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Posts Tagged ‘Soups and Stews’

Beef stew.  With Belgian beer.  Need I say more?  Probably not, but since I’m verbose, I will.  This is a really good beef stew recipe.  It’s a classic Belgian dish.  I’m sure it’s particularly delicious with frites, but I’m not quite that ambitious, so I served it with bread.  The person who recommended the recipe to me suggested I add in a couple diced, peeled apples.  Which I did, and which is what made it extra awesome.  So, I suggest you do the same.  The apples and the onions break down into a rich, thick brown sauce, that’s sweet and savory.  For beer, use a good Belgian brown ale.  I used Moinette Bruin, above, but Leffe Bruin would also work.

Carbonade Flamandes
Recipe from this website

Ingredients
4 pounds boneless stew meat,
such as chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (I used olive oil)
3 large onions (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced
2 bottles (12 ounces each) Belgian beer
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1-1/2 tablespoons red currant jelly (or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced into 1 inch chunks (optional, but highly recommended)

Directions

Season the beef cubes with the salt and pepper and dredge with the flour. Shake off any excess.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter or oil in a large dutch oven or heavy, oven-proof pan over high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add the beef cubes and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Work in batches so as not to crowd the beef cubes, or they will steam instead of sauté.  Add additional oil or butter if necessary.  Once browned, set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter or oil to the skillet and melt over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook stirring occasionally, until browned, about 15 minutes.  If necessary, raise the heat toward the end of the cooking time.  It is important to brown the meat and the onions evenly to give the stew its deep brown color.  The trick is to stir the onions just enough to avoid burning the but not so often as to interrupt the browning process.

Deglaze the pan with the beer, scraping with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits.  Add the beef back to the pan as well as the apples and bring to a boil.  Add the thyme and bay leaves.

The recipe recommended simmering covered, over low heat until the meat is very tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  I did this and it was fine, but if I do it again, I’d put it in the oven at, say 325, for longer – three or four hours.  It’s really going to depend on the meat used, but I think mine was a bit tougher.  Before serving, stir in the red currant jelly or brown sugar and vinegar; simmer for 5 minutes.   Adjust the seasoning as needed and serve, preferably with more beer.

 

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It has been freezing here in Berkeley for the last week or two and a warm bowl of soup was just what I needed.  I found some lovely San Marzano tomatoes at the farmers’ market and this recipe from Epicurious got rave reviews, so I thought I’d give it a go.

It’s a lovely soup.  The recipe calls for 6 cups of stock, which is way too much.  Use 4 to get a thick, hearty soup.  It would be a good base for a minestrone or to add a small pasta noodle shape to it, in which case, the extra broth would probably be needed.  Don’t skimp on the herbs and use good, firm plum tomatoes to make this. 

Roasted Tomato Soup
Recipe from Epicurious

Ingredients
3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
8 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/4 teaspoons dried
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/4 teaspoons dried
1/4 teaspoon (or more) dried crushed red pepper
6 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and grated parmesan, to serve

Directions 
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle tomatoes with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Transfer tomatoes and any accumulated juices to processor. Using on/off turns, process until slightly chunky.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, rosemary, thyme and dried crushed red pepper. Add chicken stock; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until soup thickens slightly, 15 minutes or so. Remove from heat. 

To serve, season with salt and pepper, stir in the chopped, and a bit of grated parmesan. 

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A slightly more sophisticated looking dinner than last week, using very similar ingredients.

And, this soup rocked.  Butternut squash, pear, and turnip?  Yes, please.  I already had one standard butternut squash soup recipe, but now it has competition in the rotation.  You can definitely taste the pear in it, though the spicy turnip balances everything out, keeping it from being too sweet.  The recipe looks simple, and I was tempted to add some leeks or garlic or something.  I didn’t, and I found I didn’t need to.  It works perfectly just as it is.

The fancy floating pear was pretty easy to do, so try it out and impress your guests with your oh-so-Martha presentation.

On the side, a mix of mustard greens and salad greens.  I dressed it with olive oil and cider vinegar (not local), with a tiny splash of maple syrup (a local-to-them gift from family in Massachusetts).  The maple dressing was really good on the bitter, spicy mustard greens.

All and all, a delicious winter meal.

Pear and Autumn Vegetable Soup
Recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
4 small Bartlett pears (about 6 ounces each), plus an additional larger pear to use for the garnish
1 sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 turnip (about 3 ounces), trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 sprig fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, white if you have it

Directions
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Cut the larger pear into paper thin pieces, using a mandoline or sharp knife.  Pick out the seeds and stem.  Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut 2 medium pears lengthwise into paper-thin slices.  Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake about 1 hour, or until the pears are dry.  Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Peal the remaining pears.  Halve lengthwise and core.  Add the pears, squash or pumpkin, and the turnip to a 4 quart stockpot with the sage and a teaspoon of salt.  Cover with water (at least 4 cups) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Discard the sage.  Carefully transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree in batches.   Return the soup to the pot and bring up to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the cream, salt, and pepper.   Serve with the dried pears as a garnish.

