Castilian Garlic Soup

garlic-soup

Castilian Garlic Soup

I love this soup, because I am in love with both peasant food and offensive flavors.

There are couple ways you can go with this soup. Straight up traditional peasant recipes are just some garlic cloves cooked in olive oil, with water, tons of paprika, and stale bread. This lovely sounding recipe from New Mediterranean uses lots more garlic, and fancies it up a little with sherry and saffron, and floated garlic toasts. I like the technique of mashing the garlic cloves into the broth. Either way, this is most often made with eggs, either stirred in egg-drop soup style or poached on top.

I went with the more peasanty one (although I want to try the fancy version). It’s vegetarian, and forgoes delicate saffron in favor of an obscene amount of paprika for the uncultured tongue, which rises up in clouds and makes the soup a lovely dark red. Also, as it’s eggless, it needed a little something to be heavy enough for a light meal, so I added some chickpeas. We peasants do what we want.

Castilian Garlic Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
2 heads garlic, peeled, huge cloves chopped in half
1 tbsp paprika
splash of sherry
6 cups vegetable broth
1 can (or two cups cooked) chickpeas

To serve:
croutons: 1-2 pieces bread, cubed, tossed with a little olive oil, and sea salt, and toasted
nice spritz lemon juice – don’t skip!
chopped parsley

Heat olive oil and garlic on medium/medium lowish heat. Cook very gently, stirring, until they are soft, about 10-15 minutes, being very careful not to brown.

Add paprika and stir for a minute, then add sherry, broth, and chickpeas. Bring to a simmer for several minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Spoon into a bowl, spritz with lemon juice, and sprinkle parsley and a few croutons.

I cooked rice in leftovers, which turned out delicious. Peasant food or not, there’s something decadent about eating whole cloves of (cooked) garlic.

Soup Day: Pho, Italian Wedding, and Spicy Eggplant and Peanut

soup

Soup Day again! Gloria brought this amazing homemade broth and all the fixings for pho. Stephen made Giada’s Italian wedding soup – absolutely delicious! Shan cooked up steak and chicken for the carnivores (which I would like to point out is NOT soup, but he is not really concerned with details). I made spicy peanut and eggplant soup, stewy and yummy. Zoeya had lots of fun, she loves a party. My sister Meg showed up right as we were about to eat, convenient.

The wine was flowing to say the least; we are very good at eating, drinking, and being merry.

Soup Day

Pho
Glo’s recipe with lovely homemade broth made with soup bones, charred ginger and shallots, and spices, with rice noodles, bean sprouts, mint, basil, cilantro, hoisin sauce and chili sauce (and optional thin sliced beef that cooks right in the hot soup).

Italian Wedding Soup
Giada’s recipe, complete with meatballs, veggies, noodles, and a flavorful broth.

Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Soup
Perfect comfort food, find on Post Punk Kitchen or in The Veganomicon.

Red Thai Curry Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Kale

sweet-potato-soup

Once again I saw a delicious-looking soup recipe on BrokeAss Gourmet that inspired me to make my own variation based on what I had in my pantry. This time it was Coconut Soup with Sweet Potato and Lime. I had red Thai curry paste so I made kind of a Thai curry soup, and threw in some kale because what don’t I throw kale in nowadays?

By the way, eat more kale! It’s good for you!

Red Thai Curry Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Kale

olive oil (not authentic, I don’t care)
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
salt & pepper
some ginger if you have it but I was out
5 cups vegetable broth or water
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp red Thai curry paste
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes
1 bunch kale, destemmed and chopped
juice of half a lime

Heat olive oil and add onion, garlic and salt, sauteing until onion is translucent. Add ginger (if you are lucky enough to not be out) and curry paste, and cook, stirring for a minute. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, simmering until sweet potato is easily smashed, but not falling apart (about 20 min). Add kale and lime juice, cooking for just a minute until kale wilts, then serve hot with lime slices and hot sauce.

I ate bowl after bowl, and started stirring in a little sambal oelek for some heat – so yummy! Zoeya liked it too once I convinced her that is was sweet potato (which she likes), not squash (which she doesn’t).

Harira (Moroccan Chickpea Soup)

harira

Our friend Stephen has mentioned a couple of times this yummy Moroccan soup he makes – chickpeas, tomatoes, and spices. It sounded delicious, and this lazy Sunday Zoeya and I were just hanging around the house so it seemed a great time to try it (I feel much less lazy if I have something simmering on the stove while I’m doing nothing else important).

Harira is traditionally eaten to open fast during Ramadan, but there’s no need to wait until then. This is complete comfort food, with the added bonus of perfuming the whole house with cinnamon – heavenly!

