SOUP SATURDAY: QUICK WEEKNIGHT SOUPS

Third Saturday of the month, which means it’s time for soup! I regret to admit I haven’t joined this fun event for the past 4 months. Too many trips and work commitments made it impossible. But I am back now, and thrilled to join their party. This month’s event is hosted by Amy, from  Amy’s Cooking Adventures.  She chose Quick Weeknight Soups as the theme.  My choice is so easy that I made it for lunch, from start to finish. On a working day. Are you absolutely amazed, mesmerized, intrigued, and anxious for the recipe? I thought so. I adapted it from a Martha Stewart recipe that called for soba noodles. I zoodlelized it, and made a few other minor changes.

ZUCCHINI NOODLE SOUP WITH SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS AND SPINACH
(inspired by a recipe from Martha Stewart)

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1 large zucchini, spiralized
4 cups flat-leaf spinach, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add mushrooms and ginger; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, 6 minutes.

Add broth and 3 cups water; bring to a boil. Add zucchini noodles; reduce to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes. Add spinach; cook just until tender, about 1 minute. Add lime juice and soy sauce. Serve very hot.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: One of the easiest soups to make ever! It surprised me how much flavor it packed with so few and humble ingredients.  The soy and the lime juice added at the very end, right before serving, deliver a mixture of umami and brightness. Umami echoed by the mushrooms, brightness intensified by the ginger. Really delicious and so very light. I picked this soup as my lunch on a day we had a departmental seminar scheduled for the afternoon, so anything that is too heavy makes it a bit hard to stay awake. Unless, of course we are talking about a fantastic speaker on a subject that is very dear to my heart. Unfortunately, not always the case.

If you like, use soba noodles which will be perfect with the mushrooms and spinach. I actually love soba and have not had any in a long time. As to that seminar, it was not my area of research, but I lucked out, great speaker, wonderful talk! I could have loaded up on soba. Such is life… best laid plans…

Amy, thanks for hosting this month, I feel so bad for staying away from the group for so many months, but what matters most is to be back…

To see what other #Soupswappers are sharing,

visit Amy’s post with a click here

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BRUTTI MA BUONI LOW-CARB SOUP

I adore the Italian language, so musical and beautiful. Would love to learn to speak Italian, it might very well be a project for after retirement. Brutti ma buoni translates as ugly but good, and of course quite a few recipes match this description. I’ve got one for you today. Cabbage, riced cauliflower, and ground chicken swimming in broth definitely won’t fall into the category of George Clooney as far as looks and charm, but it is mighty good.  Actually, I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. This is a reasonably filling soup, but quite low in those carbs that in some phases of life are best consumed in moderation.  I used a crock pot, don’t worry if you don’t have one. It works well on the stove top. And, if you’d like to make it vegetarian, I bet farro would be amazing in place of the meat. One cup of farro would add about 130 g of carbs to the whole soup, stripping it of its low-carb label. Not that there’s anything wrong with it…

CROCK POT LOW-CARB CHICKEN & CABBAGE SOUP
(adapted from Sugar Free Mom)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 pound ground chicken
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup canned stewed tomatoes, with their juice
1/2 cup riced cauliflower
3 cups cabbage slaw (I used store-bought)
3 cups beef broth or water
additional salt and pepper to taste

toppings of your choice, a little lemon juice, Sriracha (all optional)

Heat olive oil and saute shallots on medium high heat. Add  ground chicken and cook until lightly browned, seasoning with one teaspoon salt and pepper.  Add tomatoes, cauliflower, stir well to remove any browned bits from the pan. Transfer to crock pot.  Add beef broth,  cabbage slaw and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours. If no crock pot is available, just simmer gently on the stove top for an hour or so until the cabbage is fully tender.  

Adjust seasoning and serve with a dollop of  yogurt, shredded cheese, or diced avocados. A little bit of Sriracha added to your bowl hurts absolutely nothing. And a squirt of lemon juice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This soup was my lunch three days in a row. As you might have noticed, I don’t have a problem repeating the same lunch over and over, in fact I find it quite nice to cook a large batch of something in the weekend, and have it ready and waiting. Not wasting time and energy figuring out what to eat at lunch allows me to be more efficient. For instance,  I might be able to sneak a few exercises before lunch (got 12 minutes to spare?), or if the schedule is too busy, keep lunch break to a minimum and get back to work right away. At the risk of making some of my friends living in huge cities very jealous,  I divulge that it only takes us 8 minutes to go from lab to home. I know… we are spoiled!

