Cam's Sour Soup

I have happy associations with this soup.  Cam made it for the first time, almost to the date, 3 years ago.  I left work early, not feeling well, trudged through freezing cold winter weather and came home to a warm apartment filled with the smell of this perfect soup.  

It's an unusual soup, unlike the ones we usually make.  It's perky with sour notes of lime and lemon grass, spicy with chiles and ginger, and full of comforting root vegetables.  

Serves 4.

Sour Soup

about 1.5 lbs of daikon, peeled, chopped

3 bay leaves

2 lemon grass stalks, 3" pieces, crushed

3" fresh ginger, peeled - half cut into coins, half minced

4 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

dash sesame oil

dash olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 red fresno chile, seeded, minced

3 carrots, peeled, diced 

1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced

1 celery root, peeled, diced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 quart chicken stock

zest + juice of 1 lime

8 oz mushrooms, halved, sliced

1 bunch collard greens, stems discarded, chopped

s + p

chopped fresh cilantro leaves

In a small pot, bring daikon, bay, lemon grass, ginger coins, water, soy and sesame oil to a boil. Lower to a simmer.  Cover and simmer until daikon is tender, about 50 minutes.  Remove leaves, lemon grass and ginger coins.  Set aside.

(While the daikon stock is simmering - prep the remaining vegetables.)

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Once hot, add minced ginger, garlic, chile, carrots, leek, celery root and thyme.  Saute until glossy and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, lime zest, daikon and daikon stock.  Bring to a boil, add mushrooms, simmer until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.  Stir in collard greens, cook 2 minutes more.  Season with lime juice, salt and pepper.  Garnish with cilantro.   



Beef + Barley Stew

Let's embrace the cold weather and make this stew.  

Beef + Barley Stew

2 pounds lean stew meat, cut into small bite sized pieces

high heat oil, such as canola or grape seed

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cups water

2 quarts beef stock

1 cup pearled barley

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 1/2 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 1/2 cup diced cremini mushrooms

s + p

Season meat with salt and pepper.  In a large pot, set over high heat, brown meat in oil.  Work in batches to avoid crowding the pan.  Set browned meat aside.  

Brown onion in pot, stirring frequently to avoid burning.  Add garlic and tomato paste, cook, stirring until browned.  Stir in meat and accumulated juices, water, stock, barley, bay, thyme and rosemary.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 1 1/2 hours until meat and barley are tender.  Skim off any fat or foam that occurs during simmering.  

Add carrots, celery and mushrooms.  Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove bay leaf.  Serve hot. 

Slow Cooker White Bean, Andouille + Collard Greens Soup

I'm only minimally sorry for bombarding you all with all these slow cooker recipes this month but I've been using this little machine weekly.  I have the 4 quart crockpot which is great size for Cam and me.  I promise I'll start mixing it up after the slow cooked pork recipe I'm sharing next week.  

This is almost a stew, slightly thickened by the starchiness of the beans.  Make sure not to let it cook too far, otherwise the beans will breakdown entirely and you'll have a weird, delicious blended bean soup situation. Cook until the beans are tender but don't let them fall apart.  

Slow Cooker White Ben, Sausage + Collard Greens Soup

12 oz white beans, soaked overnight and drained

12 oz andouille sausage, sliced

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 carrot, peeled, diced

1 bay leaf

about 3" piece of parmesan cheese rind wrapped in cheese cloth

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

4 cups chicken stock

3 cups water

1 bunch collard greens, stems discarded, leaves chopped

splash red wine vinegar

s + p

Add beans, sausage, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaf, cheese rind, thyme, basil, oregano, stock and water to the slow cooker pot.  Stir, cover and let cook on High about 4 hours or 7 hours on Low, until beans are tender.  Stir in collard greens.  Season with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.  Serve hot. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

I got a SLOW COOKER!  I'm pretty excited about this one.  Mostly because my favorite meals are stewy, one pot affairs; best eaten over rice.  I think this puts us in slow cooker territory.  This thing's not going into the cupboard but staying on the counter all season.  I'm really looking forward to prepping meals in the am hours and coming home to a hot dinner. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, 1" pieces

8 oz potatoes, 1" pieces

8 oz carrots, peeled, 1" pieces

2 tablespoons minced ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 yellow onion, finely diced

1 14 oz tin diced tomatoes

1 cup light coconut milk

1 cup water

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon garam marsala

1 tablespoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon fennel powder

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek

s + p

1 cup chopped green beans

Stir everything, except the green beans, together in the bowl of a slow cooker.  Make sure it's all evenly mixed.  Cover and set to high.  Cook about 4 hours undisturbed: chicken will be cooked through and potatoes tender. Stir in green beans, recover and cook 30 more minutes.  Serve with rice, if desired.    

