Archive for the ‘soup’ Category


Fall ushers in soup time. The house is cool enough that I can leave a pot of chicken stock on the back of the stove overnight, and winter squash and root veggies are everywhere and make hearty, warming meals.

I made this butternut squash soup for lunch. Butternut squash soup is perhaps the most ubiquitous winter vegetable soup and is so easy to make.

I cut about three inches off the small end of a butternut squash and chopped it into 1″ cubes. In a saucepan I covered them with water and boiled until tender. I drained some (but not all) of the water and added homemade chicken stock– ladled right out of the pot (about 1 1/2 cups). After throwing in a large clove of garlic, salt, pepper, about 1/2 t each of ancho chile powder and paprika, and 1/4 t cumin, I blended it until it was fairly smooth. It’s better to start with less liquid and add after blending so you get a consistency that appeals to you.

When served you can add chopped parsley or cilantro and avocado…


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Cauliflower Soup


If you’re like me, you have at least a gallon of turkey stock on the back of the stove from the thanksgiving bird. I love making soup after the holidays, the simplicity is restorative somehow.

I boiled (in water) about a half of a head of cauliflower (you could use romanesco) and most of a leek, cut into smallish pieces. When it was all tender, I drained the water and added turkey stock, a little half and half (less than1/4 cup), about a 1/4 t of curry powder, some fresh ground nutmeg, and salt and pepper. I blended it with the hand blender. So easy.

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This is my favorite lentil soup. Beginning when I was a teenager in Michigan, we visited almost weekly a small Lebanese restaurant. To this day I have not had Lebanese food as good as we had there. Many of my Middle Eastern dishes I develop are aimed to taste the way they did at this small family restaurant. What makes this lentil soup unique is the fresh lemon and the greens. I prefer to use swiss chard, but many people use spinach or just parsley. I think the chard holds up better. What makes this soup really extraordinary is the fresh lemon juice. You’ll never make lentil soup another way…

Begin by chopping a small yellow onion [I used half of a large onion], 2 carrots, and 2 stalks of celery and sauté them in a few tablespoons of olive oil in a medium size soup pot. If you want, you can sauté the onion alone until it’s brown, and then add the carrot and celery; this makes for a richer broth. I like the soup light, I think it’s nicer with the lemon. I leave the veggies in medium size chunks so they don’t disappear into mush when cooked.

After the veggies have sautéed, add about 2 cups of dry green lentils that have been rinsed and looked over. As with beans, you will sometimes find small stones amid dry lentils. Rinsing them washes away any contaminates and any lentil dust that might thicken or cloud the soup liquid. Add the lentils to the veggies and sauté for a few minutes to let the flavors absorb into the lentils.

Add chicken stock and water. Homemade stock is of course the best, but I use a 1 qt. container of organic, low sodium chicken stock and 4 cups of water. I don’t think it’s as good if it tastes too much like chicken. To make vegetarian or vegan use vegetable stock or just water. You can add more liquid as the soup cooks to maintain the consistency you like; I don’t like it ultra thick and always end up adjusting the liquid. Add a bay leaf, 3 [or more] large cloves of garlic peeled and whole, about 1 T of [preferably white] whole peppercorns, and a small cinnamon stick. I prefer the peppercorns whole, as I enjoy biting into them unexpectedly, but you can omit them or put them with the garlic in a bouquet garni with some parsley stems. Let the soup simmer for about an hour, skimming the top when needed, until the lentils are tender.

When the soup is ready, cut the ribs out of two or three large leaves of chard. Cut the ribs into small pieces [I like to cut them on the diagonal– they’re pretty] and sauté in olive oil or coconut oil in a skillet. I pretty much keep an iron skillet on a burner constantly that I cook greens in. When the chard stems start to soften, add the leaves that have been cut into small strips. When the leaves are wilted, add them to the soup. If you’re using spinach you can just throw it in the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a large wedge of lemon [I like Meyer lemon, the flavor is less acidic and richer]. You can add the lemon juice to the pot, and if you add a little it keeps the greens fresher looking; but I like the fresh juice squeezed when served. I don’t like the taste of lemon juice after it’s been sitting in food.

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i made this for my mom tonight, to go with a rack of lamb and braised spinach [i’ll post tomorrow…]. i served it chilled with creme fraiche and some chopped parsley. chives would have been better, but i had none.

saute one small shallot in a couple tablespoons of olive oil or butter. add a handful of dried cherries, 1 t of madras curry, and 1/2 t paprika. stir until spices become aromatic. add i medium- sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed, 1 can of light coconut milk, and enough vegetable stock [or water or  chicken stock] to cover squash. simmer until squash is tender.

when the squash is cooked, the cherries will be reconstituted. add about 1 to 2 T of honey, let cool, then puree contents in a food processor until smooth. i reserved a little of the liquid, then added the puree back in to preserve some texture. whisk in about 1/2 c of creme fraiche [buttermilk or plain yogurt would also work], salt, and pepper. serve chilled with creme fraiche and chives or parsley as a garnish. if you want to serve it hot, warm it slowly without letting it boil or the dairy may curdle.

