Summer Minestrone

This is a recent successful combination of several minestrone recipes (Joy of Cooking and Love Soup). It does involve lots of chopping, but it makes a big pot and keeps beautifully all week. I’ve been making it on Sunday nights for the last two weeks and eating it for lunches.

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut in 1-inch lengths
2 zucchini, diced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (a generous handful)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped (again, no need to be too precise)
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced (out of a jar!)
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
10 cups broth (I use 10 cups water and 3 cubes Rapunzel vegetable bouillon)
1 cup small pasta (orzo, elbow macaroni, baby shells)
1 tsp salt (depending on your broth)

Saute onions in 2 T olive oil until soft. Add remaining vegetables and herbs (I just chop and add as I go, stirring occasionally) and saute for a few minutes. Add canned tomatoes, beans, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add pasta and cook for 10 more minutes. Taste and season if necessary.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a grind of black pepper, and a sprinkle of parmesan. Get yourself a baguette and a glass of white wine, and you are set!

Variations: I keep forgetting to actually try this, but apparently you can throw in the rind from a wedge of parmesan cheese while the soup simmers, and it gives the vegetable broth a great flavor. You can also use chicken broth.

If you want to be really decadent (a la Joy of Cooking), you can add two chopped slices of bacon when you start sauteeing the onions.

Chickpeas are the beans of choice in the Love Soup version. I’m always a fan of either type.

I’m sure spinach or chard would be a nice addition or substitution to the vegetables. Jarred roasted red peppers are what I had, and I like the convenience, but you could either roast your own or just put in a fresh pepper. You could also use fresh tomatoes, and/or more of them. (I’ve actually been putting in 1 1/2 small cans, or 3/4 of a large can, but that isn’t very efficient in recipe-writing terms. Fortunately I’ve done it two weeks in a row and used up the extra.)


Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Super easy and delicious any time of year!

Serves: 8

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 sweet or yellow onion, diced
1 2lb butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds discarded
2 cups chicken broth
pinch grated nutmeg
1 cup nonfat milk (or milk of your choice)
Nonfat sour cream (optional)
Chopped fresh chives (optional)

Squash prep – Peel squash with a veggie peeler, then cut top off bottom bulb to make it easier to handle. Cut both pieces lengthwise into halves, and scoop out seeds with a spoon.

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add squash pieces and 1 cup of water; cover. Lower heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the squash is fork-tender.

Place the squash-and-onion mixture into a food processor or blender two batches if necessary. Pulse until squash is well pureed. Add the chicken broth, nutmeg, and milk; pulse until well combined.

Return the soup to the pot and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, ladle into individual bowls and top with 1 tsp nonfat sour cream and chopped chives if desired. (From Muscle+Fitness Hers magazine)

Mulligatawny from Gluten-Free Goddess

This is Karina’s recipe over at Gluten-Free Goddess (she actually has two versions, which I combined just slightly. The other version also has 2 cups of shredded cabbage and more liquid.). She adds jasmine rice and garbanzo beans and diced red onion to her soup. I’m going to ladle it over brown rice with chicken one night and garbanzo beans the next. One commenter on her blog said she subbed butternut squash for the cauliflower, which I think is a nice twist. Or perhaps you could use both?

1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
1 tablespoon Thai Kitchen Green or Red Curry Paste, or GF curry powder, to taste
1 medium red onion, peeled, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 quart light vegetable broth
1 cup coconut milk
Juice from 1 or 2 medium limes, as needed
1 teaspoon raw organic agave nectar or organic raw sugar
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 14-oz. can chick peas, rinsed and drained
Finely diced red onion, apple, or chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

You’ll also need:
1 pot of cooked jasmine rice

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a medium size soup pot. Add the curry paste and stir briefly to season the oil. Add in the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, apples and sweet potato; stir and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.
Stir in the vegetable broth. Bring to a high simmer and then cover the pot; reduce the heat and simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, a squeeze of lime juice and a touch of agave or raw sugar. Stir with love. Taste for seasoning adjustments. Could it use more lime to tart it up a bit? A little salt and pepper?
Adjust the seasonings to your liking. Heat through gently; don’t boil.
Puree the soup with a handheld immersion blender (you could also puree in small batches, covered tightly, in a blender or a food processor; hold the lid on, though as hot soup sputters and expands when it is blended). Return the puree to the soup pot.
Stir in the drained chick peas. Heat through on low heat until serving.
Note: If you prefer a little more texture, you can also puree only half the soup- or mash it lightly with a potato masher until you have the consistency you desire. Then add the chick peas and warm through.
Serve the mulligatawny with a garnish of diced red onion, apple or cilantro. Offer a side of hot cooked jasmine rice.
Add a spoonful of rice to the soup as you eat it. Delicious!
Serves 4.

Read more:

Cuban Black Bean Soup (Sopa de Frijoles Negros al Estilo Cubano)

Another recipe from Daisy Martinez at Daisy Cooks! Aired on OPB’s Create show on Saturday, Jan. 8 2011.

I like a little heat in my black bean soup, so I add a tiny piece of Scotch bonnet chili pepper like I do in the previous soup. If you don’t, leave it out. This is such a favorite of mine, that a bowl of this and a little crusty bread is a meal. I also think of this as my “ice cream sundae” soup–fill bowls with the soup and let people top them as they like.

