Archive for the 'soup' Category


Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Couscous and Mint Gremolata

The plan Saturday was to get through a gigantic to-do list: a jewelry party, playing with Gabi, getting Gabi’s haircut, running three miles, cleaning the kitchen, exchanging a shirt, and replacing the dead pansies in one of the window boxes. I accomplished half of it — no small feat when you have a scrumptious and distracting toddler.

Amazingly, she went down for a morning nap (we thought the morning naps had ended), so I took advantage of the quiet and made this stew. I’d intended to make it last weekend. But the sun was out and we spent hours at the park instead. But this past Saturday was dreary — perfect cooking weather.

Now about this stew. I come back to it year after year, and for good reason. It’s an aromatic combination of tomato, leeks, carrots, chickpeas, green peas, spinach and couscous. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I need to throw something together for someone who doesn’t eat meat or dairy. It’s fairly quick to make, but has layers of flavor. It’s incredibly healthy. It’s incredibly hearty. It’s nothing short of amazing.

It calls for saffron, a warm spice commonly found in Spanish and Mediterranean dishes. Saffron is pricey, so good thing that a little goes a long way. The additional combination of cinnamon, ground ginger and red chili flakes is what makes this stew so wonderful. The gremolata — finely chopped garlic, parsley, mint and lemon zest — adds freshness. Don’t skip it.

Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Couscous and Mint Gremolata
Simple Meals by Organic Style, Summer 2003

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch diagonals
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
Large pinch saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh
1/2 pound spinach, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup plain couscous
1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

To make the stew:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, 5 quarts or so, over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 or 8 minutes. Watch so they don’t burn.

Add the tomato paste and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in carrots, tomatoes, saffron, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, and ginger. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Add the beans, salt, pepper, and 1 3/4 cups of water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the peas and spinach, and cook uncovered for another 2 minutes, just until the spinach is wilted. (Can be made a few hours ahead of time. Anything more than that, the peas and spinach will not be bright green.)

To make the couscous:

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the couscous and stir until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.Meanwhile, bring 1 1/3 cups of water to a boil. Sprinkle salt over couscous. Pour water over couscous and cover. Let the couscous stand for 5 minutes, until the water is absorbed.

Make the gremolata:

Combine the finely chopped mint, parsley, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl.


Divide the stew evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Dish couscous into the center of each bowl (a half-cup measure works wonders). Sprinkle gremolata over each bowl of stew.

Serves 4


Chicken Stock

If you’ve never tasted good, homemade chicken stock, you’ll think I’m crazy for drinking it like this. Store-bought chicken stock is gross. It doesn’t look like it should. And it certainly doesn’t taste anything like it’s supposed to. The stock you see here smells and tastes like chicken, with hints of pepper and clove. It’s worth your time. It’s wonderful.

This morning was like any morning I would have had about a year ago, when I was on maternity leave. Gabi is in the middle of her morning nap. On the stove is some delicious Spanish chickpea and chorizo soup for our neighbors, Torie and Steve, who had a baby girl last week. The laundry is running. And I’m taking a few minutes to pamper myself before having to think about going into work later this evening.

I made this chicken stock last month, with bones from two chickens that we’d roasted. Whenever roast a chicken, the bones, neck and back go into a bag and stored in the freezer for stock. For this batch, I used bones from two chickens. This stock is incredibly simple. Some recipes call for browning the bones and veggies. This will make your stock darker and more flavorful, but it’s really not necessary. This stock has plenty of flavor. The key here is to bring the stock JUST to a boil, and then gently simmer it for a few hours. I’ve found that boiling soup destroys it. The same goes for stock.

This is my favorite stock recipe so far, partly for its simplicity and  flavor. I took six cups this morning from the freezer for the soup and reserved a cup for me to enjoy.

Like I said earlier, it TASTES like chicken. It’s better than any cup of coffee, chai or hot tea. At least it was this morning. I closed my eyes and savored each sip. Yum.

