Category Archives: Soup

CSA Week 7: Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

I am rolling in squash. Last week was pattypan and zucchini, this week LOTS of zucchini. I made two batches of zucchini bread and didn’t even scratch the surface. Luckily I like zucchini. The pattypans, eh, not as much. They have a bit of a spongy texture I don’t really love. But I took care of that problem with this recipe.

Week 7’s CSA box included, as previously mentioned, MANY zucchini (7 or 8 large ones), a huge bunch of beets, lettuce, parsley, Thai eggplants, five cucumbers, new potatoes, sweet corn, and green beans. And I still have quite a bit left from last week. Obviously I have my work cut out for me this week. I don’t think I’m even going to bother buying meat.

Then today, I came across inspiration in the form of a recipe from Cooking Light. I did not follow their recipe, but the basic flavors sounded great so I threw this together based on what I had in my kitchen. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you blend up the squash. Since for me (and I think for many people), the texture is what I don’t like sometimes (especially with some varieties), blending it into a soup was the perfect solution. The sweet corn was the leading flavor and honestly, if I didn’t know the squash was in there, I would not have guessed. Blending it gave the soup a lovely silky texture without the squashy taste. Since I have so much zucchini on hand, I diced one up and added it just a few minutes before serving to add a little crunch. If you don’t like the texture of the zucchini, add it earlier and blend it up with the others or just leave it out.

Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

2-3 pattypan squash, diced
1 zucchini
1 small onion
4 ears of corn (or you can use 2 cups frozen corn kernels)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 tsp. chives, chopped
2 cups chicken or veggie broth
2-3 cups milk
Salt & pepper
Cheddar cheese (optional for garnish)

Heat up a soup pan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add onions and squash. Sauté for a few minutes until tender. Add half the corn. Cook a minute more. Add 2 cups of milk. With a stick blender (or in a regular blender), blend until smooth. Add the rest of the corn, thyme, broth and zucchini. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let soup simmer a few minutes until zucchini is tender and soup is hot. Add extra milk if you want it a little thinner in consistency. Serve immediately. Top with cheese if desired.

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CSA Week 2: Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

I have been told that summer is not the time for soup. I say phooey on that. Anytime is the time for soup, and summer is the perfect time for light, zingy soup made with the freshest veggies. This take on broccoli soup was satisfying but not heavy and a great way to use up a bunch of produce. It also freezes quite nicely if you don’t feel like eating it all at once.

I had the broccoli already, but from my CSA box, I added the spring onions and parsley. The goat cheese also came from farmer’s market, from one of my very favorite stands, Briar Rose Creamery, manned (womanned?) by the beautiful Jenny (a.k.a. goat cheese gal). She reeled me in with her amazing goat cheese chocolate truffles (I know, they sound weird but think chocolate cheesecake rolled up in a little ball), but I keep coming back for the cheese. You could use any cheese you like in the soup, but the tangy goat cheese offers a really nice balance with the earthy broccoli and herbs.

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

1 head broccoli, including stems, chopped
2 spring onions, white and green parts (about 1 cup chopped – sub other onions if you don’t have spring onions)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
3-4 oz. goat cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or soup pot, saute onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add broccoli and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes until broccoli is tender. Add parsley and cream and cook 1 more minute. Puree with a stick blender (or a regular blender) until there are no big chunks. I made mine pretty smooth, but if you like it chunky, that’s your call. Add salt & pepper and goat cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and incorporated into the soup. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Starts with the good stuff. Broccoli and Spring Onions

Starts with the good stuff. Broccoli and Spring Onions

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Roasted Pepper Black Bean Chili

I know, I know. It’s 80 degrees and I’m making chili. You might think I’m odd, but for me, chili is not just a winter food. One reason is I like it too much to confine it to just one season. The other is that I planted ten pepper plants and I have to find ways to use them, assuming I don’t kill them off before they produce anything. Besides, this is a recipe for the crock pot, which means no heating up the house with the oven!

