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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 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out – well, I hope that’s not wishful thinking. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

At the moment I’m reading Amor Towles’ new book, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel. Literally I’ve just started it, but 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. Loving it so far.

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, 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.

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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.

Posted in Soups, on January 27th, 2021.

mixed_mush_soup_sherry_thyme

OH MY Goodness! This may be my favorite mushroom soup to date.

How can I exclaim loud and wide enough for you to try this soup. SO good. SO deep with flavor. You may have to buy a couple of unusual items to make it the way I did, but it’ll be worth your time and the expense.

The original recipe came from a website called vindulge. My D-I-L found that website when she began making smoked beef brisket chili using their left over smoked beef brisket. Such a fabulous recipe, so ever since I’ve been following vindulge’s blog. This recipe popped up awhile ago, and since I had an abundance of mushrooms, I thought I’d try a new recipe for it.

What intrigued me was the quantity of sherry – 3/4 cup. That’s a lot of sherry. Was it too much? Absolutely not. Just be sure to use a good sherry – either dry or medium. Don’t use a sweet sherry. Although all sherry is a bit on the sweet side compared to white wine.

Sponsored Ad - Organic 100% Porcini Mushroom Powder Milled a 200?m Kosher Certified Made in France Vegan Vegetarian, 2ozAwhile back, in watching a Rachel Ray show (I think this is when I ordered this product) she used some dried porcini mushroom powder. I bought Organic 100% Porcini Mushroom Powder Milled a 200?m Kosher Certified Made in France Vegan Vegetarian, 2oz from amazon. She mentioned that it added a ton of flavor to things.

The recipe called for an ounce of it (there are two ounces in the package). I’ve found less than that is sufficient, so I used about a tablespoon. The porcini powder is mixed with the sherry and sits for awhile, so the powder absorbs the sherry. Don’t know exactly what difference that makes, but sounded like something different. Meanwhile, I sweated some onion in EVOO, then added garlic, then a lot of chopped mushrooms. I always buy whole (uncut) mushrooms – somewhere, sometime in the past it was recommended that you should not buy already sliced mushrooms because too many hands have been in contact with them. So I do chop and mince my own mushrooms. I also think mushrooms last a tad bit longer if they’re left whole. Long-lasting (mushrooms) is a relative term, however, as no mushrooms will keep for very long.

Soup | Search Results | TastingSpoons | Page ?The vindulge recipe called for chicken broth, but I have this wonderful mushroom soup base (a kind of thick gel that must be stored in the refrigerator) that adds a lot of flavor to mushroom dishes too. I’ve had the soup base for more than a year, and it still seems to be good and has not developed off flavors or mold. I’m sure it’s for the restaurant trade, but I love the flavor of it.

The soup comes together quickly – providing you have all the ingredients at hand – and you could probably have it on the table in about 45 minutes including prep time. Crème fraiche is added at the end, and I also added about 1/4 cup of cream just because I had some that needed using. At the end, I added a bit of water to the soup because it needed thinning just slightly.

This is a very rich soup – so portions should be smaller than normal. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley on top, just to make it look pretty. In the original recipe, some of the cremini mushrooms were chopped up, fried in butter and set aside to add as a garnish.

What’s GOOD: the mushroom flavor just jumps on your palate. Very hearty soup. Rich. Delicious. I loved the sherry in it – the quantity used certainly makes the sherry flavor very prominent. A keeper.

What’s NOT: only if you don’t have the mushroom soup base, or the dried porcini mushrooms. I know it wouldn’t taste as good, but it might still be delicious.

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Cream of Mushroom Soup with Sherry and Thyme

Recipe By: Adapted from vindulge
Serving Size: 6

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms — see directions about whole or powdered form
3/4 cup sherry wine — use a good one, not cooking sherry
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 cups onion — white or yellow, chopped
1 pound mushrooms — cremini, cleaned and chopped with stems
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic — finely diced
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon mushroom soup base — or chicken or vegetable
3 cups water
1 tablespoon dried thyme — tied with string
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1/4 cup heavy cream — optional
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley — chopped (garnish)

