Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

Translated as 'pasta with beans' and known as 'Pasta Fazool' in Philly, this soup that has so many variations I can't count them. Everyone has a family favorite recipe and each one is the 'right' one. This is the way I like it - sometimes with red kidney beans and larger chunks of tomato - but always with lots of garlic.

Pasta e Fagioli
Printable Recipe
Serves 8

4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion - chopped
2 stalks celery - chopped
2 medium carrots - peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic - minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 handful freshly chopped parsley
4 cups cooked cannellini beans
1 cup crushed tomato
1 cup small pasta such as ditalini, small elbows or small shells
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and turn the heat low. Stir and cook until softened - take your time with this step, it will add a lot of flavor. Keep the heat low - it takes about 10 minutes or so.

2. Add stock, parsley and bay leaf and bring to a boil - reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until veggies are tender.

3. Bring to a boil again and add beans, tomato and pasta. Reduce heat once more and cook until pasta is done - about 20 minutes longer.

4. Take off heat and add Parmesan. Stir well and serve with more Parmesan for the top.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Green Chili with Chicken

Chili is one of my favorite meals; warm, comforting and very filling. There are also so many different versions to choose from that chili once a week would be very doable without repeats.

This one is my own take on green chili. Although I chose to use a green salsa, you can easily use 5 small tomatillos - seeded and diced - and a jalapeno pepper - seeded and minced - to substitute for the bottled sauce. This is pretty high on the heat scale, as well, but the sour cream and cheese help to tame the spice a bit.

Green Chili with Chicken
Printable Recipe
Serves 8

2 Tablespoons neutral oil - such as vegetable
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast - cut into large chunks
1 medium white or yellow onion - diced
1 green bell pepper - seeded and diced
1 bunch green onions - sliced - green and white parts
4 cloves garlic - minced
2 large stalks celery - diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa verde
1 small can diced green chiles
2 cans (or 3 cups) cannelini beans - drained
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot and cook onion, green bell pepper, green onion, celery and garlic until fragrant and starting to soften.
2. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink.
3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft and chili is thickened.
4. Remove bay leaf, adjust seasoning and serve with sour cream and shredded cheese.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Soup

The soup I'm going to be sharing with you today is not just any soup. The recipe comes from my friend, Danny, the man to whom this marvelous concoction owes its existence to.

I made up a half batch of it today (and you'll see why I only made half) and the whole time I was putting it together I kept thinking that it seemed familiar, and it does. Back in the late 80's to early 90's (that's 1900's, kids) there was a soup that everyone in the world who was trying to lose weight made. It started with tomato juice and built up with veggies until it was a seething mass of who-knows-what. It wasn't bad overall, but it lacked any real flavor that would keep a person wanting more. It was rather bland, as soups go, and for all that was dumped into the pot, it really should have had more 'oomph' to it.

Enter Danny. I'll let you get the story in his own words in a moment, but - in a nutshell - he took a similar soup and morphed it into a very fusion-flavored thing that actually leaves you feeling full for longer than the requisite 30 minutes that other 'diet' soups give you.

This soup is a thing of legend among Dan's friends and acquaintances, and having not been shared until now, has been carefully guarded by Danny himself and I have been lucky enough to have him share it with me and then allow me to pass it on. I know there are people out there who have been waiting for this.

Without further ado - here's the scoop:

The story is that many years ago, my doctor put me on a very low sodium diet and, with my background as a sous in Philly, it got me back into cooking by necessity. I went back to complimenting flavors between acidic and sweet, savory and tart, etc.. Given that I needed something to fill me up, but not high-calorie, I started with a vibe of a "Hobo Stew," but without the meat. My brother had something similar in his fitness diet that seemed like a good idea, but I knew that I could blend some flavors in ways that would provide more flavor and health benefits. The idea was to take a big pot of water and start tossing fresh vegetables into it and see what happens. Personally, I use low sodium V8 and I like to toss in a few gulf shrimp at the end with a pinch of mozzarella cheese when serving, but it's great over rice, noodles or just plain, too.

Over the years, I found myself tweaking this without ever writing down what I'd done, but my doctor (who LOVES this soup, by the way) suggested that I offer the recipe to other patients online. The mix of sweetness, citrus, spicy, savory, and the ability to be seasonal made it right for anything from gumbos to curries to vegetable soup with barley so I began to cook it for friends as well. Once that happened, people began to demand the recipe and, given that I wanted to share it through someone I know and trust, I found my way to you.

