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A new roasted butternut squash soup

2 Nov

A few weeks ago I told you about a humongous butternut squash that I used to make a vegetable dish with onions and za’atar and a vegetarian chili. I froze the rest to use in soup. Well, last week I made the soup, and it is dee-lish! It has fewer spices than many such soups, so the flavor of the squash really comes through.

The recipe is adapted from one by Lindsay Funston, deputy editor at the “delish” online food magazine.

I didn’t have fresh thyme so I used dried. I had only small potatoes so I used three (and because they were “new” potatoes I didn’t peel them). The recipe called for chicken broth but I used vegetable broth, and I found I needed more like 6 or 8 cups, rather than the 4 cups the recipe called for, to get the soup the right consistency; it was still nice and thick.

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 3 cups)
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme) — plus more for garnish
6-8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, toss butternut squash and potatoes with 2 Tbs. olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, 30 minutes.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Season generously with salt, pepper and thyme.

Add the roasted squash and potatoes and then the broth. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until all the vegetables are soft. Blend until creamy using an immersion blender (or do in small batches in a blender), adding additional brtoth or water if it seems too thick.

Serve garnished with fresh thyme. A dollop of sour cream on top would also be nice.

Serves 6 to 8

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

30 Jul

lentil soup spicy

Yes, loyal readers, I do sometimes make something other than lentil soup, even though I’ve posted many variations on this theme lately. Reasons abound: lentil soups are my husband’s favorites, they’re easy to make in whatever variation you choose, and lentils are really healthful. Most lentil soup recipes make a lot, so you can refrigerate or freeze leftovers and enjoy many meals (unless you’re making it for company).

This one is interesting because it uses bulgur in addition to lentils. The original recipe came from the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, but I varied it a bit. The original called for twice as much bulgur, which made the soup too thick — I had to add lots more water while it was cooking just to keep it liquid. It also suggested more chili flakes, which made it too spicy even for me, a spice-lover! A half-teaspoon is ample, but vary this according to your taste.

The soup gets very thick when you store leftovers in the fridge, but you shouldn’t need to add water; it loosens up when you reheat it.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½  chili flakes (or to taste)
3 Tbs. tomato paste (half a small can)
10 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups red lentils
1 cup bulgur
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili flakes, tomato paste and stock. Stir well and bring to a boil.

Add the lentils and bulgur and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. If it’s too thick, add some water.

Puree half the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender and return it to the saucepan. Stir well and cook another few minutes before serving.

Serves 8 to 12

Mushroom-Barley Soup

2 Jun

This is a quintesential comfort food, so it’s been a great panedemic recipe. Leftovers will keep for a week or more in the fridge.

The last time I made it I realized as I was getting started that I had no fresh mushrooms! That didn’t matter much — what’s really essential is the dried mushrooms. We once got a huge jar of them at Costco, and it lasted us about 10 years. Sadly, Costco no longer carries the product. You can find dried mushrooms in bulk food stores and some supermarkets. Or you can buy them online. Don’t freak out at the sky-high per-pound price; you need very little and they weigh next to nothing, so an ounce or two will last you a long time (and they don’t spoil).

If you have porcini mushroom caps, use 3 to 5 of them. If your dried mushrooms are in bits and flakes, measure out about 3 tablespoons of pieces.

Ingredients:

3 to 5 dried porcini mushrooms or 3 tbs. dried mushroom pieces
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
4 – 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
6 cups stock (vegetable, beef, chicken)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Great Northern or cannelini beans
1 bay leaf
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley or 1 Tbs. dried parsley
½ cup pearled barley
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water to cover for a half hour.

Heat the oil in a large pot and sautee the chopped onions for about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft, another 3-5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook until soft.

Add the stock and the canned tomatoes and stir.

Drain the dried mushrooms, slice them thin and add to the pot. (You can use the liquid that you drain off, but put it through a strainer first.)

Add the canned beans, bayleaf and parsley.

Bring the soup to the boil, then add the barley. Return to the boil, Reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes.

The soup is better if you make it at least several hours before you want to serve it and reheat.

Serves 8

Greek Lentil & Spinach Soup with Lemon

23 Apr

Lentil soup Greek

Hi friends! I hope you haven’t given up on me although I’ve been MIA for several months. First we were getting ready to move, and then we moved, and then we got locked down. So now that we’re unpacked and as settled as we can be without going out to do any of the things we need to do, we have time to do some cooking. We just made this rather complex lentil soup (complex because of so many ingredients, which took us awhile to assemble), and it was deelish! It’s vegan, gluten-free and low fat too! Hope you enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 lb. brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
10 cups vegetable broth or water
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1½ tsp. cumin seeds
2½ tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 medium potatoes ( 1¼ lb.), scrubbed and cut into ½-inch dice
10 oz. baby spinach, chopped
1 small butternut squash (1 lb.) peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (about 3 cups)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, with leaves, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp. kosher salt (or more to taste)
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
⅓ cup lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced

Directions:

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, combine the lentils, stock or water, jalapeno, coriander, cumin, oregano and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer, partly covered, about 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Add the potatoes, spinach and butternut squash, re-cover and cook another 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and cook the onion, stirring, until it starts to soften, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they soften, about 3 minutes. Add the mixture to the soup; deglaze the pan if necessary with a little of the soup liquid. Add the salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaves.