1. If using whole dried mushrooms they need to be rehydrated. Place dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and add sherry. Soak for at least 30 minutes, no more than an hour. Stir to make sure the sherry incorporates with all the dried mushrooms. If using porcini powder, soak the powder in the sherry for 30 minutes. Stir well so powder is absorbed.
2. After re-hydrated the whole ones, strain the liquid from the mushrooms, and keep the strained liquid. Dice up the re-hydrated mushrooms prior to putting into the soup.
3. In a 3 quart soup pot over medium heat add olive oil and white onions. Saute for 8 – 10 minutes or until soft. Next add cremini mushrooms and continue to stir for another 15 – 18 minutes or until they start browning. Add butter and garlic and stir until the butter is melted.
4. Add flour and continue to stir for another 3 minutes to make the roux. Add stock, sherry, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Add the porcini mushrooms, and simmer the soup for 20 minutes, it will slightly thicken.
5. In a separate medium sized bowl add the crème fraîche and place one cup of the hot soup mix in the bowl and stir. This will temper the cream and keep it from curdling. Place the entire mix back into the soup and stir, bringing back to a simmer for another 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste as needed. Serve 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup servings. Sprinkle Italian parsley on top to garnish. Serve with crusty white bread or rolls. Freezes well.
Per Serving: 223 Calories; 16g Fat (62.2% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 32mg Cholesterol; 813mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 50mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 469mg Potassium; 118mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, on January 2nd, 2021.

creamy_parsnip_soup

Parsnip soup is in itself a bit of an anomaly here in the U.S. I don’t know why, but most of us don’t know how to cook them, or even how to eat them. Some times of the year you can’t even buy them.

Many, many years ago (1981 to be exact), I’ve mentioned it here before, my DH Dave and I took a trip to England. It was his first trip there, so I planned out the driving and off we went. Our first night out of London we stopped in a small village called Ilminster, checked into a nearby B&B and asked the owner where we should go to dinner. He pointed to “town,” and said turn left at the little square, there’s a nice pub down the street. We walked, in the pitch dark and finally found the pub. It was there that we met a wonderful couple, Pamela and Jimmy. They subsequently invited us to their home. Pamela was a superb cook. In fact, she worked as a chef/cook at a nearby manor house and entertained the young titled family who lived there, plus groups of people for hunt weekends, etc. We were fast friends and visited them every few years. They’re both gone now. But I treasure some of the recipes Pamela gave me, this one included. One year I wrote to her asking for some recipes for cold soups. This one was included. She’s the one who taught me how to make a proper pot of tea. You can read that long story here.

This soup doesn’t have to be served cold – in fact I’ve been eating it hot. With a tiny dollop of sour cream on top. I was lucky enough to find parsnips recently and knew I wanted to try this soup. Pamela didn’t include cream in her version, but after tasting it, I felt it needed some cream and milk. You could add coconut milk instead, or you can thin it with water if you’d like to not include the richness or dairy in your version.

Potato isn’t something I eat much, so I included a celery stalk in the soup instead. Not that celery acts the same as potato – it certainly doesn’t. You can add any amount of curry powder you want. However, a warning: there is cayenne in the recipe; be sparing with it as a little bit goes a long way. Then if you add curry powder too, it usually contains some kind of hot chile powder (or even cayenne) in some form or another, so then you’ll have a double-whammy of heat.

The soup comes together quickly enough, but requiring about 35-45 minutes of low simmering to get the parsnips tender. Parsnips look like carrots in shape, but they’re a pale beige, more an off-white color. Usually they’re cooked, not eaten raw.

What’s GOOD: just that this is a different kind of soup. Loved the soft, creamy texture and flavor. Parsnips are a carb-resistant starch, so it isn’t absorbed like a traditional carbohydrate. Sweet potatoes are the same thing.

What’s NOT: only that you might have trouble finding parsnips! The finished soup would freeze well, but raw parsnips would not, so you can only make this when your grocer carriers the rascals.

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Curried Parsnip Soup

Recipe By: From my friend Pamela James
Serving Size: 5

1 1/2 ounces butter
2 large onions — chopped
2 teaspoons fresh ginger — minced
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 pinch cayenne — don’t be tempted to add more
1 pinch turmeric
1 pinch ground cumin
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 pound parsnips — peeled, chopped
1 medium potato — peeled, chopped
3 1/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream — optional
salt to taste curry powder to taste
Milk or more broth to thin the soup to the right consistency
1/3 cup sour cream

1. Melt butter and add onion; cook until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add ginger, spices and cook for a minute.
2. Add parsnips and potato and cook for a minute over medium heat.
3. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
4. Allow to cool some, then puree in blender until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any fibers. Taste for seasoning; do not add pepper. Add curry powder and sour cream. Or add a dollop of sour cream on top when served. If served cold, you’ll definitely need to add more liquid as it will be too thick.
5. Serve hot. Or chill, if desired, and serve in small portions. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, perhaps.
Per Serving: 343 Calories; 20g Fat (51.8% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 57mg Cholesterol; 302mg Sodium; 10g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 84mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 797mg Potassium; 170mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Soups, on October 29th, 2020.

