Archive | March, 2010

A Light Leek Soup

30 Mar
First, lets start with a pretty picture of ingredients so that no one loses faith in me as a cook:

Rosemary, thyme and garlic

I’m not going to lie. Soup night was BIT of an adventure last night.

Mary is in Guatemala this week with some college friends (jealous!) so I decided to meet up with my partner from Amigos in 2000 (that’s right, a DECADE ago) for a drink before soup night. But I also had some dried chickpeas and homemade chicken broth, so first a ran home and threw them into the dutch oven on low so they would be ready when I got home.

When I got back, I was greeted with this:

my apartment

Oh yeah, that’s a smoke filled apartment…. and some really burned chickpeas.

The mystery is that I really DID leave the stove on very low. Dutch ovens don’t need much heat, that’s the whole beauty of them! So I’m blaming the cat. Although I probably shouldn’t have left the apartment with the stove on. Safety first!

LUCKILY, I was still able to make a delicious soup…. just not as chickpea-y as I expected. And yes, I am that girl who rescued as many chickpeas as she good and likes the taste of lightly burned (or, in my mind, toasted!) things. You may want to stick to canned though.

separating the weak from strong

And yes, my apartment DOES still smell like burned chickpeas. So does my hair. And my hands. I had to scrub my dutch oven for about 45 minutes to get all the burnt parts off after soaking it overnight. Don’t drink and dutch kids. Or don’t dutch and then just step out for one drink because you might end up smelling like a Mediterranean market and not in a good way.

On the plus side, my mom always told me eating burned things would make my hair curly…. cheap perm, here I come!

Without further ado….

A Light Leek Soup

  • saute 6-8 roughly chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme

  • add the roughly chopped white and light green parts of 3-4 leeks and cook until they’re getting a little floppy

  • add one bunch of broccoli (include the thin parts of the stem too, and if you want to blend, the whole stalk)chopped into small pieces/florets

  • add one large zucchini, sliced and quartered, and about 3 tablespoons of butter, sliced around the pot and stirred in

  • cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is bright green and zucchini is mostly soft

  • add chicken (or veggie) broth, barely covering veggies and about 1.5 cups of cooked “toasted” chickpeas…. or just an unburned can of chickpeas

    • note: I used a broth that I’d already infused with lemon, which was GREAT, but you can also just squeeze the juice of 1-2 lemons in at this point

  • simmer a little while until veggies are done all the way through and serve!


Garlic Soup Two (Electric Boogaloo)*

23 Mar

Last night Mary was spending quality time with Gavin for his birthday, and guest-of-the-blog Jocelyn called out sick with a fever. With my roommates nowhere in sight, I souped alone. I thought I would hate it, since I’m kind of a social person, but here’s the thing:

For the past six months, my life has been a little bit of a whirlwind. In September I started studying to take the GREs and putting together a fundraiser for AMIGOS. Test-taking and fundraising segued pretty quickly into applications and the holiday season, and in the new year it’s been financial forms, catching up with book club and helping a certain someone plan a wedding (yay!). Now, because I’m me and love a full plate, I’ve put together a (long) list of the things I want to do in NYC before I head off to school (like actually see all those museums) and have signed myself up for a ceramic show at the beginning of the summer. It makes for a busy schedule, especially when you also want to see your friends and have people coming in to visit.

So souping alone? It was a nice break. I went to the gym, did some prep for a dinner party on Wednesday and even cracked a non-bookclub book. And the soup was great. Light, easy, delicious and, most importantly, did not involve a trip to the store.

Garlic Soup Two (Electric Boogaloo)*

  • In a medium sized sauce pan, bring some chicken broth to a simmer along with three crushed or grated garlic cloves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme (I used some lemon chicken broth I made the week before, so add some lemon for extra flavor), and salt and pepper to taste
  • Once the broth is fragrant (about 5 minutes of simmering) add on zucchini, thinly sliced, and a handful off soup pasta (I used egg noddles) and cook another 5-7 minutes
  • Turn off the stove and mix in a few handfuls of spinach
  • In a separate bowl, beat one egg with a fork, adding in a few generous spoonfuls of pecorino or parmesan cheese and some ground black better. Add a spoonful of the hot broth to the egg bowl while still mixing, and then put the whole thing back into the pot
  • Enjoy!