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These ugly looking things are celery root.  I’ve never cooked with celery root, and not even sure if I’ve ever eaten it.  Nevertheless, this recipe for celery root soup has intrigued me ever since I saw it in Food and Wine last year.

I’m not  a huge fan of celery, mostly because it’s just stringy and weird.  When I cut the root open and discovered it smelled exactly like celery, I got a little nervous.  I wound up doctoring the recipe a bit to try to balance out the celery flavor.  Lucky for me, this soup was indeed good.  While celery root smells like celery, it tastes a little earthier and, even better, no weird strings.  I will definitely cook with it again.  The version below is my version.

The original recipe in Food and Wine suggested pairing it with clementine toasts.  I had picked up a bunch of satsuma mandarins at the farmers’ market, so I thought I’d try pulling it off.  The relish was really, really good.  Sort of like a marmalade-chutney type of spread.  However, segmenting satsumas is something I will never, ever do again.  Lots of work to produce about a teaspoon of segment from one mandarin.  Argh.  I used about seven of them, when the recipe recommended two, and made a giant mess in my kitchen.  So, while delicious, I recommend trying this with normal sized oranges.

Everything here is local, except for the mustard seeds.  The bread comes from Acme bakery, the wine from St. Supery in Napa, all produce comes from the farmers’ market, and the dairy from Clover Stornetta in Petaluma.

Celery Root Soup
Inspired by Food and Wine, original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 1/2-3 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salt, pepper, and parsley to serve

Directions
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the leeks and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes.  

Add the garlic and the white wine, scraping up any bits that have accumulated on the bottom.  Add the celery root, broth and water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the celery root is tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender.  Return to the saucepan and stir in the cream.  Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley.

Mandarin Relish Toasts
Inspired by Food and Wine, original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients
2-8 firm clementines, mandarins, or oranges
1 medium shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
Toasted slices of bread

Directions
Remove the peel and white pith from the oranges.  Working over a skillet, cut between the membranes to release the sections and squeeze the juice from the membranes into the skillet.  It’s hard for me to estimate how many you’ll need.  It depends on the orange, your citrus segmenting skills, and how many toasts you want.  The relish is really good, so I recommend making a decent amount and aiming to have about 1/2 cup of segments plus juice in your pan.  

Add the shallot, vinegar and mustard seeds.  Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until most of the juice has evaporated and the fruit has started to break down, about 2 minutes.

Let the relish cool to room temperature.  Season with salt. Spread the relish over the toasts and serve with the soup.

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Happy new year!  I’ve been travelling around visiting family for the holidays and very behind on my blog posting.  Hopefully, you all were busy with your own holiday plans to miss me too much. 

I made this soup right before Christmas, and since it used all local ingredients, it’s my submission for the Week 7 Dark Days Challenge (sadly, I missed week 6 because of travels).  I got the idea from fellow Dark Days Challenge participant, Married With Dinner, who made Emeril Lagasse’s Potato Leek Soup a few weeks back.  I’ve never made potato leek soup before, but this version looked so good that I had to try it out.  It was absolutely delicious.  Next time, I am going to make a double batch and freeze half of it.

Everything I used here except the salt and pepper are local.  All the produce comes from the farmer’s market.   For stock, I used homemade vegetable broth that I had made and froze a while ago, using an onion, carrot, leek trimmings, herbs, and whatever other things happened to be in my produce drawer that afternoon.  The bacon comes from Fatted Calf, the dairy from Clover Stornetta Farms in Sonoma, and the wine is a sauvignon blanc that my husband picked up at St. Supery in Napa on a recent trip. 

Potato Leek Soup
Recipe by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients
1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns (I just ground up a bunch)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock  (I used vegetable)
1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, diced  (I used Yukon gold)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper (I skipped)
1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream (I used half and half)
2 tablespoons snipped chives

Directions

The original recipe calls for creating a bouquet garni using some leek trimmings to make a packet that you fill with the peppercorns, bay leaves, and thyme.  That is way too much work for a Tuesday night, so I just skipped that step.  I just tossed the bay leaves and thyme right into the broth and fished them out before blending, then just ground in lots of fresh pepper.  So much easier for essentially the same thing.   Just be sure to count the bay leaves as you put them in and take them out because you don’t want to grind one of those up.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the chopped up pieces of bacon.  Stir occassionally, cooking for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. 

