Saturday, November 30, 2013
Thanksgiving was pretty mellow this year. There were only 9 of us, so I bought a 16 lb. turkey, which is the smallest I've cooked in years.
Which actually turned out to be kind of problematic... because the turkey ended up hitting temperature about an hour before I thought it would be done and I hadn't put ANYTHING else in the oven yet. As I'm standing in the kitchen staring wide-eyed at the completely cooked bird while simultaneously calculating all the side dishes that weren't even close to done, Mr. Soup came in and asked if I wanted him to rice the potatoes for me. There was an edge of terror in my voice as I replied, "I haven't even BOILED the potatoes yet!"
So, when I say Thanksgiving was mellow, I'm referring to everything except that final hour before I served dinner. That hour was pretty much hell.
On the bright side, I had already served the annual soup, following our tradition of serving it in teacups. This year I made a broccoli cheese soup, because it's my mom's favorite. I find broccoli a tad bit bitter - it is part of the cabbage family, after all. So to balance the bitterness a bit I added some apple. Apple is so very Thanksgiving-y anyway. And to make it rich and creamy, I added a generous portion of extra-sharp white cheddar. Calories don't count on Thanksgiving.
And if a creamy broccoli cheesy cup of goodness won't mellow you out, nothing will.
Broccoli Cheese Soup with Apple
3 T. butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 t. salt
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 1 generous cup)
3 T. all-purpose flour
4 c. broccoli florets (I bought a bag at Costco because I'm lazy)
4 c. chicken broth
1 c. cream
8 oz. extra-sharp white Cheddar Cheese, grated (I used Tillamook)
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
In a large heavy soup pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion and salt and sauté until onon is quite soft and starting to caramelize in spots, stirring often, around 12 minutes or so. Stir in the chopped apple and stir again to combine. Add the flour, and stir and cook until the raw scent of flour has left the pot, around 2 more minutes.
Add the broccoli florets and the chicken broth and bring the whole mixture to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered until the broccoli is entirely soft, around 20-25 minutes. Add the cream, and then use an immersion blender to smooth out the whole soup. This might take a little patience. Stir in the cheese until it's completely melted. Do not boil once you add the cheese.
This is one of those rare soups that tastes great right out of the gate. I made it 2 days ahead for Thanksgiving, and thought it lost a little oomph in the cheese department as it sat. I ended up adding more cheese right before serving. I wouldn't recommend this one for freezing, but it's still tasty 2 days post-holiday, so it will last in the fridge a few days.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Recently I was rooting around deep inside my freezer, looking for ice packs for lunch boxes. Whatever little piece of DNA compels normal humans to clean out their lunch boxes after school and refreeze the ice pack is obviously missing in the genetic makeup of the people who live in my house.
So. Anyway. I'm rooting around deep inside the freezer and I come across a large chunk of something that I can't identify at first. And then it hits me... it's the final remains of Hamzilla! Okay, fine, he's been in the freezer quite awhile (probably a whole lot longer than the FDA would recommend for food safety purposes). And okay, fine, he's a little frost-bitten around the edges (because I apparently was so sick of him I just threw him unadorned into a gallon-zip-lock without even wrapping him in saran wrap first)... but these are mere trifles and NOTHING a soak in some brothy soup can't cure.
And better yet, I know exactly the brothy deliciousness I want to soak him in. Lately, I have been absolutely craving a particular soup I haven't posted yet. It's hearty, with the perfect notes of smoke from ham AND bacon and a good amount of heat. I scored the original of this recipe from a recipe swapping forum I've been a part of practically since the internet was invented. The poster who shared said it was her dad's favorite soup and she tried to make a pot of it every year. I've made adjustments over time to suit my tastes... but the basics of his recipe are still there. You can find his original recipe here... shout-out to magnoliainchicago! He called it Ray's Dallas Cowboy Bean Soup. I call it a perfect send-off.
In mah belly.
Smoky White Bean and Ham Soup
adapted and inspired by Ray's Dallas Cowboy Bean Soup
1 lb. white beans, soaked overnight (I have used canned in the past when I didn't have time, and it worked fine too)
1/2 lb. bacon, diced
2 yellow onions, diced (3 cups)
2 carrots, peeled and diced (2 cups)
4 celery stalks, diced (2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
2 t. seasoned salt (I like Johnny's the best)
1 t. paprika
12 c. water
2 t. Tabasco (or less, if you don't like much heat)
1 T sugar
1/2 c. ketchup
Leftover ham - either on the bone or off - today I had about a 2 lb. section.
