Roasted Fennel Soup

January 18, 2016 § 2 Comments

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Hello everyone, sorry for the absence! Here it is the middle of January already. The days are flying by no matter how hard I try to live in the moment and all that.

I had a lot of recipes I was planning on writing about today but these days it’s all about soup. I find soup making so easy that I’ve always got a big pot of something going. Even a cup of steaming chicken broth helps take the chill off. Sometimes I’ll toss in some fresh parsley or add some of last nights veggies but usually it’s just plain broth.

Always on the lookout for soup ingredients I came home with 2 nice large fennel bulbs. I love fennel when it’s cooked. Raw not so much. A bit overpowering for me. Sambuca, no thank you.

When you cook fennel aka anise, it’s strong flavor mellows and becomes almost sweet. I like roasting it, cut into chunks, alongside root vegetables in a hot oven, tossed with just olive oil and salt and pepper. Or cut in half and tucked under a whole chicken or pork roast. This gratin, made with cream and garlic is my absolute favorite way to eat it.

So back to soup. Simple being my motto, how to make a simple fennel soup? Cut it up, toss with some onions and olive oil and roast. When done, add some stock then puree. Add some cream if you wish. And that is it. Almost doesn’t need a recipe it’s so easy.

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Ingredients:

1 large fennel bulb, fronds cut off and hard core removed

1 large onion

2 to 3 TBL olive oil

1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper

about 3 1/2 cups vegetable, beef or chicken stock

orange zest, fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking pan. I like to use one with sides, keeps the vegetables a bit moister I find.

Coarsely chop the fennel and onion. Toss with the  olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast between 30 and 45 minutes until very tender, tossing occasionally.

When the vegetables are done put them into a good size pot and add the stock. Bring to a boil, the simmer 10 to 15 minutes to meld the flavors.

Pour about 1/4 of this into a blender or food processor. Be very careful when pureeing hot liquids, only do small amounts at a time and cover the top with a kitchen towel. Puree for 10 seconds each time to really break up the vegetables and give it a creamy consistency.

Pour it all back into the soup pot. If you’re a cream lover like me you can now add some fresh heavy cream or half and half. Doesn’t need much, maybe a few tablespoons. Taste for seasoning.

To finish, grate a little orange zest on top and sprinkle with some fresh thyme leaves. Toast a good hearty piece of bread, topped with a slice of gruyere or cheddar and once it’s in your bowl (ovenproof) place under the broiler for a few seconds. Keep your eyes on it, it can burn quickly. Or just grate some cheese on top if you don’t want the bread.

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Happy Winter!

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Guylas Suppe

November 9, 2014 § 2 Comments

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I remember eating Guylas quite often growing up. There are some things I remember not liking too much, like lentils and liver (who did?) but most of my mother’s cooking I loved. And Guylas and Guylas Suppe, aka goulash soup was probably my favorite. Having a Hungarian father paprika was put on almost every dish. Eggs, chicken, fish, even toast with cream cheese had some paprika sprinkled on it. But Guylas has more than a sprinkling, 2 heaping tablespoons go into this, and that’s what gives it it’s unique flavor.

I’ve heard that peppers are very often added, but my mother never put peppers into her Guylas, only meat, lots of onions, carrots and paprika. You could always add them if you’re a pepper fan, me not so much. If you want to make a stew instead of a soup, just cut down on the liquid somewhat. And don’t forget the sour cream, that’s another thing we put on and in everything!

Ingredients:

bacon fat, lard or olive oil for browning the meat, about 3 TBL

1 1/2 lbs beef chuck, cut into small cubes about 1/2 ”

handful of flour, for dusting the meat

2 medium onions, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 TBL tomato paste

2 heaping TBL good sweet Hungarian paprika

1/4 cup red wine

handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp salt and  1/4 tsp pepper

3 cups beef stock or water will do, heated

2 large potatoes. peeled and cut into small pieces, 1/2 ”

sour cream

 

Prepare the meat by salting and dusting with some flour.

In a large soup pot, heat the fat until hot. Add the meat cubes and sear on all sides. Don’t crowd the pot as you’ll end of steaming the meat.

Remove to a plate, add the onions to the remaining fat. You should have enough fat to sauté the onions, if not, add more. Don’t be afraid of fat!

