Tag Archives: soup

Soup Club II

What a week.

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No, scratch that. The entire year of 2013, with the exception of a few days in February has been work-intense. First it was the grant, and now its long days at the bench in preparation for spending a week with a collaborator in Seattle. As much as I love food and cooking, when work takes over I completely abandon my kitchen. There was more than one day during this past week that I had a beer and ice cream for dinner. Does it make it better if dinner was had at 10 pm?

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Thank goodness for Soup Club – it ensures that I eat well at least once every other week. This past Wednesday, I brought a Broccoli and Roasted Garlic soup and some Cheddar Pecan Cayenne crackers to share with the sixth floor labs in the Molecular and Cellular Biology building. Given there was less than a cup leftover, I’d say it was a success. And as an added bonus it was remarkably easy – even for soup.

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I love the green of this soup – it oozes vegetable-ness without feeling or tasty healthy. I’m not a a vegetarian or eat dairy- or gluten-free or strive to make food with limited fat content, but this soup satisfies all of those (the crackers, however, do not) and is a happy coincidence with a robust flavor and depth. Adding the cheese crackers – while no longer dairy-, gluten- or fat-free add a pleasant crunch to this silky smooth soup. It’s a nod towards springtime, which cannot come quickly enough for me, while maintaining a winter heartiness.

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Make the soup. It won’t take long and you’ll be better for it.
Broccoli and Roasted Garlic Soup with Cheddar Pecan Cayenne Crackers
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Broccoli and Roasted Garlic Soup
from the LA Times
 
1 large, plump head of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
3 broccoli crowns (~2 pounds), florets roughly chopped, stems peeled and diced
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
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Cheddar Pecan Cayenne Crackers
from Martha Stewart Living
 
1/2 cup (60 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup finely ground toasted pecans
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
up to 2 tablespoons water
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For the soup:

Roast the garlic. Heat the oven to 400º. Cut off the top one-half inch of the garlic head to make a “lid.” Drizzle the cut surfaces with a little olive oil and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Replace the lid. Wrap the garlic in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until the garlic is tender and a rich golden color, about 45 minutes. Unwrap and cool.

While the garlic is roasting…

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the onion and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped broccoli and potato. Add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pot. Simmer until the potato is very tender, about 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, squeeze the roasted garlic into the pot, discarding the hulls. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Purée the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches with a blender).

For the crackers:

Preheat the oven to 350º. In a food processor, pulse the flour, pecans, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Add the butter; pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cheese, pulse until the pieces are no longer visible. Gradually add water until the dough comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and divide the dough into two parts. Roll each part out to 1/4 inch thickness – keep well floured (if not, it’s difficult to transfer to a baking sheet). Cut dough with a small cookie or biscuit cutter. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until the centers are firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

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Thai Red Curry Soup with Winter Squash

I have another soup recipe for you. It’s funny, how as an adult your tastes and preferences change. As a child, I remember not loving soup. Not hating it either, but never, ever getting excited about it. Perhaps it was too many meals of grilled cheese and Campbell’s tomato soup out of a can (the thought of which still kind of makes me gag). My mother told me to plug my nose and drink up. And being a kid, I made the entire process as dramatic and awful as possible.

Times change. Now, I love soup. I love making soup. I love eating soup. I love freezing soup and re-discovering it weeks later when I’ve put off going to the grocery store and have nothing in my fridge. Or when an intense summer storm blows through and all you want is some comfort food. Or (and in this case, in addition to…) when you work in the lab until 8pm and it then takes you a better part of an hour getting home because the silly summer bus schedules. Soup saves the day.

I made this Thai-Red Curry Soup with Chicken and Winter Squash a few weeks back when I was desperate to use a kabocha squash that had been sitting in my kitchen for weeks. Throw in some ginger, a little garlic, some coconut milk and a splash of lime and you’ve got something fantastic going on. I added chicken because at the time I was craving some protein – but it certainly isn’t necessary. The Thai basil, however, is (although regular sweet basil also will do in a pinch).

