Think of this as a snappier version of tomato rice soup; the amount of pasta used here is just enough to temper the peppers’ bite. I have modified this recipe from one I found in the Washington Post.
Serve with a loaf of Mary’s Retreat Bread.
Servings: Tested size: 3-4 servings; makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups
1 medium shallot
1 clove garlic
5-6 red roasted peppers (directions below) ***
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for optional garnish
3-1/2 to 4 cups chicken broth (you get to determine the texture: soupy or thick)
1/2 cup dried orzo pasta
Spices to Taste:
wave of Arizona Dreaming, Sate, Smoked Paprika and [optional] a pinch of lemon-salt (use a shake of Kosher salt and 1 tsp. lemon rind, as substitute)
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (also called “chili” flakes)
NOTE: Arizona Dreaming is my new go-to spice. Get yourself a jar.
Peel and coarsely chop the shallot and garlic. Prepare the red peppers by broiling the seeded, washed halves for 15 minutes under high broiler heat on a prepared pan (line with tin foil). Wrap the whole pan in foil, and let the peppers cool while they continue to steam and melt into goodness, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could put them into a covered bowl, and go that route. Peel off the blackened skins and discard.
Heat half of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the shallot and garlic. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until just softened.
Add the red peppers and broth; if your peppers weren’t soft after the broiling stage, let them cook a bit more in the hot broth until tender. Using a stick blender, puree the peppers/broth until smooth. Add the spices listed above.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then stir in the orzo. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes or until the orzo is tender and more visible in the pot, stirring often to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Add more broth, if needed. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed, using spices listed above. You can also add a Tablespoon of lemon juice to pop things up, if needed.
Also good with slices of avocado, if you like that sort of thing, or a really good sandwich. We also added cubes of cooked ham, a carryover from another meal.
Other garnishes possible:
2 tablespoons pine nuts, for garnish
1 tablespoon grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup baby spinach
few leaves fresh basil
***COOK’S NOTE: To make this quickly, use two jars of roasted red peppers from Trader Joe’s instead of roasting up your own peppers. Drain, then use in the recipe instead of the home-done peppers.
I first found this recipe in the New York Times; one version was by Julia Moskin and the other by Mark Bittman. I have made this several times and combined/changed things up to suit me. I like it because it begins with eggplant, and I always use the Japanese kind (so I can skip the salting step). It’s a good stew to serve over some rice, on a day when you just need something flavorful and hearty for dinner.
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon turmeric
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
2 medium-size Japanese eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
¼ cup good quality oil, peanut oil (if you have it)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and minced
1 onion, chopped
⅓ cup tomato paste
½ pound skinless, boneless chicken (about 2 thighs or breasts) cut into chunks
1 small (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably roasted
4 cups vegetable stock or water
½ cup natural unsweetened peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1 medium-size zucchini, 6 to 8 ounces, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced 1/2 -inch thick
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
2-3 cups coarsely chopped greens, such as spinach or chard
⅓ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
Cooked rice, for serving
Chopped roasted salted peanuts, for garnish (optional)
In a colander, toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt; set aside for 30 minutes [I skip this step if using Japanese eggplant]. Rinse, drain well and set aside. In a small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne; set aside.
In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and fry, stirring often, until soft, and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and continue cooking for another 3 or 4 minutes, until just starting to turn color. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots and chicken to a large bowl, leaving oil in pot (may need to add some more). Raise heat to nearly high and add eggplant. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with shallots/chicken.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add ginger and jalapeño and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add spices and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Add onion and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add diced tomatoes, stock or water, eggplant, chicken, shallots and a sprinkling of salt. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Place peanut butter in a medium bowl, add one or two ladlefuls of hot soup, and stir until emulsified, then pour mixture back into soup.
Reduce heat to a simmer, add zucchini, cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and chicken is done. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, chopped cilantro, greens; stir until greens are wilted. Let cool slightly and taste; add salt if necessary. Serve in bowls with rice, garnished with cilantro leaves and chopped peanuts, if desired.
Note: Can omit chicken and add 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, if desired. Can also add 1-2 thickly sliced sweet potato (as shown in the image above).
