March – Italian Soup

March – Italian Soup

My kitchen and garden are my refuges, solace in this time of anxiety. Are you sequestered at home? Our county put out Shelter-in-Place directives a couple of days ago. Here it is the first day of spring, and absolutely lovely out, but a dark cloud lies over everything. I worry about friends and family far away, how are they? I am not a big one for talking on the phone, much preferring face to face communication, but it has become my lifeline right now. How are you doing, what are you doing for comfort? The virtual world is one place to make connections with people.

I find making soup very comforting. And if you are going to make soup, you might as well make a big batch so you can put a quart or two in the freezer. It’s not any more work and then you have that lovely insurance for days you just don’t feel like cooking. It’s like money in the bank. This one came about because of an old friend’s message and it is a winner. It keeps several days in the fridge, and makes a large potful.

Here is the backstory:

A text requesting a specific soup recipe sent me searching through my old recipe files for a zucchini, sausage and tomato soup. One that did not have chicken or another broth. The appeal had come from my high school best friend, Abby, the recipe was a fondly remembered one from our childhood. Since our mothers had been best friends as well, she thought maybe I had inherited a copy from my mother. Regretfully I couldn’t find one, but a search of the WWW found a replica that fit her description.

Never being one to leave well enough alone, I had to take a walk down memory lane and make it myself. The basic recipe was Zucchini Soup III by Irene Yousey. Of course I did some tweaking,  I think it is an improvement on the original.

Italian tomato, sausage and zucchini soup

 

The cool and rainy weather of March makes this a perfect month for soup. This one is substantial enough to be a full meal, it’s almost a stew. When life gets too insane, like the present moment, make soup. It is very therapeutic.

Italian Soup – AKA Sausage, Zucchini, and Tomato Soup

8 generous servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pounds of bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups of carrots (about 4 medium), cut into cubes of about 1/2 inch
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into cubes of about 1/2 inch
  • 1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes, preferably fire roasted, plus 1 can of water
  • 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning (I didn’t have any) or
    • 1 teaspoon of oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds, ground
    • 1 teaspoon of rosemary (I used 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary)
    • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes – optional
  • 4 medium zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch slices, large ones halved
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley and parmesan for serving

Other optional ingredients include canned white beans, cooked penne pasta, fresh tortellini, and fresh basil if you have some. This is a very pantry friendly soup.

Method:

  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage, breaking it up and saute until browned. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Add the onion to the pot, saute until softened.
  3. Add the Italian seasoning with a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  4. Add the garlic, saute for a minute, then add the chopped red pepper and carrots to the pot. Continue to saute for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes and one can full of water. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the optional potatoes, cover, turn down the heat, and cook for about 30 minutes until the potatoes and carrots are softened but still holding their shape.
  7. Add the zucchini and continue to simmer until softened, about another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and/or parmesan

This soup can be frozen and it’s even better the second day.

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Stay well, please also stay in touch. Your comments are always welcome. Let me know if you try this recipe.

I am taking this to a friend’s party on the www. It’s a virtual party ‘Fiesta Friday #320‘ hosted by Angie! Click on the link to read all the interesting things going on in the world of food and crafts.

If you would like to join us you can add your link at the bottom of the party page at FiestaFriday.net. I am cohosting this week with Angie and look forward to reading all your posts.

If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

Also linking this to Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

November – Vegetarian Chicken Broth

November – Vegetarian Chicken Broth

How can that be you ask? Of course this vegetarian broth isn’t actually made with chicken but it sure tastes a lot like it. Let me introduce you to parmesan broth. I first posted this recipe back in 2015 and think it deserves a repeat appearance before for the holidays. Those rinds make a vegetarian soup base brimming with umami, that fifth flavor that makes all the other flavors snap into focus.

My local deli sells pre-grated parmesan and I can pick up the rinds for a song. You may even be able to get them for free if you let your friendly deli manager know you want them. Don’t let them throw them out. Stock them in your freezer until you have enough to make this delicious broth. I keep several quarts of broth in my freezer.

