Archive | September, 2010

Simple Carrot Soup

28 Sep

Paul has been talking about this soup which requires no more ingredients than carrots, onions, salt and oil, since he first read my soup blog. I have been intrigued by this soup as it seems so basic and simple and fundamental.  I was also wary, truth be told, that after a long day a bowl of carrots and onions wasn’t really going to do the trick and fill me up.

It did fill me up, surprisingly well. I didn’t even go home and eat that second dinner I was banking on. Paul’s way of cooking is strikingly different from Alayna’s, or maybe it’s just how he cooks for this blog. Whereas Alayna and I are more in the camp of cooking for nourishment and pleasure, Paul falls into another category of cooking as art, cooking as science.

I’m sure his work at WD~50 will push this mentality further. Paul mentioned how the restaurant has one regular. Which intrigued me because the food there seems so much like, experience first, nourishment second (or third). I’d love to know who this lonely man is who feels comforted ending his days with food that is square when it’s supposed to be liquid, black when it’s supposed to be color. A plate of tricks (and treats). Transition to orange soup picture below…

Simple Carrot Soup

  • 4 pounds of carrots
  • 2 onions
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Peal and dice carrots, drop them in your soup pot with 2 tbsp of oil, add generous shakes of salt
  • Cook over low/medium heat, sweating the carrots, for an hour or so- mixing occasionally throughout
  • Add chopped onions, generous shakes of salt over the onions
  • Let this all continue to heat for 20 minutes or so
  • Cover with water, mix
  • Puree
  • Add salt to taste
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Roasted Beet and Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese and Basil

21 Sep

According to my friends who’ve already been to grad school, one of the first things to go is your ability to eat Real Food, and I’m starting to see why… between the mountain of reading (really? a book a week? in only ONE class? sometimes with additional articles?), group projects (three schedules, one deadline is okay… until you have three group projects in a week) and all the various and sundry that you have to turn in or attend so that you’re ‘maximizing your experience’, the library quickly becomes the cool place to hang out instead of the kitchen.

But no worries my lads and ladles. If there is one thing I’m dedicated to, it is Real Food. Food with nutrients that don’t come from a bag o’ chips and endless supply of coffee. The only problem is fitting it into my schedule. As far as prep time this soup is pretty easy… hack up some beets and throw them in the oven while you have group meeting number one (although I don’t advise forgetting about them for two hours like I did, although they turned out fine) and then do the tomatoes while you’re wrapping up that last presentation in the last hours of the day. Peeling beets at 1am may not appeal to you, but trust, when you come home the next day and all you have to do to make a quick, delicious and nutricious dinner is throw some stuff in a blender, you’ll be glad. Very, very glad. And then you can go back to the grind at least knowing you’re feeding your brain more than just ideas.

Roasted Beet and Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese and Basil (and sweet corn on top)

  • Cut the tops and roots off 6-8 largish beets (remember you can cook your greens too!), slice in half and roast in a pyrex covered with tinfoil at 400F for about 45 minutes or until they are easy to spear with a fork
  • Halve 6-8 tomatoes and do the same, making sure you reserve the juice (you can do this at the same time as long as they’re in different pans and you, again, don’t forget that you’re roasting things)
  • When the beets are cool, you should be able to slide off the skins easily
  • Blend beets, tomato juice, a handful of fresh basil and a generous portion of goat cheese (mmm! fresh chevre from the local farmer’s market!) with a little bit of water (about a cup or two) and serve!
  • Sweet corn on top is optional, but also delicious

Soup Failure

16 Sep

Alayna’s been sending text messages, where the soup post? I’ve been sort of dodging them, hoping she wouldn’t notice that for the first time in almost two years there wasn’t a soup post one week. But of course Alayna would not let that one slide.

Ladles, in a nut shell (or, more suitingly) in a muang bean. I did make a soup on Monday. It was just terrible. That has never happened before. If they are Meh, they are pretty good Meh but they are never terrible.

I know why this happened. I was grocery shopping with no plan after work and the gym. This is when I’m my hungriest and my dumbest. I bought a really motley collection of produce. I went home and found there were mealworms in my pasta pantry. I freaked out and cleaned my entire kitchen and had to throw out way too much pasta. Now it’s 11:30pm. I’m starving and I put together this concoction that involves muang beans, butternut squash and rosemary. It was awful. I ate it. I’m still eating it. I have leftovers for lunch today, and I ate it for lunch yesterday too.

I’ll tell you this, when soupers fail you know what we don’t do? Waste food. Is that even a quality? It’s more because I’m chap than anything. Whatever, it’s healthy. Grrrrrrrreat.

So I’m not going to include the recipe because no one should ever recreate this disaster again.

Alayna, move back to NYC.

Peach Soup

8 Sep

Apologies for the delayed post, soupies! As many of you know it’s birthday week at the blog (mine was yesterday, but you can still catch Mary’s on Friday if you want to say, send over an immersion blender or something… hint hint!) and I had dinner out instead of dutifully staying in front of the soup pot, but no worries! A day late is not a dollar short at Monday’s Soup, and we have a delicious peach soup for your enjoyment.

This dinner (don’t worry, I’m sharing…. although I did eat that entire missing hunk of delicious delicious homemade lemon poppy seed birthday cake last night) uses a lot of the ingredients my mom got from a local farm over the weekend, but in a little bit of an unexpected way. I’m not sure how I feel about having a sweet soup as the main course for dinner, but I think the cardamon and black pepper keep it from being a smoothie and I made a big salad of fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, parsley and red peppers as a side. Add a little birthday cake at the end and you have a pretty sweet end of summer sampler.

