Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

Spinach Soup with Greek Yogurt in a Mug

April 25, 2013

Spinach SoupYou can’t get much healthier than fresh baby spinach soup with Greek Yogurt laced with plenty of fresh dill.  This is pure comfort food and all homemade!  Often I grab a mug of some soupy concoction for a quick lunch.  It may be tomato soup, chicken noodle or minestrone but always homemade so I know what is in it.  Fresh vegetables in season are just the ticket to a quick, delicious and nutritious soup like this spinach soup… loaded with iron and vitamins.  A mug lends a little portion control which is my major food challenge.  Even healthy food can be fattening if you over-do-it.

Spinach was pretty common in our house when I was a kid.  The Popeye cartoon series was all the rage then and parents exploited it so we had no choice but to eat it and learn to like it.  Mom drizzled a little vinegar on canned spinach to give it a little bright flavor and she  made fresh spinach frittatas (quasado) and spinach salads which were full of flavor. Early exposure is the trick to teaching children to eat vegetables.  Growing your own vegetables with the kids is another way to develop their taste for vegetables.  They’ll love eating what they have helped to grow…back in the day, we certainly did.

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Black Bean Soup with Sherried Shrimp

May 5, 2012

Every time I make this soup I think of the 1980’s in St. Thomas, USVI.  There was a marvelous cafe in the St. Thomas sub-base area called L’Escargot.  The roof of the restaurant sported a huge Caribbean lobster (crayfish) and obviously their specialty was seafood.  It was the in-place to be seen and party.  One of my favorite places to eat out for sure.

L’Escargot served a Black Bean Soup with Shrimp for lunch which was exceptional.  I finally met the chef and asked him what wine he used in the soup and he said sherry in a very off-handed manner as if I couldn’t boil water.  Little did he know…  I was crewing and cooking aboard chartered yachts at the time and developing a pallet for all things gourmet.

By the end of the yacht season I had succeeded in making a creamy black bean soup with  sherried shrimp that everyone loved.  Topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro this soup is a delicious experience.  Serve it with

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Fish Chowder with Tarragon and Thyme

February 22, 2012

Comfort food seems to be appropriate for cold weather and one wouldn’t expect Puerto Rico to be cold but when the thermometer drops from 84° F. to 74° F. it feels like soup weather.  Albeit one’s blood is thinner in hot climes it’s all relative to the climate zone and season.  Its actually the dry season now in the Caribbean but we’ve had an unusual amount of rain for the last 2 weeks.

One can never have too many soup or chowder recipes and even though they all start with a basic mirepoix the star of the soup is the main ingredient which distinguishes one soup or chowder from the next.

So, okay I was cleaning out the freezer and frig and dumped it all into a pot of happy mirepoix in white wine.  A fillet of tilapia, a piece of salmon, a small seabass fillet, one russet

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Chile with Homemade Turkey Sausage

November 4, 2011

November is Turkey Month and nothing says comfort like this chile made with Homemade Turkey Sausage.  The chile is as easy to make as the sausage and with the spices you’ll never know it is turkey…so flavorful and satisfying on a cold winter’s night…you’ll think its beef.

However, ground turkey is available at most supermarkets so save yourself some time and work.

Beans can be dried or canned but for my money I prefer dried beans and the juice created during the cooking process is far superior in flavor to that of canned beans, which tend to be overly salted.  Use red beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, or black beans or a combination.  I prefer red beans with black beans.

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French Onion Soup

July 4, 2009

Make this classic dish with homemade beef stock.  In a roasting pan, place  2 lbs of beef marrow bones and trimmings with 2 onions, 4 carrots, 1 leek, and 4 ribs of celery with leaves.  Its not necessary to peel the vegetables and they only need to be cut into quarters.  Drizzle a little olive oil over everything in the roasting pan and pop into 350° F. oven for 45 minutes until bones and onions have caramelized.  Transfer roasted ingredients to a stock pot, add 1 cup of red wine to the hot roasting pan to deglaze, scrape up the drippings, and pour into stock pot.  Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add 2 sprigs of thyme and 8-9 sprigs of parsley.  Let simmer on low heat for 6 hours or longer, skimming off any scum that floats on the top.  Do not stir the stock while its cooking.  Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth.  Refrigerate over night.  Remove solid fat layer. Reserve 1 quart for French onion soup and freeze remaining stock in freezer safe containers.

Callaloo Soup – Caribbean Polynesian Fusion

June 27, 2009

callaloo1Callaloo is synonymous with Caribbean cuisine as lu supo (loo soo-poe) is fundamental to Polynesian cuisine. Both soups are made with taro leaves and while Caribbean cookery uses other varieties of leaves, all of which are referred to as callaloo, Polynesians from the Hawaiians to the Tongans use only taro leaves. In the South Pacific, each island nation has their own taro varieties cultivated for their particular soil, popularity, exportability, and weather patterns.

In Tonga, lu (taro leaves) is cooked in soups, side dishes, and main dishes with meat or fish. Coconut milk is added to nearly all traditional island cooking, especially lu. The stems and veins of the lu leaf have needle-point raphides (calcium oxalate) which, if not well cooked, will cause your throat to constrict and your tongue to itch. This malady is cause to claim “the cook is lazy” since removing the stems and large central vein, as well as thoroughly cooking the leaf, requires a bit of time and effort.