The basic recipe for this is actually quite similar to my regular chili, but this time I used dried beans and roasted peppers and wow! it tastes completely different. Deeper, smokier, wonderful! You can use whatever combination of peppers you like or happen to have. I’ll list the combo I used, which resulted in a fairly mild but flavorful batch. Feel free to toss in some hotter ones if you are a five-alarm sort of person.

Plan ahead and soak your beans the night before to ensure they get done in the slow cooker. Or you can use canned beans in a pinch. This works well as a vegetarian recipe too, just leave out the ground beef.

Roasted Pepper Chili

Roasted Pepper Chili

Roasted Pepper Chili

2 cups dried black beans
4 cups water
2 poblano peppers
3 anaheim chiles
1 red bell pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1 pound ground beef
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2-3 tbsp. chili powder
2-3 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
Salt & pepper

The night before, rinse dried beans. Place in a bowl with at least six cups of water. Let soak overnight. In the morning, drain beans and put in crock pot. In a skillet, brown ground beef and add to crock pot.

Remove seeds and stems from peppers and lay skin-side up on a large cookie sheet. Place under broiler 4-5 minutes, until skin turns black. Remove and put in a paper or plastic bag to cool.

Add onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, oregano and cumin to crock pot.

Remove peppers from their bag, chop and add to the crock pot. Cover with about 4 cups of water, give it a stir. Cook on high for 6-8 hours until beans are soft. Add salt & pepper to taste.

This was even better the next day!

So good.

So good.

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Beef Stroganoff Soup

Spring is on the horizon but for now it’s still soup weather at my house.  Oh let’s face it, I make soup all year long.  But this one is especially nice for warming up on a chilly day.  I was in the mood for beef stroganoff but wanted something not quite so heavy.  I also only had a small amount of meat on hand.  So I decided to turn one of my favorite dishes into soup instead.  In  the process, I managed to slip in some extra veggies.  And ding, ding, ding…we have a winner!  I will definitely be making this again.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a somewhat indulgent soup with a nice creamy base.  But it’s also got a healthy dose of veggies.  Compared to eating a plate of beef stroganoff, I’d say this is the healthier choice, if for no other reason that I’m not heaping it on top of a pile of noodles.  I would caution you to resist substituting low or no fat sour cream or whipping cream for the regular versions in this. The lower fat versions tend to curdle sometimes and you will just not get the same nice creamy flavor and texture.  If you want to lighten it up, simply use less of these ingredients and then balance with a bit more water or broth to get the soupy consistency you want.

Beef Stroganoff Soup.

Beef Stroganoff Soup.

Beef Stroganoff Soup

3/4 pound sirloin, sliced thinly
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. flour
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. butter
4 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 cup dry pasta (I used bow ties but any small shape will work)
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whipping cream
1-2 tbsp. sherry
1 cup chopped spinach

Toss beef strips with flour, thyme and salt & pepper.  In a soup pot or Dutch oven, melt butter.  Add beef and cook until brown.  Add onion and mushrooms and saute 2-3 minutes until veggies start to soften.  Add broth, bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Add water and bring to a boil again.  Add pasta, stir, and reduce heat to medium (low boil).  Cook for 10-15 minutes until pasta is tender.  In a small bowl stir together whipping cream and sour cream until smooth. Stir in spinach, cream mixture and sherry.  Cook 2-3 minutes until spinach is wilted and soup is heated through.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

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Nothing Fancy Chicken Soup

Cold season is upon us…again.  Everywhere you turn someone is sneezing and sniffing and hacking.  There’s ice on my windshield and my toes are perpetually cold.  You all know by now what this means.  Soup, soup and  more soup!

Normally I play fast and loose with my soup recipes, getting creative, adding pesto or orzo or this and that.  But when I have a cold, sometimes what I really want is just simple, no frills, nothing fancy chicken soup.  I can practically make this in my sleep (or cold-medicine induced brain fog).  It’s warm, tasty and oh so satisfying.  It also freezes well if you want to make a double batch so you’re prepared for the next go ’round.

