Fixe dinners.

And, that said, my immediate family typically does have a smaller version of the meal at some point over the weekend—after all there’s something to be said about having the left overs for days on end. So, in some ways, I get the best of both worlds. And, I’m not constrained by the traditions when I cook.

With that in mind, and following the longest introduction ever, I present you the pumpkin soup that I’ve been eating as of late. This version isn’t for you purists—frankly, I’m a little bored with the classic combinations and find things like pumpkin and maple syrup or brown sugar or apples or you name it a little too sweet for a soup. This one’s got kick. Lots of onions, lots of chili. I’m enjoying it so much, I’m planning the left overs already.

Until the next time, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

1 2-pound sugar pumpkin
3 TBS olive oil, divided
6-8 cups vegetable stock (recipe follows)
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 tsps ancho chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape the center, setting the seeds aside. Brush the pumpkin with 1 TBS oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp paprika and salt. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour until the pumpkin is soft and can easily be scraped from the skin.

Once the pumpkin seeds are dry, sprinkle 1 TBS of oil on them and season with salt. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, until they are golden brown.

While the pumpkin is roasting, make the vegetable stock (recipe follows).

When the pumpkin is roasted, allow it to cool and scoop out the roasted flesh. Set it aside.

In a large dutch oven, heat 1 TBS of olive oil. Saute the onion, garlic and shallot for approximately 10 minutes on a low heat, until they start to brown. Add the pumpkin, ancho chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and a dash of salt. Cover with the vegetable broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste, adding salt if necessary.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. If the soup is too thick, add more water.

Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Serves 6 as an appetizer

Vegetable Stock
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
8 cups cold water
1 TBS lemon juice

In a large stock pot, saute the vegetables, onion, and garlic for approximately 5 minutes on a low heat until everything starts to brown. Add in the red pepper flakes and saute for another minute. Then, add in the water, peppercorns, bay leaf and add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. Strain out the vegetables, add in the lemon juice and season with salt.

Set aside.

Makes 8 cups

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The Last of the Season

I’ve mentioned before how I was slow to like tomatoes, and that afterwards became ravenous for them. I still am.

This means that from May through September, I want to eat them at every meal. It also means that, come mid September, I get a little ridiculous.

Instead of buying a reasonable amount of tomatoes—say, two or three at a time—I buy them by the pound, momentarily forgetting that I live by myself, and tend to eat out several nights a week.

Wherein the problem resides.

I have pounds and pounds of tomatoes, and only one of me, and while I frequently have friends over for dinner, as it turns out, many of them do not think a plate of tomatoes constitutes a dinner.

Tomato soup seems the perfect solution—its easy to prepare, and best of all, it freezes well. Meaning, that I’ll be able to hang onto the last of the season tomatoes a least a little after the season is over.

In this case, roasting the tomatoes and garlic imparts a sweetness and earthiness to the soup. If you’re looking for something slightly richer, add in a cup or so of heavy cream, depending on your tastes. Or, you can dress it up with lots and lots of vegetables for a hearty minestrone. Stay tuned and I’ll be sharing a recipe for just that shortly.

Roasted Tomato Soup

For the Vegetable Stock
1 onion
3 ribs celery
2 carrots
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
approx. 1 tsp salt, with more reserved as needed
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 TBS olive oil
8 cups of water

For the Soup
3-4 pounds tomatoes
1-2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 head garlic

To Make the Vegetable Stock:

On a low flame, heat the olive oil. Saute the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir for a few minutes, until the vegetables have browned slightly. Cover the vegetables with water. Add in the salt, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Allow to simmer for at least a half hour. Once you are ready to use the stock, strain out the vegetables and set it aside.

To Make the Tomato Soup:
While the stock is simmering, cut a clove of garlic about 1/4″ from the top and coat it with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cover with tin foil. Place in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes, until the garlic has become soft and has caramelized. Once the garlic has cooled sufficiently, remove the caramelized cloves from the paper. The easiest way to do this is by simply squeezing it into a bowl.

Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in an oven safe dish. Coat them with the remaining olive oil and spices and roast for 45 minutes. You want the sides to be browned, and the tomatoes to have shrunk in side by at least a quarter.

When the tomatoes and garlic are ready, combine them with the vegetable stock, adding more salt and pepper, if necessary. Combine everything using an immersion blender. Simmer for five to ten minutes and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

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Stormy Weather

Bear with me—this is going to be another one of those posts where I talk about the weather.

But, well. Irene.

When all’s said and done a few days later, I fared incredibly well, with just a few downed branches on the street around my apartment building. But, I got off easy, and when the news reports started picking up on Thursday evening, things seemed a lot more ominous.

Mind you, I still had big weekend plans, including a trip up to Connecticut, foolishly thinking that I could simply beat the storm back.

Then there was an announcement that all public transportation would be suspended starting out noon on Saturday. A friend got evacuated from Battery Park City, and ended up in my apartment. Running errands with a friend on Friday, we discovered that there wasn’t a single flashlight to be had on the entire Upper East Side.

More signs to take note.

Then my friends from abroad were emailing to make sure that things were okay.

This was starting to get serious.

If you know me at all, you know that, on a good day, I’m a worrier.

So, I did what I always do in situations like this: I cooked and, in this case chicken pot pie seemed perfect.

First, because of I had all of the ingredients on hand and in my, admittedly flawed, logic I thought that in the event of a power outage the food would all be cooked so might last longer. And, secondly because it’s the perfect mix of baking, which requires just the right amount precision to ensure that I couldn’t give my full attention to the news and cooking—when it came to the filling, I could still adapt as I went along, allowing me to sort of listen to the news. By the end of the day, I must have watched about fourteen hours. A somewhat embarrassing admission until I read this. Turns out I’m not alone.

There’s also this: to me, chicken pot pie is one of those classic comfort foods, perhaps because so after so many family holiday meals, I’ve found myself in my mother’s kitchen making chicken stock and using the left over chicken from the night before to make pot pies.

It’s hearty, sustaining.

Just the thing for an unexpected dark, stormy day. Or, for the cold fall nights that coming far sooner that I care to admit.

Chicken Pot Pie

Fair warning: this recipe makes far more filling than you’ll need to fill your pot pie. You can halve it, but it freezes well, and if you’re going to go through all of the effort, then it’s nice to have the extra for a rainy day. And, in the spirit of planning ahead, if you have left over chicken or turkey, this would be a fine way to use it up.

For the Filling:
4 chicken breasts, bone in and skin on
6 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup olive oil, divided in half
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces
1 TBS herbes de provence
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 TBS corn starch (Optional, you may need this to thicken your filling)

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
10 TBS butter
1/4 cup ice water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 egg, beaten and divided

To Make the Filling:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with 3 TBS olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken for 35-45 minutes, until it is full cooked. Set aside, allowing to cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and discard the bones from the chicken. Cut the breast meat into a large dice. You should have approximately 4 cups of cubed chicken. Set it aside.

While the chicken is cooking, warm the stock, and in a separate pot, boil the potatoes in well salted water, approximately 10 minutes, until they are slightly under cooked. Drain the potatoes and set aside.

In a large dutch oven, add the rest of the olive oil, and saute the onions over medium low heat, until they are translucent, about ten minutes. Add the herbes de provence, carrots, celery, a pinch of salt, and pepper and saute another five minutes. Add the flour and cook at low heat, stirring constantly for at 2 minutes. You don’t want the mixture to brown, but you do want to get the raw flour taste out of our mixture. Simmer over low heat for another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring until thick. Add the milk, mixing well. If the soup isn’t thick enough for your linking, make a slurry, mixing 1 TBS cornstarch with 1 TBS water, until the cornstarch is dissolved and add it to the stock mixture. Stir to combine.

Add the potatoes, peas and diced chicken to the pot and mix well. Take the mixture off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

To Make the Crust:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, pepper. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

With the food processor running, add the ice water in a slow stream, pulsing until the dough holds together without being wet.

