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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2022, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Have only begun Geraldine Brooks’ brand new book, Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loving it so far. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the miniscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. To say that this book stretched my comfort zone is the least of it . . .think about a time in the not very distant future, when global warming has done it’s worst and nearly all animals are extinct. No bird song in the air or fish in the sea. There’s this woman, Franny, who is on a quest to follow the very small, but last migration of arctic terns, who fly from pole to pole each year. She somehow sees this migration as a paean to her own life (of many travails). Is this book a foretelling of what our world will be like?  There’s a lot of angst going on here in this book, with her marriage, with her career, with her perpetual need for travel . . . always needing to go somewhere else other than staying at home and finding peace and happiness there. Then this final, gritty, illegal at-sea voyage trying to find the terns. Very much worth reading if you can stomach the sadness in it. Soul-searching is a common denominator here, but then aren’t a lot of books?

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife. A German Kommandant enters the picture in this tiny berg in France. Knowing her husband is in a camp, most likely a death camp, she compromises her morals to save the picture and possibly save her husband’s life. Jump to somewhat current day and the painting, which has survived all these years, and is in the hands of a young widow who has an extraordinary connection with the painting. A lawsuit ensues having to do with art stolen by the Nazis and a convoluted trail of how the painting traveled in the intervening years. Even though this was WWI, not WWII, but the law encompasses the past. It’s a heart-wrenching story. There’s a love interest too. Well worth reading. Would make a good book club read.

Memoirs are such fun, especially if you really enjoy/love the author. This was the case as I read Rachael Ray 50, an ode to  her age. So I read online, Rachael discloses more about her personal life in this book than she has done in her many other cookbooks. I really enjoyed reading the book, as she told stories about her growing up, including some of her mother’s recipes and from other family members. She and her family eat tons of pasta, so lots of the recipes I probably won’t prepare, but okay, I still enjoyed reading all the stories.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus. I’m not a gardener at all, but I found the story just fascinating. It chronicles the love story between a young couple, human ones, not trees, one a Greek, one a Turk and their relationship (verboten back in the 70s). It goes back and forth between the 70s (when the real conflict was going on) and current day (2010ish). Loved this book from page one to the last.

If you’re a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, you’ll find his newest book a league apart. Klara and the Sun. It takes place in the near future when we humans can go to a store and buy an AF (artificial friend). These robotic humanoid “things” have knowledge and personalities. The book follows along as a family buys Klara, an AF with perhaps a better personality than some. She has feelings, but not very many needs. The reader never really “sees” Klara except for a few descriptions of her human-type shape. You get into Klara’s brain (her PC chip) and know how she feels about her family. Her main job is to be a friend to the daughter, Josie, who has some kind of unnamed illness. The AF must spend a part of every day in the sunshine (some kind of hidden solar unit must be within Klara). There are any number of other characters in the story (mostly human, not AFs) which add dimension. I was quite mesmerized by the story and am in awe at the creativity of this author. Loved the book. May not be for everyone. I’m not a science fiction fan at all, but this was believable. And you’ll fall in love with Klara who wants so much to be wanted and loved.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however. The husband and wife own a tennis school (this takes place in Australia) and the children grow up surrounded by tennis everything. The children don’t necessarily get along. The parents haven’t always gotten along, either, although through many years the parents were quite besotted with each other, to the detriment of the parenting. Much travail from all the family members. But oh what a story. It had me riveted and wondering, until the last 5 pages of so when the resolution occurs. Big surprise.

Amor Towles’ new book, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel. Literally it’s a page turner. I think it’s still on the best seller list. A young man, Emmett, is released from a youth work camp (back in the day) and is returned home (by the camp warden) following the death of his father, to find that the home they’d lived in was in foreclosure. His mother abandoned them years before. His intent is to pick up his 8-year old brother and they will head off for Texas, but then he discovers two of his work-camp-mates had hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Oh my goodness, such a tangled web. Fascinating, and Amor Towles has such a way with words. His sentences are like blooming flower vines, with metaphors in nearly every sentence. Such a gifted writer.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean. Oh there are plenty of twists and turns. Couldn’t put it down.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride. She moves to San Francisco and becomes the bride, and mother to the man’s young child. But all is not right with the world. Sophie senses an undercurrent about her husband’s life. He’s elusive, leaves her alone for days on end, doesn’t share her bed, and she begins to feel the only reason he wanted a wife was to care for the child. Then the world turns upside down with the 1906 earthquake. And then there’s more. . . and more. . . very gripping read.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration. Oh the various twists this book can give you. There’s a guy she meets, but she’s keeping her boyfriend at home on the string, sort of. Then there’s the desk itself, that has history. Oh my, does it have history. Really interesting story, light reading.

One of my book clubs has us reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library: A Novel. What a premise for a book. About a library you can whiz to in the middle of the night and discover other lives you could have lived. And experience them. To find out the answers to those questions we ask ourselves sometimes, “I wonder what would have happened if I’d . . . .” taken that other job, gone out with that guy, taken that trip. That kind of thing. You’ll find out what happened to one particular woman who thought she had nothing left to live for. Good read. Very different. A bit space-agey. Sort of time travel, but not really. But yes, maybe.

James Shipman has written an intriguing book, It Is Well: A Novel, about a man who has lost his wife. And about a woman who has lost her husband. But their relationship stalls, big time, because the guy made a promise to his wife, and he feels duty-bound to honor it. There is much angst about it all. Much wringing of hands, some tears on her part. Nice book; good read.

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Soups, Travel, on September 22nd, 2022.

That’s my granddaughter’s freezer . . . but I made all those soups – four different kinds.

