Monday, September 3, 2012

Soups for Family Get-together

 The summer has been warm and busy and there has been no soup making on Sundays or any other day.  However today, being Labor Day, (and feeling like a Sunday) there was finally time and reason to make some soup.

We will be heading to Portland next weekend for a family get-together and I made two different soups today to bring along.

I made a hearty Corn Chowder and a tasty Spinach-Pea-Curry soup.

The Spinach-Pea-Curry soup I first made about 10 years ago for the same family get together when we gathered at the coast.  I remember it fondly and decided to make it again.  You basically put your curry together from the traditional curry spices - Turmeric, Coriander, Cumin, Cinnamon, Cardamom, and Cayenne.  You add these to the onions that have cooked and softened for 10 minutes then you add that to diced potatoes you've cooked to softness, a pound of peas, and 4 cups of spinach.  I blended it with an immersion blender to a smooth, yellowy-green color and its ready to heat up next weekend.

The corn chowder is a very easy blend of cooked diced potatoes, sauteed onion, celery, & garlic, corn, and half&half.  I doubled this recipe so we could have some for dinner on the night before school starts for the year.  Now that school's beginning, its time to get back to cooking up some Sunday Soups.
Curry soup prior to blending
Blended Spinach-Pea Curry Soup and the source

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Heavenly Asparagus Soup with Tarragon Cream

I'm finally catching up to report on the last soup we had in June, Asparagus soup.  Unfortunately, I don't remember a lot about it.  I do remember that I liked it very much, it was quite tasty.  I believe this soup was served to just my husband, the kids did not get to partake in it.

For this soup, you heat butter in the pot, add shallots (I used  onions) and cook until tender.  You then add the asparagus and cook a little bit longer before you add your stock, seasonings, and a little bit of rice.  After bringing this to a simmer, you cook it until the vegetables are completely tender.  You then puree it in a blender or use an immersion blender.  The recipe calls for Creme Fraiche mixed with Tarragon to be added at this point but I did not use this.  We ate it as-is and it was lovely tasting as well as being a bright green, pretty soup as well.

We haven't had any Sunday Soups for a few weeks but soon I will start on the Summer section and see what yummy soups we will find there.

Pureed Asparagus soup

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dream Creamy Artichoke Soup

Artichoke Soup
Artichoke Soup was our next spring soup in May.  This was surprisingly appreciated by all.  I assumed that the younger soup eaters wouldn't like it much but they all did.

I think its great how grocery stores are stocking such a variety of frozen vegetables.  For the most part, I would choose to eat fresh, local vegetables but having frozen veggies available make something like Artichoke soup easy and convenient.  This soup couldn't have been easier!

For this soup you add Leeks and Artichoke hearts to melted butter and cook until soft then add your stock to cook until tender.  Then, you can use your immersion blender or a blender or food processor to make it smooth.  At this point, you can whisk in cream and Parmesan cheese for a tasty thickener and season with salt and pepper.

For the garnish you can use more Parmesan and some Parsley.  Serve with a crusty baguette and some green salad.  Voila!  An easy but impressive soup with a great flavor that even kids enjoy.  We will have this soup again.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Carrot Soup scented with Sesame and Chives

This is a basic carrot soup with Sesame oil added to the soup once its been blended.  The garnish of croutons and sesame seeds makes it look nice when served and adds some depth.  This particular soup, however,  was not the most popular in the household.

The basic recipe calls for you to saute carrots, leeks, and celery in butter until soft.  You then add stock and simmer until tender enough to puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.

Once its smooth, you stir in the sesame oil and some half and half along with sour cream.  I left out both creams in our soup and just added the sesame oil.  The creams might have cut the flavor of the oil which I think is why this soup was not as popular with the family.  My guess is that the flavor of the oil would have been more mild in the soup had it been combined with the cream.

I tossed sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat to roast and put those along with green onions and croutons on top of the soup as a garnish. 

Don't get me wrong, nobody disliked the soup so much as they just liked past soups much more.  It was a nice tasting ,and fairly simple, soup.
Pureed carrot soup

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sweet Pea Soup with Early Chives

Pea Soup, blended
The next  soup we had in April was Sweet Pea Soup (without the early chives).

This is basically a fresh peas soup as opposed to a frequent menu item in our house - Split Pea soup which is made with dried peas.  Its a simple recipe that rewards you with lots of good flavor.

I sauteed leeks in butter until soft and added peas, a diced potato (I'm guessing they're for texture) and some salt.  You add chicken stock to this mixture and simmer until your vegetables are tender.  Now you can blend with an immersion blender or other tool until smooth.  You can whisk in sour cream, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper if you wish or just season with salt to taste like I did.

This was a popular soup in our family, it had good texture and good flavor without much help.  I would definitely make this again.