This tomato soup had its origins in a basketfull of tomatoes from our garden, and the winter delivery of a care package from my friend Judy, who is an amazing cook. In her little dish was the best fresh tomato soup I’ve tasted, and it wasn’t until I was laid up with some surgery that she finally relinquished the recipe.
Wash and cut in half a number of Roma-type tomatoes; no need to core. Lay them skin-side down on a foil-lined rimmed cookie sheet or a broiler pan. If you have eating tomatoes, cut those into approximate sized chunks. Add one onion, chunked. Squish three cloves of garlic over the tomatoes. Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil, and then liberally salt and pepper the tomatoes.
Bake in a preheated oven at 425 for 40 minutes, until they are tender and even a little bit cooked down.
Place in a pot, and drizzle over some good-quality balsamic vinegar (about 1/4 cup). With a stick blender, whir the mixture smooth, adding chicken broth as needed to bring it to soup consistency (probably about 3/4 to 1 cup of broth).
Now adjust for flavor. Some things I usually add are:
fresh basil, snipped
heavy pinch of red pepper flakes
salt (to taste)
and if I have no fresh basil, I add about 2 Tbls homemade pesto.
Some garnishes are:
chunks of avocado
Hatch chiles, if they are in season (roast on BBQ, remove skins)
Translated, this means tortellini in broth.
We arrived in Bologna on a rainy October night, and asked the hotel desk for a dinner recommendation. Da Nello, he said. A restaurant just off the main square. And then he said, “Tortellini en Brodo is very good. My favorite this time of year.” Apparently this soup is served when the weather turns cold, and since Bologna is the birthplace of the tortellini, I thought I should try it.
This is a photo of the soup that night. They brought me this steaming bowl of tortellini and a jar of grated Parmesan cheese, which the server indicated that I should sprinkle over the top. The tortellini were very small–about the size of my thumbnail and chewy rather than soft. I doubted this serving would fill me up, but by the end, I was happy, warm and in possession of a new traditional recipe.
We found the food in the Emilia-Romaga region to be simple, yet incredibly flavorful. I think it is because they use very high quality ingredients. So when you prepare this ready-in-ten-minutes soup and because there are only three elements, be sure to use high quality ingredients.
1 quart low-salt chicken broth, good quality. [Note: I use Swanson’s and have good results.]
1 8 oz. package fresh tortellini from the grocer’s, often found near the deli section
Heat the broth to a low bubbling boil, then slide in the tortellini. Cook for 5-8 minutes until pasta is tender (but don’t overcook). Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese (not the stuff in the green bottle–use high quality, please).
When it’s raining or cold outside, it’s a Soup Night inside. And this one is a good candidate because it is chunky, hearty and has lots of vegetables and flavor. It is — as are all soups — generally better the next day, so you can use that as your excuse for making a big batch and serving it twice.
This soup was originally published in Bon Appetit, but I have made changes over the three billion times I’ve made it. Well, maybe I haven’t made it that many times, but I’ve made it for our own supper, potlucks, soup parties and everytime I bring it somewhere, someone asks for the recipe. Here it is.
Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini–Yield: 8 servings, 1 1/2 cups each
(That’s the official name, but we just call it Tortellini Soup.)
1 lb. Italian sausage (I use Jimmy Dean’s Sage sausage as a back-up.)
1 coarsely-chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 cans (14.5 oz) beef broth
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups (5 medium) chopped, seeded, peeled tomatoes, or 1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes (see note below)
1 cup thinly sliced carrots (about 3)
1/2 tsp. basil leaves
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 medium–8″ long)
1 bag of dried tortellini (8 oz)
1 pepper, preferable a sweet red or golden pepper
Grated Parmesan Cheese (I used cheddar tonight, which is what you see above.)
If sausage comes in a casing, remove casing and brown sausage in a 5-qt. soup pot. Remove sausage; drain. In 1 Tbs. of drippings, sauté onions and garlic until tender. [Cook’s note: I just throw in the onions and garlic to the almost browned sausage and keep stirring.]
Add beef broth, water, tomatoes, carrots, basil, tomato sauce and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 30 minutes. Skim fat from soup.