* I only made two servings of soup since my fridge is full of produce for the dinner party and I’m running out of tupperware. I also made a HUGE amount of food on Sunday night for no discernible reason.

Ham Hock Soup

16 Mar

Look at Toaster pretending she is a lion who is gnawing on a freshly slaughtered gazette.* 2 lb. Toaster cat actually pulled that ham bone out of the trash and carried it with her tiny teeth across the apartment. Alayna and I squealed in delight and immediately started snapping pictures like we were in Animal Kingdom.

Ham bone explanation, probably one month ago my mom bought a ham. I have been prying for this ham bone ever since. Finally I was able to snag it when I went home for a wedding last weekend. I texted Alayna excitedly that I had the bone. The big, big bone. And thus we were able to make our first ever HAM SOUP.

This is a southern comfort and while it simmers it basically smells (and tastes) like bacon soup. Mmmhmm. Go pigs. This was also the best soup ever because right when the soup was done Alayna found out she was accepted into Georgetown for grad school. I was so excited I called my parents before Alayna called her parents. My parents are really excited.

So we enjoyed this soup. Talked about Georgetown, talked about our future summer canning plans, I completed my census Alayna texted her friends with the good news, we realized we are very prude and awkwardly squirmed our way through Gossip Girl and then we split a tart. Great soup night, great ham bone. Enjoy, but keep away from cats and other wild beasts.

*This just in, allegedly gazettes aren’t animals.

Ham Hock Soup!

  • Pour 10-12 cups of water in pot, 1 lb. of pinto beans, ham bone, 3 bay leaves, black pepper, 3 big carrots, 5 stalks of celery (both chopped), 1 onion and extra cubed pieces of ham if not a lot of ham on the bone (2 cups)
  • Allow water to boil, once boiling bring to a simmer and cover with lid. Let simmer for 1-1.5 hours.
  • Add swiss chard, taste broth, add vegetable bullion if desired.
  • Pull out ham bone, pull meat off the bone and throw back in soup. If the beans taste cooked, start eating!

Sweet (Potato) Thai

10 Mar
Sawadeekah. Alayna had a hankering for tom kha gai soup. But since we made a similar soup in the past we decided to do something wild and add scallops, sweet potatoes and carrots! Alayna’s creative twist resulted in a genius outcome. The broth is really, really good. Really good. PJ, our new soup buddy for the week, thought so too. Thanks for coming PJ!

The big coconut milk cans were on sale so I bought two of them instead of three smaller cans. Alayna poured in one big can and then asked for the other as I skimmed the Nutrition Information. I paused to consider how one cup of coconut milk had 254% of my daily intake of saturated fat. And thus began The Coconut Milk Mystery.

I am one of those sorts who believe that any fruit or vegetable or natural, minimally processed grain is probably pretty good for you and pretty much eat all of that stuff blindly. So I was very confused how the natural milk of a coconut had the nutritional value of a Big Mac. Twist! Coconut Milk has no cholesterol, which adds to the mystery as saturated fat and cholesterol go hand in hand. BUT obviously this isn’t an animal product.

Let me share with you an article I found brilliantly titled: “Coconut Nutrition… Controversy Abounds”

Some scientists argue that it is high in cholesterol, whereas others argue that because of the combination of fats contained in coconut milk, it reduces rather than raises cholesterol in the human body. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are both necessary to good body function, and the balance between them is key in determining whether we have high or low cholesterol. Coconut oil is a saturated fat. Saturated fat is one of the bad fats known to raise LDL levels and consequently cholesterol levels. However saturated fat is now being disputed in the medical and scientific communities as more cultural diets are studied. As an example, Polynesians, who consume a diet rich in coconut milk, a rich source of saturated fat, do not suffer widely from high cholesterol. Scientists do not understand why that is so.

