Tag: Soup

Pumpkin Coconut Soup

 

Something odd has happened lately: all I want to eat is Asian influenced dishes. Growing up in Vancouver this isn’t wildly surprising since examples of excellent food from every imaginable Asian locale is available. I have sushi on the regular, I frequent a hole in the wall Thai place but usually, especially at this time of year, I’m roasting hunks of meat and root vegetables, basting and braising and using more rosemary than seems sane. For whatever reason, maybe the chilly, foggy, damp-to-soaking weather, my palate is all about the hot, sweet, salty, sour of Asian cuisine. (more…)

Chorizo, Kale and White Bean Soup

 

… and just like that, it’s the New Year. Amazing how time flies, isn’t it? Even harder for me to believe is that later this month this blog will have it’s third birthday! What an experience it’s been. I know I’ve said it before, but really, I can’t say it enough: thanks for stopping by and reading. I hope you enjoy these posts even a fraction of how much I enjoy making them.

Since it’s the new year, I decided to make some blog-centric resolutions:

1) More variety of recipes!

2) Branch out, away from just recipes, while maintaining the integrity of a recipe blog

3) More posts, more often

4) More collaboration and guest bloggers

One thing that I hear from people after they have commented on the blog and said nice things about it is “I didn’t realize you were a vegetarian?”

Ummm, I’m not. Not even close.  (more…)

Celeriac Soup

How can it possibly be May already? This year seems to be zipping past at an unprecedented rate. As always in life there is so much to do and so few hours a day to do it. I am happy to say, however, that we have our garden 95% planted and tiny shoots and sprouts are emerging from the soil, promising us a vegetable filled summer.

One of the things we planted this year that we have not grown before (and in truth, know very little about) is celeriac. Our little celeriacs are months from maturation but most green grocers around here will carry celeriac for most of the year making it an accessible addition to our usual arsenal of ingredients. Considering we now have them growing in the yard, a taste-test with a store bought one was needed. After some careful peeling I simmered it until tender, added some other flavours and blended it to a smooth, light soup. Upon first taste I was glad we had planted them and I will be giddy to pull our home-grown celeriacs from the ground and cook with them later this year.

If you have never tried it, I would recommend you do! Don’t be put off by its rugged appearance. Celeriac is easily one of the ugliest root vegetables in the market stand and it may be lumpy and gnarled but it is simple to cook with and absolutely delicious. It has a slightly starchy quality to it and a mild, sweet flavour that is quietly potato-like yet reminiscent of celery and even when cooked it keeps it’s clear, bright flavour. I can’t say that I’ll be able to wait for our small crop to be ready before I make celeriac soup again. I have also heard it makes great baked ‘fries’. Hmmm …I’ll try that this week.

Celeriac Soup

6 C of peeled, cubed celeriac from 1 medium/large bulb

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 ribs of celery, chopped

½ tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp butter

4 C chicken (or vegetable) stock

juice of ½ a lemon

1 C white wine

1 C cream or whole milk

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter into the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic and celery. Cook until softened and fragrant; add the celeriac, salt, lemon juice and stock. Cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 20 minutes or until the celeriac is very soft. Transfer the vegetables and cooking stock to a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender) and blend until very smooth. Over the pot, pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to eliminate any lumps or vegetable fibres. Add in the wine and cook for 5 minutes at a simmer. Add the cream and bring the temperature back up (about another 5 mins). Check seasoning. Serve hot.

 

Sorrel Soup

Just like that, summer is ending. It feels as if it barely got started. It’s back to school time and soon the leaves will be turning colour and the air will have that distinct chill to it that whispers fall. Until then the afternoons are bright and hot and the evenings are balmy until the sun dips, then they are refreshingly cool, wooing you to stay outside after dinner and have just one more glass of wine.

Despite its late start, it was a nice summer. The sun seemed so precious that we crammed a lot into the bright, hot days, knowing that any one of them could be the last. It was busy, fun and productive. One of the most exciting elements of this summer was the successful maturation of (most of) the garden. We have eaten more beans in the last 6 weeks than in our whole lives! Radishes and fresh greens were growing so fast we couldn’t keep up and the tomatoes are just now gracing us with their red, yellow, orange and deep purple bounty. Even our poor carrots, which over all did poorly, did something: enough for a few salads and few jars of pickles for mid winter hors d’ouevres. Sure, the zucchini and pumpkins have struggled, but all in all, for our first year, it was a success and we have already planted autumn/winter crops to take us through the colder months.

We planted so many things, and so much of it grew beautifully, but nothing was quite so voracious as the sorrel. Tucked between purple kale and a rainbow of Swiss chards, one small sorrel plant became a behemoth bush, pushing up countless deep green spade shaped leaves. If you have never had sorrel and have the opportunity, try it. It’s a somewhat old fashioned green that for one reason or another has fallen out of favour. Stronger and more astringent than spinach, it is an assertive and nutritious green. Raw it has a tart, green apple crossed with spinach kind of flavour. Cooked it has a milder, more earthy taste.

