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Soups

Carrot Ginger Soup

November 17, 2015

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It’s almost Thanksgiving. To me that means it’s time to scour food magazines, pinterest, instagram — anywhere I can get new, fresh ideas for such a traditional meal. I love the basics but with a twist. So here’s one for you…instead of the traditional butternut squash soup, why not try my Carrot Ginger Soup! It has the same creamy texture (with no cream mind you) and it’s such a healthy, flavorful soup. It makes the perfect Thanksgiving lunch if you’re like me and want something super light yet satisfying before the big dinner. However, it also makes a lovely first course if you enjoy serving soup to begin your Thanksgiving meal. I like to top my soup with fresh, crispy sage leaves* — they are so incredibly delicious on their own but when paired with this soup…WOW! You could also top the soup with toasted pine nuts, garlic croutons, or even something as simple as snippets of fresh parsley. If you’re artistic, try a dollop of plain greek yogurt swirled in a fancy design (an image of a turkey comes to mind).

Begin by sauteing the shallots in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for roughly 2-3 minutes. Next, add the diced carrots, stirring often as they cook. When the carrots start to soften, add the minced ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. Heat for an additional 5 minutes, being careful not to let the ginger or garlic burn. Add your broth, cumin and paprika and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Lastly, turn off the heat and using an immersion blender puree the soup until creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Ingredients:

2-3 shallots, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb mini carrots, diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp paprika

Makes roughly 4 servings.

* To make the crispy sage, brown 2 tbsp of salted butter in a skillet. When the butter is nicely browned and bubbly add the fresh sage leaves and cook until crispy (5 minutes max). Tastes so good, you’ll eat them like candy!!

A study in orange shadows…

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Winter Stew

January 25, 2015

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It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s snowing. It’s Chicago in January.  It’s the perfect time to get in the kitchen and whip up my Winter Stew! Whether you are experiencing my kind of winter or are lucky enough to live somewhere warm, Winter Stew is a delightful dish to satisfy any type of winter day (or Fall or Spring day for that matter….).

In a large saucepan, saute all the vegetables in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Next, add your spices, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes blending the vegetables and spices. Add the diced tomatoes, cooked chicken, water and black beans and stir well. Bring to a rapid boil for 5 minutes then cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook an additional 15 minutes. Adjust your seasoning to your liking and your stew is ready to serve! I like to top the stew with a few sprigs of fresh basil for added flavor.

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Note: I often use a cooked rotisserie chicken from my grocery store for the chicken portion of this recipe (makes life so much easier!). Also, you can easily substitute different kinds of beans: cannellini, kidney, even garbanzo beans all taste delicious in this stew. Same with the veggies — you can add or delete any variation that pleases your family’s tastes. I have a friend whose kids will not eat mushrooms. Omit them then!

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
½ green pepper, diced
1 small onion, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
5-6 button mushrooms, cubed
3 tablespoons fresh basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash of black pepper
dash of salt
3 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes (with all juices)
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite size peices
½ cup water
1 can black beans

Makes roughly 6 servings

This recipe is adapted from Gimme Some Oven’s Tomato Basil Chicken Stew.

 

Tomato Basil Bisque

January 11, 2014

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For many, 2014 started off really cold. Who ever heard of a polar vortex? Chicago being labeled Chiberia? I was fortunate enough to have missed the brutally cold air but the mere thought of it made me retreat to the warmth of my kitchen and make soup — a staple on a normally chilly day but especially welcome during a deep freeze. Being a new year with all those typical New Year resolutions, I wanted to make a hearty yet super healthy soup that would prevent frost bite on a nippy day. Tomato Basil Bisque was my answer! It has incredible health benefits from both the tomatoes (lycopene, vitamins A,  C and K and beta-carotene to name just a few perks) and the fresh basil (Vitamins A and K, iron, and many essential minerals and oils). And by using fat-free half and half instead of full fat heavy cream, I reduce the fat and caloric intake helping to recede the waistline (New Year resolution perhaps?). However, adding the grilled cheese croutons might not help reduce the waistline….oh but indulge yourself!

