Category Archives: Soups

Young and Foolish: Grilled Vegetable Paninis with Broccoli, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup

I remember the first time I discovered Three Buck Chuck,Trader Joes’ infamous cheap wine. I was in college in NY and was throwing a party. Of course, being a student I hardly had two pennies to rub together, but my foodie tendencies were already starting to come out and I was determined that there should be more wine than anyone knew what to do with at this grand fête.

“You know about Three Buck, right?” a friend from the riding team whispered conspiratorially to me as we were tacking up our horses, her voice hushed and looking over her shoulder to make sure no one heard us.

“No? Is that a new horse?”, I asked, dread creeping into my voice that I would soon be getting hucked into the rafters by our latest “project” horse.

Back in the day when I thought Three Buck might be a very naughty horse I’d be stuck with.

She burst out laughing, and quickly recovering herself told me it was this “delicious” wine that was also only $3 per bottle. I was so excited to try it out I could hardly stand it. And so, after riding took myself (and yes, my riding breeches clad bottom) right back to the dorm to call my 21+ brother and ask him to bring a case of it when he next came to visit.

The wine (and the party) were, of course, sub par but we thought it was fabulous. Unfortunately for my budget, over the years I would be exposed to nicer and nicer wine, rendering my previously tried and trusted Three Buck, to be barely worthy of sangria, and certainly not good enough to ruin good short ribs with.

If you’ve never done an olive oil tasting, I highly, highly recommend it. You will not believe the differences among different brands, presses, and fruits.

Up until recently I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought about olive oil very much how my underage self had thought about wine. Something to get you from Point A to Point B, but not anything particularly special. This notion was firmly blown out of the water at a recent olive oil tasting event, with some of Seattle’s top bloggers, hosted by California Olive Ranch and Talk of Tomatoes at Farestart in Seattle. Over the three-hour evening I enjoyed Swirling, Sniffing, and Slurping oil from different top producers and learning how to dismantle all the different flavors, varietals, and brands.

The difference is staggering, a quality olive oil full of complex flavors and depth, and a bad one tasting like little more than watery oil. If you’ve never done an olive oil tasting, I highly encourage you to try. Get a collection of different oils, both domestic and international, pour small tastes in different wine glasses and then see what you think. Allowing the oil to first warm up via cupping the glass in your hand is recommended, following by Swirling it to release the flavors, Sniffing it to see what you pick up, and then Slurping it, allowing air to come in through your teeth and generally looking and feeling ridiculous as you make embarrassing sounds with strangers.

This simple, vegetarian dinner is all about delicious, farm fresh veggies brought to life with Arbequina olive oil. Frankly either the soup or sandwich would be plenty since they are both quite hearty, but together they make an especially lovely combination. Make it on a Meat Free Monday when you’re looking for something a little unexpected.

Grilled Vegetable Paninis with Broccoli, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup
Serves 2 + Leftover Soup

A lovely summer dish, celebrating what’s fresh and using quality olive oil to bring it all to life.

Broccoli, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup
Adapted from Eating Well

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 pound broccoli crowns, trimmed and chopped (about 6 cups)
1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt + more for topping
Drizzle Arbequina Olive oil, I used California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin

  1. Bring broth and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add broccoli, cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in beans, salt and pepper and cook until the beans are heated through, about 1 minute.
  2. Using an immersion blender, blend until completely smooth. Add in the cheddar and greek yogurt and pulse until smooth.
  3. When ready to serve add a small spoonful yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.

Grilled Vegetable Paninis
Use whatever veggies are in your fridge, the below is merely meant for inspiration

1 zucchini, thinly sliced with a mandolin
1 squash, thinly sliced with a mandolin
1 onion, thinly sliced
Coarse Salt and Pepper
Artichoke Hearts, marinated in olive oil
1/4 cup basil, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup arugula
2 thick slices, smoked mozzarella
2 pieces foccacia bread, cut in half
Drizzle Arbequina Olive oil, I used California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin

  1. Preheat grill to high, reduce heat to medium.
  2. Brush both sides of the veggie with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Add to grill and cook until marks showing and vegetables are tender. Remove
  4. Assemble the focaccia first with the cheese, then the thinly sliced vegetables, and artichoke hearts.
  5. Grill until cheese is melted and sandwich is warmed through.
  6. Add the arugula and basil, and enjoy!

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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Health Conscious, Make ahead, Seasonal Cooking, Soups, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Tom Kah Kai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)

Tom Kah Kai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)

Tom Kah Kai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)

I was going to title this post “De-toxify: Tom Kah Kai” (get it, it rhymes?!?), but my husband looked at me like I was one of the top five biggest nerds on the planet, shook his head, and then asked me if I thought I was Lindsay Lohan checking in for more rehab.

