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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Glad I was able to get all my grilling done for this yummy salad before the thunderstorms came. This is a wonderful way to use any vegetable you like. I used as many different things from my garden as I could and it was delicious. I think it made enough to feed six people as a main course.
1 ½ lb. large peeled and deveined raw shrimp
1 T. olive oil
3 ears of corn
2 zucchini – sliced the long way into ½ planks
1 red onion sliced into ½ inch rounds
4 different peppers- one sweet green, 2 mild banana, one Anaheim and one Poblano- cut in half and seeded
1 c. cherry tomatoes- halved
1 lemon – halved
1 t. white wine vinegar
2 T. pesto base- recipe follows
Salt and Pepper
Heat the grill to high and spray with Pam. Put the corn, onions, peppers, zucchini and lemon cut side down on the grill. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the corn a quarter turn and flip the peppers. Close the cover and cook another 3 minutes. Once the zucchini and onions get grill marks flip them. Turn the corn again.
The peppers will cook fastest. One they are soft, remove them. You don’t want to cook everything too much, just until soft.
The lemon will be the next thing to come off, then the zucchini, onions and last the corn. Let everything cool enough so you can handle it. After it has cooled chop the peppers, onions and zucchini into ½ inch chunks. Cut the corn off the cob and put it all in a bowl.
Turn the grill down to medium. Cover the shrimp in olive oil and place on grill in ne layer. As soon as you get them all down turn them over and cook for no more then a minute. They will get pink very quickly; as soon as each side is pink remove them. There is nothing worse than over cooked shrimp.
Squeeze the grilled lemon on the shrimp and add the pesto base to them. Toss them together with the grilled vegetables and add the cherry tomatoes and vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
When my garden is producing an over abundance of basil I make this base of a pesto sauce and freeze it. If I want to add pine nuts and Parmesan cheese I can thaw a puck of base and add those things. But I also like to have just the base to add to recipes that use basil and garlic.
3 cups of Basil leaves- packed
7 cloves of garlic
1 T. olive oil
Put the garlic in a cuisine art and pulse until minced. Add the basil and olive oil and pulse until paste like.
Chili is a great way to make not just a low fat dish, but one that has a lot of veggies that you would not even know are in there that add fiber and bulk without adding many calories.
3 onions chopped
5 cloves of garlic minced
2 lbs of 96 % ground beef or ground turkey breast
1 Green pepper chopped
5 cups of shredded squash (I used 2 zucchini and 1 yellow squash)
2 shredded Carrots
3 hot green peppers chopped
½ cup Chili powder
2 T. ground Cumin
1 T. smoked Paprika
2 15 oz. cans of chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup of liquid – wine, beer, chicken broth or water
1 can of red kidney beans
9 packets of Splenda
1 T. Red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper
In a large stockpot on a medium high heat, spray with Pam and add onions and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes stirring every once in a while. Add the meat and chop it up with a spoon as you cook it until it is browned. Add all the peppers, squash and carrots. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes. Add all the spices and the canned tomatoes. Add the liquid and bring boil and simmer for 20 minutes making sure
there is a little liquid in the pot. Add the beans, Splenda and vinegar and cook a few more minutes.
This is not an original idea for a recipe, but it is such a good things to know how to make I am writing my own version of this Spanish classic. It is also very healthy and good for any time of the day.
1 onion chopped (I like lots of onion so I use a big one)
1 ½ cups other chopped veggies – for this one I used Zucchini and green pepper. You can use leftover cooked veggies or raw. Asparagus, artichokes, red or green peppers, squash, cooked potatoes, green beans, spinach, broccoli or any creative combinations you can think of will work.
7 eggs beaten
½ cup of shredded cheese – I used a mixture of Parmesan, Jarlsberg and Gruyere
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400º
You need a 12-inch skillet that can be put in the oven (that means it does not have plastic handles). Put skillet over a medium high heat and spray with Pam. Add onions to pan and cook for 3 minutes. If you are using raw peppers add them at the same time. Add any other raw veggies after the onions are partially cooked. Cook until veggies for another 3 minutes. Salt and Pepper the veggies. If you are using pre-cooked veggies add them now and get them warmed up.
Beat the eggs and add salt and pepper to them. Spray a little more Pam in the skillet with the vegetables, making sure the bottom gets lubricated and spreading out the vegetables evenly across the bottom of the pan. Turn heat on medium and pour the eggs into the skillet. Do not stir anything and let the eggs cook for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the still runny eggs and put whole skillet in the hot oven.
Continue cooking in the oven for another 5 minutes. The eggs may puff up a little.
Can be eaten hot or cold.
The Garden is in full squash production. Here is a great way to use the zucchini you should have picked two days ago, but you did not see them under that giant leaf until they got just so big.
4 large zucchini – or six smaller ones
2 15 Oz. cans stewed tomatoes
1 large sweet onion chopped
2 T. Pesto – or 20 basil leaves chopped, and 2 cloves of garlic minced
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
Pam (of course)
Preheat the oven to 425º
In a saucepan put the tomatoes and the onion and bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cook until the onion is translucent, about 20 minutes.
Cut the ends of the Zucchini and slice them down the center lengthwise. Scoop the seeded middle out of the squash digging it out as an American Indian would have dug out a wooded canoe.
When the tomatoes are done remove the pan from the heat and add the pesto and the Parmesan cheese and mix well.
Spray an oblong pan with Pam. Fill each zucchini canoe with the tomato mixture and place in oblong pan. After you have filled all the zucchini sprinkle salt and pepper on each one.
Add a cup of water to the pan without pouring on the zucchini canoes. Cover the pan with foil, sealing it as best you can.
Carefully place in the oven so as not to make the canoes float around and turn upside down.
Cook for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. The zucchini should be fork tender.
4 servings as a main dish or 8 as a side dish