Broccoli Cheese Soup

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I went to the movies with my friend Lynn this afternoon rather than write my blog, or cook dinner.  When I got home late I decided I could throw together a soup to satisfy both needs.

 

1 softball-sized onion chopped

2 carrots- peeled and chopped

A bunch of fresh thyme tied together in a bundle or 1 T. dried Thyme

2 cups chicken stock

3 big stalks of broccoli

1 can of fat free evaporated milk

1 cup of shredded cheese- I used three kinds, cheddar, parm and jarlsburg

Salt and Pepper

 

In a big stockpot sprayed with Pam cook the onion on medium heat to soften for about five minutes.  Add the carrots and thyme and cook another three minutes stirring every so often.

 

Bring a separate saucepan with two inches of water in it to a boil.  Cut the trunks from the broccoli and using a vegetable peeler peel away all the tough outside parts of the broccoli and then chop the trunks up and put in the boiling sauce pan and cook about five minutes until they are tender.

 

Roughly chop the remaining tops of the broccoli and set aside.

 

Add the chicken stock to the main big stockpot with the onions and carrots and bring to a simmer.

 

After the broccoli stalks are cooked use a slotted spoon and remove them from the boiling water and add them to the main stockpot with the onions mixture.

 

Add the rest of the broccoli tops to the boiling water in the saucepan and cook that for two minutes or until it is tender.  Drain that broccoli and add it to the main stockpot.  If you used a bundle of thyme remove it from the pot now scraping as many little leaves off into the soup as you can. Add the can of evaporated milk and bring the whole mixture to a boil and reduce to simmer for two minutes.  Take the pot off the heat and using a stick blender blend the soup slightly, leaving the vegetables a little big.

 

Put the pot back on medium heat add the cheese and stir the soup just so the cheese melts, about a minute.  Salt and Pepper and serve.


Olympic Watching Cabbage, Onions and Eggs

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In the spirit of the Olympics and wanting to use up a cabbage that was in my veg drawer I made up this three-ingredient dish that is reminiscent of Russian peasant food.  It does not look or sound as appetizing as it tastes, but on a cold dark snowy night it will keep you warm and satisfied.

 

1 small green cabbage shredded

1 medium onion thinly sliced

4 eggs – beaten

Salt and Pepper

 

Spray a large skillet with Pam and place the cabbage and the onions in it on a medium heat.  Cook, turning the vegetables often for about ten minutes, until they are wilted and the cabbage is not giving out any more liquid.  Salt and pepper the vegetables.  Pour the eggs into the pan with the veg and stir until the eggs are lightly cooked, about one minute.  Taste for seasoning, more pepper is better.

 

Serve immediately


Stewed Tomatoes, Okra and Onions

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Fresh Okra is still available but is not quite as tender as it is in the height of the summer.  To make the most of the slightly tougher okra I like to cook it with canned stewed tomatoes and lots of onions.  Frankly, anything cooked in lots of onions will taste better.

 

1 big yellow onion chopped

4 cloves of garlic minced

2 15 oz. cans of stewed tomatoes

1 T. grated fresh ginger root

½ t. ground cardamom

¾ of a pound of fresh okra cleaned and cut into thirds

Dash of sugar

Salt and pepper

 

Spray a pot with Pam and put on a medium high heat on the stove.  Add the onions and cook for a few minutes until they get transparent, stirring to prevent sticking.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the cans of tomatoes, ginger and cardamom and cook for twenty minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.  Add the okra and 1 cup of water and cook covered for another twenty minutes.  Remove the lid and add the sugar and salt and pepper and cook uncovered until the stew gets thick, about five minutes.


The Secret Soup Series – Installment 1- Red Lentil Soup

The real secret to making good soup is to have some opposite flavors.   Almost every soup starts with onions, which provide an undertone of sweetness and ends with a bit of tartness, which is provided by either lemon or vinegar.  What goes in between is what makes the soup the kind it will end of being whether it is tomato, chicken noodle or corn chowder.

This Red Lentil soup was inspired by a recipe in the New York Times that my friend Judy gave me, but it needed a little something.  At the time I made it I was on a smoked Paprika kick and when I added to this soup it added a new complexity to it that raised this recipe up to craving status.  You know what craving status is, the kind of food you dream about having again and can almost taste it in you brain when you are making it.

The other great thing about this recipe is red lentils are very quick looking and lighter than other lentils.  I buy mine at the Indian grocery store because they are much cheaper there.