Just before serving, stir the lemon juice into the soup. Serve the soup hot, with a lemon slice floating atop each bowl.

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

27 Mar

Chicken SoupI’m not one of those rabid Instant Pot fans, but I have been pleased with the results the few times I’ve used it.

A few months ago, when I couldn’t find a satisfactory recipe, I decided to invent my own way to make chicken soup in the Instant Pot. I found it was even easier and even tastier than my standby “Cheater’s Chicken Soup.”

Please note that this is not a recipe as much as a method. The exact ingredients may vary.

I had a package of frozen “chicken bits” in my freezer — wing tips, backs, tails, necks and other stuff cut from fresh chicken that no one eats.

To add to that, I went to the local kosher supermarket hoping for some chicken feet. When we lived in England when we were first married, the butchers threw the feet in with the chickens, and they really fortified a soup. But they’re very hard to find nowadays. The local kosher mart had them — but they cost more than actual fresh chicken! I decided to skip the feet but found a package of chicken bones neatly tied up in a cheesecloth bag — also exorbitantly priced considering they were bones, but a lot cheaper than the feet. If you can find reasonably priced chicken feet, I highly recommend them.

I tied my defrosted “chicken bitsInstant Pot chicken soup 1” up in a cheesecloth package as well, and did the same with some chunked veggies: onion, carrot, celery, dill and parsley. You could also include a parsnip or turnip.

I put all three cheesecloth packages into the Instant Pot and mooshed them down a bit so everything was below the “fill” line. This time I added a cupful of leftover chicken soup and another cup or so of “chicken juice” from the last roast chicken we made — but don’t worry if you don’t have these on hand, they are totally optional. The “chicken bits” and bones are more important.

I added water up to the Instant Pot fill line, closed the lid, hit the “Soup/Broth” button, and an hour later had a potful of delicious soup — about three quarts. That hour included the time needed to get the pressure up, the cooking time, and the time to release the pressure. And the kitchen smelled great!

After cooling the contents of the pot, I removed and discarded the cheesecloth bags. Depending on what your “chicken bits” consist of, you may find some chunks of meat you can pull off and add to the soup. The veggies will be too mushy to save; if you want to serve carrots, celery, turnip or the like with your soup, cook them when you reheat the soup before serving.

The first time I made soup this way, when I didn’t add any leftover soup or “chicken juice,” I needed to add just a teaspoon or so of chicken stock powder to make it sufficiently strong. (Alternatively, I could have boiled it for awhile to concentrate the flavor.) The second time it was fine as it was.

Instant Pot chicken soup 2You may want to strain the soup into a Dutch oven or soup pot but if you use cheesecloth bags for your ingredients, there’s really no need. It is a good idea to let the soup sit in the fridge overnight so that any excess fat can rise to the top to be skimmed off.

Add salt and pepper to taste (if you use kosher chicken bits, juice, etc. you probably won’t need salt, but a little ground black pepper is nice.) You can also add dill and parsley at this point if you didn’t put them in your vegetable cheesecloth package.

Serve with cooked noodles, matzoh balls, kreplach, gyoza or any other kind of dumpling.

Thai-Spiced Sweet Potato Soup

28 Jan

img_4880 (2)

Here’s an absolutely delicious soup from my recipe blogger friends at MediterrAsian.com. It’s smooth and creamy without being heavy (because it uses coconut milk instead of cream), and it has lots of beta carotene and fiber.

“Thai-spiced” here means flavorful, not spicy.

The recipe calls for 8 oz. of coconut milk, plus a little more for garnish. The can had 13.5 oz. What was I going to do with a half-cup of leftover coconut milk? I just threw it all in.

The original recipe calls for chopped cilantro on top. We don’t like cilantro, so we used chopped scallions. You could also use chives or parsley. And I whizzed it with an immersion blender. I used chopped cashews on the top, but then I noticed that the MediterrAsian folks used whole cashews for garnish. I also had roasted salted cashews on hand so I used those, and the soup was not at all salty, so if that’s what you’ve got, I say use ’em!.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. peanut oil
2 scallions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1½  Tbs. Thai red curry paste
28 oz. (800g) sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk, plus 4 Tbs. for garnish
½  cup roasted unsalted cashews, plus extra for garnish
3 Tbs. fish sauce
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro for garnish (or parsley or scallion or chives)

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Add the sweet potato, stock, coconut milk, cashews, fish sauce and brown sugar, stir to combine, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are very soft. Remove from the heat and cool a little.

Puree the soup until smooth in two batches in a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender.

Return to the pot to reheat, and stir in the lemon juice.

