Yesterday I made the trek over to the farmer’s market in Raleigh to buy my boxwood wreaths. While I was there I perused the fruits and vegetables being sold by local farmers. I am known to love a deal or two so I could not resist buying a forty-pound box of sweet potatoes for $20. Carter of course thought I was nuts, but they will keep through the winter in the garage and are the most nutritious starch I can think of. I also bought a half-peck of local apples. I was able to sample the different varieties so I got some pink ladies, honey crisp, crimson crisp and Fuji.
So with my larder full I of course needed to make something for dinner with my haul. Tonight’s dinner is soup that is gluten, dairy and meat free yet still yummy. Now I eat dairy so I garnished mine with a dollop of fat free sour cream. I am very happy.
1 large onion chopped
3 celery ribs chopped
1 T. thyme
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 T. ground cumin
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. allspice
Salt and pepper
3 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 cup of apple cider
1 cup of water
3 large sweet potatoes – peeled and chopped
3 apples – peeled and chopped
Spray Pam in a large stockpot and add the onions, celery and thyme. Cook on medium high heat for five minutes. Add garlic and spices and cook another two minutes, stirring often. Add the liquids, potatoes and apples, cover and simmer until tender about 25 minutes. Using and immersion blender puree the soup and taste for salt and pepper.
For the first time I have grown Cauliflower in my winter garden. For the longest time I had beautiful plants, but no heads of cauliflower. Being a novice at winter gardening I just thought I had missed the window of opportunity until one day I saw these beautiful white brain like bulbs sprouting under the big green leaves. I waited and watched and decided that one was big enough for me to cut.
Since most people who live in my house hate cauliflower I decided to make soup, which I can get them to taste and love before I disclose the main ingredient — As long as they try it before reading the blog.
This can be made vegan by substituting vegetable stock for my chicken stock. I used raw cashews as a surprise flavor. You can you roasted if you want, but I was using up what I had. If you want you could also substitute Parmesan cheese for the cashews.
1 head of cauliflower – broken up
1 large yellow onion – diced
1 small Yukon gold potato – peeled and cut in quarters
5 cups of chicken stock
¼ c. of ground raw cashews- I ran them in the food processor to grind them
Salt and pepper depending on how salty your stock is
Spray a soup pot with Pam and set on medium heat. Add the onion to the pot and cook until the onion is wilted about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, potato and the stock. Cover and bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes until the cauliflower is soft. Take the pot off the heat and using an immersion blender puree the soup. Add the groundnuts. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.
The other night our great friend Megan Ketch took Carter and I out to dinner. It was such a treat and we shared a fennel and bacon soup. I have no idea what they put in theirs beyond the titled ingredients, but I made up one of my own without any diary. It easily can become a vegan recipe by using olive oil in place of the bacon. But unless you have a religious reason have the bacon, it is such a small amount, but it really makes it.
4 slices of bacon
1 medium sweet onion chopped
3 bulbs of fennel- cut thinly
2 carrots- peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery- chopped
3 cans of chicken stock
2 small Yukon gold potatoes- peeled and chopped
7 cloves of garlic minced
2 bay leaves
1 T. fennel seeds
2 t. thyme
2 t. salt
1 t. sugar
Cut the bacon into lardoons, by stacking up all the slices and cutting them into half inch pieces. Place all the raw bacon in a soup pot and cook on medium high heat until brown and crispy. Make sure you are stirring it towards the end. Remove the crispy bacon from the pot and set aside, leaving the fat in the bottom of the pan.
Turn heat back up to high and add the onions, carrots, celery and fennel. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring often. Add half the salt, fennel seeds, thyme and the garlic and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, potato and the Bay leaves. Cover the pot and bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Using an immersion blender puree the soup. Add the sugar and a bunch of black pepper. Taste for salt, it will need more.
Serve and sprinkle a spoonful of the bacon on top.
Carter came down with the post exam cold and body aches today. Since she is more Asian than any nationality she is actually related to she asked if she could have this Thai version of Chicken Soup. It makes us all feel better and it is healthy to boot.
4 Cups of Chicken stock
1 stalk of lemon grass- it is worth going to the store for.
1 2-inch hunk of peel ginger root
The zest of 1 lime and the juice of that lime
2 T. fish sauce
1 14 oz. can of light coconut milk
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into thin strips
Handful of enoki mushrooms – the little thin ones you can get at the Asian Market
Handful of Cilantro leaves
In a soup pan put the chicken stock, lemongrass that has been cut in half, hunk of ginger, lime zest and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Skim out the lime zest and add the coconut milk and chicken and bring the pot back to a boil and then reduce to simmer again. Cook for about five minutes until the chicken is cooked. Add the limejuice and the mushrooms. Serve in bowls and garnish with cilantro and pass the Srisacha and let everyone makes theirs as spicy as they want.
When anyone asks me what the secret is to losing any amount of weight I tell him or her it is a four-letter word. For those of you who know me, you know I know a lot of four letter words which I use often and with gusto, but none more than the “S” word. Before you think laxatives are involved the word is “S-O-U-P.”
That fact has not been evident during the last few months in the blog because soup is not most people’s go to food in the warm weather, but as the days are growing shorter, (Can you grow shorter?) and our part of the world has less light you need to add more soup to your meals.
Not all soups are equal so don’t get excited about jumping into a big bowl of broccoli cheese or New England clam chowder, that is unless that is all you are planning on having. I am talking about broth based, mostly vegetable soups or creamy ones made with fat free condensed milk. My strategy is that as long as I have one or two homemade soups in the fridge I have the best defense against hunger.
Starting a meal with a small cup of hot soup or having one as a four-in-the-afternoon-I-think-I-need-a-cookie deterrent some how sends a message to your brain that you have had real food and tends to turn off or at least down the hunger pangs that seem to attack you like “Twilight” wolves.
Making homemade soup is so easy, but if you really don’t want to cook you can use canned, just get the ones that are lower in calories and make sure you know what the serving size of the can is. It is easy to read the calorie amount and only after you ate the whole thing find out you just ate three servings.
In the spirit of teaching you not just my recipes, but how to think like a chef and try and make things up I am going to post three or four different kinds of soups over the next couple of weeks with notes on making variations to them.
As the eating holidays are approaching having soup around is your best weapon to party food. No matter what kind of event I am going to I have a cup of soup at home before I go and then I am much less tempted by the “This holiday only comes around once a year” food being pushed my way.
So save yourself from those four letter words that come out of your mouth when you stand on the scale and stock up on 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.