Leeks, potato, peas

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cream of Parsley Soup

Back in April we began moving into the Spring Soup section of the cookbook and for our first Spring soup, we enjoyed Cream of Parsley Soup.  Sadly, I completely forgot to use my camera while cooking this soup and there is no pictorial documentation of this light and tasty soup.

To begin, separate the sprigs and leaves of the Parsley from the stems and measure your parsley into well-packed cups.  Heat butter over medium heat, add leeks and cook until soft.  To the leeks, add chicken stock, cream and a peeled, diced potato.  Bring this to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Then, add the parsley sprigs and cook for just a few minutes longer. Puree the soup with an immersion blender and season with salt and pepper, you can add some lemon juice to enhance the flavor.

This soup was loved by the entire family.  Everyone said they really enjoyed it and would eat it again.  This soup was a resounding success.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cream of Chicken and Fennel Soup

Its been months since a blog post but we have been enjoying Sunday Soups all along.  I always take the time to cook, just not necessarily to type up a post afterwards.  Back in March, I made Cream of Chicken and Fennel Soup.  I'd never eaten, let alone cooked with, Fennel before and I was pleasantly surprised by this tasty and easy ingredient.  It has a very mild licorice flavor and a texture much like celery.

Preparing a Fennel bulb is quick and easy, just cut off the feathery top, halve the bulb, and cut out the tough core. 

To make the soup I brought chicken stock to simmer, added the fennel and carrots and cooked until the veggies were tender.  Once cooked, I drained the veggies into a bowl and added diced chicken.  Next I made a roux in a heavy saucepan and whisked in milk, instead of heavy cream, and reserved chicken stock until the mixture thickened slightly.  Once it was thick I added lemon juice, fennel seeds, salt and the chicken and vegetable mixture and mixed it to combine - voila - Soup.

This was an easy and tasty soup and I loved it. We agreed that we would eat this soup again and again.  And I am excited to use the tasty Fennel in other dishes

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cold weather Potato Chowder with Caraway Cheese

On March 11th, I made the Cold Weather Potato Chowder with Caraway Cheese.  This soup was a huge hit.

I made bacon for breakfast and saved four strips out to garnish  the soup.  I also used the bacon drippings to saute the onion and celery for the soup.  Once those were soft I added a pound of diced potatoes, garlic, chicken stock and milk to the pot and simmered until the potatoes were tender.  When the potatoes are soft you add the grated Havarti cheese with caraway seeds to the soup.  Then you make a paste of butter and flour and add to the soup until completely blended.  This thickens the soup up nicely.  To serve the soup, you add fresh chives and crumbled bacon as garnish.

Comments included 'yummy', 'delicious', and 'more bacon'.  They said the soup was warm in your mouth and was nicely aromatic.  This was definitely my favorite soup so far and one of the most widely appreciated.

Melt in your mouth Beef and Barley Soup

On March 4th, I made the recipe for 'Melt in your mouth Beef and Barely Soup.  It was a long cooking beef stew.  First you brown the meat, then add beef stock, Soy Sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.  You simmer this for over an hour.  While its cooking, you saute the veggies - carrots, celery, parsnips, and onion until softened.  Separately, you saute the mushrooms until lightly browned.  After the meat has cooked, you add the vegetables except the mushrooms, along with cubed potato, barley, and thyme to the pot.  You simmer this for almost an hour then add the mushrooms.
I made this soup a day ahead and served it to the family the next day.  It was a good stew and everyone enjoyed it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Stone Soup

Last week's soup was Stone Soup.  This was not a recipe from the book but instead was my son's idea, he's been wanting to make it for a long time.  Its based on a story in a picture book by Jon Muth.  The characters in the book claim not to have anything to make soup with but after they all come together with one ingredient, they make an entire soup.  He thought this would make a great soup.

He wanted to use as many ingredients as he could so the recipe included: corn, peas, potatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion, garlic, ginger, green onions, leeks, chicken, and dumplings. He made the dumplings ahead of time, earlier in the day and then got down to the process of chopping all his veggies. 

Then I guided him in what order to cook everything - first we sauteed the onions, celery, garlic and ginger in some olive oil.  Then we added the chicken stock and brought that to a boil.  We then added the potatoes and carrots, let them cook, then the smaller, lighter veggies, and the dumplings at the end. 

It turned out great, and had a fantastic flavor.  I don't think the dumplings were popular and the soup would have been fantastic without them.  Either way, it was a hearty and popular soup.



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tomato Dill with Farmhouse Cheddar

On Sunday, February 19th, I made this Tomato Dill soup. It was my least favorite of the soups so far. I'm not a big fan of dill but I'm not sure that's what made this a poor soup to me.  I think the reason I didn't appreciate it was because it called for canned tomatoes, not fresh.

