Saturday, January 30, 2010

Holy Carotene, Batman!

Tonight, Jay and I watched Julie & Julia and have both decided that while Julia is pretty damn cool, Julie left us unimpressed. No need to trash talk her (there has apparently been well enough of that over the blogosphere in general) but what did impress us was that she cooked 524 French recipes in 365 days and somehow managed to retain a full time job and not get fat. I mean, seriously. If I cooked and ate like that I would probably weigh 365 lbs at the end of the 365 days. So no Pâté de Canard en Croûte for us, instead we have soup. Yes, more soup. Today its more carrot soup, this time an Indian spiced carrot soup. To come up with this recipe I combined about three - two of which were sent by friend Erica (keep em coming guys):

Curried Carrot Soup

1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp curry power
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander
a pinch to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (depends on the spice in your curry)
1/2 granny smith apple, diced
3 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk or nonfat plain yogurt
1 tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot heat ghee over medium heat and add onions and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add spices, ginger, garlic and apple and cook for 4-5 minutes longer until everything is evenly browned and the spices are aromatic. Add carrots and broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the carrots are very soft. Take off heat and blend soup with an immersion blender or food processor. Add milk, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. I served with naan - recommended.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Groundnuts are Good

So since I started this endeavor I have had on my mind that I wanted to do something involving peanut butter and sweet potatoes. The inspiration for this is a dish called Veggie Groundnut from a favorite local spot Pan Africa Market. I used to work around the corner from this place and it is so good, Jay used to walk the 10 minutes walk from his office to mine to join me for lunch. When he does he always orders the veggie groundnut which is, served over rice, comprised of sweet potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers lathered with a peanut sauce. I looked through my various cookbooks for an African Peanut Soup and found nothing. It wasn't until my friend Eva sent me a recipe found on that I reinvigorated my search. I found another recipe on a fat free vegan website (fat free my ass - it has peanut butter... but whatever), that seemed to fit the bill. I, of course, altered it a bit to suit. Of course this is more of a stew than a soup, but I decided that was allowable:

African Peanut Stew

2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
3-4 cloves garlic. minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp red pepper flakes, more if desired
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1- 28 oz can diced tomatoes, in juice
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 in cubes
2 cups chickpeas, cooked
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 cups frozen green beans
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot heat canola oil over medium heat. Cook onions and jalapenos for 5-6 minutes until onions are translucent. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes to release aromas. Add tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, broth and peanut butter. Stir thoroughly. Bring to a slow simmer and cook 30-40 minutes until potatoes are soft. Add green beans and cook until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste. If you like a spicier dish you can always add more red pepper flakes. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sugar and Spice

On Monday nights I go to an aerobic kickboxing class at my gym which is conveniently located next to a Trader Joe's. This means I am totally beat but I also have the Trader Joe's right there if I need anything. Our TJ's carries a surprisingly good frozen roasted corn, so I tried a soup with it as the centerpiece. What resulted was a sort of southwestern corn soup. It was sweet and spicy (which can be mediated by using less jalapeno seeds), smooth yet chunky, and very very easy to prepare. If you had more time you could try roasting the pepper before adding:

Roasted Corn and Pepper Soup

2 tbsp canola oil
1 med red onion diced
3 jalapeno peppers, minced (seeded if desired)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1 tsp cumin
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups frozen roasted corn
1 cup chopped canned green chilies
1/2 lowfat milk
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper to taste

sliced avocado
shredded pepperjack cheese

In a large soup pot heat oil over medium high heat. Cook onion, garlic, and jalapeno peppers, stirring occasionally for 8-9 minutes until the onions are soft. Add cumin and cook for 2 minutes more. Add chicken broth, frozen corn, and green chilies and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes until everything is cooked. Reserve 2 cups of the soup and blend the rest, using and immersion blender or a food processor. Add back the reserved soup and add milk. Season with lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a garnish of sliced avocado, cheese, and a few warmed tortillas.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fagioli again

