Saturday, January 31, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper and Cheddar Soup

This is the soup that I served at my Foodbuzz 24,24,24 dinner last week and everyone loved it. I didn't make enough for the help (my other kids and I) to have any and I was really sorry I hadn't.

Roasted Red Pepper and Cheddar Soup

Serves 8 as an appetizer or 4 for a meal
Printable Recipe

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh red pepper
1/4 cup flour
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper (a.k.a. pimento)
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Extra roasted red pepper - diced fine - for garnish

1. Melt butter in a soup pot and add onion, celery and fresh red pepper. Saute for several minutes until onion and celery are translucent.
2. Add flour and stir until smooth. Add stock and 1/4 cup roasted red pepper.
3. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until vegetables are tender - about 20 minutes.
4. Strain soup with cheesecloth and return to pot.
5. Return soup to simmering and add milk and cheddar cheese.
6. Whisk until cheese is melted. Thicken if needed with a flour and water slurry.
7. Salt to taste and serve with chopped pimento on top.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bean and Pepper Soup

I have this thing for peppers and the more colorful they are, the better. I've combined 3 colors with white beans for a pretty and tasty bowl!

Bean and Pepper Soup
Serves 6-8
Printable Recipe

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
3 large peppers - one red, one yellow and one green - chopped
1 large carrot - peeled and diced
1 large tomato - seeded and diced
1 pound navy beans - cooked
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 teaspoon dry oregano
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large heavy soup pot. Add onion, garlic and peppers. Saute until softened.
2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes until flavors blend. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Vietnamese Pho

What in the world is Pho (properly pronounced, 'fuh')? According to everyone who has ever had it, it's near Heaven on Earth. Pho is Vietnamese noodle soup, commonly eaten for breakfast but equally good at any moment of the day.

Pho is one of those dishes that spurs on much discussion, from how long to cook the broth to exactly which garnishes are best and whether or not chicken Pho counts as 'real Pho'.

Never mind all that - the answers to everything you'd like to know about Pho are at Andrea Nguyen's website. Andrea Nguyen is the author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors and keeper of Viet World Kitchen. For Pho, there are three separate posts; the history and evolution, the secrets and techniques and the beef Pho recipe. I highly suggest reading all three, in the order given, before you undertake the making of Pho.

I'll let you get the recipe there and I'll simply tell you what I did that may or may not be different from the recipe that Ms. Nguyen offers.

1. For beef bones, I purchased cows feet. They are full of marrow, fat and flavor and the stock I got from them was perfect.

2. I didn't only char the onions and ginger, I also charred the bones. It may be habit from my own beef stock making, but I think the char on the bones adds to the overall flavor.

3. The rice noodles I used were labeled as 'Pad Thai' - which you can certainly use them for, but don't be fooled by the name, they're the same rice noodles used for many, many dishes.

4. There are no peppers in my photo, that's simply because the kids aren't big on the heat factor and that was one of their bowls.

5. Ms. Nguyen is RIGHT about the 3-hour simmer for the stock. The only reason it seems as if simmering longer is more flavorful is that there is evaporation and consequent concentration of the stock. If the full amount of liquid were to remain, you'd see that 3 hours is sufficient to extract the necessary flavors for this.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chicken Florentine Soup

I really enjoy Chicken Florentine (anything Florentine for that matter!) so deconstructing it for soup seemed like a good idea. It was! Don't leave out the shallots or garlic or the flavor won't be the same. Shallots are like a perfect blend of garlic and onion or leek and add a depth you don't get from just garlic. Even equal parts garlic and onion wouldn't be the same, so please try to find them for this.

Chicken Florentine Soup
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
All-purpose flour for coating
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons shallots, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 6-ounce package baby spinach - chopped

1. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and toss with flour to coat each piece.
2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy soup pot. Add shallots and garlic and cook briefly.
3. Add chicken and cook until browned.
4. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.
5. Pour the wine into the pot and stir and cook, breaking up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
6. Add chicken stock, spinach and chicken.
7. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.
8. At this point you can thicken the soup with a flour and water slurry. Once thickened, add cream, and simmer for another 10 minutes before serving.