A post from Carolyn. Last week I spent in Greenville, South Carolina and one day in Blacksburg, Virginia. Daughter Sara (who posts here occasionally) and her husband John, his mother and sister and I flew to S.C. to attend a “white coat ceremony.” Their daughter, Sabrina, my granddaughter, is in medical school at the University of South Carolina/Greenville. She began classes there about 6 weeks ago. First she did EMT training, and now she’s in full-on med school classes requiring lots, lots and lots of studying.

A white coat ceremony is done for nursing students and for med school students (maybe others but I know only of those two). Sabrina was given her white coat to wear when she works at Prisma Hospital, associated with the med school. Families of the 110 students were there (from all over the world, but lots of them from South Carolina). Her undergrad was from Clemson University, 30 minutes away, and that probably helped her get into the med school in Greenville. I think there are three students from California in her class. I removed her last name from the photo, just because it’s the safe thing to do. Can you tell I’m short and she’s tall?

It was a very moving ceremony; so very proud of this sweet girl. So, I flew to Greenville four days earlier than all of the family. I stayed at a B&B about a block away from Sabrina’s apartment. I became a regular at the Publix supermarket down the street, and I spent 2+ days making soup by the gallon. Sabrina spends so much time studying that she doesn’t have much time to cook, so this was my gift to her. If I’d had bigger pots/pans I’d have made double the quantity, but she has a limited repertoire of them, so I made do with her Instant Pot and one other pan.

Since this is a food blog, you probably want to know what I made for her? These soups are favorites of mine. If you haven’t ever made any of these, you’re missing out.

Cabbage Patch Stew – after making the soup with ground beef and veggies, I prepared a batch of mashed potatoes, filled a small snack-sized ziploc with the mashed potatoes and added it inside the main ziploc (quart sized) with the soup in it.

Moroccan Harira Chicken Soup  – chicken soup in a flavorful soup with lentils, rice and garbanzos – this is one of my favorite soups that I make regularly.

Beef, Cheese and Macaroni Stoup – a Rachael Ray recipe I’ve been making for about 20 years or so. This time I made it with Italian sausage.

And lastly my dad’s Lentil Soup – my dad never cooked anything for the family except this soup and grilled burgers and steak. But it’s a regular favorite in my family now (granddaughter Taylor loved it). I used ground beef in it this time, but I often use Italian sausage instead.

There are some more pictures to share, but I’ll do it in the next post. Lots of things to do here at home when you’ve returned from a trip away.

Posted in Appetizers, Soups, Vegetarian, on June 16th, 2022.

Simply the best kind of refreshing first course for summertime. If you haven’t got good, ripe tomatoes or watermelon yet, save this to make in a month or two.

A post from Carolyn. So, a couple of weeks ago I hosted a small fund-raising event at my home. It’s the third time or fourth time we’ve had a wine tasting fund-raiser on my patio. I think we skipped a year, 2020, when we were all housebound from Covid lockdowns. About 10 of my dear PEO sisters bid on attending the event this year. The money all goes to philanthropies to help young women get an education; and we who host pay for the food or activities and the bid money goes to the philanthropies.

I had two co-hostesses, Linda and Lois, and they made most of the food. I made sangria (recipe coming up) and I also made another batch of the tres leches cake I posted a few weeks ago. The one made with pineapple, coconut milk, rum, etc. I made some asparagus appetizers, then we had some Spanish meatballs, and also a baguette slice appetizer. All those recipes coming up soon.

The weather was okay – maybe we should be happy it wasn’t blisteringly hot as that would have been miserable. It was about 70, and we sat outside the whole time. I’d figured out the menu some months ago and decided to go with a Spanish wine and tapas theme. After having the sangria (from Spanish rose cava), we moved on to an appetizer, then we served this lovely gazpacho. I love gazpacho. I found a great website just chock full of tapas recipes, called Spanish Sabores. Most of the recipes came from that website, however all of them had a few modifications so I feel quite comfortable posting them. If you’re ever wanting to do a tapas night, do go to that website for ideas. The couple who post are just the cutest!

So, this recipe. I told Lois to buy really good tomatoes, and to find a ripe watermelon. That’s not always easy, and this was in May, so it’s possible neither would be great, but I sent Lois to my favorite independent grocery store where I can rely, always, on their good produce. She talked to the produce guy and he helped her pick out the best. When in doubt, buy Roma tomatoes as they generally have good flavor year-around.

The gazpacho is so easy to make – whiz up most of the ingredients in a blender, put it through a fine-mesh sieve (or not, if you want more texture) and then add the watermelon and mint, then taste for seasoning. After Lois made it, I tasted it and decided it needed a tiny bit more salt, a bit of sugar (because I could taste the bitterness of the green bell pepper) and then I added some balsamic vinegar. A tetch. Really just a tetch. Oh, perfection. In this soup, you really can taste the tomatoes, the watermelon, the bell pepper. The other ingredients just add layers of flavor.

What’s GOOD: so fresh, and refreshing. Easy to make. Do taste it at the end to add salt, maybe, or a bit of sugar, or the balsamic vinegar (very little). You can make it ahead, too.