No…I am definitely not Lindsay Lohan, but I do love to start off each year with a bit of a cleanse. For the month of January* I don’t drink. No beer, no wine, no one little cocktail at happy hour, nothing. And I have to say that it always feels great. I find that after the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year marathon it’s pretty easy to be feeling like a little detox would be good.

This soup is the perfect remedy. It is healthy, utterly satisfying, and gives the rewarding impression of having great healing powers as it cleans out your sinuses and awakens your senses. It is very quick to make and even yummier the next day. One thing to keep in mind if you’re making a big batch is that it will get spicier on day two and three, so if you’re not a hot fan, plan accordingly.

Tom Kah Kai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)

Modified from Use Real Butter who modified from Thai Cooking Made Easy by Sukhum Kittivech…ah the delights of recipe evolution!

Two 12 oz. cans coconut milk (or light coconut milk if you prefer)

1 cup chicken broth (if using bouillon cubes, I’d recommend two per one cup)

1/2 stalk of lemon grass, cut into 1 inch pieces

4 kaffir lime leaves (I can only find these some of the time. If you can’t find them at your local Asian market, just use a bit more lime juice)

8 quarter inch wide slices galanga (this is like ginger, but has a more complex flavor. If you can’t find it, the former will work)

1/4 loosely packed thai basil, coarsely chopped

6 red thai bird chilis, sliced or slit pending on your spicy tolerance (sliced is hotter)

1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken, cut into thin, wide strips

3/4 pint white mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered

2 tsp fish sauce

3 TB lime juice

1/2 tsp red thai curry (optional)

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp honey

1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro, plus more for topping

  1. Place the coconut milk, chicken broth, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galanga, thai basil, and chiles in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring so well combined.
  2. Add the chicken, mushrooms, fish sauce, lime juice, thai curry, sugar, honey, and cilantro. Bring to a boil and cook until the meat is done (being careful not to let it boil over, which is exactly what I did).
    Mushrooms simmering
  3. Reduce to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes on low, stirring occasionally, and letting the flavors mingle.
  4. Modify seasoning pending on preference. If adding more fish sauce, go slowly, that stuff is strong!
  5. Serve in bowls with cilantro sprinkled on top.

*True confession: I usually make it about three weeks.

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Filed under Lactose Free, Soups, Uncategorized

D- Seattle Summer…D- : Velvet Corn Soup with Crab and Bacon

You Call This Summer?

You Call This Summer?

For those of you who live in Seattle, I think you will agree this has been a crap summer weather-wise. Granted, we were spoiled last year with weeks on end of perfect, sunny days and cool, clear nights, but this summer with its cold, rain, wind, and gray has been the sort of thing that gives our fair city a bad rep.

I’ve done my best to ignore the weather, cheerfully trudging through the rain with Onca the Cane Corso Mastiff in tow, but with Labor Day Weekend coming to a close and the rain pattering away outside the windows, I finally gave up and did what to me signifies surrender to Fall more than anything else. I made soup.

I’ll admit it, it was very fun to get chopping onions again, hear butter sizzling in skillets, and enjoy the changing of the culinary seasons. For me, each season signifies such different styles of food, and Fall is all about hearty soups, crusty breads, indulgent veggies, and big bold red wines.

This soup, adapted from Food & Wine, is quite indulgent, even after I made some modifications to make it simpler and more week night friendly such as substituting fresh corn of the cob with the frozen variety and swapping out prosciutto for bacon. It smells delicious, and for those of you that are lactose intolerant (or married to someone who is, ahem, ahem) the eggs in this soup give it a creaminess you’d swear was provided by a bovine dependent ingredient.

Make this soup when you’ve decided to give in to the Seasons changing, but are determined to go down in style.

Velvet Corn Soup with Crab and Bacon

Serves 4. Pair with a big, bold red such as a Malbec and a side of crusty bread and butter.

2 tablespoons salted butter

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large onion, minced

Salt

1 lb frozen corn

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1/3 cup dry white wine

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons chicken stock

4 strips bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped

2 large eggs

2 scallions, thinly sliced

12 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over

Chile oil, for drizzling

In a large pot, melt the butter in the vegetable oil. Add the onions, season with salt, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the onions are softened, 5 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook for 4 minutes, stirring. Add the ginger and wine and cook over moderately high heat until the wine is almost evaporated, 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderate heat until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes longer.

