Sunday, March 10th, 2013
This was about all I had in me after a long first full day of daylight savings. We spent it hanging out with family, sledding, and enjoying the wonderfully sunny 47°F weather. Kiddo off a wee bit all day because of the time change and the constant reminder that her teeth are very much bothering her. Sunday night is bath night… followed by the usual bedtime routine. Except an overtired, bewildered and bothered gal makes for a long and drawn out goodnight.
Soup. It’s what’s for dinner. We’ve been having homemade lentil soup the last few nights, but I feel like it’s giving my gal trouble after nursing, so tonight I heated lentil for Craig, and I opted for Trader Joe’s. Their boxed roasted red pepper and tomato soup is pretty tasty. I added lots of organic baby spinach that wilted perfectly while the soup was heating. I topped the soup with sour cream, horseradish sauce, and the leftover crumbs from our garlic bread I had just sliced.
Love quick dinners. We are zonked. Wonder what the rest of the night will bring with my babe. Where are her two top front teeth? We have been teething for weeeeeeeeeks now. When will they make their appearance?
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
As you may know, we make a gigantic batch of soup pretty much every week so that we have delicious and nutritious homemade meals ready to go for work lunches every day. This week we made a hearty Tuscan White Bean with Kale Soup.
Where did the recipe come from? I am not entirely certain. It started with my Mom I think. And from there we have sort of experimented and altered it here and there. But the basics are always the same.
The core to any good soup starts out with a base of sautéed carrots, celery, white onions, and garlic. We make huge batches of soup (10–16 big servings) so I usually begin with a dozen organic carrots peeled and chopped, at least 10 organic ribs of celery chopped, 2–3 large organic white onions chopped, and 8 or so cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped.
Then I add 3 large jars (cans work, too) of diced/chopped tomatoes and 64 oz. or so of small white beans (dried or canned). If they are dried, you will want to cook them ahead of time so soften them up.
Once the tomatoes and juices and beans are added, cover your whole base with enough water to give everything breathing room and bring to a boil covered. Then simmer on low for at least 20 minutes.
Chop off the very ends of the kale to add to your compost, and then chop up the kale stalks like you would a broccoli stalk. You can add the kale stalks right away to the simmering soup mixture to give them time to soften up a bit.
This time we added half a bag of rotini spinach and tomato pasta that we had on hand. I broke the pasta into smaller pieces before I added it to the soup. I add the kale into the soup in handfuls, stirring it in a handful at a time.
Once you add the pasta and kale, you will need to add more water so that the pasta has room to cook and expand. I add 2 cups at a time and keep on stirring. You can make your soup more or less thick, depending on your individual taste. We like a thick, hearty soup, so I start with adding maybe 6 cups of water and stir away. I want there to be decent motion with the soup, but I want to be able to pull up a hearty scoop of veggies, beans, and pasta, too.
After you add the kale and pasta and water, then you can mess around with adding herbs. I always add a generous amount of thyme. I don’t measure it, but I would guess at least a teaspoon or two. I also add generous shakes of basil, oregano, rosemary, freshly grated black pepper and freshly grated red pepper.
Once the soup comes to a boil again, turn it back down to medium low for 12–14 minutes to give the pasta a chance to cook.
Keep an eye on your soup—if it looks too thick and you think that beans or pasta are going to get stuck on the bottom of the pot, add more water.
If you get busy and forget about the soup, that is okay, too. You can turn it down to low and let it simmer. The longer it goes, the more all the flavors have a chance to meld and blend and get to know each other.
Once the Tuscan White Bean Soup with Kale has had a chance to simmer for a while, I turn it off and take off the cover and let the soup cool. Then I ladle it out into individual pyrex serving bowls with covers for the week.
Easy to grab-and-go from the fridge for daily lunches!
P.S. If you feel compelled, you can substitute veggie broth for water. I tend to just use water because I don’t notice a huge difference. Plus, most veggie broths have a lot of added salt. Using canned or jarred tomatoes tends to add enough extra salt anyway. It is ultimately your choice though. Feel free to experiment and mess around! That is the beauty of making homemade soup!
Friday, September 10th, 2010
My adventures in making homemade soup for workday lunches is going pretty well. I am off of the canned soup diet because those soups are too high in sodium and most canned foods have BPA in the linings. Plus, with a little investment in creativity and time, you can save a bit of money making your own soup. Plus, homemade just tastes better!
I have devoted a few hours on Sunday mornings to making a big honkin’ batch of soup for me and Craig to eat all week long. I really love soup for lunch because it is a hot meal, and I find it very satisfying. We have been doing alternating weeks of soups and sandwiches—because if it’s really hot out, then a sandwich is perfect.