What’s NOT: only that you need to seek out and find really ripe (tasty) produce to go into it. Don’t compromise on that or the soup won’t be great.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Watermelon Mint Gazpacho

Recipe By: Adapted from Spanish Sabores blog
Serving Size: 8

6 large tomatoes — very ripe, roughly cut into large chunks
1/2 cup green bell pepper
2 small cloves garlic — cut into a few pieces
1 small onion — roughly chopped
3 cups watermelon — ripe, roughly chopped with seeds removed
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons EVOO
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar — or maybe up to 2 tsp
1 teaspoon sugar — or more to taste (optional)
2/3 cup fresh mint leaves — plus more for garnish

NOTE: If you prefer your gazpacho thicker, do not strain, or use a wider-mesh strainer to retain more of the tomato pulp. You can also top each glass with a little sherry vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, a watermelon ball and a mint leaf.
1. Wash and chop the tomatoes, pepper, and onion. Make sure you are using the best quality fruits and vegetables possible since gazpacho is a raw dish.
2. Blend the tomatoes, green pepper, onion, and garlic until completely pureed.
3. Strain the blended vegetable juice through a fine mesh strainer. (Or not, if you prefer a thicker consistency.)
4. Everything should pass through except for a layer of seeds and skin. Discard this.
5. Add the vegetable juice back to the blender and add the watermelon. Blend again until completely pureed.
6. Add salt to taste (go easy, you can always add more later), and sherry vinegar and blend. Suit your own taste on how much vinegar – and it depends upon the ripeness of the fruit and vegetables used.
7. Finally, slowly add in the EVOO (better olive oil means better gazpacho) as the blender is running. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar and blend until smooth.
8. Taste the gazpacho for salt and vinegar and adjust if necessary. Then, add two to four ice cubes (depending on how thin you like your gazpacho – when we made it we used no ice). Let them melt for a few minutes in the blender and then add a handful of fresh mint and blend for the last time. Can be made the day before; keep chilled.
9. Taste for salt and serve ice cold in glasses, garnished with a mint leaf.
Per Serving: 87 Calories; 4g Fat (35.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 9mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 36mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 392mg Potassium; 44mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, Vegetarian, on April 21st, 2022.

Just good vegetable soup – tons of broccoli, a little bit of wild rice and some cheese.

A post from Carolyn. There’s a local restaurant near where I live that always has broccoli cheese soup on the menu. And I’ve had it many times, but the last couple of times it was so thick and gluey (with cheese) I was concerned about choking on it. Not a fun feeling. But when I read something about broccoli cheese soup a couple of weeks ago I just decided I needed to make some at home. And I wanted a little bit of fiber of some kind. Since I had some wild rice on my pantry shelf, that’s what it became. Not broccoli cheese soup; not thickened. Not gluey with cheese!

I rounded up a few recipes and chose the best from them. I made this soup very high in broccoli and relatively low in cheese, and also not a whole lot of broth or milk in it. You definitely know you’re having broccoli with some cheese. And the wild rice gives it a really nice chewy consistency. You can make this in the Instant Pot if you’d like (and one or two of the recipes I consulted had you do that). I had time, so I made it in my big round Le Creuset pot. Low and slow.

It’s the usual kind of start to a soup – onion, carrots, celery, and I had leeks, so they went in there too (good flavor). After sweating them a bit, I added chicken broth, dry marjoram, salt and pepper, some wild rice and let it cook about 10 minutes. Then I added the broccoli (all chopped up into little florets) and basmati rice and let that cook for another 15-20 minutes until both rice ingredients were just barely tender. It came off heat, I added heavy cream, some half and half, some sharp cheddar and reheated it briefly to let the cheese melt. Then served it with some grated cheddar on top, some pine nuts (toasted) and a flicker or Italian parsley.

Is this soup going to blow your socks off? Probably not, but it was delicious (not low in calorie, I’ll add, with all that dairy in it), but a cup of it was plenty for a serving.

What’s GOOD: all the veggies – liked the texture both of the veggies and the rice (wild and white). Very filling, even though it doesn’t have any meat protein in it. I liked it a lot. Yes, I’d make it again. I made enough to freeze several cups for another time. One cup is a sufficient serving.

What’s NOT: really nothing – liked this soup a lot. If you don’t have leeks leave them out. It uses a lot of broccoli.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Broccoli Wild Rice Soup with Pine Nuts

Serving Size: 10

1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
1 large yellow onion — chopped
3 large carrots — peeled, sliced
2 1/2 cups celery — chopped
2 medium leeks — cleaned, chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth — or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup wild rice
1/3 cup basmati rice
8 cups fresh broccoli — trimmed, chopped, stems chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups half and half
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese — grated
6 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts — toasted

1. In a large soup pot over medium heat add EVOO. Then add onions and leeks. Allow to sweat, turning heat down as needed, while you chop the carrots and celery. Add those to the pot. Add the broccoli, wild rice, salt, pepper, marjoram, heavy cream and chicken broth. If the vegetables aren’t covered with liquid, add water or milk to the pot to just barely cover the vegetables.
2. Bring the mixture to a very low simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Add white rice and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Taste the rice to make sure it’s barely tender. A little bite to it is good, but not crunchy.
3. At the very end, add half and half and grated cheddar (or you may add the cheese as a garnish), and bring back to a simmer. Serve at this point or cool and refrigerate. If you’d like a thicker soup, remove about 3 cups of the soup and use an immersion blender to puree and add back into the soup.
4. When serving add Italian parsley to the top. Optional garnishes: croutons, diced red bell pepper, pesto, more grated cheese. You could also add chopped rotisserie chicken. You could also use coconut milk in lieu of heavy cream and/or the half and half. If you use Trader Joe’s brand it won’t have much of a coconut milk taste.
Per Serving: 519 Calories; 37g Fat (60.9% calories from fat); 23g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 91mg Cholesterol; 932mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 530mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 1030mg Potassium; 504mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, Vegetarian, on March 25th, 2022.

