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This is REALLY good, you guys.  And pretty easy, too.  It was also a learning experience for me, because I didn’t know what the heck Old Bay Seasoning was, I just thought it was bay – glad I checked before putting a tablespoon of bay into the chowder!

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts separated)
  • 2 jalapenos, diced, save the seeds and add them as well, if you want a bit of spice.
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning (so I didn’t have this, so I just did a mix of the following, but it totaled to probably 2 tablespoons: a lot of Ground bay leaves, at least a teaspoon of celery salt, two pinches of paprika, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, salt, pepper)
  • 2 cups reduced-fat (2 percent) milk
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups corn kernels (from 3 ears corn)
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

What to do:

  1. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the scallion whites and jalapenos (seeds, too) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the flour and Old Bay Seasoning and cook, stirring, until the flour is lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the milk, chicken stock and the rice. Bring to a rapid simmer, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the corn and shrimp.  Cook until the shrimp curl and turn opaque, about 3 minutes.
  5. Season the chowder with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls and top with the scallion greens.

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Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

It was brought to my attention yesterday, during lunch at a delicious greek restaurant that my mom and sister have never had lemon chicken orzo soup (aka Avgolemono) and that I never posted about it!  I really, really like this soup, but I make it all the time because my BF LOOOOVES it.  It’s a very hearty soup, so it can definitely make a meal out of it, or pair it with a fresh, greek inspired salad.

Also, don’t be afraid to fudge things a bit… Adding more of things you like, etc.  I kind of just throw in what I have without measuring.

What you need:

  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (I usually end up just throwing in a whole pre-cut bag)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chicken soup base (found at Trader Joe’s, or two bullion cubes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (Wondra works best for this)
  • 1 – 2 cups orzo
  • 1 lb cooked chicken breast (I prefer coating the chicken in breadcrumbs, then baking them)
  • parsley to garnish
  • 6 eggs
  • olive oil

What to do:

  1. In a pot, sauté carrots, onion, garlic with olive oil for a few mins
  2. In the same pot, combine the chicken broth, lemon juice, carrots, onions, soup base, and white pepper. Bring to a boil on high, then simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add uncooked orzo
  4. Blend the butter and the flour together. Then gradually add it to the soup mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes more, stirring frequently.
  5. Meanwhile, beat the egg until light in mixed. Gradually add the eggs to the hot soup, stirring constantly. Simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes.
  6. Mix in the chicken pieces.
  7. Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices and parsley.

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Meatball soup

It has been freezing lately (for SoCal, at least) and hearty soups have been on my mind.  But, so has laziness… So I did a stock of the freezer/ fridge/ pantry and I had all of the ingredients to make something I have been wanting to try, Meatball Soup!  I adapted this recipe to my tastes, and just used the frozen turkey balls I had one hand (as I always do!).  I just set the frozen turkey balls out when I started working on the soup, and they were about half defrosted by the time I added them, and it was fine.  This is a really great, easy recipe to crank out on a cold rainy day.  You should have most of the ingredients, especially if you already have some frozen meatballs.  This would also work with store-bought frozen meatballs.

What you need:

  • About 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bag of baby carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Minced garlic, I used about ten cloves
  • 3 -4 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • Meatballs, I think I used about 16 – 20
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cups water
  • 2 – 3 cups dried pasta of your choice.  I only have linguine, so I broke it in half.
  • Fresh parmesan for garnishing

What to do:

  1. In a deep pot over medium heat combine oil, carrots, garlic, onions, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil.
  3. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and drop meatballs to cook in the broth.  Simmer while meatballs are cooking.  If frozen, this will probably take 10 – 15 mins.
  4. Add pasta to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup 15 minutes.
  5. Serve and garnish with fresh parmesan.

Don’t worry about over simmering it, as it will just taste better with the juices of the veggies and meatballs flavoring the broth. This makes 4 entree sized servings.

I apologize for the lack of photos, but I burned myself taking the cast iron griddle out of the broiler and was barely able to limp through the very easy cooking process.

