Monday, February 15, 2010

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Bacon and Cheddar

One of my favorite soups as a kid was cream of broccoli. However, the stuff that came out of a can was filled with dark green, mushy broccoli and also full of salt. I still liked it, but once I got older and my tastes changed a bit I found that the 'mushy, salty stuff' was no longer to my liking.

This version is filled with bright green veggies and has a touch of bacon and cheddar - for good measure.

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Bacon and Cheddar
Printable Recipe
Ready in 30 minutes
Serves 6

1 large head broccoli
4 cups water
1 small onion - chopped
1 clove garlic - minced
2 cups half and half or milk
6 Tablespoons butter or oil
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 slices bacon - cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and white pepper to taste

1. Clean broccoli and remove florets - cutting into bite-sized pieces. Cut stems into chunks and set aside.
2. Heat water in a large pot until boiling. Drop in broccoli florets for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. Add broccoli stems to boiling water with garlic and onion - reduce heat to a simmer and cook until stems have softened - about 15 minutes. Remove stems to a food processor and puree until very smooth. Add back into cooking water and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Discard any bits of stem that are caught in the strainer.
4. Cook butter or oil and flour together briefly in the bottom of the soup pot and slowly add in broccoli mixture. Pour in milk or half and half and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
5. Once soup is properly thickened, add broccoli florets, bacon and cheddar. Heat through and season with salt and white pepper.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chicken, Plantain and Groundnut Stew

In Africa peanuts are known as 'groundnuts' and plantains are plentiful. Plantains look much like bananas, but are larger and most commonly sold green. They can be difficult to peel, but cutting into the peel several times with a small knife and peeling in sections seems to work best.

Combined with rich spices and tender chicken, this makes a delicious stew perfect for cold winter days. There are a lot of flavors here, but they blend together very well.

Chicken, Plantain and Groundnut Stew
Printable Recipe
Ready in 45 minutes
Serves 6-8

6 Tablespoons oil
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound chicken breasts cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large green pepper - diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 medium yellow onion - cut into chunks
1 (15 ounces) can diced tomatoes
2 large carrots peeled and diced
2 medium plantains - just turning yellow - peeled, cut lengthwise into 4 strips each and then into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon (or more as desired) salt

1. Heat oil in a large and heavy-bottomed pot. Add flour and stir well over a medium-high flame until roux begins to turn very dark - the color of an old copper penny.
2. Once roux is dark and nutty in aroma, turn heat low and add onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook until vegetables begin to 'sweat', or leach juices.
3. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Pour in stock, carrots, plantains, tomatoes and spices. Stir in peanut butter.
4. Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until carrots and plantains are tender. This can take up to an hour, depending on the ripeness of the plantains.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tortellini Soup with Chicken Meatball Dumplings

We're getting buried with a heavy snowfall in the Lehigh Valley today and being snowed in is the perfect time for soup. I made two today - Nacho Mama's Tortilla Soup and this one. This is a variation on the Chicken Ravioli Soup I made for

Substituting tortellini for the ravioli and making chicken dumplings rather than chopped chicken gave this one a whole new dimension of flavor.

Tortellini Soup with Chicken Dumplings
Printable Recipe
Ready in 30 minutes
Serves 6

6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup diced carrot
19 ounces frozen cheese-filled tortellini
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
2 large eggs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 slice bread
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat chicken stock in a soup pot until boiling; reduce heat and add carrot and bay leaf. Simmer until vegetables are soft - about 20 minutes.
2. While carrots are cooking, combine chicken breast, eggs, Parmesan and bread in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
3. Return stock to boiling and shape chicken mixture into small balls. Drop into stock.
4. Add tortellini and cook for 5 -6 minutes until tortellini are tender and cooked through.
5. Season with salt and pepper and serve.