Another recipe from my friend Linda

A post from Carolyn. My dear friend Linda is an avid cook. There are any number of recipes of hers on my blog and she so nicely asked if I wanted a couple more recipes to post, favorites of hers. I said of course! This soup, made popular by Ina Garten, actually has different beginnings. It’s from Bobbi Brown, the originator of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. The recipe is in one of Ina’s cookbooks, but at Food & Wine they introduced the recipe (from Ina) but said that it was from Bobbi Brown. Who knew . . . I went online to read a bit more about Brown – she’s married with three sons – lives in New Jersey and she and her husband recently renovated an old hotel there and it re-opened as one a couple or three years ago. Click on the link above, to Wikipedia, if you’re interested in knowing more.

French Green de Puy Lentils Texture Picture | Free Photograph | Photos Public DomainThe one important note here – it’s necessary that you find and  use French Le Puy lentils. Sometimes they’re a bit harder to find. They hold their shape after cooking. You know that orange lentils dissolve once cooked. Here you want the distinct shape and texture of the lentil. Online it says Walmart and Target both carry French/Le Puy. So does amazon.

Anyway, the soup is quite straight forward – soak the lentils, cook onions, garlic and leeks until tender, then add celery and carrots. Broth, tomato paste and lentils are added and cooked for about an hour, then you add some red wine. Always a flavorful addition to hearty soups. Season it well – sometimes lentils need more salt than you might think. This soup has garlic, thyme and cumin in it. You can drizzle the top of the soup with olive oil and grate some Parm on top too. As with all soups (IMHO) they’re better if made a day ahead. The recipe indicates this keeps for two days. Huh? Just two days? Surely lentil and vegetable soup would keep more than two days; not sure why that would be the case. Thank you, Linda, for the recipe and the soup photo.

What’s GOOD: Linda says this soup is just wonderful. Not hard to make. Good, deep flavor. Freezes well too.

What’s NOT: only that you need to find Le Puy lentils. Buy two so you have some when you want to make this again.

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French Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Recipe By: Ina Garten (and from Bobbi Brown)
Serving Size: 8

1 pound lentils — Le Puy French type, picked over and rinsed
Boiling water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil — plus more for serving
3 large onions — chopped
3 medium garlic cloves — minced
2 large leeks — white and tender green parts only, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 celery ribs — cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 medium carrots — cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 quarts low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons dry red wine — or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese — for serving

1. In a large heatproof bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic, leeks, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper and the thyme and cumin and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Add the celery and carrots and cook until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and lentils to the pot. Increase the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in the red wine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan.
4. To Make Ahead: The soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Let return to room temperature and reheat gently, adding more stock to adjust the consistency if necessary.
Per Serving: 379 Calories; 10g Fat (22.4% calories from fat); 23g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 158mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 83mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 1050mg Potassium; 315mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, IP, Soups, on March 17th, 2022.

So very easy to make in the Instant Pot. 

A post from Carolyn. For quite awhile I’m been reading a blog called Ministry of Curry. And I’ve made several of Archana’s recipes, since I’m a lover of all things Indian food. This recipe isn’t Indian – that’s not to say they don’t eat barley in India – – – I have no idea, actually. But there are no Indian spices here, as this is very much a simple, lightly seasoned mushroom and vegetable soup with some added barley. I started out with her recipe, although I altered it. You can find thousands of mushroom barley soup recipes on the web and there may be nothing all that unusual about this one. But I’ll just tell you it’s a good stick-to-the-ribs kind of cold-weather soup for these cool/cold evenings. The easy part is that it’s made in the Instant Pot. Love that pot.

A few weeks ago I was out in the desert at the 2nd home (condo) my daughter Sara, her husband John and I purchased in 2020. We’re in the process of renovating it now, and that will likely take a long time to finish. As I write this, the guest bath (mine) is getting a total makeover – new shower and tile, new cabinet, fixtures, lighting. Except for a vessel sink and granite countertop the bathroom was circa 1985. Old. Tired. Eventually we’re going to vinyl (wood-like) plank the floors in the whole house, but for now it’s tile. Anyway, I got sidetracked there – – I wanted to make a batch of butter chicken and the recipe I’ve posted here (that I just love-love-love) is made in the Instant Pot. Well, shoot  – we didn’t have an Instant Pot at that house. So, I went to Costco and bought one. I don’t think I could function anymore without an Instant Pot in my kitchen. My most common use for it is making hard boiled eggs (the 2-10-2 method – 2 minutes manual pressure – 10 resting – release pressure – then 2 minutes in ice water). I eat a hard boiled egg for breakfast seven days a week with a little yogurt and fruit on the side.

So back to this recipe . . . am I giving all of you TMI? . . . I went to a local market and got some bulk barley (I can’t tell you the last time I bought or ate barley), a big honkin’ leek, onions, mushrooms, celery, carrots, etc. This soup doesn’t inherently have any protein in it – although barley has some – but when I reheated bowls of it I added in some chopped up rotisserie chicken so I would have some protein. But many of the heated bowls I ate as is, no protein. It’s very filling, let me say. I really liked the addition of sour cream on top that gets mixed in as you eat it. There’s a little bit of tomato paste in the recipe (good umami flavor), and I also used mushroom soup base (try amazon) that is a regular fixture in my frig. And over a pound of mushrooms. And I added some sherry wine to it also. Every time I heat a bowl of it the sherry aroma wafts from the steam.

As with all soups, this one tasted so much better the next day and I’ve been eating away at it for a week with enough to put some in the freezer too. It’s very filling – a scant cup is plenty for me for lunch.

What’s GOOD: just the wholesomeness of it – healthy, hearty, filling. So very easy in the Instant Pot (15 minutes, that’s it). The chopping up of all the veggies took a lot more time than that! Good for freezing. Good umami flavors throughout.

What’s NOT: nary a thing.

