Posts Tagged soup recipes

Finishing Up Winter

Oh last of the winter veg boxes, you have forsaken me. Your 90 pounds of potatoes and onions are just really too much. (Although the dried beans and locally-sourced, organic tomato puree were a nice change.) But the root vegetables are just getting me down. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but there are only so many fries and fried parsnips that one person can take.

When all else fails, I go to the soup aisle of my cooking brain. After a bit of digging, I found this recipe from about.com that uses as many potatoes and onions as possible. The bonus? It’s Irish-style. And, aren’t we all just a bit Irish-style this weekend?

Potato Onion Soup, Irish-Style

  • 4 T butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced (I think I used four, but they were on the small-medium side.)
  • 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 3 C milk
  • 5½ C chicken stock
  • ¼ C chopped fresh chives
  • ½ t celery seeds
  • ¼ t dried thyme, whole
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 C light cream (I actually used sour cream. Call me crazy.)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ C chopped fresh chives
  • 6 slices of lean bacon, crisply fried and chopped for garnish

Heat an 8-quart stockpot (and you will need a large size). Add 4 T butter and onion; cook gently. Do not let the onion brown. Add the potatoes and milk. Then, add the stock. Add ¼ C chives, celery seeds, and thyme. Cover and cook gently for about an hour.

Prepare the roux: Melt the remaining 2 T of butter in a small saucepan and whisk in the flour. Let the flour and butter mixture bubble for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. (You’re basically making a blonde roux.) Thicken the soup with the roux, whisking carefully to avoid lumps. Cook for 5-10 minutes longer.

Puree the soup in a food processor or with a food blender. (If you’re using a food processor, let the soup cool and work in batches. I used an immersion blender directly in the pot.)

Add the cream and gently reheat, but do not boil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional chives and bacon as garnishes.

Results

The soup is a pretty solid creamed potato soup. I don’t mean solid as brick solid, but rather a good go-to recipe for potato soup. It has just the right consistency—not a glutinous mess, but not overly watery. I served it with a side of rye bread. (My grocery store was out of pumpernickel. I think this would taste really good with pumpernickel.) It also needed a dash of Tabasco at the end, but that might just be me.

As you can see, I didn’t do the whole bacon garnish thing. I thought about crisping up bacon and then using the bacon fat to saute the onions. Perhaps next time.

Potatoonion soup with rye bread

In addition, the recipe says you can swap out leeks for the onions. Other suggestions included adding shrimp or lobster as garnishes

Advertisements

, , , ,

2 Comments

Soupy Stewy Thingy

The calendar says it’s coming up to winter (even if the thermometer in the Midwest says it’s time we start thinking about global warming). Like all hearty people of the upper Midwest, I like a good soupy stewy thingy. For those of you not accustomed to harsh winter weather, allow me to illuminate you. A soupy stewy is a bunch of vegetables (and meat, if you swing that way) mixed with liquid and spices. It can contain noodles or rice, if you want to be fancy, but it’s best left to the basics. The consistency comes out a bit like soup and a bit like stew. The beauty of the soupy stewy (and yes, I just made that term up) is that you can make it whatever consistency you’d like—bit thicker for the stew lovers, but thinner for the soup lovers.

And, the other plus is that it cleans out your fridge. Because it can pretty much contain whatever you have lying around. Add enough spices and it’s bound to turn out OK. Here’s my recipe that I invented one night.

Vegetable Soupy Stewy Thingy

  • 2-3 T oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 turnip, peeled and chopped
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and sliced into 2½” diameter
  • ¼ head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1½ t ground coriander
  • ½ t thyme
  • 4 C vegetable stock
  • 28 oz can tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 C dry lentils
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce

In a medium to large stock pot, heat oil. Add onion and sauté until translucent.

Add the rest of the vegetables and sauté until just tender (don’t overcook or then you’ll have mushy veggies). Stir in cumin, coriander, and thyme. Heat for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper, to taste. (Keep in mind that canned tomatoes have a bit of sodium, so go light on the salt until the end if you’re concerned.)