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Again, LOVING the food network magazine recipes.  I had food&wine for over a year and rarely made anything from it, but I can’t stop using the recipes from FNM.

Here is a link to the recipe online.  Some of the reviews are pretty awful, which I just don’t understand.  Walter and I both really liked it.  It had the richness of mac and cheese, but half the calories/ fat (read: guilt).  It’s still not what I would call “low-cal”, but if you want to enjoy the delicious and comforting flavors of mac and cheese, without totaaaaally blowing your diet, I think it’s a great compromise.

Here is the recipe (my updates in parenthesis):

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt (I always just use regular salt…)
  • 4 ounces elbow macaroni (I used 2 cups of pasta, and omitted the bread)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick (regular tomato)
  • 4 1/2-inch-thick slices baguette (omitted)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 shallots (I used one large yellow onion, and a few cloves of garlic)
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces (used half a bag of baby carrots)
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 3/4 cups fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups 2% milk
  • 6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (I had romano cheese I needed to use!)

Directions

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook as the label directs; drain.

Mist a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange the tomato and baguette slices on it in a single layer; season with salt and pepper. Bake until the bread is golden brown, about 7 minutes.  (I roasted the tomatoes along with the remaining baby carrots, to serve on the side)

Mince the shallots, carrot and celery in a food processor. Mist a saucepan with cooking spray. Add the vegetables and cook over medium-high heat until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a boil; cook, stirring, until thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add the milk, cheeses and macaroni and stir until the cheeses melt. Season with pepper. Top the toasts with tomatoes; serve on the soup.

Per serving: Calories 476; Fat 20 g (Saturated 12 g); Cholesterol 84 mg; Sodium 636 mg; Carbohydrate 46 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 27 g

picture from the FNM, pretty accurate to how it turned out in my kitchen

_______

Overall, a very simple recipe (as long as you have a food processor).  Great for a cold, winter day.  It held up very well as leftovers, too.

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I love butternut squash soup, and have yet to find an acceptable canned/ boxed version.  They are all either bland or funky, so I made my own.  This recipe is surprisingly easy, too!  The hardest part by far, is cutting up and peeling the butternut squash.  Here is the recipe I adapted from allrecipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded (I ended up using 3 almost 2 pounders)
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 2 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • cayenne
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Cut squash into 1-inch chunks.  Cut up carrots, onion and apple.
  2. Cover in EVOO and salt & pepper.  Roast at 350 for 40 minutes.
  3. In large pot melt butter. Add squash, cream and stock.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Puree with immersion blender.
  6. Stir and season with nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Serve.

Tip to cut up the butternut squash:

Use a potato peeler on the uncut squash. The first pass will leave the flesh yellow. The second pass with the peeler will make it the deep orange color. Cut off top and bottom and cut down the middle, long ways. Scoop out the guts and cut up.  FYI, you will probably get a weird/ gross sap type film on your hands… soap and water won’t work, but a pumice stone will do the trick in a jiff.

I think next time I might add garlic, as well.  I’m surprised I didn’t this time around.  After the veggies were roasted, I simmered for probably 25 minutes or so, mostly because I was waiting for the carrots to get more cooked.  The squash was totally ready to go just after being roasted.  And man, the kitchen smelled amazing after I took the veggies out of the oven, yum.

I finally got to use my new toy, cuisinart immersion blender!  I’m not going to lie, it was really fun.  Boyfriend and I even argued a bit over whose turn it was to blend. Then I added the spices….quite a bit of them, because the soup tasted pretty bland to me.  I probably ended up adding at least 1 tsp of cayenne and nutmeg, and even more sea salt and pepper.

The recipe makes A LOT.  It will be enough for 3 meals for Boyfriend and I, so if you are making it for a family, or as a starter, keep that in mind.  The recipe said it would yield 12 servings, and I’d agree with that.

I had an unfortunate bread maker experience, so we didn’t actually enjoy the soup right away.  In fact, I let it sit overnight in the fridge.  I think this was a blessing in disguise.  The soup tastes AMAZING the next day.  I dunno if sitting there helped increase the flavor or what, but it was great.  I garnished with some fresh goat cheese, and served with rosemary & olive oil artisan bread.

yummy!

