Cabbage Roll Soup

to post graphic

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

Cabbage Roll Soup

Adapted from Smith Bites

BAH Note:  This recipe reminds me of the soup that my grandmother would make with whatever was left at the bottom of the pot after she made stuffed cabbage rolls.  Thank you Deb and Rod for helping me keep this food memory alive in my kitchen.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 28 ounces chopped tomatoes
  • 1 head green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup cooked rice

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook about 10 minutes until soft.  Add the ground beef and salt and cook, breaking the beef up with your spatula, until the beef is no longer pink.

Stir in the tomatoes, water, broth, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes or until the cabbage is cooked and tender.  Stir in the rice before serving.

{printable recipe}

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Spiced Lentil Soup

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

Spiced Lentil Soup

Adapted from Parents Need to Eat Too

BAH Note:  You could use as much as 1 1/2 cups of lentils which would give you a thicker, stoupy soup.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup french green lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • black pepper

Heat the oil in a dutch oven set over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and sweet potatoes and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the vegetables being to soften a bit.

Add the garam masala, cumin, ginger, and salt and cook for approximately 1 minute until you begin to smell the spices.  Add the broth and lentils and bring to boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer 30 to 40 minutes until the lentils are tender.  Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and spices.

{printable recipe}

The Secret to Homemade Chicken Soup

chicken soup
my grandmother’s secret to chicken soup? her homemade noodles.
flour + egg is all you need.

Seems to me that the people who write recipes must have have some secrets up their sleeves, or a rabbit in their hat.  Because I can’t otherwise explain how they can possibly do things like caramelize onions in 30 minutes or get a really good sear on a cut of meat in 2 minutes per side.  It’s as though time is suspended in their kitchen.

Anytime I read a recipe I feel like I should start mentally marking up the cooking time that is quoted as guidelines.  I need to sweat onion and celery till soft and you say it should take about five minutes.  In my kitchen it’s more like ten or fifteen minutes.  Roast my veg for 30 minutes until tender?  Please, I’m giving that pan a shake every 30 minutes.

Am I responsible for some of the discrepancies?  Absolutely.  Am I using a large enough pan?  Maybe not.  Am I cooking over a high enough heat?  Maybe not.  Have I overcrowded my pan?  Possibly.  All of these differences could partly explain why it takes me longer to get from Point A to Point B than you say it will.  As far as the rest of the explanation…I will never know.

One thing I do know is that some secrets can be cracked.  Like the secret to homemade chicken soup.

The secret is simple, use a rotisserie chicken as both the base of the stock and the meat for the finished soup.  No more taking up valuable freezer space to save random chicken parts until you have enough for a soup.  And no more spending a whole day with a pot slowly simmering away on the stove.  Who has time for that?

One rotisserie chicken is all you need.  Simmering the stripped carcass and skin in chicken broth gives you a full and rich stock in no time at all.  Now, if you want to tell people that this soup took you all day so that you could sneak in some alone time, I can promise that your secret is safe with me.

Easy Chicken Soup

Adapted from Cook’s Country

BAH Note:  Use this as your guide and then fancy it up any way you like.  Add rice or noodles!  Don’t want to give peas a chance?  Substitute frozen corn instead.  Do what makes you happy.

I make a mess in the kitchen on my good days.  So when a recipe tells me to pour 8 cups of hot liquid through a strainer, I see danger signs.  Instead of tempting fate, and 2nd degree burns, by trying to pour steaming hot liquid out of the hot stock pot, I break the process down into a few steps.  I place a mesh strainer in a bowl large enough to hold all the liquid.  Then I use tongs to remove the chicken from the pot and place it in the strainer.  Using a big ladle, I run the stock from the pot through the strainer.  Lastly I scrape any bits from the bottom of the stock pot into the strainer.  Once all the liquid has drained off the chicken and vegetables, the strainer rests in the sink until the bones and veg have cooled enough to go in the trash.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Break down the rotisserie chicken and shred the meat into bite sized pieces.  Keep the skin and bones for making the stock.  And be sure to scrape any gelled juices out of the chicken carrier.  That’s pure gold right there and it needs to go in your soup pot.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook until the vegetables begin to soften about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken bones and skin, broth, water, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and garlic to the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Strain your stock through a mesh strainer and press on the solids to get as much liquid out as possible.  Return the stock to your dutch oven.  You want to have about 8 cups of liquid by this point.  If you have less than 8 cups, add water till you get there.