Add vegetable stock and tomatoes with their juices. Stir in lentils. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste. Check the consistency. If it’s too thick for your taste, add more vegetable stock or water. Simmer for another 30 minutes or until you get the consistency you’d like.

Add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, stir, and serve.

Results

This is a great way to use up those root vegetables that you get in your autumn veggie boxes. (Seriously… how many turnips can one household eat?) If you make it super thick, you can serve it over rice, but I like it more on the soupy side.

Root Vegetable Soup

With this soupy stewy, I can now say, “Bring on winter!” (Whenever it decides to gets here.)

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Recap

I know, I know… we’ve all moved on from Thanksgiving to year-end holidays. But, after any big feast, I like to take a few days to digest (pun mostly intended) and rehash the successes and failures.

With few exceptions, the menu was pretty much an epicurious.com freak out. I’m linking to the original recipes, scroll down for my reviews:

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

  • 1½ T butter
  • ¾ C chopped carrot
  • ¾ C chopped celery
  • ¾ C chopped ripe banana
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 whole clove
  • 5 C low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 C canned pure pumpkin
  • ¾ C canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • ¼ C sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • ½ t ground cinnamon
  • ½ t ground coriander
  • ½ t crumbled dried sage leaves
  • ¼ t ground allspice
  • ¼ t yellow curry powder

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot and next 6 ingredients and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Transfer mixture to processor and blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Add broth and all remaining ingredients except cilantro. Boil soup over medium-high heat 15 minutes to blend flavors. Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate.)

Bring soup to simmer. Divide among 8 bowls.

Results

Do not be afraid by the long list of ingredients. This is a super easy recipe to make. Also, don’t be afraid of the banana in the soup. It works with the other flavors, and although smells weird when cooking, it works well. I like to make this recipe because I have a set of fun pumpkin soup bowls. (Thanks, Mom!)

Pumpkin soup in pumpkin shaped bowls

Porcini Mushroom Turkey with Mushroom Gravy

Mushroom Butter:

  • 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¾ C (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ C chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 T chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 t chopped fresh mint (I know, weird, right? Don’t fret. It’ll come out OK.)
  • 1½ t salt
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper

Turkey:

  • 1 14- to 16-lb turkey, rinsed, patted dry inside and out; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved
  • 10 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 C turkey stock or water

Gravy:

  • 1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 T chopped shallot
  • 1 C dry white wine
  • 2 C turkey stock
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T water
  • 5 t cornstarch
  • ¼ C chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 t chopped fresh mint

For mushroom butter:
Place porcini in small bowl; add 1 cup boiling water. Let stand until softened, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Drain mushrooms, reserving soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms. Transfer half of chopped mushrooms (about ⅓ C) to small bowl; reserve for gravy.

Chop garlic finely in processor. Add butter and next 6 ingredients, then remaining porcini. Blend to coarse paste.

For turkey:
Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 325°. Sprinkle main turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Spread with 2 T mushroom butter. Starting at neck end of turkey, carefully slide hand between skin and meat of breast, thighs, and upper drumsticks to loosen skin. Spread mushroom butter over thighs and drumsticks, then over breast meat under skin. Fill main cavity with herb sprigs. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Tuck wing tips under.

Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Rub outside of turkey all over with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour 2 cups stock into pan. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, about 3 hours. Tilt turkey so juices from main cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to platter. Tent very loosely with foil; let rest at least 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Reserve pan.

For gravy:
Scrape juices and browned bits from reserved roasting pan into large glass measuring cup. Spoon off fat, reserving 3 T.

Heat reserved 3 T fat in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crimini mushrooms, garlic, and shallot. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl and set aside. Add wine to skillet. Boil until reduced to ½ C, about 3 minutes. Add reserved ⅓ C chopped porcini mushrooms, reserved mushroom soaking liquid (leaving any sediment behind), 2 C stock, and degreased pan juices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to reduce slightly, about 10 minutes.