IP_broccoli_cheese_soup

SO easy and quick.

While my grandson Vaughan was visiting with me, he was doing online school, and at about 11:15 one day I realized he was going to have his lunch break in exactly 10 minutes, and I hadn’t started the soup. Fortunately, the lunch break lasted for 35 minutes, and I was able to get this soup prepared in time. Whew.

I used an online recipe as a base, but I added different ingredients and quantities. I’d purchased a package of Velveeta about 2 weeks ago. It’s not something I really like to eat, but when a recipe calls for it, it’s usually necessary, as I didn’t want stringy cheese in this soup (like you would get with grated cheddar). There are a few cheeses that melt easily, like Fontina, for instance. And I had some of that, but it wasn’t going to give the same flavor as cheddar, so the Velveeta was the ticket.

My Instant Pot came out, and I sautéed an onion and some celery in butter. Then added the carrots, garlic and lastly the flour, which you need to stir around so it doesn’t lump when you add liquid. Stir frequently as it warms and thickens. Then add the broccoli, paprika and mustard. At this point, put on the lid and pressure cook for about 5 minutes on high. Quick release, stir the soup, then add the dairy. Start IP to sauté to heat the soup through, then you add the Velveeta, cut into big cubes. Stir it continuously until the cheese melts. Fortunately, all that took about 20 minutes, and I was able to serve Vaughan a bowl at his laptop and he was able to finish it on the stroke of class restarting. He was so cute – he muted himself and told me 3 times how good the soup was. I got quite a kick out of watching him over the course of his online school day. He got a couple of breaks, and he has 2-3 friends who play Minecraft, and they managed to play the game during the breaks, and at the exactly as class re-started, he was tuned back into school. One of his friends has a server, so they play together and also use their phones to talk at the same time. All kinds of multi-tasking.

You can add topping to this soup – grated cheddar, croutons, hot sauce, chives, crispy bacon. I didn’t have time, so straight soup was what we got.

What’s GOOD: loved the soup. Simple, straight forward, easy, and just good comfort food. I think the mustard adds a lot of flavor depth to this – if you didn’t know it was in there you might not be able to taste it, but because I knew, you can barely discern it. Now I need to buy another block of Velveeta so I can make this on the fly another day. Another plus, the fact that I could get this made in a matter of about 25 minutes.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. You can adjust quantities to suit your family’s taste. More broccoli, more carrots and celery, more onion? It’ll work. Add shallots instead of onion, no garlic. Whatever suits your fancy.

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Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from an online recipe
Serving Size: 5

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup carrots — diced
1/2 onion — chopped
1/2 cup celery — chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour — or gluten-free
3 cups low sodium chicken broth — or more if needed
2 cloves garlic — diced
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon spicy mustard
4 cups broccoli — cut into small florets and finely dice the stems
1 1/2 cups half and half — or use about 1/2 cup heavy cream (bring to room temperature)
8 ounces Velveeta — diced into cubes – or use cheddar

1. Start IP on Sauté setting and allow it to heat up slightly. Add butter and once melted, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring a couple of times or until onion is softened.
2. While still hot, add flour and stir briskly for 30 seconds.
3. Add chicken broth in 2-3 batches stirring with a whisk so there are no lumps.
4. Add the seasonings and mustard, stir through and add the broccoli florets.
5. Close and seal the Instant Pot. Press Manual/Pressure Cook button and adjust the time to 5 minutes, and adjust to HIGH pressure.
6. Once the timer is done, use the Quick Release method to let the steam off and open the lid.
7. Stir the soup, then add cream (microwave it slightly if needed). Mix through and use a potato masher to roughly puree the cooked vegetables into the liquid.
8. The soup may be hot enough to serve without reheating. If you want the soup to be super-hot, press the Sauté function key again to bring soup back to a simmer. Immediately turn off once soup begins to simmer and add the cheese in 2-3 batches, stirring well until it’s fully melted and combined into the soup. Velveeta will sink to the bottom so stir thoroughly. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add a bit more chicken broth.
9. Serve with toppings of your choice, such as shredded cheddar, chopped broccoli, hot sauce, sour cream, chives, crispy bacon, croutons and so on. Storing the soup: Keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge. Reheat well and whisk to restore its creamy texture. The soup freezes well. Thawed broccoli cheese soup may have a slight change in texture because the cream may separate during freezing and then thawing. Simply whisk the soup back together and add some more cream to bring it back to life. Refresh the seasonings with salt and pepper and enjoy. One tip is to use evaporated milk instead of cream if you plan to freeze this soup.
Per Serving: 421 Calories; 27g Fat (54.8% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 80mg Cholesterol; 867mg Sodium; 12g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 404mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 1105mg Potassium; 654mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, on July 9th, 2020.

chilled_curried_cauliflower_apple_soup

Needing a nice, gentle curried cauliflower soup to serve chilled? This is your ticket.