Black Beans (recipe follows)
Two 14 1/2-ounce cans chicken broth
1/2 cup Sofrito (see “Staples”)
1/2 cup canned Spanish-style tomato sauce
3 tablespoons alcaparrado or chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
1 tablespoon fine sea or kosher salt
Healthy dose freshly ground black pepper
1/4 Scotch bonnet or jalapeño pepper
Any or all of the following “sundae toppings”
Cooked white rice
Chopped red or white onion
Chopped cilantro
One-quarter of a Scotch bonnet or jalapeno pepper, optional
Sour cream
Olive oil

1. Make the black beans.

2. Stir the chicken broth, sofrito, tomato sauce, alcaparrado or olives, salt, pepper, and chili pepper into the black beans. Bring everything to a boil over medium-high heat. skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Continue boiling until the soup is nice and thick, with just enough liquid to cover the beans. Pull the pot off the heat and let it sit 5 to 10 minutes so the beans soak up a little more of the liquid. Serve hot, ladled into warm bowls. Pass the toppings you have prepared.

Gazpacho al Estilo de Tichi (from Jaleo)

The first time I visited Jaleo was about 10 years ago, and I had come out to DC to see Dana, who I think was living in that little dairy ice box place. We met up with Lori for a day of sightseeing on the mall; our wanderings made us hot and hungry and we stumbled upon this lapis-blue-tiled Mediterranean oasis of tapas awesomeness. I remember feeling incredibly grown-up and sophisticated, sitting there at the bar (drinking lemonade) without parents or other restraints.

Years later when I actually lived in DC, I managed to track this place down and it was every bit as good as I remembered. Since then I’ve been often with friends and have a lot of great memories (Becky’s going away party before she left for Tanzania! Dana’s 30-birthday sister lunch!).

Chef Jose Andres makes the best gazpacho EVER and he has kindly disseminated the recipe. Dana says she doesn’t use the full amount of olive oil and it is still awesome; I experiment with the amount each time I make it, depending on how fattening I am feeling that day. It makes 4 main-course servings or 8 first-course servings.

For the gazpacho:
10 (2 pounds) plum tomatoes, quartered
1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, or more to taste
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 to 2 teaspoon salt

For the garnish:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 slice rustic white bread
12 cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 pearl onions, quartered and separated into segments
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Sea salt
4 chives, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the gazpacho: In a blender or food processor, add the tomatoes, cucumber, green bell pepper, garlic, sherry vinegar and water and blend until the mixture becomes a thick liquid. Taste for acidity (this will vary with the sweetness of the tomatoes) and add more vinegar if necessary. Add the oil and salt. Blend again briefly to thoroughly incorporate the oil. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a pitcher or large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cool, at least 30 minutes.

For the garnish: Meanwhile, in a small saute pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When it is shimmering, add the bread and cook until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Break the bread into small pieces to form about 16 croutons and set aside.

To assemble the soup, distribute the croutons, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and onions evenly among the bowls and drizzle with sherry vinegar and the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and chives. At the table, pour the chilled gazpacho over the garnish. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source:
Adapted from “Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America,” by Jose Andres (Clarkson Potter, 2005, $35).

206 calories, 21g fat, 3g saturated fat, n/a cholesterol, 297mg sodium, 6g carbohydrates, 2g dietary fiber, n/a sugar, 1g protein.

Chicken and Garlic Chowder

This is one of THE most divine soups I’ve ever made. I’m a huge soup junkie – there is just almost nothing better on a cool night than a rich, savory broth and crusty bread. For this soup, I ended up making the sofrito myself, since I couldn’t find it anywhere (I’m not sure what sort of supermarkets the editors of Food and Wine are shopping at…), but it was easy and I froze the leftovers in ice cube trays to stick into future reprises.

Text below from Food and Wine.

The beauty of this recipe is that it takes advantage of an array of terrific prefab ingredients, from prepeeled garlic and precut butternut squash to rotisserie chicken and frozen sofrito (the Spanish green-pepper-and-onion seasoning paste). Poaching the prepeeled garlic cloves in milk helps bring out an extraordinary depth of flavor.

The gentle flavors of this chowder are best matched by a full-bodied Chardonnay without too much oak. Some of the best examples come from the windy hilltops of the Sonoma Coast, like the clean, refreshing 2004 Hartford Sonoma Coast and the lively 2003 Ramey Sonoma Coast.

5 peeled garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups milk
6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
12 ounces peeled precut butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup sofrito (see Note)
One 3 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken—juices reserved, skin and bones discarded, meat shredded (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small saucepan, combine the prepeeled garlic cloves with the milk and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderately low heat until the garlic is soft and the milk has reduced to 1 cup, about 40 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree it until smooth.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, combine the chicken stock, squash and sofrito and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the squash is just tender, about 20 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and its juices, the peas and the creamy garlic puree. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer the chowder for 5 minutes longer and serve. Serves 6.

Sofrito is available in tubs in the freezer section of many supermarkets.

Chicken and Black Bean Soup with Red Onion and Avocado

This soup is very easy and quick on a weeknight. It’s a medium weight for when you want something nourishing but not too heavy. It’s a nice change from the very thick black bean soups that are usual. I sometimes take out some of the beans and broth at the end and puree them in a food precessor, then add back in, to thicken the soup a bit if I don’t want it to be as brothy. This recipe size makes two dinner servings with enough leftover for lunch the next day.

2 chicken breasts, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 T olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tsp oregano
1.5 tsp cumin
4 c. chicken broth
2 cans black beans
Salt and pepper
Sliced avocado

In a soup pot, brown chicken in olive oil, then add onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin and saute till onions are golden and fragrant. Add the black beans and the chicken stock and some salt and pepper; simmer very gently for about 10 minutes. Top with avocado, cilantro, and feta.