Tag Archives: Soup

Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab Salad

watermelon gazpacho with crab salad 157

It’s only been in the last decade of my life that I’ve even heard of gazpacho, let alone tasted it. I’ll admit, it sounded a little odd, but I learned of it in my New, Adventurous Eating Phase of Life, so I dove right in to trying it. And…. I didn’t like it. So I tried again. And once again, I didn’t like it.

watermelon 137

After another try or two, I simply gave up. I figured, no one likes everything out there, right? Until I put two and two together and realized it – I don’t like onions in my gazpacho. I’m just not a big raw onion person. They have their place, sure; don’t worry, I don’t pick them out of pico de gallo or anything. But when I tried gazpacho without any onions, I finally understood its appeal, and now I happily join its legions of fans!

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I picked up Donald Link’s new book a few months ago and was very excited to see a gazpacho recipe in there. Now that watermelons are in season (yea!!!), I thought it time to give his recipe a go. And as you’d expect, it’s insanely delicious. It’s so light and healthy, and extremely flavorful with perfect juicy watermelons.

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A few recipe notes: as written, this makes a lot! Feel free to cut the recipe in half. If you make the whole thing, my recommendation would be to chop everything and mix it up in a large mixing bowl, then blend it in batches. Also, a note about the crab salad. Chef Link instructs to place a spoonful of salad on top of the bowls of soup. Initially, I couldn’t do the math on that. I mean, the crab salad has mayonnaise, which I just couldn’t picture blending well with gazpacho. So I put the salad on toasts and we ate them alongside. Well, I was wrong and Chef Link was right, which I know is really not surprising. Skip the toasts, guys. I’m serious, it’s so delicious the way he intended it.

And lastly, I scaled down the amount of crab salad, because the day I went shopping, crabmeat was horrifically expensive. So I chose to cut the recipe down to save my wallet. You can certainly scale up to as much as 1 ½ lbs.  of crabmeat. Enjoy!

Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab Salad 181

{One Year Ago: Jerk Chicken “Tostadas” with Cabbage-Jicama Slaw}

Source: slightly adapted from Down South by Donald Link

Ingredients:

GAZPACHO:
4 cups chopped ripe tomato
4 cups chopped seedless watermelon
1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped
3 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and chopped
¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves
¼ cup loosely packed torn basil leaves
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste if needed
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste if needed
2 tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling

CRAB SALAD:
6 tbs mayonnaise
½ tsp lime zest
Juice of half a lime
1 small serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
4 large basil leaves, chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of sugar
8 oz. jumbo lump crabmeat

Directions:
Make the crab salad first. Spread the crab on a plate and pick it free of shells and cartilage. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, lime zest, lime juice, serrano, basil, pepper flakes, salt, and sugar. Add in the crabmeat and gently stir to combine. Let it sit in the refrigerator while you make the soup.
To make the gazpacho, combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until pretty smooth. A little chunky is good. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice and salt, if needed.
To serve, divide the gazpacho in wide bowls. Top each with a dollop of crab salad and finish with a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Vegan Carrot Soup

vegan carrot soup

So it’s Carrot Week here at the Texan New Yorker, and yesterday I showcased carrots in dessert form, so I figure today I’m going to give you an extremely healthy soup. I found this recipe in Joanne Chang’s second cookbook, Flour Too, and she serves this at her bakeries for lunchtime patrons.

Vegan Carrot soup

Last fall, I went to visit my mom in Cambridge, MA, (she was there for a conference) and I was able to dine at the original Flour locale. Twice. In one day. Needless to say, it was phenomenal. This soup isn’t what I ordered (carrots weren’t really in season back in November), but having tasted it at home, I can completely see why the locals would go nuts over it.

vegan carrot soup

Vegan carrot soup

Chef Chang says she has a rule about making vegan dishes at the bakery: non-vegans must go nuts over them too. She hit the nail on the head with this one. Matt and I aren’t vegans, but we LOVED this soup. I think the secret is roasting the carrots. That method coaxes out so much flavor I’m not even sure I knew carrots had. Really amazing end results. Vegan or not, you should try it.

