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

January 1st - The first Sunday of 2012

Based on a cookbook purchase made on the last day of 2011, I've decided to start a project that will take me through the new year. I will make a different soup for dinner every Sunday in 2012. The inspiration is the book Sunday Soup - A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering, Easy-to-Make Recipes by Betty Rosbottom.

When I announced this plan, my family was less than enthusiastic. I think the consensus was that they don't "like" soup. We'll see if this project changes their minds as we move through the year.