Chicken Stock
slightly adapted from Earth to Table

4 pounds chicken bones (necks, backs, breast bones, wings, etc.) or bones from two chickens
8 cups cold water
2 medium yellow onions, halved lengthwise
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
10 whole black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
2 whole cloves
2 sprigs fresh thyme

In a large stockpot, combine bones and water. Bring the water JUST to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Skim surface to remove any scum. Stir in onions, carrots, celery, wine, peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves and thyme. Gently simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours.

Remove bones from stock and discard. Strain stock through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large bowl, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Let stock cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until fat congeals on the surface, about 8 hours. Remove the fat and throw it out.

Transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 4 months.

Makes 6 cups.


Winter Chicken Noodle Stew

I’ve gone back and forth about whether to post this one. For the past couple of months, I’ve shared recipes that I absolutely love: chicken korma, Turkish lentil soup, cashew chicken chili, etc. But food blogging isn’t just about the rock stars, right? Not everything we make or eat is off-the-charts fantastic.

Take this winter chicken noodle stew, for example. It’s hearty, warm, incredibly healthy, and pretty quick to put together. It could have used a squeeze of lemon juice, or something else to add a bit more zing. Red pepper flakes, perhaps. All in all, it was a good solid stew. But it wasn’t a 10. It wasn’t even an 8.

OK, I admit. I wasn’t thrilled with the way it turned out. Jeff claimed to like it a lot. He enthusiastically ate several bowls of it. Both of us agreed that the Parmesan is essential. It adds a bit of saltiness that’s very much needed.

This a is a very thick stew, not at all like the chicken noodle soup most of us are used to. The mix of carrots, parsnips, onions and celery create subtle flavors. If you like subtle, you will like this stew. Will I make this again? Perhaps. But it’s not at the top of my list.

Winter Chicken Noodle Stew
barely adapted from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2003

12 ounces boneless chicken thighs (about 4 pieces)
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts halves (about 3 pieces)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 large celery stalks, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4 small onions, roughly chopped
3 1/2 cups water
1 14 1/2-ounce can chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 pound wide egg noodles
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems coarsely chopped
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a 6-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add half the chicken. Cook, turning occasionally until chicken is browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat steps with the remaining chicken. Set aside.

Place carrots, celery, parsnips and onions to the pot or Dutch oven. Add the water, broth and rosemary. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom. Cover, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly tender, about 10 minutes.

In another pot, cook noodles until al dente according to package instructions. Drain. Stir noodles, parsley, reserved chicken into pot with vegetables. Cook until chicken is heated through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt better in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; stir until golden, about 1 minute. Add chard. Cook, turning every now and then until tender, about 5 minutes. Divide the chard among six bowls. Ladle stew on top. Serve with grated Parmesan.

Serves 6.


Cashew Chicken Chili

We’re two days into the New Year and I’m already not doing well on my resolutions. I didn’t go to the gym yesterday or today (well, today I tried but they closed early). I haven’t written in my journal. I haven’t tackled the basement. And while standing in the check-out line at Target, I bought gummy bears .

Resolutions aside, 2011 is settling in quite nicely. I’ve spent the weekend organizing my closet, playing with Gabi, dabbling with the camera lens I got for Christmas and the yogurt maker Jeff gave me. It’s always nice when the stress of the holidays is over. Winter is here for a while. It’s time to revisit some winter recipes — like this cashew chicken chili.

Continue reading ‘Cashew Chicken Chili’


Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup

I’m absolutely smitten with this soup. It’s the perfect cold-weather food, the kind that infuses your soul. It can cure whatever ails. At least, that was our hope last weekend. The three of us have had colds since October it seems. Gabi’s friends at daycare share with her, and she shares with us. It’s about to drive us mad. On Saturday, Jeff suggested a big batch of lentil soup and I couldn’t have agreed with him more.

I found this recipe about 10 years ago in Sundays at Moosewood — a cookbook I bought in college. Some of its pages are splattered.  Notations throughout the book mark my first experiments in the kitchen.   I’ve adapted the lentil soup here and there, adding more spice, more zing, and replacing fresh tomatoes with canned (it is winter, after all). The result is a thick, almost stew-like soup. The combination of onions, garlic, lentils, bulghur, tomatoes, parsley and spinach is truly addictive. I use a lot of rosemary here. Use more or less, according to your taste. A squeeze of lemon at the end enhances it all.

