Category Archives: Soup

Clams with White Beans and Wine

interestingly, the best spot in my apartment for taking pictures of food after dark is on top of a bookshelf.

Look.  Shellfish are ugly.  Sometimes they have weird things hanging off their shells, and more often than not, they look like genitalia or snot.  But here’s the thing I didn’t know until this year:  THEY ARE DELICIOUS AND ARE ALMOST ALWAYS SERVED IN A SAUCE MADE OUT OF MELTED BUTTER.

In October, Sue and I went to Seattle to eat.  During the trip, I learned the following:

1.  Clams, even though they’re so ugly and weird looking with ridiculous valves and things that they really require that you not look directly at them as you lift them to your lips, are sweet little morsels of delight.

2.  Oysters, which are most often advertised by aggressive seafood eaters as being “briny”, (Really, everyone I’ve ever met?  Briny?  Think up a selling point that doesn’t remind me of all the worst parts of going to the beach) are actually quite lovely, and I even chewed mine, which apparently is not best practice for eating oysters.

3.  Mussels, despite looking quite obviously like tiny vaginas, are tender and sweet and are served with french fries a lot.

Last week, I saw a recipe in Food & Wine for mussels in white wine, and figured “forget my lifelong promise to myself not to cook seafood at home thanks to that time I was a kid and my mom made salmon and it made the whole house smell like fish for 17 days,  I’m gonna cook mussels at home!”  Except then, when I went to the store, I realized that mussels have to be de-bearded and that felt too scary so I bought clams instead.

Clams with White Beans and Wine

2 lb fresh Manila clams

6 cloves of garlic, minced

4 tbsp butter, divided

1 tsp bacon fat, from the jar I sincerely hope you keep in your fridge

4 tbsp olive oil

1 cup or so white wine, I used a white Bordeaux, because Sue taught me that I like “non-traditional grape varietals”

2 cans white Northern beans, drained and rinsed well

red pepper flakes

a lot of chopped flat leaf parsley

salt and pepper

crusty bread

Method:  Clams are sandy.  To clean clams, you put them in a big bowl of salted cool water for 20 minutes to an hour before cooking, which makes them spit out all the sand.  Apparently, you can also put black pepper, flour or corn meal in the water to help them expel the sand.  I put in salt and pepper only.  When they’re done soaking, fish them out with a spoon and put them in a colander, scrubbing them thoroughly to remove the sand from the outside of the shells.

they weren't so sandy, i guess, because not a ton of sand came out and i didn't chew any sand.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter, the bacon fat and the olive oil in a large, shallow pan with sides and a fitted lid, on medium-low heat.  Toss in the garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and let it cook for maybe 4 or 5 minutes, moving it around frequently so it doesn’t burn.  Burnt garlic is almost as gross as that feeling when you realize the cute boy you’re talking to is a Republican.

After the 4-5 minutes, put in the beans and cook everything together for 5 minutes or so.

if you don't have a pan like this, clearly you don't go to homegoods as often as i do.

Then, pour in the wine and let it simmer for 5 more minutes.  Put in the clams and the remaining 2 tbsp of butter, stir it around a bit and put the lid on the pan for 5 minutes, shaking the pan a couple times to move things around.

i feel fancy that i did this.

Take the lid off, stir everything around, remove any clams that haven’t opened (because they were dead already, I think, is the reason that you don’t want to eat them, but that fact reminds me that I just cooked alive creatures in butter and wine and that’s jarring), put in the chopped parsley and serve with the bread.

all mine opened except 4. i assume "not open" meant not open at all, and that open only a little bit was still ok. i ate those, so if i die, they should really be more specific about how open clams are supposed to be.

This was so easy and so delicious I feel like a chump for every time I’ve been impressed by a dish like this in a restaurant.  Clams are fantastic, and butter, wine and garlic make for a no-lose situation.  Also, this entire process took less than 30 minutes.  I’ve always felt that shellfish are very high maintenance, which I suppose they are in terms of cleaning and de-bearding and de-icing or whatever else, but cooking them was fast and almost foolproof.  I think next time I make this, which based on how good this was might be tomorrow, I’ll put chorizo in it.

