Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

Sometimes trying new things comes in waves.  Like, I decided to try out having a kid and then two weeks later decided it was time to try out my hand at my first chilled soup recipe.  Okay, so maybe there isn’t a parallel there but I do have a kid who wakes every 45 minutes or so and so recipes that can be done really, really quickly … or in steps done over several hours or days … are about all we can handle these days.  And this chilled soup was perfect for that.  I charred and chopped the poblano chile a day before I needed it.  The rest of the soup came together in about ten minutes.

The flavor of this soup was nicely tart from the lime and cilantro.  The consistency was very smooth, but not overly decadent, due to the plain yogurt.  The pepitas made this work by added a juxtaposing textural element that kept the palate from being bored with all of the smoothness.  (I really don’t like yogurt because of the lack of textural inspiration).  However, this soup tastes RICH.  I served it for a simple lunch and found myself “done” with the soup before I was done with the lunch.  This soup, in my opinion, would work best as a very small starter to a nice, Mexican dinner.  In fact, I have the menu in mind but no way to execute it until my newborn starts sleeping longer hours.  So try this soup, but don’t plan on filling yourself with it or you might end up with a little too much of a good thing.

Cold Avocado Soup with Chile-Lime Pepitas
From Fine Cooking 103, p. 50
Serves 6

1 medium poblano chile
1 small white onion, sliced into 1/4 -inch-thick rings
2-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
2 medium firm-ripe avocados (6 to 7 oz. each), pitted, peeled, and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp. chopped fresh marjoram or oregano (optional)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 medium limes)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
Kosher salt
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/8 tsp. pure New Mexico chile powder; more for serving

On a gas stove, turn a burner to high and set the poblano directly over the flame, turning it with tongs, until completely charred, 5 to 8 minutes. Alternatively, on an electric stove, heat the broiler on high and char the poblano on all sides on a baking sheet placed directly under the broiler. Put the poblano in a bowl, cover, and set aside to steam and loosen the skin. When cool enough to handle, peel, seed, and cut the poblano into 1/4 -inch dice.

Heat an 11- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion and cook, turning a few times, until soft and browned in places, about 5 minutes.

In a blender, purée until smooth all but 1 Tbs. of the poblano, the onion, broth, avocado, cilantro, parsley, marjoram or oregano (if using), 2 Tbs. of the lime juice, cumin, coriander, and 1 tsp. salt. Blend in the yogurt. Season to taste with more salt. Chill well.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the pepitas and cook until they begin to pop and color a bit, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. lime juice, the chile powder, and 1/8 tsp. salt and stir until the juice has evaporated, leaving a film on the pan.

Season the soup to taste with salt and thin with broth if necessary. Divide among 6 cups or small bowls and garnish with the pepitas, the remaining poblano, and a few pinches of chile powder.


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Fall Soup Night

I latched onto the idea of a soup night some time in July when the days were still hot and popsicles and slurpee runs were my best friend.  Still I was obsessed with the idea of a soup night some cozy Fall day when the winds were blowing and the daylight ended quickly.  I liked the idea of pots sitting on the stove simmering slightly, people coming and going on their schedule, and grabbing a bowl or three at some point in the night.

This weekend I finally got to fulfill my idea with a houseful of friends and three types of soup: Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup, Meatball and Ravioli Soup, and Velvety Pumpkin Soup.  Never mind that Fall suddenly turned into summer and the day was a balmy 70 and sunny.  By the time night fell warm soup was still in order.  It was a nice, relaxing evening and I am really grateful for the fun and interesting people I have in my life.  I decided at the end of Fall Soup Night that even when I no longer live in a climate that rotates between four seasons I’m going to keep this tradition alive once a year and bring a little bit of Fall with me wherever I am.

(Of course Nate & I were both too relaxed to remember to pop out the camera once during the evening.)

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Catalan Chicken Chowder

Chowder.  A perfect signal that Fall is indeed here.  A perfect antidote to days that got far too cold far too quickly.