Heat a large (really, think LARGE) heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add diced bacon, and sauté until fat has rendered and it crisps up. Remove all but about 3 T. of the bacon fat and add the onions and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes, stirring often to bring the bacon fond up off the bottom of the pot. Add the carrots and celery and continue to sauté another 5 minutes or so. Add in garlic, red pepper flakes, seasoned salt, and paprika and stir to combine.
Pour water over vegetables, and add the beans, Tabasco, sugar, and ketchup to the pot. Stir to combine well and then add your leftover ham. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to allow soup to simmer, uncovered for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the beans are tender and the ham is falling apart.
Remove ham from soup, allow to cool slightly, then shred and add back into soup.
And in the words of magnoliainchicago's dad, "EAT IT!"
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Yes, I have a new soup for you! No... it's not posted here. I have been asked to do a quarterly seasonal guest post gig on another blog, a little blog told me. For Fall, I created a tasty Roasted Sweet Potato and Onion Soup with Andouille, Pecan, and Kale Relish. Seriously... it is that. good.
Check it out!
Roasted Sweet Potato and Onion Soup with Andouille, Pecan, and Kale Relish
Check it out!
Roasted Sweet Potato and Onion Soup with Andouille, Pecan, and Kale Relish
Thursday, September 19, 2013
I was recently contacted by a fabulous local company, Island Trollers, and asked if I would like to come up with a recipe and feature their product on my blog. And my brain was like, "Holy crap! Someone wants me to use MY blog to feature their amazing product!" And my mouth (okay, my fingers, because it was on facebook) was like, "Yes, YES! That would be awesome!"
And I felt like I was really getting SOMEWHERE with this whole blogging thing. I was a rock star!
There may have been wine involved.
And then my brain started to nudge me with something. A niggling piece of information I had overlooked in my euphoria. The conversation went a little like this:
Me: I can't believe it! This is going to be so awesome!
Brain: Island Trollers.
Me: I KNOW, right???
Brain: What do they troll for?
Brain: So... tuna.
Me: Yes, of course!!!
Brain: Tuna. Soup.
I LOVE tuna.... but if I'm being honest, I'm strictly a tuna sandwich kind of gal. I like my tuna salad made a very specific way and the most adventurous I get about it is maybe, maybe, mixing up the bread I eat it on. On top of that, I have never, not once in my whole life, eaten nor made tuna casserole. (And have no plans to do so - so please don't send me your grandma's recipe.) So the idea of tuna - in a soup - threw me for a loop.
BUT. If you dare to title your blog Soup-a-Woman, you can't let tuna be your kryptonite. What with leaping over tall soup pots in a single bound and that sort of thing...
So I set out to create something delicious.The first and most obvious choice was a chowder. Seafood and chowder love each other. But when I did a little research I found that not only was there already a tuna chowder in the blogging world, it actually featured Island Trollers! The blog Life Currents actually features several recipes highlighting Island Trollers products, including a chowder.
Once the tuna arrived, however, I realized I didn't have much to worry about. Island Trollers has the most amazing troll-caught albacore, and even better, it's fresh canned in several flavors: Alder Smoked, Garlic, Habañero, Capers, Jalapeño. I decided to use those flavors to my advantage and elevate this soup to a whole new level.
Eventually I settled on a fire-roasted bell pepper soup that would feature their Jalapeño Albacore and started building a recipe from there. The end result is fresh, healthy, and lovely. It turned out not only to be delicious, but a beautiful and surprisingly elegant soup that is company-worthy. Throwdown win.
Kryptonite? As if.
But I'm still not going to eat tuna casserole.
Fire-Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup with Jalepeño Tuna and Cilantro Cream
4 yellow bell peppers, seeded, roasted, peeled and roughly chopped (directions below)
2 T. butter
1 1/2 c. diced red onion (1 medium onion)
1/2 t. salt
1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. paprika
1 14-oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
4 c. chicken broth (this makes a thin soup, if you want it thicker, reduce broth to 3 or 3 1/2 cups)
1-2 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can Island Trollers Jalapeño Tuna, drained (or Habañero if you want even a little more kick)
Cilantro Cream (recipe follows)
Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced red onion and the salt and sautee, stirring occassionally until onions are tender, around 8-10 minutes.
Stir in garlic, pepper, cumin, and paprika and stir to coat all the onions. Add the tomatoes and the roasted peppers and the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, and let simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender) puree until the soup is very smooth. Stir in lime juice and taste for seasoning.
