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Sweet Pea and Leek Soup

13 Apr

It’s been a busy Spring at our house and although I have been rather out of touch, there HAVE been delicious things going on in my little kitchen. This was our soup for our Easter meal and since it is lovely and simple and seasonal, I knew I would eventually get to sharing it with you! It is almost like a bisque, because the texture is that creamy, but there is no cream or milk!

This was a delightful starter for our Spring meal!

This was a delightful starter for our Spring meal!

Enjoy, and happy Spring!

Sweet Pea and Leek Soup

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs butter

2 Cups leeks cleaned and sliced, white part only

1 Tbs fresh thyme

1 Cup frozen peas plus ¼ Cup set aside

1 quart good vegetable stock

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black or white pepper, fresh cracked

In a soup pot heat the oil and butter at medium high. When the foaming subsides, add leeks, stir to coat and lower heat to medium. Cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until very soft, adding the thyme after about 5 minutes.

Add the peas (setting aside that extra ¼ Cup) stock and nutmeg, Bring to a steady simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the peas are very soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add the remaining peas, salt and pepper and serve with croutons, if desired, or a dollop of plain yogurt.


Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

1 Mar

(Reminder to vote for my piece on Watermelon Mojitos for an #EDDYS2015 Award by clicking here! Vote daily until March 15!)

Here on Long Island we are having one of the coldest winters on record. Since you can’t reasonably spend the entire winter drinking hot toddies all day — as much as the idea appeals –, the second best, more sensible and certainly more sustainable response is soup.

Light winter lunch

Light winter lunch

Here is an easy-peasy soup recipe that is warming and light, inspired by my dear friend Deborah Rivera Pittorino’s matchless soups at her restaurant La Cuvee Seafood & Grille in the heart of Long Island’s North Fork wine country. She shares some her recipes on her blog, The Seasoned Fork, by the way.

This recipe adds a little nuttiness (nutty flavor, not crazy person nuttiness) by dry roasting the cauliflower for 10 minutes. This amount makes four appetizer servings or two meal-size bowls and reheats really well in the office microwave for lunch!

Office lunch

Office lunch

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

3 Cups cauliflower (stems and florets, trimmed)

1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs butter (salted or unsalted)

3 Cups leeks, white and pale green part, carefully cleaned and sliced into ¼ inch rounds

1 Qt veggie stock (if using store-bought, choose low sodium and season accordingly)

¼-1/2 Cup milk (optional)

1 tsp mild curry powder

salt & pepper to taste

On a baking sheet or in a baking pan roast cauliflower at 400˚F for about 10 minutes (I do it in my fancy, full-service Breville toaster oven) until getting browned at the edges.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium. When the foaming subsides, add the leeks. Stirring occasionally, allow the leeks to get very soft (5-10 minutes). Add the cauliflower, stir and cook a minute or two. Add the stock, bring to a boil, then add curry, lower heat, add milk and simmer for at least 30 minutes, until cauliflower is falling apart. Using an immersion blender or (in batches) a blender or food processor, blend until you reach the desired smoothness. Season to taste and serve, topped with a dollop of plain yogurt or croutons if you like.

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17 More Warming Winter Soups!


Silky Leek & Potato Soup (no cream)

7 Nov

Soup season is here! Here is a simple leek and potato soup, more silky than creamy. I don’t like too much richness competing with the loveliness of the leeks so I skip the cream and the potatoes give it a good mouth feel. Having said that, I use homemade vegetable stock (usually made from vegetable clippings) that tends to bring a lot of vegetable flavor and sweetness of its own. I call that complexity and like it!

Wash leeks thoroughly as they can hold onto a lot of dirt!

Wash leeks thoroughly as they can hold onto a lot of dirt!

I don’t have much else to say about this one, except that it does everything a busy person needs: easy prep, tastes great on the day and reheats beautifully in the office microwave for days to come. Oh yeah, and it’s in season now!

I dot a bit of nonfat plain yogurt for fun!

I dot a bit of nonfat plain yogurt for fun!

