This is more like a carrot and ginger chowder. It’s thick and creamy, but without dairy. It’s a low-cal version on the standard “vegetable puree + cream” soup. I made this as a way to get myself back on track after a week of party-food.
This is an authentic, Chinese restaurant-worthy recipe for one of my favorite soups. Its thickness comes from the added cornstarch, and a nice smokiness is obtained by using re-hydrated shiitake mushrooms. The chicken bouillon base could be swapped out for vegetable broth to make it a completely vegetarian recipe, with little change in overall flavor.
This recipe was entirely fueled by how cold it is here in the bay. As a San Diego girl, I’m still getting used to this chill. I love clam chowder, especially the New England version, but I have a hard time finding a good one that doesn’t come served in a bread bowl, that is, until now.
This soup is perfect for a chilly day. You can use vegetable or chicken stock depending on your taste, and the longest part of the whole prep is chilling the dumpling dough, which is an optional step, to be honest.
Right off the bat, I need to make a disclaimer for this recipe. It’s VERY good, but not too healthy. Normally, I wouldn’t start a recipe off like this, but the copious amount of cream I put in there is just ungodly. So, if you want a healthier version, skip the cream and go with the milk. It’s still tasty and a LOT less fattening.
This recipe is a big favorite at our apartment. It’s easy, healthy, and because it’s all from the produce/canned goods department, it’s inexpensive. If you own a copy of the Joy of Cooking, this is very similar to their recipe, with only a few minor additions. Either way, it’s so good I just have to put it on the list.
Pho is a Vietnamese dish that involved a broth and noodles, often including very aromatic and rich spices such as cinnamon and star anise. It is salty and slightly sweet and is usually topped with fresh mint, thai basil, and sliced chili.
I wanted to recreate the distinct smell that fills my nose whenever we get pho, and we did just that.
Recipe 12: Pho
Note: This recipe is adapted from a book called Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis
- 1.5 lbs beef ribs
- 1 large onion, halved
- 1 3-inch piece of ginger, unpeeled but roughly chopped
- 6 quarts water
- 1 star anise
- 1 small piece of cinnamon stick (or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon)
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/4 tsp whole cloves
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- salt & pepper
- 1 lb dried rice noodles
- Garnish: mint sprigs, basil sprigs, cilantro sprigs, 1 serrano chili (sliced), lime wedges, scallions, sriracha, etc!
First thing you want to do is put your ribs in a large soup kettle with enough water to cover by a few inches. Boil on high for 10 minutes, then remove the meat (reserve) and discard the liquid. I know this seems totally counter-intuitive, but it makes for a cleaner broth. Trust me, you’ll still get plenty of flavor later down the line.
Add your ginger and onion cut-side down in the soup kettle and char the bottom for 2-3 minutes until dark brown (not burned). Add the water and then beef ribs, and boil on high. Once a rolling boil is attained, reduce heat to simmer and add the rest of your spices. Allow to simmer for another half hour or so until the beef is tender. Turn off the heat.
Start boiling water, enough to cover your noodles and cook them. You’ll cook these separately so that they’re soft when you add the broth. Pour the boiling water over your noodles in a heat-safe bowl and allow it to “cook” until the noodles are soft. Drain and place the noodles in bowls. Add your broth and garnish. Enjoy!
Every Sunday and Wednesday I work the farmers market selling organic fruit. I am a huge proponent of the organic movement, and I always buy organic if it fits in my limited budget. That being said, one of the things I love the most about working the market is that all throughout the day, the vendors work to trade with each other to cover their grocery lists for the week. There are two reasons in particular why this rocks. First, and the most obvious, we can build relationships with other farms and vendors and trade product because with real produce, shelf life is limited to a week or so and the value goes down with time. Second, it keeps us all eating seasonally. I know initially this doesn’t sound all that important, but it really is. In the most basic sense, eating seasonally brings only the freshest, and peak-season produce to the table, which means a healthier and tastier meal.
This brings me to the fact that as it’s “winter” in San Diego, we have a lot of lettuces, root vegetables, citrus, and squashes. I bring home a different kind of squash twice a week when I can, but lately I’ve been stuck on butternut squash. It always cooks up so nicely! Anywho, I had picked one up yesterday and wanted something relatively healthy but hearty for dinner. Some playing around in the kitchen yielded this recipe. Enjoy!
Recipe 3: Potato & Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed.
- 1 medium onion (purple is best, but all I had was yellow)
- 3 small red skinned potatoes sliced thinly
- 1/3 cup milk or cream
- 6 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef. I had a large beef soup bone that I boiled down with half and onion to make my stock)
- 3 tbsp butter (unsalted, but if you have salted butter, wait to salt the soup until it’s almost done, saltiness is hard to reverse)
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- Garnish options: pea sprouts, balsamic vinegar, a dash of vanilla extract, a dollop of sour cream, etc. Play around with this!