Harira

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
salt & pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp saffron, crumbled
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
heaping cup dried chickpeas – preferably soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp lentils (I used chana dal)
6 cups water or vegetable broth or combo
handful broken vermicelli (or spaghetti in a pinch!)
handful cilantro, chopped
handful parsley, chopped
juice of half a lemon
one bunch spinach, roughly chopped

Heat olive oil (medium highish), and add onions, garlic, and ginger, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add all spices, and cook, stirring. Add tomatoes and cook until they start to break down. Add chickpeas, lentils, and broth/water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; simmer until chickpeas are soft, an hour and a half to two hours (during which time your house will smell wonderful).

Add vermicelli (or spaghetti, lame), parsley, and cilantro, and simmer several minutes, until noodles are cooked. At the end, spritz the pot with lemon juice and adjust seasoning (you’ll probably need more salt) and add spinach and cook until wilted.

Serve hot!

By the way, this is my 100th post! Here’s a witchy gypsy song to mark it – play it while you’re cooking this, will definitely set a spicy mood.

Tan Cani by Aloehverah on Grooveshark

Butternut Squash Soup

thumb-butternut-squash

It’s fall, it’s fall, let the soup making begin! I can’t think of a more appropriate one to start with than butternut squash soup. These last couple of weeks Zoeya and I have gotten a little squash and pumpkin happy; everywhere we go there are gourds large and small and we’ve been bringing them home like lost puppies. They are functioning as both food and decoration.

On cooking methods: you will never in your life find me dicing, peeling or boiling a butternut squash (same goes for pumpkin, acorn squash, etc.). Why do people torture themselves? It is a thousand times easier – not to mention more flavorful – to halve or quarter it, scoop out the seeds and roast it.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, halved
olive oil
sea salt & pepper
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 c milk
squash seeds
1/2 tsp garam masala (or just cinnamon)

Cut squash in half, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, and roast at 400° until tender, about 25 to 30 min. Remove from oven and let it sit until it’s cool enough to handle, then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh into a blender or food processor (if you’re impatient like me you’re going to burn your fingers).

Meanwhile, heat olive oil on medium and gently cook onion and garlic until caramelized, about 20 min. (You can regular old saute your onions and garlic, but the carmelized ones are really sweet and go with the sweetness of the squash). Transfer to blender or food processor, along with broth. Puree. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Transfer to a soup pot, add milk, and gently heat through.

Serve sprinkled with spiced seeds: clean the seeds and dry. You can roast them but I actually did them stove top in a small skillet. Heat just enough olive oil to coat the seeds, sprinkle with salt and garam masala or cinnamon, and toast until they start to pop.

Roasted Green Pepper Soup

green-pepper-soup

The notion often occurs to me that I could both be saving a lot of money as well as buying healthier food. It’s not that I make a lot of expensive purchases (well…sometimes for parties). I don’t eat out a lot, lentils are a staple, and I am definitely not spending a lot of money on processed, nutritionally devoid crap. On the less-healthy side of money-saving, produce is organic only if it’s from the farmer’s market or if aftershocks of various documentaries are rippling through my mind, same for meat, and I still buy regular eggs.

I think with a little planning I can save money and buy better. Although I do have a well-stocked pantry which allows me not to run to the store all the time, often I’m just dropping in to Harris Teeter (expensive!) out of convenience instead of going to the right shops for the right things. I have a Costco membership where I know I can be buying organic chicken and grass-fed meat, but I rarely make the trek over there. I continuously allow HT to gouge me for avocados, coconut milk, and Bustelo when I don’t feel like making an extra trip to the Indian/Arabic/Spanish grocery. I think if I’m planning ahead, shopping at the right places, I can not only save money but buy organic all the time.

I was talking about planning with my sister and she said “Oh that sounds so depressing!” Does it? I was thinking it sounded fun, but I’m a nerd. She’s right in a way though, I do love to feel gloriously extravagant and go where I want when I want and buy whatever I want. The dichotomy of wanting to save money yet feel rich was on my mind as I flipped through BrokeAss Gourmet, a site I love with lots of delicious recipes you can make to feel fun and festive while saving your hard-earned cash.

I liked the idea of this Roasted Green Pepper Soup which uses the cheaper yet oft neglected green pepper. As I am obsessed with coconut oil/milk and Indian spices, I took this idea and made my own version, pondering the delicate balance between time, money, health, and festivity as I stirred the pot.

Roasted Green Pepper Soup

3 green bell peppers
1 heaping tsp cumin seeds
1 heaping tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt & pepper
1/2 c coconut milk
1 1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
sriracha

Roast the green peppers exactly as you would red (I do mine at 450° right on the grate, turning occasionally, until they are blistered). Put in a glass bowl and cover with saran wrap, this will make them really easy to peel.

In a dry pan, gently toast cumin and coriander seeds until they are fragrant. Grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle (it’s ok if you don’t completely pulverize it).

Heat coconut oil and cook onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices until soft. Transfer to a blender, along with peeled, seeded, and sliced green peppers. Blend, adding a little broth if necessary.

