SOUP SATURDAY: FRENCH SOUPS


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It’s the third Saturday of the month, and we have the soup event organized by Wendy!  Guess what? This month yours truly is hosting, and I chose as my theme French Soups… Why? Because we’ve had so many great soups while living in Paris. Yes, French Onion soup is a classic, and I am sure someone in our group will feature it in a blog post, but one very fond memory I have is a fennel soup I enjoyed very late at night in a bistrot near our apartment, Le Café du Marché. It was comforting, soothing, luscious, yet it seemed so simple. On a side note, the word for fennel in French is a tricky one for me to pronounce, so I would always get in to hyperventilation mode when ordering anything in a menu containing it. Once you get traumatized by a word, it’s pretty hard to overcome the anxiety to say it out loud. But, I digress. This (deep breath) fenouil soup is wonderful! If one day I materialize my desire of serving soup shots for guests as they enter our home for a dinner party, this will be in their little cups.
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FENNEL SOUP WITH ALMOND-MINT TOPPING

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium size fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 shallot, chopped cup chopped onion
1 celery stalk, chopped  
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
2 ½ to 3 cups water
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (about 7.5 ounces)
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons small fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon fresh fennel tops, minced
lemon rind to taste 

 Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add fennel, shallots and celery, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cook for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook 6 minutes or until crisp-tender (do not brown), stirring occasionally.

Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, a little black pepper, 2 ½ cups water, white wine vinegar, and beans. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Transfer the contents to a blender and puree until smooth. If needed, do it in two batches. Taste and adjust seasoning. If soup seems too thick, add a little more water.

For the topping, combine almonds, mint, fennel tops, and lemon zest. Ladle soup in bowls, and top with the crunchy almond mixture.

ENJOY!

 to print the recipe, click here
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Comments
: The original recipe from Cooking Light used a full can of beans, but I held back a little, felt that it could overpower the delicate fennel taste. I really like the way my soup turned out, it was creamy, with just a subtle hint of the cannelini around, the main flavor of fennel definitely shinning through.  As to the topping, you can use a heavy hand as in the first photo, or add just a touch.  Whatever rocks your boat…
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Before I leave, let me invite you to see the collection of French Soups made by my virtual friends.
Click on the InLinkz below, and get ready to fly to France!
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 Sweet memories by the Seine….
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SOUP SATURDAY: REGIONAL SOUPS

Third Saturday of October, I’m joining the fun event hosted this month by Ashley from Cheese Curd in Paradise. She picked Regional Soups as theme, hoping we would all feature a soup that is typical of our state. Google is one of my best friends, but this time it let me down. No matter how hard I tried to trick it into giving me some variety for recipes from Kansas, it was set on…. Steak Soup. For someone born and raised in Brazil, the words steak and soup cannot be present in the same sentence. Unless the soup was a first light course for that juicy steak grilled medium-rare. But, in the name of joining the party, I asked Phil how he felt about it. His reaction:  No, thank you. I like my steak grilled. Medium-rare. See? We are very compatible, in case you did not notice. I had two options, decline to participate, or be a bit more flexible with definitions. Since you are reading this post, you already know my choice. Kansas has great corn. And after hitting “publish” on this post, I might need a great lawyer.

KANSAS CORN CHOWDER
(inspired by Cookin Canuck)  

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 shallot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
2 + 1/2  cups chicken broth
1 cup + 1/2 corn kernels (from about 4 corn cobs)
3/4 teaspoon of salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat milk
3 cooked chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, shredded
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
fresh cilantro leaves

Heat the grapeseed oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the shallot, celery and red pepper and cook stirring very now and then until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the green chiles and cook briefly. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. 

Pour in the chicken broth, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat add the corn and simmer for 5  minutes. Place the flour in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the soup, along with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cook, until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the shredded chicken meat and the Cheddar cheese. Serve right away when the cheese melts, with some cilantro sprinkled on top. Adjust seasoning. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Since I had already pushed the envelope coming up with a chowder as a recipe for Kansas, I went even wilder and cooked the chicken sous-vide. How about that for breaking all rules? You simply cannot beat the perfect texture sous-vide does for boneless chicken breasts. Of course you can use leftover roast chicken, or regular top of the stove poached meat, it’s all fine. The shredded chicken is added just at the end, right before serving. You can also omit it for a full-veggie version, using vegetable stock or even water instead of chicken stock.  I had a lot of fun making this soup, even if the corn husk attacked me.

Felt very virtuous with my prep work!

I bought fresh corn and shucked it myself, to collect the beautiful kernels for my Kansas Soup. As I was shucking the very first corn, while pulling the husk back, it caught the fingernail of my little finger. Pulled it upwards and back almost breaking it midway into the tip of the finger. Have you ever done that? I tell you, it hurts. I saw many of the constellations of the Milky Way passing fast in front of my eyes. Or so it seemed. Stuck my finger in an ice bath, cut the fingernail as close as possible to the finger, and moved on.

Corn 1 x 0 Sally

This soup turned out quite amazing!  I think next time a little cayenne pepper will be added, I’d like slightly more heat. I swirled a little Sriracha over my bowl, just because. You can do the same.  Compared to many corn chowder recipes around, this one is a little more restrained in terms of calories, as I used a lot less flour to thicken the soup, and also opted for low-fat milk instead of a load of heavy cream. Trust me, this was luscious enough the way I made it. We were very happy with it, and the chicken makes it a full meal.