Leek and Potato Soup (makes four generous bowls)

3 Tbs unsalted butter

1 lb leeks

1 pinch salt

1 lb potatoes (Yukon Gold preferred), peeled and chopped into 1/4” chunks

1 quart vegetable stock

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Melt the butter at moderate heat in a soup pot.

Meanwhile, cut off the green part of the leeks and the root end and discard. Clean the remaining white parts thoroughly. Slice the leeks roughly. Place the leeks in the butter and a generous pinch of salt and sweat the leeks for five minutes, Then lower heat to medium low and let the leeks cook for 25 minutes, until really tender.

Add the potatoes and stock and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes). Puree with an immersion blender or mash with a potato ricer to desired consistency. Check for salt and serve with grated pepper (and croutons if desired).

Bok Choy, Carrot and Ginger Soup (just chop and simmer)

25 Oct

This was one of those late-season, gotta use up some veggies because tomorrow is another C.S.A. pick up, type of recipes that came together so quickly and made everyone so happy that I have to share it, even though it is embarrassingly easy and yes, I used a stock cube because I was out of chicken stock and my found veggie stocks didn’t seem the right flavor for this.

My parents went wild for this delicate soup.

My parents went wild for this delicate soup.

Bok Choy (Brassica rapa, Chinensis group) is also called chinese white cabbage and pak toi or variations thereof. There are also different varieties within this group; the one we get from Restoration Farm has kind of a bulb-like bottom (like fennel), wide stalks like chard, and green leaves like wings on either side. Look for firm yet tender stems and glossy, spot-free leaves. It is very versatile for salad, fried rice, stir fry and the like.

We loved this soup because it was so delicate and yet clearly expressed the flavors of the vegetables, the ginger, and the sesame oil. You can remove the ginger slices if you like; we didn’t. A couple of shrimp or shredded beef would not go astray here either! Done in a flash and ever so delicious!

I find this bok choy soup kind of pretty!

I find this bok choy soup kind of pretty!

Bok Choy Carrot and Ginger Soup (serves 4 as an appetizer; 2 as a very light main course)

4 Cups chicken or vegetable stock (or a stock cube and 4 Cups water)

1 knob ginger, roughly peeled and sliced in thin rounds

1-2 heads bok choy, bottom sliced off, separated and carefully washed*

½ Cup onion, sliced into half moons

2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias

¼-1/2 tsp sesame oil

½ – 1 tsp soy sauce (low sodium, if using commercial stock)

Place all ingredients in a soup pot. Add liquid to cover, if necessary. Bring just to a boil, lower heat immediately and simmer until vegetables are tender.

*My mom prefers the bok choy sliced smaller, but my dad and I like it whole. My son thinks it’s a joke that we would even suggest he try it.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Sausage and Greens Soup)

26 Sep

It is late in September and I haven’t posted for you guys in weeks! Back-to-school is a challenging time, and this year my college teaching career has taken a turn for the better and busier (tenure track, presentations, grant-writing, event-planning AND a new edition of the textbook), so I have been all-in at the college and all out of commission in the food-writing biz.

But that doesn’t mean I have been ordering take-away dinners. I just haven’t been narrating our every meal! (And I haven’t been doing much new stuff either, but sticking to my tried-and-true reliable recipes.)

Andouille sausage is not, perhaps the most traditional choice, but it works!

Andouille sausage is not, perhaps the most traditional choice, but it works!

However, a good price on some DArtagnan andouille sausage at Fairway Market and armfuls of late summer greens from Restoration Farm CSA and a kicking homemade beef stock in the freezer assembled themselves in my head into a delicious soup for the cool early fall air. When I say assembled themselves, I mean it: this is an easy-peasy soup that doesn’t take much effort.

I will post more in the coming days, I hope; I have a few Edible Long Island articles to catch you up on as well!