I love this chowder for it’s ease and versatility.  I also love the big bundle of saffron-flavored rice in the middle of it.  It’s the only packaged rice/pasta product you’ll see me buy.  But this recipe has endless possibilities and is perfect to substitute and change based on your convenience and palate.  This last time I made it, I had very small amounts of both shredded pork and chicken so I threw both in.  I’ve also been meaning to try this with shrimp instead because I think it would go perfectly and be perfectly Spanish as well.  This time I was out of peas and red peppers so I gave it a bit of a Latin American twist with a slice of avocado on top and ditched the almonds.

See what I mean?  You can throw almost anything in and you’ll come away with a warm, full belly.

Catalan Chicken Chowder
Originally from Sara Moulton
Serves 4

1 (5 oz.) pkg. of saffron-flavored yellow rice mix
8 oz. (1/2 lb.) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. Olive oil
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 of a 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup frozen baby sweet peas
1/2 of a 7. 25 oz. jar roasted red sweet peppers, drained and cut into strips
2 Tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted

Prepare rice according to package directions; set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan cook chicken, onion, and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and artichoke hearts; bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peas and red pepper strips. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until heated through.

To serve, divide soup among individual serving bowls. Spoon a mound of cooked rice in center of each bowl. Sprinkle with almonds.

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What do you do when it’s mid-June and you want to enjoy all those great summer dishes … but the temperature hasn’t passed 65 yet?  A summer soup is the perfect solution (though it didn’t sound like one to my sister who was panting in the 100 degree Oklahoma weather).  This soup combines many of the great flavors of summer, with corn, cilantro, and avocado.  The roasted corn comes out somehow both crunchy and chewy, which I found very interesting texturally.   But let’s be honest, I’m never one to turn down guacamole and if you want to put a generous-sized plop of it in the middle of my soup you won’t hear a single complaint out of me. 

This would make a great starter course for a meal.  In fact, we talked about this at dinner time primarily because I kept exclaiming over how this recipe ever thought it would feed 4-6.  I made the whole thing for the two of us and the soup pot was scooped clean within 30 minutes. 

Fresh Corn Soup Topped with Roasted Corn Guacamole
Originally from Epicurious.com, May 2009
Yield: 4-6 servings

Roasted Corn Guacamole 
Kernels from 3 ears fresh corn, or 2 cups frozen corn, defrosted 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
Salt and black pepper 
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion 
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped 
1 lime, finely grated zest and juice 
1 jalapeño, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped 
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
Kernels from 5 ears fresh corn, or 3 cups frozen corn, defrosted 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 clove garlic, crushed 
1/2 red onion, chopped 
1 jalapeño, stemmed and chopped 
Salt and black pepper 
1 1/2 cups chicken broth 
Cilantro sprigs, to garnish

Roast the Corn for the Guacamole
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Put the corn kernels on the baking sheet and toss with the oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste. Spread the corn out evenly on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, until the corn turns a golden brown. It may seem that you have left the corn in the oven for too long, but you want the corn to caramelize and get a little crunchy. Remove the corn from the oven and set aside.

Prepare the Corn for the Soup
Put the kernels (fresh or frozen and defrosted) in a blender.

Combine the oil and the garlic in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the blender and puree until smooth. (You may need to pulse or stir the corn mixture in order to achieve a smooth consistency, but do not add any more liquid.)

Simmer the Soup
Pour the corn puree into the soup pot and place over medium heat. Stir constantly for a few minutes, until the soup begins to thicken. Slowly whisk or stir in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

Finish the Roasted Corn Guacamole
In a bowl, combine the roasted corn, red onion, cilantro, lime zest and juice, and jalapeño. Gently stir in the avocado. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve and Garnish
Ladle the soup into soup bowls. Place a generous spoonful of the guacamole in the center of each bowl. Garnish with a small sprig of cilantro placed in the center of each.  (The soup can be made a day in advance, cooled, and stored in the refrigerator. However, it is best to make the corn guacamole a few hours before you are going to eat it.)

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