Enjoy!

  • Peel and roughly chop 8 ripe peaches and place in pot with two cups of orange juice, several shakes of cardamon (or four cardamon seeds), 3-4 cloves, one stick of cinnamon, about one inch of fresh ginger thickly sliced, the juice of one lime and 1/4 cup of honey. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for about ten minutes
  • Let cool down for a little while, then blend, taking out the cinnamon stick, clove seeds and ginger
  • Add one to two cups of plain yogurt and season with black pepper
  • Cool in the refrigerator or freezer and serve!

Gumbo

1 Sep

Ladles, see that guy? That’s Paul. Paul’s eating a delicious gumbo soon y’all enjoy. Paul’s eating a delicious gumbo while doing our souper-special soup handshake. Lets rewind.

Note token bounty shot. All products purchased from Union Square Farmer’s Market. I call this shot: Little Farm / Big City. I had okra for my first time–not, to my surprise pronounced orca, like the killer whale–(Sidenote: okra sautéed with salt in oil is delicious. I think I shy’d away because of southern literature I’ve read when its deep fried. But I am going to stop shying away starting now!)

Next lesson: Roux. One part flour, one part oil. Heated over low heat and whisked steadily for 40 minutes (depending on desired color/flavor). You can whisk and do other things in the kitchen so it’s not totally all-consuming, but you gotz to stay in the kitchen.) It gets darker in color and as it does the flavor gets deeper and nuttier. We stopped when it was the color of molasses.

Paul explained that we’re doing this because it adds depth to the flavor while also thickening it. And it certainly did. You can add roux to everything, soups, mac and cheese, cream of whatever’s. It really does add depth. It’s like OH, I GOT IT, it’s like roux is to soup what age is to wine.

YEEEEEEEAH I STILL GOT IT.

Now we’re going to add depth to the vegetables. We caramelized half the vegetable bounty and cooked the other half (in the same pot) for less time to add different flavors. We salted all the vegetables BUT in order not to over salt everything, when we were adding new vegetables, we pushed everything already salted in the pan to the side, so we could just salt the new batch. Let that sit then mix.

Hard to remember? No worries:

Trip S: Split, Salt, Stir

And lastly, Paul pointed out slicing a jalapeno like pepper, not chopping it. That way you avoid all the seeds and innards. Really, it’s always been the small things that get me.

After two hours the gumbo was finally done– we also steamed mussels and roasted sausage. And it really did have a depth that our quicker soups lack.

Without further ado, Gumbo:

Hmm, this is a very approximate recipe, as I got it from watching many pots of gumbo get made, but never read the actual recipe. to make about 10 bowls of gumbo:

Heat the oven to 350, and make sure there are two racks in there.
In a metal skillet (no teflon), heat 11/2C vegetable oil, add 1 1/2C flour, stirring to mix evenly. So this is the start of your roux, which I suggest putting in the oven after you get to light brown, checking on it and stirring every 15 minutes or so, but it will not burn in the oven, and youll have better control of bringing it to the right color. You can take it out when it is that deep mahogany reddish-brown and it should keep cooking itself to the final dark shade of nearly black but not burned. This can be done at any time, but preferably beforehand. Once cooled and then refrigerated, the oil should pool on top. You can simply pour this off, and you will have nothing but the browned flour, which is all you want anyway. You will add this last, not first, as with most gumbo recipes.
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 or 4 ribs celery
  • 1 large or 2 small green bell peppers
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp hot cayenne
  • 1T dried thyme (or fresh chopped)
  • 1T file powder (optional)
  • 4 or 5 links andouille sausage, cut into half-moons or bite-size pieces, and roasted in the oven, until well-browned
Chop these to slightly larger than bite size pieces, although the consistency matters more than the actual size. Keep each vegetable separate, i.e. don’t mix them all into one bowl when you’re done cutting them.
Heat a large pot over medium heat, and add a couple swirls of canola oil, the oil should just cover the bottom of the pot. Add 2/3 of your bell peppers, and sprinkle them with salt. Let them cook over medium-heat high for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2/3 celery, sprinkle with salt, and cook for 3 more minutes, before adding 2/3 of the onion, season the onion with salt. Stir this all together, and keep the heat up, you are trying to get these vegetables nice and brown and caramelized. This step will take a while, and your vegetables will wither down to almost nothing. When they are done, reduce the heat, and add the remaining vegetables, in the same order, and seasoning. All you want to do with these is “sweat” them, but they should still cook quite a while, but not get any color on them. When you think they are almost done, add the garlic, jalapeno, and all the spices, stir them around, and let cook for 1-2 minutes, until the kitchen starts smelling like garlic and spices. Add 1/2G chicken stock to this, keeping in mind how much gumbo you want, and that you can always thin it out, but it is much harder to thicken, and bring to a simmer. Add the sausage about 20 minutes before the gumbo is done, but before adding the roux. This is your gumbo base, and you can add pretty much anything to it. Peeled tomatoes, chicken, seafood, okra, what have you. If you’re using okra, don’t add file, if you’re using file, dont add okra. If adding file, it has to go in with the spices, not at the very end, otherwise it will be stringy. The final step, once everything is in the pot (unless you’re going to be adding fresh-cooked shrimp or oysters), is to whisk in the roux, in stages, allowing to come to a simmer each time, until it reaches the desired consistency and flavor. Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes to get rid of the pasty flour taste, check for seasoning (you may need more salt or any of the spices, i gave very approximate and conservative estimates), and serve. I like it most with creamy potato salad, rice is classic, and don’t forget the hot sauce and scallions!
That’s about it, i think!