The first step was to add leeks to heated oil and cook until softened.  Then you add tomatoes, chicken stock, dill, cayenne, and salt.  Here it called for fresh dill and I used dried because there is no fresh dill in stores this time of year.  Once the soup was cooked, I pureed it until smooth. The soup is garnished with shavings of White Cheddar. 

It was liked by others in the household, it was just myself that thought it was not so great.  To me, this was the least flavorful and creative soup of the bunch. Maybe the reason is that I chose it to be an easy, and quick soup to mke on a low energy day.


in the pot                       

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mama Veli's Pozole

This week's soup has been voted the Best Soup So Far by the entire family.  It was a prep-intensive but easy to cook soup.

I started by preparing the garnishes - sliced radishes, shredded red cabbage, chopped avacado, chopped cilantro, and sliced limes.  Then I processed 10 fresh Tomatillos along with chopped onion, a few sprigs of cilantro, and a few sliced jalapenos in the food processor until it resembled salsa.  The next step was to cook the chicken and shred it.  I boiled the chicken in the chicken stock
and then shredded it with a fork.  Once shredded, I added it back to the stock along with the Tomatillo salsa and a main ingredient of Pozole - Hominy - and let it cook until the flavors blended, about an hour.

Once cooked, it was as simple as dishing it up and topping with the garnishes.  Everyone raved.  The family agreed that the soup included a lot of complex flavors, there was lots of zip,and they liked how the many flavors worked together with the garnishes.  They thought it was going to be super spicy but it turned out to have a tang without being spicy.  One person in the family did not like it because they don't particularly like Mexican flavors.  Pozole was a big hit.
Pozole, without garnish

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Black Bean Soup with a Hint of Orange

This soup was the first soup I've made that was not based around a single vegetable as its theme.  In fact, it doesn't call for any vegetables at all, its beans and meat - black beans and chorizo sausage.

I used dried black beans that I soaked overnight and paired with Mexican chorizo sausage.  I browned the sausage then added chopped onion, rosemary, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. When these flavors were mixed I added the beans and chicken stock and simmered until the beans were soft, over an hour.  Once the soup was cooked, I added orange juice for the 'hint of orange' flavor.  Then, I used the immersion blender to blend up the beans and make the soup smooth.

I have to say, this has been the least favorite soup we've tried so far.  It was not bad, just not as many positive comments as the others.  Comments about this soup included 'too sweet', 'too orange-y', 'too spicy', and 'too bean-y'.  A coupld of people said it was good, just not their favorite and one family member said they just did not like it. 

I served some on Sunday night and more on Monday night and I noticed that on Sunday night I could barely tell there was a hint of orange but on Monday night, the flavor was VERY orange tasting to me.  The orange flavor increased as it sat in the refrigerator overnight.  I'm not sure the orange flavor goes well with the spiciness of the chorizo and I would probably not make this recipe in the same way again.  Thats what this soup project is about - trying new things and discovering what you like and what you don't.

browning chorizo

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No Soup this Sunday

Camille & Melanie making cookies
We had no soup this Sunday.  I planned a recipe and got the ingredients but instead of cooking, we had friends over and barbecued their generous offering of tri-tip.  These friends have kids the same ages as ours so everyone has a buddy to hang out with.  So instead of soup, the kitchen hosted cooking of Butter Cookies by the older girls.

Four soups this month was a good start to the year.  I'm looking forward to more in February with a new soup next Sunday - football themed?  Its Super Bowl Sunday.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic Croutons

The Soup:
Great winter's day soup and very satisfying meal.  Today's soup was heavy on the prep but easy on the cooking.

Before starting on the soup, I prepared the garlic croutons by cutting cubes from a round loaf of sourdough.  I cooked the cubes in a pan with some melted butter and minced garlic until heated.  These cooled to room temperature while I made the soup.

For the soup, I started with 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes.  The recipe calls for plum tomatoes, I used a combination of Roma and Pearl since that's what I had access to.  I cut them in half and de-seeded each - too bad there wasn't something I could save all that seedy liquid for, it produced a lot.  Once they were ready, I marinated the tomatoes in a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic, crushed rosemary, and olive oil for 15 minutes.  Once marinated, I roasted the tomatoes for almost an hour until soft and browned a bit.  Then half the roasted tomatoes went in the blender with some of the chicken stock and were pureed until smooth.  The pureed tomatoes went into the pot with the rest of the tomatoes and the remaining stock until heated.

The Result:
The soup was garnished with some croutons and basil.  I served it with a salad of Arugula tossed with Lemon-Parmesan dressing.  (Dressing: some lemon juice, olive oil, grated parmesan, salt & pepper.)  A very satisfying meal!