(If you use the full 16 oz. package of dry torrellini, you will have less of a soup and more of a casserole; try using just half of the package for a more soupier soup. Fresh tortellini can also be used, but it won’t be as delicious, as the dry pasta soaks up the broth and flavors of the soup.)
Stir in zucchini, tortellini and pepper. Simmer covered an additional 35-40 minutes or until tortellini are tender. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each serving.
NOTE: I added crimini (brown) mushrooms this time around, cuting them into chunks. This is strictly optional. If you use the Jimmy Dean’s sausage instead of the Italian, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to amp up the flavors.
After doing lesson prep for my classes for so long that my eyes hurt, I wandered downstairs to figure out dinner. It was a colder day, the first not-hot day we’ve had this fall and some rain was falling here and there all afternoon. I wanted something warm for dinner, but not heavy. Something traditional but with a bit of kick. The soup cookbook fell out and after looking through it I chose a recipe to start in on. But I took a huge turn off their recipe highway onto something wholly my own. We enjoyed it and I hope you will too. Oh, that red pepper? It’s for looks. You leave it in, but to add some heat, use Sriracha sauce at the table.
Although this looks complicated, get everything ready at the beginning as it goes together quickly.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 sweet bell peppers (I used 1 red and 1/2 yellow), chopped
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (or put through a garlic press)
2 stalks lemon grass
2 dried red pepper pods (more if you want more heat)
2 knuckle-sized chunks of fresh ginger
about 2 cups white frozen corn (can add more at the end if you like your soup with more “stuff”)
1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed and drained
2 cans chicken broth (14 oz each)
1 can coconut milk (about 14 oz.)
1 Tablespoon sugar
juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tablespoons)
pinch or two of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Melt butter and oil together in heavy soup-sized pan, saute peppers, shallot and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken stock, broken-in-half lemon grass stalks, dried red peppers and the pieces of ginger. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
Add in the shrimp and corn. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Fish out lemon grass and ginger. Add sugar, lime juice, pinch of red pepper flakes, and cilantro.
Add coconut milk. Adjust seasonings (add more salt?) and serve with Sriracha (Rooster) sauce at the table.
Note: I keep lemon grass stalks in my freezer. I simply smacked them over the edge of the counter to break them in half, then threw them in. Ditto the ginger (for keeping it in the freezer), but tonight I set it on a cutting board, and lopped off one of its chunks to throw in.
I loved this soup–a thick, rich beety soup with a brilliant color. It’s perfect on a hot, hot day–and it made the Los Angeles Times’ Top Ten recipes of 2010 list!
Total time: About 1 hour, plus cooling time for the beets
Note: Adapted from Warszawa in Santa Monica
1/2 pound red beets, tops and roots trimmed but unpeeled (it’s about three medium to large beets)
2 cups buttermilk or yogurt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about half a lemon
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions, green part only
1 large cucumber, peeled, not seeded, and diced into small pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and sliced crosswise or diced
1. Cook the beets in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them by 1 inch. Simmer the beets until they are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat, drain the beets and set them aside until cool enough to handle.
2. Peel and grate the beets, saving any liquid produced when grating. You should have at least 1 cup of beets (any extra can be used as a garnish for salads and will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week).
3. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup grated beets and reserved liquid, buttermilk, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice and salt using a large spatula.
3. One hour before serving, gently stir in the green onions, cucumber, dill and parsley. Cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to marry. This makes a scant 5 cups of soup.
4. Serve each bowl with a sprinkling of dill and slices of hard-boiled egg.
Each of 4 servings: 179 calories; 6 grams protein; 21 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 8 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 24 mg cholesterol; 18 grams sugar; 1,361 mg sodium.
Maybe it was because Dave brought home another sack of beautifully ripe tomatoes when I already had a sack of beautifully ripe tomatoes in the fridge. Maybe it was because we finally got a warm spring day, after a long string of cool spring days. (I’m not complaining about this–just stating a fact.) I don’t know–but I know I wanted some gazpacho. I found this recipe on Epicurious. Not content with that, I perused my existing recipes, checked out Pioneer Woman, and in the end went with the Epicurious recipe. I’ve tried many over the years–but I think I’ve found a winner. This is a thicker version of gazpacho (apparently the ones from Spain are thinner), but I quite like this one. It is best made the day before but refrigerating for 4 hours is a minimum.