I'm told that it needs to be shared and that's the nature of a good soup, I think. This, like so many soups, is one of those that gets better on the second and third days. My friends continue to say that my soup rocked their worlds and/or changed their lives (especially if they are patients of some specific care who all seem to be able to eat this with little modification), I'm very proud of this particular recipe. It is energizing, both filling and light at the same time, plus good for you. A cup in the afternoon, late at night, or as a meal in-and-of-itself. To me, it's just my soup.

Thanks mucho!!


No, Dan - Thank YOU!

Here's the soup...

Daniel East's Rock Your World Veggie Chowder
Most people THINK they may not like this...until they taste it. Don't look, just cook!
Printable Recipe


1 Lg bottle V8 juice (low sodium or regular ok)
2 cups water
4 med tomatoes diced
2 cups sliced oyster mushrooms
2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
2 cups sliced portabella mushrooms
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
2 cups chopped or sliced fresh carrots
2 cup chopped broccoli
2 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic
2 small cans black beans – drained (not black bean soup - if you have time to soak dried ones,
even better)
1/2 cup of finely grated fresh ginger
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp Liquid Summer Hot Sauce -
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sugar or 1 pk Splenda®
NOTE: if you must add salt, use sea salt or kosher salt to taste.


• Using a 8 qt or larger pot, pour in the V8 & water with heat on HIGH.
• Add all veggies (except ginger) and bring to a rolling boil.
• Stirring often, continue boiling until foam begins to appear.
• Add the OJ, vinegar & black beans.
• Once mushrooms have reduced, add all remaining ingredients & continue boiling/stirring for 1 hr until veggies are tender.
• Reduce to a simmer and cover. Once it thickens (approx. 1 hr.), check seasoning for taste.
• Continue stirring and serve while hot.

NOTE: DO NOT add too much pepper as it expands when heated and may get fairly spicey!
ALSO: Each time you heat and reheat, the mixture thickens and continues to break down.
ADD ONS: Great over brown rice or with a little shredded cheddar, shrimp and/or meat, etc.

Copyright ©2003-2009 Daniel M. East. All rights reserved.

*This is being posted simultaneously at Cooking with Anne today.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Book Review: Love Soup

When I started this blog a year ago, my reasons then were the same as they are today; soup is frugal, soup is simple and soup is loved. Anna Thomas has made her own very similar feelings known in her newest cookbook, Love Soup, 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes from the Author of The Vegetarian Epicure.

Vegetarian and omnivore alike will find recipes to treasure in this book, along with tips on cooking and serving soup. I love the reasons behind the start of soup-making in Anna Thomases life, beginning with a very small temporary kitchen and ending with a renewed love for soup and renewed bonds with friends around the soup table.

Please don't let the fact that these are vegetarian recipe dissuade you from looking at this book. The soups are all complex enough in flavor to stand on their own and lest you think not, there is a whole section titled 'From Soup to Meal' that will take any one of those delicious soups to a glorious and full repast for even the heartiest of appetites.

I chose the 'Green Soup' for two reasons; first is the fact that Anna Thomas wrote often of it in the beginning of the book and with such a fondness that I found myself wanting a bowl right then. The second reason is that it's the mother of several other soups, each one as delicious as the first.

I also picked her Black Bean Quesadillas because I thought they would go wonderfully with that particular soup, and I was right. What a wonderful meal!

Here are the recipes for both, reprinted with permission courtesy of Anna Thomas, Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes from the Author of The
Vegetarian Epicure, and W. W. Norton & Company.

Green Soup
The Original
Printable Recipe

This is one of the first green soups I made, and the template for many that followed: loads of greens, some caramelized onion, a potato, and a bit of lemon juice and cayenne to spark the flavors. There are many wonderful soups, but when I’m eating this one I can’t think of one I like better.

Serves 4–6 This soup can easily be doubled—and should be!