Add cream and crimini mushrooms to skillet. Mix 2 T water and cornstarch in small bowl until smooth. Whisk into gravy. Continue to simmer until reduced to desired consistency, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes. Mix in parsley and mint. Season gravy to taste with salt and pepper.

Results

First, I love this mushroom butter. (Remember, I have a love affair with compound butters). This one would taste great on toast. It also tastes great inside a turkey. Those brown bits are mushroom left over once the butter melted on the outside. Incredibly juicy and tender.

Roasted turkey

The gravy was surprisingly good as well. Kind of a modified cream sauce. I was a bit worried when the cornstarch slurry started. (I have a loathing of thickening sauces this way. It just seems like a cheater’s shortcut.)

Apple-Raisin Stuffing

This was the only recipe I used from the Food Network. I have re-formatted it from their site as it was impossible to use the way it was presented.

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 t aniseed
  • 1 C golden raisins
  • 4-6 C chicken broth (I used just 4 C as that’s all that would fit in my pan.)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 scoop grainy mustard
  • 3 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 T fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 8 C pumpernickel cubes, toasted (about half a rustic loaf)
  • 8 C sour dough cubes, toasted (about half a rustic loaf)

In a large deep skillet, sauté onions, garlic and celery stalks in butter for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and add apples, thyme, aniseed and raisins; cook 5 minutes. Pour in chicken broth. Simmer until needed in next step.

In a large bowl, mix eggs, parsley and tarragon. Add bread and hot broth mixture to the bowl to the bowl.

Gently toss the stuffing, then spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Dot the top with butter or turkey pan drippings, cover and bake 30 minutes at 350°. Uncover and bake until golden, 20 more minutes.

Results

On the surface, I liked the idea of two types of bread—especially the pumpernickel. (The leftover loaves make for great turkey sandwiches the next day.) But, this recipe had too much tarragon for my liking. I felt that’s all you could taste, even over the sweetness of the apples and raisins. I feel like this was the biggest failure of the meal. (And, nope… I don’t pre-test my recipes before subjecting guests to them. That’s the kind of mean chef I am.)

Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Garlic Oil and Fried Sage

Sweet potatoes:

  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • ¼ C olive oil
  • 2½ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½”-thick rounds

Fried sage:

  • ⅓ C olive oil
  • 24 sage leaves

Roast sweet potatoes:
Preheat oven 450°F with rack in upper third. Purée garlic with oil and ¾ t salt in a blender until smooth. Toss sweet potatoes with garlic oil in a large bowl, then spread in 1 layer in a 15-by 10-inch shallow baking pan. Bake until golden in patches and cooked through, 20-30 minutes.

To fry sage leaves:
Heat oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then fry sage leaves in 2 batches, stirring, until crisp, 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Serve sweet potatoes with sage leaves scattered on top.

Results

And, this was the second disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, they were good. I like the garlic oil for roasting the potatoes. I’d just leave off the fried sage as it didn’t really add anything to the dish.

Sweet Potato Rounds

That would be Mr. Moo pointing to the sage asking, “What that?” He was not impressed when I gave him some to try.

Green Beans with Lemon and Pine Nuts

  • 1½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ¼ C pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1½ t finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 4 t extra-virgin olive oil

Cook beans in a 4-qt saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes, then drain well in a colander. Transfer to a bowl and toss with nuts, parsley, zest, oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Results

My sister was mightily peeved that this wasn’t green bean casserole. I thought it would be a tangy alternative to the heavy dishes on the table. Boy, that lemon zest goes a long way. Super duper lemony (so lemony that people thought I had put lemon juice in the dressing). Also, the pine nuts just sort of sat there. Next time, I’d use walnuts or another toasted nut and then chop them.

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

  • ¼ C fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • ¼ t kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1½ lbs total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 12 oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
  • ½ C extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ⅓ C almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
  • 1 C finely grated Pecorino

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, ¼ t salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure ½ C oil into a cup. Spoon 1 T oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds.

Results

Oh, this is good. So very very good. I’ve been on a kale kick lately (which is good because I overbought kale and now have a ton in my fridge). And, I’ve never thought of raw Brussels sprouts, but it worked. Imagine this picture with the nuts on top (I added them after I took the pic.)

