Tag Archives: Soups

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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The art of elegance

The art of making soup, like living life, is an imperfect science.

Despite following all the instructions and trying to do everything right, you are never quite sure what the outcome will be. Perhaps the lesson here is to allow life’s mysteries and adventures to appear and explore each one. Whether that is in the kitchen or in each day-to-day, there is both madness and magic to letting go and seeing what happens.

On this gray, Sunday I am enjoying a quiet day at home with the dogs, a glass of wine, and my thoughts. In the spirit of ‘come what may’ I decided to whip up my Mom’s famous ‘Elegant Fish Chowder’.

Elegant Fish Chowder

I particularly like making this ahead of time,  letting it sit a day or two for the flavors “to mingle”, (mingling being a good soup principle and all) then serving it with a crusty loaf of French Bread , and a big, beautiful Caesar Salad.

2-3 lbs Fish fillets
1 1/2 cups cold water
Bay leaf
3 cups diced potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups scalded milk
1 cup cream
1 cup sour cream
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

In 2 Gal pot, heat fish and bay leaf in water, uncovered, to simmering.

Simmer 5 mins (till fish flakes).  Remove fish, discard any skin.

Add potatoes and salt to simmering water. Cook till tender.

Meanwhile (don’t you love the “meanwhiles” ?)…………….

Saute onions and celery in butter till tender.

Stir in flour. Saute 1-2 mins more.

Combine vegs w/ stock and potatoes.

Saute 8 mins till thickening starts. Remove bay leaf.

Combine scalded milk and creams.  Add slowly to stock pot. DO NOT BOIL.

Add fish, S/P  to taste, and parsley.

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The Outcast

The day I decided to start a food blog I was making Mushroom Bisque.

Having resolved that my food processor (heretofore referred to only as FP) was utterly too high maintenance, I was determined to use the blender. As the blissful 6 TB of required butter began to melt and sizzle away I triumphantly tossed the onions into the blender, casting a nasty glance at the aforementioned FP.

Perhaps a word about how the FP became the kitchen pariah is in order. For one, it lives in the back of a cupboard that I find impossible to get to. Despite the fact that we’ve lived in our house for two years our kitchen cupboards are still without handles requiring a sort of Pilates like maneuver to open, where one grabs the door with their toes and thrusts it backwards hoping not to fall over or ruin their pedicure from 7 weeks ago.

Secondly, the FP had betrayed me. One quiet night while making broccoli soup I poured my mixture into it, and without warning, it began pouring out the bottom. Burned fingers, a messy range, and lost liquid were the causalities. That said, my mother had always implemented a strict 3-stike policy so I decided the FP had just been having an off night. Cleaning it up, tucking it in for the night, and assuring it that I wasn’t angry I didn’t think much more about it.

The next time I went to pour something delicious into it, it did precisely the same thing. Shouting all kinds of expletives and jumping up and down I gave the FP the kind of exasperated and incredulous looks my mother used to give me when I’d march down the stairs dressed in little more than a bandana and hoochie shorts, declaring myself ready for A.P English. As my perfectly stewed tomatoes oozed all over my kitchen counter and I hollered, my lovely fiancé declared to me, “Of course it’s oozing it…you went over the line.” ‘The Line’. As though there is some sort of food processor golden rule that we are supposed to be aware of. As I glared at him he tried to point out the error of my ways. While I’m loath to admit it, he very well may be right (he usually is). Despite this, I considered the FP grounded as it undoubtedly wasn’t capable of handling the responsibilities I was prepared to bestow on it.

The series of tragic FP events had left me attempting to chop onions and mushrooms in the blender. Certainly I could have just “finely chopped” them myself, but I am a lousy chopper. I get bored, things get inconsistent, and I end up throwing massive hunks of whatever into the recipe with hopes that it will somehow mysteriously become the perfect little cubes that other cooks seem capable of creating.

While the blender wasn’t really as efficient as the FP, I considered myself brilliant as I moved things from blender to pot, stirring the mushrooms and onions into the butter, cooking until that delicious smell started, and removing from heat (feeling quite smug that ‘removing’ for me only meant turning off the burner since we have a gas range). Next went in the flour and beef bouillon at which point we were ready to put the whole mixture back into my star pupil, the blender.

Pouring it in, and clucking with pleasure that it all fit (it would NEVER have all fit in the FP), I went to hit the pulse button. Entirely unprepared, the top of the blender went flying as my beautifully simmered and incidentally scalding hot, mushroom bisque raised to the top of a blender like a full moon tide. Bisque went flying, more yelling commenced, and the dogs came running to see how they could help. A bit of bisque landed in handy proximity to my lips and a quick smack determined that it was actually pretty damn good. A few more pulses (this time firmly held down by yours truly and a dish rag that had also joined the pariah ranks) I blended the last of it, and poured it back into the pot. A bit of heavy cream, truffle oil, a splash of sherry, and we were in action.

Sitting down to the table, and sipping a glass of yummy red wine, I decided, I think I’ll start a food blog. And thus, is how this begins.

Mushroom Bisque

6 TBSP butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 lb. fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
3 TBSP flour
1/2 tsp. meat concentrate (this is the kind of thing I never have, so skipped it)
1 1/2 cups stock or boullion
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup whipping cream

+ for that extra bit of deliciousness a splash of sherry and/or truffle oil is divine.

1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add finely chopped onion and stir over moderate heat until onion is transparent. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, another 4 minutes.

2. Remove the mixture from the heat and blend in teh four and meat concentrate. Add the stock slowly, stirring constantly. Add the bay leaf and pepper (Note, if you prefer a thinner soup, add more stock. A thicker soup, less).

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. (This is the point when I re-blended everything to get that delicious creamy bisque. Remove bay leaf and stir in cream. If desired, garnish with croutons before serving. Makes 6 servings.

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Filed under Kitchen Trials and Tribulations, Soups, Uncategorized, Vegetarian