Winter Vegetable Minestrone

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

The Wall Street Journal ran this article a few weeks ago on Minestrone, including 3 delicious-looking recipes.  I love making Minestrone and the message and recipes here expanded my thinking as to what this soup is all about.  I love the quote “But minestrone is, ultimately, a hyper-personal and hyper-seasonal chameleon of a dish, tailored to the current harvest and the cravings of the maker. This soup embodies better than any other the enviable Italian virtue known as sprezzatura: an artful effortlessness.”  When Randy and I were talking Sunday morning about what we’d like for dinner, he said he had bought the ingredients for this soup. I had planned to make roasted salmon, potatoes and broccoli, but given I had a cold, the Minestrone sounded way more appealing.  Plus I didn’t have to cook – what’s not to like?! We both had seconds of this! Like many “ugly duckling” soups and stews that we’ve posted before (like this, this this and this), don’t let the bland look turn you away – this is one delicious soup, made even better by the unusual pesto.

Guest chef Randy Tatum says . . . 

This recipe looked like an interesting use of seasonal ingredients, including celery root which I don’t cook with enough. I thought the soup could use even more winter vegetables, so I added rutabaga. I found this easy to make, even if it takes a little chopping. It’s one of those dishes that can really be flexible in terms of ingredients and quantities. Unlike Suzy, who always has flavorful homemade chicken stock in the freezer, I take a rather relaxed approach to creating a stock for my soups. It’s called Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base and is a more than acceptable substitute. I often use their “No-Chicken Base”, which tastes just as good but is vegetarian.  The pesto is indeed unusual and I agree that it really adds to the finished product. 

The Winter Vegetable Minestrone

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium celery root, peeled and cubed

1 large parsnip, peeled and cubed

1 large rutabaga, peeled and cubed

4-5 (or more) cups chicken stock (or Better Than Bouillon per their instructions to equal 4-5 cups)

2 bay leaves

1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained

1½ cups yellow split peas

4 (or more) cups shredded cabbage

1 small apple, peeled and cubed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the yellow split peas in a small saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent and just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook till fragrant.  Stir in celery root, parsnip and rutabaga, cooking until fragrant, another 5 minutes. Add the stock, bay leaves, beans, split peas, cabbage and apple. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and simmer gently until celery root, parsnips and rutabaga soften, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The Pesto, Pasta and Final Assembly

8 ounces whole wheat pasta, small shapes (we used fusilli/spirals)

1 cup leafy greens – spinach, kale or chard (we used spinach), coarsely chopped

½ cup toasted pecans, chopped (we used roasted/salted)

¼ cup fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped

2 whole garlic cloves, peeled

¼ cup olive oil

Cook the pasta to al dente according to instructions.  Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, make the pesto. In a food processor, purée the greens, pecans, rosemary, whole garlic cloves, oil and a pinch of salt until mixture is reduced almost to a paste. Turn into a serving dish.

To serve, place desired amount of pasta into a soup bowl. Ladle as much soup as you want onto the pasta. Place a dollop of the pesto onto the soup and stir to blend. Enjoy!

Chicken Chili

October 13, 2013

Chicken Chili - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We have been BUSY around here.  With Desi starting school and Stella being at that age where she doesn’t sleep all the time anymore and is into EVERYTHING, I haven’t had time to do much of anything other than cook dinner and do dishes.  The rest of the (extremely dirty) house and my side projects have definitely suffered.  But fall is here, and I’m cooking new and fun things again, so I’m doing my best to make time to post about them.
Charred Veggies - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

My husband raved about this chili, and actually got really protective over the leftovers. I knew this meant that he really REALLY liked it, because usually I’m the only one in this house that eats any leftovers.  The charred veggies gives the chili a little bit of a smoky flavor…it’s very different than any chili I’ve ever made.  So I’m definitely making it again, even though that means I’ll have to make Desi his own little pot of chili because this one has meat in it AND is pretty spicy. But that’s ok…more leftovers for us.

