Ginger-Spiced Chicken Soup

February 5, 2015



Ginger-Spiced Chicken Soup

Aunt Suzy says . . .

It’s early February and that means cold where we live – perfect weather for soup. This week, I felt I might be coming down with a cold, so I thought a soup with ginger in it would really hit the spot. I recently filed away this recipe from Bon Appetit, so when I searched for something to make it was at the top of the pile. Randy and I both agreed that we would make this again. Once the ingredients were assembled, it came together in about 45 minutes. Who can ask for more on a cold weeknight?!

Ginger-Spiced Chicken Soup


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced in half-moons

1/2 to 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 quarts chicken stock or broth

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

2 cups baby spinach

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Cooked small pasta, optional

Lime wedges (for serving)


black beans-rice with ginger lime salsa Aunt Suzy says . . .

I saw this recipe from Bon Appetit while planning a family trip to Illinois.  I sent it to Margaux’s Mom Kathleen where I’m staying and she gave it a thumbs up . . . and that was only on paper :-). I made this a couple of days ago and we both agreed it’s a Wow!  A pretty fast and easy wow at that.  We served with a green salad and a Sauvignon Blanc. My niece Malory’s kids are sick so I asked if I could get her some groceries, and she requested most of the ingredients in this recipe.  So I shared it with her and she made it last night – so not only did adults like this but it has been kid-tested also.  And, thanks for the photo, Malory!

Malory says . . . 

As Aunt Suzy mentioned I have three sick kiddos, ages 5 and under, so as you may be able to imagine I am a little worn out! Deciding what’s for dinner is never an easy task and the same recipes can get very monotonous. What I love most about this simple recipe is that it takes the same ingredients I usually have on hand and mixes it up for a great flavorful dish! My tastebuds were in heaven! My kids loved it too and even asked for seconds. Next time I will definitely be doubling this recipe!


2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large onion, chopped

2 cups brown rice

3 cups water

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander

2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup water

2 jalapeños or Fresno chiles (red preferred if available), stemmed, halved, seeded

1-2 garlic cloves

1 rounded tablespoon chopped peeled ginger

zest and juice of one lime

1 avocado, halved, pitted, chopped

1/2 cup or more coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup or more crumbled Cotija or feta cheese

lime wedges (for serving)


Cook the rice:  Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Saute about 1/4 of the chopped onion till soft then add the rice and saute until it has a nutty aroma.   Add the 3 cups of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes until water is completely absorbed.  When done, add a handful of cilantro if you wish.  While the rice is cooking . . .

Cook the beans:  Saute about 1/3 of the remaining chopped onion in one tablespoon olive oil till soft.  Add the spices and saute a minute more. Add the beans and water, bring to a bubble, turn down the heat and simmer 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing a few beans.  Take off heat and set aside.

Make the salsa:  Place the remaining onion, chiles, garlic, ginger and lime zest/juice in a blender container.  Pulse to a chunky consistency.  Pour salsa into a bowl.

Assemble the dish:  For each serving, place rice into a bowl and top with some beans.  Sprinkle with cilantro, some avocado and cheese.  Top with the ginger-lime salsa.  Pass the lime wedges.

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.)


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


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.

Margaux says…
Happy Thanksgiving!

Unfortunately, I don’t get to host Thanksgiving dinner yet. I suppose I could, but I don’t know that anyone would come besides my husband and son. And that would be a lot of food for the three of us. So until I get the pleasure, which isn’t going to be for years, I will make something ridiculously rich for breakfast (setting us up for a day of rich food, of course!).

This year I made a coffee cake from the November Bon Appetit. I heeded their advice and made it the night before, and I’m so glad I did! Not only was it ready to eat first thing in the morning, but the flavors had melded together into perfection overnight (full confession, we had some tastes last night before bed). This cake is absolutely delicious, and it will feed a crowd! I highly recommend trying it this holiday season for your overnight guests.

We had a hard time getting it out of the pan, and ended up breaking it in half, actually. It’s really hard to get it off the bottom and center tube of the pan. I was thinking that next time I may just leave it on the tube, which won’t make for a pretty presentation, but we won’t have a broken cake. My mom suggested cutting out a cardboard round that is the exact same size as the cake (or maybe an inch wider all around), sliding it onto the center tube, and inverting the cake onto it. I think that will probably work…you’ll just have to have someone help by holding the sides in place as you flip it over. If anyone tries this, let me know how it works!

Brown Butter, Ginger, and Sour Cream Coffee Cake
from Bon Appetit, November 2011 issue

Brown Butter

2 cups plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter (possibly more)


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger


Unsalted butter (for pan)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped (or I used sliced)

Grease a nonstick 10″ tube pan with removable bottom with butter. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Brown Butter

Simmer 2 cups plus 2 tbsp butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned bits form, about 6-8 minutes. Pour into a 2-cup heatproof liquid measuring cup. If needed, add more butter to measure 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp (added butter will melt).


Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp brown butter (reserve remaining butter for cake). Stir until moist clumps form. Stir in ginger. Set aside.


