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Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

Ahh, the gorgeous leek.  Why did I fear you for so long? Maybe fear isn’t the right word- but it definitely wasn’t something I saw in the grocery store and said, “oh, yes, I need leeks this week.” Anyway, when I finally tried potato leek soup I was no longer afraid. It’s been on my cooking bucket list for awhile and since soup has been my go-to lunch these days, I decided it was time.

I searched for a simple recipe- no cream, nothing too heavy, and David Lebovitz’s recipe was perfect! I said to one of my co-workers this week about it: “Well, if things are ever really bad and I only have $5, I can make soup.”  Potatoes, Leeks, water. That’s it.  (Of course there is seasoning involved, but I tell ya, this is easy and hearty.)  I supposed you could use chicken broth, but I honestly did not notice a difference without it.  I love this soup.  I want to snuggle with this soup.  Though that might get messy, I’ll leave the snuggling to the fat cat.

Soften the leeks…

Get your potatoes ready

Potatoes & leeks meet each other in the big pot

Seasonings, water, bay leaves

Puree with immersion blender (or regular) and enjoy!

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Tomato Soup

The brisk of New England fall has officially set in.  And with that, comes one of my favorite times of year- time for soup.  This is strange seeing as 3 years ago you might hear me regularly say, “I’m not a soup person”- I think I’ve told you this story before- but anyway.  Times are a’changin’ and yes my friends, I love soup.  It’s easy to make on a Sunday to have for lunch all week, it’s warm, and as long as you stay away from the cream based ones- they’re generally pretty healthy.

I had just the other morning gone through my folder of recipes- I have a small, 1/2 inch binder with recipes I’ve printed from things I liked online, but there are also ripped pages from EveryDay Food, Martha Stewart Living, and The Best of America’s Test Kitchen magazine.  I admire ATK so much- I love what they do- I love how they do it- why didn’t I think of that as a career path at the age of 18? Culinary arts, so I can play with food all day, testing recipes, re-working them for the ultimate result?  I will be sure to tell my 18 year old self the right way to go once I get myself a time machine.

Anyway, onto the soup!  This weekend I opted for a tomato version- I was really craving a grilled cheese and tomato soup, the ultimate comfort lunch.  I took the tomato soup recipe from ATK- their Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup.  I had the ingredients, I had the hand blender, and I had the craving for a smooth, velvety tomato soup, sans the cream.  (There would later be enough cheese in my grilled cheese to make up for the lack of calories in my soup. Gotta take it where ya can, right?)

I got the base of the soup ready- olive oil, garlic, onion, bay leaf:

Add the tomatoes: (two 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes, which were on sale, nice!)

The secret to making the soup creamy without the cream, as the ATK article explains, is bread.  So while the tomatoes are cooking down, prepare your bread- 3 slices of good quality white bread- I used part of an Italian loaf.

Feel free to eat the crusts while things are working away if, like me, you are starving while you’re cooking.


Mash the tomatoes with a potato masher (be careful for splashes, it’s hot!) then stir in 1 tb brown sugar and the torn bread pieces, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 5 mins.

This is the point at which I used my hand blender (once the bay leaf was removed).

I then added 2 cups chicken broth, and let the soup return to a boil.

While that was boiling away I went to work on my grilled cheese.  I ended up going for an adult tuna melt-Cabot sharp cheddar, Cabot monterey jack, and spinach.

I then put a scoop of tuna on top and a couple more slices of cheese, and buttered up the bread.

And because I’m nothing if not resourceful around here, I used my substitute for a panini: my grill pan, and then my cast iron skillet as a weight.

Once the soup was ready and the melt all melted it was time for lunch:

This was awesome. That is all. 🙂

 

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Bon voyage mes amis!! I am off to Quebec!  Before my journey however, I needed to use up a few things in the fridge.  I had an untouched 2lb bag of carrots.  What to do with all those carrots?? SOUP!  It freezes easily and is a good way to get rid of a few things.  So. (insert funny voiced over SO from Ms. Valerie & Ju-ju. I heart my friends. They are funny) Annnnnyway.

I got to work with the help of a handy sous-chef.  Slowest carrot peeler ever, but he makes for good company, so I think I’ll have to hire him.

That's a lot of carrots. Just in time for the Easter bunny!

I ventured back into the fridge and found half a sweet potato, cut up an onion and one russet potato.

Into the pot it goes…

After awhile I added the remainder of a leftover quart of vegetable stock, (about 3 cusps) and 2 cups of water

Veggie bath!

I let that all hang out for twenty minutes, with the cover on, simmering away. Then came back added seasonings (dash each of turmeric, garam masala, ground ginger, coriander, black pepper, and more than a dash of salt) and blended!