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Mussels in red sauce

I was at Whole Foods a while ago and I had absolutely no idea what to cook for dinner. Lo and behold–a bag of mussels for $6! In addition to that, I picked up a can of diced tomatoes, some fresh parsley and a baguette.

Red sauce:

  • Can of diced tomatoes
  • Chicken broth
  • White wine
  • Diced garlic
  • Brown sugar
  • Picada (I still have some leftover!)
  • Butter
  • Parsley

Of course, this all went into the slow cooker to cook for a few hours. Just be sure to set it on low. Put the mussels in the last 5-10 minutes.

Serve with baguette slices.

The brown sugar helps to reduce the acidity from the tomato sauce. Although I basically used the same base for my seafood stew, the sweetness definitely set this dish apart.

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Catalan-style Seafood Stew

My friend and I had an AMAZING seafood stew when we were in Barcelona and I wanted to make something similar for him when he came to visit in NYC. This dish sounds fancy and all but it’s SO simple. I put it all in my slow cooker, too! Bonus points for convenience!

The thing that makes this a Catalan style stew is the picada. Picada is kind of like a pesto. It’s basically blended breadcrumbs, herbs & garlic. Some picada recipes will call for other things (like anchovies) and they’re mostly specific to the Catalan dish you are preparing. Anyway, picada brings everything together; it adds texture and flavor without adding so many calories (like creams). The MOST important thing is that you MUST add this in last into your dish. If you add it too early, your sauce will break (thanks for the tip Chef Julie!).

Picada recipe:

  • Garlic
  • Fresh parsley
  • Bread crumbs (I actually pan-toasted baguette slices in olive oil and sliced them in cubes)
  • Olive oil
  • Roasted hazelnuts
  • Almonds (they should be blanched but I just left them raw)

Place all the ingredients in a blender or a food processor (it might be best to first make your breadcrumbs). Add olive oil and some water until it’s like a thick paste.. like pesto! The great thing about this is that you can make it ahead of time and make a LOT of it. I think picada would be good as a spread, also..

Stew base recipe:

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes in its juices
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • Garlic, minced
  • Onions, diced
  • Shallots, diced
  • Fresh thyme (I put a couple sticks in)
  • Fresh parsley, diced
  • White wine
  • Seafood stock
  • 1 bell pepper (I used a green one), diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Salt & pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Olive oil & butter

Place everything in the slow cooker on low and let it cook for 8+ hours. You can make this as thick/thin as you’d like. I made it more soup-like because I added a lot of stock.

Seafood ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of scallops
  • 1/2 lb of crawfish
  • 1/2 lb of shrimp (they should be headed & deveined but I left it as is because that’s how the Spaniards did it!)
  • 1/2 lb of mussels

Be sure to put these into the slow cooker on high 5-10 minutes before you serve dinner! Remember, it doesn’t take long for seafood to cook.. be wary of overcooking it! White fish is good in this stew as well (and we had it in our stew in Barcelona). And the picada!!! Put the picada in (to taste) before you put in the seafood.

I served this with sliced baguettes so we could dip it into the soup. It was pretty good but it was actually better a couple days later. OMG it was so much better.

This was definitely a lighter version of the original. I feel like they added some kind of cream into the broth and it tasted a lot more buttery. Additionally, I believe their stew was placed under the broiler for a little while. OH GOD it was so good. It was more stew-like in that it was a lot thicker. Does this mean I should revise my title to indicate that I had actually made a soup, not a stew?

Here’s a photo of the original, the inspiration for this meal (which cost ~20 euros):

The original!

$ breakdown:

  • $3 for the baguettes
  • $14 for ALL THE SEAFOOD!!! And it’s fresh, too! I bought a pound of each and only used half for the recipe. I love Chinatown!
  • <$3 for the canned goods
  • ~$1 for the bell pepper
  • ~$1 for the jalapeno pepper

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