Anyway, for this sequential lunches, I varied the toppings. On the first day I added shredded Gruyère, second time around  a dollop of yogurt and Za’tar (never get tired of this spice mix). Finally, on the third day I crowned it with diced avocado, a heavy squirt of lemon juice and a touch of Tajin (another spice mix I am quite fond of). The soup got a bit thicker on the third day, but I did not add any water or beef broth to it, just enjoyed it the way it was.  If you visit Sugar Free Mom’s site, you’ll noticed she used ground beef, so keep that in mind as an option too.  I know this will become part of my regular menu, and not just when I feel the need to go low on carbs.  It is delicious!

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FIRST MONDAY FAVORITE: MAY 2017

June. We are almost halfway done with the year. Unreal. Today is the First Monday of the month, so it’s time to showcase my favorite post of May. Not very easy to choose. Part of me would love to pick Kouign-Amann, because it was the best thing I made in a long time. But I prefer to choose something that was in my kitchen when I had no idea of the sadness about to hit my family. The bliss of not knowing what was waiting for us. So, I share a delicious Chicken Noodle soup, made earlier last month.

for the full post, click here

Thank you Sid, for organizing the First Monday Favorite!

If you are a food blogger and would like to participate, drop Sid a line.

To see the contributions from my virtual friends, click on the link below

 

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LUSCIOUS CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

Perhaps you would think that the time for blogging about soup is pretty much over. But two facts conspired to bring it to our table. First, Phil got a little cold, and second, the weather turned pretty nasty. Forecast for Saturday and Sunday: chilly and full-time rain. Great combination for a rotten weekend. I will disclose to you that we do resort to Campbell’s canned soup sometimes. Yes, it’s not that great, but whenever we feel like we might be getting a bit sick, we buy a couple of cans and call them dinner. I squirt a little lemon juice over my bowl, freshly ground black pepper, and it does a reasonably ok job. But, this time I decided to take this classic soup medicine into my own hands. I would start by making my own chicken broth and use that to cook chicken thighs until  fork-tender. I won’t be humble. This was one spectacular chicken noodle soup. Even if for my bowl I used zoodles instead.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

A pressure cooker is preferred, but not mandatory

for the chicken stock:
2 pounds of chicken wings
2 carrots, cut in chunks
1 celery rib, cub in chunks
1/2 large onion
10 whole peppercorns
1 piece of ginger, about 1/2 inch
1 piece of kombu, about 3 inches long
1 bay leaf
7 cups of water

for the soup:
6 chicken thighs, skinless, with bone-in
4 medium carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
chicken broth, as much as needed
salt and pepper to taste
fresh lemon juice to taste
cooked noodles or zoodles

Start by making the chicken broth. Mix all ingredients in a large stockpot or pressure cooker. If using a pressure cooker, cook for 40 minutes under pressure, release steam, open the pan, strain the stock. If using a regular pan, simmer for at least one hour, preferable an hour and a half.

Return about 2 cups of broth and 1 cup of water to the pressure cooker, add the chicken pieces seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook under pressure for 20 minutes. Alternatively, simmer in a regular pan until the meat is very tender. Remove the pieces of chicken to a bowl, allow it to cool until you can handle it.

As the chicken cools, return the pressure cooker to the stove, add the carrots, celery, cook under pressure for 5 minutes, or in a regular pan until the veggies are tender. The base of the soup is now ready.  Shred the chicken with a fork or your fingers. Reserve.

When it’s time to enjoy the soup, cook some noodles (or zoodles) in boiling salted water.  Re-warm the soup by mixing the soup base, the reserved chicken meat, and any reserved stock until the consistency is the way you like. Squirt fresh lemon juice, adjust seasoning if needed with salt and pepper. Place some cooked noodles in your serving bowl, ladle the soup over, and…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I got the inspiration for this soup from a couple of sources. For instance, the use of kombu in the chicken stock came from the book The Longevity Kitchen. It is an interesting ingredient, one that I advise you to use just like you would fish sauce. Don’t sniff it. Big turn off. But it does a great job, not only nutritionally speaking, but in terms of flavor. The stock made with chicken wings has been my method of choice for years now, after a basic recipe found in one of my favorite cookbooks  Simple to Spectacular. I pumped it up by using the pressure cooker, and it does a great job extracting all flavors and goodies from the wings. In the composite photo you can see the color of the stock (upper left), no photoshopping was involved.