Et voila!

And now it waits for me.

Straight chillin'

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Souper Bowl

Fresh flowers for a sunny day

After weeks of snow, gray & winter’s mess, it’s finally sunny!! I was originally planning a day of cooking that included a nice hearty Irish beef stew and breadsticks.  Yet, the weather outside is oh-so-nice and not a bit frightful, so a thick & warming stew seemed inappropriate.  I switched gears at the last minute (at the grocery store, standing in the produce section Googling on my iPhone for a recipe) and settled upon Ree’s Chicken Tortilla soup.  All my favorite things, in a soup.  It seemed like a  nice change of pace from the regular tacos or black bean soup.   I stuck to part of my original plan and baked up muffins for breakfast for this week.

 

I’ve been craving a chocolate chip muffin like nobody’s business lately.  But, instead of grabbing a 400 calorie bomb on my way to work, (trust me, I’ve done enough damage this week, if we were friends on Lose It! you’d be judging)  I decided that I would attempt my own.  I Googled until I found a recipe sufficient enough, and then remembering this Joy the Baker post,  thought “That sounds like a phenomenal combination.” However,  I wasn’t feeling the scone aspect, so I asked Google again.  And I found this.  (Aren’t you so happy I’m sharing my innermost musings and thought process? Fascinating, right?)  I mean, it’s this stuff or I can discuss the mechanics of the subprime mortgage bond market, if you’d like that instead?  (I just read Liar’s Poker and am half-way through The Big Short, both by Michael Lewis).

That’s what I thought, I’ll stick to cooking.  🙂

Chicken Tortilla Soup w/homemade tortilla chips

 

And from the top (with salsa on the side too!)

I also wanted to take advantage of Sunday’s Festivities: The Super Bowl.  Now, I love football, but I didn’t really get into it this season, and the Patriots didn’t make it to the end, so I was ambivalent about the game as a whole.  I was still excited for the commercials, it’s the best part.  Well, besides the snacks.  Football games,  especially the Super Bowl, are an excuse to pig out.  Nachos, wings, sliders, other fun party snacks, or, as Clare said this morning, “I’m gonna melt some cheese and dip stuff in it.”  Nachos are my ultimate football snack.  With the various flavors and toppings of the Tortilla soup I got my tex-mex nacho fix.  Though I still could have gone for some queso.  Wait, what? Cheese isn’t really that orange? No, stop it.  Don’t tease a girl.

Only oranges should be this color. Not cheese. Boo.

*I stuck close to both the original recipes so I won’t re-post them here, but definitely check them out with the links above!!

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8 cups of vegetables!

Times like this I wish I knew how to ski.  (Ahem, er, maybe give it the ol’ college try and get over my fear of ski lifts.)  I could practically cross country ski at least to my office this morning.  I actually probably should, it would be easier than trying to trek through the un-plowed mess that is awaiting me outside my front door.  Nevermind the already 4 foot tall pile outside my door, with trash from 3 weeks ago buried frozen at the bottom.

It is also times like this that I’ve never been happier to be without a car.  I would’ve been one of those people that thought, “Nah, I don’t need to shovel, I don’t need to drive it, and it’ll melt off in a couple of days.” And then another storm would come and next thing you know the lil’ guy would be buried and frozen into it’s spot until the thaw comes in March.  Again, like what is going on outside my front door.  Poor guy.  This has been an amazing winter for snow here in Boston, and we’re getting even more as I type!  There’s nowhere left to put it.

In situations like this you’ve got to hunker down, throw on the ol’ L.L. Bean boots, put on the ridiculous hat your Mom got you on Etsy (a sad, but admirable, attempt at trying to be cute & fashionable when its a blizzard out there) and finally, put on your puffy snowman/burnt marshmallow of a winter coat one more time.  *Sigh* I just don’t want to do it.

Hopefully, a steaming bowl of hearty oatmeal will help fortify me for the winter’s trek (and yes it is uphill both ways thankyouverymuch) to my office.  Who wants to go to the Dominican this weekend? Anyone? Bueller?  (Speaking of Bueller, check this out!)

But back to business.  This is not a blog about New England weather.  (Hmm, that may be a good idea…)  It is a blog about life and food and what I do to keep myself sane as cabin fever sets in and the snow piles up.  I’ve been making warm, comforting things.  And yet another batch of soup.

Hello pretty turnip. I've never bought you before, so nice to meet you.

Ok, I know they're not exotic or anything, but I've never cooked with a leek before either. This was a soup of many firsts.