Butter pan generously. Whisk all-purpose flour and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat remaining 1 cup browned butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and thick, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in sour cream, milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture just to blend.
Spoon half of cake batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Scatter 1 cup of topping over. Spoon remaining batter in dollops over, smooth. Add almonds to remaining topping; squeeze to form 1/2″ clumps and scatter evenly over batter in pan.
Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides; let cool completely. Store at room temperature in airtight container.

Sweet & Spicy Tomato Jam

September 11, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . . . .

I’m not sure I had every heard of tomato jam before; maybe on the periphery of my awareness, but nothing that ever sunk in.  What made me seriously consider tomato jam is this post on The Wednesday Chef, specifically the photo of a fried egg on top of toast smeared with the jam.  I love fried egg sandwiches, so I was sold.  I made one for breakfast this morning on top of sour dough rye and it was quite a taste treat . . . even though it didn’t look good enough to photograph and besides I was hungry!

I think this jam has lots of possibilities – as an accompaniment to roast chicken, on top of grilled salmon, as an appetizer with baguette and goat cheese are a few ideas.  I’ve been wondering how it would be on a peanut butter and jam sandwich which I might have to try soon.   Luisa notes that this is a Mark Bitman recipe originally published in the NY Times.  I especially enjoyed reading the accompanying article about his discovery of tomato jam and the process he went through perfecting the recipe.  This recipe made about 1 1/2 cups of finished product for me, but I think I might have cooked it down a little more than necessary.  (the original article said it made a pint – 2 cups)

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 5 cups), cored and coarsely chopped (Roma recommended but not essential)

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced (or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan and stir to blend thoroughly.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam.

This took 50 minutes for me, although the original recipe suggested about 1 hour 15 minutes.  I recommend checking at 45 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn or get too thick.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  (see note below) Cool to room temperature.  Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.  The original recipe said this will keep at least a week, but I have a hunch it has a much longer shelf life if kept in the refrigerator.

UPDATE August 16, 2012:  I’ve now made this jam a few times, including today.  I found that measuring out the tomatoes to 5 cups is better than going by pounds.  That amount of tomatoes made 2 cups of jam.  Also, 50 minutes seems to be the magic number for when this jam is finished – for me anyway.  I recommend sterilizing half-pint jars with boiling water, filling them with the hot jam, capping and then turning upside down to seal.  The jam will then last a lot longer in the fridge before being opened for use.




Margaux says…

So I entered another Food52 contest, and I think I submitted the wrong entry. The problem is, I waited until the last minute to start testing my recipes, and so it came down to crunch time (second tart was still baking at 8:30 pm on the night the contest entry was due), and I went on blind faith that the one in the oven was the better choice. While it was delicious, I now think that I entered the wrong one…the first one I made was even better.

My main reluctance to enter the first tart I made (Pear-Citrus-Rosemary Tart) was that it wasn’t as original as the second one. It was inspired by a sweet pizza recipe that Aunt Suzy gave to me several years ago, and I didn’t change that much other than using a tart crust rather than sweet pizza dough, and using butter rather than olive oil. The second tart I made was based on this cake recipe, and obviously, since it came from a cake recipe, I changed quite a bit.

The pear-citrus-rosemary tart is very sweet and buttery, and has tons of flavor.  The ginger-pear tart is a french classic with a twist.  They are actually quite different, and I recommend trying both.  But if you have to pick just one, do the pear-citrus-rosemary.  Of course!  It has butter!  🙂

Pear-Citrus-Rosemary Tart
adapted from Italian Country Table by Lynn Rosetto Kasper

1 recipe sweet tart dough (pate sucree)
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
3-4 medium-large Bosc pears
fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
grated orange peel from one orange
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch black pepper
2 tbsp cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake tart pastry according to directions, then brush egg yolk onto the baked shell with a pastry brush and bake an additional 2-3 minutes, until the yolk is set and shiny. Drop the temperature on the oven to 350 degrees. Set shell aside.

Peel and slice the pears into 1/8″ slices into a medium bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, orange peel, cinnamon, rosemary and pepper. Sprinkle in the butter, and cut with a pastry-cutter until crumbly like a streusel.

Layer the pears in the tart shell, overlapping them in a pretty pattern (if you’d like). Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the pears. Bake 40-50 minutes, until pears are soft when pierced with a fork and top is golden brown. Place tart on a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove outer ring carefully, then slide a completely flat and thin spatula or knife between pan bottom and tart, and slide onto a completely flat serving plate. Serve the day it is made.

Fresh Ginger-Pear Tart

1 recipe sweet tart dough (pate sucree)
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
3-4 medium-large Bosc pears
1-2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 2 tbsp)
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake tart pastry according to directions, then brush egg yolk onto the baked shell with a pastry brush and bake an additional 2-3 minutes, until the yolk is set and shiny. Drop the temperature on the oven to 350 degrees. Set shell aside.

Peel and slice the pears into 1/8″ slices into a medium bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and ginger. Layer pears into the baked tart shell, overlapping into a pretty pattern. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until pears are soft when pierced with a fork and top is slightly browned. Place tart on a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove outer ring carefully, then slide a completely flat and thin spatula or knife between pan bottom and tart, and slide onto a completely flat serving plate. Serve the day it is made.