carrot-ginger soup

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Took a break from the turkey leftovers and made this carrot-ginger soup–without a recipe! It’s got my favorite seasonings: ginger, garlic, and scallions, the trinity of Chinese cooking. To make a sweeter soup,  add about 2 cups pumpkin. No need to increase the liquid; the additional vegetable makes the soup thicker. To make this vegan, use vegetable stock instead of chicken.

Carrot-Ginger Soup
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

4 medium carrots, scraped and chopped into rounds that are quartered
2 medium potatoes, cubed
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used 1 bouillon cube and 3 cups water)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, slivered
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cream
herbs, e.g thyme
scallions bias cut for garnish

Special Equipment: immersion blender

In a medium aluminum saucepan or small dutch oven put the carrots, potatoes, broth, ginger, and garlic. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer 45 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are fork tender. Insert immersion blender in the pot and puree the vegetables until the soup is smooth and thick.

Cook’s Note: Because of the immersion blender I recommend using an aluminum sauce pan.If you don’t have an immersion blender use a food processor or blender to puree the soup in small batches.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, thyme, and cream. I use a bit more than 1/4 cup cream to make a creamier soup. Spoon into bowls and garnish with scallions.

navy bean soup with onion, celery, garlic, and thyme

navy bean soup

Navy Bean Soup with Onion, Celery, Garlic, and Thyme (adapted from allrecipes.com)

Prep time: 12 hours and 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Ingredients
1 lb package dried navy beans
6 cups low sodium chicken stock (best if home-made)
4 cups water
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bay leaf
2-4 stalks fresh thyme
4-6 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley as garnish, if desired
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Put navy beans in a large bowl and cover it with enough water to reach 4 inches above the top of the beans. Cover and leave out overnight.

The next day, drain and rinse the beans. Combine beans, stock, water, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf and 2 stalks thyme in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer, partly covered, for 1 hour.

Discard the bay leaf and thyme stalks. Spoon out half the soup into a large bowl. Puree the soup and return it to the rest of the soup in the pot. The soup will be thickened and pale orange in color. Add enough tomato paste to the pot to get the desired red color. Simmer 45 minutes.  Add additional thyme, if desired, but this time, pull the leaves off the stalks. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley, if using.

Variations

  • Add cubed ham to the soup
  • Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock

Italian meatball soup with orzo, spinach, and carrots

I went the extra mile for this recipe I adapted from dashrecipes.com!  I had the time this afternoon so I made a vegetable soup stock from scratch, using leeks, celery, garlic, and carrots, seasoned with bay leaf, fresh tarragon, and thyme. For additional flavor, I added a teaspoon of organic Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base. If not for that detour, this recipe would be quick and easy. Of course, to save time, I used the carrots from the stock in the meatball soup, and saved the rest of the vegetables for puréeing later. I will add the purée to the remaining stock for flavor.  I recommend serving this soup with a simple salad or hot crusty bread for a light supper.

Italian Meatball Soup with Orzo, Spinach and Carrots
INGREDIENTS:

1⁄2 lb ground sirloin
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
5 1/2 cups light chicken broth (reduced-sodium, fat-free)
2 cups fresh spinach (no stems)
3⁄4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1/2 cup chopped carrot
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. In small bowl, combine ground sirloin, egg, Panko, cheese, basil, and onion powder. Using a teaspoon, shape into 1-inch balls.

2. In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add meatballs and cook 10 minutes on simmer. Stir in the orzo and carrot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the meatballs are done. About a minute before the meatballs are done, add the spinach. Serve topped with additional Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

central park challenge and a simple supper

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A fine mizzle was falling across Central Park when we arrived in the early morning for the YAI Central Park Challenge. We had signed  up for the 3K walk through the park. The meeting point was at 72nd and Central Park West but we saw no signs. Everyone was going into the park so we just followed everyone in until we saw the tents. Not long afterwards, the sun came out. It was a beautiful day–cool and sunny. I thought how two weeks ago we saw the park as a resource fit for the dinner table. Today, the park was a green oasis in the city for exercising, for having fun, and relaxation. And so, to cap an active day, we had a simple supper of homemade vegetable soup with chicken and ham, and romaine hearts with grape tomatoes served with Hugo’s sushi vinegar dressing. The dressing is mild and slightly tart. Simply delicious.