A delicious soup for a cool day when you want a soup that warms but doesn't overstuff you

A delicious soup for a cool day when you want a soup that warms but doesn’t overstuff you

Caldo verde (Portuguese green soup with sausage)

2 generous tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 oz andouille (or other spicy, robust sausage), sliced in ¼ rounds

1 Cup onion, diced fine

2 Tbs garlic, minced

6 Cups sturdy, leafy greens (kale, collards, escarole, chard, beet greens), cleaned and torn into largish pieces

2 Cups potatoes, cubed

6-8 cups cooking liquid; at least four Cups being a good, flavorsome, low-salt stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in your soup pot until rippling. Add sausage and lower heat to medium. Cook sausage until browned and remove to a plate, setting aside for later.

To the seasoned oil, add the onions and garlic and sauté at medium-low until translucent and tender (the longer the better). Add your leafy greens and wilt briefly. Then add potatoes and cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, then simmer until greens and potato are tender (15-20 minutes). (some people mash or put the broth into the food processor at this point; I don’t, but might start to convince the little guy it is pesto soup?) Return sausage to the pot, warm for five minutes and serve in bowls with crusty bread.


Best Ever Italian Wedding Soup

10 Dec

You don’t need a wedding invitation to tuck into this soup, quite possibly the best Marianne and I have ever made on our Sunday night cooking projects. And that’s saying something, as we have made some kicking soups (escarole and lentil in particular). Regular readers know that my friend Marianne and I like to cook big on Sundays, not to eat at the moment, but to pack up for weekday work lunches. We couldn’t agree on what to make — she wanted white chili and I wanted minestrone — but the fact that I had a bunch of chopped meat and both I and her husband, Ted, had rich turkey stock from our respective Thanksgiving roasts decided it for us.

Tiny little meatballs packed with cheesy-herby flavor....

Tiny little meatballs packed with cheesy-herby flavor….

The stock is everything in a good soup, which is why I try to always have some homemade stuff on hand. Please, please, please…next time you roast a bird (or get a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket), simmer those bones with some onion, garlic (unpeeled), herbs, maybe a carrot or a stalk of celery, and a few peppercorns for a couple of hours and strain yourself some stock (freezes well). The commercial stuff is too salty and just can’t hold a candle to the real thing.

Italian wedding soup , as far as I can determine, is an Italian-American favorite, based perhaps on a minestra maritata that dates back to Spanish-controlled parts of Italy (Lazio and Campania) and Toledo. The maritata part refers to how well the flavors marry together, not how the soup will fortify newlyweds for the tasks at hand.

Simmering away merrily on a Sunday night

Simmering away merrily on a Sunday night

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Rich, Hearty and Creamy Turkey and Mushroom Soup (dairy-free leftover solution!)

3 Dec

A 13-lb turkey is really too much for four people, but that’s what we got from the farm and of course we are going to use and enjoy every last bit! Over the weekend I posted on how to make delicious stock from the carcass of your roast. Now, here’s how to incorporate that stock with the leftover meat and loads of mushrooms to make a creamy soup that you won’t believe has no cream or butter!

The moms pronounced this turkey and mushroom soup "heavenly:

The moms pronounced this turkey and mushroom soup “heavenly:

The instructions are kind of longer than my usual, as normally for soup I would just sauté the basic veggies a bit, bung the rest in and leave it to simmer away. But the added steps of sauteing the vegetables separately and then making a roux (a cooked up paste of fat and flour) adds a creamy silkiness that makes this a bit more special. Don’t be afraid to try it…I have separated everything into easy steps that I believe will be easy to follow!

I found some of my inspiration from Kalyn’s Kitchen Turkey Mushroom and Wild Rice recipe, so thanks Kalyn for the idea of a roux.

Luscious and velvety leftover turkey soup

Luscious and velvety leftover turkey soup

Dairy-free Creamy Turkey and Mushroom Soup

2 Cups leftover roast turkey meat

1 quart turkey stock (or whatever you have on hand), plus more water to cover

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or one teaspoon dry (not powdered)

Handful garlic scapes or two cloves chopped garlic

1 Tbs olive oil

½ Cup chopped carrot

½ Cup chopped onion

½ Cup chopped celery

½ Tbs olive oil

20 oz chopped fresh mushrooms (white button, baby bella – no dried)

1.5 Tbs olive oil

3 Tbs flour

Salt and pepper

Step One: Place turkey, stock, thyme and garlic scapes in a big pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer.