Since taro is difficult to find in areas outside of the tropics, the best substitute is a mix of large leaf spinach and Swiss chard. Kale or collard greens can also be used successfully. Collard greens are a gift from our African ancestors just like callaloo was a gift from African slaves brought to the Caribbean in the 1700’s.

The fungi dumplings, another Caribbean dish, frequently served in the callaloo soup, was originally made of cassava (manioke) meal but has been replaced with yellow cornmeal in the last 50 years or so. Cassava meal is still used in some Polynesian cooking as corn is relatively expensive and not indigenous to Polynesia. Cassava is a subject for another post.

This soup is teaming with flavors from the chili spiked kale, okra, meat, crab and fungi dumplings. It can be made vegan simply by eliminating the meat and adding pumpkin, yam or sweet potato. If you like greens, you’ll enjoy this nutritious and filling soup.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz salt pork, 1/2-inch cubes (or 6 strips of bacon)
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch Kale, about 1-1/2 lbs, washed, stems removed, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock (fish stock or vegetable stock may be used)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig (or 1/4 tsp dried thyme)
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet chili, deveined, seeded and minced (habanero chili)
  • 4 oz corned beef brisket (or1 small can corned beef)
  • 1/2 lb crab meat – fresh, frozen or canned, pick clean of shell debrise
  • 1/2 lb okra, sliced rounds
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe fungi dumplings (recipe below)
  • 4 scallions sliced for garnish

Method:

  1. In a Dutch oven over medium high heat, fry salt pork to render fat. Reserve browned pork cubes for garnish. Reserve 2 Tbsp of fat.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in the reserved fat until translucent and fragrant.
  3. Add kale, chicken stock, cloves, thyme, chili and okra. Bring to a boil.
  4. Rinse corned beef brisket in fresh water, cut into 1-inch cubes. Add to Dutch oven,
  5. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until corned beef is fork tender.
  6. Process soup in batches in food processor just enough to retain some chunky texture. Return soup to pot.
  7. Add crab and coconut milk. Heat through. Taste for salt and add salt and black pepper to taste.
  8. To serve, place 1 scoop of fungi in a serving bowl, ladle soup on top, garnish with sliced scallions and reserved pork cubes.

Fungi Dumplings – Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 okra, sliced or chopped fine
  • 3 cups cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Method:

  1. In a 2-quart sauce pan over medium high heat, bring chicken stock, salt and okra to a roiling boil.
  2. Slowly whisk in cornmeal in a steady stream until thick and creamy.
  3. Add butter and beat with a wooden spoon until cornmeal leaves the side of the pan. Remove from heat immediately.
  4. Keep warm in a bain marie or double boiler.
  5. To serve, use an ice-cream scoop to form balls, place ball of fungi on serving dish and ladle sauce or soup on top. Garnish as desired.

Note: Fungi is also a great served with coconut chicken, coconut fish, chicken fried gravy or turkey gravy. Use in place of toast for creamed tuna, or creamed eggs. Cooled fungi maybe sliced and fried in olive oil and butter like polenta, or toasted and topped with tapenade or chili jam and cream cheese for appetizers.

Beans and Sausage in a Pressure Cooker

May 23, 2009

recipes 020Pressure cookers for homemakers have been around since 1917 when the USDA announced that the only safe way to can low-acid foods was with a pressure cooker.  From then on the National Pressure Cooker company, now called Presto, has engineered and redesigned pressure cookers with reliable safety features for home use.  So long as the rubber gasket around the inside rim of the lid is in good shape and you haven’t lost the regulator (jiggler) or damaged the pressure valve, you can save time when cooking dried beans, roasts and other long cooking dishes.  A pressure cooker is absolutely mandatory if you home-can veggies, meat or fish.  They come in 4 quart and 6 quart sizes and up to the 10 gallon size for canning quarts.   You can find them in most housewares departments and even at garage sales. 

Try this method for chili, corned beef, pulled pork, or octopus.  Flavors have no where to escape, they’re locked in using a pressure cooker.  For more information on cooking  with a pressure cooker, see Presto.

Half full pot

Half full pot

Getting up a head of steam.

Getting up a head of steam.

 

Valve stem up, pot is pressurized

Valve stem up, pot is pressurized

Soup's Ready

Soup's Ready

 

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups pinto beans, washed and sorted
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper (about 1 tsp each)
  • handful of cilantro, chopped

Method:

  1. Soak beans overnight in 2 quarts water.  Drain and cover with fresh water.
  2. Saute ground pork in skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, cook for 3-4 minutes, and transfer to pressure cooker.
  4. Cover pressure cooker, locking lid into place and set jiggler over steam vent.
  5. Once valve stem pops up and jiggler begins to rock, set timer for 40 minutes.
  6. When timer goes off, turn off stove and leave pot to cool down.  When valve stem drops, it is safe to remove jiggler.  If no steam is escaping from vent, open lid.
  7. Check seasoning and adjust if needed.