– Cat

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Filed under Legumes, Meat, Seafood, Soup

Italian Wedding Soup (or Escarole Soup)

For some people comfort food is macaroni and cheese, for some it’s mom’s homemade lasagna. For me it’s soup. Soup warms me to my very soul. I love the process of making it as much as I love eating it.  Although, I think if you have been reading this blog at all, you already know about my extensive love for soup. So today I’m going to tell you about my inspiration for this soup.

I spend a lot of time reading about food…and by a lot I mean an unreal amount of time. Food is a very central part of my life, job, and everything else.  Food to me isn’t just something to eat; it is something I love to talk about, something I love to think about, something I love to cook. It is deeply associated with memories in my life, and will be associated with future memories as well. I subscribe to this wonderful (and well known) food magazine called Saveur and this month’s edition, Italian Christmas, included a particularly inspiring story.

It was told from the perspective of a daughter whose father was a second generation immigrant from the former Czechoslovakia. The story gives a beautiful account of her memories of her grandmother’s kitchen, which became her father’s. Her father had been a Korean War veteran, a billionaire, and “now he was who he was: an up-country boy who has found peace in his mother’s kitchen in his mother’s apron”.  It was a soulful and touching story about the roots of our lives, and how so many of those memories are associated with food.

I have incredible memories of spending time in the kitchen with my mother, baking cookies and making our special family pasta recipes. I remember eating at the deli around the corner from my dad’s office and tasting real corned beef. I remember traveling to Thailand with my family and seeing and tasting a pomegranate for the first time.   Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year because I get to go home and cook with my family. I wish I had even an ounce of the skill the writers Saveur have, and their ability to evoke layers of memories; but for now I will continue to just enjoy reading them.

One of the other articles was about escarole soup. Here is the link, so you can read it yourself. See? Doesn’t it make you want to be in her grandmother’s kitchen? In case you are unfamiliar with Italian wedding soup, this is basically the same thing. One major difference in my recipe- I couldn’t find escarole. Apparently it is extremely difficult to find. I even went to our big huge mega Whole Foods that has every greens variety known to man; but no escarole. So I used kale, I would recommend you do the same.  I also made a number of other small changes, but you can consult the recipe in the Saveur link for the original.

Italian Wedding (or Escarole) Soup:

Meatball ingredients:

½ lb ground beef

½ lb ground veal

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup grated romano cheese

½ cup bread crumbs

¼ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

1 clove of garlic minced

½ medium yellow onion, minced or grated

2 Tbs freshly chopped parsley

1 egg, beaten

Salt and pepper

Soup Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil

8-10 cups chicken stock

1 ½ onions chopped (use the ½ left over from the meatballs)

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 large head of kale, cleaned, stems removed, and cut into 2” pieces

2 eggs beaten

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup pearl or Israeli cous cous

Salt and pepper

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Method:

To make meatballs, add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix with your hands. Form into small meatballs, no large than 1” inch wide. Place all the meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet while you are making them.  Heat up a large cast iron skillet (or other large pan that is good for searing) and cook the meatballs in batches.

Turn at least once while cooking so they will get a sear, it will take about 3-4 minutes per batch. Remove and drain on paper towel while you prepare the soup.

In a large dutch oven (or other soup pot) add the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the chicken stock and bring to a low boil.

Kale is pretty

Add the kale (or escarole) and the meatballs. Cook on a low simmer for 20 minutes to let the flavors marry. Add the pasta and cook for about 5 minutes. While the pasta cooks, beat together two eggs along with the parmesan cheese. Remove the soup from the heat and slowly add the egg/cheese mixture while whisking (this is what will cause the egg to thicken the soup, and not turn into scrambled eggs).  Season to taste with salt and pepper and optional red pepper flakes.