Kale and Sprouts

I’m going to deal with the dessert in a future blog as I think it could work for any winter holiday—not just Thanksgiving. So, that’s it for my favorite holiday until next year.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Real Simple: Week Four

This is the last week of my self-imposed Real Simple challenge. And, thank God for that. This has been probably the worst month of eating I’ve ever had. Seriously. From the bland to the weird, in 20 different recipes, I found maybe two worth making again. Pretty bad ratio. If you’re interested in past weeks, you can read them here:

  • Week One (back when I was eager to try new things)
  • Week Two (then I started to feel a bit irritated)
  • Week Three (the week of starvation

For those of you who love to see me in pain, my last week will not disappoint.

Monday: Tilapia with Pecan Brown Butter

  • 1 C wild and long-grain rice blend
  • 1 lb  green beans, trimmed
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • ¼ C chopped pecans
  • 2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 t fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 t canola oil
  • 6-oz tilapia fillets, halved lengthwise

Cook the rice according to the package directions. Steam the green beans until tender, 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until foamy, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the pecans and cook, stirring, until the butter is golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice, and ¼ t each salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the tilapia with ½ t salt and ¼ t pepper. In two batches, cook until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Drizzle the tilapia with the sauce and serve with the rice, green beans, and lemon wedges.

Results

Em said that the best part of this recipe was the rice… which was Uncle Ben’s wild rice from a box. Pecan butter is fun and easy to make, but it just kind of sat on the fish and beans. Honestly, I think a crushed pecan crust over the fish with a pecan butter on the green beans would have been an improvement.

Tilapia with green beans and wild rice

Tuesday: Turkey Cutlet Sandwiches with Oven Fries

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1½ lbs), cut into ½” wedges
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ C mayonnaise
  • 1-2 t hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1 t sugar
  • ¼ head red cabbage, shredded (about 3 C)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 4 turkey cutlets (about 1 lb total)
  • 8 slices pumpernickel bread, lightly toasted
  • 4 dill pickles, sliced lengthwise

Heat oven to 450°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with 2 T of the oil and ¼ t each salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until browned and crisp, 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, hot sauce, and sugar. Add the cabbage and carrot and toss to combine.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the turkey with ¼ t each salt and pepper. Cook until cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side. Form sandwiches with the bread, turkey, slaw, and pickles. Serve with the fries.

Results

The weird thing on this was forming the sandwiches with pickles cut lengthwise. I like my spears on the side. But, let’s not stop the weirdness train at the pickles. Let’s talk about this slaw. Or rather the blandness of the turkey with the slaw. Real Simple, would it kill you to maybe marinate or cook the meat in something other than salt and pepper? The slaw also didn’t have enough of anything to really have a flavor. It either needed more vinegar or rather it needed vinegar. Sigh.

Turkey sandwich with slaw

Also, you’ll notice from the picture that I didn’t have pumpernickel bread. I went with rye. Sue me. By this point, I figured the bread choice didn’t really matter much.

Wednesday: Steak with Peppers and Polenta

  • ¾ C instant polenta
  • 2 t olive oil
  • 1½ lbs skirt steak, cut into 4 pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • ¼ C red wine vinegar
  • 2 C baby spinach
  • ⅓ C pitted kalamata olives, halved

Cook the polenta according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the steak with ½ t salt and ¼ t black pepper and cook, 3-5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Add the bell peppers, shallot, and ¼ t each salt and black pepper to the drippings in the skillet. Cook, tossing frequently, until beginning to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add the vinegar and ¼ C water and cook, tossing, until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is almost evaporated, 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach and olives and cook, tossing, until the spinach begins to wilt, 1-2 minutes more.

Serve the steak and vegetables with the polenta.