Add the paprika, stir and cook slowly about 10 to 15 minutes until soft.

Add a little bit of red wine now to loosen everything up, then add the garlic, carrots, tomato paste, parsley, salt, pepper, bay leaf and thyme.

Put the meat back in, add the heated stock or water to cover everything, slowly bring to boil.

Turn heat to a simmer and cook about 1 1/2 hours until meat is very tender.

Add the diced potatoes and cook until soft, about another half hour.

Taste for seasoning, put into serving bowl and add a big scoop of sour cream.

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This soup is even better the next day, like so many other things!

 

Makes about 6 large servings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savory Ham Scones with Cheddar and Sage

October 28, 2014 § 5 Comments

 

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It started last evening, a nice warm autumn drizzle which then turned into a whole day of downpours. What I would call a soup day, and I had everything I needed to make my Cabbage, Ham and Potato Soup. So that’s what I did, and as the soup simmered away, I pondered what to do with a little bit of extra ham I had leftover. So since I always have some good Vermont cheddar in the fridge, I came up with this: a savory scone, to slather with butter, to have for breakfast or with breakfast, to grab as a quick snack or just have with that bowl of soup.

It’s a basic recipe and you can easily change the ingredients depending on your mood or what you have in your kitchen. Here’s a few ideas:

Bacon and Onion: cook enough chopped bacon to measure about 3/4 cup, sauté 1/2 minced onion until soft

Apple and Cheddar: a classic, use 1 cup peeled, chopped apple and 1 cup grated cheddar

Sun dried Tomato and Goat Cheese: chop 1 cup drained sun dried tomato and add with about 1 cup crumbled goat cheese

Olive and Pine Nut: chop about 1 cup olives finely, then add 1/2 cup pine nuts at the end

You can change the herbs, try thyme, oregano or lavender, add some sautéed mushrooms, substitute different cheeses (crumbled bleu would be delicious) the list is pretty endless.

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Basic Recipe:

2 cups flour, I use organic white spelt

1 TBL baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 – 2 TBL fresh chopped sage or 3/4 tsp crumbled dried

1 tsp sugar

6 TBL cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped ham

1 egg, beaten

about 1/4 cup heavy cream

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment.

Combine the dry ingredients, including the sage.

Cut in the butter until it resembles small peas, with either your fingers or a pastry cutter.

Add the ham and cheese and stir.

Beat the egg and cream together and add to dry ingredients. Mix well with a fork.

Knead it all together right in the bowl, if it seems a bit dry add a little more cream until it holds together. You don’t want to overwork it, just a few kneads will do.

Pat out on a floured surface and shape into a 7″ disk, about 3/4″ thick.

Transfer to your baking sheet, then using a knife, cut it into 8 wedges, like a pie.

Separate the wedges a bit, then brush with a bit of cream to give it a nice golden crust.

Bake about 18 to 22 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool right on the cookie sheet.

 

These are best served warm, and if by some miracle you have any left over the next day, wrap in foil and heat in a 300 degree oven about 15 minutes.

Makes 8 scones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rustic Cabbage, Ham and Potato Soup

January 8, 2014 § 10 Comments

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I feel like I live in Antarctica. Deep snow and ice everywhere. Frigid temps. Below zero nights and days which is unusual even for Vermont. We are in what’s called a “polar vortex”, kind of a scary sounding term I think. I keep expecting to see some penguins come marching up the road any day now!

This weather is soup weather alright, and I’ve been making some every day for lunch. Might start having it for breakfast too. Yesterday I made some for dinner. I had some ham left over from a delicious smoked ham that came from Sleeping Dog Farm in nearby Wilmington, Vermont. Their beef and pork is pasture raised from heritage breeds and so delicious.

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Anyway I had some of this delicious ham left over, after making dinners and lunches and of course split pea soup with the bone. I just used a few ingredients, potatoes, cabbage and the ham, you don’t need more. If you don’t have any ham you can easily substitute bacon, the thicker cut the better. Try to get the ham in one big piece if you can, rather than sliced.