Hugo’s Sushi Vinegar Dressing

2 parts sushi vinegar
1 part extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil

thai beef soup with buckwheat noodles

I was walking through the courtyard earlier this week, taking a shortcut through the basement, when I smelled star anise and cinnamon. I thought instantly of Thai beef soup or kao lao. I knew I had to make it this week, even though it’s been years since I last tried. From my years living in Thailand, I know that when it is served with noodles then it’s called kway tieow. I decided to cook it, kway tieow style with Japanese soba or buckwheat noodles, which are higher in fiber and protein, iron and calcium than the traditional rice noodles. Soba like rice noodles is gluten free.  There is  a nutrition comparison of soba and rice noodles on skipthepie.org. If you’re simply watching the calories, as I am, then it’s important to consider that a half cup soba has twice as many calories as rice noodles.

Thai Beef Soup (Kao Lao) with Buckwheat Noodles (Soba)

Makes 4 servings

For Cooking

7 cups water
1 lb stewing beef, boneless, trimmed of visible fat, and cut into chunks
1 whole star anise or 4 cloves star anise
2 whole sticks cinnamon
3-4 whole peeled large garlic cloves
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons molasses or thick dark soy sauce

For Serving

1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and picked over
2 cups buckwheat noodles, cooked al dente
Fish sauce
Sugar
Sambal or chili paste
1 lime, quartered
2 scallions, finely sliced on the diagonal
1/3-1/2 cup cilantro, minced

Combine the beef, star anise, cinnamon, and garlic in 7 cups water. Cover loosely. Put two wooden chopsticks across the top of the pot and rest the lid on top of the chopsticks. Bring to a simmer on the stove. After 1 hour, stir the soup and skim the broth of large floating particles. You want a clear broth with tiny particles suspended in the soup when it is stirred. Remove the chopsticks and cover the pot. Once covered, the pot will boil vigorously and some water will boil out. Continue cooking on low heat for 1/2 hour.

Add the fish sauce, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and molasses. Taste. It should be slightly salty and sweet. Adjust seasonings, if you wish. Continue cooking on low heat to develop the flavors, until beef is tender and falls apart easily with a fork, about 2 hours. Discard the cinnamon sticks, garlic, and star anise.  Serve.

To serve, divide bean sprouts and noodles among 4 large bowls. Ladle beef soup over. Serve with little saucers of fish sauce, sugar, sambal, lime, scallions, and cilantro at the table, to season each individual bowl according to taste.

Berghoff lentil soup

A friend in Chicago gave me a copy of the cookbook from this famous Chicago German restaurant, now closed. This recipe is from that book. I went straight to the soups.  I like lentils because unlike other dried beans, they don’t need to be soaked before cooking and they cook up fairly quickly. I halved the recipe because I am not feeding a crew of eight and I did want leftovers; just not that much. I used low fat turkey ham instead.

I also made my own chicken stock in a 3 quart saucepan using the bones from two chicken breasts, a two-inch piece of ginger, two chopped scallions, and 3 whole cloves of garlic. I cooked it for 1 1/2 hours on low heat, then strained the broth, discarding the solids. Then I set the pot aside. All this is prelude to

Berghoff lentil soup
2 teaspoons canola oil
¾ cup diced onion
2-4 teaspoons minced garlic
¾ cup diced celery
¾ cup diced carrots
4 cups chicken stock
¾-1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 large bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup diced ham (use turkey ham)
1 cup canned diced tomatoes in juice
3 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

In a 3 or 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute. Add the celery and carrots and continue to sauté for 1 minute. [Cook’s tip: since I am already using the saucepan for the stock, I used a large skillet, like my 12 inch Calphalon Everyday skillet to sauté the vegetables]

Add the stock, lentils, bay leaves, and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer 1 ½ to 2 hours or until the lentils are tender. [Cook’s tip: Instead of adding the stock to the skillet, I added the vegetables to the stock in the saucepan]

Stir in the ham and tomato and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach and adjust the seasonings; simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and serve with grated Parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired.

low salt vietnamese rice noodle soup with meat

Vietnamese rice noodle soup or pho is a light soup. And most people would agree that it’s “light”  because it doesn’t have cream in it. It has low-sodium chicken broth from a can in it.  It’s true that canned low-sodium chicken broth is more convenient, but let’s talk about how much salt is good for you. According to the Mayo Clinic we should consume 2300mg salt per day or 1500mg if you are over 51. If you use canned low-sodium broth and use the fish sauce (1/4 cup), salt (to taste), and soy sauce (2 tablespoons low sodium)  in the amounts given in the original recipe, then you will consume between 1440-1450mg sodium per serving. So I made many changes to this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Light and Healthy cookbook.  I made the soup using home-made broth as its base. I have also cut down the fish sauce as well as  eliminated the soy sauce and the sugar–you don’t need it if the salt is reduced. And, I suggest tasting the soup before adding any more salt or seasoning sauce.