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cream of parsnip soup

not everyone loves parsnips, but i absolutely do. i roasted the parsnips first, to give them a richer flavor. i’ve never met a roasted vegetable i didn’t like.

take 4 medium- size parsnips. trip the large end off, and a cut into pieces. i take about two inches off the large end and split it lengthwise into quarters, take the next two inches and cut it lengthwise into half, then just use the small end as- is. arrange on a cookie sheet with olive oil. add 3 large cloves of garlic, in their skins, and 2 small russet potatoes peeled and cut into quarters. the potatoes make a creamier soup. you can add more of the potatoes or garlic, depending on your taste. parsnips can be very strong,
so more potatoes may be in order.

roast the vegetables until they are soft and brown. transfer them to a soup pan and cover them with chicken stock, or a combination of stock and water. squish garlic out of it’s skin into the pot. add about 1/4 t of dried tarragon. cook until the crispy outsides are soft. puree with a hand blender, or transfer to a blender to puree. do not close the lid all the way, or let soup cool before blending if you use a blender. you can get seriously burned.

add half and half or a combination of half and half, stock, or water, until it is a consistency you like. do not add wine, it does not taste good. season with salt and pepper to taste.  i added some chile flakes and served it with chopped parsley.
parsley is one of those miracle foods; i try to get it in whenever i can.

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i have turkey stock on the back burner that i have been adding to and using as i need it, just like grandma. it makes the house smell great, and reminds me of her. i love simple soups that are just one single vegetable and stock. so easy and so comforting, especially in the winter. when you have stock available just bubbling away, you can just make a small pan, a couple bowls worth, for yourself.

i was alone this afternoon, and made a small pan of butternut squash soup for a late lunch. it was great to just be able to ladle fresh, hot, homemade stock out of the big pot.

i peeled and cut into chunks about one third of a butternut squash, i had it left over from something else. in a small pan i heated some olive oil and added the squash, two cloves of garlic, and a little dried thyme.

when the squash and garlic were starting to take on a bit of color, i added a few ladles from the stockpot through a strainer to just cover the squash.

when the squash and garlic were quite soft, i used a hand blender to puree, then added a little half and half, grating of fresh nutmeg, salt, and pepper. often when i make this kind of simple vegetable soup, i also add some chile pepper flakes. i have a sea salt grinder that is full of coarse sea salt and red chile flakes that i use to season food at the table; my daughter does not always like the spicy flavors.

i served it with a pistou, as i often do with soups. it’s similar to pesto, but without nuts or cheese. it’s great with white bean soups as well as winter squash soups. to make the pistou, chop italian flat- leaf parsley, coarse sea salt, and a fresh garlic clove on a cutting board. when it’s quite fine, add some olive oil and continue to chop until it’s nearly a paste. you can do this in a food processor or blender if you like, as you do pesto, but i like the inconsistent texture that chopping it on the board creates.

serve the pistou in, or beside the soup. i suggest serving it on the side for guests, as the raw garlic can be borderline offensive for those not in love with it’s sting.

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don’t make this; it takes too long and makes too many dirty dishes.
but if you’re hell- bent…


i wanted to use saffron in the pasta, but the saffron i had was kind of old and didn’t really soften properly. i still used the water and it gave it a little tint of color.

you can make the pasta in a food processor, or by hand. i use my cuisinart; it’s just so easy. put 2 cups of flour in the bowl and a little salt. you can also add herbs and spices,
i used some black pepper, smoked salt, and a little chile powder. combine the dry ingredients, then add 2 beaten eggs. pulse to combine.  i find that the regular blade works better than the dough blade, which leaves the dry ingredients around the edge. add about 2 T of water, a little at a time, until the dough comes together. add a little more if necessary. the relative humidity in the air and moisture in the flour are variables. it should be firm and smooth, but not sticky or soggy. run the food processor for a minute after the dough forms a ball. take out dough and knead until its smooth.
put in a sealed container, bowl, or plastic bag and let it rest.


i sauteed four cloves of pressed garlic and one large shallot. you can make the ratio of greens to garlic and shallots whatever is to your taste. add about 4 cups of finely chopped greens. i used a mix of turnip, collard, and mustard greens. remove the stems and ribs before you chop. saute until the greens are quite soft .

let the greens cool slightly. season with salt and pepper and some freshly ground nutmeg. add some chopped chicken or turkey [or whatever you like… italian sausage?]. beat one egg and put about half into the greens and reserve the other half for sealing the ravioli. add about 1 teaspoon of flour.

divide the dough into about 6 pieces, and roll out into thin strips; i ended on the “5”.
if your dough is a little soft at this point, dust with a little flour so it will not tear or stick going through the pasta roller. you can also roll it by hand if you’re a sadist. try to pair the strips to those that are similar to one another. brush the egg wash along the edges, and where you will be sealing and cutting between each ravioli. make small spoons full of the filling in the areas you have indicated with the egg wash. add a few chunks of stilton cheese. you can also add bacon, pancetta, whatever you like. carefully place the matched sheet of pasta over the one with the filling on it, pushing out the air as you go. i’m really not so good at this part. take your pasta cutter or a knife and cut around pasta to shape ravioli.

to make the croutons, slice a stale piece of baguette into matchsticks. toss in a pan with olive oil and toast in a pan until dry and crunchy. salt lightly.

boil the ravioli in salted water for a few minutes, until the center is cooked. if you have trapped air in the ravioli, hold them down in the water with a slotted spoon, or stab them gently with a knife after a minute and push the air out against the side of the pan.

i served ravioli in broth with the croutons, chopped italian flat- leaf parsley and some chopped green, ripe olives.

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