Results

I didn’t even take a picture of this one. That’s how disgusted I was by the entire thing. Let’s talk about skirt steak. The beauty of this cut of meat is that it’s hugely flavorful but a bit on the tough side. That’s why normal people marinate the heck out of it before cooking it in a pan. Or, they slow cook it at low temperatures in a crock pot or Dutch oven for an afternoon. They DO NOT pan sear it with a bit of salt and pepper. Barely edible, folks at Real Simple. Am I angry? A bit.

As a bonus, polenta should have something in it. Like butter or cheese or an herb. For crying out loud, throw a thyme sprig in that pot. This was a horrid example of a meal. Oh, and let’s not even talk about the olives. You need to get over olives, people.

Thursday: Pork Ramen Soup

  • 1 T canola oil
  • 2 boneless pork chops (½” thick; about ½ lb total) I used that pork tenderloin I had in the freezer from last week.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 1 2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 6 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 3-oz packages ramen noodles (discard the seasoning packets)
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
  • ½ C fresh cilantro leaves

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the pork with ¼ t each salt and pepper and cook until cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side. Let rest for 5 minutes before thinly slicing.

Add the scallion whites and ginger to the drippings in the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring, until softened, 1-2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and boil, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce.

Serve the soup topped with the pork, carrot, radishes, cilantro, and scallion greens.

Results

By gum, this wasn’t bad. (It did not redeem the recipe above… or maybe my expectations are so low at this point… you decide.) I would like to take a few seconds to point out that this past month used a lot of scallions. Go ahead, scroll back and take a look at the scallion numbers. It’s like someone at Real Simple works for the Scallion Board. What do they have against onions? They tend to keep a bit better than their green brethren. (I get it in an Asian-inspired recipe like this though…)

Pork Ramen Soup

Anyway, this one was a decent soup. It needed a bit of garlic and a bit of Sriracha sauce, but other than that… not bad.

Friday: Mushroom and Egg Pizzas

  • 2 T olive oil, plus more for the baking sheets
  • All-purpose flour, for the work surface
  • 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1 C marinara sauce
  • 8 oz mozzarella, grated (about 2 C)
  • 4 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 5 oz mixed greens (about 6 C)
  • 1 T red wine vinegar

Heat oven to 425. Brush 2 large baking sheets with oil. On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into four 8″ rounds and place on the baking sheets.

Dividing evenly, top the rounds with the marinara sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, and onion; season with ¼ t each salt and pepper. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, just until the crust begins to brown, 18-20 minutes.

Carefully crack an egg on top of each pizza and return to oven. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the egg whites are set, 5-7 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss the greens with the vinegar, the 2 T of oil, and ¼ t each salt and pepper. Serve with the pizzas.

Results

So, when you put the egg on the pizza, crack it into a small bowl first. This way, you will avoid shells on your pizza. Next, as you slide the egg out of the bowl on the pizza, press the bowl into the pizza so as to make a well where the egg can sit. If you do not, you will get this mess:

Egg Pizza in the Oven

But, that’s OK because then you can put the fried eggs on top and make a sick looking face.

Egg Pizza Face

This recipe was decent. Mostly due to the processed dough and the jarred marinara sauce. So, it actually had a bit of flavor. Whatever. I’m over Real Simple.

What I Learned

  • Real Simple recipes are good in small doses—like Monday night for the ease of it all.
  • Planning ahead saves money on groceries but forces you to actually cook meals each night.
  • I like flavor in my food.

Next challenge? Oh, I’ve got an old cookbook that has a week-by-week menu planner. Just wait for that one…

, , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments

When Life Gives You Pickles, Make Soup

Dill pickle soup is one of those traditional dishes I always wondered about. In Polish, it’s called zupa ogórkowa, or salted cucumber soup. And, sure salting cucumbers is a great way to pickle them. But, why would you want to make them into a soup? As my sister reminded me: “By the end of winter, Polish peasants were probably so sick of pickles, they were just looking for a different way to eat them.” Poor Polish peasants.

Another question you might be asking right now is: Why would you want to make dill pickle soup?