I thought the soup was satisfying - it had a thick consistency and with the chunks of un-pureed tomatoes left in, some solid vegetables to feel more like a meal.  The flavor was good but overly peppery, a result of the mixtures the tomatoes marinated in prior to roasting.  My husband thought it was good, enjoyed the spice and texture and thought the rosemary was more balanced than in the Butternut squash soup of two weeks ago.
cutting up croutons

finished garlic croutons

a satisfying meal

de-seeding tomatoes
tomatoes, ready to roast

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Celery Bisque with Stilton Toasts

The Soup:
Tonight's soup was Celery Bisque served with Stilton Toasts.  It was definitely a stand out, crowd-pleasing favorite.

Another simple recipe: saute leeks & celery in butter then add chicken stock and diced Yukon Gold potatoes and simmer until tender.  Next, use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Add the Creme Fraiche and season with salt and cayenne pepper, garnish with parsley & serve.  My official substitution for Creme Fraiche will be Light Coconut Milk, now and going forward for all future recipes.  It seems to work well.  The soup was served alongside sliced baguettes w/ Stilton blue cheese roasted on top.

The Results:
The family really enjoyed this soup!  It had a light, salty flavor and a great, thick & creamy texture.  Comments from everyone were positive, this soup was yummy-liscious.  It was agreed that the soup brought out the flavor of celery and made it much easier to enjoy than when eaten raw.  The part that was not enjoyed by all was the blue cheese flavor on the toasts.  Everyone tried it but only the adults enjoy it so far.  Perhaps this adventure bite of blue cheese will open minds for later appreciation.

Star rating:
15 yr old: 4.5 stars
12 yr old: 5 stars
Stilton Toasts, some left plain
9 yr old: 5 stars
pureed with an immersion blender

A lovely meal


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pumpkin Soup with Toasted Walnuts and Rosemary

The Soup:
Tonight's soup was Pumpkin Soup with Toasted Walnuts and Rosemary and once again was made with several modifications.  Instead of Pumpkin, I used Butternut Squash, due to availability.

The basic recipe calls for sauteing leeks in butter for a few minutes and then adding the cubed squash, chicken stock, rosemary, cayenne, and salt then simmer until soft. At this point, you use an immersion blender to process the soup until smooth.  Again, Creme Fraiche is called for and again, I used a substitute but this time it was Light Coconut Milk.  I toasted some walnuts for six minutes at 350 degrees to use as a garnish.  Coincidentally, I have another Trader Joe's tid-bit tonight, I learned that they sell leeks in their freezer section already chopped and these were the leeks that were used in tonight's soup.

The Results:
No star rating tonight as there were only two testers for this soup this evening, my husband and myself.  His analysis was that it was a good soup, nice and creamy with a great kick at the end from the cayenne.  He thought it was heavy on the rosemary, that the soup was overpowered by it rather then complimented and the rosemary could be cut by about half.  Otherwise, he thought it was a good Butternut soup made better with the cayenne bite.  I thought it was just okay.  I enjoyed the creaminess and the good squash flavor but agreed it was a bit heavy on the Rosemary.  I thought the walnut as garnish added a nice toasty flavor and texture.  All in all, this soup was nothing special to me.  I've had better Butternut Squash soups and this is not the best recipe I've made.  Better luck next week.
Ingredients - see the frozen leeks!
Before the immersion blender

Ready to serve

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Prosciutto and Parmesan

The Soup:
The first soup of the project was Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Prosciutto and Parmesan.  I made a few modifications, one purposeful, the other was not.

The basic recipes directs you to saute leeks in butter, add cauliflower florets, chicken stock, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and simmer until it achieves the right consistency. Then you use an immersion blender to make it smooth.  At this point you add creme fraiche and some grated Parmesan.  Some in my family have trouble with rich creams so I left out the creme fraiche and added a bit of 2% milk instead.  The recipe has you saute some prosciutto and add it to the soup at this point but I didn't do this part either.  Trader Joe's gives its employees the day off on New Year's Day so when I was shopping for ingredients today, I was unable to get the prosciutto.  Still, the soup turned out very well without these two fairly important ingredients.  I garnished each bowl with more grated Parmesan and chopped parsley and served with a sliced baguette and green salad with classic vinaigrette. 

A nice feature of the book is that it has a section of recipes for suggested side dishes to serve with your soup that includes salads, sandwiches, and dressings. 

The results:
The family all enjoyed this soup.  They liked the texture - creamy & a bit thick, and the flavor - a little spicy and full bodied.  Some in the family commented that soup in general is not a preferred meal due to its consistency that resembles a beverage more than solid food and its lightness vs. heartiness factor as a meal.  This can of course be changed up a bit with thicker soups and stews that make use of chunky meats and seafood.  We'll definitely get to some of these over the course of the year.  I enjoyed this soup a lot.  The creamy texture is very nice and the Parmesan gave it a nice flavor both as an ingredient and as a garnish.

Star Rating:
15 year old: 3.5 stars
12 year old: 3 stars
9 year old: 3.5 stars
Prep time

Before the immersion blender

After the immersion blender

Served with salad and a baguette