Monday, June 29, 2009

Carrot and Zucchini Soup with Basil

This is the simplest of soups to make. Start with fresh, organic carrots (when available) and zucchini; add a sweet onion and a bit of basil to create a soup delicious both hot and cold.

I had my pick of herbs for this, and although dill seems to be prevalent in carrot soup, I really love basil paired with carrots, so I added it here and it works beautifully. The zucchini adds some depth and creaminess without any dairy needing to be added and the Vidalia is the perfect sweet note.

Carrot and Zucchini Soup with Basil
Printable Recipe
Serves 4

1 Tablespoon neutral oil
1 cup diced Vidalia onion
2 cups peeled and diced carrots (about 4 large)
2 cups diced zucchini - remove seeds if they are large
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon sweetener such as sugar, honey or agave syrup
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly chopped basil

1. In a large, heavy soup pot, saute onion in oil until translucent.
2. Add carrots, zucchini and stock.
3. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
4. Strain solids from stock and puree in a blender, with basil and sweetener added, until very smooth.
5. Add puree back to stock and stir well. Strain with a fine sieve, salt to taste and serve hot or cold.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Collard Green Soup

I think collard greens are the best green in the world and they make a lovely soup. With small white beans added, it's substantial enough as a full-meal soup along with a fresh loaf of bread. Leave out the meat and it will still stand on its own as a vegan soup.

Collard Green Soup
Printable Recipe
Serves 4-6

1 pound collard greens
smoked meat bones such as ham hock or turkey necks
8 cups stock - vegetable or chicken works well
2 cups cooked small white beans
2 cups cooked ham - diced
1 large bunch green onions - sliced thinly
1 clove garlic - minced
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt to taste

1. Clean collards by removing the heavy stem and center vein - chop small
2. Combine collards with stock and smoked bones. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes or until collards are tender.
3. Remove bones and add remaining ingredients. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beautiful Soup: Gazpacho

Beautiful Soup: Gazpacho
Gazpacho is a soup that screams 'summer' like no other. Bright with flavor and cool to the palate, it pairs very well with sangria on a sultry summer evening. Alice B. Toklas refered to this as, 'Beautiful soup'. This version is adapted from the one we used regularly at the school's restaurant.

Feel free to spice it up with a jalapeno pepper or a dash of cayenne.

Serves 8 as an appetizer or 4 for a light dinner

2 large very ripe tomatoes concassè (peeled, seeded and diced)
1/2 onion diced
1/2 large green pepper diced
1/2 large red pepper diced
1/2 large yellow pepper diced
1 cucumber peeled, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic minced
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1 T lime juice
2 c tomato juice
2 c consomme or beef stock (cold any flavor of stock works)

Puree all together until smooth. Add garnish (below) and chill for several hours. Serve topped with fried croutons if desired.


1 c tomato concasse (peeled, seeded, diced)
2 c peppers (green, red, yellow) diced
1 c peeled and seeded cucumber diced
1 c scallions sliced thin
1 T fresh dill minced
1 T fresh cilantro minced

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cathy's Shrimp, Corn and Tomato Stew with Cheese Crackers

I found this recipe in a recent issue of Country Living and knew immediately I would love the finished product. I was so right; this stew is divine; rich, thick and perfectly summer. This is one of the recipes in the newly released Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana by Donald Link of Cochon and Paula Disbrowe. I haven't read it yet, but after this stew graced my dinner table, I can't wait to get my hands on it.

I thought the perfect accompaniment to this beautiful stew was these cheese 'cookies' from Costa Rica. My friend Steve (please see his beautiful work here: shared the recipe on he and his wife's return home from a vacation in Costa Rica where he had these. They are very similar to cheese crackers I make to serve with chicken stew, so I knew they would be just right with this. It needed translation, but Google Translate, Ben of What's Cooking? and Bren at Flanboyant Eats were more than happy to do that for me - Thanks, Steve, Ben and Bren!

The only thing I did differently here was to leave the vegetables a little larger than the recommended 'finely chopped'. Either way, this is fabulous.

Cathy's Shrimp, Corn and Tomato Stew
Printable Recipe
Makes 8 Servings

4 pounds medium (16-20 count) shrimp
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
5 cups shrimp stock or chicken broth
2 tablespoons salt
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), finely chopped

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking almost constantly, just until the roux is a light peanut butter color and the aroma of the roux starts to fill the room, 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, stock, salt, bay leaves, basil, thyme, pepper, and paprika and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the peeled shrimp, parsley, and scallions. Bring the stew back to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow stew to stand for 15 minutes to meld flavors, taste and adjust seasonings as desired, and serve.

I used cheddar cheese for the crackers and simply flattened them with my hand instead of using a fork. I also didn't get the 80-100 cookies that the original recipe says it should yield - I got about 50.

Original Cheese Cracker Recipe:


- 230 gramos (8 oz) mantequilla
- 1/8 cta. pimienta
- 1 cta. sal
- 1cda, paprika
- 5 gotas tabasco
- 2 tazas harina
-230 gramos (8 oz) queso gouda rallado
- 2 tazas Rice Krispis sin azucar.

Cremar la mantequilla con pimienta, sal, paprika y tabasco. Luego agregar queso, mezclar bien y agregar harina, , apartar de la batidora y agregar el Rice Krispis. batir para mezclarlo. Apretar la masa con la mano. Hacer bolitas del tamafio de una mora. Poner en cazolejas engrasadas, presionando con un tenedor cada una. Hornear a 350 degrees(F) por 11 o 12 minutos. Enfriar bien para envasar. Pueden prepararse con various dias de anticipacion para bocas. (80-100 unidades).


Cheese Biscuits with Rice Krispies
Printable Recipe

8 oz. butter
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. paprika
5 drops of Tabasco sauce
2 cups flour
8 0z. grated Gouda cheese
2 cups Rice Krispies without sugar

Cream butter with salt, pepper, paprika and Tabasco. Add cheese, blend well while adding flour. Add the Rice Krispies and knead mixture with hands. Make balls the size of a blackberry. Grease your baking sheet and place balls on them, giving them enough room to separate. Using fork, press each ball down. Bake on 350 (f) for 11-12 minutes. Refrigerate. You can make these a few days in advance.