Transfer the soup to a food processor and process to a slightly chunky puree; return to the pot. Pending on your preference you can puree this more or less.  Add the bacon, season with salt and bring to a bare simmer over low heat.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining 2 tablespoons of stock. Gradually add the eggs to the soup, stirring constantly, until the soup is very thick, 30 seconds. Add half of the crab meat and gently stir until all combined and to temperature.  Remove from the heat. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the scallions and remaining crab. Drizzle lightly with chile oil and serve.

Adapted from one of my all time favorite food magazines, Food & Wine: Velvet Corn Soup with Crab and Ham Recipe – Andrea Reusing | Food & Wine.

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Filed under Lactose Free, Seasonal Cooking, Soups, Uncategorized

“Lord have mercy…you lost??” : Seafood Stew

Seafood Stew

Seafood Stew

My mother was recently out to visit and decided she would walk back from the local library to our house. If you’ve read, Good, Cheap, and Fast, you know that our neighborhood has its wonderful parts and its decidedly not so wonderful parts. Tall, beautiful, unfailingly elegant, and refined, to put it simply, my mother is not the kind of person you typically see walking around the ‘hood.

As she was hoofing it back from the library (she is known to walk everywhere quickly and with purpose), she ran into two older  women decked out in their Sunday finest making their very slow trek up the sidewalk. My mother smiled at them, charged on by, and then heard one of them shout out in a Southern accent, “Lord have mercy…you lost?!?”. My mother burst out laughing, thanked them for their concern, assured them she was just fine, and completed her march home.

Having popped open a bottle of wine and subsided in our chuckling about my wayward mother we decided to make Seafood Stew (a meal representing a part of the country she’s definitely not lost in; the East Coast).

Making your own seafood stock makes this a particularly labor intensive project so I’d skip that. The fennel and saffron however must not be passed over. Feel free to substitute the shellfish/fish for whatever you fancy. You want about 4 lbs of seafood total.

Seafood Stew

This makes quite a large batch, serving 8-10. Serve with a dry white wine, crusty bread or popovers, and chilled butter.

3 TB Olive Oil

2 small yellow onions diced

2 cups large-diced white potatoes

2 cups chopped fennel (about 1 large bulb…save the leaves for garnish)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

2 cups good white wine

28 ounces canned plum tomatoes, chopped

1 quart Seafood Stock

3 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp saffron threads

1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined (it’s often easier to do this after you lightly steam them)

2 lbs hearty white fish (such as halibut or bass) de-boned and cut into large chunks

24 mussels, cleaned

1. Heat the oil in a stock pot, add the onions, potatoes, fennel, salt, and pepper, and saute over medium-low heat for 15 minutes until the onions begin to brown.

Onions, potatoes, fennel

Onions, potatoes, fennel

2. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes with their juices, stock, garlic, and saffron to the pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

3. Add the shrimp, fish, and mussels, bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit covered for another 5 minutes. The fish and shrimp should be cooked and the mussels opened. Discard any mussels that don’t open.

Shrimp (not yet shelled or deveined)

Shrimp (not yet shelled or deveined)

4. Serve in high-sided bowls with the fennel garnish.

Seafood Stew

The finished product

Adapted from Barefoot in Paris

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Comfort food goes Chic: Creamy cauliflower & gruyere soup

Cauliflower Soup

Creamy cauliflower soup served with a touch of paprika and parsley

We all have that sweater…it’s a bit too big, definitely too wide, has holes in the sleeves, and a stain on the side, but to us it is perfect. Representing comfort and familiarity we pop it on feeling perfectly content, weekend after weekend, much to the groans and chagrin of our more fashion savvy friends.

The food equivalent is of course all the classic comfort foods. Decidedly homey and sometimes a tad homely they are synonymous with a simpler time where meatloaf and dinner at 5p were standard fare.

There are times, however, when we crave something rich and comforting without the heaviness or frumpiness of our favorite foods. This soup is just that.

Exquisitely satisfying and utterly delicious, it says, all at once, just like that favorite sweater, but with a touch more style, ‘welcome home’.

Creamy cauliflower & Gruyère soup

Pair with a crusty wheat bread and a sparkling wine such as Prosecco.

Serves 4.

2 TB butter

3/4 white onion, roughly chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 small cauliflower, about 2 lbs, cut into small pieces

5 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups grated Gruyère cheese (fontina also works well)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly chopped parsley

Heat the butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion has softened but not browned.

Add the cauliflower pieces and stock and bring to a boil. Let boil for 25 minutes, until the cauliflower is really soft and breaking up in the stock.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and process in batches until smooth. Return the puree to a clean saucepan. Add the cream and cheese and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese has all smoothly melted into the soup.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into warmed served bowls and top with chopped parsley.

Adapted from Long Nights and Log Fires.