When I was very small and we still lived on the farm, I recall eating shallow, cold bowls of sorrel soup. It was emerald green, creamy, and always had slices of hard boiled egg floating in it and cold, boiled potato. You’d spoon a slice or two of the potato into your bowl, scoop up some egg and the bright, deep green soup. The flavour was intense, fresh and rich all at once and it dazzled against its benign garnishes. Because I have never found sorrel in any market, I have never recreated this soup until this summer. The sorrel grew so immense that it threatened to take over the world so there was no guilt in cutting it back and making up a big, cold jug of sorrel soup. We’ll be having it tonight with grilled fish and some very cold sauvignon blanc to punctuate the end of the summer season and celebrate the gifts of the garden and the summer sun. Cheers!

Sorrel Soup

serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

4 C sorrel leaves (packed)

6 C spinach leaves (packed), divided

1/2 C leek, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 C chicken or vegetable stock

1 C cream

sea salt and pepper, to taste

Wash and dry the spinach and sorrel thoroughly. In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the butter into the olive oil. Add the chopped leek and garlic, stirring frequently to soften. Do not allow to brown. Add 4 C spinach and sorrel, stirring to wilt them. When they are fully wilted, spoon the greens, with the leek and garlic into a food processor (or blender – just be careful if using a blender that the steam doesn’t blow the lid off). Puree completely, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 C spinach and continue to puree. With the processor running, add the stock. Once fully incorporated, add the cream. Taste and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Chill the soup thoroughly.

Serve chilled garnished with:

Cold hard boiled egg (chopped or sliced) and cold sliced boiled potato

Seafood Chowder

I don’t really want to admit my inspiration for this chowder. The thing is, I’m all for celebrity chefs, televised cooking programs and the like. I also understand that it’s a hot business that requires a well defined image and personality and a willingness to often appear arrogant and ridiculous. But there’s a certain ginger-haired celebrity chef who just irks me. I’m sure he’s a model human being in real life, but I find his casual arrogance less than appetizing.

It’s for that reason that I find it so vexing that this morning, while perusing the idiot-box, the first espresso of the morning in hand, I was somehow inclined to watch an episode of Throwdown with the Chef Who Shall Not Be Named. He and his opponents engaged in a battle for a winning Westcoast Chowder. My delight was obvious when he lost the cook-off, but I was definitely sold on making some chowder of my own.

Despite the star’s generally irritating persona, I did agree with a principle of chowder that he and his opponents shared: not using a roux to thicken it. So often chowders are thickened almost beyond reason and good judgement, but my personal preference is for a thinner, lighter, though still creamy broth. Not only do you end up with a less gluey bowl of chowder, the large-ish pieces of seafood stand out more distinctly in a thinner, more elegant broth.

A brief shopping trip, a few pantry staples and an hour or so of cooking later and this seafood stew was ready to go. We’ll be dunking in whole wheat baguette but the classic soda crackers wouldn’t be half bad either.

Seafood Chowder

Feeds 6 hungry people, possibly with leftovers.

1 large shallot, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large carrot, diced small

2 ribs of celery, diced small (include some of the leaves if you have them)

4 strips of bacon, chopped small

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. dried tarragon

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup clam juice/nectar

4 cups of water

2 medium red skinned potatoes, chopped into bite-sized cubes

1 cup of frozen corn (fresh would be great if you had it)

1 lb red snapper fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cans of baby clams (and the liquid they are packed in)

1 lb of prawns (I used the size that comes 31-40/lb)

1 C. half-and-half cream

salt and pepper to taste

chopped parsley to garnish

Prep the vegetables and aromatics by getting all the chopping out of the way and mixing up the seasonings.

Add the chopped bacon and bay leaf to a pot over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently. Allow the fat to fully render and the bacon pieces to get deeply browned. Don’t be alarmed by how dark the bottom of the pot will be, all that will lift up later when the liquids come in.

There’s something odd and funny about chopping bacon on a chicken shaped cutting board. I’m sure there’s a “That’s what she said!” joke in there somewhere …

This is nothing but a gratuitous bacon shot.

Back to business…

Once the bacon is cooked, discard the bay leaf and add in the celery, carrot, shallot and garlic. Stir well and allow the vegetables to soften. Add the spices and cook for 5 minutes. Add the wine, clam nectar and water. Add the chopped potato and corn;  allow to simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.

Prep the fish by chopping it into bite-sized chunks. Keep it somewhat rustic, you want to be able to see the pieces in the finished chowder. Likewise, get your shrimp ready (de-vein or shell them if necessary – I left the tails on because they are pretty).

When the potatoes are cooked through add the clams and the juices they were packed in, the fish and the prawns. Add the cream. Bring the whole pot to a boil and immediately turn down to a low, slow simmer. Let it cook gently so the flavours can develop, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve piping hot with plenty of chopped fresh parsley and crusty bread for dunking. Enjoy!