You know why I think that is so? Because plants are always good for you. I mean, I’m not going go guzzling coconut milk, and I am going to say, Alayna, I think one giant can of coconut milk is fine for tonight, but I’m not going to avoid our big-ball hairy coconut friends either.

This brings me to my last piece of news. I joined a CSA. My dream of all dreams. I can already visualize the soup blog post of me visiting my farmer friend upstate. As if this farmer is one of those children in India you give money to and put their picture on your refrigerator. I want to put a picture of my farmer on my fridge. And I want to be his penpal. And I want to eat his turnips. Well, thankfully the latter I am guaranteed to do.

Sweet Potato Thai
  • roughly dice about 8 cloves of garlic (maybe less if you’re not sick and/or trying to keep away vampires) and saute in olive oil with some dried red pepper
  • once garlic is fragrant, add one chopped yellow onion and about 3 inches of peeled and chopped fresh ginger and cook covered for about 5 more minutes until fragrant
  • add 4-5 chopped smallish sweet potatoes and two large chopped carrots
  • Add a 25.5 ounce can of coconut milk, about two can-fulls more of chicken broth and the juice of five limes
  • Bring the heat up and cook for about 20-30 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are soft enough to put a fork through, but not too mushy
  • in a separate pan, lightly saute about 3/4 lb of bay scallops in olive oil until they look opaque
  • add the scallops to the soup (with the heat off) and let sit for a few minutes to cook the rest of the way, topping off the pot with a handful of roughly chopped cilantro

Smoky Tomato Soup

3 Mar

Consider yourself lucky if this is the first time you are hearing that I’ve been sick. I can’t stand when I’m sick and I have tendency not to be able to talk about anything else. I also am highly suspicious of medicine. So I often avoid it, which you could argue, might be why I’m still sick. But I swear gurgling warm salt water and eating a strange amount of brussels sprouts is working and really, tomorrow I think I’ll be totally fine.

And the reason I’m sick? Soup. I know, I know.

Gavin came home sick early last week so I decided to make him soup after work because I’m 27 going on 60. I wasn’t worried I’d get sick because I believe I have a superior immune system. I was so not worried that when he didn’t finish his bowl of soup I finished it for him. I even had a passing thought that this probably wasn’t brilliant but was so egotistical about my soup strength that I didn’t care.

Sniffle sniffle cough cough. And that is why I had to miss this soup night at Alayna’s. And I’m souper sad (can’t help it) that I did because how good does this soup look? Roasted tomatoes. Amazing. When I’m stronger I will recreate this masterpiece in a bowl and I’ll never be sick again.

The Soup!

  • Cut 6-7 very ripe tomatoes in half and put face down on a baking sheet with half a head of unpeeled garlic (or whole, I only had half) with the top cut off and a little olive oil sprinkled on. Put in the oven at 375 for about 30-40 minutes, until the skin easily comes off the tomatoes and the garlic is soft
  • Put 3 dried chiles pasillas and 2 dried chiles anchos on a different baking pan and put in the oven for about 5-10 minutes until they are puffed up. Take out and let cool.
  • Once cool, cut the stems out of the peppers and take out the seeds. Put all the other parts into the blender
  • When your tomatoes and garlic are ready, put them into the blender as well. The garlic should easily squeeze out of it’s casing. You will want to wait a little bit for your tomatoes to cool so that the lid doesn’t fly off the blender, so in the mean time….
  • …. chop one yellow onion and saute in olive oil
  • Once translucent, add one large can of diced roasted tomatoes with juice and slowly heat
  • Blend your chile/fresh tomato/garlic mixture thoroughly and add to the pot
  • Top off with chicken broth and like, simmer about 30 minutes
  • In those thirty minutes, cut up an avocado, grate some sharp cheddar cheese and heat up a pan of oil to cook up some tortilla strips.
  • When all the elements are in place, serve yourself with avocado, cheese and tortilla strips on top