Vegan Carrot Soup

{One year ago: “Old Fashioned” Snickerdoodles}

Source: slightly adapted from Flour, Too by Joanne Chang

Ingredients:
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1-inch chunks
3 tbs olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced crosswise
1 medium fennel bulb, leafy tops trimmed and bulb cored and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into rounds
6 cups good-quality vegetable stock
1 small tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and chopped
½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
Pinch of dried thyme

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Place a rack in the center of the oven.
Spread the carrots on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbs of olive oil, plus the fresh thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Toss with your hands to make sure they are evenly coated. Roast the carrots for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
In a large stockpot, heat the remaining 1 tbs olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, fennel and garlic. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, about 6-8 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the ginger, the roasted carrots and the stock. Bring to a boil.
Now add the apple and simmer about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until very smooth. Add the nutmeg, dried thyme, and taste for seasoning. It will likely need some salt and pepper at this point.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve warm.

Broccoli Basil Soup

broccoli basil soup

Welcome, welcome! I’m extremely thrilled to post the very first installment of my new Week Of… blog series, where every week’s recipes revolve around a stated theme. Without further ado, this week’s theme is BROCCOLI!

broccoli

If you just groaned, it’s okay. I don’t judge you one bit. The reason I picked broccoli is because it seemed very appropriate for the beginning of the year, when people are making New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier. And while I’m not really making any per se, one of my food goals is (and has been) to like broccoli. While I’ve done very, very well at eating and liking my vegetables since my mid-twenties, broccoli is one that has kept not working for me. But it is so incredibly good for you that I feel I have to give it another try.

So that’s what this week is all about. Finding new and interesting ways to cook broccoli so that I might actually enjoy eating it! First up, we have soup. Reason being, the broccoli is pureed, so I cannot possibly complain about the texture (something I have vehemently done in the past).

broccoli basil soup + goat cheese toast

But instead of the more common broccoli cheese soup, I wanted to find a soup I would like that didn’t drown the vegetable in cheese (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course). I’m always fond of basil, so this soup was really enjoyable for me. Win! Oh, and the goat cheese toasts on top didn’t hurt anything, either. Of course. But, in all seriousness, I did really enjoy this soup. I hope you will too, regardless of where you fall on the broccoli spectrum. And stay tuned, for on Wednesday I shall bring you broccoli in the form of a delicious Asian appetizer – you don’t want to miss it!

Broccoli Basil Soup

Quick recipe note: the recipe does not call for adding any dairy. I swirled in a touch of heavy cream to improve the pictures. While quite tasty, the soup without the cream is a shade of green that just doesn’t photograph well. You food bloggers know what I’m talking about. So I added the cream to change the color. Taste-wise, I actually preferred it without the cream. Go figure!

Source: slightly adapted from Cowgirl Chef by Ellise Pierce

Ingredients:
1 large head of broccoli, florets removed from the stalk
Olive oil
1 shallot, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
4 cups vegetable stock
A good handful of fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper
Small crusty bread slices, such as a sliced baguette
3-4 oz. goat cheese

Directions:
Prep the broccoli by chopping the florets into small-ish pieces. Then peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler, trim the ends and chop into 1-inch pieces.
Drizzle a little olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until softened. Next add the broccoli florets and stalks and stir a few times just to coat them with the oil and sauté just a tad. Add the vegetable stock. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Once it boils, turn the heat down and simmer until the broccoli is tender but not mushy, about 15-20 minutes. Test the doneness – a sharp paring knife should slide easily into the stalk pieces.
When done, shut off the heat and add the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then puree the soup with an immersion blender or carefully in your regular blender, working in batches if need be.
Meanwhile, toast your bread slices and then immediately smear them with a generous amount of goat cheese.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with 1 or 2 goat cheese toasts on the side.

Black Eyed Pea and Chorizo Soup

Black eyed pea and chorizo soup

Happy New Year!!! Here’s hoping your celebrations were fun, happy, and safe. We played things low-key this year, just stayed home, did some cooking, and watched my Baylor Bears lose the Fiesta Bowl, a bowl game they were favored to win. Oh boy….

Despite that, I’m feeling incredibly happy and thankful today, because on this exact date last year, I awoke with a very bad case of the flu. Today I awoke feeling perfectly fine. I’ll take it!