Well, it all started at our Independence Day BBQ. This year, I went with an Americana theme. (Yes, in past years, I have celebrated the birth of our nation by cooking Mexican or Moroccan food. We are a nation of immigrants, mind you.) When I was searching for what is typical of American BBQs, (Yes, I had to do an interweb search. Could you stop with the questions?) I came across pickles as being an integral part of the meal. I went to the store and found a giant jar from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Score one for local!

Too bad they were awful pickles. Everyone who tried one said, “Hmmm… not really what I was expecting. It tastes like a pickle, but not at all. And, it’s crunchy but not crunchy.” And, then they would politely put it to the side of their plate and take a large sip of beer. Needless to say, I was stuck with a mostly full giant jar of pickles that didn’t taste quite right. What better way to use them up then by grating them into soup?

This recipe came from a book (sorry can’t remember the name), and I’m going to make a ton of modifications in the Results section.

Dill Pickle Soup

Serves 12

  • 6 C beef broth (If you use canned, use low-sodium. Between this and the pickles, you’ll probably have enough sodium in your system that deer will be trailing around behind you. Also, veggie broth will obviously make this veg-friendly.)
  • 2 T instant flour
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 T soft butter
  • 4 large dill pickles, shredded
  • 2/3 C liquid from pickle jar
  • 2 ½ C boiled, sliced potatoes

First stop is to boil and slice the potatoes. This will go much better if you do that part first. The recipe doesn’t mention it, but I’d suggest peeling them as well. While the potatoes are boiling, start shredding your pickles into a bowl. They will be juicy.

Bring broth to a boil. In the measuring cup, mix the flour and milk. (For those wondering about instant flour, it’s a real treat. It comes in a shaker. You know, for when you just need a little dusting of weirdly processed wheat product. If I found it at my standard grocery, you should be able to find it at yours… probably not Whole Foods though.) Add milk/flour to broth and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, mix egg yolk and butter. Add to broth. (I would eliminate the egg yolk as what you will get is tiny scrambled egg bits. Ew. If you do add them, do so slowly and with a whisk.) Add pickles, pickle liquid, and potatoes. Heat, but do not boil.

Serve with dark bread (like pumpernickel).

Results

You’re probably wondering whether or not putting awful tasting pickles in a soup makes them taste better. I can attest to the fact that it does. Very salty, but very good. I wanted to share that this recipe is actually good before I shared the picture. Because it looks awful:

Dill pickle soup in a pot

I suspect that the sheen is due to instant flour. And, the brown-gray color is how I imagine Poland looks in the long winter months. (I am just assuming as I have yet to visit, but with all the carbs and crazy foodstuffs, I can only conjure up pictures of barren trees and rust belt-type buildings.) Oh, and the soup has an odd tendency to separate. Yum!

After discussion with Emily (who shared a few bowls with me), we agreed upon the following changes:

  • Add more potatoes. Woefully inadequate.
  • Puree part of the soup after adding the potatoes. So, you’d have a thicker broth, but still have some potato and pickle chunks.
  • Add a bit of sour cream or hot sauce. It was salty, but needed a bit of tang to it.
  • Oh, and pepper, it could use a bit of pepper.
  • I also suggested adding a few pierogi, but Emily thought that was overkill.

This is definitely a dish that you would serve as a soup course…. rather than a main course soup/stew. A big bowl is a bit too much pickle. But despite it’s odd texture, slight sheen, and sad color, it tasted exactly like pickle soup should taste.

, , , ,

1 Comment

Simple, Spicy, Fish Soup

My son is sticking to his radical toddler diet—soup and cheese… and sometimes, for a change, cheesy soup. I’ve been relenting in the meals I prepare for him because he has been sick with a raging fever this past week (hence no posts for a too busy working stiff with a cranky babe).

On one hand, I look at all the soup and think how frustrating it is to cook and how dull it probably is for him to eat. On the other hand, I realize I now have a plethora of recipes to feed my parents once they get infirm and lose all of their teeth. So, there’s the win. (It’s been a pretty rough week, so yes, that’s my win.)