Now you could easily make this into a stew if you don’t like soup for dinner. Just don’t add as much chicken broth and add more ham. And I suggest making this a day ahead as it really does get much better as it sits awhile. It’s amazing to me how just these three rather plain ingredients can have so much flavor when cooked together. Add some bread and a salad and you have dinner.

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Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped fine

2 pounds potatoes, I like Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into chunks

bacon fat or olive oil for sautéing

about 4 cups chicken stock

2 bay leaves

2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp  pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 head large green cabbage, cut into strips

about 1 cup ham, cut into chunks or 2 or 3 strips bacon

Sauté  the onion in a little bacon fat or olive oil, about a TBL, for a few minutes. Add the cut up potatoes and brown in the fat another few minutes.

Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, salt, pepper and paprika. Bring to a boil then add the cabbage. Bring to boil again and then turn down to a simmer and cook about 45 minutes.

While this is simmering, brown the ham in a little butter. Or cut the bacon into pieces and cook until crispy.

With a potato masher, smush a few potatoes to thicken the soup. Add the ham or bacon and also the drippings, then adjust the seasonings.

Don’t forget to remove bay leaves before serving.

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Best enjoyed while looking out the window at the snow and ice!

Tortellini and Bean Soup

October 26, 2013 § 5 Comments

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The weather has finally caught up with the calendar I’m sorry to say. It’s almost November and we just now had out first frost. So far it’s been a warm, beautiful fall, some days in the 70’s but all good things must come to an end, said somebody. A pessimist I’m sure.

Well, summer has come to an end, fall is quickly turning to winter and there’s at least one good thing about cold weather I like, cooking hearty stews, roasts, casseroles and of course, soups. Foods that can simmer away on the stove while you’re doing other things, filling the house with wonderful aromas.

I’m getting carried away a little, back to soups. I always make sure to have the basic ingredients on hand, especially homemade chicken stock, so I have everything I need when the soup making mood strikes, as it did when I went shopping the other day and ended up buying some tortellini to add to the soup that was now simmering in my mind.

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This tortellini and bean soup is very satisfying, almost like a stew, perfect after a long walk out in the cold. And I’ve given you a long and short version of it. If you can, soak your fresh beans the night before. That’s the long version. If not, you can use canned. But the soaked bean version is so much better and not any harder, just takes a little longer to cook.

Long version:

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped into large pieces

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 cup dried beans, soaked overnight (navy, cannellini, lima, black, etc.) I used cannellini

6 cups good chicken stock

herbs like thyme, oregano, sage, about 1 tsp each dried, or you can use fresh also

1 bay leaf

1 small piece Parmesan rind

1 small piece of kelp (helps to soften and makes beans more digestible. Also adds vital iodine

salt and pepper, usually about 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and roughly chopped

1 pkg tortellini, cheese or meat filled (frozen is ok, no need to defrost when adding to soup)

fresh parsley or cilantro

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and herbs in a little bit of olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the soaked and drained beans, the chicken stock, bay leaf, Parmesan rind and kelp. Add some salt and pepper. Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer, covered, until beans are done, anywhere from 45 minutes to over 2 hours, depending on the beans you use. Keep checking to make sure you have enough liquid, if needed add more stock or water. Keep testing them and when almost done, add the Swiss chard and tortellini to the pot. Bring to simmer again and cook about another 10 minutes or until tortellini is done. Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaf. Take a small amount of the beans out and mash them up, then return to the pot. The kelp will now be very soft and almost dissolve as you stir the soup.

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley or cilantro.

Short version: 

Same ingredients except for the beans, use 2 cans cooked organic beans of your choice, drained.

Sauté the first 4 ingredients and herbs in some olive oil about 10 minutes. Add the stock, bay leaf, Parmesan rind and kelp, add salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook about 30 minutes. Add the drained beans, Swiss chard and tortellini to the pot. Continue to cook until tortellini is done, about 10 minutes or so. Remove the rind and bay leaf, then take out some beans and mash them up to thicken it. The kelp will be very soft and break up as you stir the soup.