In my soup recipe repertoire, I must have 30 or more cauliflower soups. And there are plenty of them already posted and archived in the index. They’re all very different; this one is no exception. When I ate, then prepared the cauliflower soup I posted a few months ago, Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Golden Raisins, Pine Nuts, Capers and Balsamic Drizzle, there’s no question it sailed to the very top of my list of favorite cauliflower soups. Even though I’ve only made it once. It was just sensational. But I’d get tired of making that one over and over. I eat a lot of cruciferous vegetable soups, or soups that don’t have a lot of carbs. Hence broccoli and cauliflower rank high on my soup cooking lists. Recently I made a combo soup of both of those veggies. It was awful. After two servings of it, it got poured down the drain.

So as I perused all of the other recipes to try, this one kept coming back for my review. I had a relatively small head of cauliflower. I had a Gala apple and onion. Everything else was do-able. I made it, thinking I’d serve it hot (which is how the original recipe was served at Campton Place). I made it a couple of days ago and had it chilling in the frig. When I took out the container I needed to taste it for salt. Oh my, it tasted just wonderful chilled. So, although you may serve this hot or cold, cold is my preference. At least now since it’s summer and very hot outside.

The soup is like many others – butter, onion, curry powder (medium heat) and fresh ginger. Sautéed. Then apple, saffron, the cauliflower and low sodium chicken broth. That simmered for about half an hour or less, then I added the milk, whizzed it using my stick blender, then cooled it. I recommend you make it a day ahead.

chilled_curried_cauliflower_apple_soup_closeupIn the original recipe, the garnish was minced apple, saffron and curry powder with a dash of salt. I decided to enhance it with some more vegetables. I love celery, so it got minced up so very fine, some red bell pepper because it would look pretty, a couple of green onions, some cilantro, salt, and some lemon juice. I’d actually gotten out an avocado as well, but at the last minute decided there was enough already. I chose not to add more curry powder. There’s enough in the soup, although it’s not overpowering at all. I saved a few whole cilantro leaves to place on top.

A serving of 1 1/2 cups of this is a whopping 167 calories, including the garnishes. With the apple in it, it does have 24 grams of carbs.

What’s GOOD: almost any cauliflower soup is a bit bland, so adding other flavors is imperative in my book. The curry powder (not much) adds just a lovely hint of curry flavor. The apple added into the mix also mellows out the cauliflower. Really liked that part. I couldn’t distinguish the saffron – I suppose if it was taken out the soup would have a different flavor profile, but truly saffron didn’t come to mind as I tasted it. But the star of the soup was the garnish. It’s a way to get more veggies, but it’s tempered by the addition of some apples too. You can serve it hot or cold. The garnish will keep for a day or two with the addition of lemon juice.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of – making it a day ahead is helpful – the flavors will meld better. Maybe preparing the garnish, but it still only took about 5 minutes to do that part.

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Chilled Curried Cauliflower and Apple Soup

Recipe By: Adapted from Bon Appetit, from Campton Place
Serving Size: 5

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion — chopped (~1 cup)
2 teaspoons curry powder — medium heat
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads — soaked in 1/4 cup hot water for 10 minutes
1 cup Gala apple — peeled, cored and chopped (2 small apples or 1 large)
1 medium head cauliflower — greens and stem removed, and broken into small florets
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth — (1 quart)
1 1/4 cups whole milk — or half and half
1 pinch cayenne pepper — optional
salt to taste
olive oil (for garnish)
GARNISH:
1 cup apple — very finely minced, leaving skin intact for color
1 cup celery — very finely minced
3 whole green onions — very finely minced
1/2 red bell pepper — very finely minced
3/4 cup fresh cilantro — most finely minced in garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt to taste
a few cilantro leaves to place on top when serving