You will notice that I used the pressure cooker three times in a row, but you can do it all in a regular pan. Make sure to allow the wings to simmer for one full hour at least, and the chicken thighs until very tender. I’ve seen recipes recommending a 10 minute simmer, and I have no idea what those people are talking about. You would have to pretty much wrestle the meat off the bone with such a quick cooking.

All in all, this was so good that I had to blog right away. Contrary to what normally happens, you are reading on Wednesday a recipe we enjoyed only three days earlier. Also contrary to my principles, with this post I line two articles in a row involving chicken. Oh, well. That shows you how much I enjoyed this recipe, I simply could not wait to share.  I hope you’ll give it a try if you are headed to winter where you live, or if someone is feeling lousy with a cold. Heck, try it if you simply love chicken noodle soup. No other reason needed!

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SOUP SATURDAY: ROOT VEGETABLES

Third Saturday of the month, which means it’s time for soup! This month’s Soup Saturday Event event is hosted by Wendy, from A Day in the Life on the Farm. She chose Root Vegetables as the theme.  I thought about making a potato soup I’ve had in my files sitting for 6 years. Yes, I checked. That soup calls for two kinds of potatoes and it also involves shrimp. Unusual, right? I definitely have to make it before another 6 years go by. But then, another option called my attention, one that features a veggie that doesn’t get much praise. The parsnip. Inspiration for the recipe came from  the cookbook The New England Soup Factory, but I modified it quite a bit. Parsnips paired with tomatoes, a tasty idea. No matter your stance on this humble looking root veggie, I am certain you will love this soup.


PARSNIP AND TOMATO SOUP

(inspired by New England Soup Factory)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
8 medium parsnips, peeled and cut in chunks
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, peeled, with liquid
1 bottle V8 juice (12 ounces)
2 cups water
1/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper
fresh dill
.
Add the olive oil, shallot and celery pieces into a pan, and saute until soft and fragrant in low heat, about 5 minutes. Add the parsnips, increase heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until it get a bit of color.
.
Add the tomatoes with the liquid, stir to release brown bits from the pan.  Transfer to a pressure cooker, add the V8  juice and 1 cup of the water. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook on top of the stove until the parsnip pieces are tender, around 50 minutes.  If you use a pressure cooker, cook for 20 minutes and release pressure under cold running water.
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Transfer contents to a high-powered blender, and blend until smooth. Return to the pan. If too thick, thin with additional water. If too thin, simmer to thicken it. Add the half and half, some fresh dill and simmer gently for a couple of minutes. Ladle into soup bowls and add fresh dill right before serving it.
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Sprinkle some more fresh dill as a garnish.
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ENJOY!
.
to print the recipe, click here
.

Comments: I was really pleased with this soup. I love tomato soup but sometimes find it a bit too intense. The parsnips mellow the flavor of the tomato and give the whole thing a more earthy flavor. It’s important to use a very powerful blender, otherwise you could get a bit of  a fibrous texture. I ran the blender for a few minutes to make sure it was absolutely smooth. Oranges and tomatoes are great together, so when I enjoyed the soup again for my lunch next day, I added a bit of orange zest and squeezed some orange juice while warming it. Very nice, and the dill doesn’t fight with the citric flavor. I had never used V8 as a cooking ingredient, but will definitely keep it around, maybe even the spicy version for added kick. Often vegetable soups include chicken stock, but for the most part I prefer to use either water of a veggie stock. The half and half could be omitted, I suppose, if you like to keep it lower in fat, but it is such a small amount, I say go for it…
 .

Wendy, thanks for hosting! I invite my readers to click on the link feast below, to see what my virtual friends cooked up this month…

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SOUP SATURDAY: MEXICAN SOUPS

SOUP SATURDAY IS ON!

Third Saturday of the month, it’s time for soup! This month our event is hosted by the one and only, Karen from Karen’s Kitchen Stories. I’ve been a follower for a long time, and if you read my blog, you might remember I’ve made quite a few recipes from her site. The Bread Queen! For this event, she chose Mexican Soups. My first thought was tortilla soup, since it’s something I’ve been meaning to make for a while. But before settling on that classic, I sat down with some of my cookbooks. Maybe I should say I sat down with my iPad to electronically browse through my cookbooks. Yes, I might have a slight cookbook obsession, but I do so while sparing trees. The moment I laid my eyes on Marcela Valladolid’s Manchego and Poblano Soup, I knew it had to be it.  First, I love poblanos because their heat does not scream at you or threaten to strip the outer layer of your larynx. Second, Manchego cheese is a favorite of ours. We got hooked on this Spanish delicacy many years ago through our friends and next door neighbors back in Oklahoma. Ever since that time, we always seem to have a piece of Manchego in our fridge. Just because.  If you have trouble finding it, a Monterey Jack, with its nice melting qualities will do.