Chicken Chili

adapted from Martha Stewart Living

10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 jalapeno (or I used a Fresno because the jalapenos didn’t look that good)

1 yellow onion, peeled and halved

4 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 3/4-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1/4 cup chili powder

salt

2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

2-14 oz. cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat broiler, with rack 3 inches from heat source.  Arrange tomatoes, jalapeno and onion, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet.  Broil until starting to char, about 5 minutes.  Pulse tomatoes and jalapeno in food processor until chunky.  Chop onion and mince garlic.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  Working in batches, brown chicken in a single layer, allowing to sear before stirring, 5-6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add onion to skillet.  Cook until soft and golden, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chili powder and 1 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook, stirring for one minute.  Stir in chipotles, and drain fat off chicken and add chicken to the pot.  Raise heat to high.  Add tomato-jalapeno mixture.  Cook, scraping up browned bits, until fully incorporated, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in stock; simmer for 20 minutes.  Add beans, simmer for 10 minutes.  We served topped with sour cream and tortilla chips on the side…it would also be great with shredded cheese and chopped avocados, and with corn bread on the side.

Chickpea Stew with Chicken: Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Margaux and I are on the lookout for good recipes using shredded chicken.  I was looking for something new to make but that would be fast and easy on a busy Sunday. I love all the flavors in this stew, so thought I’d give it a whirl.  It was a hit!  Randy and I both agreed that I should double the recipe next time – we barely had a small lunch portion left after eating.  We served it with a salad, baguette and some a Pinot Gris wine.  Since spring is seeming like it is not going to show up this year, this warming dish was especially welcome on a cold and snowy day.

Margaux says . . .

This dish was a hit in our house, too!  We always love bean stews, so I knew it would probably get gobbled up.  At Aunt Suzy’s suggestion, I made a double recipe, and I’m glad I did.  It was the perfect amount for dinner and then lunch for Desi and me the next day.

When I made this, I misread the recipe and used bone-in chicken, and it was really good, if  a little greasy.  I just skimmed as much of the extra fat off the top as I could.  This would be a great recipe to use for leftover shredded chicken, I would just use chicken broth instead of water, and add the chicken at the end with the red peppers, etc.  It would also be good vegetarian, eliminating the chicken altogether.  In that case, I would maybe use more red pepper.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

3 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

4 cups water or chicken stock or a combination

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and sliced into 1-inch pieces

Juice of ½ lemon, or more

1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt; add to the pot and cook, turning once, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to low and let oil cool slightly; add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 30–60 seconds. Add cumin, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes; stir until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute.  Add the liquid, the reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat  and simmer, uncovered, occasionally stirring, until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Add chickpeas to pot; bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Shred the chicken.  Add the chicken, red peppers, half the herbs and lemon juice; simmer for a couple of minutes until heated through. Season with salt and more lemon juice, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with more of the herbs.

Snowy Day

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Today demanded soup, but I’m in the mood for spring now that it’s March.  I would not say spring is around the corner here in Minnesota as you can see by this predawn photo, but enough winter already!  So here’s a soup that’s, well . . .a soup, but with many ingredients that taste of spring.  Perfect for a day like today!  Both Randy and I thought we almost couldn’t get enough.  He wanted me to make sure to say that, in his opinion, this must be made with homemade stock, feeling that boxed or canned would diminish the light spring-like quality we loved so much.  He also had an initial bad reaction to the idea of lettuce in a soup, saying that it’s like putting walnuts on a salad.  After a few spoonfuls of the soup, he said that he must like walnuts on salad – hehe.  So don’t be put off by the cooked romaine lettuce – it adds a light crunch and lovely vegetal flavor.  Enjoy with a lemony Pinot Grigio and a baguette!

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This recipe was inspired by one that I saw in a Food 52 email yesterday, but is highly adapted in both method and ingredients.  Serves 8 (or 6 hearty eaters)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 scallions, white and green separated and sliced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small zucchini, small dice

1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and ground black pepper

9 cups chicken stock

1 small can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available

1 1/2-2 cups cooked green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces

2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1/4 cup each fresh mint and fresh parsley, chopped (or more to taste)

2 cups dried pasta, small shapes (I used gemelli)

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.  When shimmering, add the white part of the scallions and the celery.  Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic  zucchini, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring.  Add the chicken stock and chickpeas and simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Add the chicken, green beans, herbs and lemon zest to the soup pot and simmer till heated through, about 5 minutes.  Be careful not to over-stir.

