Rutubaga Soup

Rutubaga Root Vegetable Soup

This may have the most intense flavor per spoonful of anything I have ever made. The flavor is so rich and intense that it is amazingly filling and satisfying. I know I will make this again and again. I was inspired to make it by the fact that I had four rutabagas in the crisper that were losing their crispness. I knew I had to make something and they were no longer crisp enough for great salads, so I decided to make a soup. I looked online for some soup recipes, but most called for cream and I almost never have milk or cream. I was pretty sure I could come up with a non-dairy version that would be pretty good.

To start I sautéed a medium sized yellow onion in 2 tbsp of olive oil with some salt and pepper. I added 1 full inch of fresh ginger (about 1.5 tbsp) and 2 tsp of cardamom. I let sauté until they onions were tender and a soft golden yellow. Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped up 4 rutabaga and 2 turnips into about 1 inch cubes. The turnips were the adorable little small, round ones, not the big ones. I thought they might add a bit of pungent brightness to the soup. When they were all cut up, I tossed them in the pot and added salt and pepper.

I then added 24 oz of broth. I used chicken broth I had made from some roast chicken and froze. You could use a mushroom or vegetable broth for a vegan alternative. The point is to enrich the vegetables with flavor from the broth – but the particular broth flavor is less critical.

While they cooked, I peeled and cubed two tart apples. I happened  to use 2 Fiji and 2 Granny Smith, but so long as they are tart apples and not sweet ones like HoneyCrisp or bland ones like Delicious, the particular strain is not important.

When the rutabagas and turnips were tender, I added the apples with some salt and pepper. I then juiced two fresh lemons. I added the lemon juice and 1.5 tsp of cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. I am sure you note that I am adding salt and pepper over and over and over. This does not make an over-salted dish, because I season to taste at each stage – and adding with each new stage of cooking, the flavor actually becomes rich with less salt and pepper.

Let it cool a bit and puree with an immersion blender. It will be creamy and smooth and delicious.

The brightness of the lemon, the little bit of cayenne and the earthy richness of the root vegetable and the delicious aromatic cardamom combine into an intense and delicious flavor that is hard to describe. It’s has a tiny bit of heat, but it’s not spicy. It has a bit of zing, but it’s not sour. It’s just sublime.

This made 2 quarts of soup – enough for several more than a single serving. It can easily be made vegan and will be just as good.

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Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup

You can easily make a vegetarian or vegan version of this soup and it will still be delicious. Simply substitute olive oil for butter and vegetable broth for chicken broth. Mushrooms make a flavorful broth on their own and believe me, when you are cooking barley you will cook everything long enough to get the flavor from the mushrooms to infuse the broth.

Most people soak barley overnight before cooking, but my mom never did and neither do I. It cooks up to a nice toothsome tenderness just fine in about 2 hours or so.

So, making this I first sliced up 10 small crimini mushrooms and dry sautéed them. Dry sauté is the best way to cook mushrooms as it draws moisture out which will make their flavor richer and help them keep not get too mushy while cooking. Once you try it you will never go back to just tossing the mushrooms in. All you do is heat the pan to a medium, medium-low and toss the mushrooms in to cook for about 10 minutes. Stir frequently so they don’t stick to the pan.

In the interim, dice one small yellow onion. When the mushrooms are done (10 minutes) add 2 TBSP of butter (or olive oil if you want a vegan version) and add the onions as soon as its melted. Sauté until they are turn transparent. Add some salt and pepper and 2 tsp of dried thyme. You want to add salt and pepper in layers – as you add ingredients. You actually will probably use less because the flavor is integrated throughout.

Meanwhile, peel and chop two carrots and two stalks of celery. Add them to the pot and cook for another five minutes or so, just enough to potentiate their flavor before adding the broth. This will make the broth richer and more flavorful. Add some salt and pepper.

Add 4 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegan version) and  1.5 cups of pearl barley. Stir, put the lid on and let cook, on a low boil, stirring every 10 minutes or so for the next hour and half or so. Keep checking to see if the barley is tender after 1.5 hours and remove when you get the right texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This is flavorful, rich and very hearty. it is comfort food for me. I love barley with its slight nuttiness and barley and mushrooms are made for each other.  This makes four large servings of soup.

Garlic Scapes & Potato Soup

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My best friend brought over a bunch of garlic scapes. If you have never had them, they are the early spring shoots off garlic plants and they have this delicious and so very delicate oniony-garlic flavor. A favorite way to cook them is roasting them in the oven, but I swear my downstairs neighbor still has the heat on so I did not want to heat up the apartment by turning on the oven. Since I love soup just about more than anything, I decided I would try come up with something that would respect the delicate flavor of the scapes. Lots of googling found several recipes mostly for garlic scapes and white bean soups. There are no white beans in the pantry so that’s out. There were several recipes with potatoes in a pureed soup. I think garlic scapes are so pretty, that I decided to just come up with something on my own and see what happens.