I normally use leftover chicken (or turkey) or rotisserie chicken from the store, or you can cook up a couple of chicken breasts or thighs.  Whatever you have on hand will work fine.

Wow, I feel better already!

Wow, I feel better already!

Nothing Fancy Chicken Soup

1 cup onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4-5 carrots, sliced thinly
8 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. dry Italian seasoning
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 cup dry noodles (I used rotini but any smallish shape will work)
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
Salt & pepper

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Saute onion and celery for 2-3 minutes.  Add carrot and cook another couple of minutes.  Add chicken broth and Italian seasoning.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add chicken and green beans.  Bring to a boil again.  Add pasta and stir.  Turn down to medium and simmer another 15 minutes or so, until pasta is tender.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  For added richness, I like to add about 1/2 cup of heavy cream at the end but if you’re watching the calories (or you don’t do dairy), feel free to leave it out.  It’s delicious either way!

If you want to get a tiny bit fancy with it, or you just want an excuse to eat a whole loaf of bread by yourself, serve it in a bread bowl!

There's soup in there somewhere, soaking into my yummy bread.

There’s soup in there somewhere, soaking into my yummy bread.

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Roasted Tomato Soup with Cheesy Crostini

It was around 20 degrees when I woke up this morning.  With a bit of snow.  That’s right folks!  It snows in Oregon!  Which makes this a stellar day for working in jammies, enjoying the fireplace and eating soup!

One of the only soups I still buy in a can is tomato soup.  Until now, that is.  This was the easiest, tastiest homemade tomato soup I have ever made. I’ve made tomato soup before but have always used canned tomatoes. This recipe uses fresh tomatoes, roasted in the oven.  It was so easy and added a depth of flavor that was just spectacular.  I may never buy another can of Campbell’s soup again.

The recipe I used to make this also included grilled cheese bites as croutons.  You can do that if you want to, but although I love grilled cheese, soggy bites of it didn’t really appeal to me.  I made cheesy crostini instead.  Crunchy, gooey, and perfect for dipping.  This is comfort food at its finest!

Roasted Tomato Soup.  Perfect.

Roasted Tomato Soup. Perfect.

Roasted Tomato Soup
(slightly adapted from getoffyourtushandcook.com)

3-4 lbs plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 yellow onion, cut into large dice
6 cloves of garlic (4 left whole for roasting and 2 minced for sauteeing)
4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/3 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp.  balsamic vinegar
6 oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped (plus a little extra for garnish)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 cup half-n-half (0ptional)

Preheat oven to 375. Lay the tomatoes, onions, and 4 garlic cloves onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment or foil.  Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
No need to peel anything.  Just cut in half and throw on the pan with the onion and garlic.

No need to peel anything. Just cut in half and throw on the pan with the onion and garlic.

Roast for 50 min to 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool.
Roasted to perfection.

Roasted to perfection.

Once the roasted tomato/onion/garlic mixture has cooled a bit, transfer it to a blender and puree until smooth.
In a soup pot over medium heat, add 1 T olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook a minute or so until garlic is fragrant but not brown.
Pour in the pureed tomato mixture and cook about 5 minutes. Then add the tomato paste, chopped basil, red wine, chicken stock and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine.  Allow the mixture to come to a boil and then reduce to low and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Cheese Crostini.  Perfect for dipping!

Cheese Crostini. Perfect for dipping!

Cheesy Crostini
1 baguette
Shredded cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)
Heat oven to 425˚.  Slice the baguette on a bias to create long oval pieces.  Lay out on a baking sheet and top each with a little pile of cheese. Bake for a 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and edges of bread are starting to brown.  Remove and serve with soup!

