Category Archives: Soups/Stews

Roasted Tomato Bisque

I’m over at Cait and Jeff’s house, stealing their internet to blog while we wait for Jersey Shore to start.  There’s leftover apple crisp warming up in the oven and their adorable Westie puppy is lovin’ all over Fritz.  It’s a good life.

So yesterday, I decided to make soup to celebrate the beginning of fall.

You may have noticed that I’ve celebrated the beginning of fall multiple times despite the fact that the autumnal equinox has yet to actually occur.  I also got super excited tonight when Fritz and I went out to the car and realized how COLD it was outside–I had to run back in to get my absolute favorite Fritz/old man/wool sweater. 

I’ll give you one guess what my favorite season is.

Roasted Tomato Bisque (from the CIA’s Book of Soups)

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 baby leeks (or one normal-sized leek)
  • 1 onion (I used three small shallots)
  • 3-4 large tomatoes (about 2 lbs)
  • 2 C vegetable broth
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 C long grain white rice
  • salt to taste

I didn’t end up using the can of diced tomatoes, because the tomatoes I had were more than enough.  Before you get started, slice the majority of the tomatoes (you want about a cup of chopped tomatoes left over) 1/2″ thick and lay them on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Roast the tomatoes at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, then set them aside to cool so you can dice ’em.

Take the remaining tomato and dip it in boiling water for a few minutes and then in cold water–that will make the skin peel off so you can chop it and set that aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot, and add the diced leeks and shallots.  Cook for a few minutes until soft, then add the tomatoes (both roasted and peeled), thyme, and broth.  Let the soup simmer for about half an hour, then add the rice and simmer until the rice is cooked, about another 15 minutes.  Add the balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.

Pour the soup into a blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender, if you were lucky enough to have your mother-in-law give you a fantastic one as a gift and you didn’t break it by trying to blend ice with it).

Serve right away–this soup is really thick and satisfying, not like a can of good ol’ Campbell’s soup.

And in case you were wondering what makes a bisque a bisque, they are soups of French origin usually made from a broth of a crustacean (not this soup) or a creamy soup from roasted and pureed vegetables (yup!).

The addition of rice to this soup makes it so creamy–without the cream.  I’ll take that any day!

We also picked up our CSA box number 16–it’s the first time you’ve seen pictures of the box in a while, because of 12 & 13 passed by while we were on vacation, 14 was cancelled from the hurricane, and 15 was picked up by Fritz when I was in classes.  The box is still looking a little sparse because of the hurricane, but some winter crops should be picking up soon–yay!

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Rainy Day Split Pea Soup (and a Swanson Review)

Today was a gloomy, chilly (for summer, at least), rainy, tea-drinking, book reading, soup making kind of day.  It started off with a run (I’m up to 1.7 miles now!) and a workout, and leveled off with a nap, the reading of an entire book (A Handful of Dust) and a little craftiness you’ll see either tomorrow or the next day.  Meanwhile, split pea soup happened.

Have you met my mom?

Isn’t she pretty?  She’s also the master, the reigning queen, the commander-in-chief, and emperor over all things soup.  She has that mystical mom-ability to create something out of nothing–from “there’s no food in the entire house!” to all the children squabbling over the leftover bowls.  Especially when it comes to pea soup.

This recipe was made in the spirit of my mom’s soup making–I just used whatever I had that I thought would work.  The CSA box from this week went along perfectly with the soup theme, supplying leeks, onions, and potatoes.  Combined with thyme from the garden, dried peas in the cupboard, and a ham bone from the freezer–magic happened.  Mom magic.

Rainy Day Split Pea Soup Printable Recipe Card

  • 2 small onions (or 1 medium)
  • 2 baby leeks (or 1 regular-sized leek)
  • 4 medium red potatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 ham bone (from a previously made ham)
  • 1 C yellow dried split peas
  • 1 C green dried split peas
  • 3 C chicken broth
  • 4 C water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I made this in the Crock Pot, because I didn’t want to have to babysit dried split peas all day.  This was an excellent plan, an excellent plan indeed.