Broth (home-made)
2 onions, minced, about 2 cups
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4-8 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemongrass stalk, bottom 5 inches only, trimmed and sliced thin (See note)

Note: Cut off and discard all but the bottom 5 inches. Trim the stem end. Peel and discard any discolored sheaths on the stalk. Split the stalk in half lengthwise then mince each half crosswise.

1 teaspoon canola oil
4 chicken wing tips
10 cups water
2-4 star anise pods
2-4 whole cloves
Salt and pepper

Noodles, Meat, Garnish
12 oz (1/4 inch wide) dried flat rice noodles
3 cups bean spouts
1 cup fresh Thai basil (see note)

Note: You can substitute Italian basil. Simply roll a bundle of  leaves into a cigar-shape then slice thinly.

1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves only (see note)

Note: Wash and dry a bunch of cilantro. Holding the stems in one hand and resting the leaves lightly on the cutting board, slice downward with a sharp knife to take off the leaves.

2 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
1 fresh Thai, Serrano, or jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded if desired, and minced
1 lime, cut into wedges
12 ounces beef or pork tenderloin, sliced 1/4 inch thick medallions. If you wish, you can slice larger medallions in half.

  1. For the broth. I combined the onions, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, garlic, lemongrass, and oil in a large pot. Two large pots, actually, since the Teeny Tiny Kitchen needs a Dutch oven.  Then I covered the pots and cooked the onion mixture over medium  low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions  softened, 8 to 10 minutes. I turned up the heat to medium and added the chicken wings then sautéed them until they were no longer pink. I reduced the e heat to low and covered the pot(s) again. I simmered the chicken 20 minutes to release their juices. Meanwhile I froze the beef or pork so it will slice easier.
  2. While the chicken was simmering, I boiled the water in a kettle.  To the chicken mixture in the pots, I stirred in the boiling water, star anise, and cloves and simmered again. I covered the pots and reduced the heat to low, cooking until the flavors blended, about 20 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, I strained the broth, discarding the solids, tasting and adjusting seasonings with fish sauce or salt and pepper. I combined the two pots of  broth into a clean pot.
  3. For the noodles, meat and garnish. I boiled 4 quarts water in a large pot. I removed the pot from the heat, added the noodles, and let them sit, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender but still chewy, about 6-10 minutes. Don’t let the noodles sit too long. By this time, the meat was ready for slicing.
  4. Immediately I drained the noodles, dividing them evenly among individual serving bowls, topping each with 1/2 cup of the bean sprouts, and set them aside. Next I arranged the basil, cilantro, scallions, chili, and lime wedges on a plate and set them aside for garnishes.
  5. To cook the meat, I returned the strained broth to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduced the heat to low. I added the meat to the broth and braised it until it was no longer pink, about 1 minute. Here’s a tip: I dunked the meat in the soup using a Chinese cooking strainer.  Ladle the hot soup over the noodles and serve, passing the garnishes separately. The meat should have that just-tender melt-in-the-mouth feel so don’t overcook it!

Per 1 1/2 cup serving: Cal 360; Fat 5g; Sat fat 1.5g; Chol 40mg; Carb 60g; Protein 18g; Fiber 2g; Sodium 1440mg (these figures will vary if you make your own broth)

Variation

  • Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup with Chicken. Follow the recipe for Low Salt Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup with Meat by substituting 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts with the broth in step 2 and simmering until the chicken registers 160-165˚F on an instant-read thermometer, 10-15 minutes. Remove the breasts from the broth before straining. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite size pieces. Substitute the shredded chicken for the meat in step 5.

Per 1 1/2 cup serving: Cal 340; Fat 2.5g; Sat fat 0g; Chol 35mg; Carb 60g; Protein 18g; Fiber 2g; Sodium 1450mg (These calculations will vary if you make your own broth)