Top with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

You know you can vary this in many ways. Add some leftover meat from last night’s dinner, or other kinds of pasta. Add some potatoes to the simmering broth. Throw in some tomatoes, either fresh cherry or whole peeled canned. But don’t forget the Parmesan!

cracker bread

Asparagus Soup with Poached Egg and Bacon

April 2, 2013 § 8 Comments

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It’s a bit early for asparagus here in Vermont. Though the snowdrops are up here by the house, my vegetable garden is still under a foot of snow right now even with all the nice weather we’ve been having. Up here on the hill spring comes late, and I don’t pick asparagus until June. But it’s spring somewhere because I’ve noticed it in all the markets now and the price is irresistible, so I bought several large bunches. I immediately thought of a nice, creamy asparagus soup, springtime in a bowl!

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Of course the secret to a good soup is, you guessed it, a good stock. Though you could make this and most soups with water in a pinch, water is water, great stuff but not much flavor. The difference in taste is so worth the small effort it takes to make a batch and have it in the freezer when you need it. So that, an onion, some garlic and the asparagus is pretty much it for this soup.

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Now if you wanted a little something extra, like I did, eggs and bacon would be it. When the soup is finished, poach an egg, slip it into the soup and top it with the crispy, salty stuff. The runny egg yolk, bacon and asparagus all blend together for one delicious cup of soup.

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Ingredients:

About 1 1/2 to 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed of the tough ends, cut into smallish pieces. (You probably know how to trim it,  just hold it on each end, bend, and it will break at the right place)

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

3 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper

butter for sautéing

a slice or two of bacon, chopped fine

about 1/2 cup heavy cream

1 organic pastured egg

Parmesan cheese for grating on top (optional)

To make the soup:

First cook the bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels when done. Set aside.

Saute the onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of butter. I used 3.

Do this a few minutes until soft, the add the asparagus and cook a few more minutes until nicely coated with butter.

Now add the stock and bay leaf, about 1/2 tsp salt and a large pinch of pepper.

Bring to boil, then turn down and simmer, partially covered, for about and hour and a half. Yes, that’s right. This long cooking time really develops the flavors.

Puree in food processor until smooth. If you like, take out a few spears for garnish before you puree. Make sure to remove the bay leaf. You can put through a food mill to make sure no stringy parts remain. Young, tender asparagus won’t need this step. This will also make the soup quite a bit thinner and  the egg won’t sit at the top.

Return to pot, keep warm, and add the cream.

Taste for seasoning.

When ready to serve, poach an egg. Ladle the soup into a bowl, add the egg and top with some crumbled bacon.

Add a grating of Parmesan cheese.

Happy Spring!

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Pork and Cabbage Soup

March 16, 2013 § 6 Comments

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Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and there are many blogs out there creating all kinds of unique and interesting (and some strange) recipes. I am going to stick with a simple soup made with these traditionally Irish ingredients, potatoes and cabbage.

I did want to add some meat to this and lamb would be the proper choice, but I had no lamb. I did have some country style spare ribs sitting in the fridge and since pork and cabbage are a match made in heaven, I’m sure St. Patrick would approve. So into the pot they went.

Sorry there’s not much green in this dish, but I was wearing a green apron!

So here’s my simple recipe:

few slices bacon

3 nice, meaty country style spare ribs, bone in

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 rib celery, chopped

2 TBL apple cider vinegar

2 to 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or even water if you don’t have)

2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish chunks

1 small head green cabbage ( I used Savoy) finely sliced

parsley

Spices:

1 dried chili pepper (optional)

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp rosemary

3 juniper berries

1 clove

salt and pepper

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Cut the bacon into smallish pieces, boil for a few minutes in water to remove some of the smoky flavor. Drain.

Put the bacon into a pot and saute until crisp. You may need to add a little fat to get it going. Remove.

Salt and pepper the ribs well and brown them in the hot fat on all sides to seal in the juices. Remove.

Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan and saute a few minutes until soft.

Return the bacon and meat to the pan and add the vinegar and stock. I say 2 to 3 cups here as you can make this a very soupy dish or make it more like a stew if you wish. But you do want the ribs immersed in the liquid.

Add the spices and a little more salt, about 1/2 tsp.

Bring to a slow boil and then cover and simmer for a good hour and a half.

Add the cut up potatoes and cabbage and let it all simmer together for another 45 minutes.

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Shred the meat from the bones, return to the soup.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Keep an eye out for the clove and juniper berries when it’s done and remove them, don’t want to bite into that!

Add a little chopped parsley for that touch of green.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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