Mom’s Gazpacho • Epicurious | May 2001 • by Elizabeth Shepard
Yield: Makes 8 servings
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups chopped fresh plum tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped green or yellow pepper
1 cup chopped cucumber, seeds removed
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely minced parsley
2/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon (approximately 2 tablespoons)
1 can (14 ounce) beef broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
Pepper, coarsely ground
1 46-ounce can tomato juice
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (I made some on the spot by whirling a couple of slices of good-quality bread in my food processor.)
Tabasco and salt/pepper to taste
Garnish (optional): croutons and chunks of avocado
Place egg in small pot of cold water, bring to boil, and let simmer for 10 minutes–don’t overcook. While this cooks, chop garlic finely–really really fine. I even used the side of the blade of my knife to smash it some more. Place this in a small bowl, add a pinch of salt (or a shake, if you are using Kosher salt).
When egg is finished cooking, run under cold water, remove shell, add to garlic and salt mixture, and mash together with fork. Set aside until for later.
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, red onion, olive oil, lemon juice, beef broth (optional), red wine vinegar, parsley, oregano, Worcestershire, and coarsely ground black pepper to taste. Stir.
Pour tomato juice over the vegetables, and add garlic, egg, and salt mixture. Add bread crumbs and stir so that they dissolve into liquid.
Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste. Chill for at least 4 hours and serve. Garnish with chunks of avocado and croutons. Pass extra croutons.
At the end, the cook had included some of her notes:
· My recipe serves eight, and it’s a lot of trouble to prepare this soup for one (I disagree). But like homemade tomato sauce, its flavor improves with age—you can store it in the refrigerator and eat it for about a week.
· Why mash the garlic with egg and salt? To make a garlic-infused paste that adds body and substance to the tomato broth.
· Use kosher salt to bring out the flavors of the vegetables.
· Try to chop the vegetables so that they’re small but not minced or pulverized, and don’t worry if the sizes aren’t uniform. The pieces should be small enough to chew but big enough to recognize.
· If you prefer a more elegant presentation, emulsify the chilled mixture before serving. Seasoning is a very personal matter. I tend to like my gazpacho pungent and sharp, with salt, lemon, and onion flavors lingering on the palate. If you prefer milder soup, reduce the onion, garlic, and vinegar quantities by half. If you want a spicier soup, add 2 teaspoons of minced jalepeño peppers. To make vegetarian gazpacho, substitute vegetable broth for beef broth.
That’s what Dave and I say to each other when I cook something up that tastes better than any that we’ve had in eateries around our home. I was craving Tortilla Soup, but didn’t want Restaurant A’s version (too watery) or Restaurant B’s version (token tortillas on top and none in the soup). I wanted MY version. So I turned to Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything (you should get this book) for a start.
Why did I change the recipe and add tomatillos to the mix? I think it was because my sister had just gotten back from a Mexican Riveria vacation where she’d gone to a cooking class. They used tomatillos, so it must have been on my mind. What are tomatillos? Little tart green tomatoes with a papery skin. What if you can’t find any in your market? Eliminate them from the recipe (Bittman doesn’t have them), but as they are TART, I think they punch up the flavor of this soup. I compensated some for their pucker-inducing by adding sugar. Add less or more to your taste at the end of the recipe, but remember that the tortillas will absorb some of the punch–your broth should be a bit tangy and spicy before adding the chips.
Here’s our chips–crisp, salty with a bit of lime. Homeboy Chips: Jobs Not Jails.
Made in Los Angeles. Where else would no jail term be a selling point?
1 1/2 fresh chilis, like jalapeno, serrano or Fresno (we used jalapeno)
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, halved
2 tomatillos, with papery skin removed and stickiness washed off
2 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or grapeseed
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch dried oregano
4 cups chicken stock, or 2 low-salt 14 oz cans of broth
1/3 to 1/2 chopped fresh cilantro leaves (can use more for garnish, if desired)
2 cups sliced or shredded cooked chicken (Our favorite way to get this is to use the meat from a rotisserie chicken)
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
1 ripe avocado, pitted peeled and sliced (for garnish)
Wash the one-and-one-half pounds tomatoes, 2 tomatillos (removing the papery husk) and two jalapeno peppers. I know I show more tomatillos in the above photo, but I removed one in the end. Slice in half, laying them out skin side UP on in a rimmed baking sheet and broil a few inches away from the heat until the skins are charred. Then flip them over. Take enough time that most of the tomatoes are a bit mushy and the skins on the peppers are nice and blistery. [NOTE: There is a temptation to remove the tomato skins. Be aware that you are also removing some of the char flavor–maybe better to fish out the skins from the soup at the end of the simmering time?]