Right before serving, stir in the lettuce and lemon juice.  Cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.

To serve, place a handful of cooked pasta into the bottom of a soup bowl.  Ladle the soup into the bowl over the pasta.  Garnish with a few slices of the green part of the scallions (and a few red pepper flakes if desired).

Tuscan Bean Stew - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We are having a real Minnesota winter this year! A recent Sunday plunged to minus 14 degrees F, necessitating a hearty and warming stew. I spied this recipe on The Bitten Word blog, saw that it was their take on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe and was sold! It’s one of those recipes from Cook’s where they have experimented with many different methods to come up with the perfect approach. For this one, the recommendation was to brine the beans overnight and to cook slowly in the oven to achieve a creamy stew in which the beans remain mostly whole. We love Cook’s scientific approach to things here at S&SK and so jumped on this recipe. It turned out as promised! Margaux and I both cooked this, as well as my brother John, so we have lots of experience and opinions to share on this stew. We may have diverged a little on ingredients or methods, but one thing we all three have in common is that we thought this was delicious!

Margaux says . . .

The whole family loved this stew…even my 4-year-old, who has recently decided he is a picky eater. But picky in a way most kids are not…he’ll refuse to eat his mac & cheese, and instead gobble down a salad. And lately, anything I make that has everything “mixed together,” ie., stews, soups, casseroles, etc…basically everything I make in the winter…is deemed inedible. Or as he says, “gross.” But I thought I might have a “win” on my hands here, with beans, sausage and carrots included in the ingredients (some things on the “ok” list), and I was right.

Something I will say about this stew, is that if you have a big client meeting the next morning, or are going on a date the next night, I would definitely cut back on the garlic. We love garlic in our house, but even for us, 8 cloves was a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious! And I’ll make it the same way again next time. But just a warning…your date may wonder if you’re trying to fend off vampires if you eat this the night before. 🙂

Brining the Beans

2 cups dried cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed

3 tablespoons salt (sea salt or table salt, not kosher)

4 quarts cold water

Dissolve the salt in the water in a large bowl or pot. Add the beans and soak overnight or up to 24 hours. Drain the beans and rinse thoroughly. Set aside for use in the stew.

Making the Stew

3/4-1 pound of sweet Italian sausage (casings removed or bulk if available)

2 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 large onion, medium dice (1 1/2-2 cups)

2 celery ribs, medium dice (about 3/4 cup)

2 carrots, peeled and diced medium (about 1 cup)

8 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press or crushed with a knife blade

4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

3-4 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 small can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed

1/2 medium head of Savoy cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)

One sprig of fresh oregano

Salt and black pepper to taste (taste before adding salt)

Pre-heat the oven to 250°F. In a large Dutch oven, preferably cast iron, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage, breaking up into small pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon. When browned, remove from the pot and place on paper towel. Set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pot and turn heat down to medium. Add the onions, celery and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, water, bay leaves and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to a bubble. Cover the pot and place on a rack in the lower middle of the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 45 minutes or so, until beans are just softened but slightly firm in the center.  Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the reserved sausage, cabbage and tomatoes. Place back in the oven and cook for another 30-45 minutes or so, until the cabbage is tender.

Tuscan Bean Stew

Remove pot from the oven and submerge the oregano sprig in the stew. Cover and let stand 20-30 minutes. Remove the oregano and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil if desired and a nice crusty bread.

