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Posts tagged ‘Soup’

Spanish Pea Soup with Crispy Ham


Oh, March…you don’t really belong to winter…and yet you’re not a full-fledged spring month either.  Sigh…

I don’t know about you, but this time of year, I start craving all things spring.  Ramps, fiddleheads, greens, onions and asparagus, but there is one vegetable in particular that I look forward to the most.  Spring peas.  I think my devotion to the fresh-from-the-garden-spring-peas comes from disliking all peas that were placed in front of me before sometime in my mid-twenties…and is most likely related to the fact that 99% of those were of the frozen or canned variety.

Here’s a revelation.  This Spring Pea soup can be enjoyed any time of year.  Let me say that again, you can enjoy the delightful crisp and sweet taste of spring peas any time you feel like it.  Herein lies the genius of this Spanish Pea Soup with crispy ham and the Barefoot Contessa!  So even if it is still dumping snow in your neck of the woods…it can be springtime in your mouth!

Spanish Pea Soup with Crispy Ham

Good olive oil
½ cup chopped shallots (2 large shallots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 pounds frozen peas, such as Bird’s Eye Sweet Garden
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 thin slices Spanish Serrano ham or Italian prosciutto

In a deep (8 x 5-inch) heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock, frozen peas, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender until coarsely pureed, season to taste.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the ham in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 5 to 8 minutes, until crisp.

Reheat the soup and serve in shallow bowls with a slice of crispy ham on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve hot.

The ham is an integral part of this dish…a nice salty and crunchy complement to the sweet peas.  We opted to serve some crusty bread alongside and we couldn’t resist yet another Barefoot Contessa recipe for Garlic Roasted Cauliflower to make the dinner a bit heartier.

This is so simple, quick and fresh that it makes a perfect weeknight meal, and leftovers are wonderful, even served cold for lunch with a dollop of creme fraiche and of course the drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt!

What is your favorite spring craving?

 

 

Ina’s Winter Minestrone with Garlic Bruschetta


A few weeks ago, I proclaimed this soup one of the best (especially for a brothy soup) soups I’d ever put in my mouth.  I am not joking.  I almost licked the Tupperware clean a week later after I ate my 7th lunch of reheated soup.  The photos are not my finest work – straight from the iPhone as we had company over when I made it and I didn’t stop and take photos before serving.  However, the recipe was too good to just post as a ‘Dinner Last Week’ photo post.

When it comes to soup…I tend towards the creamy or puréed ones.  Also, I don’t think I’ve ever had a minestrone that I had any interest in eating again.  I actually surprised myself AND Woody when I mentioned this was one of the recipes I wanted to make first out of my latest Barefoot Contessa cookbook – Foolproof.  The mixture of pasta, white beans, spinach added at the last second, a dollop of pesto, the richness of parmesan and the butternut squash is so savory and flavorful and perfect for a winter evening…even a mild California winter evening.

I made the recipe exactly as written and the only thing I might change is to add a bit more pancetta.  I thought for sure that the leftovers would be good…but expected the pasta to be blown out from continuing to soak up liquid and the wilted spinach to turn to mush…surprisingly, it held very well.  My mouth still waters thinking about this soup…I’d be surprised if I can wait another month to make it again.

Winter Minestrone with Garlic Bruschetta

from Ina Garten’s “Foolproof Barefoot Contessa”

Good olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, ½-inch-diced
1½ cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups (½-inch) diced carrots (3 carrots)
2 cups (½-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)
2½ cups (½-inch) diced peeled butternut squash
1½ tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
26 ounces canned or boxed chopped tomatoes, such as Pomi
6 to 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade 
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked small pasta, such as tubetti (see note)
8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
½ cup good dry white wine
2 tablespoons store-bought pesto
Garlic Bruschetta (recipe follows)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 ½ teaspoons pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. The soup should be quite thick but if it’s too thick, add more chicken stock. Just before serving, reheat the soup, add the spinach, and toss with 2 big spoons (like tossing a salad). Cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the white wine and pesto. Depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock, add another teaspoon or two of salt to taste.

Serve large shallow bowls of soup with a bruschetta on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and serve hot.

Garlic Bruschetta

1 baguette
Good olive oil
1 garlic clove, cut in half lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Slice the baguette at a 45-degree angle in inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and bake for 6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Take the slices out of the oven and rub the surface of each one with the cut clove of garlic.

 

ps:  This recipe is all over the internet, pinterest, etc.  Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks it is absolutely delicious.

 

 

Seared Scallops with Roasted Caulifower Soup, Peppery Olive Oil & Fresh Parsley!


Scallops are like the tenderloin of the sea.  If I spot a seared scallop dish on a menu…it’ll be hard to steer me in another direction.  Seared in butter, with a nutty sweetness and tender texture…I could eat them right out of the pan, but plop them in a delicious soup with a little something extra…and, I’m DONE!  Stick-a-fork-in-me-done!  And just one bowl of soup, simply presented is completely satisfying.

