Posts Tagged With: soups

a perfect 30th birthday, and a perfect field pea soup

I love a good birthday cake, especially the carrot cake we got from Big City Bread for my 30th birthday party a couple of weeks ago:

thanks to Micah’s mom for the candles and to my friend Alice for the lovely photo!

The folks at Big City were super nice, by the way, and offered to let me sample several tasty cakes before picking one. But when they sliced me off that first little sliver of this cream-cheese-and-carrot decadence, that was all the convincing I needed.

I received some very thoughtful presents, too.

The best gift, of course, was a fantastic gathering of friends and family at our house for my birthday party, complete with food and booze and some cheesy 80s music to commemorate the decade of my birth.

From my sweet, sweet husband: a clean house, two four-packs of my very favorite fancy beers (Wild Heaven Invocation and Ode to Mercy), lots of yummy birthday pizza from Transmetropolitan (including the best combo ever, bacon + artichoke hearts), and a classy date at Five and Ten the night after my birthday.

Money from the folks (always appreciated), a lovely bottle of Malbec from Dave and Kim, hand-drawn pictures and a birthday card from my niece Lilly, and a gift certificate to Avid Bookshop (yay!) from her uncle Jason.

From Eric and Jinny, a bottle of chamomile grappa (perfect for sipping after a swanky date-night dinner), and from my good friend Amy, a very pretty tea set with a mint-green teapot, two mugs, and packages of green tea and cookies.

Scratch-off lottery tickets (not winners–oh well!) and cute sticky notes from some school pals, plus a pretty handmade necklace from my fourth grade Froggy Friend!

I’ve got a pretty dang sweet crew of friends and family, if I do say so myself! What a perfect birthday.

So imagine my surprise when I returned to school the following Monday to find one more present waiting for me on my desk, a pink gift bag from my friend Leigh, with a note that read: “I’ve picked some field peas from my garden (purple-hull/crowder). If anyone knows what to do with these, it’s you! :)”

My birthday had already been wonderful, which made these pretty peas the proverbial icing on the cake:

I don’t mean to brag, y’all, but I think this is one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken, ever

I spent last Saturday morning sipping coffee, baking muffins, and shelling those pretty little peas:

they’re lovely without their shells, too

Then it was time to come up with a recipe. I winged it, as usual, having never made soup with fresh field peas before, and let me tell you guys–the results were nothing short of spectacular.

not the prettiest photo I’ve ever posted, but I think you still might be able to tell that this soup was
packed with veggies, full of flavor, and perfect with a hunk of toasted homemade sourdough

What’s in it:

  • 1/2 cup diced bacon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 6-8 big cabbage leaves, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup freshly shelled field peas
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (smoked, if you have it)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 cups stock or broth (I used pork)
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step-by-step:

  • Heat the bacon in a big saucepan over medium heat and cook until it starts to crisp and the fat has rendered out.
  • Add the garlic, onion, and carrots, and saute for about 5 minutes or until they start to get tender.
  • Stir in the cabbage, field peas, marjoram, paprika, and lemon zest. Mix until everything’s coated with the bacon fat and seasonings. (At this point, things are going to smell really, really good.)
  • Pour in the stock or broth, add the vinegar and bay leaves, and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
  • Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until until the peas are cooked through and the veggies are falling-apart tender.

This hearty soup makes a meal for 2 or 3 with sourdough toast, buttermilk biscuits, or hunks of warm homemade cornbread.

Make the portions a little smaller and you’ll have the perfect starter for a Southern-style feast of summer veggies and crispy fried chicken.

And when you slurp up your first spoonful of this savory soup, you’ll swear it must be your birthday (even if it’s not).

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gluten-free experiments, part two: fruity nutty cocoa bites, cranberry coconut almond muffins, and a bonus recipe: peach & tomato gazpacho!

I know the title of this post promises an overflow of information, so I’m going to try to keep the hemming and hawing to a minimum and get quickly to the recipes!

The reason I’m sharing so many at once here is because in the last two weeks, I made two more batches of gluten-free goodies to share with my Red Clay buddies, and then I made some peach and tomato gazpacho (both vegan and gluten-free) to bring to the end-of-institute potluck dinner on Tuesday. All this food was for the same audience of eaters, so I decided to put it all in the same blog post, too, for easy sharing. 🙂

For my third-ever gluten-free experiment last Monday, I decided I wanted to make some of those no-bake fruit-and-nut balls that I’ve seen around the blogosphere/interwebs. I looked at a few recipes to get an idea of the proportions, then (of course) winged it based on what I actually had in the cupboard. In the end, these chewy little bites ended up being rich, a little sweet and a little salty, and overall pretty darn tasty!

worried about sticking, I used little paper mini-muffin cups to transport
these safely (probably unnecessary, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt)

What’s in it:

  • 6 dates, pitted
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut

Step-by-step:

