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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.

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:

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. My friend Ann recommended it. I was gripped with the story within the first paragraph, and it never stopped until I turned the last page. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s (I think). At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. Some very ugly things happen at that school. Eventually they  escape, and they are “on the run.” With a few others with them. If you loved Huckleberry Finn, you’ll have a great appreciation for this story as they use a canoe to get themselves down river. Never having very much to eat and getting into trouble way too often, and authorities on their tail. Well, you just have to read the book to find out what happens.

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. The book is heartbreaking, but one of those that everyone should read. The hardship, the hunger, the dirt and dust, the failed crops, the lack of rain, then the story picks up again in central California, back in the day when the wealthy growers just used up the migrants. I don’t want to spoil the story. So worth reading. Hannah really knows how to weave a story.

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 woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks. The father was very dark, but he plays no part, really, in this story. Growing up, the girls leave home at 18 to find their way in New Orleans. Suddenly, one twin disappears (her clothes and suitcase all gone in the wink of an eye). Her twin left behind has no idea what’s happened to her. As the story reveals, with divided paths, one twin continues her life as a black woman, and the other twin, the one who left, is able to pass as a white woman. She marries well, has a daughter. Well, let’s just say that there are lots of wicked webs woven throughout the story, starting from the girls’ mother who never wants to speak again of her lost daughter. But you know where this is going, don’t you? Things are found out. The author does a great job of weaving the story apart and then back together.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress. She was a brilliant mind, and a beautiful woman. It tells the story of her coming of age, how she navigated the world of acting back in that time period (she was Austrian, and Hitler was in power). The writing was very well done – to tell Hedy’s story with detail and poignancy. Eventually Hedy made it to the U.S. and her life story changed, but still had its difficulties. I loved the book, beginning to end. She should have become an engineer as she invented several war related bomb tools. 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, when aristocrats were chased and killed, guillotined in many cases. There is a young couple (part of the royal court) who escape to a remote small castle owned by his family, located on the edge of France and Italy, hoping to wait out the revolution and hoping the villagers love and care about them. Then jump to current day as a small English group of close friends decide to retire somewhere on the continent, and settle on a small abandoned castle in the remote hills of France along the Italian border. Got the picture? The historian in the group is quite interested in the history of the home, and clues are revealed (in the tower) that lead her and the group on a quest to discover what happened to the couple who used to live there. There was a fire once upon a time. There’s an pesky ghost. There’s also a very old child’s doll/playhouse on the grounds. Plus there’s a small graveyard. It is VERY intriguing. 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. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. 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. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

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. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

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.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called 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. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

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. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

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, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

 

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 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.

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

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.

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

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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)

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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.

Posted in Soups, on May 1st, 2020.

chix_poblano_soup_joanna_gaines

You know Joanna Gaines? From Waco, Texas, with the Magnolia empire?

A year or so ago, I was very sad when Joanna and Chip Gaines decided to quit their TV show on HGTV. But she had her hands full – I got that – having another pregnancy in the middle of their very hectic lives with rejuvenating their town, creating a restaurant or two and remodeling homes too. But then I got a little rumor somewhere that they would be back eventually. She’s written a cookbook, and now a second one. A few weeks ago she did a “special” as a forerunner of a cooking show she’s decided to do. But oh – on their own network. Ah-HA! That’s what they had in mind, and I’d heard a rumor about that too. This special she did – I had to laugh – the filming of it was so cute – one of the daughters was in charge of the camera due to the sheltering-at-home. And she did a great job, with Joanna sometimes holding the youngest baby on her hip. None of the recipes she demonstrated (I think there were four) are ones I’ll be making, but that’s okay. Chip breezed in a time or two as did the other children.

Joanna writes a blog, if you didn’t know, also part of the Magnolia empire. And this soup popped up some weeks ago. As you know. sometimes the story itself is what makes me decide to prepare something. This one did. When Joanna and Chip were dating, they drove up to Dallas one weekend and ate lunch at a restaurant there. My guess is it might have been Dean Fearing’s, but that’s really a stab in the dark. Somehow, when the restaurant closed Joanna got the recipe – or maybe she just made her own version – and has been making it ever since.

poblano_peppersPoblano chiles are a favorite of mine. They have such a unique flavor. There is some unusual compound (almost a minerally tinge) to them. So I was all over this recipe when I saw it. My biggest hurdle was getting poblano chiles, and that got accomplished by the high school students at my church who are doing shopping for us seniors. When I talked with the young woman who was supervising these shopping-kids, I asked, “will they know what a poblano chile is?” She said yes, I’ll make sure. Sure enough, I got exactly what I asked for.