Classic Beef Stew

My mom used to make a delicious beef stew when I was young.  It was my absolute favorite - I could eat bowls and bowls of it.  I had a hankering for it this weekend that couldn't be stopped. Here's my version, it's pretty close to the original with super tender bites of meat, satisfying root vegetables and a hearty beef flavor.  I think it was the chilly pre autumn evenings that put me in the mood for something so filling and warm.  Feel free to add peas or corn to this along with the green beans, if you'd like more vegetables.  

Cooking time will greatly depend on the size of your stew meat pieces.  For something like this, that I'm eating like soup, I prefer the meat to be bite sized.  Think no bigger than a ping pong ball.  It will take less time to become tender and is easier to eat.  

Serves 6-8.

Classic Beef Stew

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

3 lbs lean stew beef, in bite sized pieces

s + p

3 tablespoons flour

high heat oil, as needed

1 large yellow onion (or two small), chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tomato, peeled, seeded, diced

2 quarts beef stock

4 carrots, peeled, chopped

2 potatoes, peeled, chopped

zest of 1 lemon, in long strips, no pith

1/4 teaspoon chile flakes

2 cups chopped green beans

Gather thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, peppercorns and mustard seeds in cheesecloth and secure with string.  Set aside.  Secure lemon zest with strips with string, set aside. 

Season meat with salt and pepper.  Toss with flour. In a large pot, over high heat, brown meat. Try for a deep brown crust. Work in batches to avoid crowding the pan.  Add more oil, as needed during browning.  Set browned meat aside. 

Add onion, cook until browned, stirring, to avoid burning.  Add garlic and tomato, cook until browned.  Add stock, beef, accumulated juices and spice sachet to pot.  Bring to boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until beef is tender, about 1.5 hours.  Skim any fat or foam from surface.  

Add carrots, potatoes, chile flakes and lemon zest bundle.  Boil, uncovered, until vegetables are tender.  Add green beans.  Turn off heat, season with salt and pepper.  Remove spice sachet and lemon zest bundle before serving. 

Lemongrass Beef Stew + Cabbage "Noodles"

Want to spend 3 hours making dinner?  Who doesn't!  Don't worry, this recipe has easy and minimal prep, otherwise simmering on the stove unattended.  This stew is full of south east asian flavors, rich and spicy.  

When browning the meat, start with a hot pan that is not too full.  If there are too many pieces of meat in the pan they will end up steaming without color.  We are looking for a deep brown, crust to form.  This adds a ton of flavor to the meat.  

We used cabbage instead of my usual preference of rice or noodles to keep the recipe healthier and gluten free.  A quick dip in boiling water milds the flavor and creates a chewy, tender texture making it perfect as a noodle substitute.  

I used a fresno chile but you could use a long green chile, hot cherry or jalapeno.   If you use anything spicier, think about decreasing the sambal oelek which is a popular spicy chile paste, found in grocery stores near the siracha.  

Serves 4.

Lemongrass Beef Stew + Cabbage Noodles

3 tablespoons high heat oil

2 lbs stew beef chunks, 2 " pieces

s + p

4 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves removed, chopped

2" ginger root, peeled, chopped

1 fresno chile, seeded, chopped

5 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped, divided

2 star anise pods

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons sambal oelek

3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce

32 oz beef stock

1 lb daikon radish, peeled, halved lengthwise, 1/2" slices

8oz carrots, peeled, 1 1/2" slices

lime juice, to taste

1/2 head cabbage, cored, thinly sliced

Heat a heavy pot, like a dutch oven, over medium high heat.  Add oil.  Season beef with salt and pepper.  Add to pot in 3 or 4 batches, careful not to over crowd the pan or the meat will not brown, only steam.  Brown meat well on all sides.  Transfer to plate, set aside.  

Add a splash more oil to the pot, if needed.  Add lemongrass, ginger, chile, garlic, 1/4 of the onion, star anise and cinnamon.  Cook until lightly browned, stirring often to avoid burning.  Add browned beef and all juices, tomato paste, sambal oelek, tamari, fish sauce and beef stock plus 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer.  Let simmer, covered, 2 1/2 hours.  