Serve in bowls with a swirl of the reserved coconut milk, and garnish with cilantro (or parsley, scallion or chives) and reserved cashews.

Serves 4 to 6

Egg-Lemon Soup for Passover

19 Mar

Passover Greek Egg Lemon Farfel SoupTime to start sharing some Passover recipes!

Here is a nice soup if you’re tired of the usual matzoh ball variety. Though who could ever tire of matzoh ball soup?

I usually make this one for the Shabbat dinner during Passover. It’s easy and a nice change.

The soup tastes like traditional Greek egg-lemon-rice soup, but because rice traditionally wasn’t used at Passover, at least not by Ashkenazi Jews, the recipe substitutes matzoh farfel.

Greek Egg-Lemon-Matzoh Soup

Ingredients:

2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups matzoh farfel
4 Tbs. chopped flatleaf parsley
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
6 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Bring the broth to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Add the matzoh farfel and parsley and simmer until the farfel is soft, at least 2 minutes. Add the salt and pepper to taste; the broth should be highly seasoned. Remove the pan from the heat.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl with a fork and strain them into a heatproof, medium-sized bowl. Beat in the lemon juice. Beat a half cup of the hot soup into the egg mixture, little by little. Very gradually, stir this mixture back into the remaining soup.

(Be careful not to add the hot soup to the eggs, or the mixture to the soup pot, too quickly because the eggs can curdle.)

Return the soup to medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Do not let the soup boil or even simmer because that could curdle t eggs.

Add salt to taste and serve immediately.

Serves 8

 

Moroccan Chickpea Soup with Couscous

13 Dec

moroccan-chickpea-soup-from-a-cedar-spoonIt had been snowing all day, and the snow seemed almost a foot high  when the hostess of our annual book club potluck dinner called it off. I had just put together a spinach and cabbage salad to bring. What was I going to do with all that? So I put out a call to the other book club members inviting over anyone willing to brave the roads. My friend Char, who was wondering what to do with the huge kugel she had just baked, answered the call.

Char also brought his delicious soup, which came from a blog called A Cedar Spoon (which is where I got the picture too — much nicer than the one I took!). The couscous makes it thick so it’s almost like a stew. It’s perfectly spiced and just the right thing for a snowy winter day. We loved it, and I hope you do too!

Ingredients:

½ cup couscous
3 Tbs. olive oil
½ sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
tsp. paprika
½  tsp. red pepper {cayenne pepper}
¼  tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth {you could use chicken broth}
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup milk, half & half  or unsweetened soymilk
Chopped fresh cilantro, crushed red pepper flakes, extra chickpeas and/or lemon wedges for garnish

Directions:

Cook the couscous according to the package directions.

While the couscous cooks heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots and celery and a dash of salt and continue to sauté until the vegetables become soft. Add the spices and continue to sauté for 2 more minutes.

Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth and chickpeas and simmer on low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the milk or soymilk and stir well. Simmer for 2 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Put half the soup into a large mixing bowl and puree using an immersion blender or a blender. Return the pureed soup back into the soup pot and mix well.

Divide the couscous into soup bowls and ladle the soup on top. Garnish with {fresh cilantro, crushed red pepper, lemon wedges and/or extra chickpeas.

Serves 8 to 10

 

Bean and spinach soup

31 Oct

bean-and-spinach-soupA nice soup for cool fall days.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped garlic
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 cans (15 oz.) white beans, such as cannellini or great northern, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Salt and white pepper to taste
1 package (10 oz.) fresh spinach, chopped, or frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, combine the black beans, red pepper parsley and balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Remove the soup from the heat and cool until it is very warm. Puree in food processor or blender (or with immersion blender) and return to the pot. Season with salt and white pepper. Stir in the spinach  and bring to a boil.

Divide the black bean mixture among 6 bowls and ladle the soup over the mixture.

Serves 6

 

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

17 Nov

lentil soup curry coconutHere’s another nice lentil soup recipe. I clipped it from the Detroit Free Press, which said they got it from Whole Foods. The coconut milk gives it a creamy consistency and just a hint of coconut flavor.

Don’t make the mistake I did and use ground red or cayenne pepper instead of chile pepper flakes — or if you do, use half as much. I like spice, and so my pot of soup was fine with a half-teaspoon of ground cayenne, but I wondered why the recipe said “or more to taste” when it was so spicy. Then I realized my error!

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. coconut or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. curry powder
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
1½ cups red lentils, rinsed and sorted
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 handfuls chopped spinach, kale, chard or other leafy green
Chopped cilantro, green onion and/or vegan sour cream for garnish (optional)

Directions:

In a stockpot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and stir-fry the onion, garlic and ginger a few minutes until the onion is translucent.

Add the tomato paste, curry powder and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.

Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, diced tomatoes and lentils.

Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes, until lentils are very tender.

Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in the spinach or other green and garnish with cilantro, green onions and/or sour cream.

Serves 8 to 10