Parmesan Rinds

Parmesan Rinds

There are other uses for them, in Italy they add a rind or two to minestrone soup for a flavor punch. I’ve also made a fantastic parmesan flavored olive oil, perfect for making salad dressings with an extra dose of umami. It’s also a nice idea for holiday giving.

Parmesan Olive Oil

My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner includes a vegetarian faux sausage and raisin dressing, this parmesan broth is a stand in for turkey stock.

Parmesan BrotFinished Parmesan Broth, cooling before straining

Parmesan Broth: (makes about 2 quarts)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered (no need to peel)
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise (remove the outermost papery layer)
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 parsley sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb. of Parmesan rinds
  • 8-9 cups of water

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme bay leaf, parsley and peppercorns. Cook, stirring often, until the onion and garlic are toasty brown about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, scraping up any brown bit until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the Parmesan rinds and water to the saucepan, bring to a boil.
  4. Turn down the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours. Stir occasionally so the rinds don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

Use immediately or store in the fridge up to four days. Freeze for longer storage. This recipe makes 7-8 cups of stock, depending on how reduced it becomes. You can easily double it if you have more rinds. I don’t salt when making the broth, the parmesan contains some natural salt so I add any additional salt when the broth is used.

Parmesan Broth

Parmesan Broth

I am taking this useful recipe to Fiesta Friday #303. Please do stop by Angie’s place for holiday recipe, decorating and travel ideas.  The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Antonia @ Zoale.com.

 

 

March – Deconstructed Wanton Soup

March – Deconstructed Wanton Soup

Why is this deconstructed? Because it has all the delicious parts of pork wanton soup, but without the wanton wrappers. Leaving those out makes it both gluten free and low carb. I was inspired by a recipe for egg roll soup and thought…why not wanton? This is a lighter version of regular wanton soup, without the wanton wrappers. It’s perfect when you want a quick, healthy, vegetable laden and warming bowl of soup for lunch or a light supper.

Deconstructed Wanton Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon of neutral oil like grape seed
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 cup of shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced
  • 1/2 bunch of scallions, sliced white and light green portions
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 2 baby bok choy, rinced and sliced thinly
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil for drizzling when serving
  • chopped cilantro for serving

Method:

  1. Heat the 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in a large stock pot or saucepan over medium heat and sear the ground pork until browned.
  2. Add the carrots, garlic, ginger, mushrooms and scallions. Saute until softened and fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
  4. Bring to a simmer and add the bok choy, cook until softened, about 5 minutes. It should still be bright green. if the white stems are large, add them first and cook for a few minutes before adding the tender greens.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Serve with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Deconstructed Wanton Soup with Wantons

If you want a heartier meal for dinner, extra bulk can be added with a few steamed wantons. A request from the husband when serving for dinner. I found the lighter version perfect for me.

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday would enjoy this, especially anyone wanting to cut down on the carbs. Angie hosts Fiesta Friday and this week her co-host isJhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook. It’s Fiesta Friday #270. Click the link to read interesting posts about cooking, crafts and gardening.

January – Curried Carrot Soup in the Electric Pressure Cooker

January – Curried Carrot Soup in the Electric Pressure Cooker

I couldn’t believe how flavorful, creamy, healthy, quick and easy this soup was to make in the electric pressure cooker. Mine isn’t an Instant Pot, which I know is all the rage. But it is very similar and works exactly the same way. You could, of course, make it on top of the stove. It will still be delicious and I will include directions for that as well.

This soup is dairy free, gluten free and vegetarian; qualifying it  it as vegan. The creaminess comes from coconut milk with additional richness and flavor from peanut butter. Curry paste and ginger add a touch of spice.