A few notes:

If you can find escarole, you should use it, and tell me how it is. Apparently it cooks down with an earthy and sweet flavor. Kale was an excellent (and super healthy) alternative, but I think you should use escarole if you can find it.

If veal isn’t your thing, you could use all ground beef or a mixture of beef and pork.

You can use any kind of pasta with this, but it is typically served with a small variety such as ditalini or the pearl cous cous. If you are planning to save this soup, you can cook the pasta separately and add it before serving. However; another pro for the pearl cous cous is that it holds up well to reheating.

-Sue

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Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Does anyone out there not love Panera? Come on, be honest. I remember when they opened, and Cat and I used to go there in high school. They have this wonderful house latte that has honey in it- honey in coffee is delicious, who knew!? One time at Panera we saw Tayshaun Prince, who plays for the Detroit Pistons (we also once ran into Chauncey Billups, in Denver at Verizon, and I may or may not have memorized his cell phone number).

But seriously, let’s get back to soup, my favorite subject. Panera has some excellent soups, I’m willing to admit it, you can too.  One day a few years ago I had the bad idea of looking online to find out how much fat was in one of my favorite Panera soups. Turns out- it’s A LOT. I don’t know what kind of delicious things they put in those soups, but I was sure I could make a delicious soup with much less fat.

This soup is exactly that. The best part is that there are even more fat trimming trickery that I could have used, and didn’t have to. I will add those at the bottom, but after putting this through a recipe calorie counter, it has almost ½ the fat of the Panera version. Homemade soup is always the best…but I’ll still sometimes eat at that other place. This is chicken and wild rice soup, it is hearty and creamy and flavorful and perfect for a cold winter night. I love a soup that is hearty enough to be a meal on it’s own and this is definitely that.

Ingredients:

2 cups wild rice

2 Tbs olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks celery chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup flour

6 cups chicken stock, unsalted

3 cups shredded chicken

½ tsp dried parsley

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp turmeric

1 ½ tsp seasoned salt

1 cup ½ and ½ or heavy cream

Method:

Heat 1 Tbs of the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots. Saute until the onion is tender. Add the spices and toast for 1 minute. Add the additional Tbs of olive oil and the flour, cook for one minute stirring frequently. Add the broth and reduce the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes until it is slightly thickened.

While the soup cooks, cook the rice according to package directions. I generally use at least some broth or stock while cooking rice to add more flavor, but whatever you want to do is fine.

When the soup has thickened, add the shredded chicken and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Before serving add the cream (or ½ and ½) and stir to combine. I usually taste at this stage and add more spices if needed. At this point you can either add all the rice if you are serving all the soup to a crowd, or add a large spoonful to each bowl and top it with the soup. The rice absorbs a lot of liquid and it will get mushy when you reheat it if you add it all now.

A few notes:

Mushrooms would be a wonderful addition to this. However, the boyfriend isn’t a big fan. I should have added them anyway- if you are going to add them I would recommend about 8 oz.

We used shredded chicken that I had roasted the night before. Any kind of chicken will do, or even turkey (hello Thanksgiving leftovers).

Try to get all wild rice. Some grocery stores will try and trick you with blends. The thing about other types of rice is that they have been stripped of their hull, and the texture just isn’t the same. There is a time and a place for all kinds of rice, but try to use ALL wild rice in this soup.

Oh did you want know more about the fat trickery? Use a can of nonfat evaporated milk. Or steam cauliflower and puree it and add that. There are a million little tricks to use- but cream or ½ and ½ are going to give you the best mouthfeel and flavor, it’s just a fact. I significantly reduced the amount that a lot of recipes called for, but feel free to use the other suggestions if you are looking for an even lower fat version

PS- according to Panera, their soup has 17g of fat per serving, and according to my calculations based on a 12 oz serving, mine has 6.9g. So yes, this is still not a soup you should eat every day, but it’s a much healthier alternative and is super satisfying and filling.