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“Lobster again? YUCK”: Classic New England Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

My Mother grew up on Naushon, a small island off of Cape Cod where her father was the local captain of the ferry to the mainland. The Alberts Family didn’t have much money, but they were rich in many other ways,  had a strong commitment to each other, and a sort of ‘salt of the earth’ quality that one discovers as they slowly let you in. Life on the island was a far cry from childhood today with its text messages and 8 year olds with cell phones. It was a simpler time where imaginary play was Queen, the footpaths and pickup football games King, and the rest of life simply something waiting to be discovered.

Lobster was a regular (and affordable) occurrence on Naushon and was met with groans and grumbles from the kids. The fact that my mom and her five siblings would say, “Ugh…lobster AGAIN?!?” is something I’ve never been quite able to understand.

40 years later lobster has again become the delicacy for my Mother that it always has been for me. The tough red shell guarding the buttery and tender meat inside feels like the perfect combination of hard work and reward.

Home for the weekend in Ipswich, MA between client meetings in NYC and Boston, my mother and I decided to make a lobster bisque as a treat and celebration of this year’s holiday season.

Serve generous bowls with nothing more than warmed crusty bread and cold salted butter.

Pairs best with a slightly sweeter wine such as Sauvignon Blanc.

6 bowl servings

Lobster Bisque

Ingredients:

3 lobsters, about 1 lb each (because you will be boiling them and cutting up the meat you can get the less expensive culls or soft shell lobsters)

4 TB Butter

½ cup flour

3 TB olive oil

1 large diced yellow onion

2 large diced celery stalks

1 large diced carrot

3 chopped garlic cloves

1/3 cup tomato paste

2/3 cup sherry

4 cups fish stock or poultry stock

2 TB chopped fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

¾ cup whipping cream

Directions:

To prepare lobster

Poor little lobsters

1. Fill a large pot with 6 inches of water. Bring to a boil, apologize to the lobsters, and drop them in the boiling water. (I should confess that I usually try and pawn this task of on whatever male is closet and most eager to prove his masculinity). Cook for 10 minutes or until you can smell the lobsters. Remove lobsters and place in a large bowl to cool. Reserve 2 cups of lobster cooking liquid and set aside. Shell lobsters over the bowl to catch liquid. Set aside meat and shells.

To make soup base:

1.     Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook until it turns light brown. Set aside.

2.     Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot. When oil is rippling, add lobster shells and bodies. Sauté 5-7 minutes or until shells begin to brown. Add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Stir in sherry, lobster liquid, fish stock, thyme, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour.

3.     Strain through a sieve into a large saucepan, pressing on solids. Discard shells. Return liquid to stove over medium heat and reduce to 4 cups. Whisking constantly, add the browned butter and flour mixture ¼ cup at a time into the lobster until it thickens. Lower heat. Stir in cream and add chopped lobster meat, setting aside a cup of chopped meat for garnish. Simmer 3-5 minutes, but do not allow to boil.

Serve hot in warmed bowls topped with evenly divided lobster meat.

Adapted from Flavors of the Season by Chrissi Pappas

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B+: White Bean Chicken Chili

White Bean Chicken Chili

There are those truly great meals that every now and then we are lucky enough to experience. They can be utterly rich and decadent, an indulgence of the highest kind, or sometimes they are a perfect expression of simple yet delicious ingredients allowed to stand on their own.

And then there is the reality of life that often sets in and stands firmly in the way of the aforementioned bliss. Schedules, budgets, emotions, families, friends, work, pets, kids. All these things can slowly creep their way in, and suddenly you find yourself thinking of food and eating as another box to check on the never-ending list of “Life’s To-Do”.

Determined to find a middle ground, I have been looking for simple, affordable, and tasty dinners that can be made in 30 minutes or less and satisfy a crowd. This Chili fits that bill to a T. It’s not out-of-this-world spectacular. You won’t fall asleep wishing for more. But it’s pretty damn good and with the addition of the Toppings Bar, quite fun.

Serves 8-10. Freezes beautifully too for a quick supper in a pinch.

Serve with Crusty Bread, cold, salted butter, and a slightly sweet white wine such as a Gewürztraminer or Semillon.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound diced, cooked chicken meat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 (18.75 ounce) can tomatillos, drained and chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (7 ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white beans
  • 2 ears fresh corn or 1 can corn kernels (handy option in the winter)
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 lime, sliced

Directions

  1. Heat oil, and cook onion and garlic until soft.
  2. Stir in broth, tomatillos, tomatoes, chilies, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add corn, chicken, and beans; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with a Toppings Bar for people to choose from: limes, cilantro, cheese, avocado, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

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