Along the mushroom lines, I never really liked soup- chicken noodle, fine, tomato- sure, if it’s accompanied by a grilled cheese, but this fall & winter I’ve had a major crush on soup.  This round was a healthful and simple version from the New York Time’s Recipes for Health section.

Kohlrabi, you too, welcome to La Cucina.

I made my list, had to ask the produce guys at Whole Foods what the heck Kohlrabi was (even they couldn’t find it!) and headed home to make Sunday Soup.

Full pot, I was a little worried before the stock went it, the pot was already near full capacity

I forgot to buy ginger, and as the original says, the whole point of seasoning the soup was to make this bouquet garni of sorts and then remove it before you puree the soup.  Whelp. I skipped that and used dried herbs instead, and it came out just fine.

Check out my version here!

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I think I may have to change the name of my blog- something like Tallo Tuesdays.  I realize I’ve been posting only weekly, and it seems to always happen on a Tuesday.  It reminds me of a piece that a class clown of the BHS class of  1999 (maybe 2000, not quite sure) wrote in the student paper once about all the days of the week, each day had a nickname, or a purpose, all but poor Tuesday.  The article ended with, “So, what’s up with Tuesday?” or something to that effect.  Funny how you still remember little things like that, but for the life of me cannot remember things from a year ago!

I was looking through notes from my grad program yesterday and oh man! There’s so much already that I’ve forgotten.  The notes are in my handwriting, but I couldn’t help but think, “Did I really do this? Really? I understood this at one point?”  I’m a bit rusty now and haven’t used much of it, but that is my first and foremost goal of 2011.  To put it to work.  Maybe I can start leveraging my baking ratios or start a commodity trading clearing house out of my kitchen?  No? Ok. Cool. I’ll just bake for now. 🙂

It was a cold and blustery day here yesterday, but I finally finally finally had a public holiday off!  Yipeeeee!  After having to work the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve I was ready for a day to play hooky.  I slept in until a leisurely 9:30 and made up some blueberry muffins.

I decided to be productive so I went to my local Starbucks, hung out for a bit, went for a brief (and cold!) walk with a friend, then headed to the grocery store for some sundries.  It was taco night at La Cucina, roomie & I made up a tasty dinner while watching completely trashy TV.  Please do not judge, I read several news magazines and plenty of non-fiction, I need a light-weight media outlet somewhere in my life, and yes, it’s reality TV.

But before all that, I wanted to make sure I had something stocked up in the fridge for a busy week ahead, so I made a large pot of Tortellini Soup.  The few bites I had yesterday were pretty good, but this one I pretty much made up completely so no guarantees my friends!

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I bought my own box of Bells, I just love the packaging.

Oh winter in New England.  It has begun.  A cold has started creepin’ around my office and it’s not ok with me.   Colds are such a frustrating illness because in a lot of ways, you’re not really sick- no fever, not tossing your cookies, you just feel crummy and sometimes no amount of Halls throat drops and Sudafed can make it better.

It started with my cube-mate who still has a hacking cough and wears his winter hat inside all day, then K-Fed got the sniffles, then it moved onto my boss.  I have thus far refused to get sick, like I have an actual choice in the matter.  But. But, I have been making sure to take extra care of myself and though I can tell the cold symptoms are creepin’ up on me, I have yet to succumb to the full-blown cold, and I plan to keep it that way.

How is this possible you must be thinking?  Lots of rest, a touch of sweating it out at the gym, plenty of liquids (water, teas oj), and, a big pot of home-made chicken soup.  I spent all of Saturday, (really all day) in my apartment, I broke up my day between movies, OSU football, and cooking. In honor of the Buckeyes game I made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. (Ok, so it’s not a buckeye, but I thought the peanut butter chocolate combo was a good homage to OSU, right??). I moved on to rolls and chicken soup.  The weather was not right for rising bread that day, I got nice lil’ hockey pucks instead of soft chewy dinner rolls. 😦

For a person who as recently as two years ago claimed “I’m not really a soup person” I’ve been making a lot of soup lately!  Blame it on Martha Stewart.  Everyday Food last month had those great recipes (the roasted squash and the roasted beef & mushroom soups) which have inspired me to try roasting other things and making soup.  Why not use chicken and carrots?

That’s what I did, I roasted carrots and cubed chicken breasts, and half a yellow onion diced and roasted them for 25 minutes or so at 425 degrees F.

When they were done, I moved everything to the dutch oven with about 4 cups of chicken broth, another cup or so of water, 3/4 cup quick cooking barley, a couple stalks of chopped celery and seasonings and let it cook away.

This should help fend off the cold for one more week at least.

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