Tag Archives: soup

Forgotten Minestrone (100th Post!)

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Yaaaay! I’ve finally hit 100 posts on this blog! I’ve been writing since the end of September last year, and it’s nearly July now. I love the motivation to try new things that this blog has given me; every week is a new adventure. I’ve met some great people along the way, as well… food bloggers, recipe testers, professional chefs, and home cooks. The food is great, too. :) Here’s to another 100 delicious posts!

I’ve been doing a lot of slow cooker recipes lately. They work well with my busy schedule; I love being able to add a bunch of things to a pot, leave it alone, and come back in several hours to food. Today’s recipe is super easy, very nutritious, and yields a huge quantity. My slow cooker was literally full to the brim!

I only made one change to the ingredient list: in respect of the low-carb guidelines I’m trying to follow, I omitted the pasta. Please feel free to include it if you would like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean beef stew meat
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 2 tablespoons minced dried parsley
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups finely chopped cabbage
  • 1 (16-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to top

Directions:

2-crockpot

In a slow cooker, combine the beef, water, tomatoes, onion, bouillon cube, parsley, salt, thyme, and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or until the meat is tender.

3-pull_beef

Remove the meat to a plate, and pull into shreds using two forks.

4-add_veggies

Return the meat to the slow cooker, and add the zucchini, cabbage, and beans.

Cover and cook on high for 30-45 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

5-finished

Serves 8.

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Bulgarian Monastery Bean Soup

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Today’s recipe is an excellent illustration of why one should hire a recipe tester before publication – or at least do some basic logic-oriented proofreading! There are poorly-worded directions, ingredients out of order, and an entire set of instructions which go nowhere and leave the reader hanging. No bueno, my friends. Muy mal.

Ingredients out of order are a large problem for the home cook. It is very annoying to read through a recipe, begin cooking, and then realize that something is missing. Preparation instructions are also important. I would like to point out to the publisher of today’s recipe that carrots are round. You do not cube carrots. I know that this is a small detail, but details are important.

The most notable problem with this recipe involves the preparation and addition of the paprika. The technique described is borrowed from Indian cooking, and is called chaunk: spices and seasonings are fried briefly in a small amount of oil to enhance their flavor, and then added to a dish. This recipe totally screws up the concept. The amount of oil used is WAY too much: 1/2 cup?! If I actually added this much oil to a soup, it would be disgusting. 1 tablespoon would have been sufficient. Still, even with a corrected amount of oil, the recipe has a still larger problem: after the instructions to prepare the paprika in oil, there is absolutely NO further reference to said paprika or oil whatsoever! If I had made this soup precisely according to the recipe, I would have ended up with a pot of somewhat inoffensive soup, and a skillet full of red, burnt oil sitting on my stove until the cows came home. Not acceptable, recipe publisher. You fail the test.

I chose to avoid the paprika-oil-chaunk problem altogether, and simply add 1/2 tablespoon of paprika directly to the soup. The resulting flavor was pretty good, and I would make this again – my rewrite, not the original.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried lima beans
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint, or 1-2 tablespoons dried mint
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • Parsley to garnish

Directions:

In a large pot, soak the beans in water for several hours.

2-carrots

Bring the water-covered beans to a boil, and add the onion and carrots.

Boil for 30-45 minutes, or until the beans become soft.

3-mint

Add the mint, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for another 15 minutes.

4-tomato_paste

Add the tomato paste, paprika, and salt, and simmer over low heat until ready to serve.

Serve warm, and garnished with parsley.

5-finished

Serves 6-8.

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Smoky Pasta and Bean Soup

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Thanks to everyone on Facebook and elsewhere for the birthday wishes! One of the awesome things I received was a camera upgrade; my old camera was top-of-the-line when I bought it, but that was in 2004. The new model is super easy to use, and takes great pictures. I still have a few recipes to work through which were photographed with the old camera, but expect better photography to filter in over the next two weeks. I’m excited!

I am sometimes cautious about serving soup for dinner; I don’t want to leave anyone hungry, and some soups are a little on the wimpy side. Today’s dish is far from wimpy: it is hearty, wholesome, and permeated with the wonderful flavor of bacon. The recipe gives the option of using either macaroni or “other small pasta”. I chose to use miniature farfalle, because I feel that they are more interesting to have in a soup than macaroni. :) Everybody does macaroni. Why not be a little different?