-Sue

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Minestrone Soup with Sausage

Actual G chat between Sue and Cat:

Sue: We should do a soup week.

Cat: We’ve posted a lot of soups, I feel like.

Sue: Yes, but there are so many more.

Cat: Do you think we could come up with that many new soups?

Sue: YES.

Minestrone, clam chowder, ham and bean, chili, tomato soup, bisques, curried cauliflower soup, butternut squash bisque, corn and poblano, beef and barley, wedding soup.

Should I keep going?

Split pea soup.

CREAM OF MUSHROOM, broccoli cheese, hot and sour.

Caitlyn: Oh ok, noted.

Sue: OH I could try and make the Brazilian coconut curry shrimp soup.

And chicken and dumplings!

I have a problem.

Caitlyn: Yeah what’s with you and soup?

Sue: I really love soup!

10 minutes later

Sue: Mulligatwany! Black bean and sausage!

It’s true, I have a problem, I love soup a little too much. If you would like, you can look back at all of my other soup posts and hear me humbly profess my (extremely) deep love for soup. So instead of telling you that, I’m bout’ to drop some soupy knowledge.

Have you ever wondered to yourself, where did the word restaurant come from? Oh wait; you’re not a dork like me? I’m still going to tell you. In 16th century France the word restaurer referred to a highly concentrated inexpensive broth that was supposed to ease physical exhaustion. The little food carts they served it from were called restaurants. As a result of the French Revolution, many noblemen, their families and entourages fled France. Chefs were among these refugees. One particular soup lover (a man after my own heart), Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, opened a public eating house in Boston called “Julien’s Restorator.” This was his translation of the French word restaurant into English. Bostonians later referred to it as Julien’s Restaurant. Julien’s claim to fame was one particular soup, turtle to be exact, that had vegetables cut into long narrow strings, thus the term to julienne vegetables.

It’s all about the soup, people. You know that saying that you can tell the quality of a chef by their ability to make a soup from scratch? It’s true.

On to minestrone, a famous Italian soup. Minestrone means “big soup”, and it’s pretty much that- a big pot of delicious vegetables.  Minestrone is another one of those soups that just doesn’t really have a master recipe. It almost always contains beans, tomatoes, onions, celery, stock, and some starch (rice or pasta)…but even that’s not always true.  It is generally made from seasonal vegetables, and can be either vegetarian or not.  Although, it is often made without meat, it is almost always made with stock- which by definition is not vegetarian. Would you like to know what the difference is between broth and stock? It’s the bones. Would you like to know what bones contribute? You’ll have to wait for another soup post.

So this recipe is a hodgepodge of many recipes, as per usual. While I was making this I actually had to cut down some of the ingredients because my pot wasn’t big enough for everything I wanted to add…and I was using a 5.5 quart Dutch oven.  The balance still worked out perfectly. So- get your biggest pot, and get to it.

Sausage Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb sausage, mix of sweet and hot

1 Tbs olive oil

1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced

3 stalks of celery, sliced

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can kidney beans, rinsed

1 can great northern beans, rinsed

2 cups tomato juice, about 3 of the little cans

6-8 cups chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 tsp salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes

1 zucchini, diced

1 summer squash, diced

1 cup pasta*

2 Tbs freshly chopped basil

Method:

In a large pot cook the sausage, breaking up into bite size pieces with a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is browned, add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes until the onions are transparent. Add the celery and carrots and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the beans and stir to combine. Add the tomato juice, chicken stock, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Cook for 40 minutes until the vegetables have softened, and the flavors have married.

This is my favorite kind of stock, it can be yours too!

Add the zucchini, squash, tomatoes and pasta and cook for another 10 minutes until the pasta is tender. Stir in the basil and serve.

A few notes:

The hot Italian sausage adds a significant amount of flavor to this, use more if you want, but definitely don’t use less.