In a large soup pot begin by sauteing the onions, garlic and fresh basil in 2 tbsp of olive oil. Cook for roughly 10 minutes. Add the white wine and continue cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Next, add the tomatoes and their juices along with 1 tsp of salt and pepper. Bring to a rapid boil. Turn off heat and, using your hand immersion blender (or a regular blender if you don’t have an immersion one), puree the soup so there is just a slight tomato texture left. With the soup still off the heat, slowly add the cream, stirring to blend well. On a low flame, heat the soup for 10 minutes (do not bring to a boil). Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Ladle into bowls, garnish with grilled cheese “croutons” and freshly chopped basil and enjoy your healthy bisque by a warm fire!

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Garnish each bowl with freshly chopped basil and a few grilled cheese “croutons” . Serve immediately.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
4 tbsp fresh basil, torn in pieces
½ cup white wine
8 cups canned diced tomatoes, with juices
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup heavy cream (or fat-free half and half works great too!)
chopped fresh basil, for garnish
grilled cheese croutons, for garnish

Serves 6-8

* Recipe adapted from Cristina’s of Sun Valley.

Tomato Black Bean Soup

November 5, 2013

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As the Fall time change makes the evenings grow dark earlier, the need for hearty soups grows stronger. Tomato Black Bean Soup fills that niche perfectly!  Being high in fiber yet low in fat, it is a very satisfying soup that makes a terrific meal. You may certainly serve it with a dinner salad or garlic bread but, to be honest, it is filling all on its own. You can be creative, however,  by topping off your bowl of soup with such things as a sprinkling of cheese, a dollop of sour cream, chunks of avocado, or diced tomatoes (to name just a few ideas). Someone may want to add shredded cheddar cheese for a rich and creamy taste yet you may have an inkling for sliced scallions that add a mildly spicy bite. However you eat your soup, you will certainly enjoy this heart healthy, satisfying soup. And, like every good soup, it tastes even better as leftovers!!

To begin, using a large soup pot, saute the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Cook for roughly 8-10 minutes on medium to low heat. Add 2 cans rinsed black beans and 2 cans diced tomatoes (with juices). Slowly stir in the oregano, parsley, black pepper, salt, cumin, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce heat to low and cook for 10 additional minutes. Remove the pot from the heat source. With a hand immersion blender, puree roughly ½ of the soup. This makes it “creamy” without adding any fatty cream while still leaving many of the tomatoes and beans whole. Return soup to stove top and heat over a low flame until ready to serve.

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I added feta cheese to my soup. Everything tastes “beta” with feta!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
½ red onion, finely diced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cans (15 oz) black beans
2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes, liquid included
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Serves six

Spring Pea Soup

April 11, 2013

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To me, peas are the harbinger of spring. Being one of the first vegetables you can plant early in the growing season, peas bring you back to your garden after a long winter. This year we really need spring. As I write this (mid April), there is a high probability it’s going to snow tonight. I’m tired of it! To fight the winter blahs that have set in yet again, I decided to make Spring Pea Soup. Though made with frozen peas today, the soup warmed my soul with the anticipation of shelling my own homegrown peas in the very near future…please!

Begin by sauteing the leeks, garlic and tarragon in the olive oil. Cook for 7-10 minutes stirring frequently (make sure the garlic does not burn).

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Add the broth and the peas. Bring to a boil and cook for 3-5 minutes for frozen peas or 5-10 minutes for fresh peas (cook until peas are tender). Remove from heat.

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Carefully transfer soup to a blender — hot soup can really burn if you get splattered. Blend for 30-45 seconds or until thoroughly puréed. Add the sea salt and black pepper and taste. Adjust seasoning as desired.

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Ladle into soup bowls and serve immediately. If you want a gourmet touch, swirl in a dollop of crème fraîche or perhaps top with a few crunchy wasabi peas — both would make a beautiful presentation for a dinner party!

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Ingredients:

1 leek, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp tarragon, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups baby garden peas, frozen or fresh
2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp sea salt

Makes 2 cups 

Mushroom Barley Soup

February 9, 2013

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It’s winter and I make a lot of soups in the winter. Cliche, I know, but hey soups are comforting on a cold night and perfect as leftovers for a hot refreshing lunch (especially after walking my dog through all the snow!). Mushroom Barley is one of those soups that is so satisfying you really don’t need a salad or baguette to go along with your dinner (though I never need an excuse to have a baguette with my dinner). Perhaps top the soup with a little shredded cheddar or parmesan cheese….now that’s the ticket!!