1. Heat the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add onions, curry powder and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped apple and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until soft.
2. Add the cauliflower, saffron and the water it soaked in, then add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is fork tender. Stir in the the milk or half and half and continue to simmer over low heat for an additional 5 minutes. Do not bring it to a boil or the milk may separate.
4. Use a stick blender to puree the soup in the pot. Otherwise, working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. If serving chilled, cool and refrigerate overnight if time permits. If serving hot, return pureed soup to pot and heat over low flame. Add cayenne pepper (if using) and season with salt and pepper. Cool and chill at this point, or you may serve it hot.
5. GARNISH: In a medium bowl combine the minced apple, celery, green onions, bell pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice and the minced cilantro. Season with salt.
6. Soup may be served chilled, or piping hot. Add a generous couple of spoonfuls of apple garnish and drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Place a few cilantro leaves on top.
Per Serving: 167 Calories; 6g Fat (29.7% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 12mg Cholesterol; 112mg Sodium; 16g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 113mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 565mg Potassium; 151mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, on May 17th, 2020.

easy_buffalo_chix_soup

This isn’t a “wings” recipe. I know a lot of the world out there adore buffalo chicken wings. Nope, this is soup with the profile of “wings.” But made with just ordinary cooked chicken.

A week or so ago I baked a whole chicken. I’d tried a new recipe (why didn’t I go to my old favorite?) and knew I’d use the leftover chicken for several meals. With what was left I made this soup. And oh, is it ever good. I made it, and ate it every day until it was gone. Now I wish I had more of it.

Perhaps the best part is it’s SO easy you won’t believe it. As most of you know, I’m not known as someone who cooks easy and simple. But this one IS – easy and simple. The original recipe was even simpler, but I tweaked it just a bit  – I added celery, just because I like how celery flavors soup. I added a shallot because I had one that was about to go over the hill. And I added cabbage. Now, I know, any true wings expert will tell me cabbage has no place in the same sentence as buffalo anything. Sorry about that, but I had some roasted cabbage in the frig, and I wanted to use it up, so I added it in. And I loved it. You can choose to leave it out if that offends your wings-senses.

But, there’s one thing that you must have on hand . . . Franks Red Hot Sauce, 12 Ounce. Some markets here in my neck of the woods carry it, but it’s a bit hard to find. And they have a whole line of various sauces. This one is the original plain, but hot sauce. Not the wings sauce, not the thick, just the straight hot sauce. It’s a staple in grocery stores in many places (the South?).  You cannot substitute Tabasco – it would blow your head off. As it was, I scanted the 1/2 cup called for and am SO glad I did, as the soup was plenty hot. If you’re at all sensitive to heat, reduce it even more. But that hot sauce does make the dish. I would not advise eliminating it altogether. I also didn’t add the cayenne – because I tasted it before I was about to do that and decided it was plenty warm for my tastes. I also forgot to add the sour cream garnish. And I didn’t have any green onions. This sheltering in place thing is getting very tiresome. I had cilantro, and that might have been a nice addition.

The vegetables are cooked with oil and butter, then you add broth, the hot sauce, cabbage, cream cheese (which also gives it a lovely flavor and texture) and the small amount of cream. It’s simmered for a short time, then you add in the chicken. Done.

What’s GOOD: how easy it was. How delicious it was. I told you it was easy, right? My mouth is watering as I write this and look at the photo. It’ll be on my soup rotation soon. Really enjoyed the cabbage addition too. Any way to get in more veggies is a good thing in my book.

What’s NOT: nothing at all – unless you don’t like anything with some capsicum heat. And it might be just fine with the addition of tomato paste instead. Not sure . . .

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Easy Buffalo Chicken Soup

Recipe By: Adapted from Tasteholics blog
Serving Size: 6

3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
1 medium shallot — peeled, minced
3 stalks celery — chopped
3 whole carrots — chopped
3 cups cabbage — chopped (optional)
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce — (use less if you don’t want heat)
1 teaspoon thyme
3 cups cooked chicken — chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne — optional (it may be hot enough already)
Optional garnishes: sour cream, green onion

1. Heat large soup pot over medium heat and add oil and butter. When melted and bubbling lightly, add shallot, celery and carrots and saute at medium-low heat until vegetables are wilted, but not browned. Add chopped cabbage.
2. Add chicken broth, hot sauce, cream cheese and cream. Add dried thyme you’ve crushed between your palms.
3. Bring to a simmer, cover and set over low heat for 10 minutes.
4. Add the chopped chicken and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, when you’re ready to serve, garnish with sour cream and chopped green onion.
Per Serving: 416 Calories; 32g Fat (64.3% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 119mg Cholesterol; 291mg Sodium.

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