I also needed tortilla chips. A whole package of ready-made chips would have been eaten in total by me, so I nixed that idea. Fresh tortillas were the answer and I’d make my own chips. The smallest package of corn tortillas, however, was 36 of them. Chuckle. It’s been a month since I made this soup, and I still have 30 of them in the package. One day soon those telltale black spots will begin to appear and they’ll get tossed. But at least I had them to make the chips for the garnish of this soup.

This soup is a cinch to make – butter (oh, lots), onion, celery, carrots (which gives the soup a more warm color), garlic and the chiles. Seasonings go in, some broth and heavy cream in abundance. Once it’s simmered a bit, you whiz it up in the blender, or use a stick blender. I wanted a super-smooth texture, so I used the Vita-Mix. Then you add in the cooked chicken, pour into bowls and garnish with radishes, the chips, cilantro – and I added some diced avocado. I used chicken thighs that I cooked up, but she recommended using rotisserie chicken to make it easy.

What’s GOOD: the silky smoothness of the soup part, and the crunch of the garnishes. Altogether delicious, but then, what wouldn’t be good with a whole cube of butter and 2 cups of heavy cream? I think I used 6 T butter.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. This recipe is a keeper.

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Creamy Chicken Poblano Soup from Joanna Gaines

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Joanna Gaines
Serving Size: 7

8 tablespoons unsalted butter — [I used less]
2 cups onion — diced
4 stalks celery — chopped
3 carrots — chopped
2 cloves garlic — minced
3 medium poblano chiles
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
8 cups low sodium chicken broth — (see note below)
2 cups heavy cream
3 cups cooked chicken — shredded cooked chicken breast (home-roasted or rotisserie chicken)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Tortilla chips and sliced radishes — for garnish
1 whole avocado — diced, for garnish [my addition]

NOTE: Suggestion: Add about 3/4 of the chicken broth and taste the soup for consistency – next time I would use less broth to make a slightly thicker soup.
1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and poblanos and sauté, stirring often, until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, and thyme and sauté until caramelized and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
2. Add the broth and cream, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes to meld the flavors.
3. Use an immersion blender to carefully blend the soup until smooth. (Alternatively, let cool slightly and, working in batches as necessary, process in a stand blender until smooth, filling the blender no more than half full and removing the lid slowly after blending. Pour the soup back into the pot.)
4. Add the chicken and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes to meld the flavors to your liking. Stir in the cilantro.
5. Serve warm, garnished with tortilla strips and sliced radishes and avocado.
6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Per Serving: 601 Calories; 46g Fat (66.9% calories from fat); 35g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 180mg Cholesterol; 1104mg Sodium.

Posted in Soups, on April 20th, 2020.

caulif_soup_golden_raisins_capers_pinenuts

Oh my goodness, is this soup fabulous. You’d almost not know its base is cauliflower.

There’s a story to go along with this post. Last month before the virus had ramped up, I took a one-week trip to our California central coast. I had a fabulous time – by myself – visiting wineries, window shopping, used book stores, stopping at coffee shops here and there. I thoroughly enjoy driving and I meandered – I was in no hurry to get anywhere so I could enjoy the views. Visiting with old friends in San Luis Obispo, we went to a local hotel (the San Luis Obispo Hotel) for lunch. Cauliflower soup was featured that day – I quizzed the waitress if it was good. She waxed glorious about it – whenever the chef made it, she said she had some – and that I wouldn’t be disappointed.

So here’s what the restaurant’s soup looked like, at right. cauliflower_soup_san_luis_obispo_hotelI think the menu said it was garnished with a sage leaf, but that wasn’t a sage leaf – looked like basil to me. But on top was plenty of the balsamic glaze, toasted almonds, capers, some plumped up raisins (can’t really see those) and a few little pieces of caramelized roasted cauliflower.

Upon my first sip, I swooned. It was SO good. I insisted my friends needed to try it – they agreed it was sensational. My thoughts as I ate it – the golden raisins added so much – they were plumped for sure. The nuts added great texture, and so did the few little pieces of cauliflower. There was no discernible cauliflower flavor to the soup itself. So I decided it probably wasn’t made with caramelized cauliflower. Plus, the soup was super smooth. When the waitress returned I quizzed her some more about the soup – she knew it contained cream (check), and yes, it was balsamic glaze (check), and toasted almonds (I used pine nuts, check) and she knew the raisins had been cooked in something (check). And yes, they used a Vitamix to puree it until very smooth (check).