2 big yellow onions chopped

3 cloves of garlic minced

Pam

1 T. tomato paste

1 ½ t. Smoked Paprika

1 ½ t. ground cumin

Dash of cayenne pepper

Salt and Pepper

1 1/2 quarts of Chicken Broth (or veggie if you want vegan)

2 carrots chopped

1 ½ cups of dried red lentils

Zest and juice of a lemon

Cilantro leaves – small handful

In a big soup pot spray the Pam and add the onions and garlic and cook over medium high heat for about five minutes until they start to brown.  The browning develops the flavors, so make sure they get some color before moving on.

Add the tomato paste and all the spices and cook another couple of minutes.  You always want to cook tomato paste to take the tinny taste out of it and toasting spices brings out the best in them.

Add the liquid, lentils, and carrot and bring the whole pot to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cover the pot.  After about 20 minutes remove the lid and cook another 10 minutes.  The lentils should be soft by now.

You want to partially puree this soup and the easiest way to do that is with a sick blender you just put in the pot and whirl up for a bit.  If you don’t have a stick blender you can put half the soup in a blender and puree it and add it back to the other half that has more solids.

Add the lemon juice, zest and taste to see if you need more salt or black pepper.

Serve with chopped cilantro added at the last moment.  Don’t put the cilantro in the whole pot because it changes in taste after a while, so if you have leftover it won’t be as good.

Let me know if you dream about this soup.  Invest in smoked paprika you won’t be disappointed.


It’s Cold Out Mushroom Soup

 

I know it’s cold outside because our sweet labradoodle Shay-Shay just wants to snuggle up next to me.  All this snuggling makes me crave soup.  If you have never created a homemade soup it is one of the easiest things ever.  This one took me literally less than 15 minutes and is the perfect supper with a snuggling puppy next to you.

 

1 Large yellow onion – chopped

3 cloves of garlic – minced

12 oz. of mushrooms- sliced

A handful of fresh thyme- tied together with a string- or ½ t. dried thyme

1 T. Flour

1 can fat free condensed milk

Salt and Pepper

Pinch of Nutmeg

 

Spray Pam in a soup pot and put on high heat.  Put onions and garlic in the pan and cook stirring often for 4 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.  The mushrooms will let off a bunch of liquid.  Sprinkle the flour in the pot and stir cooking it for a minute.  Add the thyme, salt and pepper and condensed milk.  Continue cooking for another 3 minutes.  Sprinkle nutmeg and adjust for salt and pepper.


Down Home Green Beans and Stewed Tomatoes

After traveling and eating in restaurants for two weeks straight it is great to make some down home healthy comfort food.  I added a little twist of allspice, which was an idea that came from Russ’ Lebanese driver Sammy.

1 big sweet onion- sliced

1 can stewed tomatoes

1 lb. green beans washed and trimmed

3 garlic cloves minced

½ cup chicken broth

3 dashes of Allspice

Salt and Pepper

In a big pot put the canned tomatoes juice and all and add the onions and garlic and bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the chicken both and green beans.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer with a lid on.  Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  Add allspice, salt and pepper to taste.  This recipe is good hot or cold.


Too Many Tomatoes Summer Soup

My first disclaimer is that I don’t have too many tomatoes despite the beautiful plants I have.  There are a bunch of stupid squirrels who come and eat a bite out of each tomato and after deciding they don’t like that one they move on to the next one to see if it is better. UGH!!  My next recipe might be low fat squirrel stew if I could just catch one.

Anyway, this is an easy soup that is good hot or cold.  It really is easy if you have a stick blender.  You can use a regular blender or food processor, but go to Target and get a stick blender and you will have so much less washing up to do because of it.

I am going to give you the recipe in a ratio so you can make any amount you want.  The base recipe is enough for about two servings so at least double it.

1 big yellow onion – peeled and quartered

2 Tomatoes – stemmed and quartered

2 Carrots – peeled

1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock

1 T. Pesto

Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400º.  Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with pam.  Put the onions and the carrots on the foil and place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes.  Add the tomatoes to the pan and continue cooking in the oven for 45 more minutes.

Dump all the vegetables from the pan into a stockpot and add the stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.  Using a stick blender, whirl everything up until pureed or pour everything in a blend and let it do its thing.  Add the pesto and salt and pepper to taste.  Summer in a cup and hardly a calorie in sight.