I heated 1 TBSP of olive oil in my 2 quart sauce pan. I chopped the scapes into pieces about 1.5 inches long and tossed them in to sauté. I added 1 tsp of dry tarragon. I would have used fresh, but I didn’t have any. I also added some salt and pepper because you always want to season in layers so that the flavor builds in each ingredient you add. I had the heat up just a bit above medium because I wanted the scapes to brown and caramelize just a bit to bring out their sweetness.

As soon as I had nice caramelization, I added 3 cups of chicken broth (made by boiling the heck out of a roast chicken carcass and all the onions that it rested on while roasting) and 3 potatoes, cubed into just under 1 inch bites. I added a dash of salt and pepper and cooked until the potatoes were tender. It is essential that you cut the potatoes all the same size because you want them to all be done at the same time. Otherwise you will have underdone and mushy potatoes which is really not appealing. If you want a vegan version, use vegetable broth instead.

So this was the moment of truth, would the scapes be too fibrous as they are? Would I have to puree to deal with the texture? Well, I am happy to report they maintained their integrity, not turning to mush, while also being tender and toothsome without a hint of being too fibrous for soup. The flavor was a bit mellow, so I added the juice of one lemon and another dash of salt and pepper and it was done. And it is amazing.

The deepest flavor is a rich oniony-garlic flavor from the scapes with high notes of tarragon and lemon. It is a truly stunning soup that is made even more special because scapes have such a short window during the year. So get to the store now, they could be gone in no time.

This made 6 generous servings. You could make a vegan version by using vegetable broth. 

 

Pea Shoots & Bacon Soup

Pea Shoots & Bacon Soup

Pea shoots are the essence of spring time and I have been enjoying several salads with pea shoots, but I wanted to figure out a way to use the bottom half of the shoots, those tougher, larger, fibrous stalks. I decided to make a pea shoos pureed soup.

In my 2 quart pan, I melted 1 TBSP of butter on medium low. I chopped up half of a medium yellow onion and sautéed them in the butter. I crushed and chopped up two cloves of garlic and added them and let them cook. Then I chopped up 3 slices of bacon into small pieces and let them cook with the onions and garlic.

While they sautéed, I chopped up 4 red potatoes into 2 inch cubes. Once the bacon was done,, I added 1 quart of chicken broth (from the roast chicken I made last week) and the chunks of red potatoes. I put a lid on the pan and let them cook until fork tender. You can use a potato masher to mash them up a bit.

While the potatoes cooked, I rinsed the pea shoots in cold water and chopped up all but the tender top shoots into 2 inch long pieces or so. Add to the soup and let cook.

Remove from heat and let cool. Then puree until smooth. Because the pea shoots can be fibrous, after the soup was pureed, I poured it through a strainer so the resultant soup was smooth with no bits of pea shoot fibers or stalks remaining. I cut a lemon in half, and juiced it into the soup. Adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste and it was done, just needing a bit of reheating before serving – garnished with some tendrils of pea shoots.

This makes 8 servings. The soup is bright and delicious. The lemon juice is absolutely what makes the soup so delicious – hot or cold.

Chicken and Dumplings with Tomatoes and Kale

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Does everything taste better with kale? I don’t know, but the evidence is piling up.

I made an easy chicken and dumpling soup. I had the broth reserved in the fridge from a chicken I cooked a couple weeks ago. You could use canned broth, too, probably, but it’s easy enough to make your own broth and make it rich and flavorful with lots of vegetables and herbs. I just strain it twice and save it in containers.

I put the broth in a sauce pan, added 1 14.5 ounce can of canned tomatoes to heat and began to mix up the dumplings. I made a big batch because you can cook up some dumplings, serve them and then add more dumplings back to the soup broth. To make the dumplings I mixed 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 tsp of baking powder and 1 cup of flour. The batter was soft, but hung together on the spoon. I dipped a soup spoon in the boiling water and then into the batter to spoon it into the broth. By dipping my spoon into the hot broth, I ensured that the batter didn’t stick to the spoon and slid easily off into the broth. I let them boil until the floated on top of the broth. While they cooked, I clean two ribs of kale, removing the ribs and chopping the kale leaves. I added them to the soup and served when done.

After I had two bowls of soup, I cooked up the rest of the dumplings and put the soup in the fridge for later. This made 8-12 servings of soup, depending on your bowl. It’s a rich, flavorful soup with a bit of heat from the jalapeños in the canned tomatoes. I frankly love those particular canned tomatoes and will use them in soups a lot.

From start to finish was about 25 minutes.