Start by dicing all the veggies and adding them to a lightly oiled Crock Pot, set on high (for 4 or 6 hours).  When you use leeks, make sure to clean them extra well–they are known to be gritty in between the leaves.  If they’re extra bad, you can submerge them in a bowl of water and let the dirt fall to the bottom.

Add the spices, then the ham bone.  Sorry about the grisly image–kind of difficult to make it look attractive.  Top off with split peas, broth, and lastly with water.  I used four cups to make sure everything was covered with water, and it ended up making the soup the perfect consistency.  You can start with less and add more if you need it later, of course.

Allow the soup to cook until the peas fall apart.  Remove the ham bone and bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

I’ve made pea soup several times before, but this is by far the best one.  You just can’t replace that deep and amazing flavor from the ham bone by using bacon–you just can’t.  Often I will add chunks of ham to the soup as well, but I didn’t have any and I must say I didn’t really miss them at all.

Fritz, who is often not a fan of split pea soup, approved heartily. 

On another exciting note, I received a box full of goodies from Swanson Health Products today!  They sent me a $25 coupon to use on anything from their website to review–and hey, I’m a poor college student and I love treating myself to some free food–especially if it’s not my standard fare.

So here’s what I picked:

  1. Pure Raw Buckwheat Honey from Y. S. Organic Bee Farm,
  2. Mayan Cocoa Spice Tea from Yogi Tea,
  3. Almond Flour from NOW Foods,
  4. Organic Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour from Bob’s Red Mill,
  5. Organic Popcorn from Arrowhead Mill, and
  6. Organic Kamut Spirals from Eden Foods

Quite a bit of stuff, which including shipping totaled $25.48.  Not bad, if I do say so myself (especially since you can search for coupon codes to help get the shipping costs down).

Now, I have to say that Swanson sells a lot of vitamins and supplements, and I don’t personally believe in taking those unless it’s medically necessary.  I have iron pills that I take when I know I’m probably anemic, and Fritz takes a multi-vitamin most days, but I generally think you should strive to get all of your nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from your diet as much as possible.  Most of those “miracle pills” and “superfood supplements” just aren’t my thing.

But back to the box.  First we tried the raw buckwheat honey, which was amazing. I’ve never had raw honey before (which, by the way, is antibacterial on superficial burns and such), but this jar tastes so smooth and rich.  Fritz wanted some on toast right away, and I obviously had to do a little quality control test first.

Then I headed straight for the cocoa spice tea.  What with all the rain and blankets and book reading, it was a perfect day to try a new tea–and it was really good.  I didn’t taste that much cocoa, but the cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves was perfect–and made me crave fall sooo badly.  I brewed it a little on the weak side, so I’ll try it a bit stronger tomorrow and see if I get a little more cocoa this time.

And the smell?

Heavenly.

The tea gave me a nice little message to leave you with:

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Beef & Barley (and everything else) Soup

Fritz’s parents arrive today!

His dad has a conference in the city next week, so they both decided to come early for a Father’s Day weekend visit.  Fritz and I are so excited to see them, it’s ridiculous.

I wanted to make a big pot of soup that I could keep in the fridge for those moments when someone is hungry but everyone else isn’t, or for a quick lunch, or those post-plane moments when you need sustenance in five minutes or death by starvation is imminent.

You know those moments.

Since we had a busy day yesterday, I want to reintroduce you to one of my good friends:  the Crock Pot.

Beef and Barley (and everything else) Soup

No ingredient list here, because every time I make this soup, it’s different.  Depends on what I have in the fridge and the cupboards.

Spray the Crock Pot with canola oil to get things going and start off with a meat and those important savory soup ingredients–for this soup, I used an onion and the tops with 1/2 lb of ground beef.  You could use anything–chicken, leftover steak, whatever.

I then added a giant pile of washed and chopped escarole.