Add the leeks and stir gently until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the bay and thyme, or the bouquet garni if you are using, the stock, potatoes, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and falling apart.

Remove the bouquet garni or fish out the herbs.  Working in batches, puree the soup, using a a food processor, blender, or immersion blender.   Stir in the cream or creme fraiche and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Sprinkle some of the snipped chives on top to serve. 

Particularly delicious on a cold night with a glass of the wine you poured in (can’t let it go bad!) and a hunk of bread from a local bakery.

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To accompany my leek galette, I made two side dishes. 

The first was a simple heirloom tomato salad. 

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This is why farmers’ markets rock. 

To make this, I just diced up about 2 pounds of a bunch of varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and tossed them with some torn up basil leaves, olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, and some salt and pepper.

The second was a chilled cucumber avocado soup.   I made it a few hours in advance and was worried it would turn brown, but it stayed pretty and green all day long in the fridge.   It took me a while to find this recipe, which comes from the Washington Post, as it seems lots of avocado soup recipes have chunks of things like corn in them.  I wanted something smooth and creamy, and this one fit the bill perfectly.

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I’m reprinting the original recipe, however I only prepared about half of it, using just 2 large avocados and one cucumber.

Ingredients

2 medium cucumbers peeled, seeded and quartered, with 8 thin slices reserved for garnish (may substitute seedless cucumbers)
5 avocados, flesh mashed slightly
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 scallions, roughly chopped, both white and light-green parts
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 lemons (juice only)
1 to 2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3 to 4 cups cold water
Salt

Directions

In a food processor or blender, puree the cucumbers and avocados just until smooth. (If using a blender or small food processor, puree in batches.)  Add the garlic, scallions, cilantro and lemon juice and pulse just to combine.

Add 1 cup of the yogurt and a little bit of the water to adjust the texture.  At this point, the recipe recommends that you keep adding yogurt and water with the motor running, pulsing it as needed and salting to taste.  Since I knew mine would be sitting in the fridge all day and it tasted plenty yogurty enough, I stopped adding those things.   Instead, I threw in 5 or 6 ice cubes to keep it ice cold.   By the time it was ready to serve, most of the ice had melted completely, and I was able to remove the others.  I then whisked in just an extra couple tablespoons of water to thin the soup out a bit more. 

Give it a taste before serving as this soup really needs salt to taste good.

To serve, divide among individual bowls and garnish with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, dill, cilantro or whatever you’d like.

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Summer Dinner Party, Part I: Sweet Basil Cocktails, Salt and Sugar Pickles, White Bean Dip

Summer Dinner Party, Part II: Leek and Goat Cheese Galette

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My husband hates lentils.  They were a staple in my kitchen for years, back in my fresh out of college, underpaid world saving vegetarian days.  I moved in with my husband almost six years ago, and I don’t think I’ve cooked them since. 

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I miss them and I frequently joke that one day, I’m just going to make them and he will just have to deal.  I haven’t carried through with this threat yet, probably because I don’t want him to take out his revenge on me through steaming bowls of French onion soup.

Well, he’s out of town this week, so I made myself a big pot of lentil soup for dinner, using carrots and sweet potatoes from our CSA box.   The carrots I used were Thumbelina carrots.  I felt guilty for chopping them up into unrecognizable little bits and not taking advantage of their adorable, pudgy shape, but such is life.

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I don’t remember how I used to make my old lentil soup since it had been so long, but I found a great recipe on Epicurious.  Maybe it was like stumbling upon an oasis after a long walk through the desert or maybe my cooking skills have just improved a lot over the last six years, but either way, the soup was better than I remember.   I may need to make him go out of town more often. 

The original recipe comes from the May 1998 issue of Bon Appetit and can be found here.  I halved it because I didn’t need 6-8 servings and tweaked it a bit, so I’m giving you my version. 

Curried Lentil Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion or large shallot, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, chopped
1 cup of carrot, peeled, chopped
1-2 tablespoons curry powder 
pinch or two of cayenne pepper
   * with the spices, I recommend starting with 1T and 1 pinch, then adding
      more later in the cooking process if needed
3 cups low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice 
1  cup lentils (about 6 ounces), rinsed, drained
Fresh cilantro for serving

Directions

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, potato and carrot and sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Mix in curry powder and cayenne and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

Add broth, tomatoes with juices and lentils and bring to boil.  Cover pot, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until lentils are very tender.  The recipe suggests 45 minutes, but I needed closer to an hour. 

Season soup to taste with salt and pepper and additional spices if needed.  Garnish with a bit of fresh chopped cilantro.

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