A rainy Seattle day combined with finally getting to those domestic tasks I have had on the to do list meant I wanted something really simple and basic for this meal. Pasta with beans (pasta e fagioli) is a traditional meatless Italian soup that is hearty and cheap. This variation did not include tomatoes, instead relies on the strong flavor of rosemary and garlic. It turned out quite nicely along side a rosemary loaf from Essential Baking Co:

Pasta e fagioli

2 cups dried white beans (great northern or cannellini), soaked overnight
6 cups water
1 head garlic, whole, top 1/2" cut off
3 fresh sage leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 large carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups dried whole wheat pasta (rotini or elbow)
2 tsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

In a pot bring 6 cups water, soaked beans, the head of garlic, and sage leaves and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 1-1 1/2 hours until beans are fully cooked. Turn off heat and allow beans to rest in the water while you do the remaining. In a soup pot heat olive oil and cook onions, celery, carrots and garlic until onions are translucent. Add rosemary and cook 2-3 more minutes. Add broth and pasta and bring to boil. Simmer until pasta is cooked. Add beans and cooking liquid. Take off heat, salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This is what you get for working out

The last time I made chowder (corn chowder) I was very impressed/alarmed. The recipe literally started with cooking bacon in butter, and ended with adding cream and cheese. Needless to say I have severely limited my consumption of anything attached to the label of "chowder" ever since. That said, I knew I needed to pay homage to this classic soup at some point in my 31 days so I waited till I felt like Jay and I fully deserved this decadence. Last night we participated in our first boxing fitness class at a local boxing gym frequented by our (apparently very in shape) friend. It pretty much kicked our butts, but on the plus side it opened up a window of gluttony on the weekly soup sched. We don't live in the Northeast anymore though both of us have payed our dues there, so I wanted to try something that pays homage to both maritime traditions. I found my answer in a lovely cookbook that encourages locovorism here in the Northwest, The Farm to the Table Cookbook. I altered the recipe slightly, omitting the bacon, increasing the smoked salmon, and replacing parsley with scallions; but on the whole the recipe and instructions remained largely the same. I have to say this has been one of my favorites. As it turns out animal fat tastes good. I mean really good. Thank god I worked my butt off (literally) to deserve it...

Clam and Smoked Salmon Chowder

25 manila clams, in shell
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups good quality broth
3 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
4 scallions, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
4 tbsp flour
2 cups half and half
2 dried bay leaves
2 tsp dried sage
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, diced (about 3 cups)
5 oz smoked keta salmon, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Tabasco (optional)

Rinse clams thoroughly in cold water. In a soup pot heat white wine to a boil. Place clams in the boiling wine and cover. Cook until the clams have fully opened and remove. Set aside to cool. Let the wine and clam juice boil a few minutes more and add broth. Boil for 4-5 minutes more and then pass through a fine stainer two or three times until free of sand. Set aside. Remove clam meat from shells and chop. Set aside with chopped salmon. In a clean pot melt butter on medium heat and cook onions, celery, and the whites of the green onions until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add flour and stir thoroughly. Whisk in half and half and then the reserved clam stock and bring to a slow simmer, whisking constantly. Add sage, bay leaf, and potatoes and simmer, stirring often until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Once potatoes are cooked add the clams and salmon. Cook 1 or 2 minutes more and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a garnish of the scallion greens and a dash of hot sauce if desired (I prefer it without).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Magical Fruit

Tonight I wanted to do something with black beans but wanted to try something that didn't too closely resemble chili. I have seen a few recipes for Cuban Black Bean soup so I investigated further. Its a pretty basic recipe: onion, garlic, black beans, something spicy and something herb-y. Some call for oregano, some for thyme. Some call for habanero, some call for jalapeno. Some call for tomatoes to be added, some don't. I chose oregano, habanero, no tomatoes (i felt like the addition of tomatoes made it too chili-like). I would say the end result was pretty satisfying. It was hearty, spicy, and very very simple, but still very much like chili. Side note - black beans are also called turtle beans - and are apparently high in antioxidants (yay!)