In a large soup pot, saute the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and spices in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stirring often, add the mushrooms and cook an additional 10 minutes, or until mushrooms have released their juices.

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Next, add the broth, red wine, water, pearled barley and tomato paste and blend well.

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In a covered the pot, bring the soup to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every so often. When the soup is ready, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Ladle into your soup bowls, top with cheese if desired and stay warm!!

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, sliced
½ yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons fresh parsley
1 package mushrooms, sliced (I use ½ button and ½ baby portobello)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
½ cup red wine (I use a bold red wine such as Cabernet)
½ cup pearled barley
1 teaspoon tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste
Cheese???

Serves 4-6

Pumpkin Soup

January 16, 2013

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Last October in our cooking group, we each decided to make a different kind of soup. I love pumpkin soup but have never made it myself so I took on the challenge!!  I wanted to make it completely from scratch so that meant cooking my own pumpkin puree….yikes! Though that was a terrifying concept, it couldn’t have been easier and boy did it make a difference in taste! My soup turned out so delicious. I’m convinced it’s because of the fresh pumpkin. Try it and tell me what you think.

Begin with a pie pumpkin, about 3-4 pounds.

DSC_4590Cut in half and scoop out the “guts,” separating the seeds. Remove the stem from the top half of pumpkin. Place the halves on a cookie sheet, brush with olive oil and cover with foil. Cook in a 350º oven for about an hour (until pumpkin is soft and you can easily pierce it with a knife).

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While the pumpkin is cooking, clean the seeds. I put damp seeds on a cookie sheet and immediately sprirnkled with coarse sea salt. Roast at 400º for a few minutes (until crunchy). Set aside.DSC_4593

Once the pumpkin halves have cooled, scoop out the flesh and put in a bowl. You should have about 3 cups of pumpkin. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute until soft–about 5 minutes.

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Stir in the sherry and cook down by half. Add the stock and pumpkin puree, bringing mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

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Remove pot from heat. Using a hand immersion blender, mix the soup until well blended (be carful not to splatter or you may burn yourself!). Slowly stir in the heavy cream. Sprinkle the soup with nutmeg and stir to blend.

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Ladle into soup bowls and top with those yummy pumpkin seeds you just roasted!

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Yummmmmm……

Ingredients:

1 pie pumpkin, 3-4 pounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 shallots, diced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons good quality coarse sea salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
½ cup dry sherry
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Serves six

Annie’s veggie soup

January 9, 2013

 

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For my very first blog post I thought I’d share a staple in our house — Annie’s Veggie Soup. I make it every Wednesday night for my vegetarian in the house who gets home late from a long day at school and ballet. It’s easy, healthy and filling (especially if paired with a fresh baguette!).

To get started, you can do one of two things: go to your store’s salad bar and buy all the veggies you like for your soup (easy as everything is already chopped), or two, you can buy your veggies and chop at home. I usually do the later as I’m picky with my veggies. Any vegetables you like can go in your soup — be creative! There are no mistakes here!

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Begin by adding olive oil to fill the bottom of a large pot. Put on low heat and add your spices — basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, fresh garlic, cracked pepper, sea salt. Again, there are no mistakes — add whatever spices you enjoy. Once the spices start sizzling, add the hardest veggies first (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc). After 5-8 minutes, slowly add the softer veggies, ending with the softest veggies — for me that’s a lot of mushrooms….yummmm!  Cook down until the veggies are tender but not fully cooked, around 10 minutes. Add 6 cups of vegetable broth and bring to boil. After boiling, turn down heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and half a can of beans (garbanzo, white, pinto — whatever you like). Simmer for at least 30 minutes but the longer the better as the flavors of your spices mixed with the vegetables blend beautifully the longer they cook. If you want to add pasta, add very little (it expands!) and you may need to add some water as well. Now sit back and enjoy your warm soup.

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I hope you remembered that baguette!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of Olive oil
1 teaspoon each of your favorite spice (basil, oregano, thyme, garlic, etc.)
Chopped vegetables (roughly 3-4 cups worth)
6 cups of vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ can of beans (garbanzo, white bean, whatever you like)
Small handful pasta?

Serves 4-6