COOK’S NOTES – Aunt Suzy:Ingredients The original recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds of sausage. I used 1 pound (of turkey sausage) and thought it was still too much, although I prefer meat in recipes like this for flavoring vs. a main ingredient. I used 3 cups of water, but my stew came out very thick so I think I’ll try 4 cups next time I make it.  Adjust meat amount and liquid to your preferences. I used a garlic press for my garlic, which I think resulted in a less garlicky result than Margaux described; she crushed the garlic with a knife blade (although I love garlic, so I might try that one day!). Regular green cabbage can be substituted if you can’t find Savoy. The original CI recipe called for pancetta and kale – I think we need to try that one also!  Methods I learned 3 things from this recipe: 1) The brining made for ultra-creamy beans as promised, 2) Cooking in the oven at a low temp made for beans that did not break apart, and 3) Adding tomatoes later in the cooking process insured that the skins of the beans were not tough.

COOK’S NOTES – Margaux: I made this on a weeknight, but I prepped everything ahead of time on Sunday, so it made it very quick and easy. Otherwise, this is one that I would probably make on a weekend, because it does take awhile, and you have to remember to do the beans the night before, etc. So I soaked the beans, chopped the cabbage, carrots, onion and celery, and had them all stored in the fridge and ready for Tuesday night. Also, I only used 3 cups of water instead of 4, as we like our stews less brothy around here.

 

Aunt Suzy says . . .

The calendar says soup, but the weather says salad.  Nonetheless, the kale is so fabulous at the farmer’s markets that I decided to make a kale-based soup today.  We went for a walk today in the Big Woods State Park south of Minneapolis, and I thought it would be great to come home to an already prepared meal.  If it were actually cold out, I would pair this with a hearty sour rye or multi-grain bread, but baguette seemed perfect given the warm weather.  A light red Cotes-du-Rhone is a nice match for the flavors in this soup.

Makes 8-10 servings, depending on appetites

2-3 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 carrot, small dice (about 3/4 cup)

1-2 celery ribs, small dice (about 1/2 cup)

1 onion, small dice

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, or 2 teaspoons dried

4-5 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 tablespoons)

2-3 chicken chorizo sausages, like Amylu brand, optional

1 1/2 cups diced roasted tomatoes, homemade or small can fire-roasted

1 cup dry white wine

10 cups liquid, chicken stock, vegetable stock or water

5 leafy sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, 1-inch chunks (about 5 cups)

15 packed cups kale, in 2-inch pieces (roughly one bunch)

salt and pepper to taste

Heat a soup pot of at least 6 quarts capacity over medium-high heat.  Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and heat to shimmering.  Add the carrots, celery, onion and rosemary to the pot.  Turn down the heat to medium and saute for 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and chorizo and saute for another 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown a little.

Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes.  Next add the wine and simmer for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol.  Add the liquid of your choice (I used chicken stock) and the thyme sprigs; stir to blend.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the thyme sprigs, taking care that the leaves remain in the soup.

Add the potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.  If you like a thicker soup, you can simmer for up to an hour to break down the potatoes.  We like a brothier soup and “just done” potatoes, hence the shorter cooking time.

Add the kale and simmer for 15 minutes more, making sure not to overcook the kale.  Taste and then add salt and pepper.  I did not put in additional S&P since the oven roasted tomatoes had plenty as well as the homemade chicken stock.  We added a tiny amount of each at the table.

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:   Either fully cooked Andouille or Chorizo sausages, pork or chicken, would be great in this dish.  If you do not add the sausages, I recommend 2 teaspoons smoked paprika added with the tomatoes.  I used “regular” green kale, but Lacinato would be excellent also.  I did not peel the potatoes out of personal preference.  If you want to thicken the soup a little, I recommend peeled russet potatoes over the Yukons.

And it was a beautiful day for a walk!

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

We’ve got colds around here right now, which prompted me to make a huge pot of chicken stock a couple of days ago.  I remembered this really tasty soup that I made a few years ago and thought it would be a nice change of pace from the traditional chicken noodle.  I think the biggest reason it occurred to me to make it is that it’s easy and fast.  Once you have the ingredients gathered together, it takes under 30 minutes start to finish.  That’s very appealing when one has a cold!

2 cups small pasta (small shells, small elbows, ditalini, orzo, etc.)