Cuban Black Bean Soup

2 tbsp canola oil
1 med onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers (a variety of colors is prettiest), diced
1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
4 cups black turtle beans, cooked
6 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

hot pepper sauce
chopped fresh cilantro
plain yogurt or sour cream

In a soup pot heat canola oil over medium high heat. Saute onions, garlic, and peppers until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and oregano and cook a few minutes more. Add black beans and broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add hot pepper sauce if you would like a spicier soup. Garnish with fresh cilantro and yogurt, and a dash of hot pepper sauce if you are a glutton for spice.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


So eleven days in I really wanted to cover my proverbial bases. Brainstorming, Jay and I figured we would try a Thai style soup - something a la my absolute favorite # 27 from Mae Phim. #27 is, I think, some version of heaven. It is also very rich. So when I made it I tried to make it a little less so, and add some veggies for some degree of nutritional value. We went to the new QFC in our hood, which didn't have a great selection of Asian style noodles, so we ended up with a Japanese style somen noodle. I think I would have preferred it with a wider udon. Other than that it turned out well, just the right amount of spice and flavor but not nearly as rich as the original #27:

Curry Noodle Soup

1 medium onion, 1/4 minced, the rest diced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
3 lemongrass stalks, the bottom 4 inches minced
3-6 tbsp good quality yellow curry paste (amount will vary depending on quality and type - look at the instructions on your curry paste for typical coconut milk/paste ratio)
2 cups vegetable broth
4 cups light coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 block nigari tofu (any extra firm tofu will work, chicken might be nice as well), cubed

1 tbsp canola oil
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 carrots cut on the bias into 1/2 inch pieces
2 small jalapeno or thai peppers, seeded and minced

10 oz. udon, soba, or rice noodles, cooked
2 green onions, thinly sliced
good quality chili paste to taste (optional)

In a soup pot heat 1/4 cup vegetable broth over medium high heat. Add minced ginger, lemongrass and onion for 3-4 minutes until just cooked. Add curry paste and mix thoroughly. Add 2 cups of coconut milk and, whisking thoroughly, heat to a boil. Add remaining coconut milk, remaining broth and fish sauce. Heat to a simmer and add cubed tofu. Simmer while you prepare the rest.

In a wok, heat canola oil over high heat. Saute each of the veggies (remaining onion, carrot, bell pepper and jalapeno) one at a time until just barely soft. As the veggies are cooked add them to the curry broth pot.

To serve place a 1/2 cup noodles at the bottom of a bowl. Ladle curry broth and veggies over until covered. Garnish with green onion and chili paste (if desired).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Kitchen Sink

So the Italian version of tortilla soup turns out to be Minestrone. So vague is the definition of this soup I have yet to find a codified recipe nor an agreed upon pronunciation. Is it Min-e-stron-ee, rhymes with knee? or Min-e-stron rhymes with throne? I really couldn't say. All I know is that making Minestrone is a dangerous endeavour. Dangerous because when including everything but the kitchen sink, one is likely to make far too much soup, which is what happened tonight. Seriously, if anyone in the area needs some soup, feel free to stop by. So Jay and I had many arguments (err, conversations) about what exactly constitutes Minestrone. He seemed to have more rules than me. Must have pasta. Must have tomatoes, but not a tomato broth. I looked at probably 4-5 minestrone recipes and have created the following. A few recommend garnishing with pesto, which I store bought (I know, for shame):

Minestrone with Pesto

2 tbsp olive oil
1 med onion diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 small potato, cubed
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 lb green beans, stemmed and cut into 2 in pieces
1 red bell pepper
1 zucchini, chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
8 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 lb whole wheat rotini pasta
1 15 oz can beans (great northern, kidney, or cannellini will all work)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pesto, homemade or store bought

In a large soup pan heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and sweat for 3-4 minutes. Add potatoes and cook for 2 minutes more. Add thyme, marjoram and bay leave and cook for 1 minute. Add green beans, bell pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, broth, wine and dried pasta and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until pasta is cooked. Add beans and cook for a few minutes to heat through. Salt and pepper to taste. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of pesto.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mexican Leftovers