Thai Red Curry Soup with Winter Squash
 
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4 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced in quarter rounds
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
3 pounds winter squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 quart chicken broth
One 13 1/2-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 large stalk of fresh lemongrass, smashed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fish sauce
Salt, to taste

1/2 cups Thai basil leaves

2 cups jasmine rice, cooked
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In large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and onions and cook for ~5 minutes. Add ginger, jalapeno and garlic, cook for about another minute. Stir in red curry paste and cook for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Add squash and chicken stock, and lemongrass – bring to a boil and then let simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and season with salt to taste. Remove from heat, remove lemongrass and add basil leaves, letting the heat from the soup wilt them slightly. Serve with a small scoop of jasmine rice.

Creamy Pea and Asparagus Soup with Parmesan-Thyme Shortbread

Goodbye winter. Hello springtime.

Which, sadly, means the end of this season’s soup club.

Surprisingly, it actually feels like springtime. Sunshine and warm weather, although I’ve yet to spy any pretty spring color. I would revel in it more, except I’ve sprained my ribs in a tumble that I took on the ice just last week and have been hobbling around and hunched over like a 90 year old woman. At least I had this creamy pea and asparagus soup to comfort me.

I volunteered to bring in the vegetarian soup offering for this final week of soup club, in the place of an out-of-town coworker. Desperate to part ways with heavy root vegetables, but not quite willing to transition into a chilled soup, I scoured my favorite cookbooks, magazines and websites hoping to find something that would suit my mood. When I chanced upon this creamy pea and aspragus soup with parmesan-thyme shortbread from Food and Wine, I knew I had found my match.

I like most everything about this soup. The smell of asparagus. The sweetness of the peas. The green-ness. The delicacy of the tarragon. The cheesy-saltiness of the shortbread.

I especially love this soup because I could test out the newest addition to my kitchen arsenal, an immersion blender (and a completely unexpected birthday present). I was first introduced to the immersion blender just a few months ago when I was making this soup at a cooking class. I had high hopes for it, as this particular kitchen instrument has been talked up a lot amongst my friends. It was … eh … okay. A remarkable amount of work to blend it all together, all the while standing over a hot flame.

But then a lovely little (green!) hand blender arrived on my doorstep, with a note pleading me to reconsider my stance on immersion blenders. How could I resist? And now I must eat my previous words, because this blended up my soup like a charm. It was delightfully intoxicating to use. So, thank you Jenny, you know me well.

Creamy Pea and Asparagus Soup with Parmesan-Thyme Shortbread

slightly adapted from Food and Wine
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Creamy Pea and Asparagus Soup
3 tablespoons butter
2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 1/2 pounds (2 large bunches) asparagus, cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups vegetable broth
2 ounces (~1/3 cup) tarragon leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups frozen baby peas
splash of white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
 
Parmesan-Thyme Shortbread
1 1/2 cups (180 g) flour
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan
1 teaspoon dried thyme
zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter, softened
2 egg yolks
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For the soup:

Heat butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add asparagus, cook one minute longer. Add vegetable broth, cover and cook until aspragus is tender, about 15 minutes. Add tarragon leaves and blend until very smooth (me: with my new immersion blender or in a standing blender, worked in batches). Stir in heavy cream and peas. Season with white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

For the shortbread:

In a large bowl, combine flour, parmesan, dried thyme, salt and lemon zest. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachement add the butter (cut into tablespoon-sized pieces) and the egg yolks and mix until a moist crumb forms. Gather dough and knead a few times, while rolling into a 2-inch log. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Cut log into 1/4-inch slices and bake at 325º for 25 minutes.

Soup Club

Winter has descended upon Minneapolis. There is snow on the ground and below freezing temperatures.

I would continue to complain, but I am making a concerted effort to find joy in my life. Which mean today I am going to talk about Soup Club. I love, love, LOVE Soup Club. It was one of the few shining points of last winter and will be for this winter as well. A group of really fabulous scientist-cooks get together to make soup every other Wednesday. One person brings a vegetarian option, one brings a meat option and one brings in a chef’s choice option. Somebody brings in a few loaves of bread and often somebody else will bring in dessert. We all gather in the lunchroom to break bread as well as to ooh and ahh over our collective culinary expertise.

People get excited for Soup Club Wednesdays. And rightly so.

This past Wednesday I brought in a vegetarian soup: Roasted Winter Squash Soup with Ginger and Lemongrass. I was more than pleased with how this dish turned out and has happy to share it with my colleagues (and I hope they were pleased in consuming it). The ginger brings a spiciness, the lemongrass a freshness and the coconut milk a creaminess. Utter delicousness, if I do say so myself.