Step Two: In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil until loose and fragrant, then sauté carrot, onion and celery at medium low until translucent and browning. Add vegetables to stock mixture and return the skillet to the heat, adding additional ½ Tbs olive oil.

Step Three: Add mushrooms to the skillet and sauté until they begin to soften, brown and release their juices. Add the mushrooms to the soup pot along with an additional two cups of water and return the skillet to the heat source, raising heat to medium high.

Step Four: Add the remaining oil to the skillet and add the 3 Tbs of flour, whisking to combine. Lower heat to medium and cook the roux a bit until relatively smooth and colored (you want to cook the floury taste out of it). Then add two cups of the turkey soup liquid to the skillet and whisk briskly until smooth and beginning to thicken.  Pour the thickening liquid back into the pot of soup and stir well.

Salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice or barley (you can throw cooked rice or barley directly into the soup and heat through, if desired) or on its own. Makes about 1.5 quarts.

Amazing Escarole and White Bean Soup (with tiny meatball option)

5 Nov

My friend Marianne and I cook together most Sundays, putting together at least one big dish that we can pack for lunch a few days of the following week. My lentil soup is a regular feature of Sunday night cooking, as are roasted vegetables, But a glorious head of escarole at a recent end-of-season Restoration Farm pick-up proved inspiring and nostalgic.

The veggie version

The veggie version

For Marianne it was all about her Italian nana who Marianne swears made this soup out of a handful of leaves, a pinch of ground beef and water. Grandmothers from those days were like that…they somehow conjured the most memorable, intoxicating flavors out of thin air like fairy godmothers.

Me, I need a good stock to help me out. Especially because my own abuela never made anything like this that I can remember, so I don’t know where I first had escarole soup, or why it provokes such sighs of nostalgia in me, or how I knew that mine has to have white beans, even though Nana Manone doesn’t seem to have included them in hers. And I wasn’t planning on meatballs, but since Nana used them….(which might explain the water instead of stock) Marianne’s big brother Peter will have to shed some light on this one, if he remembers.

The meatball version...with a handful of pasta in my lunch

The meatball version…with a handful of pasta in my lunch

In the meantime, I defrosted my prize homemade chicken stock in the fridge and softened the beans and grudgingly defrosted some raw but seasoned ground beef and prepared myself for battle. Continue reading

Hearty Vegan Veggie Soup in Three Stunningly Simple Steps (plus non-vegan tortellini option)

27 Apr

Is everyone’s family as kooky as mine? Wait, don’t answer that.

But truly, when I look at how many different dishes we sometimes have at the same table, I do feel like we are more diner than family-style when it comes to meals. There’s  my dad with the tattered but still crazy vegan diet that says you shouldn’t combine vegetables that grow above ground and below ground in the same meal (wtf?), my child who eats well, but rejects most soups and has a limited vegetable acceptability quotient; my mom who likes what she likes when she likes it and is not always easy to predict, and me, who eats mostly salad and picks at everyone else’s when she doesn’t really mean to and then complains about weight management. Four people, four different meals.


But then, sometimes you hit on something that is one dish that everyone can eat and modify to their liking.

The vegan vegetable soup base

The vegan vegetable soup base

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Top Ten Easy Latin Bean Recipes (Fiesta de Frijoles y Habichuelas)

3 Apr

Some of you have reported hunting down my bean recipes. Well here are some of my faves, all gathered in one place! Just click on the image to get to the recipe.

Make it yourself and enjoy whichever texture you prefer!

Home-made refried beans! (Vegan, but you’d never know)

Five Minute Black beans - I KID YOU NOT - FIVE MINUTE PREP

Five Minute Black beans – I KID YOU NOT – FIVE MINUTE PREP

Garbanzos con chorizo (chick peas and hot dry Spanish sausage)

Garbanzos con chorizo (chick peas and hot dry Spanish sausage)

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