So today I set about making a "traditional" Mexican tortilla soup. I would need to look no further than that PBS star and my own personal hero, Rick Bayless. How this man remains so thin despite frying every ingredient in oil is beyond me, but nonetheless he knows his Mexican cooking. So of course I consulted his Authentic Mexican cookbook when attempting this quintessential Mexican soup. Turns out that Tortilla Soup, in its traditional form, is quite simple. A rich broth over whatever happens to be leftover in your pantry. Essential is the stale strips of tortilla, fried and placed at the bottom of the bowl to await a brothy bath. In addition to the tortilla, Rick recommends a combination of fried dried chilies (he suggests pasillas, I used guajillo because I had them leftover from a mole we made recently) and simple cheese (queso fresco if you can get it, monterey jack will work). To make a more hearty meal (which was my goal) he suggested adding chicken. Given that the soup was meant to use up whatever was left in the pantry I felt that it would be okay to remain a traditionalist when it came to the broth (and of course the fried tortillas) but allow for a little more creativity when it came to the rest of the "garnishes". In that spirit I decided to cook up our weekly chicken gold with some onions and dried chilies, dice monterey jack and finish it off with some fresh cilantro. If I were to do it again I would actually use fresh chilies, perhaps some pablanos, rather than the dried, but other than that it was perfection:

Tortilla Soup

4-5 tbsp canola oil
1 small and 1 medium onion thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, whole
1 cup diced tomatoes from a can
6 cups good broth (I used homemade turkey, but chicken or veggie would work)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast sliced into 1/2 in chunks
3 dried guajillo chilies thinly sliced
4 stale corn tortillas cut into strips
1/4 lb monterey jack cheese, cubed into 1/2" cubes
1 large lime, cut into wedges
fresh cilantro, chopped
hot pepper sauce (optional)

To make broth, heat 2 tbsp canola oil in a skillet and fry medium onion and garlic 10-15 minutes on medium low heat until golden brown. Blend in a food processor along with diced tomatoes. Add 1 tbsp canola oil to pan and return tomato mixture to pan. Heat over medium heat 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until the color had darkened. Scrap into the bottom of a soup pot and add a cup of the broth. Whisk together and heat to a slow boil. Add remaining stock, bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Salt to taste and set aside.

To prepare "garnish", heat 1 tbsp canola oil in a skillet and add small onion and dried chilies. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the chilies are slightly softened. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Salt to taste and set aside.

Add remaining oil to the skillet and fry tortillas strips (or use a nonstick pan). This took me a good 10 minutes in the nonstick skillet on medium heat, but the point is really just to dry them out as best you can.

To assemble soup, add a few cubes of the cheese, some of the chicken chili mixture, and a few tortilla strips to the bottom of a bowl. Pour broth over until it just covers garnish. Sprinkle with cilantro and squeeze a lime wedge over the soup. If desired you can spice the soup up with some hot pepper sauce.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Field and Forage

Jay and I took the dogs for a walk down into downtown Ballard for our wonderful weekly farmer's market to buy some more chicken gold. I was entranced however, by the bizarre and beautiful freshly foraged chanterelles sold in the stall next door. So while we bought some chicken, I decided to save it for later in the week (maybe for traditional tortilla soup???) and instead celebrate fungi. I have two points of reference for a nice wild mushroom soup, one of my old standby favorites Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, and a new soup cookbook sent to us by dear Aunt S, The Daily Soup Cookbook. Both of these had very similar recipes for Mushroom and Barley soup. The DSB encouraged the used of solely fresh, wild mushrooms, while Moosewood suggests a combination of dried wild mushrooms and more available fresh commercially cultivated mushrooms. Since I had the fresh wilds available to me I decided to use some dried wild mushrooms I had along side some freshly foraged wild Chantarelles. I used two varieties of Chanterelle, the more common Cantharellus cibarius along side the less common Yellow-leg Chantarelle, Cantharellus tuaeformis. Both recipes suggest you can use a wide variety of wild mushrooms, so for the dried varieties I used Porcini and Shitake.