Chicken, Kale and Potato Soup

Chicken and Kale Soup

 

I put two cups of chicken broth in  a sauce pan and brought to a simmer. Meanwhile, I cut up a potato into small pieces and tossed them in to cook. I added salt and pepper for seasoning and then cleaned and chopped up three stalks of kale, removing the ribs. I added the kale to the broth about 10 minutes after the potatoes so they were both tender and ready to eat 10 minutes later. I squeezed about 1 tbsp of lemon juice in before serving to just brighten and elevate the flavor a bit

This was another hearty and flavorful soup with an emphasis on umami flavor.

Chicken, Kale and Mushroom Soup

Chicken, Kale and Mushroom Soup

I made a good chicken stock by stewing a chicken in water with mirepoix (celery, carrots and onions), oregano, salt and pepper and a bay leaf for several hours, removing all the meat and vegetables and straining for a relatively clear broth. I reserved the chicken for sandwiches and salads and stored the broth in covered containers in the fridge. I also saved about 1 cup of the carrots, celery and onions from the mirepoix to add back into this soup.

To make this soup, I turned the heat on a dry saucepan to low-medium. I sliced up 3 large mushrooms and cooked them without oil for about 5 minutes. This intensified the mushroom flavor and if you keep your heat low enough, they won’t burn or stick because they have enough moisture – moisture than you are sweating out so you get the richest mushroom flavor. I then added 2 cups of broth and brought the heat up to a simmer. I tossed about 1/2 cup or so of the mirepoix I had saved. I cleaned 3 stalks of kale, removing the ribs and slicing into small pieces. I added them to the broth and let simmer until tender. I added salt and pepper to taste.

The broth was rich and flavorful and the mushrooms added a rich earthy flavor while the kale gave it a hearty feeling. This soup was pure comfort food, rich in umami flavor.

Avgolemono Soup

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Who knew chicken and rice soup could be so flavorful? I cooked a chicken last week, making a chicken vegetable soup and reserving about 10 cups of chicken broth for other soups and dishes and lots of chicken for sandwiches and salads.  This recipe takes 4 cups of broth and makes 4 servings.

You can cook the rice in the chicken broth if you like. I had made my rice in advance.

Heat 4 cups of chicken broth to a simmer. If you are cooking your rice in the broth,this will take about 20 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk 3 eggs and 4 TBSP of lemon juice. I whisk the eggs until they are a light yellow, but am not trying to whip them or make them stiff in the least. When the broth is simmering, ladle some broth into the egg mixture and whisk it in. I ladled about three ladles full of broth, whisking each one in, before transferring it all back to the kettle of broth and letting it cook for a few minutes until the eggs were cooked.  Add some salt and pepper. Do not just  pour the egg mix into the broth because it will curdle and be lumpy and not look like what you want. It will still taste good, but you want it to look and taste good. You want the egg mixture and the broth to be the same temperature to keep it from curdling. Let it cook, stirring for two minutes or so and the soup will thicken. You can put a spoonful of pre-cooked rice in the bottom of the bowl when you serve and the soup will heat it thoroughly without cooking it any more. You can also add shredded chicken if you have any left, but it’s really not necessary. The soup is rich, creamy and delicious and does not need any additional meat.

Spicy Chicken Coconut Soup

Spicy Chicken Cocoanut Soup

I won’t presume to call this a Thai Tom Kha Gai soup because I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients for anything approaching a true Thai soup, but it does borrow inspiration from the delicious Tom Kha Gai of Thailand.

I bought a delicious free-range fryer and cooked with an onion and a bay leaf until the meat fell off the bones. This gave me about 3 quarts of chicken broth and 8 cups of chicken after I removed all the meat from the bones. From that I will make two soups and several salads.

For this soup, I diced 1/2 onion and 3 cloves of garlic and 2 inches of galangal. I sauteed them in 2 TBSP of olive oil for 5 minutes or so. I added a sliced bell pepper (actually 1/2 of a yellow and 1/2 of a red bell pepper) and a 2 cups of sliced mushrooms. Then I added about 1.5 TBSP of sriracha and let it all cook. After about 10 minutes, I added 1.5 quarts of my chicken broth and 1 12 oz can of light coconut milk, some salt and pepper and let it all cook about 20 minutes. Then I added 1 chopped tomato and 2 cups of chopped up chicken from what I had removed from the fryer. I let cook a few more minutes so they were warmed through and squeezed the juice of two fresh limes in to soup before serving.

This is a delicious soup with many layers of flavor from the dry peppery feeling of the galangal to the sweetness of the coconut milk, from the heat of the sriracha to the to mild bell peppers and hearty mushrooms and the tart freshness of the limes. The individual components keep their flavor and marry beautifully.

This makes about 8 servings.