I made a double batch of this on Saturday. I’ve been known to triple the recipe and put half of it in freezer bags. My freezer and I have become best buds this past year. I’ve come to learn that good food doesn’t have to be made TODAY. It could be made last month. In the case of this lentil soup, it could be made six weeks ago, thawed, heated, and inhaled.  If you make one thing from this blog, make this soup.

Continue reading ‘Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup’


Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup

After a few slurps I was smitten. This soup may not win any beauty contests, but it’s everything a cool weather soup should be: hearty, comforting, nutritious, and it smells outrageously good.

This comes from Jamie Oliver. It’s got a pound of spinach, a load of tomatoes, chickpeas, chorizo and proscuitto. A roughly chopped hard boiled egg is sprinkled on top. There is a bit chopping involved, but the smokey spiciness of the soup makes it worth the effort . I found this soup at just the right time. It’s suddenly quite chilly outside. And last week, Gabi brought home her first full-blown daycare cold. She came down with it Monday. I got it Wednesday. By Friday, Jeff had it. As most soups are, this one was good therapy for all three of us. It also gave Jeff and me the energy we needed last weekend to keep up with Miss G. She’s into everything, crawling like a cyclone. And boy, does she ever want to walk.

Yep. For now, we’re savoring the fact that she’s not there yet. And We’re also savoring this soup. The double batch I made over the weekend should last us all week.

Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup
slightly adapted from Jamie’s Dinners

Olive oil
5 1/2 ounces chorizo sausage, finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 pound fresh spinach [I used 3/4 pound], washed and chopped
8 fresh tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped [if they’re out of season, use canned whole tomatoes, a 28-ounce can. I used a combination of both]
1 14-ounce can or jar of good-quality cooked chickpeas, drained
5 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces proscuitto, Spanish ham or pata negra, finely chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

Put about two tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot and add the chorizo. Allow to heat up and cook for a couple of minutes until the fat comes out of the chorizo, then add onion, garlic and celery. Reduce the heat and cook slowly for 15 minutes with a lid on and without coloring the onions. Now take the lid off — the smell and color will be fantastic. Stir it around and get some color happening now. Add your spinach. tomatoes, chickpeas and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, the lower the heat and simmer for around 40 minutes.

At this point you can remove about a third of the mixture and puree it in a food processor. Pour it back into the pot, give it a good stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the proscuitto or ham and 2 or 3 tablespoons of good olive oil. Divide into bowls and sprinkle some hard boiled egg on top. The egg adds a lovely richness to it.

Serves 4


Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

The kitchen sink became clogged over the weekend. For two days we couldn’t use it. After spending what seemed like hours plunging it, pouring boiling water down the drain, and trying to fix the problem with a baking soda and vinegar solution, we called the plumber. Turns out the problem wasn’t a simple clog, but our 100-year-old pipe that had corroded and leaked beneath our basement floor. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but the long and short of it is this:  It’s now fixed.

Before the sink debacle, I went to the Tower Groves Farmers Market for one last tomato fix. Our tomato plants have stopped producing. It’s the tail end of the season. So, I stocked up one last time. I grabbed a mix of heirlooms, red onion and carrots for this cream of tomato soup. I’ve been wanting to try it since Christmas, when I received the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook. It’s almost cruel to receive a cookbook in December with this recipe, knowing it will be months before tomatoes would be in season. Cream of tomato soup has been on my to-do list ever since.

And let me tell you, it is awesome. The soup is smooth with several layers of flavor. There’s the hint of basil and garlic. The sweetness of the carrots enhances the tomatoes.  The onion adds a subtle bite. It would be easy to skip the Parmesan croutons, but don’t cut this corner. They’re essential. They absorb the soup and they add crunch. Yum!

Continue reading ‘Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup’


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