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 pound fresh Italian chicken sausages (roughly 4),  meat removed from casings and rolled into twenty 1-inch meatballs (pork would also work if chicken aren’t available)

6-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper OR

*Several grinds of Italian Street Fair spice blend

One 5-ounce bag baby spinach ( or 5 cups bulk), coarsely chopped

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until it is al dente, according to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium high heat until shimmering. Make sure the pot/oil have heated completely or the meatballs will stick. Add the meatballs and cook over moderately high heat until they are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. (I found that I needed to do this in 2 batches.)  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a plate. Add the garlic to the pot and cook over moderate heat until lightly golden, about 1 minute.

Add 2 cups of the chicken broth, bring to a simmer.  Add the meatballs to the broth and simmer until they are cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Add the remaining chicken stock – 4 cups for a less brothy end product, 6 cups for a more brothy soup – and season with salt and pepper (or Italian Street Fair blend).  Bring to a simmer or set aside for later use if you are making this ahead.  This soup base can be refrigerated for up to 3 days prior to serving.

Add the spinach and pasta to the simmering broth and cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted and the soup is piping hot, about 1 minute. Ladle into shallow bowls and serve.  Alternatively, if you are not going to serve all the soup in one meal, you can place a little pasta and a little of the spinach in individual bowls and ladle the piping- hot soup over to serve.

*If you happen to be lucky enough to live near a Spice and Tea Exchange, I highly recommend this blend that’s sold in a grinder. You can also order online – the link will take you to their site.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I saw this Jacques Pepin recipe in Food & Wine recently and thought I’d try it.  It got me curious about Garbure, so I looked it up and saw that it’s basically a stew made with smoked meat and a variety of winter vegetables and served with a hearty bread – either poured over the bread or accompanied by it.  Like many peasant  dishes, there are lots of variations on how this stew is made.  My recipe builds on the versions I saw, but is not true to any one in particular.  One day I will try making this with the duck (or goose) confit I saw in many recipes, but not today! I had already done my shopping before seeing dishes with that ingredient.  In the middle of cooking this, I realized that it is a very similar in ingredients to the Old World Turkey Vegetable soup I posted in December of 2010.  The wine pairing recommendation from Jacques is a Beaujolais.  One thing that all the recipes stated was that a tradition is to pour half a glass of red wine onto the last few bites of the stew – called “a chabrot” – as a way to finish the meal.  We weren’t wowed by this :-).   (I am chuckling about my photo – one of the recipes said that this stew was definitely not photogenic!  No matter the looks – it’s a tasty bowl of comfort.)

INGREDIENTS

1  1/2 cups dried cannellini or borlotti beans, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced smoked meat (ham hocks, ham or smoked turkey – I used smoked turkey)
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, thoroughly washed and sliced in ¼-inch half rounds
1 medium onion, diced
1 large celery rib, cut in ¼-inch slices
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 quart chicken stock or low sodium broth
1 quart water
Bouquet garnis of 5 sprigs each parsley and thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
2 medium red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled and cut into ½ -inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into ½ -inch pieces
1/2 medium head Savoy cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Hearty bread and gruyere cheese for serving

Place the beans in a pot and add water to cover by 3 inches. Let stand overnight or use the quick soak method (bring the beans in the water to a boil, turn off the heat and let stand for 1-2 hours).  Drain before adding to the soup.

Coat the bottom of a large stock pot or Dutch oven with the olive oil and heat to medium high. Sauté the leek, onion, celery, carrot and meat for about 10 minutes, until soft and just starting to brown. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two.

 

 

 

Add the liquid, along with the soaked beans, bouquet garnis, bay leaves and whole cloves. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes.  Remove the bouquet garnis.

 

 

Add the potatoes, parsnip and cabbage, bring to a boil again and simmer for another 20 minutes covered until the vegetables are tender.  Remove the lid and simmer for 20-30 minutes to thicken to a stew.

Serving options:  You can serve the stew with slices of bread on the side.  Or you can toast the bread and place in the middle of the bowl and pour the stew over it.  You can toast the bread and melt the cheese on top of it.  You can place this on top of a bowl of stew or place in the bowl and pour the stew over.  It seems the most common way of serving in all the recipes I reviewed was to pour the soup over the bread (with or without the melted cheese).