You can use any kind of pasta you like, minestrone commonly comes with rice or orzo. If you choose to use those reduce the amount to ½ cup. I used these little baby penne pastas, they were delightful (I’m a sucker for all things in a tinier version than usual).

I used kidney beans and great northern beans. I used great northern beans because I love them, I also bought a can of butter beans (another love) but I ran out of room in the pot. If you like the added protein you can add up to 3 cans of beans. Just don’t omit the kidney beans, whatever you do (you can, but why?).

Add whatever veggies you like, kale or spinach would be an excellent addition.

-Sue

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Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

If I had to pick one food group I love, it would have to be soup.  From bisque to bouillabaisse, I love them all.  Sometimes I enjoy a brothy soup, like pho or ramen, and sometimes I want something heartier like corn chowder. You name it, I’ll spoon it. There are some people out there who think soup cannot be a meal (Bryan, I’m talking to you) but I am here to disagree. I’m not here to talk about the soup in the tiny cans with names like “chicken with stars”, that’s not soup. Soup is rich, hearty, and has layers of flavor, and warms you inside and out (even when it’s a cold soup like gazpacho).

There are just so many things to love about soup. I love that it can literally be anything; you could make a soup from leftover corned beef and cabbage, or a soup from leftover pasta sauce. Do you have some extra vegetables that are looking a little wilted? Throw them in the soup!

Now, let’s talk about chicken tortilla soup, which exemplifies another thing I love about soup: how different it can be depending on who’s making it. Chicken tortilla soup can be spicy, it can be brothy, it can be creamy, it can be heavy on the cilantro, and it can have beans…ok you get my point.  Well, this kind is the creamy kind. The boyfriend fell in love with a particular chicken tortilla soup in college and I have been trying to recreate ever since our first soup season together (yes, it’s fall now, and it’s soup season). It seems easy, take brothy soup, add something to thicken it- boom, creamy. But it’s not. Well one day in my restaurant one of the cooks made this soup, and it was perfect. I asked for the recipe- and then continued to modify it, and I finally came to this. The most delicious chicken tortilla soup ever, you’re welcome.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. chicken

3 bell peppers , at least 2 yellow orange or red, diced

1 medium onion, diced

2 (or more) jalapenos seeded and minced

1 large can of diced tomatoes, or 2-3 medium tomatoes seeded and diced.

½ cup masa corn flour

1 Tbs, and 4 Tbs of butter or olive oil

6 cups reduced sodium chicken stock

1 Tbs cumin

3 tsp. salt

2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 Tbs. granulated garlic

2 cups ½ and ½ or cream*

1 large handful of cilantro, chopped

Method:

Either buy cooked chicken, or cook the chicken. I bought fresh chicken, cut it into small cubes, dusted it with salt and pepper and sautéed it before I added the vegetables. You could also use a store bought roast chicken, shredded.

Sauté the onions, peppers, and jalapenos in 1 Tbs olive oil or butter until softened and fragrant. Add  garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper sauté for one minute to lightly toast. Add the ½ cup of masa flour and the additional 4 Tbs of butter or olive oil. Cook for 2 minutes until a roux forms.  Add the chicken stock, and stir to combine. Bring to a low boil, which will help the stock to thicken. When the soup has thickened, add the tomatoes, cilantro, and cream (or ½ and ½). Simmer for 45 minutes. Top with whatever you like: freshly made tortilla strips*, extra cilantro (if you love it like I do), shredded cheddar cheese, or even sour cream.

A few notes:

-Butter makes the best roux, but olive oil also works. It’s entirely up to you which one you use.

-If you would like the soup to be thicker, whisk together 1 Tbs masa (or regular) flour and 2 Tbs milk and add to the soup, until you have reached your desired thickness.

-Another note on thickening, I don’t like fat free ½ and ½, I think it tastes a little sweet, which is weird. If you are looking for a low fat option use fat free condensed milk, but ½ and ½ or cream will give you the best mouth feel and flavor. You could also use as little as a cup of cream and use milk for the rest.