Instructions are simple:

Take one head of cauliflower, cut it up into rough chunks, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 375º oven for 20 minutes, or until brown around the edges and your kitchen smells wonderful.  Prep the scallops by letting them rest on a plate on a counter so they come to room temperature, which helps with sear.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit.  The salt actually helps bring soluble proteins to the surface which will also help develop a nice crust.  Once the cauliflower is cooked, let cool and then toss into a soup pot, add in chicken or vegetable broth to almost cover.  If you want a little more complex flavor, you could sweat some onions in the pot first and then dump the rest in.  Bring it to a boil and then break out your immersion blender.  (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you don’t know what you’re missing…it’s one of my favorite kitchen appliances and is a very inexpensive addition to your culinary toolbox.)  Purée the bejeezus out of it…the silkier the better.  And if you really want to get fancy you can break out a chinois, or strainer and make sure you’ve caught any sneaky chunks.  Season again with salt and pepper and any additional flavors you want; truffle salt would be interesting…maybe some smoked paprika…fresh herbs…you could go a lot of directions.  Keep the soup warm and sear the scallops in butter with at least a touch of oil which will help prevent the butter from burning.  When the pan is hot, add in the scallops, and make sure to not crowd the pan.  Leave the little guys be in the pan…don’t move them around, don’t peek underneath.  Just 2-4 minutes on the first side, flip them and cook for another 2 minutes and they will be done.  DO NOT OVERCOOK THE SCALLOPS!  It would be an atrocity of great proportion and the scallop police would come find you, take you away and feed you rubbery overcooked seafood for the rest of your life to prove a point.  Don’t do it!

Portion the soup out into shallow bowls, drop in the scallops, drizzle with a favorite olive oil and finish with a scattering of parsley and just a touch of sea salt!  Voilá!

You can thank me later!

Pheasant, Partridge & Wild Rice Soup


This is Cleo – our French Pointer – a bird dog – she’s vicious…not really…she’ll lick your face off, nibble your nose and crawl in your lap.

Cleo

I know…why is our dog making an appearance on our ‘food blog’…because she is an important part of our lives…and important in the grand scheme of things.  I realize that whether she howls in the morning when I’m trying to put pants on is not affecting world peace…however…her role as a bird dog is important in participating in (as much as we can, as an urban LA couple) where our food and meat comes from.

I did not grow up hunting…in fact…I don’t recall seeing a real gun…never mind touching or shooting one, until college for a women’s studies class – a whole other story entirely.  Anyway, guns, hunting, bird dogs…all of these are a bit foreign to me.  But knowing where my food comes from, being capable of participating in the collection of food items (not just veggies…but the animals…and the meat they provide), and preparing them in all different manner; all of these things are very important to me, to us.  Don’t get me wrong…I had my vegetarian years, when my mother insisted I felt bad for the cows; and they may have coincided with my women’s studies years…but I do love me some bacon and it doesn’t get much better than duck fat, so I think I should know, actually I think we all should know, and have an appreciation for, not only where our food comes from but what it takes to get that food from the earth/farm/wilderness/etc. to our table.

Ready for Birds

Over the holidays, we visited my family in Utah and brought Cleo along, my parents cats were nonplussed.  Understanding that we live in LA county, Cleo does not get much of a chance to exercise her little bird-hunting brain very often…although Woody tries hard.  So we made sure to get a day of pheasant hunting in, even if it was a crazy snowy day with very cold and blustery winds; even if I forgot to pack my long underwear because I worked up until a few hours before we packed the car to drive to Utah, and even if, I was sick.

We headed out hoping to get some pheasant and Hungarian partridge…planning on using everything and anything we shot in a delicious soup adapted from a recipe from Woody’s dad, Dennis.  First off, Cleo needed no assistance in bringing in the first of the pheasant’s.  No shots were fired…I repeat, no shots were fired.

It went like this:  a pheasant flies out of a bush…continues to fly out into a field and land about 300 yards away (they don’t like to fly in bad weather…just like Delta’s pilots…they prefer to hunker down); Cleo watches this happen and as soon as the pheasant lands…takes off, bounding and leaping through 2-3 feet of deep snow.  At this particular moment, I was not sure a) what would happen when she got there; b) if she’d be too tired to get back to us; and c) what we were going to do with a live pheasant in Cleo’s mouth.  Oh, but not to worry…a) she pounced and nipped at the pheasant she had a good hold of it; b) Woody met her halfway as he pictured her passing out from exhaustion; and c) no need to worry about c) since Cleo rung the pheasant’s neck all by herself and the pheasant was as dead as a doornail.  So let’s recap – we went hunting with our bird dog who is supposed to POINT at birds she smells…then scare them up out of the bushes, so we can shoot them…and then retrieve them for us…and instead – we went hunting, didn’t fire a single shot, Cleo chased, killed, and retrieved a pheasant and we had at least 1 bird in the bag for our soup.  Luckily, Woody’s a good shot and with some help from Cleo we were able to get a few more…otherwise, it would have been ‘soup for one’…maybe two with small portions.  Here is our final take:  5 Pheasants and 3 Hungarian Partridge!

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Okay…on to the actual cooking part.  The birds were cleaned for us…is a shockingly quick manner, might I add (perhaps a little too graphic this early in the life of this blog…details to come).  All that was left to do was to give ‘em a quick rinse and once over to make sure we removed any shot that could be embedded in the meat.

please excuse the pink plastic cutting board...

We roasted the meat after seasoning it liberally with salt and pepper and giving it a few aromatic herbs.

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I cut up a standard french mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery.Then we cubed the pheasant and partridge, sweat all the veggies, cooked the wild rice in a separate pot until it was al dente…and then the soup really comes together.  I love this soup for many reasons.  It is a great creamy comforting dinner, it gets better the next day and even the day after…and 1 recipe makes a large quantity of soup…it’s like a never-ending soup bowl as the wild rice continues to soak up moisture, so when reheating, it is easy to heat on the stove and add broth to thin it back down to soup consistency.

Sweat the veggies, season, all the cubed partridge and pheasant, combine, season again, add broth and cooked wild rice…add a touch of cream…and Voila!

simple mirepoix, meat, broth and rice

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Puff Pastry and Kale Chips

Pheasant, Partridge and Wild Rice Soup

We topped it with a square of golden puff pastry and kale chips (aka oiled and salted kale leaves that have been roasted until crisp).

the final dish

and those who enjoyed it!

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