Curried Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

(serves 4 generously, 6 not so much)

  • 8-10 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetarian broth or water
  • 1/4 cup of peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for serving

Method:

  1. For the electric pressure cooker – add everything to the pot and set the timer for 15 minutes. When done, let it cool down naturally for 10-15 minutes. Then carefully release the pressure. When cool, blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt to taste. Top with cilantro for serving
  2. For the stovetop – saute the onions and garlic in coconut or other oil until soft. Add the carrots, coconut milk, broth, ginger, and curry paste. Simmer gently until the carrots are very soft. Add the peanut butter and stir to melt it. Cool before blending smooth. Top with cilantro.

Curried Carrot Soup

I am going to take this soup to Fiesta Friday #260 hosted by Angie, the co-hosts this week are:

 Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

December – Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

December – Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

This recipe originally appeared in the NY Times without the chicken. I wanted something heartier for a visiting friend who had driven 3.5 hours to visit us up on the coast. This was the perfect dinner after a long drive on a cold and rainy autumn evening. The coconut sauce is amazing, you really need something to soak it up. Serve it with lavash or other flatbread for dunking if you have some. Not having those in the cupboard, I served it over brown rice. I consider this comfort food as well as (somewhat) health food. It is a soupy stew and could also be considered a thick soup/

Without the chicken, this recipe is vegetarian and vegan. A delicious option if you have a dinner party with mixed eating preferences. Add the chicken to only a portion of the soup, a deli chicken would be easy and perfect. I had some sous vide chicken thighs in the fridge and added them at the end. The recipe also called for adding greens (kale or spinach), which I forgot to purchase at the market. So the picture doesn’t have greens. I am definitely making this again and will add them next time and take a picture. With the addition of a half-can of chickpeas, the leftovers were delicious the next day.

I consider this a pantry meal, most of the ingredients are already in my pantry and available for a quick meal. If you have greens and mint in your garden you are already perfectly positioned. No chicken, no problem. The original recipe didn’t include chicken. But check your freezer for a lone chicken breast that might be hanging around. Defrost it in the microwave, cut into cubes, and add it once the coconut milk and stock come to the simmer. If you have any salad greens in your fridge, use them as greens. Maybe some baby spinach? Arugula would be fine as well, shredded romaine…why not. If it is a cold and wet night, who wants to go to the store?

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

Spiced Chickpea Chicken Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, kale, or spinach – stems removed, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup mint leaves, chopped for serving
  • Lime slice for serving
  • Optional whole fat plain yogurt for serving
  • Steamed rice, toasted pita, lavash or other flatbread for serving

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent and starts to brown a bit. That will take about 3-5 minutes. Be careful the garlic doesn’t brown.
  2. Add turmeric, red pepper flakes and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper again. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chickpeas start to sizzle and brown and fry a bit in the spices and oil. I had to add a tiny bit more oil at this point. They will start to soften and break down, becoming brown and crisp. It will take about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3.  Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stock to the remaining chickpeas in the pot. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any crusty bits that have formed at the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add your chicken if using.
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stew has thickened slightly and the flavors have come together., about 30-35 minutes. Taste and see if you need to add salt and pepper.
  7. Add greens and stir, making sure they are submerged in the liquid. Cook long enough for them to soften, which will depend on the type of greens you are using, about 3-7 minutes. Spinach and chard will soften much faster than kale.
  8. Divide among bowls and add the reserved chickpeas and mint, a wedge of lime, and a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes if desired. A dollop of whole fat yogurt with a dusting of turmeric would be nice as well.

 

Sous vide boneless chicken thighs

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

The recipe was adapted from the NY Times article, A Creamy Stew That’s Hearty and Virtuous.

I am bringing it to Fiesta Friday #253 to share with Angie and the gang. Click on the link to see all the wonderful ideas for holiday food, crafts and decorating. I am excited to be a co-host for the virtual party this week with Mila @ Milkandbun

I think the folks at Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen will enjoy it as well. Follow the link for other soup, salad or sandwich ideas. Perfect for a casual Sunday dinner.  .Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.