 

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Savory Beef Stew

Few things are more satisfying on a cold winter evening than a warm, comfy bowl of beef stew.  I love the way the aroma permeates the house, and even wafts outside to invite you in (and make all the neighbors jealous!).  I usually save this one for weekends or days when I’m free in the afternoons since I like to let it cook an hour or two so the beef can get really tender and wonderful.

I’m always amazed that people buy beef stew in a can.  It really tastes nasty compared to the real thing.  It might be different if beef stew was hard to make, but seriously folks, you dump things in a pot and let it cook for an hour or two.  You can do it!  It’s soooo worth the tiny bit of effort.

I never measure anything when I make this so it does tend to vary a bit from time to time, but I’ve made it so many times that this has become the standard version in my house.

A bowl full of love.

A bowl full of love.

Beef Stew

1-2 pounds stew meat or sirloin, cut into bite sized pieces
3 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tbsp. butter
4 plum tomatoes
1 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth
1 onion, chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
4 red potatoes, 1/2″ dice
4-5 carrots, sliced

Combine flour, pepper, salt, paprika, rosemary and Italian seasoning in a large ziplock bag.  Add beef to bag and shake up to coat all the pieces.  In a Dutch oven, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.  Add beef in batches (you want to leave a little space in between the pieces so they can brown instead of just steaming.  Brown on both sides and remove from pan, then add another tablespoon of butter and more beef until it is all done.

Brown the beef first for extra tenderness!

Brown the beef first for extra tenderness!

Add onions and tomatoes to pan.  Cook and stir one or two minutes.  Add broth, wine and beef back to pan.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the little meat bits off.  It adds color and flavor to the soup, plus the bits of flour will help to thicken the broth as it cooks.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cook on low for 45 minutes.

Starts out soupy but as it simmers, the flour from the beef and the veggies will thicken the broth as you go.

Starts out soupy but as it simmers, the flour from the beef and the veggies will thicken the broth.

Add potatoes, mushrooms and carrots.  Cook another 45 minutes or more, until veggies are tender.  Taste and add salt & pepper if needed.  At this point you can eat or let it simmer until dinnertime.

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Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

I am always on the lookout for new soups, especially in the fall/winter time.  I make soup at least once a week, sometimes more.  This is one of my favorites I’ve discovered so far this year.

Roasted cauliflower is a staple side dish in our house.  I cook it just like french fries, spread out on a baking sheet and drizzled with olive oil.  This soup takes it a few steps further, turning those lovely roasted bites into a creamy, cheesy, delicious soup.  I loved the earthy flavor of the cauliflower combined with the slight bite of sharp white cheddar.  So good!

Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup
(adapted from cookingclassy.com)

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper
3 tbsp. butter
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp. flour
1 clove garlic, minced
5-6 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. chopped parsley, plus extra to garnish
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
Finely chopped red pepper or green onions for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place cauliflower on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss to evenly coat, then spread out evenly on the pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Roasting cauliflower.  I do this all the time as a side dish.

Roasting cauliflower. I do this all the time as a side dish.

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 4 – 5 minutes. Add in flour and cook, stirring constantly 1-2 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of cooking. While whisking, slowly pour in chicken broth and cream. Add in parsley, thyme, bay leaf, a pinch of salt & pepper, and roasted cauliflower.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently and allow to cook until thickened slightly. Using a stick blender (my tool of choice here), or a blender or potato masher, puree part or all of soup.  I like to leave a few chunks for texture but if you like it smooth, go for it.  Remove from heat and stir in sharp white cheddar and parmesan cheese. Garnish with finely chopped red pepper and/or parsley, if desired.  Serves 4 as a main dish.

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Going Green…Chili Style!