So the first thing I do is prep my vegetables. Peel and cube the squash as it’s a pain in the butt and good to get out of the way. Slice the potatoes thinly, they’ll break down easier this way, and you want a creamy soup. You can slice the onion however you like, I did thin coins as I love the look of it. Once your vegetables are prep’d, add the butter to a heavy-bottom saucepan, medium-large size. I have my enameled dutch oven that I like to use. Then add your onion, give it a stir to coat it with the butter, and lower the heat, covering and allowing to cook down for 15 minutes. Once they begin to look translucent, turn up the heat a bit and uncover, allowing the excess moisture to cook off and reduce to low again to begin to caramelize the onions. Note: the key to successfully caramelizing your onions is to allow them to cook without touching them on a lower setting. Once you see some browning, toss them a bit and repeat until you have some decent color.
Add the potato and squash cubes and toss them all together to coat them with butter and onion, and then add your stock. Don’t cover it. I know intuition will tell you to, but the extreme starch content will almost always cause it to boil over. Be patient, and allow the soup to cook on med until the largest chunks of squash are easily broken apart. When this happens, turn off the heat and let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Get your mixer out and a heat-safe bowl. You could do this in a food processor, but try to stick to glass or metal at this temperature. I don’t want anyone to destroy a food processor because the plastic heats up too much.
Pour the soup into your mixing bowl and add your paddle attachment to break up all the large pieces. Run at the lowest setting (this stuff splashes!) until much smoother. Then switch to your whisk attachment and add your cream while whisking on low. Chunks are okay here, but you get to decide how smooth you want your soup!
Add your nutmeg and dish out to bowls. Garnish and serve!
Notes: You can freeze what’s leftover, there’s nothing in the soup that will be largely affected if you freeze it (like proteins such as chicken or beef would be). You can also spice this up with some cayenne, paprika or chili flakes.
Today it was raining off an on, which in San Diego means it’s probably winter. At least when compared to the 80F Sunday we had last week. On days like these, I aim to make food that heats you from the inside out. And today, that recipe was my tortilla soup with chicken.
Recipe 2: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Notes: This soup is very much adjustable to suit your penchant for spiciness. I accidentally added more jalapeño than I meant, so I had to dull the spice down with a little milk. One of the things I added today that is now permanently a part of the recipe is a can of hominy. It’s a very tasty way to get a ton of vegetables in your diet.
- 1/2 of a large purple onion, diced
- 1 can (14.5 oz-ish) fire-roasted tomatoes (I like the ones with garlic)
- 1 can (15.5 oz-ish) hominy, rinsed.
- 3 teaspoons of minced garlic (I have a container in my fridge)
- 1/2 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 1 ancho or poblano chile, seeded and chopped into thin ribbons.
- 4 chicken “tenders”
- 1 tomatillo, diced (optional, I used an unripe green tomato this evening)
- Salt to taste (give it time to develop first, then salt)
- Cumin to taste (about 2 tsp)
- Water (about 2-3 cups) or chicken broth (better).
- Garnish: avocado cubes, chopped cilantro, fried tortilla strips or crushed chips, and a splash of lime juice.
Gather your ingredients and chop all chiles and the onion. Add a little olive oil to your soup pot (a medium-size saucepan works) and add the garlic. Medium-high heat until the garlic starts to brown, and then add all of your peppers, onion, and tomatillo, stirring here and there until the onions start to look translucent. Then, add the canned tomato and the cumin, stirring to combine and cook until the liquid is almost gone. Add your chicken broth or water to your desired level (no higher than 3 inches from the top of the pot) to deglaze the pan of all the caramelized vegetables, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and the can of hominy and allow to cook down for about 20 minutes. Taste test along the way, and try to pull the chicken apart into shreds.
If it’s too spicy, you can add a little splash of milk to lessen the heat. Keep in mind, the avocado garnish cools the peppers down a bit when you eat a bite.
To serve, spoon some of the soup into a bowl with a mound of the solids in the middle. Roughly chop some cilantro and sprinkle on top, add some cubed avocado or even a dollop of sour cream, then some tortilla strips (crisped or “raw”) and a splash of lime juice. Just be prepared to finish the entire pot that night. Leftovers don’t last with this soup, it’s too tasty!
I encourage you to make it your own. Seriously. Add some paprika or maybe some black olives. Omit the chicken or use beef instead. This soup base is very forgiving. Just watch the heat. I’d avoid serrano chiles in this one, too.