Thursday, May 31, 2012

Avgolemono Soup

Back to my style... This Greek soup, although served warm, tastes surprisingly light, tangy and refreshing. Citris has a way of doing that to any recipe. Yum. It also looks creamy but uses no dairy. Fun, huh?  This is a version of Avgolemeno that doesn't take all day, it is done in 30 min or less. The only tricky part is getting the broth smooth without cooking the eggs to quick. Ben said I could definitely make this again.

1 TBSP oil
1/2 cup onion
3/4 cup orzo rice
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 chicken breast (diced in small pieces)
juice of one lemon (please use a fresh one)
3 eggs (whites and yolks separated)
salt and pepper
parsley and lemon zest

Saute the onion in oil for a few minutes (on medium heat or they cook too quickly). Add the broth and water and bring to a simmer. Add rice and simmer on medium heat until rice is mostly cooked (about 7 min.).

Add chicken pieces and boil until chicken is fully cooked (about 5 min.) then turn the heat off. White chicken cooks, whip the egg whites with a hand blender until soft peaks form.

Combine yolks and lemon juice, then add into the egg whites and blend together. Slowly temper the eggs by stirring in a ladle full of broth one at a time (that cooks the egg but don't want to immediately hit the eggs with a lot of hot liquid or it will denature the proteins too fast and you get a version of egg-drop soup). You can also slowly drizzle the broth and whisk the eggs at the same time. Stir everything back together, taste to add in salt and pepper if needed, and ladle into bowls. Top with parsley and lemon zest.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Heinz's Pork and Beans

This is a shout out to all those of you who grew up on hot dogs, spaghettios, and baked beans. Also, for those of you who are very, very limited on budget or cooking time/skill, here is a soup for you. I agreed to humor the idea to try this out.  I admit, though really not my style, it did bring back some childhood memories and I finished my bowl. So, please welcome our first guest cook, Ben, and give him some encouragement for actually wanting to make a soup himself!

1/2 onion
4 hot dogs, sliced (Hebrew Nationals are his favorite)
1 large can pork and beans (28 oz)
1 can stewed tomatoes
ketchup to taste (it looked like about 1/2 cup total)
2 TBSP brown sugar

Saute the onion and hot dogs in sauce pan until slightly brown, dump in pork and beans, tomatoes, ketchup and brown sugar and heat through. Serve with toast. Makes 4-6 servings

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tomato Bisque

Good tomatoes are starting to come out now that it is early summer. Hooray!!! I went and made a great tomato soup from fresh tomatoes for the first time and it was delicious. "Bisque" means it is creamy, but I didn't much cream in this one so that the flavor of the tomatoes could shine through.

Normally for tomato soups, I use stewed tomatoes from a can (which actually works fine) so if it's not tomato season when you are making this, I would go that route. I do recommend finely pureeing this one (leaving not chunks) so, if you are going to use fresh tomatoes, you will need to peel them. I didn't remember this until later, after the picture. Peels just do not give in the blenders well (unless, you have a Vitamix...then they might). The best way to peel tomatoes is to quickly blanch them in a pot of boiling water. That means, drop them in and pull them right back out after 15-20 sec. or so. Cool them slightly and then the skins slide off easily.

Note that I did make this one for only 2 servings.

1 TBSP olive oil
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 yellow onion
1 carrot, diced (or about 12 baby carrots)
4 large, ripe tomatoes (peeled)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 TBSP tomato paste
1/3 cup cream
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
salt and black pepper

Heat olive oil in small soup pot. Add onion, carrot and garlic until they get soft (they can burn easily if you get distracted cutting up tomatoes-so watch carefully). Then add the tomatoes, stock and tomato paste. Bring to a boil.

Cut down heat to only a simmer and add bay leaf and thyme. Cover and allow to simmer for 30 min. Let cool slightly (you don't want your blender to explode) and remove bay leaf and thyme. Use blender to puree to a smooth consistency (hand mixers or immersion blenders don't work well for this one). If your blender didn't do a great job, you also might strain it (I had to do this to get the right texture). Stir in cream. Add salt to taste and top with fresh ground pepper, parsley leaves, and maybe a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.
I can't think of a better way to serve this than with a grilled cheese sandwich and fresh green salad. Yum!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Carrot Soup Fail

I have been trying to use my "Chopped" skills and use up as much as I can of the perishables in my fridge before going on vacation. I found amongst the few remaining options: carrots and ginger. I thought they'd be a great combo and set on making a soup for my Saturday lunch. There are many gingered carrot soups out there so I browsed through a bunch of recipes and picked parts that seemed to be what I was looking for... It was beautiful looking (see the picture?) but didn't taste right. I tried several things to fix it but still didn't succeed. It was edible but not good. I just couldn't post it. Even you few, valued readers deserve something better. I rarely won't finish a soup... and I didn't finish this one. I did, however, happen to knock several ingredients on the floor, including spilling cream all over my rug and my freshly mopped floor, missed the garbage more than once and sprayed myself with water during this ordeal. I decided I needed a break from cooking.  So sorry guys, no new soup this week. Go watch an episode of "Chopped" and see how much better they do with their mystery ingredients. 

Anyone else have a good recipe for carrot soup that turns out well?