MANCHEGO AND POBLANO SOUP
(adapted from Marcela Valladolid’s Fresh Mexico)

7 poblano chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 medium shallots, halved
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 + 1/2  tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese (or Monterey Jack cheese)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
diced Manchego cheese for serving, to taste
Tajin seasoning (optional)

Bring a medium-size heavy saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the poblanos and shallots and cook for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain them and transfer to a blender. Add  ¼ cup water. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, whisking constantly, but not allowing it to brown. Reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the chile mixture. Cook, whisking, for a few minutes until slightly thickened. Whisk in the milk. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, whisking every minute or so to prevent scorching, for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Whisk in the grated Manchego cheese. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, and top with the diced cheese, plus a sprinkle of Tajin seasoning, if using.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: I modified the recipe quite a bit from Marcela’s version. She used double the amount of poblanos. Fourteen. You read me right. I could not bring myself to make it so peppery. I also modified the cooking method. I am really pleased with the resulting soup, creamy, just the right amount of heat, and that final touch of adding small cubes of Manchego cheese floating on top is sublime! As you get a spoonful, that cheese melts and fills your mind with happy thoughts. Then you get all cozy and warm inside. There was a bit of texture in my soup, even though I used a powerful Vitamix to blend it. It did not bother me, but just for fun I passed leftovers through a chinois. It turned out quite spectacular that way, I would follow the extra step if serving it for company.  There I go again, dreaming with soup shots. A recurring theme. Must do something about it.

Wendy, thanks for organizing the Soup Saturday Event, and Karen, thanks for hosting this month! 

You can take a nice tour of Mexican Soups made by my virtual friends with a click on the link at the bottom of the post. Have fun!

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SOUP SATURDAY: PERSIAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

In this sunny, gorgeous weekend, I’m thrilled to join the group event Soup Saturday. This month our assignment was designed by Kathy from A Spoonful of Thyme, and she chose International Soups as the theme. I considered visiting my home country, but for some reason lately  I’ve been absolutely mesmerized by all things Middle Eastern. Their spices, their sweets, their teas, they all fascinate me. After intense research, I went with a comforting butternut squash soup.

butternutsoup1

PERSIAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP 
(adapted from The Saffron Tales)

for the soup:
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
¼ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 butternut squash, cut in chunks
2 dried limes
3 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons yogurt
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
salt and black pepper to taste

for topping:
Greek yogurt
pomegranate seeds (optional)
toasted sunflower seeds

Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and cook gently until soft and fragrant. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small pan over low heat for a minute, then grind them with a pestle and mortar. Reserve. Add the butternut pieces to the pan with the sautéed shallot, then sprinkle the toasted ground spices, and stir well. Close with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Pierce the dried limes with a fork a few times and add to the pan. Pour in the water, cover, and cook for around  20 minutes more, or until the squash is tender, easily pierced with a fork.  Meanwhile, prepare the seed topping by toasting the sunflower seeds in a small pan for a few minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool. When the squash is cooked, squeeze the dried limes against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon until they burst, releasing a lot of liquid. Remove the limes and discard them. Add the contents of the pan to a blender, and process until very smooth. With the blender running, add the butter, yogurt, and pomegranate molasses. Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning.

Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with yogurt, pomegranate seeds, and toasted sunflower seeds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

Comments: This soup won my heart. I feel like hosting a dinner party simply to serve soup shots to my guests as they arrive, and this would be it. I find soup shots quite elegant, but of course they would be more appropriate on cold evenings, and those are ready to go into my rear view mirror. I am about to survive another winter, can you imagine the thrill of it?  Anyway, this soup uses one unusual ingredient, dried lime. Together with celery root, dried limes will scare little kids and impressionable adults. But be brave, hold one by one in your hand, go at them with the fork, and once they simmer, they release the most amazing citric flavor. Trust me, you need to bring dried limes to your kitchen.  And a mortar and pestle, while you’re at it. I normally would use a spice grinder, but adding the hot spices to the mortar while the smoke is still going up, then grinding them manually, is so rewarding! You catch the aromas as the spices grind, you can control how fine or coarse you want them. A perfect culinary experience.

If you’d like to see what other members of the Soup Saturday made for this month’s assignment, click on the link at the end of the post, I am looking forward to a tour around the globe in soup form…

persian-butternut-squash-soup

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