While the stock cooks, take the diced carrot and onion and remaining 1/2 tablespoon (that’s 1 1/2 teaspoons) olive oil and microwave on high for approximately 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften.

Transfer the softened carrot and onion mixture to the chicken stock.  Stir in the frozen peas and chicken and cook for another 5 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt and pepper to taste.

{printable recipe}

Chilled Avocado Soup

Chilled Avocado Soup

Lately I feel like I’m on the verge of becoming the stereotypical crotchety old lady.  The one who mutters under my breath about “kids these days” and “hell in a handbasket” and then wonders why people avoid making eye contact with me as they pass by.  All I need to complete the transformation is a housecoat, hair rollers, and a coffee mug full of gin as I sweep my porch.  Ok, maybe that is a bit of a stretch.  Because anyone who knows me knows that my coffee mug would be hiding vodka or wine….never gin.

Who knew that I would feel so old and tired at 42?  But when you’re young and daydream about what the future holds, you totally gloss over the unglamorous parts of being an adult.  Things like pulling weeds, taking out the trash, paying bills, and navigating the tough patches in relationships.  What you think about is the freedom of being an adult when you get to call the shots.

You certainly don’t imagine what it will feel like to work a full day, slog through rush hour traffic with a cranky toddler as your backseat driver, and arrive home to discover hair balls and cat vomit deposited throughout your house.  Or as I like to call it, Wednesday.

Oh, and when you do finally get in the door, clean up the vomit, change a diaper, and set the toddler up with enough toys to stock an aisle at Target, you are expected to make dinner magically appear.  After dinner there are dishes to wash, clothes to fold, emails to return, bed time for the toddler, lunches to make, and deep breaths to take.  Glamorous, right?

Some days I handle this with more grace than others.  And on my best days, I have dinner mostly prepped and ready to go in the fridge.  Because let’s be real, if I didn’t we would have cereal for dinner as often as we have cereal for breakfast.  And as glamorous as that may sound when you’re young, at 42 I can tell you that it’s really not.

Chilled Avocado Soup with Shrimp
Adapted from Cooking Light Good Mood Food

BAH Note:  Cooking Light calls for low fat sour cream.  I got feisty and used regular. Let your conscience (and your waistline) be your guide.  Yes, this dish has several components.  But they can all be made ahead of time.  When you’re ready to serve, just put all the pieces together.

Soup:

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1⁄2 cups diced peeled avocado (about 2)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

Lime Cream:

  • 3⁄4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Shrimp:

  • 1 pound shrimp, unpeeled
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup corn kernels (about 2 ears if using fresh)
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped red onion

To prepare soup, place chicken broth, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Cover and chill.

For lime cream, combine sour cream, cilantro (if using), lime juice and zest, and salt in a bowl.  Stir until combined and add additional lime juice to get the consistency you like.

To prepare shrimp, heat oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Spread the shrimp into a single layer on the sheet pan, coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until the shrimp is firm and cooked through.  Allow to cool thoroughly before peeling.

While the shrimp roasts and cools, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until the onions begins to soften.  Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally to allow the mixture to brown and char a bit.

Serve the chilled avocado soup garnished with the shrimp, lime cream, and corn mixture.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Lost in Translation

The following post originally appeared on BAH on 26 August 2009.

Soup's On

Some families have recipes that they pass down like heirlooms. These treasures connect generations and keep traditions alive. Other families mostly just have the memories of dishes that used to be, like Grandma’s fried chicken or Auntie’s pound cake. That would be my family.

I had all of my grandparents alive growing up. I even had great grandparents. To keep the great grandparents straight, we called them by the name of the street that they used to live on way before I was born…at least that’s the story I was given. So we had Michigan Grandma and Grandpa and Kilbourne Grandma. The great grandparents were already senior citizens by the time I can first remember them. Michigan Grandpa, for example, was born in the late 1800′s. So by the late 1970′s, he had already seen the world change around him. Seriously, he came to America on a boat after the turn of the century. He didn’t speak a word of English and, as the story goes, had a note pinned to his coat with instructions to get him on a train and out to his father who had already moved to this country. Upon arriving at the train station, my great great grandfather was called to let him know his son had arrived. My great grandfather had never seen a telephone before and thought the box through which his father’s voice was coming was the devil. Or so I was told.