As I’ve mentioned before, Mr. Moo is particularly fond of spicy food. And, I took a peek in the old freezer and realized I had quite a few random fish and seafood items hanging around. So, I decided to make a Thai-inspired fish soup. I say Thai-inspired, because it’s not really authentically Thai. But, it evoked the flavors. I kind of made it up as I went along using various ingredients from my fridge. Since I’m not Thai, I call it inspired.

Thai Fish Soup

  • 1 T oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1½ t ginger, grated (or you can use ginger paste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest of one lime
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, crushed and chopped
  • 5 C fish or chicken stock
  • 1-2 T Tom Yum paste
  • ½ lb white fish, cut into chunks
  • Dozen or so cleaned shrimp, shells and tails reserved
  • Half dozen or so sea scallops, trimmed and cut into quarters if large
  • Juice of that zested lime
  • 2 t fish sauce

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft—about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and stir. Then, add the lime zest, lemongrass, and shrimp tails and shells. Sauté until shrimp tails become pink. This should take a few minutes.

Next, add the stock and scrape up any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. It should look like this with a bunch of floaty bits in it.

Fish Soup Pre-Tom-Yum

I thought it was a bit anemic looking, so this is when I added the Tom Yum paste. You can pick up the paste in the Asian section of most larger grocery stores. (Yes, I actually have lemongrass stalks and Tom Yum paste hanging around my fridge. They have become a staple for me.) Now, your soup should have a nice reddish tint to it.

Fish soup Post-Tom Yum Paste

Bring this mess up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Strain the soup. You can either skim all of the bits out of the soup (my recommended way of doing it so as to avoid splashing hot liquid on yourself and your loved ones) OR you can pour the soup through a sieve into another pot. Pouring through a sieve will give you a clearer broth, but for my money, it’s just not worth it.

Put the broth back on the stove and add the fish and seafood items in the order in which they appear in the recipe list (scallops take less time to cook and you don’t want them to get overly chewy).

Right before serving squeeze in the lime and mix in the fish sauce.

Results

The soup was gone before I could take a picture. You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the Tom Yum paste. Make it more or less chunky with different fish items. You can also add mushrooms or other vegetables. I suppose you could add noodles as well, but it’s supposed to be a simple bit of soup. So, keep it simple.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

More Soup for You

I know it’s not in season for carrot soup. (At least, I feel that carrot-based soup should be made in the winter… when fresh veggies are scarce and the weather is frightful.) But, in the past few weeks, Mr. Moo has taken a marked turn when it comes to fruits and vegetables. As in, he won’t eat them unless pulverized beyond recognition. The other night when he spit out an eggplant marinara pasta sauce, I had reached my breaking point.

You think I can’t out smart you, wee man? Well, bring it on. I can go head to head with a stubborn toddler. Just watch. I will get fruits and vegetables into you by any means necessary. And, if this means you eat soup until you no longer remember the taste of solid food, so be it.

I have a feeling that this will be the first of many, many soup experiments. Luckily, I have The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Soup.

Carrot Soup with Ginger

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped (I used the fronds as well.)
  • 1 medium potato, chopped (I used two because they were smallish.)
  • 5½ C chopped carrots
  • 2 t minced fresh ginger root
  • 1½ qt chicken stock (Obviously, use veggie stock if you want to make this a vegetarian recipe.)
  • 7 T whipping cream (I only had whole milk on hand.)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

Melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook for about 5 minutes until soft.

Stir in the potato, carrots, ginger, and stock. (Don’t forget to scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pot to enhance the flavor.) Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Pour the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. (I just pureed it in the pot with my stick blender. If you’re going to transfer the soup, be very careful not to get burned with scalding liquid.)

Return the soup to the pot. Stir in the cream and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reheat slowly to serve.

Results

Carrot soup in a pot

Eh. A bit bland. I would probably increase the amount of ginger next time around. But, Mr. Moo ate a ton of it, so win for the mom on this one. Or is it? This kid isn’t even 2 years old yet and he already has me making him special soups rather than eating what we eat. I have broken my cardinal rule of feeding children! Who knew that children could be so insidious? Watch out, world. Apparently, my child is an evil genius.

, , , ,

2 Comments