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

This delicious soup was one of many recipes for soup recently shared by Lynn Rossetto Kasper of The Splendid Table.  She learned this recipe from a cookbook from the 1600’s (!) given to her by her Dutch aunt.  I haven’t made split pea soup for ages and this one looked really good, so I thought I’d try it.  YUM!!  I love the exotic flavor the spices add –  allspice, ginger and cloves – and how they blend with the smokiness of the meat is a taste treat.  I made some adaptations, specifically less butter and smoked turkey instead of ham hock.  Whether you follow my recipe or Lynn’s original, you will not be disappointed.  Serve with a Dutch beer or a French Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc.

(see “Cooks Notes” for my thoughts about a vegetarian option for this recipe.)

Ingredients

1 large leek
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large carrot, peeled and diced small
2 medium onions, peeled and diced (1/4-inch)
Meat cut from 1/2 smoked turkey leg, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
Fresh-ground black pepper
3 medium red skin potatoes, unpeeled and diced (1/2-inch)
1 1/2 cups dried yellow split peas (or green if yellow are not available)
3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme or several sprigs fresh thyme
1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
3 to 4 cups water

Instructions

1. Prepare the leek by cutting away the green top and the root. You’ll use only the white portion. Slice the white stalk down its length and rinse it under cold running water to wash away any sand. Pat the leek dry with paper towels and slice it thin.

2. In a 6-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat then add the butter.  When the butter is melted and bubbling, stir in the leeks, carrots, onions, and meat. Sauté until the onions begin to brown. Then stir in the potatoes, split peas, cloves, allspice, ginger, thyme, garlic, broth and water. There should be enough liquid to cover the peas and vegetables by an inch. Add more water if necessary.

3. Simmer the soup, partially covered, 30 minutes, or until the split peas are almost dissolved and the potatoes are tender. Remove the whole cloves and the thyme stems, if using fresh thyme. Taste the soup for seasoning.

Cook’s Notes:  Lynn mentioned that the cooking time will vary depending on how old the peas are.  They can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.  I experienced this first hand – the peas took almost an hour to soften.   The original recipe called for salt to taste, but I think the saltiness of  meat is just right.  I recommend tasting the finished soup before you add any salt.

I think this could easily be made vegetarian, by using the vegetable broth instead of chicken and adding 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or a little chipotle pepper to replicate the smokiness of the meat.

Portuguese Fish Stew

February 1, 2012

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We’re going to focus on soups for February this year here at S&SK.  Typically February is definitely soup weather in these Northern climes, but it’s been very mild.  Nonetheless, it just seems like the right time for soups, stews and chilis, and I thought this fish stew would be a great place to start.  It has many layers of bright flavors and is easy to make.  Randy found this a few years ago in an old cookbook of mine, The Natural Health Cook Book, and it was an immediate hit!  We try to make it at least once a winter.  Serve with a baguette and a French or Italian white that’s on the richer side, with no oak.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder

Pinch of ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (liquid reserved for another use)

1 small butternut squash, cut in chunks

4-5 medium potatoes, yellow or gold, cut in chunks

1 bay leaf

2 3-inch strips orange peel (orange part only, no pith)

2 cups water

1 1/2 pounds codfish fillet, cut in 1-inch chunks

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven with the olive oil and heat on a medium burner.  Add the onions, garlic and salt, stirring until coated with the oil.  Cover the pot tightly and “sweat” the onions over medium low heat for 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure they don’t burn.  When done, add the ground fennel and the cloves and cook one minute.  Add the saffron, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, bay leaf, orange peel and water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are soft (about 20 minutes).  Add the fish and cook until opaque, about 5 minutes.  Season with the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

COOK’S NOTES:  For the squash, I prefer roasting it first and then cutting in chunks.  This takes more time, but results in a creamier texture and chunks that hold their shape better.  See here for the method.  Sweating the onions and garlic is designed to make them softer.  Make sure you add the salt and watch carefully!  Mine burned a little, but this did not diminish the deliciousness of the soup. I think you could saute instead of sweat if pressed for time. You can create the base for the soup a day ahead and reheat before adding the fish.