Next, toss in the dried ingredients that are so convenient to have in the cupboard for moments like these.  I used 1/2 C barley, 1/2 C black beans, and about 1/4 C of lima beans.  These are very rough estimations.

Top with some salt ‘n’ peppa, a few sprigs of fresh thyme from the herb garden, and of course, a few bay leaves.  I also added two chicken bouillon cubes (that’s equivalent to two cups of broth once I add the water).

Finish off the whole thing with a can of diced tomatoes and several cans of water (I think I used the tomato can five times, which would be 14 ounces x five–a lot.  There’s a lot of dried things in there that will absorb a large quantity of water).

Set the Crock Pot on low for six hours, and go back to your to-do list for the day.  Once everything is accomplished, your soup will be ready to go.

Gorgeous, ain’t it?

I find it quite easy to see the beauty in beef and barley, especially when it involves my mom’s Hadley soup crock.  Love that thing.

The best part about this soup is that it is so versatile.  Last time I made this, I had no escarole, but I used turnips, added lentils, carrots, and garlic, and it came out beautifully.  Use up whatever you have that’s in danger of going to waste, and you are all set.

Have a beautiful day today!

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Carrot-Ginger Soup

I know that I already claimed that I made my last warm soup for the year, but I lied.  I love soup.  I’ll eat soup in the winter, in the summer, at school, after work, in a box, with a fox…

Seriously, I love soup.  It makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.  So needless to say, even though the last few days have been perfect sunny shorts and tee-shirt weather, I jumped at the chance to make soup today since it never broke 70 (and by now, it’s downright chilly!). 

When it’s gray outside, make the brightest orange soup you can inside.  It’ll cheer you and your sad studying self right up!  I found this recipe in the new cookbook I bought a while ago, and just knew it would be amazing.  So simple, so tasty, so…orange.

Carrot-Ginger Soup (adapted from You Can Trust a Skinny Cook by Allison Fishman)

  • 2 T butter
  • 3/4 lb carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (I used baby carrots.  Sweeter.  More convenient)
  • 1 medium onion, roughly diced
  • (1) 2″ piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 t fresh thyme leaves (7-10 short sprigs)
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 3 C chicken broth
  • 1 T chopped parsley, for the garnish

Melt the butter in a largish soup pot over medium heat.  When you are making a recipe like this, where there aren’t a million ingredients, this first step is important–and the butter will make a difference in taste.  Don’t use oil.  Embrace the butter.  Love the butter.

Be careful not to let the butter brown, and add the onion, carrots, and ginger.  Stir in the thyme leaves and salt.  Go easy on the salt–you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.  The chicken broth will also add salt, even if you are using low-sodium.

Saute for a few minutes until the veggies begin to soften, about 5-6 minutes.  Pour the broth in, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are completely cooked, roughly another 15 minutes.

 

Here comes the fun part.  Pour the soup in the blender and give it a whirl.

The cookbook says to take the plastic part of the lid out, so the steam doesn’t build up in the blender and explode an orange mist all over your ceiling.  I don’t want that, and I’m fairly certain you don’t want that.  Plus, you get to watch the steam make some very pretty patterns as it blends.

Once blended, pour into bowls and top with the parsley. 

The garnish gives the soup a nice bright finish, and tastes perfect with the warm carroty base.  And be prepared–that big hunk o’ ginger gives it quite a kick!  You’ll be feeling warm and fuzzy in no time.

And don’t forget to admire that beautiful color.  When shades like this are found in nature, they are made to be celebrated.

Anyhoo–I’m headed back to the jail cell that is my desk.  Only five finals and a project to go this week, then I’m visiting my sister in Boston for her birthday.  I can’t WAIT.

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Beer-Braised Pork and Bean Soup (Crock Pot)

Wow.  I had the most intense workout ever at the gym today.