Divide the dough into two equal balls, flatting each one and wrapping it plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

To Assemble Your Pot Pie:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out the first of the discs of dough and place it in a well greased 8″ pie dish. Puncture with a fork and brush with half of the egg mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until well cooked but not browned.

Allow to cool for approximately ten minutes, then fill the pie shell with the filling, using approximately 6 cups.

Roll out the second of the discs of dough, placing it on top of the filled pie shell. Crimp the edges together and cut vents into the top of the pie. Brush the pie dough with the rest of the beaten egg.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serves Six, with plenty of filling left over


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Liquid Comfort

Honestly, I aspire to be the kind of person who doesn’t talk about the weather or my health ad nauseum.

Really, I do.

But, it’s really, really cold out there, and, I’m really, really sick.

[End rant]

All of this is essential to say that I’m afraid it’s time for yet another soup recipe.

I’d apologize except that this one really is that good. The carrots and parsnip give it hints of earthiness, brought into focus with the seasonings, but it’s still a little sweet. Its wonderfully silky as well, which is just the thing when its hard to swallow anything but soup.

Needless to say, I’m sipping it by the mugful right now. But, I’d imagine that, even if I was feeling perfectly healthy, that would be true.

Carrot and Parsnip Soup

2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsps herbs de Provence
3 cups water
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Toss the parsnips and carrots with 1 TBS olive oil and 1 tsp herbs de Provence. Cook for 45 minutes-1 hour at 350 F until they are browned and soft. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat 1 TBS olive oil. Saute onions, garlic, herbs de Provence and red pepper flakes for about 10-15 minutes, until the onions are translucent and soft.

Add the chicken stock and water to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat so that the liquid simmers. Add in the roasted parsnip and carrots. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the vegetables start to break down. Combine everything with an immersion blender.

Serves 4-6

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On Picky Eating

The truth is, I started eating Avgolemono soup by default.

When I was growing up, my family often went to a local Greek restaurant that made an amazing Manhattan clam chowder. In fact, it still does.

But, I was an even pickier eater than I am now. Horrifying, I know. And, so, I would spend the entire meal picking around the clams. (This seems incredibly ironic now, I’m sure.)

It drove my father crazy. And, it drove me crazy to listen to him get frustrated about it. The obvious solution was either to start eating the clams (not likely at the time) or to forgo soup entirely.

But, even then, I was a creature of habits, taking comfort in the consistent. My meals at this place were always a combination of soup, salad and extra crispy fries. I was unwilling to give up one of the main components. So, Avgolemono it was.

I was originally put off by the soup because, well, the name was hard for me to pronounce. There was also the issue of its creaminess—dairy was another no for my ten-year-old palate. As it turns out, the texture comes from the addition of eggs, slowly folded in to give the soup, giving it body with out the added unctuousness of the dairy. It manages to be both filling and light, bolstered by a bright kick of lemon. You can double the amount of shredded chicken to make it a substantial meal on its own should you be so inclined.

That said, I still prefer mine with a Greek salad on the side (hold the feta) and extra crispy fries. Old habits and all that.

Avgolemono Soup

8 cups chicken broth
1 cup white rice (Jasmine or Basmati)
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup shredded chicken
salt and pepper, to taste

Add salt and rice to the chicken broth. Boil and then bring down to a simmer, heating the rice for 20 minutes, until it is fully cooked. Strain out the rice and set aside. (You can also heat the rice seperately in water).

Reduce heat on the broth, allowing it to continue to simmer.

In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff. Fold in the egg yolks, combining well. Slowly add the lemon juice, beating continuously. Slowly steam in 2 cups of the warm chicken stock, beating throughout. If you stop mixing while pouring in the stock, you risk curdling the soup.

Once the 2 cups of stock are well combined with the eggs, slowly pour the egg/broth mixture into the remaining chicken stock and stir over medium heat, until well combined. Add in the rice and shredded chicken. Heat, but do not boil the soup prior to serving.

Serves 8 as a appetizer, 4 as a main course

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