I have discovered only in recent years that this is a Texas and some-of-the-Deep-South thing, but growing up we always ate black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Apparently they are supposed to bring good fortune in the coming year. I have no idea the origin of this tradition, but I figure it can’t hurt, so I made this utterly delicious soup on New Year’s Eve. A soup that makes your house smell sooooo amazing and warms your belly and soul on a cold, icy, blustery, winter day (the likes of which we are apparently supposed to have until Sunday).

black eyed pea and chorizo soup

A few recipe notes: the original recipe calls for pureeing much of the soup ingredients, namely the veggies and spices. I knew that, but then I didn’t pay attention to what I was doing and tossed the onion into the crumbled chorizo. Oops. As you can imagine, we had a chunkier soup. Which worked just fine and was delicious. Of course I’m linking to the original recipe to give source credit, so if you’d rather have a smoother soup, definitely check that out. Second recipe note – you are looking for Mexican chorizo for this soup, not Spanish or Portuguese chorizo. Mexican chorizo is raw, usually in casings, and is sold in the refrigerated meat section of the grocery store, or behind the butcher counter. Spanish and Portuguese chorizo is cured, ready-to-eat, and is not refrigerated when sold. Make sure you get the correct kind. And I think that’s it! Enjoy, and Happy New Year!!

Black Eyed Pea and Chorizo Soup

Source: adapted from The Homesick Texan

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon lard or vegetable oil
1 lb. Mexican chorizo, removed from casing
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
6 cups chicken stock
15 oz. canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
3 (15-oz.) cans of black-eyed peas, drained
8 oz. pepper Jack, shredded
1/2 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnishing
2 tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnishing
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Sour cream, for garnishing

Directions:
In a large soup pot, heat the lard or oil over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking it up with a potato masher or sturdy spoon, until it is crumbled and no traces of pink remain. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes more, or until the onion is translucent.
Add the chipotle powder, cumin, oregano, and allspice; stir to combine.
Next add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and black eyed peas. Bring the soup up to a low boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the soup from scorching on the bottom of the pot. You can skim off the fat if you please, too.
Add the cheese and tortilla chips. Let the soup continue to softly simmer about 3-5 minutes more, to melt the cheese and incorporate the tortilla chips. Add the cilantro, lime juice, and black pepper. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed. Remember the chorizo is plenty salty, so you may not need much.
Serve in soup bowls, garnished with cilantro, lime wedges and sour cream as you please.

Eggplant Parmesan Soup #SundaySupper

eggplant parmesan soup

Welcome to Sunday Supper! Our theme this week was One Pot Meals. A fantastic theme, of course; who likes doing dishes? We all need some one pot meals in our repertoire, meals we can bust out on those grumpy days where you know that calling for take-out will be guilt-inducing, but you really don’t want to cook an elaborate meal. This recipe is PERFECT for those days.

eggplants

So, no false advertising here – this is eggplant parmesan in a soup bowl. I’m serious, it’s soup, but it tastes exactly like eggplant parmesan! And since I’m a huge eggplant parm fiend, this soup delighted my little soul.

eggplant parmesan soup

Like I mentioned, I love, love, love a well-executed eggplant parmesan. But let’s be honest, eggplant parm is the complete opposite of a one pot meal. More like a use-almost-every-dang-pan-in-your-kitchen meal, right? It’s kind of a production to pull off. But with this soup, you get all those beloved flavors in an easy to make and easy to clean up soup. Perfect!

Eggplant Parmesan Soup

The only recipe note I have is to add the vinegar slowly and titrate up if desired. I added the entire amount called for, and while that tang is a lovely addition to the soup, I found it a tad strong and wished I had backed off a little. And be sure to check out the rest of the Sunday Supper crew! As per usual, I’ve linked to their amazing recipes as well. Enjoy!