Wild Mushroom with Barley

1 oz dried wild mushrooms (shitake, porcini, morel, chanterelle)
1/2-1 lb fresh wild mushrooms (cremini, chanterelle, yellow leg, black trumpet, oyster), stems removed and reserved, caps chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
8 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 small carrots, chopped
2-3 tsp dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 cup pearl barley
salt and pepper to taste

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and cover dried mushrooms in a bowl. Let sit for at least and hour and as much as 3 hours. Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid and chop. In a large soup pot heat 1 tbsp oil. Saute fresh mushroom stems for 2-3 minutes until just soft. Add wine and bring to boil. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining water and reserved mushroom soaking liquid and bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, run the stock through a sieve to remove stems and any dirt. Add soy sauce to the stock and set aside. In the soup pot heat remaining oil. Saute onions, garlic, celery and carrots for 2-3 minutes until just soft. Add thyme and bay leave and stir to coat vegetables. Add the mushroom caps and chopped dried mushrooms and, if desired, a splash of white wine. Let cook for 2-3 minutes. Add stock and barley and simmer for 1 hour or until barley is cooked through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Spicy Hot

Since Jay and I make chili often, I wanted to try something different for chili night. With the lack of chili powder in this recipe one could even question if this even qualifies as chili, but nonetheless it is definitely different from the kind we usually make. I perused somewhere around ten chili recipes and more or less created my own, what one could call a green chili. A word of warning about chipotle chili in adobo sauce: These are extremely spicy and depending on your tolerance to spice use accordingly. I generally blend the contents of the can in a food processor and then add as needed. Jay and I like spice and I would estimate I used about 3-4 tbsp. It ended up with an extremely potent, latent spice.

Green Chipotle Chili

2 tbsp canola oil
1 med onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 lb ground turkey or meat substitute
2 small poblano chili peppers, diced
1 small green bell pepper diced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp oregano
1-3 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce, blended
4 cups cooked pinto beans
3 18 oz cans whole tomatillos, drained and finely chopped
1 can beer or 1 1/2 cup water or broth
2 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Heat oil in a deep soup pot and saute onion, garlic, and jalapeno for 2-3 minutes until just soft. Add ground meat (or sub) and cook until the meat is not pink. Add chipotle, bell pepper, poblano, cumin, coriander and oregano and cook until peppers are slightly soft. Add tomatillos, beans, and beer and simmer 20-25 minutes. Add sugar and salt to taste and cook 5 minutes more. Serve with a garnish of grated cheese and chopped fresh cilantro.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mee-so Yummy!

After having the leftovers from the chicken and dumplings last night for dinner, I was craving something light and healthy for tonight's soup. Nothing is lighter than the brothy earthiness of a simple miso. That said, miso alone does not sustain, so I set about finding a recipe with a little more "there" there. On Epicurious, I found a recipe for White Miso with Sweet Potato Dumplings, which appealed two me. However, I much prefer yams to sweet potatoes and white miso, as commented in many reviews, Is far too light of a miso to compete with the flavor of either.

Miso is made from the fermentation of rice, barley, and/or soybeans, the most common varieties being white, red, barley, and soybean. Red miso is made from white rice, barley, and soybeans and is red to brownish. Red miso is high is protein and is strong in flavor. White miso is made of rice and a small amount of soybeans. It tastes the sweetest on account of a high carbohydrate content. Barley miso has no rice and is made from barley and soybeans. It has a very dark color, is saltier than other miso, and is very rich in taste. Soybean miso is made only from soybeans and is reddish-brown and somewhat chunky.

I used barley miso, frankly because it is what I have, but I also prefer barley miso because of its strong flavor and beautiful brown color. I think red miso would work well with this soup as well if you prefer a less rich flavor. In addition I added some ginger to the dumplings and altered the soup ingredients. All in all I would say this soup followed the concept of the Epicurious recipe, but varied pretty widely in its execution. I served with steamed edamame.

Miso Soup with Veggie Dumplings

2 large garnet yams, cooked, peeled, and mashed
1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium shallot, minced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 in fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
12 wonton wrappers

2 cups sliced bok choy
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cup dried sliced shitake mushrooms
5 cups water
2-3 tbsp brown miso paste (depends on your miso paste)
1 tbsp soy sauce or to taste

2 scallions, thinly sliced

In a skillet heat oil and cook shallots, garlic, and ginger for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more. Combine with mashed yams and salt and pepper filing to taste. To make dumplings, drop a heaping teaspoon into the center of one wonton wrapper, moisten the edges and draw the corners together pressing the seams together. Set aside.