-To make tortilla strips: cut flour or corn tortillas into strips. Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees, and fry in small batches. Remove with a metal slotted spoon and toss lightly with salt before serving.

-Let me just leave you with this quote.  “Mmm soup. I mean noodle soup! I mean soup!”

– Sue

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Kruse and Muer style Gazpacho and Herbed Croutons

I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, in which celebrity chefs discuss the restaurant that makes their favorite cheeseburger, chocolate cake, fois gras, whatever. Well, if I had to choose it would be Kruse and Muer bread (also the Brazilian coconut shrimp soup from Shuga’s, but that’s another post).  Kruse and Muer is one of a family of restaurants in metro Detroit, where I grew up.  Their bread, universally called  “Kruse and Muer bread”,  is famous, and AMAZING.  I don’t think there is a single person within a ten mile radius of a Kruse and Muer restaurant that doesn’t love this bread.  One time when Cat still lived by one, I made her cut up a loaf and put it in a Ziplock and bring it to me in Denver. When it got here, I wouldn’t share it with anyone. If Cat still lived near one, I would make her send me some weekly. It is THAT good.

Beyond the bread, Kruse and Muer has a fantastic menu. They have an amazing cheese tortellini in a tomato cream sauce that tastes like no other tomato cream sauce you’ve ever had. Not to mention their famous pizza, with a crust made from the famous bread.  One of my other favorites was their gazpacho, which they only served in the summer during the height of tomato season. I should disclose that one of the many components that made their gazpacho fantastic was the croutons made from the famous bread.

I would love to say that I have learned to replicate the bread, but I haven’t. What I do have is the “bread blessing” recipe. This is not top secret, it has been floating around Rochester, Michigan for years and years, and it’s in a cook book by Chuck Muer, restaurant founder. The bread recipe provided with the blessing, unfortunately, comes nowhere near the chewy crusty deliciousness of real Kruse and Muer bread, but if you are looking for a flavor that reminds you of that beloved bread, this will do the trick. This bread blessing tossed with a good French baguette, will make some fantastic croutons; one of the key components to their amazing gazpacho. Are you wondering what a bread blessing is? Simply, it’s herbed oil or butter that is brushed on to bread after it is risen and before it is baked, it is also commonly brushed on just after it comes out of the oven.

Now that I have rambled on and on about bread for a page, we should probably talk about gazpacho. Gazpacho is a cold tomato and bread based soup. It is of Spanish origin, and can vary widely from recipe to recipe. One of my favorite things about Kruse and Muer’s gazpacho was the tangy, acidic bite. It’s taken some time, and lots of tasting to develop this recipe. To me, 1,298 miles from the nearest Kruse and Muer, this is the closet replication I could make (yes, I Googled that exact location).

Kruse and Muer Bread Blessing/ Crouton Recipe:

Blessing Ingredients (1/2 recipe):

½ cup olive oil

½ large garlic clove, minced or pressed

1 Tbs dried oregano

1 Tbs dried basil

¼ tsp salt

1 Tbs poppy seeds

Crouton method:

1 French baguette, which you can find in the deli section of most grocery stores, I recommend white. Cut about 2 inches of each end and set aside (to be used in the gazpacho). Cut the rest of the loaf into small cubes. On a large baking sheet drizzle the blessing over the croutons and toss with your hands to coat.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside (You can bake your croutons longer to be crispier, but this is similar to how Kruse and Muer’s are).

Gazpacho Ingredients:

4 cups of chopped tomatoes, whatever is the ripest **see note at the bottom**

3 cucumbers, stripe peeled (peeling some skin, leaving strips of some skin, or just peel it all if you like)

2 bell peppers, any color you like

1 Vidalia or other sweet onion

1 ½ cloves garlic, minced or pressed

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

Ends of the baguette from the croutons, or 2 medium slices dried crusty bread

Juice of 2 lemons

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste (at least ½ tsp of salt and 4-5 grinds of black pepper)

Sour cream (or Greek yogurt) for serving.