If you are feeling fancy you can put this through a sieve before returning to the pot (but if you were feeling fancy, wouldn’t you have used red peppers?). Add coconut milk and chicken or vegetable broth, adjust seasoning if necessary, and heat through. Serve drizzled with sriracha.

This soup was the perfect balance of sweet to salty to spicy, and although hot it felt fresh and summery. As a red pepper worshiper, I did like the use of green peppers, and I really want to say I’m a green pepper believer, but…I couldn’t help but wonder how this would be with red peppers. Choose as you will.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Cashew Pesto

red-pepper-soup_thumb

These days on Fridays I love to come home from work, relax, and cook an easy, fresh, summery dinner for myself and Zoeya. Shan closes the restaurant on Friday, so I don’t worry about him turning his nose up at a grazing menu heavy on veggies and without an obvious entree (which, incidentally, is my favorite way to eat). This soup was simple and delightful, with a dollop of flavorful pesto made from fresh basil from my herb garden. You can make this with whatever nuts you have, but the cashews worked really nicely. They are similar in texture to pine nuts, and cheaper.

The soup was part of our Friday spread…

…to which Zoeya invited her baby…

…and then slurped up her bowl of soup, telling Mommy it was delicious. The best compliment is having your food approved by a picky 2.5 year old.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Cashew Pesto

makes four bowls, can easily be doubled

For the soup
3 red peppers
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
salt & pepper
1 tbsp butter
2 cups chicken broth

Roast the red peppers at 475 in the oven, straight on the rack. Turn once and roast until they are charred. Move to a glass bowl and cover with saran wrap and let them steam and cool for a little bit. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat butter on medium high (not too high or it will burn), and cook the shallots and garlic, salt and pepper. When shallots are translucent, add chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin, scrape out the seeds, and slice. Transfer peppers and the broth, shallots, and garlic to a blender and puree. Return to saucepan and warm through.

For the pesto
1/2 c cashews
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 c basil leaves (loosely packed), roughly chopped
1/4 c olive oil
generous spritz lemon juice
salt & pepper

In a food processor, pulse cashews and garlic a few time. Add basil, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to a chunky paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve soup steaming, spoon a little pesto into the center, and enjoy.

Chicken Corn Soup

chicken-corn-soup_thumb

This Chinese soup is very popular in Pakistan. It’s simple and homey, the perfect thing to whip up on a rainy day or to nurse someone with a cold. This was one of the first things my husband cooked for me when we moved in together, and to me the memory is just as warming as the soup.

This recipe makes about four bowls, but can easily be doubled. Delicious with just a drizzle of sriracha.

Chicken Corn Soup

olive oil
1 chicken thigh, cut into small pieces
6 cups chicken broth
couple slices of ginger (optional)
1 ear corn
2 tbsp corn starch
1 egg white
chopped green onions, parsley, or cilantro for garish
sriracha, optional

In a small soup pot, heat olive oil and add chicken pieces, stirring until they are cooked. Add broth, ginger, and the corn, and bring to a simmer. When the corn is cooked, remove, slice the kernels off and return them to the pot.

Mix corn starch with a little water to make a slurry, and add to the pot. Stir and simmer (not boiling) until the soup thickens. Stirring, slowly add the egg white. Serve piping hot.

Posole with Kale

I was introduced to posole, a Mexican soup made with hominy, years ago by my then-roomate. Her ex husband was Mexican, and so she knew how to cook all kinds of yummy Mexican food. Our posole adventure was a full day ordeal, ending in a feast for lots of people. We roasted a pork shoulder which we later broke up into the soup, and used two giant 24 ounce cans of posole. We cooked in a tamalero – an enormous pot, which most people use for steaming tamales but crazy ladies use for making copious amounts of soup. The pot spanned two eyes of the stove and needed to be washed in the bathtub.

I still make posole from time to time, in amounts meant for a family instead of the Mexican army. Posole is a fun and festive soup because you can serve the basic soup with lots of garnishes and everyone can dress theirs up as they like. The only constants needed are the hominy, onions, broth, and oregano – and the rest is up to your imagination. I love adding greens to soups (they look so pretty besides being really good for you), so this time I added kale. The result was a hearty and nourishing bowl.

Posole with Kale

olive oil
1 onion, sliced
salt/pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chicken breast, cut crossways then into thin strips
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1 4 ounce can green chillis
1 12 ounce can white hominy
8-10 cups broth (and more water as needed)
juice of half a lime
1 bunch kale, washed, trimmed, stalks cut out then cut into strips
garnishes: sliced lime, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, tostadas, crumbled queso fresco, etc etc etc

Heat olive oil over medium high heat, then add onion, salt and pepper. Cook until onion begins to turn translucent, then add garlic, chicken, oregano, paprika and cumin. Cook for a few minutes until chicken is cooked, then add chillis, hominy, and broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Squeeze in lime juice, and add kale, simmering for a couple more minutes. Serve with garnishes.