I only went twice this week, and not even once the week before (midterms, ya know), so this morning I woke up motivated and ready to get back to my normal routine.  I went to my usual Friday morning total body conditioning class, but our instructer stepped it up fifty notches a notch.  We were lifting weights, doing squats, doing more squats, and workin’ our abs–one set for 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, and repeat for a second set. On to the next muscle group, and like so for an entire hour.  My heartrate didn’t go down for a second after the first five minutes of class.

And now I feel like a giant bowl of shaky jello legs.

What a relief to come home to a big hearty bowl of soup–hopefully the last of the “winter soups” for the year.

Beer-Braised Pork and Bean Soup (Crock Pot)

  • 1 lb pork (I used pork chops but I definitely would have used a (cheaper) shoulder or butt roast if I had one around)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 C dried beans, rinsed (I used navy, garbanzo, lima, and black beans)
  • 2 bottles beer–as a non-beer drinker, the type doesn’t matter much to me because it all tastes the same.  Those of you who disagree, use your special microbrews or whatever
  • 4 C beef/chicken/veggie broth
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 t sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

As with all crock pot soups (that’s why I love ’em!) this is quick-‘n’-easy.

Add the pork, onion, tomatoes, and spices into the pot.  Cover with the dried, rinsed beans and mix.

Pour a little beer over the top.

Actually, just pour in a lot.  We’re looking for that beery, cowboy, pork-and-beans on the open range taste here.

Add the broth, give it a good stir, and cover.  Set to cook on low for eight to ten hours.

While your soup is slowly cooking up a storm, check out how adorable Henry is, all snuggled up in his favorite spot on a rainy day:

I’m pretty sure Henry spends at least half of the day on the bed, rotating from the pillow on the left to the pillow on the right to foot of the bed on the left to foot of the bed on the right and so on and so forth.

It’s a good life.

Once the soup is ready (beans tender), remove the pork and pull it apart with forks.  Pork is the perfect meat for slow cooked stews.  Cheap and tough cuts of meat become tender and delicious.  Pigs were born for this.

Is that insenstive?  Sorry.

Open-range rugged rancher pork and beans taste achieved.  Perfection for the last winter soup of the year. 

See you tomorrow for a baking update!

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Meatless Monday: Moroccan Lentil Stew (Crock Pot)

Since I fairly recently made the “Recipes” page of this blog, I had an opportunity to review what we’ve eaten for the last few months.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how many vegetarian dishes I’ve made–looks like my Meatless Mondays paid off!  I believe that we are now officially out of the “forcing myself to do it” and into the “habit/lifestyle” phase.  Even Fritz doesn’t find it unusual to be eating meatless for a few days in a row (minus his lunchtime pastrami sandwiches, of course).  One of my friends posted a “top 30 health foods” list in her blog recently, and I was pleased to see that Fritz and I eat all of them, minus a few–like chard (ew)–on a regular basis.

So one benefit of food blogging–it’s like an intensive, long-term food diary.  Perfect for a little early-March life assessment.

Here’s a recipe for a sassy Moroccan-style vegetarian stew I made in the Crock Pot for tonight.  Set it up before work/school, turn it on low, and come home to a warm bowl of spicy lentils, beans, and vegetables.  Does it get better than that?

(Although I must say that the site I found the recipe inspiration on is written by a woman who apparently ate Crock Pot meals for an entire year.  Um…no.  I like to vary the texture of my meals, thank you very much.  Once a week, tops, is enough for me).

Moroccan Lentil Stew (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 C carrot, diced
  • 1″ piece ginger,peeled and minced (I used a bit more–I love ginger!)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed (or 2/3 C dried beans, which soaked overnight will equal about a 15 oz can)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed (2/3 C dried beans, soaked overnight)
  • 1 C dried lentils (I used red lentils)
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 C veggie broth, plus an extra 2 C water (more if you used dried beans)
  • 1 1/2 t garam masala (recipe coming soon!)
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cinnamon

Set the stage–plug your Crock Pot in.

Done.

Basically, dump all the ingredients into the pot, turn it on low, and go do what you want for a few hours (7, if you had my schedule). 