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Mushroom Barley Soup in the Instant Pot

Recipe By: Adapted from Ministry of Curry
Serving Size: 6

1 pound mushrooms — crimini
4 tablespoons EVOO
4 tablespoons dry sherry
1 large leek — or two medium sized ones
1 1/2 cups onion — finely chopped
3 cloves garlic — minced
1 1/2 cups celery — thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups carrots — diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons mushroom base — a concentrate
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup barley
1/4 cup parsley — minced
GARNISH:
1 cup sour cream

1. Slice half of the mushrooms. Dice the remaining half.
2. Set the Instant pot to sauté mode and heat half of the oil. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add cooking sherry as the mushrooms start to stick to the pot, cooking for additional 2 minutes. Remove cooked mushrooms with liquids and set aside.
3. To the Instant Pot add remaining oil, leeks, onions, garlic, and celery to the pot. Sauté for 2 minutes. Next, add mushrooms and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add carrots, tomato paste, bay leaves, barley, salt, pepper, and mushroom paste and water.
4. Pressure Cook for 15 minutes followed by natural pressure release. Remove bay leaves.
5. Stir in the reserved mushrooms. Cool soup and for best flavor, refrigerate overnight. Reheat then garnish with parsley. Serve hot with bread. You can also add a dollop of sour cream as a garnish.
Per Serving: 290 Calories; 16g Fat (48.0% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 19mg Cholesterol; 735mg Sodium; 10g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 107mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 833mg Potassium; 190mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, on January 7th, 2022.

There’s no question, I do love tortilla soup. This one’s a little bit different, but certainly in the same genre.

This post from Carolyn. Over the holidays (two weeks before Christmas) I came down with a cold. A really awful cold that had me down and out for over a week. It had me cancel several fun things I was going to do which made me quite sad. It had me snuggled under a blanket watching too much television. I had a jillion Rachael Ray shows recorded, so one day I watched about 10 of them. This recipe came from one of those programs. Had I been well enough I would have made this while I was sick, but instead I made it after I was well. My cousin Gary drove down from Northern California where he lives. As it happened we’ve had a lot of rain in California in recent weeks, so his trip would normally take about 7+ hours, and it took him nearly 11 hours because of traffic issues, rain, road conditions and just jam-ups  in various places. This soup was his reward once he arrived.

Rachael said she was looking for a leaner, very green, vegetarian style tortilla soup. And she explained that the toppings are what make this dish. I totally agree. The soup itself is merely the “bed” or the sled to pile on the goodies. The more toppings the better. As it happened, I did end up adding some shredded rotisserie chicken to the soup, but that’s certainly optional. The soup was a bit on the hot side for my cousin, so I’ve tamed down the chiles in the recipe – Rachael used Hatch chiles (which are generally hotter than regular green chiles), so you can decide for yourself if you want hot, use Hatch mild, otherwise, the regular cans of Ortega green chiles will be fine too. For the leftovers I added a little bit of cream to the soup (this was to tame it down) and squeezed a bit of sour cream on top as well.

What’s GOOD: I loved everything about this soup. The texture of all the varied toppings IS what makes the soup. Tomatillos are the strongest flavor of the soup base itself. But the crunch of the various things on top give it so much variety. This recipe is a keeper.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. Easy to make. The hardest part is chopping up all the toppings!

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Green Mean Tortilla Soup – with or without chicken

Recipe By: adapted slightly from Rachael Ray show, Dec. 2021
Serving Size: 4

6 corn tortillas — halved and cut into ½-inch strips, baked to a golden brown in a 400°F oven for 7-8 minutes
1/4 cup EVOO
3 medium zucchini — seeds removed, diced
3 poblano chiles — chopped
1 onion — chopped
Salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
6 cups vegetable stock — or chicken stock
1 cup Hatch chiles — use mild, or if you’re sensitive to heat, use Ortega regular mild chiles
12 ounces tomatillos — papery skin removed, washed and quartered, or use canned
2 cups shredded chicken (optional)
Garnishes: thin sliced radishes, crumbled queso fresco, scallions sliced on bias, diced avocado with lime, toasted pumpkin seeds, cilantro, crema or sour cream, pickled jalapenos

1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high to high heat, add zucchini, poblanos, onion and salt. Partially cover, turn heat to medium and soften 7 to 8 minutes.
2. Remove half of the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Grate garlic into the pan, add the spices and black pepper. Add the stock, chiles and tomatillos and let come to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are very tender.
3. Puree in a high-powered blender or with an immersion blender, then add back the reserved vegetables and simmer together 5 minutes. Add chicken at this point if you’re using it.
4. Serve soup in wide bowls and top with your pick of garnishes – the more the merrier.
Per Serving: 318 Calories; 17g Fat (44.0% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 40g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1020mg Sodium; 14g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 116mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 1071mg Potassium; 266mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, on August 23rd, 2021.

A dry soup? Well, it’s a conundrum. Here it means you add a bunch of things (avocado, chicken, tortilla chips, bacon, sour cream and cilantro) to a bowl, then you add (pour) in an amount of fairly thick, chunky “soup.”

A post from Carolyn. This soup is very hard to describe. And I haven’t made it in years and years – before I started writing this blog in 2007. It is a Phillis Carey recipe, from a class I took from her many, long years ago. But I’ve modified it a little bit – mostly made it thicker. What this soup is not is a traditional chicken tortilla soup. Bacon? Probably not. Everything else – of the ingredients – is traditional – but it’s not served in a traditional way.