This week’s soup is lentil with carrots. I am a huge fan of lentils because they are nutritional powerhouses. Plus they are so inexpensive and taste better as the days go on. Craig helped out with the prep work for the soup this week by chopping up all the carrots. Here’s the recipe I used, originally inspired by a lentil soup recipe from Moosewood. If you don’t have any of their cookbooks already, they are so utterly and completely worth buying.
Break out the biggest soup pot you have. I use a 16-quart Denmark stainless steel stockpot that we got as a wedding present. It is the perfect size to make a gigantic pot of soup. You will have enough to last a week, freeze leftovers, and give some soup to family or friends.
Start with (4) 16 oz. bags of dried lentils. Quickly sift through each bag of lentils as they cascade into a large colander, checking for any stones or odd debris. Then rinse the lentils under water to wash them off. Into the stockpot they go. Cover the lentils with water completely and add about an extra 3″ of water on top. As they cook they will absorb water. I often add a little more water to the pot throughout the cooking process to keep the soup from getting too thick or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Add a dash or two of sea salt to the pot and bring the lentils to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and let the lentils go at it for at least 30–40 minutes. Longer is fine. You can crack the lid on the pot a bit as they are simmering.
Once the lentils have simmered a while, add your veggies to the pot. I prefer a boatload of carrots—at least a dozen chopped. Also add 2 large diced onions, 4–5 stalks chopped celery, and several cloves of minced garlic. Optional add-ins include chopped frozen spinach or kale, chopped tomatoes, and/or diced shallots. I have been known to toss in chopped broccoli stalks if I have a bunch cluttering up my fridge. After adding the veggies, add 1–2 teaspoons of basil, thyme, and oregano. You can add more to taste if you want. Then add a generous round of freshly ground black pepper.
Continue to simmer the lentils, veggies, and herbs for at least another 40 minutes to an hour. Longer is fine. With time and tenderness, all the flavors come together.
You can serve lentil soup garnished with sour cream or a dash of white balsamic vinegar on top. Fresh chopped tomatoes with parsley on top is yummy, too, a la Moosewood.
Let the soup cool to ladle into pyrex bowls to store for individual lunch servings. When you go to reheat the soup, if you feel like it’s too thick, add a little water.
Lentil soup is pretty amazing because using water for the broth is all you need. No veggie stock required. Lentils create such an extraordinarily tasty stock all on their own.
What are your favorite soup ideas and recipes? I would love to hear your suggestions since I am just getting started with this lunchtime soup ritual.
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
What to do with all that excess zucchini you’re bound to grow in your garden? Make soup!
First things first: this post started off with me having to look up the proper way to spell zucchini. I had it as zuchinni. But it’s spelled with two Cs, not two Ns. Be sure to add that to the vast number of things you are trying to keep straight in your head this week. However you spell zucchini, I love, love, love it. I cannot wait until I have the over-abundance of zucchini in my garden again this year that is bound to happen if the sun works in my favor.
Zucchini is a fairly easy to grow vegetable. You can be bold and try to grow it from seed, or you can cheat and get starter plants. Ain’t no shame in that. As long as it’s growing, that’s what matters.
The point of all this blabber is that given enough space in your garden, a weekly good watering, and a lot of sun, you can grow a ridiculous amount of zucchini from just one or two plants.
I had so many last year that I gave several away to family and friends. And if I didn’t get to them fast enough, they grew to enormous size.
I had so many zucchinis growing in my garden, that I couldn’t keep up. They would just spontaneously explode and expand overnight, and suddenly I had all these gigantic squashes. What to do???
Shred! Shred! Shred!
Last July, when my zucchini was in its prime, I busted out the food processor and shredded pound after pound of zucchini and summer squash. I stuffed the shredded veggies (seeds, juice, skin, chunks, and all) into ziploc freezer bags, and laid them flat like stacks in my freezer to save for later. I would then extricate a bag here and a bag there to add to a soup or stir fry or lasagna or quiche.
Well, I’m finally coming to the end of my frozen zucchini from last summer, just in time to start growing them anew come May. So last night I made one of my favorites: zucchini soup.
It’s such a quick and easy, simple soup to make that uses whole ingredients. I’ve adapted the recipe from Pickity Place, one of my favorite local NH restaurants that specializes in herbs and fresh vegetables.
I took roughly 2 pounds of zucchini out of the freezer (from two big bags) and laid them on the counter. Then, I took a hammer to the frozen masses and pounded until the solid zucchini icebergs broke into smaller chunks. Worth it just for that. Everything in the kitchen shook and Craig backed away into a corner.