Soon after returning home I went online to google such a soup. No soup came up, but a bunch of results showed a vegetable dish (from the New York Times, I think it was, plus epicurious) of roasted cauliflower with toasted pine nuts, capers, golden raisins and balsamic glaze drizzled on top. My first thought was that the chef had perhaps made a monstrous batch of that for the dinner service, didn’t serve it all so he created the soup with the leftovers. I don’t know, of course. And it doesn’t matter – I created the soup with what little I could discern.

As I’m writing this post, I’m going to have it for the 2nd day, for my lunch. I have all the garnishes except the roasted cauliflower pieces. And I used pine nuts, as I mentioned. No basil or sage leaf, either. I added more parsley. I tried to make the soup with white onion, but my neighbor who is doing my shopping couldn’t find white onions. So yellow it was. I added celery for flavor, chicken broth, cream, and thickened it a little bit with flour. All of it was whizzed up at length in my Vitamix. I let it whiz for a long, long time  – and truly it resulted in a silky-smooth texture. I added a drizzle of sour cream (not on the restaurant soup), but you could easily use a little drizzle of EVOO for appearance or a tiny drizzle of heavy cream.

caulif_soup_with_cozyLunch at my house is often soup of some kind. There’s a photo of my bowl sitting in the microwave soup cozy (several artisans make them on Etsy). The soup bowl is sitting off center only because I wanted to show you the cute fabric on the back side of it. I have flat bags and bags of various soups in my freezer. I think this one will get eaten in total with none for the freezer. It’s that good. Do try to make this a day ahead of serving – as with all soups, they taste better once they’ve chilled overnight.

What’s GOOD: all the flavors produce an outstanding soup. The garnishes absolutely “make” this soup. Don’t skimp on them – in my opinion they’re all needed.

What’s NOT: a bit more prep with all the garnishes, but really it’s not a difficult soup to make.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Golden Raisins, Pine Nuts, Capers and Balsamic Drizzle

Recipe By: Loosely based on a soup I enjoyed at a hotel restaurant in San Luis Obispo, CA, March 2020
Serving Size: 6

SOUP:
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white onion — chopped
2 stalks celery — chopped
1 clove garlic — minced
1 head cauliflower — chopped (no leaves)
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
Salt and WHITE pepper to taste
3 tablespoons all purpose flour — or cornstarch
2/3 cup heavy cream — or half and half
GARNISHES:
4 tablespoons golden raisins
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons pine nuts — toasted, or slivered almonds
2 tablespoons capers — drained
2 tablespoons sour cream — drizzled on top, or EVOO Drizzle of balsamic glaze
4 tablespoons parsley — minced

1. SOUP: In a large soup pot warm the butter and EVOO over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes until onion is soft. Do not burn or brown. Add celery and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, then chicken broth, then the cauliflower. Simmer for 20 minutes until vegetables are cooked through. Allow mixture to cool for 20-30 minutes, then pour (in batches if necessary) into blender and puree for a long time – until the soup is super-smooth. Add the all-purpose flour during one of the whizzing sessions. Pour all the pureed mixture back into the soup pot, add cream and bring to a simmer again and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often, as it thickens, watching that it doesn’t burn. Cool and refrigerate overnight if possible.
2. RAISINS: Bring golden raisins, water and vinegar to a simmer and cook over very low heat for about 5 minutes, then set aside to cool, while the raisins plump up. Drain.
3. SERVING: Pour reheated soup into individual bowls and garnish with any and all variety of the garnishes. The raisins are a must, as are some kind of toasted nuts. If you don’t have pine nuts, use slivered toasted almonds. If you don’t have balsamic glaze, you can make it by cooking down about 1/2 cup of regular vinegar until it’s thick and syrupy. Or, in a pinch drizzle soup with a TINY amount of regular balsamic. If you don’t have sour cream, drizzle with EVOO. If you feel particularly creative, sizzle the capers in a little olive oil until they burst and crisp up.
Per Serving: 291 Calories; 21g Fat (63.1% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 46mg Cholesterol; 491mg Sodium.

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