The base of the soup comes from dried chiles. They provide a depth of flavor you just can’t get from fresh ones. I had on hand some various types – and didn’t have ancho (those are dried poblanos). But I did have dried Anaheim, Cascabel and New Mexico ones, so I used a combination – with very few New Mexico ones as they would be the hottest. I removed all of the seeds, since the heat comes more from seeds than from the skin/shell. Once chopped up, they went into a food processor to mince more finely, then canned tomatoes were added and garlic. Also some broth to make the mixture more fluid. I like this soup chunkier – not big chunks – but didn’t want it to be a puree, either. Use your own judgment about this.

That mixture is simmered for 10-15 minutes, with some added oregano. There is some chicken broth in this, and you may use your own preference on how much. I liked the thicker style. Meanwhile I cooked some chicken breasts (or buy the ready-made ones and make sure they’re warm when you serve them), chopped the cilantro, made the tortilla chips (actually I did that first thing), chopped and cooked the bacon and got out the sour cream. And crumbled Cotija (or you can use shredded Jack), and diced avocado. Then you hand each diner a bowl – a dry bowl – and they put in what they want from the various condiments. Then you use a measuring cup (about a cup per person) to pour the soup part into the side of the bowl. If you pour it on top, everything is submerged. You want to see some of it.

For me, this soup is all about texture. The crispy tortilla chips, the chicken, the cilantro, the bacon, even the sour cream. And the background is the sort-of chunky soup poured in last on the edge, so you can still see the chunks of whatever you’ve chosen to add to the bowl. Afterwards, put the tortilla strips in a sealing plastic bag and they’ll keep for several days. Everything else will refrigerate well and make for a quick 2nd meal a night or two later. Add in your own extra condiments – maybe shredded cabbage, some tiny cherry tomatoes, halved, some green onion? Or two different kinds of cheese, perhaps?

What’s GOOD: as mentioned above, it’s all about texture for me. Loved the flavors (from the dried chiles, most likely) and cooling notes from the sour cream and Cotija cheese. Altogether delicious, and easily refrigerated for another meal in a day or two.

What’s NOT: only that you do need dried chiles – I keep several on hand always – and they keep forever. Try to seek out the ancho. Otherwise this soup is easy to make and really tasty. Nothing to complain about at all.

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Dry Chicken Tortilla Soup

Recipe By: Adapted from a Phillis Carey recipe
Serving Size: 8

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 whole corn tortillas — cut in strips
4 ounces dried ancho chilies — rinsed and seeded
1 ounce dried New Mexico chiles — rinsed and seeded
30 ounces canned tomatoes — crushed, with juices
1 small onion — cut in chunks
6 large garlic cloves — peeled
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 1/2 cups chicken breast — cooked, shredded or cubed (and warmed just before serving)
2 cups Monterey jack cheese — grated, or Cotija cheese, crumbled
4 pieces bacon — cooked and crumbled
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups avocado — diced
3/4 cup cilantro — chopped

NOTE: If you puree this soup mixture in a blender it will make it very smooth – I prefer a more chunky style, hence the food processor is better for this. If sodium is a concern, use low-sodium tomatoes. If you are sensitive to heat from chiles, use fewer of them and make sure to remove every single seed from inside each one. The New Mexican are the hotter ones. Ancho chiles are dried poblano peppers.
1. In a wide pan heat oil and sauté the tortilla strips until golden brown. Remove to paper towel to drain. Keep the oil in the pan.
2. Open the dried chiles and discard all the seeds. Cut the chiles into small chunks. Pour into a food processor and finely chop. You may need to scrape down the bowl one or more times. Add canned tomatoes, onions and garlic to the processor and coarsely chop. Add some of the broth if it’s too thick.
2. Then pour the mixture in the food processor into the pan, with the remaining broth and simmer over medium heat, adding oregano. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Can be made several hours ahead. Heat to a simmer when ready to serve. You may add more broth if you prefer a more brothy soup.
3. SERVING: Prepare all the additions (warmed chicken, cheese, bacon, avocado, sour cream and cilantro) and set out in a row. Serve the dry soup bowl to each person, ask them to add the condiments they want. Then take the bowl to the soup pot and using a measuring cup, pour about a cup of soup at the side so some of the chunky stuff floats.
Per Serving: 661 Calories; 48g Fat (64.1% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 23g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 120mg Cholesterol; 787mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 542mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 849mg Potassium; 565mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, Soups, on March 18th, 2021.

chili_guy_fieri

Dig out your spices in multiple types and heat.

Today I’m sharing a recipe from my neighbor, Scott. His wife, Josee, has been my salvation this last year, as she has gone shopping for me to various places, but of late, it’s been weekly trips to Costco, since I wasn’t willing to go there during the pandemic – except once. Periodically I make something that has a big quantity and I’ve shared it with their family of four. I’m happy to do it as a thank  you for all the various trips Josee has made for me.

Now that I’m past the 14-day hold after the 2nd vaccine, I’m “free.” Happy days. No fear of eating out, outside still, though. Don’t have to wear masks in small groups. As I write this I haven’t had a chance yet to hug my kids and grandkids, but I will!

So, Josee brought over a plastic bag of chili for me – Scott had made it. He’s the weekend “chef” – he loves to barbecue –  and I think he’s a very accomplished home cook. He and I have had a few conversations about cooking and food in various contexts. Anyway, I managed to get two meals out of the baggie of chili Josee brought me, and OH, was it ever good.

Scott said it’s Guy Fieri’s recipe, so I was able to go online and print that out easily enough. Know from the get-go that you need to read the ingredient list carefully – you might not have everything on that list. So plan ahead, and of course, always with stew-type or soup type foods, it’s better the next day. Scott made beef Bourguignon a week or so ago and it was outstanding.