Then I loaded the chunks into a soup pot.
Add about a cup of low-sodium veggie broth to the frozen chunks to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot, cover, and then turn it up to get everything de-thawed and cooking. While that is happening, sauté a large yellow onion and several cloves of garlic in a small frying pan over medium-low heat to slightly carmelize.
Once the zucchini is fully thawed, add the sautéed onions and garlic to the soup base, add a little more veggie broth, a few tablespoons of organic butter, and let it simmer for 20–30 minutes. Then purée roughly half of the soup in a blender, leaving the rest nice and chunky in the pot. (Pause: notice the overuse of accent marks in this recipe… sauté! purée!)
Finally, mix everything back together and add roughly a cup of raw milk with the cream on top (or pasteurized) to the soup, a 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, and a ridiculously generous amount of black pepper. Stir, stir, stir to get it heated through. Do not let it boil. Just a super gentle simmer. You might want to crack open the lid a bit to let some heat escape if it starts to get carried away.
While this was happening, I sautéed some turkey kielbasa in the same small frying pan with extra virgin olive oil to add as a “topping”. Purely optional.
And here’s the final dish. Really good. Really easy. And the sweet and savory taste reminds me of summer!
Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
Yesterday was a looooong day.
It started with me not being able to get out of the driveway to get to work because the snow was deep and slick. Craig took the good in snow car because his commute is longer than mine and can be more treacherous on snow days.
I tried to shovel out, but it took a lot of grunting and gripping the steering wheel before I was finally able to get up enough momentum and traction to plow through the 9″ of snow and bank at the end of the driveway from the street plow. I would not be defeated.
Needless to say, I was pretty stoked to make it out and get to work safely. But the funny part about snow days as an adult in New Hampshire is that instead of a day off, you get to brave a commute into work. And then the commute home when everything freezes up. And then hopefully return to your abode in one piece in the dark to shovel.
We don’t have a snowblower, and we’re going to try to go as long as we can without one. We enjoy the rhythm of shoveling. It’s great exercise, even if our backs protest in soreness the next day. There’s just something very hearty New Englander about shoveling out. If Craig and I work in tandem, we can usually get the driveway and walkways shoveled in about an hour and a half. And you really do work up quite a sweat shoveling, no matter how cold it is outside.
I got home from work first, and I started the soup so it would be ready after we were done shoveling. Craig’s mom had given us some frozen turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving, and I figured soup would be perfect. I was going to do a traditional turkey soup, but I wanted to add grains instead of noodles.
However, I was out of barley. So instead I used Kashi.
And then I figured I might as well keep experimenting, so I used a coconut curry carton of broth I had on hand. The result was really pretty darn good. Here’s my recipe:
Thai Coconut Curry Turkey Soup Ingredients
1 or 2 chopped white onions (get organic if you can, they taste waaaaay better)
3 stalks organic celery
4 big organic carrots
at least 3 cloves of garlic
olive oil for stock pot
32 oz. low-sodium veggie broth (I use Trader Joe’s)
packet of Kashi 7 grains
32 oz. carton of College Inn Thai Coconut Curry culinary broth
1 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. ginger (fresh is great, but powdered will do)
pinch or more of turmeric
pinch or more of red pepper flakes
leftover turkey (frozen works fine but break it up if you can)
14 oz. can of reduced fat coconut milk (check out Trader Joe’s)
1) Chop up the onions, garlic, celery, and carrot and saute in stock pot over medium heat using a little olive oil. Add to the pot as you chop and add a dash of veggie broth if anything starts to stick. Don’t worry about sizes—just imagine the veggies on your soup spoon. About that size.
2) Add veggie broth and kashi grains and stir to mix everything up.
3) Add coconut curry broth, curry powder, and red pepper flakes.
4) Put on the lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and let it go for at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the grains from making their way to the bottom of your pot and getting stuck.
5) Add turkey pieces, turmeric, ginger, and a few more red pepper flakes if you wish (more curry, too, if you like). Add coconut milk.
6) Keep it on a slow, peaceful simmer for another 30 minutes to get it heated through and the flavors melding. It really can go as long as you need it to, but try not to let it boil since there’s coconut milk in there.
7) Serve and enjoy!
We had our thai coconut curry turkey soup with a sesame seed bread that I picked up from our local market’s day-old bin. Day-old bread costs about 75% less and is perfect if you’re going to dip it in soup.
Not a bad reward for getting the shoveling done. I hear we might have snow again on Wednesday. Repeat!