The more glamorous version is this: chop the veggies first (onion, carrots, and mince the ginger, too), toss those in.  Add the beans and lentils.  Top with spices.  Pour in the can of diced tomatoes and the broth.  Give it a quick stir.  If you used dried beans that soaked overnight, add a few extra cups of water.  Actually, even if you used regular beans, you might want to add some extra water.  Those lentils will suck it right up–but you can always add more when you get home (I did that, too).

The step you didn’t see?  I actually made the garam masala–I’ll show you how to do that in my next post.  Easy, and it smells so good. 

Like I said, cook on low for 6-8 hours, then serve.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

That’s the antique version of Moroccan stew.  Here’s the regular:

Doesn’t that look heavenly?  This stew is nice and thick because the lentils break down as they cook and basically puree themselves (thank you lentils!). This stew also has a sweeter and warmer taste than most stews I make–I think that’s due to the generous amount of nutmeg and cinnamon.  I loved it.  Not overpowering, but definitely distinct.

Want to know the secret to all these patterned backgrounds?  I swore to myself that I would never tell, but I’ll betray my own confidence because it’s such and easy and cheap way to have fun food pictures when you don’t feel like making an elaborate set-up.  I just thought you would like to know.

I bought a humongous book of scrapbooking papers from Joann’s Fabrics at 50% off for $9.00.  There are a couple hundred square sheets of fabulous patterns–I just choose one, rip it out, toss on the table for pictures, and then stick it back in the book for another time.  I literally stumbled across the idea while I was looking for fabric to make pillow covers for the couch.

I love those cheap and easy inspirations, don’t you?

What’s one of the ways that you use everyday items for unusual and creative purposes?

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Thai Chicken Soup (Crock Pot)

Every once in a while, there comes a moment that is vastly important to the continued success and happiness of our marriage.  That time has come.

I needed to make Fritz a giant slab of meat for dinner so the past few weeks of beans, vegetarian meals, large varieties of grains, lentils, and vegetables he can’t name can fade into the background.  So there is a roast beef in the oven.

It’s actually a nice gift to myself as well.  I found the roast on sale (half off!–and not because it was old, don’t worry) and the fun part about making a meal like this is that once it’s cooked, there are leftovers that offer me innumerable opportunities for creative and quick dinners (beef tacos! sandwiches! stir fry! soup!).

So I’ll tell you tomorrow all about how to make a roast beef.  Until then, here’s a recipe for a seriously beautiful Thai chicken soup that I made this week.  It’s not as hearty as the soups I usually make, but it has a much more delicate flavor that will leave you begging for seconds.

Thai Chicken Soup (adapted from this website)

  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cubed into bite-size pieces (I used cooked chicken leftover from a roasted chicken, but uncooked is okay too!)
  • 2 cans chicken broth (32 oz–I used about 25 oz of broth I made from the roast, then made up for the difference in water)
  • 2 C carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 lg onion, diced
  • 1 T grated ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T lemongrass, minced
  • sprinkle red pepper flakes
  • 1 can light unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 T Thai curry paste
  • peanuts and lime for garnishing (optional)

Combine the first eight ingredients (up to and including red pepper flakes) into a crockpot and turn on low.  Then go to class/work/bed.

When you return from whatever errand you chose, add the coconut milk, bell pepper, and curry paste and stir.  Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then serve.  Top with peanuts and lime juice if you like.

Putting the bell pepper in for only fifteen minutes was a stroke of genius that I wish I could take credit for.  It gives the soup a crunch and a fresh taste that is incredibly refreshing, especially for a soup that was made in the crockpot.

The next day we were down to one bowl of leftover soup, and we both wanted it.  I added 2 C of leftover cooked brown rice and a bit of water, and it made two bowls of a heartier version of this soup.  I love when I can combine two leftovers and clean out the fridge in such a delicious way!

Anyway, I can smell the roast browning away, so I should probably go check on it.  Come back tomorrow to see how it went.

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