Since I didn’t make this recipe myself, I can’t really give you much info, other than what Scott told me. He said follow the recipe and do your prep ahead so you don’t miss anything. If you’re sensitive to heat, reduce the amount of cayenne, perhaps use half-sharp or mild paprika. Do note, the title of the recipe is Dragon’s Breath, so that should give you a clue about the fiery heat. It was fine for me – I can tolerate medium-heat. This is a great recipe. I’d definitely make it myself and yes, I would use the finely chopped up chuck roast, just because it adds a lot of flavor. If you have the bone to go with it, I’d put it in the pot too to add even more flavor. If you look at the online recipe, Guy Fieri always serves this with French Fries. I’m not much of a French Fry person (although hot ones from McDonald’s put in front of me would be eaten!).

Scott added fewer beans (their family is trying to reduce carbs too), but there were some in there.

What’s GOOD: as you know, for me it’s all about the end result – the flavor. The texture. And this scored on all counts.

What’s NOT: only that it takes hours to simmer and you might have to purchase a few ingredients if you don’t already have them in your pantry.

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Dragons Breath Chili – Guy Fieri

Recipe By: from my neighbor, Scott, but from Guy Fieri, Food Network
Serving Size: 10

3 tablespoons bacon grease — or canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Anaheim chiles — roasted, peeled, seeded
3 poblano chiles — roasted, peeled, chopped
2 red bell peppers — diced
2 jalapeno chile pepper — minced
2 yellow onions — diced
1 head garlic — minced
1 pound chuck roast — boneless, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 pounds ground beef — coarse grind
1 pound Italian sausage — casings removed, or buy bulk
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper — (use less perhaps)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons hot paprika — (might use half hot and half regular)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup tomato paste
12 ounces beer — lager style
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
30 ounces canned kidney beans — with juice
30 ounces canned pinto beans — with juice
Saltine crackers — for garnish
1 bunch green onions — thinly sliced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
sour cream for garnish (optional: not in original recipe)

1. Add the bacon grease and butter to a large stockpot over high heat. Add the Anaheim chiles, poblano chiles, red bell peppers, jalapeno chiles and onions, and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Add the chuck and brown, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and sausage and brown, stirring gently, trying not to break up the ground beef too much. Cook until the meat is nicely browned and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain off fat. Add the chili powder, cayenne, coriander, cumin, granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, salt and black pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add the tomato sauce and paste, and stir to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir in the beer and stock. Add the kidney and pinto beans; lower the heat and simmer, about 2 hours.
3. Serve the chili in bowls. May be served over Double-Fried French Fries. Garnish with crackers, green onions and Cheddar. Optional garnish: sour cream
Per Serving (sodium level is very high): 742 Calories; 40g Fat (48.4% calories from fat); 51g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 12g Dietary Fiber; 151mg Cholesterol; 1479mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 227mg Calcium; 9mg Iron; 1643mg Potassium; 599mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, on February 20th, 2021.

meatballs_yellow_curry_vegetables

This was pure serendipity. Things I had in the refrigerator, made into a lovely soup that I’d definitely make again.

If you read my blog recently when I made lamb meatballs into a kind of shakshuka, then you know I had some leftover meatballs. Some that I cooked in a frying pan, but they didn’t go into that tomato stew shakshuka thing. What to do with them?

At first I searched some of my own recipes for soup, then went online, and finally I settled on 3 different recipes, and kind of combined them. I had to use what I had on hand. As I write this (about a week ago) I’m still not shopping at grocery stores, so I really did have to use pantry ingredients.

First I warmed some EVOO in a big skillet, then added a half of a shallot, chopped up, and half an onion, minced. I let that lightly sizzle until the onion was translucent, then I added garlic, and lastly some yellow curry paste. About a tablespoon, heaping, I’d guess. Mash that up well, so it’s evenly distributed. Once you add hot liquid whatever little chunks of yellow curry paste will still be in little chunks. Then chicken broth was added, and vegetables: celery, a little nub of carrot, and chopped up broccoli stems. I let that simmer while the vegetables cooked for about 5 minutes, then I added the broccoli florets. You don’t want them to turn gray! Then a can of full-fat coconut milk went in. If you like the coconut milk flavor, use Thai Kitchen brand; Trader Joe’s coconut milk cans have virtually no flavor. I added some chopped up baby spinach and dried mint flakes too. And the meatballs.

A note about the meatballs: I used the lamb meatballs I had, but I think chicken would be good, beef, too, even pork, or a combo of a couple of those. Do add seasoning to the meatballs, maybe some minced  up onion and some kind of flavoring that would go with this kind-of Thai or Asian soup. Like lemongrass maybe? The yellow curry paste gives the soup ample spicy heat, so I wouldn’t add more chiles or chile heat. If you had bok choy, that would be good in this too.

Once scooped into a wide bowl, I garnished with green onions, cilantro and some fresh mint from my meager mint garden. This isn’t mint season, so I couldn’t find much that was useful. That’s why I used some dried mint in the soup part.

What’s GOOD: really delicious, and a great way to use up some leftover meatballs.

What’s NOT: can’t think of anything.