 

If you’d like to see what my virtual friends prepared for their Regional Soups, click on the link at the very bottom of the post. Ashley, thanks for hosting!

Guess what, folks? Next month yours truly will be hosting the event!  I can hardly wait!

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PARSNIP, COCONUT & LEMONGRASS SOUP

Inspired by a recipe from Mary Berry, this soup is simple and flavorful. I don’t think parsnips receive the attention and praise they deserve. There’s something about their slight sharpness that can be quite pleasing. Maybe for some it might be an acquired taste… Come to think of it, when I was a teenager, I would march out of the house if my poor Mom would dare serving parsnips in any type of preparation. I was difficult. I got better… At least in some aspects…

Back to soup. Make it. If you are not lucky enough to have friends who give you a gorgeous lemongrass plant, search for those cute little plastic tubes at the grocery store.  They are actually not that bad if you cannot have the real thing. I confess to always having the ginger kind in my fridge. And once our lemongrass goes into hibernation, that version will be joining us too.

PARSNIP, COCONUT AND LEMONGRASS SOUP
(inspired by Mary Berry Everyday)

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3/4 pound parsnips (about 8 medium ones), peeled, cut in chunks
1 medium shallot, minced
2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock  (or water)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed to release flavor
salt and pepper to taste
yogurt and black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallot and parsnips, and saute for a few minutes, until they start to get a golden color at the edges.  Add the ginger, red curry paste and honey and saute for 30 seconds, then add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce and lemon grass.

Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through, very tender. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, then remove the lemon grass and discard.

Process the soup in a blender or food processor. Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt and black sesame seeds, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Loved this soup. Lemongrass, fish sauce, coconut milk, ginger, red curry paste, they do make a fantastic fantasy of flavors in your mouth, but oddly enough, you can still detect a bright and clear taste of parsnip. I had it for lunch several times in that particular week. Phil tried some and enjoyed it, but he prefers to have his smoothie – Wasa cracker/nuts/jam combination so I was left alone to savor this comforting soup day in, day out.  It gets a bit thicker each day, but adding a bit of water brings it back to a perfect consistency. I also like to squirt a little lemon juice right on the bowl.  Have I ever told you that we never, absolutely never run out of lemons in the fridge?  I get nervous if I see only one in there. Use them all the time, not only for cooking but in my carbonated water and that evening tea.

Soup weather is approaching fast. Too fast.
Grab a pin to be ready for it!

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I SAY TOM KHA GAI, YOU SAY TOM KHA KAI

As you may have noticed, I have a soft spot for all things language. Frustration took place as I tried to figure out the correct spelling for the name of this delicious Thai soup. It is often tricky to go from a language such as Siamese  to something that would convey the correct pronunciation in English. After a lot of searching around, I found a video that made me even more puzzled. In the video, they spell it as Tom Kha Kai, but when I listen to the girl my ears detect a clear sound of G for the third ideogram, making Tom Kha Gai my preferred way to spell it.  You can listen for yourself and decide. Click here and fast forward to 1 min and 50 seconds. No matter how you decide to spell it, this is a delicious and very simple soup with all the contrasting flavors that are typical for the cuisine of Thailand.

TOM KHA GAI
(adapted from Marta Stewart)

1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layers removed, bruised with back of a large knife
3 cups chicken broth
1/8 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 piece of ginger, about 1 inch long, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp dried galangal powder
salt and pepper to taste
zest and juice of 1 lime, separated
1/2 Serrano pepper, sliced thin
1 + 1/2 pound chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, cut into strips
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced thin
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 can (about 13 oz) full-fat coconut milk
fresh cilantro leaves

In a slow-cooker, combine chicken stock, lemongrass, fish sauce, brown sugar, galangal,  lime zest, chicken and mushrooms. Cover and cook on high for 2 ½ hours (or on low for 4 hours). Add coconut milk and shredded carrots, and cook on high 30 minutes longer (or on low for 1 hour). Stir in lime juice and cilantro leaves.  Serve topped with additional fresh cilantro, if desired. You can also save the soup without the coconut milk and carrots, and add those when re-heating on top of the stove for about 15 minutes, until the carrots are just cooked.

Serve while pretty hot, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice right on the bowl to brighten up the flavors even more.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Fishing out the lemongrass…

Comments: What a delicious soup!  Oddly enough, I am not too fond of shiitake mushrooms in stir-fried preparations, even if they are quite popular in Oriental recipes. Something about their texture turns me off a little. But in soup or risotto, I love them. They do impart a lot more flavor than regular mushrooms do, and in this soup they are definitely a must.  Lemongrass is also a favorite flavor of mine, and we are lucky to have a very healthy lemongrass plant growing in our backyard. When I need it, I go out with a pair of scissors and cut a stalk very close to the ground.  The smell is just amazing…

I made this soup on a Sunday and as so often happens, it was my lunch three days in a row. I ran out of cilantro on day 2, but it was not a big deal. At all. Adding the coconut milk at the very end of the cooking time together with the carrots make sure that the carrots retain some of their bite, and the coconut flavor seems brighter than if it cooked for hours from the beginning. Little details matter, especially when using the crock pot. That dump and forget approach is definitely not the tastiest path…

No slow-cooker? A regular pan will work, just keep the soup at a simmer until the chicken is cooked through, then add the coconut milk and the carrots for a while longer.

 

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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

 

(comments are shutdown for this post)

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