Eggplant Parmesan Soup

Source: Flour, Too by Joanne Chang

Ingredients:
3 tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 large eggplants, chopped (no need to peel)
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups white sandwich bread, cubed
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese
Up to 2 tbs red wine vinegar (I’d start with half of that, taste, and then add more if needed)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
Set a large soup pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the olive oil and when hot, add the onions and garlic. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until the onions just start to soften. If they brown a little, back off the heat a tad. Add the eggplant and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the eggplants break down and start to become mushy.
Add the tomatoes. Fill the now-empty tomato can with water and add that to the soup. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer about 5 minutes. Add the bread cubes and stir for 1 minute, or until the bread breaks down in the soup. Stir in the basil and parmesan, turn off the heat and let cool slightly.
Using your immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth. Alternately, you can do this in batches in your regular blender. Bring the pureed soup back up to a simmer. Season with the vinegar, salt and pepper. If the soup seems too thick, thin with a little water.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve immediately.

Check out the rest of the fabulous #SundaySupper team!

“Take the chill off” Chilis, Soups, and Starters

“Put meat on your bones” Stews

“Make room for seconds” Main Dishes

“Can’t say no” Desserts

Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder

I am a list-maker. I love making lists. I love checking things off lists. I’m one of those people who will do something, then add it to her to-do list after the fact, just to check it off. Lists are awesome.

remove corn kernels in your bundt cake pan

That’s in part why I have a tab on my blog listing classic dishes/recipes that I want to make sure I have under my belt. At first it was going to be 100 recipes. But it went past 100 items almost immediately. That’s okay. But then I found I kept finding things to add to it, so I decided to go in and revamp the whole thing last night. I added some things and made it an even 200. Then I organized the categories a little better and alphabetized it, so it’s easy to read.

simmering corn chowder

So yes, that’s 200 dishes to cross off, 200 dishes to make sure I have in my arsenal of kitchen tricks. And I’m a quarter of the way through!

And now I will add one more – corn chowder. A dish I had never made before, mostly because I find it to be somewhat oxymoronic. I associate corn with hot summers and chowder with cold winters. Something seems amiss here, right? And of course you could make this chowder in the winter with frozen corn, and there would be nothing wrong with that; but I felt drawn to making it at least once with seasonal fresh corn, something that just isn’t found in the winter (not in my neck of the woods anyway).

Pioneer Woman Corn Chowder

Long story short, I just sucked it up and made corn chowder, in the summer, with fresh corn. And it was wonderful. Surprisingly light, very corn-centric, with some heat from the chiles I threw in there. I was so pleased that it really didn’t feel out of place on a hot day. Of course a fan blowing straight at me while I ate probably helped, but still! It’s a terrific chowder, one I will be making again in the summers to come.

Corn Chowder

{One year ago: Cubano Sandwiches}

Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond

Ingredients:
5 ears of corn, shucked completely
3 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 whole chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 medium poblanos, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 tbs cornmeal
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Using a sharp knife, slice all the kernels of corn off the cobs. I’ve found the best way to do this is by using your bundt cake pan. That way the deep pan catches all the kernels and they don’t run all over your counter.
Preheat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
Add the onion to the pot and sauté in the bacon drippings until softened, about 5 minutes. Throw in the garlic and corn kernels. Stir to allow them to begin to cook. Stir in the chipotles and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Pour in the chicken stock, followed by the cream. Stir to combine, then add the poblano. Let the soup simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
At that point (and not before!) mix the cornmeal with ¼ cup water in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Stir the cornmeal mixture into the soup and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Green Gumbo

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I made this meal a few weeks ago whilst still on my I’ve-just-come-back-from-New-Orleans high, and am just now able to share it with you. Gumbo is of course a NOLA classic, but it usually contains either chicken or seafood. Although many people ardently take sides on which version of gumbo is better, I stay neutral in that debate, for I love them both. So I figured that if I love the Cajun (chicken) and the Creole (seafood) versions pretty equally, then it stands that I would probably love a meat free version too.

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I was correct. This may not be completely traditional, and I will freely admit that I never saw a green version of gumbo on any restaurant menus when I was down there, it’s still quite tasty with huge flavor. It’s still unmistakably gumbo, but with the calorie count lowered and the nutrient density much higher thanks to the dark greens. We both loved it. And the leftovers only get better.