Gazpacho Method:

In a food processor puree 2 cups of the chopped tomatoes, along with the bread. Drizzle in olive oil and blend again.  Pour the puree into a large bowl.

Slice the cucumbers in ½ and scrape out the seeds, then dice. Dice the onion. Remove the ribs and seeds from the bell pepper and dice.

Add diced vegetables to the puree, along with the remaining 2 cups of chopped tomatoes. Add garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and spices, mix with a large spoon to combine.Test mixture and adjust spices, oil, vinegar, and lemon juice to taste.

Serve chilled, topped with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, and croutons.

Will keep in the fridge for a week.

A few notes:

** For the puree of tomatoes I used fresh large tomatoes from the farmers market, and for the additional two cups of chopped tomatoes I used quartered cherry tomatoes, orange and red. I LOVE those baby orange tomatoes, especially this time of year. If you find that at your local market, I highly recommend using them.

-Bell peppers and I are not friends. I would love to love them, but my tummy thinks otherwise. Despite the recipe above, I used just one yellow. You can use whatever color, and up to three if you love them.

-The original bread blessing does not include the poppy seeds. Before the bread is “blessed” it is rolled in a poppy seed and salt mixture. Poppy seeds are key to Kruse and Muer bread, so since I wasn’t baking the bread, I added them to the blessing.

– If you live anywhere near Kruse and Muer and you are reading this- send bread immediately.

– Sue

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Filed under Appetizers, Recipes, Soup, Vegetarian

Carrot Bisque

This soup is soooo close to being so good for you that I would name it “Perfect Spa Soup” or some nonsense like that, except that it has bacon.  Also: cream.  Except, I didn’t use cream this time, I used 1% milk and a little light sour cream because that’s what I had.  All those years of reading my mother’s Cooking Light while she was cooking dinner certainly paid off!

But really, this was a favorite soup when I was a teenager.  The pureeing and the cream is what makes this a bisque, otherwise it would be regular soup.   When you eat it you think, this is pureed, which is fancy, this soup must be a lot of work.  But it isn’t at all, if you have an immersion blender like I do.  If you don’t have a hand-held mixer that includes an immersion blender attachment as well as a tiny food processor attachment, you should probably just pull the trigger and buy one.  They are lovely for pureeing soups, making whipped cream and meringue, and also: chocolate malts!

Mainly I like this soup because it has a lot of vegetables, which I can feel good about, but also comes together in about 45 minutes.  Not fancy, not ornate, just an easy and delicious thing to make for dinner on a weeknight.

Carrot Bisque

3-5 strips of bacon (Cut into little pieces with kitchen shears, is my advice.  I keep kitchen shears for cutting food, when it applies. Though I have, to date, only ever used them for cutting bacon.  I am taking suggestions for other uses.)

1 big onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

4 ribs celery, chopped

4 cups carrots, chopped

1 package white button mushrooms, sliced

1 quart chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup half and half, or some combination of milk/sour cream or just milk

salt and pepper

Method:

In a large dutch oven on medium heat, cook the chopped bacon until a little crispy, probably 10 minutes or so, stirring frequently.  Then, put in the onions, garlic, celery salt and pepper to taste and cook another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.  Then, add the carrots, mushrooms, stock and bay leaves.  Cook until the carrots are tender, probably 30 minutes or so, partially covered.

this is probably the only recipe in the world wherein i actually believe in the contribution of bay leaves. i think there's a bay leaf conspiracy happening, perpetrated by the mccormick spice corporation.

With your immersion blender, puree the soup as much as possible, taking care not to spray yourself with boiling hot soup, as I inevitably do.  Stir in the cream or milk or sour cream or whatever you’re using and serve with crusty, buttered bread.

you'd think a soup featuring carrots so prominently would be more attractively orange, but you'd be wrong. it's this color.

– Cat

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Filed under Recipes, Soup, Vegetables