When cool, peel and seed the chili pepper (I discarded 1/2 of one pepper–we like mild heat in our food), then chop finely. Chop also the tomatillos (on the right of this picture). I didn’t peel the tomatillos or the tomatoes, instead fishing out most of the skins later on–after it had sat for a while.
In a heavy pot over medium heat, put the oil. When hot, add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and softened, about 10 minutes (on the left in the above photo). Add the tomatoes, tomatillos, and chilis, crushing the tomatoes with the back of the spoon (I found this easier to do AFTER they’d been cooking in the broth for a while). Season with salt, pepper and oregano; add the stock and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers gently. Cook for about 25 minutes, crushing the tomatoes from time to time. Add 1/2 teaspoon sugar to offset the tartness of the tomatillos; see note above.
Bittman says that at this point, the soup can sit for a few hours or refrigerate, covered, for up to a day before reheating and finishing. (I let it sit for about 2 hours.)
Stir in the chicken and tortilla chips–crushing them slightly as you add them–and simmer for another 3 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with 1/2 of a lime juiced, and sprinkle with salt and pepper (if needed–we found our chips were salty enough), then add in a handful (1/3 cup) of chopped fresh cilantro. Serve, garnishing with more chips and sliced of avocado.
A few weekends ago, Dave and I went up to San Jose to attend a wedding and while there, slipped off to the San Jose Musem of Art to catch the Thiebaud exhibit and lunch at their in-house spot: Café Too! I chose Avocado and Orange Soup with Tropical Salsa and immediately thought I’d partaken of the manna of the gods with this dish. Oh my. So, coming home, I’ve tried to recreate it in some fashion. I’m still working on it, but here’s my latest incarnation.
2 large ripe avocados; pitted and peeled and cut into chunks
1 c Freshly squeezed orange juice
1 c Plain yogurt–I use Greek yogurt as it’s a little thicker
juice of 1/2 of a lime–cut in half, and stick a fork into the pulp, turning and squeezing until you see no more juice
1/4 tsp. Tobasco pepper sauce–about four shakes, I think (that’s what I use)
Salt to taste–this takes more than you think
In food processor, blend avocados and orange juice. Add yogurt and the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with orange slices.
When I look at the soup from the restaurant, I see little flecks of green in their soup, which isn’t in mine. Bits of jalepeno? Flecks of cilantro? I used chopped cilantro on the first batch of soup (above) and it just wasn’t right. Leave a comment if you’ve figured it out.
I use three piece of citrus (of three different types) and it varies from whatever’s in the market. This week I had a Cara Cara orange (cross between a grapefruit and an orange), but you could also use a blood orange, a tangelo, a mandarin orange or other interesting citrus fruit. The museum had something unrecognizable in theirs–tomato? soft pomegranite? Never could figure it out, but this one works just as well, I think. This salsa is also good on grilled salmon.
3 pieces of citrus fruit, all different
1 red bell pepper, chopped teensy–really teensy pieces!
1 mango, pitted and chopped finely
salt to taste
To prepare the citrus, cut off the top and bottom of the fruit, so it stands squarely on your cutting board. Then, following the curve of the fruit, remove the outer layer of the rind, cutting every so slightly into the fruit in order to remove the membrane. Cut down the middle, then into section, chopping each into very small pieces. Repeat for each piece of citrus.
Mix citrus, pepper, mango in a bowl and salt slightly. I always think now would be a good time to add some minced cilantro (just a bit) or Italian parsley or even a small jalepeno. with seeds and membranes removed and finely minced.
Ladle the soup in the bowl, then top with a healthy spoonful of Citrusy Salsa. Pass more salsa as needed.