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I found this recipe in a Rachael Ray cookbook where it was touted as one of her 30 Minute Meals. And I’m sorry, but no, Rachael, you cannot make gumbo in thirty minutes. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for recipes that come together quickly, (we all need those at times) and I’ll freely admit her 30 Minute Meals concept that launched her career into the stratosphere was pretty darn genius. But the idea of making proper gumbo in thirty minutes or less is really kind of offensive. You can’t do it. Gumbo needn’t take all day, but it does take longer than half an hour, otherwise your roux isn’t executed correctly and the flavor is off. So I heavily adapted her recipe to account for a proper roux, which yielded a delicious tasting gumbo.

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And now I will answer the million dollar question people ask all the time: how long does it take to make a roux? Well, the answer varies depending on who you ask and the type of gumbo you’re making. It is generally understood that Cajun gumbo needs a darker roux than Creole gumbo. Some cooks advocate taking up to an hour to make a proper Cajun roux. But a general rule of thumb that I like to follow is that roux takes about a beer.

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So crack open a cold beer, sprinkle in your flour, and start stirring and drinking (but not guzzling). When you’ve finished your beer, your roux should be done. It’s a good rule. I followed it for this gumbo, and the flavor was great. Enjoy!

Source: heavily adapted from 2, 4, 6, 8: Great Meals for Couples or Crowds by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:
3 tbs butter
3 tbs flour
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 fresh bay leaf
1 (12 oz.) bottle pale beer
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbs hot sauce (I used Texas Pete’s)
1-2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 bundles of dark greens (I used dandelion greens), stemmed and chopped
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 scallions, chopped
Cooked white rice, for serving

Directions:
First you make the roux. Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Melt the butter. When it is completely melted, sprinkle in the flour. Using a wooden spoon, start stirring. Keep stirring until your roux resembles the color of peanut butter. This will take a good 15 to 20 minutes. If it starts to smoke, lower the heat. Do not walk away or stop stirring. If it burns, you must start over, because that burnt taste will end up in the gumbo and make it taste yucky.
Once your roux is done, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Saute until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.
Season with salt, pepper, paprika, and add the bay leaf. Now add the beer and stir to thicken a little. Add the stock, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, and greens. Season the greens with the nutmeg then stir them into the gumbo.
Bring to a quick boil, then let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
To serve, ladle some gumbo into a bowl, then use an ice cream scoop to serve some rice on top. Garnish with scallions and serve hot with extra hot sauce at the table.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

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I write here often about my journey from a picky eater to a passionate cook and adventurous eater. I talk all about my newfound love of all kinds of produce I formerly wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. However, two prominent produce ingredients still elude the good favor of my taste buds: cauliflower and broccoli.

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I always hated them as a child and young adult, and to some extent, I still don’t care for them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried them in the last few years. I really have. But I’m still not their biggest fan. One time I tried those “low-carb mashed potatoes” that were all the rage a few years ago; you know, a polite way of saying pureed cauliflower masquerading as everyone’s favorite side dish. Oh my gosh, it was horrible! It nearly made me gag. And one time I made a broccoli frittata, figuring I could handle the broccoli if it was buried in eggs. Well, I accidentally overcooked the frittata, giving me an excuse to throw it out without eating much of it. Come to think of it, maybe my subconscious overcooked the dish on purpose. Hmm…

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Yet both veggies are so nutritious; my dentist even told me that broccoli is, hands down, the best food out there for your teeth. It seems like almost every nutrition article I come across extolls the health virtues of broccoli or cauliflower, and all of this leaves me with the nagging feeling that I am somehow selling myself short by not including broccoli and cauliflower in my diet.

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Thus, I have resolved to get on good terms with the vegetables. And what better way to introduce yourself to a new vegetable than to hide it in cheese? Can I get an “Amen” from the chorus?? So I begin this little journey to the great state of Liking Broccoli and Cauliflower with the iconic broccoli cheese soup, something I refused to eat while growing up. So it really is new to me, believe it or not! In this particular recipe, the broccoli is completely pureed and of course there is plenty of cheddar. We both really enjoyed the soup and I would definitely make it again. I consider it a promising and successful first step on my new road of resolve.