I modified the quantities of the canned ingredients in this recipe. It’s a little inconvenient to measure canned ingredients by the cup. How many cups of any particular ingredient are in a can, anyway? Isn’t it dependent on packing? And what about the leftovers? I find it much simpler to simply add however many cans are required. I measured the can contents myself before modifying the recipe, and the modified amounts given below are pretty close to what the original recipe called for. No more half cans of tomatoes sitting in the fridge!

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans white beans, drained
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cups macaroni or other small pasta
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:

2-bacon

In a large skillet, sauté the bacon over medium heat until it is cooked.

3-add_veg

Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and red pepper to the skillet, and sauté for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables become soft.

4-add_tomatoes

Add the tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes.

5-add_liquid

Add the beans and chicken broth, and bring the mixture to a gentle boil.

6-add_pasta

Add the pasta and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender but firm.

Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

7-finished

Serves 8.

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Vegetable Beef Soup

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It’s a rare recipe where the directions can be summarized with the word “make”. My mother’s soup really is that simple: assemble ingredients, put the pot on to simmer, and let it do its thing. If you’d rather have more of a stew than a soup, simmer the mixture down until it’s nice and thick. If you want to make this recipe vegetarian, it’s equally simple: don’t add the meat. Bam. Done. Robust vegetarian dinner for several, coming up.

When I think of commercial vegetable soup, I remember watery broth with a few vegetables half-heartedly swimming in it. That isn’t a stand-alone dinner by any stretch of the imagination, and I’d be a little embarrassed to have it on my table. To use an automotive metaphor: if the store-bought option is a Ford Pinto, this soup is a Ferrari. It’s packed chock-full of every kind of delicious vegetable, plus chunks of tender, savory beef. This ain’t yo mama’s vegetable soup. It’s mine.

I chose to use chunks of round steak rather than a beef bone for this particular preparation, because I am currently city-bound and don’t have access to a good butcher. I also omitted the macaroni: I can’t remember my mother ever actually putting it in, and the soup doesn’t need it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound round steak, cubed
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 (15-ounce) can peas
  • 1 (15-ounce) can corn
  • 1/2 cup dried lima beans (you can use the canned ones, but they’re so much better cooked fresh)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

2-ingredients

In a large pot, combine all ingredients and add water to cover.

Simmer for 2-3 hours, or until all ingredients are tender and fully cooked.

3-finished

Serves 6-8.

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Potato Onion Soup

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Scent is one of the most essential senses that humans have. It is perceived through the olfactory bulbs, which are a part of the limbic system — a deeply buried part of the brain which also houses instinctive response and emotional memories. As many people know, a particular odor can trigger powerful nostalgia. It can “take you back” to a time, a place, or a situation. The memories may be so clear that they are almost overwhelming. In the mind, the walls of another place arise, the years turn, and one relives a gestalt experience.

What does this have to do with soup?

When I was a child, my grandmother would care for me when my mother was busy. She lived alone in a little house, which was exactly the way that she wanted it. I remember small things – the collection of colored glass in the china cabinet, her copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, the sullen black cat. The larger picture sometimes slips away from my mind. I do remember that my grandmother would often make this particular soup for our lunch. She grew up during the Great Depression, and some of her habits reflected that fact. When making potato onion soup, she wouldn’t use milk – she would use 6 to 8 of the single-sized containers of half-and-half that she had carefully collected from fast food restaurants. My grandmother would serve the soup with crackers and sliced cheese, and we would eat in silence.

Until recently, I had not made this soup for years. Life passes me by sometimes, and I forget about old recipes and old memories. A few days ago, the weather was cold, and I decided that potato onion soup sounded like just the thing. As the onions were simmering in the pot, I leaned over to enjoy the aromatic steam, and without warning the years fell away around me like paper-thin leaves. I could see everything just as it was, from the Campbell’s soup timer to the rhinestone-studded Kit-Kat clock hanging in the piano room. I was nine years old again, and my grandmother was in the kitchen making soup for lunch. For the first time in nearly ten years, I missed her.

Sometimes, simple food is the best food. This soup is one of the easiest to make that I have ever encountered, and it is wonderfully warming. I hope that it may bring you comfort and enjoyment, as it has done for my family over the years.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cups diced peeled potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

2-onions

In a large pot, cover the onions with a generous amount of water.

3-clear_onions

Bring the onions to a boil over high heat, and cook until clear.

4-add_potatoes

Add the potatoes and salt, and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

5-add_dairy

Add the milk and butter, and reduce the heat to low.

6-show_texture

Using a potato masher, mash approximately half of the potatoes. The goal is to thicken the texture of the soup, not to make it completely creamy.

Simmer over low heat until the soup is thickened, and serve.

7-finished

Serves 4.

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