1 bunch chard or spinach, (8 oz.; 225 g)
1 bunch kale, (8 oz.; 225 g)
4–5 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
½ cup (25 g) loosely packed cilantro
1 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1 medium Yukon Gold potato (5 oz.; 140 g)
1 medium yellow onion (225 g)
1 ½ Tbs. (22 ml) olive oil
Marsala or dry sherry (optional)
1–2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Wash the greens thoroughly, trim off their stems, and slice the leaves. Combine the chard or spinach, kale, green onions, and cilantro in a large soup pot with 3 cups (750 ml) water and a teaspoon of salt. Peel the potato, or just scrub it well if you prefer, cut it into small pieces, and add it to the pot. Bring the water to a boil, turn down the flame to low, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the onion, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, and cook the onion with a small sprinkle of salt over a medium flame until it is golden brown and soft. This will take up to half an hour. Don’t hurry; give it a stir once in a while, and let the slow cooking develop the onion’s sweetness. If you like, you can deglaze the pan at the end with a bit of Marsala or sherry—not required, but a nice touch.
Add the caramelized onion to the soup. Put the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in the pan and stir the chopped garlic in it for just a couple of minutes, until it sizzles and smells great. Add the garlic to the pot and simmer the soup for 10 minutes more.
Add enough of the broth to make the soup a soup—it should pour easily from a ladle—and puree it in the blender, in batches, or use an immersion blender. Don’t overprocess; potatoes can turn gummy if you work them too much.

Return the soup to the pot, bring it back to a simmer, and taste. Add a pinch more salt if needed, grind in a little black pepper, and add a pinch of cayenne and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir well and taste again. Now use your taste buds—correct the seasoning to your taste with a drop more lemon juice or another pinch of salt, and then serve big steaming bowls of green soup.

I always finish this soup with my all-time favorite garnish, a thin drizzle of fruity olive oil. This garnish is not a decoration, it is an essential part of the soup. The taste of the fresh, unheated oil is entirely different from the taste of cooked oil, and I deliberately use a modest amount of oil for sautéing so that I can add some fresh oil at the end.

Other garnishes can be added. Crumbled white cheese is a natural; I like Cotija, a dry Mexican white cheese, or feta. Croutons are great, especially if they’re made from rye or pumpernickel bread. Garlic croutons are the bomb, as my kids used to say.

Another way . . .

Rice instead of potato: I often eliminate the potato and instead add 3 tablespoons of Arborio rice to the greens when I cook them. That little bit of rice distributes its starch into the water and purees beautifully. No fear of overblending with rice, so you can have a soup of truly velvety texture.

Black Bean Quesadillas
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

Quesadillas are the food my kids lived on through most of grade school, the one thing they were always willing to eat. It is the easy, infinitely adaptable tortilla version of the grilled cheese sandwich. The most basic quesadilla is a flour tortilla folded over some melted cheese and toasted lightly on both sides. From there, the variations are endless.

This quesadilla is the basic version with delicious refried black beans added, along with a little salsa, the most frequent addition to any quesadilla.

For the refried beans:

2 cups (400 g) cooked black beans
1 medium yellow onion (250 g)
2 Tbs. (30 ml) olive oil
sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup (25 g) chopped cilantro
½ tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
¼ tsp. spicy smoked paprika
2–3 Tbs. (30–45 ml) Table Salsa (p. 442) or Simple Chipotle Sauce (p. 439) (optional)

For the quesadillas:

6 whole-wheat tortillas (180 g)
6 oz. (180 g) grated jack cheese or crumbled queso fresco
Simple Chipotle Sauce or other salsa

To make the refried beans, it is ideal to start with black beans you have cooked yourself—they taste much better than canned beans and are no trouble to cook as long as you allow the time for them to simmer. But in a pinch you can use canned beans.
Finely chop the onion and sauté it in the olive oil with a pinch of salt, stirring over medium heat, for about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, lower the heat, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the cooked black beans with about 3/4 cup of their cooking liquid (if you are using canned beans, add some vegetable broth or water), the cilantro, cumin, and paprika. Cook the beans for 10 to 12 minutes, mashing them a little with a potato masher. They should have the consistency of a soft paste, with some of the beans smashed and others whole. Add salt to taste (this depends on how salty the beans are to start with) and, if you like, a few tablespoons of salsa.

To assemble your quesadillas, first lightly heat the tortillas on a griddle or in a pan to soften them. Spread about 2 heaping tablespoons of the beans over half of each tortilla and sprinkle an ounce of cheese over that. Spoon on as much salsa as you like.

Fold the tortilla over the filling and cook the quesadillas in batches in a hot pan or on a griddle, about 1 1/2 minutes on a side, or until they are nicely browned and hot through. A large pan should hold 2 or 3 quesadillas at a time, and if you cover the pan, the cheese will melt a little faster.

Serve the quesadillas hot, with additional salsa. Cut them into wedges if you like.

Love Soup is available today at the following online booksellers:

W.W. Norton & Company

Barnes and Noble Booksellers