I was also told how good the cold cucumber soup was that Michigan Grandma used to make. My aunts and uncles would get together and eventually someone would bring up Michigan Grandma’s cucumber soup, or potato pancakes, or Michigan Grandpa’s homemade booze. As we like to say today, good times. I never got to try the soup or potato pancakes. But we did run across a bottle of Michigan Grandpa’s booze in the cellar after he died. That was one recipe that definitely would not make for a good heirloom.

Now, as an adult, I wanted to try and recreate the cold cucumber soup. My parents were coming up for a visit and I thought it would be great to surprise my dad with it. He had said that my uncle had the recipe. So I asked for it. I was expecting something that resembled an actual recipe. What I got instead was a cryptic shopping list. No quantities. No instructions. It looked like this:

  • cucumbers, grated or chopped
  • salt
  • dill
  • onion, chopped fine
  • sour cream
  • stir ice in really well
  • hard boiled eggs
  • vinegar, if desired

Well now, what was I supposed to do with that? Since I’d never had the original soup, I had no idea what I was working towards. So, I decided to come up with my own interpretation of this family classic. After my dad finished his second bowl of soup, he said it was just as good as Grandma’s. While I may have lost something in the translation, I think this definitely gets filed away under family treasures.

Cold Cucumber Soup

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Fresh dill to taste
  • 1/2 shallot diced
  • 1 cup sour cream, plus more to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

Place cucumbers, shallot, salt, and dill in a food processor. Pulse until cucumbers are nearly pureed. Add sour cream and pulse until creamy and smooth. Add vinegar and additional sour cream to taste and pulse to mix.

{Printable Recipe}

Tortellini Soup

So it’s January.  The holidays are officially over.  You may have overindulged in things like cookies, cocktails, and buttery treats.  Which may mean that you’re feeling a little cruddy right about now.  While I don’t have the cure for any additional pounds that may have stuck around as a reminder of cookies past, I have a lovely soup to warm you on a cold winter day.

I’m not naive, I know cookies are more fun than soup.  But a hearty bowl of tortellini soup comforts me on a cold, dark winter day.  I’ve yet to the meet the cookie that can do that.

Tortellini Soup

Adapted from Pan Anderson’s Meatless Meals

  • 1 quart vegetable broth (I used chicken broth)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 9 ounces fresh or frozen tortellini

Combine the broth, tomatoes and any tomato juices, and water in a medium pot and set over low medium low heat.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the onion and carrots to the dutch oven and cook about 10 minutes or until softened.  Add the zucchini, red pepper, and Italian seasoning and cook for 5 more minutes.

Add the warmed broth mixture to the dutch oven and simmer, partially covered for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the spinach and tortellini and cook partially covered for another 10 minutes.

{printable recipe}

Tomato Soup With A Twist

Last time on BAH, I discussed the various creative uses I have found for my canning jars.  So there’s some kismet to the fact that this post should come directly after it.  Yes, that is a  picture of soup in a jar.  That soup went from the pot on the stove, into that jar, and then got tucked into my lunch bag.

Roasted Tomato Soup

Adapted from Fine Cooking

BAH Note: I don’t see why you can’t roast the fennel along with the tomatoes and save yourself a step.  And the decision to leave the charred skins on the tomatoes is yours and yours alone…there’s no right or wrong answer.

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder (optional)

Heat the oven to 450 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Place the tomatoes on the pan, cut side down, and drizzle with half of the oil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and roast until the skins are charred.

Once the tomatoes are removed from the oven and cooling, heat the remaining oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the sliced fennel and onion and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables soften and begin to brown.  Add the broth and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the roasted tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and roasted garlic.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes before carefully processing the soup in a blender.

Return the soup to the dutch oven, add the coconut milk, and taste for seasoning.  Add kosher salt to taste and continue to cook until the soup is warmed through.

{printable recipe}