I used a whole variety of winter squash, primarily because they had been sitting neglected since I received them many weeks ago in my CSA, but there’s no reason why a large pumpkin or butternut squash wouldn’t work out nicely.

Soup Club: bringing people together in the most delicious way in hopes of surviving winter. What a brilliant idea.

Roasted Winter Squash Soup with Ginger and Lemongrass

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1 sweet dumpling squash
1 acorn squash
1 spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
2, 6-inch stalks lemon grass
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups corn kernels (fresh, canned or frozed)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
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Halve squash, remove seeds and place cut-side down in a roasting dish with 1/2 inch of water. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Scoop roasted squash out of shells and puree in blender until smooth. Run througha mesh seive to remove excess water. I had had about 2, maybe 2 1/2 cups, of squash puree when I was finished. Set aside.

Cut off and discard top of lemongrass, leaving a 6-inch stalk, then smash stalk with side of a large heavy knife. Cook lemongrass, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt in oil in a heavy medium pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened. Add garlic, ginger, smoked paprika and white wine vinegar and cook for another minute or two. Add squash, corn (I used canned corn and dumped the entire contents in), vegetable stock, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally. Stir in coconut milk. Remove from heat and discard lemongrass.

Purée soup in 3 or 4 batches in a blender until very smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), straining each batch as blended through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids (this is kind of a pain in the ass, but I think it’s worth it – no leftover stingy bits of lemongrass!). Season with salt and pepper and reheat if necessary.

Celery Root and Apple Soup

Ahh, the celery root. You poor, misunderstood vegetable.

There is a delicious creaminess to celery root and because of it and the chill in the air, I went ahead and made a soup out of this monstrosity. I fear I am getting to be predictable with my soup making. I suppose there are worse things.

I made this soup a week ago. Then I went to Chicago for my dear friends’, Jenny and Sayan, wedding (congrats!). In lieu of a bachelorette party, Jenny wanted to go to a cooking class (I love my foodie friends!). And what else was on the menu but Apple and Celery Root Bisque with Thyme Croutons (among other delicious dishes to be discussed later). I couldn’t believe how ahead of the curve I was with my adventures the previous weekend.

There were some subtle differences – I used homemade garlic croutons instead of thyme; I made a chive oil to drizzle on top of the soup instead of just a garnish of chopped chives and mine lacked cream and maple syrup … In some ways, it was a fantastic opportunity to see how well I fare on my own compared to in the presence of a culinary instructor.

The verdict: I wasn’t too shabby, if I do say so myself. Of course that was after several glasses of wine and an evening spent with fabulous friends, so there is some chance that my self esteem was slightly higher than average.

That’s not to say that I didn’t learn anything at our cooking class, but more on that later. For now, I am going to go ahead and give you both of the soup recipes.

Celery Root and Apple Soup

from Bon Appetit

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2 tablespoons butter
2 cups peeled celery root, diced in 1/2 inch pieces
2 green apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
Pinch of salt
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Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add celery root, apples, and onion. Cook until apples and some of celery root are translucent (do not brown), stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add 2 cups broth. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer covered until celery root and apples are soft, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Season to taste with apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.

Puree chives, grapeseed oil, and pinch of salt in blender until smooth.

Rewarm soup over medium heat. Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle croutons over each serving. Drizzle each bowl with chive oil.

Celery Root and Apple Bisque

from The Chopping Block (Chicago)

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Bisque
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-size celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tart apples, peeled and cut into large dice
1 onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 6 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chives, minced
1/2 heavy cream
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Celery salt and pepper to taste
 
Thyme Croutons
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups multigrain, rye, sourdough or French bread, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, rough chopped
salt and pepper to taste
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For bisque:

Heat a heavy soup pot over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil.

Saute the celery root, apples and onions, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Add the stock and apple cider vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered until the celery root is knife tender, about 25 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender, in batches if necessary, until smooth.

Return the soup to the pot and stir in the heavy cream and maple syrup. Season with celery salt and pepper to taste.

For thyme croutons:

Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add the butter.  Once the butter is frothy, toss in the bread cubes and cook, tossing frequently, until the bread is just starting to become golden brown.

Remove from the heat and toss in the garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool a bit before using.

Serve the soup in warmed bowls with croutons.