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Source: adapted from 20-40-60: Fresh Food Fast by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients:
Half a regular French baguette, or one small baguette, preferably day-old, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 tbs sliced garlic
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups chicken stock
4 cups broccoli florets, from 1 large head of broccoli
1/2 cup half-and-half
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
Make the croutons first. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Combine the bread cubes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste in a large bowl. Toss to mix thoroughly. Transfer the croutons to a baking sheet. Bake until they are crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while the soup is cooking. If you have leftovers that you didn’t snack on, store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Heat 2 tbs olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the onions, garlic, 1 tsp salt, and cayenne. Saute until the onions are soft and translucent, 5 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once the stock is boiling, add the broccoli and cook until fork-tender, about 5 minutes.
Shut off the heat and let the soup cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup completely. Put the pot back over medium-low heat and add the half-and-half and the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with croutons.

Cuban Black Bean Soup

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How was everyone’s Valentine’s Day? Or how was your Single Awareness Day? Whichever one you celebrate. 🙂 Matt and I are actually celebrating Valentine’s Day tonight, we both were completely bushed after a long day at work yesterday, so we decided to postpone our nice dinner we were planning. I’m looking forward to it!

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I’ve been perusing my list of recipes in the “to blog soon” queue, and I realized that nothing really screams Valentine’s Day in any way. So I figured this soup was close enough, because the recipe originally comes from the cookbook Matt gave me for Valentine’s Day last year. So it’s appropriate for the occasion in a roundabout way!

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Over the past year or so, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with Cuban food. There used to be a little Cuban take-out restaurant in my neighborhood but they went under. So that was probably my best and most thorough introduction to the cuisine. Then, last May I visited Miami beach for Matt’s and my wedding anniversary and we ate pretty much nothing but Cuban food while we were down there. Cuban cuisine is so flavorful and so delicious! If you’ve never tried it, I highly advise correcting that soon.

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Cuban food is spicy but not hot; it’s kind of like a third cousin of Mexican food, with many of the same ingredients but without the chiles. It has the same robustness and the same humility though. I would venture that if you like Mexican, you’ll quickly become a fan of Cuban food.

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Source: adapted from Eating Cuban by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacob

Ingredients:
Olive oil
1 cup chopped bacon
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans with their liquid
2 cups beef or chicken stock, or a combination of both
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Minced fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions:
Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Drizzle in a little olive oil. Add the bacon and saute until browned and crisped. Remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Drain off all but 2 tbs of the fat.
Add the onion to the pot and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Now add the bell peppers, garlic, cumin, and dried oregano and continue to cook until the peppers are softened, another 5 to 6 minutes.
Place the onion mixture (called a sofrito in Cuba) in the blender, along with the brown sugar, vinegar, and 1 can of beans. Puree until smooth. Return the puree to the stockpot and stir in the remaining can of beans, the stock, and the reserved crispy bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the cilantro.

Beans and Greens Soup

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A question to all you food bloggers out there: do you ever make a recipe, love it, want to share it, but then don’t know what to write about it? You sit down to put the post together and find you don’t have an entertaining story to tell about it? And all you can think to say about it is something along the lines of it’s-so-good-you-should-try-it-soon? And you don’t want to have the post be all in that vain, because then your readers will be thinking, “thanks Captain Obvious, I doubt you would have blogged it if it wasn’t great. Don’t you have anything else to say?”

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Because that’s the spot in which I stand with this soup. It’s one of my favorite simple soups, it is really good, I do think you should make it soon, but I can’t for the life of me find anything witty or charming to say about it. I could blather on about how delicious it is, but that would get old; or I could prattle on about how I never even tried escarole until a few years ago but now I absolutely love it, but that’s just sad.

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So I’ll just leave you with the recipe and this uninspired post. Please know that the recipe is not so dull, even if this post rather was. It’s simple, classic Italian peasant food that is comforting and warm and will kind of make you feel like you live in a simpler time (if such a thing ever even existed) and if nothing else, it may transport you to some old-world, rustic Italian village for half an hour.

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Source: Giada’s Family Dinners by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
2 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. escarole, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 ounce chunk of Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Shredded Parmesan, for serving
Olive oil, for drizzling
Crusty bread, for serving

Directions:
Heat the 2 tbs olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add the escarole and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, beans, and Parmesan chunk. Simmer until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with up to 1 tbs shredded Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp olive oil per portion. Serve the bread alongside.