  • Blend all of the ingredients except for the coconut in a food processor until you have a thick mixture, almost like cookie dough.
  • Put the coconut in a shallow dish.
  • Use your hands or a cookie scoop to pick up about 1-2 teaspoons of the mixture at a time; roll and press your scoop of dough into a tightly packed ball. (Warning: your hands will get sticky!)
  • Roll the ball in the dried coconut.
  • Repeat until you run out of stuff! 🙂

For me, this made about 3 dozen little bites, which was perfect for sharing with a group. Though I’ll admit, I probably ate a little more than my fair share. 🙂

Next up was my attempt at gluten-free muffins for this Monday, which I adapted from a recipe on the Gluten Free in Boulder site (with minor changes, as always, because I didn’t have blueberries or quite enough cornmeal.)

stacked upside down because, well, why not?

What’s in it:

  • 2/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1-1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup honey (I would reduce this to 1/4 cup next time)
  • 2-1/2 cups milk (I would reduce this to 1 1/2 cups next time)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups dried cranberries

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F and prepare two 12-cup muffin pans. (I would recommend using liners as I didn’t and my muffins were a little too sticky!)
  • In a food processor, blend together the almonds, coconut, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt until you have a coarse meal that looks kind of like sand.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, milk, and honey.
  • Add the dry ingredients from the food processor and whisk until combined. If you follow the original recipe like I did, your batter will be pretty soupy, which was kind of hard to work with and made for a fragile muffin–so if I make these again, I’ll adjust the recipe.
  • Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into each of 24 muffin cups. Top each muffin with dried cranberries.
  • Bake for about 25-30 minutes. (After the original recipe’s recommended 15, my muffins were nowhere near done!)
  • Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before (carefully) removing them to a wire rack to reach room temperature.

Like I said, these muffins were very delicate when they came out of the oven, I think because the batter was just too wet, so I would reduce the liquid as noted above. And I also thought they were a little too sweet, so for my personal tastes, I would reduce the honey, too. Still, made following the directions posted here, these sweet and nutty little cakes were a big hit with my classmates.

and the last leftover muffin was pretty tasty
warmed up and topped with some vanilla ice cream

The last thing I made for my Red Clay friends was for our potluck on Tuesday evening. Since it’s been so dang hot here in Georgia, and since it’s the perfect time of year for peaches (free from Earth Fare!) and fresh local tomatoes…

tomato or not tomato, that is the question….

…I decided to resurrect one of my favorite soups from last summer, a cool and refreshing peach and tomato gazpacho from Epicurious. Besides doubling the recipe, here are the changes I made:

  • I used dried tarragon instead of fresh (so, 1 teaspoon dried in place of 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • I used rice wine vinegar in place of the white wine vinegar
  • I doubled the ice and skipped the water
  • I didn’t strain it at the end (and straining wasn’t really necessary anyway!)

I think last year I might have also added a dollop of Greek yogurt to this, but this time I wanted to make it vegan. And since I pretty much stuck to the original recipe, I won’t re-type it up here. But I will show you how lovely it was!

mental note: parsley looks pretty on this soup, but it’s not the best flavor
combination….more tarragon or maybe some mint would have been better!

This stuff got polished off at the party, but I did save just a little bit for Micah and me to enjoy with dinner later in the week.

But more on that in my next post. 🙂

Categories: recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

supper tonight – 4.5.12 – cauliflower soup & grilled cheese

Sorry it’s been a while (crazy week!), but..

…remember last Tuesday night when I really wanted to make Growandcook’s cauliflower soup, but we ended up making pizza instead?

Well, just as I predicted, we polished off the leftover pizza that Wednesday night (it was just as good the second time, by the way), so Thursday night was soup night!

I couldn’t follow the original recipe exactly as I didn’t have all the ingredients in the same amounts, so I subbed garlic and onion for the leeks and Greek yogurt for the heavy cream. I’m sure this version tastes a little different than it was supposed to, but it was thick and creamy and delicious! And, just as Growandcook promised, it did indeed make excellent leftovers to take to work the next day with some crusty bread and fruit.

Those bright red swirls of smoky, spicy chili oil turned this already-great soup into something really special...

What’s in it:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3/4 pound cauliflower florets (we used frozen, but fresh would be better)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil for drizzling (we used Bobby Flay’s guajillo chile oil, which was rich and smoky with just a touch of heat, not to mention a gorgeous shade of fiery red!)

Step-by-step:

  • Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cauliflower and chicken stock, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer until the cauliflower is nice and tender. (Frozen only took about 5-7 minutes, but fresh will take longer.)
  • Use a stick blender to puree the soup in the pot, or transfer in batches to your regular blender and puree until smooth.
  • Add the yogurt and nutmeg. Blend a little more, until your soup is thick and rich and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Divide into bowls (2-4, depending on if this is a main course or starter/side).
  • Drizzle with good olive oil, chile oil, or if you’re feeling fancy, truffle oil. 🙂

It’s that easy! And tasty! We enjoyed our soup with grilled cheese sandwiches:

crispy-crusty-gooey-melty grilled cheese...mmm....