Boil 5 cups of water, using 1 cup of boiling water cover the dried mushrooms and set aside. Add miso to the remaining water. Add soy sauce to taste and set aside, keeping it warm. In another pot place vegetables, dumplings, and a small amount of water. Boil for 4 minutes or until dumpling wrappers are translucent. Remove mushrooms from soaking liquid and add soaking liquid to miso. Serve by dropping a few dumplings and veggies in the bottom of a bowl and cover with broth. Garnish with scallions and serve.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fills the Belly

For the past two or three months or so, Jay and I have been trying to eat more meat (he is now officially an almost vegetarian as well). What this means is that every Sunday (at least when we are in town) Jay and I stroll down to the Ballard Farmer's Market (one of the few year-round, rain or shine markets in town) to buy what amounts to chicken gold. Free range, organic, coddled, pampered, and preened chicken that pretty much costs as much as my weekly unemployment check per pound. With this edible gold I made pretty much the quintessential winter soup, Chicken and Dumplings. After the meal Jay and I both noted feeling notably warmer. Lovely.

Like the tomato soup, I had never made Chicken and Dumplings so I consulted Epicurious and then altered the recipe to suit. I made the soup with homemade turkey stock that has been sitting in my freezer since Thanksgiving. Otherwise I altered the recipe by making the dumplings a little more waist friendly (replacing cream with nonfat yogurt and making them with whole wheat flour). When chopping your veggies, go ahead and leave them big, there is something very satisfying about big meaty chunks of carrots.

Chicken and Whole Wheat Dumplings

2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced in thick slices
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 med onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 small parsnip, chopped
two sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
5 cups poultry stock (chicken is best but turkey works fine if you have it)
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 cup lowfat milk

In a wide soup pot, heat olive oil. Dredge chicken pieces in flour and brown them on both sides. Remove them from the pot and set aside. Add onions to pot and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add remaining veggies, thyme and bay leave and cook for another few minutes. Add stock and chicken. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.

While you wait, combine the first six ingredients for the dumplings. Mix the yogurt and milk together. This mix should be about the consistency of buttermilk, add extra water or milk if it is too thick. Before you ready to add the dumplings to the chicken and vegetables, salt and pepper them to taste. Add the milk and yogurt mix to the dry ingredients and mix until just wet. Drop the dumplings into the simmering broth in heaping tablespoons (about 12 or so). Continue to simmer 6-8 minutes then flip the dumplings. Simmer until the dumplings are cooked to your liking (I prefer my dumplings a little doughy). Enjoy!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Warms the Belly

Tonight I went with a classic. Mostly it was an excuse to use my new immersion blender, but regardless no one can deny the perfection of tomato soup on a cold January day. I had never made tomato soup before from scratch so I relied heavily on this recipe from Epicurious:

I did make a few changes, and instead of serving with the souffleed cheese toasts (though they do sound good) I served with more carb-conscious parmesan crisps (which I will admit, I saw last week on the fourth hour of the Today Show - yes the one with Kathy Lee and Hoda - yes this is what one does when one is unemployed). I was pleased with the results. I served with a simple side salad for a meal on the lighter side.

Tomato Soup with Parmesan Crisps

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery chopped
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes with juice
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup lowfat milk
salt to taste
coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Parmesan Crisps

1 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt

In a large pot melt butter over medium heat and add olive oil. Saute onions and celery about 2 minutes. Add garlic, basil and oregano and cook until onions and celery are soft, about 3-4 minutes more. Add flour and baking soda and stir thoroughly. Add whole tomatoes, crushing them in your hands as you add. Add tomato sauce and broth. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Simmer 20 minutes partially covered. Blend soup with either an immersion blender or food processor (return to pot if using a food processor). Add milk and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to warm while you make the crisps.

For crisps, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Using a nonstick baking sheet or a baking sheet with parchment paper make small mounds (about 3 tbsp each) on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Allow to cool on the pan.

Serve soup with a whole crisp or break the crisps up and use as "croutons".