Just when I thought I had used up all my shredded pork, a gift came in the form of a gallon bag of shredded smoked pork from my uncle.  Not one to look a gift pig in the mouth, I divided it into a few containers and stuck it in the freezer to be doled out to my family at a later date.  Of course I had to cook some of it right away.  And it tastes amazing!  If you aren’t lucky enough to have people giving you pork, you can use leftovers from my basic pork roast recipe, or simply throw in a small pork roast or some chops.  Since this is a crock pot recipe they will cook up just fine over the course of the day.

When I went to school in Denver, I discovered the best Mexican food I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.  The general thinking there is to smother just about everything in green chili.  And I am okay with that!  And if you don’t feel like eating it over the top of a burrito, a nice bowl of it works just fine.  As opposed to most other places I’ve lived, in that style of cooking the green sauce is more spicy; the red sauce is the mild stuff.  I didn’t have a recipe for green chili, so I just winged it and was very pleased with the results!  Since we were planning to eat this as a soup/stew, I made this version chunkier than I remember, and added some black beans.  Not that that will stop me from using the leftovers to smother something – like a breakfast burrito!  Serve with rice and warm tortillas.

That's what I'm talkin' about!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Pork Green Chili

5-6 Anaheim Chiles
3-4 Poblano or Padilla Peppers
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
3-4 cups shredded or chopped pork*
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and quartered
4 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt to taste
2-3 tsp. ground cumin
Rice & tortillas for serving if desired

Looking yummy already!  Tomatillos and peppers.

Looking yummy already! Tomatillos and peppers.

Seed peppers.  You can do this to the small ones by cutting of the top, turning upside down and rolling between your hands or shaking out the seeds.  Or you can cut them in half and remove the seeds that way.

All ready to roast.

All ready to roast.

Lay out on a baking sheet and broil for 4-5 minutes per side until skin is blackened.

Leave them in there until the skin is nice and black.  It will peel right off once it is cool.

Leave them in there until the skin is nice and black. It will peel right off once it is cool.

Place in a paper or plastic bag to steam and cool.  When cool enough to handle, remove skins and coarsely chop peppers.

Add all ingredients to crock pot.  Turn on high for a 2-3 hours, then turn down to low and cook until dinner time.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

* If you don’t have a bunch of leftover shredded pork in your freezer, feel free to use a small pork roast, or pork chops.  Just put the meat on the bottom of the crock pot and pile everything else on top.  At the end of the day, take a couple of forks and pull the meat apart into shreds or chunks and remove any bones before serving.

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Simplified Vietnamese-Style Beef Noodle Soup

Vietnamese food is one of my favorite cuisines.  I love the fresh flavors and the complexity of all the ingredients.  The little details are wonderful.  One signature dish is phó, a traditional soup full of flavor.  There are many ingredients in the traditional versions and one of these days, I plan take the time to do it up right.  This night, however, I was working with the fridge and pantry I had on hand, a short period of time and the inspiration of a beautiful dish.

While this is not a traditional recipe, this faux phó hits some of the high notes and comes together in no time for a simplified Asian-ish homey noodle soup that is wonderful no matter what the season or time of day.  If I had had bean sprouts I would have put a little bunch on top, but alas, I did not.  I made do with thinly sliced red bell pepper and the little cool crunch was just right.

Simplified Vietnamese-Style Beef Noodle Soup

Simplified Vietnamese-Style Beef Noodle Soup

Simplified Vietnamese-Style Beef Noodle Soup

8 oz. sirloin, sliced very thinly across the grain
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
6 cups beef broth
6 oz. rice noodles
1 carrot, sliced thinly
1/2 cup green onion
1 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. fish sauce
Red pepper matchsticks and/or bean sprouts for garnish

In a soup pot heat sesame oil over medium high heat.  Add sliced sirloin and crushed red pepper.  Stir fry until beef is browned.  Add mushrooms and carrot and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, place noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Let them soak for about 5-10 minutes until soft.

Add beef broth, fish sauce, and lime juice.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add noodles and green onion.  Simmer another few minutes.  Adjust seasoning if needed.  Ladle into bowls and top with peppers and/or sprouts.

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