Weekly Winner: Sensational Soup, part Deux

Chicken Peanut SoupI am definitely on a soup kick lately.  This usually happens about now as I grow tired of salads and warm weather food and want to “cozy up” with something warmer.  Soup always does that for me and this soup, Indonesian Chicken and Peanut Soup, has it all — noodles, curry, peanut sauce, and just the right amount of heat.  Yummy does not even begin to cover it.  This soup is downright sumptuous.

The recipe comes from Fine Cooking, and thanks to rotisserie chicken and quick-cooking rice noodles, you can be curling up with this bowl of comfort in no time.

Indonesian Chicken and Peanut Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 oz. rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 Tbs. coconut or safflower oil
  • 2 large shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder, preferably Madras
  • 4 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup well-shaken canned coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter, preferably all natural
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce; more as needed
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 8 oz.)
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or small cilantro leaves (on hubby’s and for photo purposes only)
  • Asian chile garlic paste, such as sambal oelek (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, 3 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 10 seconds. Add the broth, coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, and sugar, and whisk until the peanut butter is fully incorporated. Add the chicken and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the lime juice, and season to taste with more soy sauce and pepper.
  3. Divide the noodles among four serving bowls. Ladle the hot soup over the noodles. Garnish with the cilantro and chile paste, if you like. (trust me, you’ll want some sambal!)
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Weekly Winner: Keeping it Creamy and Dreamy with Cashew-Cauliflower Soup

soupSoups On!!  It is definitely soup weather and I couldn’t be happier about it.  While I’m a lover of all soups, stews, chilis, and chowders, I gotta admit that my all-time favorite type is a creamy, pureed soup.  And have I found a winner here with this beautiful Cashew-Cauliflower Soup.

The recipe comes from Real Simple and you know what?  It is!  But it is also, quick, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free.  Not that I particularly care about any of that but a lot of my clients do.  If I can produce a soup this luscious and creamy without… well, cream… then I’m a happy camper!  It also freezes great, so I’ll be making vats of this to keep on hand for chilly autumn nights or time-crunched lunches.  Quick, tasty, healthy and of course, creamy and dreamy.  Definitely a weekly winner!

Cashew-Cauliflower Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3/4 cups raw cashews, divided

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided

1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 5 cups)

1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place 1/2 cup each cashews and water in a microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes; let cool.  Transfer to a blender, add 1/2 cup broth, and blend until very smooth
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add cauliflower and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add beans, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and remaining 2-1/2 cups broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered for 10 minutes.
  4. Toast remaining 1/4 cup cashews on a baking sheet until golden, about 6 minutes; chop and set aside
  5. Add cauliflower mixture to blender and puree until smooth.  Serve soup topped with toasted cashews, a drizzle of oil and several grinds of pepper.

 

Weekly Winner: Silky, Sumptuous, Spring Soup

IMG_0426There is still absolutely no sign of spring here in Chicago.  I’m still wearing my parka and dreaming of the day I’ll be able to open up a window and let in some fresh air.  But just because it might not seem like spring outside doesn’t mean I can’t start eating like it’s spring. Spring produce has started to hit the market and to me, nothing says “spring” like asparagus.  The problem is I still need something to warm me up and chase away the chill that remains here. Cream of Asparagus Soup with Sautéed Mushrooms serves as the perfect bridge from winter to spring — which I’m hoping will arrive eventually!

This soup is absolutely luscious and very “fancy” tasting – like the kind of soup you order in a restaurant and then announce that you would like to bathe in the soup.  Oh wait, is that just me?  Sorry.  Seriously, this is an impressive soup!  The recipe comes from Cuisine at Home  and while it borders on “fussy” to prepare, the end product is totally worth it.

Cream of Asparagus Soup with Sautéed Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 (1 lb) bunch asparagus

2 Tbsp each unsalted butter and olive oil

8 oz button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

1 cup chopped leeks

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream and chopped chives for garnish

Procedure:

  1. Trim and discard woody ends from asparagus, chop stalks and reserve tips.  Blanch tips in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 2-3 minutes; transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, then drain.
  2. Melt butter with oil in a pot over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper; sate until moisture is evaporated, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Transfer mushrooms to a plate using a slotted spoon; reduce heat to medium.  Add asparagus stalks and leeks; seat, partially covered, until softened, 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high.
  4. Deglaze pot with wine and cook until evaporated.  Stir in broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, 10-12 minutes.
  5. Puree soup with a handheld blender or transfer to regular blender and puree
  6. Stir in cream, mushrooms, and Dijon; season soup with salt and pepper.  Top servings with soup cream, chives and asparagus tips.

 

Weekly Winner: Fall Harvest in a Bowl

As the weather gets cooler, my craving for soup increases. There is something just so incredibly comforting about tucking in to a big bowl of luscious, creamy soup. And if said soup happens to have some crispy, crunchy topping on in — all the better! The problem with all this, is that most of the time a big bowl of creamy soup with crunchy toppings is not always the healthiest choice — usually that means loads of cream, cheese, fried toppings and (if you’re lucky) even bacon! What’s a creamy, comforting soup-lover to do?? The answer? Make this beautiful Carrot-Ginger Soup with Roasted Vegetables.

Not only is this soup gorgeous – its healthy and incredibly satisfying. The puréed white beans thicken the soup and make it very creamy all while boosting the fiber and making this soup stick with you for a while.

