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Random-Stuff-From-My-Refrigerator Soup

20 Nov

Perhaps this is not the most interesting or appetizing sounding title for a recipe, but it’s the absolute truth.  I used a base of red beans, their cooking liquid, with some additional water, and added some leftover cremini mushrooms, a few carrots, some frozen corn, and half an onion.  This soup turned out very tasty.  I had a bag of red beans in my freezer, and I soaked them overnight, put them in the crock pot on low, and they cooked while I was at work.  I came home and made this soup within about a half hour.  This is the perfect time of year to make a hearty pot of soup, and this combo turned out to be a winner.

Soups are really excellent ways of cleaning out one’s refrigerator by using odds and ends, especially where vegetables are concerned.  Basically, a soup can be made with any number of combinations of vegetables, grains, beans, herbs, and possibly cheese and/or meat.  I view soups more as a tasty vehicle to get your vegetables easily in one bowl, so I typically keep my soups to the vegetables/herbs/grains/beans combo.

I enjoyed my soup with an Ebenezer Ale from Bridgeport brewery in Portland and a piece of my very own homemade whole wheat baguette with organic butter.  Yum!  Talk about comfort food on a cold day.

Note that my ingredients are approximations–soup is one of those dishes where you can be absolutely flexible on amounts.  Who cares if you don’t have a whole cup of frozen corn?  Use what you have, or, I don’t know, use some frozen peas.

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients

About 3 cups cooked red beans (adzuki beans are fun), or 2 cans of red beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

1/2 large onion or one medium onion

3 peeled and sliced carrots

1 cup frozen corn

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, cook for a few minutes, then add the carrots, mushrooms, and a bay leaf.  Add a few pinches of salt and some pepper.

Cook, stirring every few minutes, for about 5 minutes.  Then add the frozen corn.

Stir to mix, then add the beans, plus about 3 cups of cooking liquid and 3 cups of water, or 6 cups of water if you’re using canned beans.  Add some salt, about 2 teaspoons.  Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Once the soup boils, turn the heat down to medium and cover.  Cook until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.  Once the soup is finished cooking, remove the bay leaf .  When the soup cools a bit, taste to determine if you need additional salt.  Grind some pepper over the top, and enjoy with a salad, some bread, and maybe a beer.  I’m really enjoying the seasonal beers, like Ebenezer.

If you want to make your own refrigerator soup, all you really do is follow these same steps–heat some oil, saute some veggies, add some liquid along with beans and/or grains, bring to a boil, turn down to medium, and cook until the vegetables are tender.  That’s it!

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Blue Potato Soup with Rosemary

8 Nov

I’ve created a blue soup!  And it’s not like the blue soup in Bridget Jones’ Diary–the blue in my soup is from some lovely blue potatoes, not blue string.  Blue potatoes come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  I used some small ones.  Aren’t they beautiful?

blue potato soup 002

blue potato soup 008

This soup is basically pureed cooked blue potatoes with rosemary, milk, pepper, and salt.  Here I used fresh rosemary but you can use dried if you prefer.

blue potato soup 013

Ingredients:

About 1 pound blue potatoes, sliced to roughly the same size

About 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, less if you’re using dried (around 1/2 tablespoon)

Salt and pepper to taste

About 1 cup milk or soy milk

Potato cooking liquid

Instructions

First, place the sliced potatoes in a pot of water over high heat.  Bring to a boil, and cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Drain the potatoes, but reserve the cooking liquid to use as the liquid base of your soup.  Place about half the potatoes in your blender, half the milk, a few pinches of salt, pepper, and a few cups of the cooking liquid.

blue potato soup 015

Do not fill up the blender–only fill it about 1/2 to 2/3 full.  A full blender of hot liquid and vegetables is a recipe for disaster, for obvious reasons.  Give the blender a whirl until the potatoes are pureed, for just a few seconds.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Puree the rest of the potatoes and a few more cups of liquid, salt, and pepper.  Once pureed, add to the first batch in bowl, add the rosemary, and stir a few times.  Taste, and add additional salt if necessary.  Your blue soup will look like this:

blue potato soup 016

 

blue potato soup 021

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup–Take That, Campbell’s!