1/2 c. packed cilantro leaves
1/2 medium jalepeño, seeded and roughly chopped
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 c. sour cream
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside until ready for garnish. (Tip: Putting the cilantro cream in an empty squeeze bottle makes it easier to make the swirls.)
To assemble soup: Using a shallow bowl, mound a portion of flaked tuna in the center of the bowl. Carefully ladle some of the soup around the tuna, and garnish with cilantro cream.
I find it much easier to clean and roast the peppers if you prepare them this way: Cut each pepper in half, remove the seeds and the white pithy membranes inside each half and carefully cut out the stems. Place the halves, skin side up on a broiler pan or cookie sheet and broil on high about 3" away from the heating element. Rotate the pan around as necessary to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven when skins are charred and puffed up in sections, but the flesh is still firm... around 10 minutes or so. Transfer peppers immediately to a gallon-sized zip-lock bag and seal it shut. Let pepper sit 10-15 minutes in the bag. This will steam them and allow the skins to come off more easily. Remove skins from peppers - do NOT rinse them... you'll just wash all the flavor away.
Monday, September 9, 2013
Ah, September. My nemesis.
August, now, August is amazeballs. It's the one month in Washington State where you are pretty much guaranteed gorgeous weather. It's the one month that I get to participate in the Washington Trails Association's Hike-a-Thon - which is like a license to hike! Whenever. I. Want. This August I hiked 100 miles and raised $1275.00! It's the one month where after an entire summer of automatically waking up at 6:00 am, I start to be able to sleep in just a little bit... luxuriously stretching out until 7:30 some mornings. Awesome.
And then September comes and ruins ALL of that!
No more hiking. September is for running around like crazy people trying to get everything done before school starts. September sucks money from our bank account like a leech: back-to-school supplies, clothes, yearbooks, ASB cards, pictures, sporting equipment, clothes, parking passes, clothes. Clothes. Clothes. Clothes. (We do have two teenage girls, after all.) And most rudely, the alarm starts going off at 5:30 five mornings a week. September is stupid.
Except for one small redemption. The leaves start to turn, the nights are a little chillier, we actually close the windows for the first time in a month, and my soup cookbooks drift off the bookshelf like falling leaves and start to scatter themselves around the house. One by my laptop, three by the bathtub, one in the kitchen windowsill, four by my bed. Soup season has arrived. Ah, September. Maybe it's a love-hate relationship after all.
Creamy Brie, Bacon, and Kale Soup is pure comfort in a bowl. Some of my friends expressed reservations about the calorie count, but as I told them, it's soup. That makes it automatically good for you. And it has KALE in it. Besides, I've had to put aside my August nirvana for another 11 months, so dammit, I deserve a little decadence in my life.
Creamy Brie, Bacon, and Kale Soup
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into thin strips
1/4 c. butter
1 large leek, washed well, white and light green parts sliced thinly (about 2 c.)
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (about 1/2 c.)
1 clove of garlic, pressed through a press
1/2 t. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
4 c. chicken broth
3/4 lb. Brie cheese, cut into cubes, rind left on
1/2 c. heavy cream
1-2 large leaves of curly kale, stemps removed, washed, and minced very finely. (about 2 c.)
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and sprinkle them with a little kosher salt. Let the leeks sweat, stirring occasionally, until they're quite soft, 8-10 minutes. Add the celery and cook until it softens, 2-4 minutes longer. Stir in the garlic and the thyme and combine well.
Add the flour, and stir continually until the flour loses its raw taste, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, and whisk it all together. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then let it simmer for 10 minutes longer.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add the brie. Keep the rind on... it will add that distinct brie taste. The rind won't melt at this stage, but don't worry, once you use the immersion blender it will all smooth out. Stir until the cheese has melted. Add the cream. Then, using an immersion blender (or a regular blender in batches) blend the soup until it is perfectly smooth. Stir in the bacon, the kale and salt and pepper to taste. The kale should cook in the residual heat of the soup since you've minced it so finely. Serve hot.
This soup chills well, and I thought it was even better the next day. Do reheat gently, though. Don't boil as the cheese may separate.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
It's time to face facts. 20 pounds of leftover ham is too much of a good thing. A week ago I would've argued that there was no such thing as too much smoked pork butt yumminess... but I would've been wrong. People that live in this house are starting to give me murderous glances when I mention the h-word. Self-preservation is in order!
No worries, though, I can work with this. They're sick of bean and ham soup? Ham sandwiches a no-go? Know thine enemy, I always say. They all absolutely love Clam Chowder. All I need to do is make a ham chowder dripping with the cheesy goodness of Gruyere running through it. And then to further entice them, I'll throw in some wild rice. And HA! I'll serve it in bread bowls... which automatically makes EVERYTHING delicious and makes the doubters in this family make little swooning noises.