The recipe comes from Food Network Magazine and while it may not be the quickest, easiest soup you’ll ever make, its beauty and taste more than make up for it.

Carrot-Ginger Soup with Roasted Vegetables

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 scallions, sliced (white and green parts separated)

2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, smashed

5 carrots, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 14-ounce can light coconut milk

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, undrained

1/2 acorn squash, seeded and chopped into 3/4-inch pieces

3 cups broccoli florets roughly chopped

3 cups roughly chopped broccoli florets and tender stems (about 1 head)

2 slices crusty bread cut into 1-inch pieces

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large wide pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the scallion whites, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the carrots and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the coconut milk, beans with their liquid and 3 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are very tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, toss the squash, broccoli and bread with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring, until the vegetables are tender and browned and the bread is toasted, about 15 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or transfer to a regular blender in batches and puree); season with salt and pepper. Divide the soup among bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and top with the vegetable-crouton mixture and scallion greens.

Weekly Winner:  Best Broccoli Soup By Far

I am a big fan of broccoli soups — cream of, puréed, heck, I’m just a fan of broccoli! There’s nothing that you can do to it that I don’t like and you actually don’t need to do anything to it for me to like it –I’ll happily eat it raw, baked, roasted, grilled, broiled… well, you get the idea.

Because of this love of broccoli, I have amassed quite a few recipes for the stuff, including several soups.  This new one – Smoked Gouda-Broccoli Soup has become my new favorite (to date).  It combines my favorite vegetable with my favorite cheese (although really any cheese could be considered my favorite), and tops it off with a bread I dearly love.  How could I not consider this the best thing I made last week?

The recipe comes from Eating Well Magazine and has become my justification for having  smoked Gouda and rye bread in the house at all times. Having the broccoli is never a problem.

Smoked Gouda-Broccoli Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1-1/2 lbs broccoli crowns (2 medium)

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 cup chopped sweet onion

2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp smoked paprika

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups cubed rye bread (1/2 inch pieces)

1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese

2 tsp white-wine vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Procedure:

  1. Cut 1-1/2 cups bite-size broccoli florets and set aside.  Coarsely chop the remaining broccoli.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.  Add flour and paprika; stir to coat.  Add broth and the chopped broccoli.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the croutons:  Toss bread with the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl.
  4. Puree the soup in a blender, in batches if necessary, or use an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pan over low heat.  Add cheese a little at a time, stirring constantly until it melts before adding more.  Stir in the reserved broccoli florets.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are bright green, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in vinegar, salt and white pepper.  Serve hot, topped with the croutons.

Weekly Winner:  A Humdinger of a Hummus — Soup!

Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before??  Hummus Soup!  It makes perfect sense (not to mention a perfect lunch) but I don’t recall ever seeing a recipe like this before.  I’ve got to admit, among my friends, I’ve kind of become known for my creative takes on hummus — pizza hummus, pumpkin spice hummus, sour cream and onion hummus, buffalo hummus, but honestly I’ve never considered turning it into a soup.

The recipe comes from Cooking Light and has all the fabulous flavors of traditional hummus.  It is creamy without cream and wonderfully lemony and garlicky and simply wonderful.  And super easy to make.  The perfect, finishing touch is the crispy chickpeas and feta. This soup goes down as yet another example of how beige food can be fabulous and amazingly comforting.

Hummus Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups vegetable stock

1 3/4 cups water

1 1/8 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

2 (15-oz.) cans unsalted chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and divided

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Procedure

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add vegetable stock, 1 3/4 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to a simmer. Set aside 1 cup chickpeas; add remaining chickpeas to stock mixture. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium-high. Add reserved 1 cup chickpeas; cook, stirring occa­sionally, until toasted and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in cumin and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Pour stock mixture into a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender, and place a clean towel over opening in lid. Process until smooth. Add tahini and lemon juice; process until smooth. Ladle soup into 6 bowls; drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and sprinkle with cheese and toasted chickpeas.

Weekly Winner:  Groovin’ on a Green Gazpacho

It’s been hot here in Chicago. I mean stupid-hot!  The kind of heat where you just don’t want to move, let alone turn on anything in the house that will produce heat. I didn’t want to cook but honestly couldn’t imagine eating another salad. I wanted something cold and different. Lucky for me I had a new gazpacho recipe to try out.

I’m usually somewhat ambivalent towards gazpacho simply because most are tomato-based and a bit spicy which to me is like eating a bowl of salsa.The gazpachos I tend to like are a bit different and creamier in texture. Which is why I adored this Green Gazpacho recipe from Food Network Magazine.

The sweetness from the green grapes along with the creaminess from the avocado (I went ahead and used a whole rather than a half) makes this the perfect warm weather soup.

Green Gazpacho

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups seedless green grapes

3 scallions, roughly chopped

1-1/2 English cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks

1 clove garlic

1 small bunch fresh parsley (leaves only)

1/2 avocado (cut into chunks) – I used the whole thing

1/3 cup olive oil

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Procedure:

Pulse the grapes, scallions, cucumbers, garlic, parsley and avocado in a food processor until combined. Add the olive oil and white wine vinegar and pulse again until blended. Add 1/4 cup ice water and pulse again. Add more water if it is not at your desired consistency.

Season the gazpacho with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Serve topped with the toasted almonds.

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