16 Aug

Ever thought you could make your own tomato soup?  No?  It’s not as hard as you might think.  It’s actually quite simple.  I’m serious.  My Creamy Tomato Basil Soup is pretty tasty, made with all whole, natural foods.  No preservatives, no crap.  I’ve made variations of this soup before, but this version is loosely based on the tomato basil soup I’ve had at La Madeleine, except here I cut the amount of cream and butter and add sun dried tomatoes for an extra burst of flavor.  Don’t be afraid of the cream and butter.  The amounts are small for an entire recipe that serves 4-6 people, and they give the soup more substance.  As with most things in life, cream and butter are great as long as you don’t overdo it.  In this recipe, I used organic cream and organic butter.  Why?  No artificial hormones or antibiotics, which are routinely given to non-organically raised dairy cows. I usually buy Organic Valley brand, which is a co-op of small dairy farmers.  You can find Organic Valley at natural foods stores and in many well-stocked all purpose grocery stores.  In Austin, that means Central Market, some HEB stores, Whole Foods, and Natural Grocers, among others.  If you don’t want the cream and butter, don’t use it.  You’ll still have a very tasty soup.  Remember, you are the boss in the kitchen!

The idea for making this soup and posting it on this blog came about when I decided to check out the ingredients label of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup.  What did I find?  The following:

tomato puree (water, tomato paste), water, wheat, flour, high fructose corn syrup, contains less than 2% of the following : salt, ascorbic acid (added to help retain color), flavoring, citric acid

Why is there high fructose corn syrup in tomato soup?  Your guess is as good as mine.  In addition to preservatives and highly processed ingredients, this soup has 710 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup of condensed soup, or 1 cup of prepared soup.  That’s 30% of what we’re supposed to consume in one day.  Yes, one cup of canned tomato soup has nearly a third of your daily sodium.  Ew.  My soup, on the other hand, is pretty light on sodium.  The tomatoes have very little–260 mg for the whole can.  There’s some salt in the butter, and I added a bit of salt at the end.  All told, my soup beats Campbell’s butt on sodium, and flavor, for that matter.

You can double the amounts or halve the amounts in this recipe, if you want more or less soup.  If you have leftovers, you can freeze it for a later time.  When you’re ready to eat it, pop the frozen soup in the refrigerator a day or two before you need it it to allow for the soup to thaw.

Here is the recipe:

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Serves 4-6

Time needed:  About 25-30 minutes.

Equipment needed:  4 qt saucepan or larger (see photos for example), 1 good knife for chopping (see example in picture below), cutting board, large spoon for stirring, soup ladle, measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients:

Few ingredients

1-28oz can of crushed tomatoes

4 cups of water or tomato juice

About ½ cup of chopped fresh basil, or 1-2 teaspoons of dried basil in a pinch

½ cup heavy cream or sour cream

¼ to ½ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (optional)

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling (optional)

Combine tomatoes with water or tomato juice in saucepan.  Bring to a simmer (the mixture will start to steam) on medium heat.  Set a timer for 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop basil.  Layer about 10 basil leaves, roll them up, and chop into ribbon-like pieces, as shown in the photo.  Repeat until you have as much basil as you want for your soup.  It’s hard to get too much.

chopping basil

basil and knife

Then, chop the sun dried tomatoes, like so.

SDT

After the timer goes off, take the pan off the heat and add the sun dried tomatoes and basil.

basil

Add the butter and stir until melted.

soup and butter final

Add the cream and stir until combined completely.

soup and cream

Finished soup

Add freshly ground black pepper if you have a pepper mill.  If not, pre-ground pepper is fine, just not nearly as tasty.  Taste the soup, and add salt if needed.  Start with a ½ tsp or so.  Add more if necessary.  Ladle into bowls, and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.  Serve alone or with a fresh, crusty baguette or other good quality bread.  Dip the bread in the soup and let it absorb the soup….so good!

Bowl of lovely soup