Canning Vegetable Soup

May 15, 2009
Vegetables cooking in a canner

Vegetables cooking in a canner

Spring is here and it won’t be long before the Farmers Markets and roadside markets are brimming with veggies.  Take the advantage of lower prices by buying in large quantities.  This vegetable soup is the base for lots of winter soups.  Just open a jar, add meat, beans, pasta, or rice for those one dish meals on cold winter nights.

My mother-in-law gave me this recipe in the 1970’s.   Those were the days before farmers started growing hybrid tomatoes with lower acidity.   Hybrid tomatoes maybe great for eating fresh but not good for canning.  Unless you’re using heirloom tomatoes, which have higher acidity, you’ll need to add citric acid to each jar before water bathing.

Check jars to make sure there are no chips or dings in the top rim.  They will not seal properly if damaged.  Be sure to scrub jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water.  Sterilize jars for 10 minutes in a canner of boiling water.  You can use the automatic dish washer for a sterilizing rinse and to keep jars and sealing lids warm until ready to pack.  Any un-iodized Local Kitchensalt will do for canning, but the best is Morton’s canning salt.  Click here for more information about canning:

Ingredients: – makes 8 quarts

  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 quart sliced carrots
  • 2 1/2 quarts water
  • 2 bunches celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup canning salt
  • 4 quarts peeled tomatoes
  • 6 large onions, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers and 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2  tsp citric acid per jar

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in a large canner.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 hour.
  3. Place 1/2 tsp of citric acid in each sterilized jar.
  4. Ladle soup into sterilized jars, wipe rims, apply seals and rings and tighten.
  5. Water bath jars under boiling water for 20 minutes.
  6. Carefully remove from bath and set on kitchen towels, out of drafts, until cool.
  7. Listen for pops of lids sealing.  Check all lids; if the lid spring back when press, it is not sealed.  Remove seal and discard.  Apply new seal and water bath again, or refrigerate and make soup for supper.

I’ve updated this post to include citric acid in the recipe.  This will ensure the pH level is acid enough for canning in a boiling water bath.  You can check acid levels before sealing jars with a litmus strip available at pharmacies, or wherever canning supplies are carried.

Real Tomato Soup

March 16, 2009

tomato-soupNothing says “comfort food” like a bowl of creamy tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.  It is so basic, no wonder kids love it.  Campbell’s may be convenient but the healthier version is homemade with fresh ingredients and no preservatives.  When tomatoes are in season, buy a box of them and make your own puree.  Pureed tomatoes freeze beautifully and make the best sauces, V-8 juice, and soup.  With a simple food mill, there’s no need to skin tomatoes before cooking.  If you don’t have a food mill, a China Cap or sieve will work.  The trick is not to overcook these beauties.  Wash and quarter tomatoes, place in a sauce pan over medium heat with a pinch of salt, do not add any water.  The tomatoes will make their own juice so stir ocassionally and cook only until juices are rendered and tomatoes are tender but not mushy.  Transfer the solids to a food mill and puree.  The skins and seeds will be left in the food mill.  Stir the juices and puree together and pour into freezer safe containers or zip-lock bags.   You may can the puree also.   Seal in sterilized jars and water-bath in enough boiling water to cover for 20-25 minutes.  Jars will keep in a cool, dry pantry for several months.

Okay, now for the soup.

1 Tbsp butter (or olive oil)

1 carrot, chopped

1 stock of celery, tops and all chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

4 cups tomato puree (homemade is best)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp sugar (or honey)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 dashes Tabasco sauce

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme and 1 tsp dried dill)

1 cup half and half

Saute onion, celery, and carrot in butter, transfer to food processor or blender.  Add 1 cup of tomato puree to blender and process until smooth.  Transfer to a sauce pan, add remaining tomato puree, cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, add thyme and half and half.  Cook until heated through.  Adjust seasonings and serve.  Garnish with croutons, fresh basil, dill, chives, scallions, or parsley.  Serve with crakers or your favorite toasted cheese sandwich.

Potato Leek Soup

March 16, 2009

soupLeeks are giant spring onions (scallions).  They must always be washed thoroughly so slice them down the middle and rinse under running water, inspecting the layers for dirt as you rinse.  The leaves make an elegant terrine for brunch or canapés and the entire stock, leaves and root, make this soup stand out.  Puree half the veggies for a super creamy style. 

4 slices bacon, chopped

2 large leeks, washed and sliced thin

2 russet potatoes, diced ½ inch

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 dashes Tabasco sauce

½ cup dry white wine

2 cups chicken stock (homemade is best)

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 cup half and half

1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

Chopped parsley or scallions for garnish

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until browned.  Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of fat, add leeks and potatoes, cook 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 3 minutes more.  Add Tabasco then the wine to deglaze the pan.  Add the stock and salt and pepper.  Simmer until potatoes are very soft, about 30 minutes.  At this point, you may puree a third or a half of the veggies and return to pot.  Add half and half and thyme, cook over medium heat until heated though.  Garnish each bowl with parsley or scallions.  Serve with crusty French bread and your favorite salad.

soup