And to further save myself, I'm going to concede and freeze the rest of Hamzilla without putting him in any more soups. I've pushed the ham envelope as far as it will go. For now.
P.S. (Which, by the way, stands for Post Soup) Tired of ham or not, I think this is one of the best soups I've ever made. The cheese gives an amazing silky mouth-feel and the rice adds a nutty chewiness that we all loved. Delicious!
Ham and Gruyere Chowder with Wild Rice
4 T. butter
1 lg. onion, small-diced, about 2 cups
2 carrots, small-diced
2 stalks celery, small-diced
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. paprika
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1/4 c. flour
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. cooked wild rice blend (I like Lundberg's)
2 c. small-diced leftover ham (you could use a large dice if your family isn't ready to kill you over ham)
2 c. cream (I'm sure you could use half and half, but I had cream)
1/4 c. finely chopped parsley
4 c. grated Gruyere cheese, tossed with 2 T. flour
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Be careful not to brown it. Add diced onions and stir and saute them until they take on a lovely golden yellow color. You're not looking for full caramelization, but definitely past the point of simple translucence. Maybe 12 minutes or so?
Add in the carrots, celery, pepper, paprika, and the bay leaf. Continue to saute for an addition 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables start to soften. Stir in the garlic until fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Add flour and stir until all the vegetables are well coated and flour has lost its raw flavor. 1-2 minutes.
Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add rice and diced ham and simmer 10-15 minutes or so, until ham is heated through and flavors combine. Stir in cream and heat until small bubbles are forming around the edges, stirring frequently. Remove the bay leaf and add in the parsley.
Turn heat to very low. Stirring constantly, add Gruyere one small handful at a time, waiting until each handful is completely melted and incorporated into the soup before you add the next. Once all the cheese is melted, serve!
If you re-heat this, be careful not to boil or it may separate.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
A few days before Christmas Eve, my mom asked if we could transfer the annual family gathering from her house to my house. Our house is closer to all of the cousins and since most of us had to work that morning, getting to and from my house would be much quicker for everyone. To entice me further, she said she'd provide most of the food, as she was planning a simple dinner of freshly baked ham made into sandwiches with several salads as sides.
No problem, Mom.
And then she dropped IT off. A 25-pound ham. No, that's not a typo. 25 POUNDS of ham... and not pre-cooked, either. I didn't even know you could buy a ham that size! As we shifted it around the fridge, we took to calling it Hamzilla.
On Christmas Eve, everyone enjoyed the sandwiches and raved about the rolls, which we bought from The Breadfarm. At the end of the evening, they departed in the same whirl they arrived in, leaving wrapping paper and bows strewn everywhere and approximately 20 pounds of Hamzilla still sitting on my kitchen counter. I do so love ham, but seriously? That's a whole lotta pork butt.
You remember how I felt guilty when I posted two soups in a row using kielbasa? Yeah. You should probably mentally prepare yourself for Ham-a-palooza. Starring Hamzilla.
Winter's 15-Bean Soup with Ham
1 20-oz bag of 15-bean mix (throw out that weird "ham flavoring packet" that comes with it... we'll be getting our ham flavor from actual ham, thankyouverymuch)
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, medium diced, about 2 cups
2 carrots, medium diced
1 stalk celery, medium diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
2 cups leftover ham, cubed
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 ham bone, cleaned as well as you can get it (that's where you got the cubed ham from up above, right?)
2 cups spicy V-8 juice
6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch rainbow chard, stems removed, leaves chopped
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Tabasco Sauce to taste
Sort through beans, place into a soup pot and cover with water. Soak overnight.
Drain beans and rinse well. Set aside for the moment. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion and sautee until tender, about 8 minutes. Add cubed ham and sautee until it starts to brown, around 3 or 4 minutes. Add carrots and celery and sautee an additional 3 minutes, or until they start to soften. Add beans, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and sautee an additional minute or so, or until everything is fragrant.
Place the ham bone into the mixture and add the V-8 juice and the chicken broth. Stir well and cover the pot. Bring to a boil, then place in the oven - cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from oven and test a bean. They should be slightly tender, but not all the way done. Stir in the chopped chard leaves, re-cover pot and return to oven. Cook another 30 minutes or so, or until the beans are tender.
Remove ham bone and bay leaves from soup. If there was any meat on ham bone, shred it back into the soup. Stir in the lemon juice and several shakes of tabasco, adjust seasonings, and serve.