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Meatball Soup with Yellow Curry and Vegetables

Recipe By: A creation I made with leftovers
Serving Size: 4

1/2 pound meatballs — I used lamb, but you can use beef or chicken or pork
2 tablespoons EVOO — or other neutral oil
1/2 large onion — chopped finely
1 medium shallot — minced
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow curry paste — or more to taste
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 carrot — chopped thinly
2/3 cup celery — chopped
1 cup broccoli — stems and florets, chopped separately
14 ounces coconut milk — full fat
2 cups baby spinach — chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried mint flakes
1/4 cup fresh mint — minced, divided
1/4 cup fresh cilantro — chopped, divided
4 green onions — minced

1. In a large nonstick pot (with a lid), add the EVOO and allow it to heat slowly. Add the shallot and onion and allow to saute over med-low heat (do not burn or brown) until wilted. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the yellow curry paste and stir it well into the onion mixture until you don’t see any more chunks of it.
2. Add the chicken broth (or use a concentrate + water) and bring it to a simmer, covered.
3. Meanwhile, chop up the celery, broccoli, carrot and herbs and keep them separate. Add the broccoli stems to the soup with the carrot, celery and bring back up to a simmer. Add the meatballs and allow to simmer for about 5-7 minutes. (Note: if you’re using raw meatballs, add them earlier so they’ll be fully cooked through.) Add the broccoli florets, the dried mint, and half of the fresh mint. Add the coconut milk, scraping the can well to get all the rich cream out of it and into the soup. Taste for seasoning. Bring mixture back up to a simmer again and test the broccoli. If tender, it’s ready to serve.
4. Scoop 1+ cup servings into a flat, broad soup bowl and sprinkle top with more fresh mint, cilantro and minced scallions.
Per Serving: 357 Calories; 32g Fat (74.4% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 115mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 100mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 815mg Potassium; 212mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, on February 8th, 2021.

cabbage_roll_soup

Ever made a soup that every time you reheat it, it tastes even better?

What got me thinking about a soup such as this, is a memory of a favorite of mine, the Deconstructed or Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage. And then I came across the recipe for this Cabbage Roll Soup, that I figured would be much like that beloved dish, but in a soup form. Well, it wasn’t exactly – I may have to go tweak that cabbage recipe and see how to make it into a soup. Shouldn’t be all that difficult. Next time . . .

Since I had a big, fat Savoy cabbage in my vegetable drawer in the frig, it got me to thinking about ground beef, vegetables, in a kind of spicy tomato-y broth and bingo, I thought about cabbage rolls. But no, I wasn’t going to make cabbage rolls. Way too much work. I wanted soup, besides. Sure enough, I had this untried recipe in my arsenal.

It took relatively little time to make – chopping up the vegetables, cooking down the ground beef, finding the various cans of things in my pantry, heating up broth, measuring here and there. Tasting. Chopping up about 3/4 of a cabbage, tasting again. Tweaking the flavors a little bit (a tetch of sugar, a can of tomatoes instead of tomato juice, more dried thyme). Rice went in at the end. I don’t eat much rice (though I love rice and I miss it, hence I decided to put some in this soup). I used Basmati, because that’s about the only rice I have in my pantry anyway. Be sure to make this a day ahead. It really improves with an overnight chill.

More than half of it was bagged up and given to my neighbor, Josee. She’s been a God-send to me, for me, since this pandemic, as she visits Costco at least once a week, if not more often, and gladly buys what I need from there. If I ask, she’ll go to Trader Joe’s for me too, though I try not to ask. In between I buy a $50+ of groceries at Ralph’s and they bring the bags out to my car and put them in the trunk. That way I don’t have contact with people. But anyway, Josee doesn’t really like to cook, and is always so grateful when I send over a big pot of something for her young family. She feels pampered because I cook for them sometimes. I feel blessed and appreciate her errand-running and shopping for me, so it’s a good and fair trade.

This soup made a TON. Way, way more than I could ever eat, but I knew I was going to give some of it away, so what was left fed me lunch for about 6 days. After 6 lunches, I’m ready for something new. Up soon will be a wild rice soup with chicken. Reminiscent of a casserole my mother used to make when I was young. That used cream of mushroom soup, something I never use anymore.

A little aside here . . . I’ve finally had my first Covid vaccine, as I write this. When this recipe posts, I’ll be a week away from having my second vaccine. YEAH! Then, I’m laughingly talking about my freedom – to go to the grocery store. And Target, maybe. Maybe sit outside at a coffee place, even.

What’s GOOD: good, stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup. It was nice to have some rice since I so rarely eat any. Liked the flavor combination – the thyme, the little bit of sour (lemon juice) and the little big of sweet (sugar and tomatoes). Great lunch for these cold, winter days. Try to make this a day ahead – it’ll taste better.

What’s NOT: can’t think of anything. This isn’t off the charts kind of thing you’re going to tell all your friends about – just good comfort food in soup form.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cabbage Roll Soup

Recipe By: Adapted from Sweet Recipeas
Serving Size: 10

1 1/2 pounds ground beef — or ground chicken or a combination
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cups cabbage — chopped
3/4 cup onions — diced
1 cup celery — diced
1 cup carrots — diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
7 cups low sodium beef broth
4 cups vegetable broth — or chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar — or sugar substitute
14 ounces canned tomatoes — diced
1 tablespoon mushroom soup base
1/3 cup rice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh dill — chopped
3 tablespoons parsley — chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups grated Cheddar cheese — for garnish
6 tablespoons flat leaf parsley — chopped, for garnish

1. Using a large stock pot add olive oil and cook the ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking up with a potato masher or meat masher. Drain the fat from the ground chuck, leaving about a tablespoon of drippings.
2. Add cabbage, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the both types of broth, rice, canned tomatoes, mushroom soup base, sugar, Worcestershire, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat medium-low and simmer soup until the cabbage and rice are tender, about 30 minutes.
3. Remove pot from heat and add dill, parsley, and lemon juice. Discard the bay leaf and season well with salt and pepper. Serve hot with grated cheese and Italian parsley as garnishes.
Per Serving: 367 Calories; 23g Fat (56.7% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 80mg Cholesterol; 1055mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 322mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 618mg Potassium; 330mg Phosphorus.

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