A perfect quick-and-easy weeknight supper.

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supper tonight – 3.26.12 – the easiest broccoli soup you’ll ever make

Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables.

Micah doesn’t like broccoli.

At all.

Of course, this means that half the veggies on most produce party platters are out of the question, as are a handful of steakhouse side dishes.

But Micah doesn’t just avoid broccoli–he’ll pick it right out of already-cooked foods. If we eat at one of those cool Japanese hibachi places where they make choo choo trains out of the onions and crack eggs with a giant meat cleaver…well, a whole bunch of extra stir-fried broccoli mysteriously ends up on my plate. Which I don’t mind at all, since broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables.

(For a guy who will eat kimchi, pickled eggs, liver, pigs’ feet, and sea urchin, Micah is mighty particular about these little green trees.)

In fact, the only broccoli preparation Micah does like is broccoli soup. Broccoli cheese soup from a bread bowl makes sense to me, because it’s basically a ginormous grilled cheese sandwich with just enough broccoli thrown in for people to think it’s healthy. Which it’s not:

(Besides all those calories, this stuff'll knock out your sodium requirements for an entire day!)

I don’t eat at Panera very often, though I’ve been known to knock out one of these giant soup loaves in one sitting (and finish with dessert). But the broccoli soup we usually make at home is probably a better choice for everyday eating, and it really tastes like broccoli…because that’s basically all it is.

Less bread and cheese, more green!

First off, I still haven’t figured out why Micah loves this stuff so much but won’t eat broccoli, because this simple soup tastes very much like the veggies it’s made from. But love it he does, and during late winter when broccoli is in season, we can’t get enough. It’s warm and hearty, it’s super healthy, and it really is the easiest broccoli soup you’ll ever make. Don’t just take our word for it, either: we got this recipe from Gordon Ramsay, who I’m pretty sure knows what he’s talking about.

What’s in it:

  • 1 pound of chopped broccoli, fresh or frozen
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • optional toppings: goat cheese (or your favorite other cheese), walnuts, bacon bits, etc.

Step by step:

  • Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the broccoli and cover the pot. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until you can easily slide a knife right through one of those broccoli stems.
  • Use a slotted spoon to scoop your broccoli from the pot into your blender, but don’t dump out all that cooking water. Add cooking liquid to your blender o’ broccoli until the greenish water comes about halfway up the blender.
  • Blend! Start slowly, because the stuff in this fast-moving appliance was boiling just a few minutes ago, so if it splatters out and scalds your arm…well, that would suck.
  • Puree your soup until it’s a nice, even consistency, adding more cooking liquid to get it to the thickness you prefer. (I like mine a little thicker, Micah a little thinner.)
  • Season with salt (I use about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper (I use about 1/4 teaspoon) and press the magic blender button one more time to mix it in.
  • At this point, your soup will be pretty darn delicious. Pour it into some bowls. Four normal-sized bowls if you’re eating it with sandwiches, two or three giant bowls for a big, hearty main course.
  • Drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Add other toppings if you like. (Ol’ Gordo puts goat cheese and walnuts at the bottom of his bowl before putting in the soup, but then you’ve gotta dig around to find your garnishes, so I like putting mine on top. :))

Not only is this soup ridiculously easy to make, but it really tastes delicious, even to a broccoli-phobe like Micah. And it’s perfect for nights when you really don’t feel like cooking, because all you really have to know how to do is boil water and operate a blender. (This is where the mac ‘n’ cheese and margaritas of your college years will come in handy, if you can remember how you made ’em.)

Give it a try! A soup this good will make it hard for you not to eat your veggies.

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supper tonight – 3.7.12 – french onion soup

french onion soup

A perfect storm. Micah had just brewed up a giant batch of beef stock, we had two very large onions in our veggie bowl on the counter, and Micah had a hankerin’ for some French onion soup. I hadn’t made it in a while, but decided to forego searching for a recipe and wing it. Not always the best idea (and I’ve eaten some not-so-great meals as a result!), but this one was a winner.

What’s in it:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 big onions, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 4 cups of that delicious beef stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • toasted whole wheat bread
  • shredded gruyere

Step-by-step:

  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the onions and cook ’em until they’re super-soft and golden brown.
  • Add the wine and the beef stock.
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Top with bread and cheese.
  • Broil until the cheese is nice and bubbly.
  • Serve (carefully) and enjoy!

This made four big, hearty, main-dish bowls of soup. When I make it again, I probably won’t change anything (except for doubling the recipe!).

Categories: recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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