Remove beef.  Strain cooking liquid.  Discard solids.  Return beef and stained liquid to pot.  Add daikon, carrots and remaining 3/4 of onion.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Simmer partially covered until daikon is tender, about 45 minutes.  

While stew is simmering, blanche cabbage:  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add cabbage.  Cook about 1 minute or until cabbage is crisp tender.  Strain.  When stew is done, ladle over portions of cabbage.  




Hot + Sour Soup

Here's one for all you people with a cold.  (Seriously, everyone around me is sniffling.)  What's better than hot, spicy, tangy soup when you're sick?  Missing the traditional lilly buds and wood ear mushrooms of more traditional chinese hot and sour soups, all the ingredients for this one can be found in most well stocked grocery stores.  Szechuan peppercorns are toasted by placing in a hot pan on the stove, tossing occasionally and cooking until fragrant.  Grind with a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder or crush under a heavy pan or rolling pin.  

I recommend cutting and slicing everything small, so it fits on a spoon.  

Serves 4.

Hot + Sour Soup

2 oz prosciutto, julienned

8 oz firm tofu, julienned

4 shiitake mushroom caps, sliced

2.5 oz bamboo shoots, julienned

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground szechuan peppercorns 

32 oz chicken stock

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water, optional

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon hot chile oil

scallion greens, thinly sliced, for garnish

In a small saucepan, bring prosciutto, tofu, shiitakes, bamboo shoots, pepper and stock to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and add soy sauce and rice vinegar.  Whisk in cornstarch slurry, simmer until thickened.  

Remove from heat, stir soup in one direction to create a current and slowly pour in beaten egg.  It will turn into cooked, eggy ribbons.  Add hot chile oil and adjust seasoning with additional soy for salt, chile oil for heat or rice vinegar for sour.  

Garnish with scallions and serve with rice.  



Chicken Tortilla Soup

We make a lot of soups around here but especially in the winter.  It's so satisfying.  Chicken tortilla soup is one of my favorites. We roasted a chicken and used it for this and a potpie that I will be posting in a bit. 

Consider serving this soup with some toppings.  I like shredded cheese (jack or munster are good), lime wedges, avocado, fresh cilantro leaves, slices of radishes... 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 dried pasilla chile

2 tablespoons grape seed oil (plus more for cooking the tortilla strips)

1 white onion, diced

1 14oz tin fire roasted tomatoes

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon dried mexican oregano

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 teaspoon chile powder

4 cups chicken stock

4 corn tortillas

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Place whole chile directly on oven rack.  When it puffs up, remove it, about 4 minutes.  Be sure not to let it burn.  Discard stem and pulverize chile into a powder. (or as close to a powder as you can get.)

In a large pot, over medium to medium low heat, sweat onion in grape seed oil until soft and transparent.  Add tomatoes, bay, oregano, cumin, paprika, chile powder, stock and crushed pasilla chile.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 10 minutes.  

While soup is simmering, make the tortilla strips.  Slice soft corn tortillas into thin strips.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add about 2 tablespoons of oil.  Once oil it hot, add tortilla pieces, cook, stirring and flipping until strips are crisp and golden.  Transfer to paper towel to drain.  Work in batches if needed.  Set aside.

Add chicken and corn to the soup.  Cook until warmed.  Serve with tortilla strips and desired toppings. 


Vegetable Chili

We make this about once a month.  It's flavorful, satisfying and healthy.  Cam likes it over brown rice with a pile of kale sautéed with garlic and lemon juice.  I'll eat it over anything.  

I posted a veggie chili a couple years ago but after making it so many times the recipe has been tweaked a bit.  Here's the newer, improved version.  

Serves 6.

Vegetable Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, small dice

2 small carrots, peeled, small dice

kernels from 1 ear of fresh corn

3 cloves garlic, minced

28 oz tin crushed tomatoes

20 oz water

2 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoons chile powder

1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 1/2 tablespoons paprika

3/4 cup chopped green beans

1 zucchini, small dice

1 yellow squash, small dice

1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed, small dice

14 oz tin black beans, rinsed, drained

14 oz tin kidney beans, rinsed drained

lime juice, to taste

s + p

In a pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and carrots, cooking until onions are soft and clear.  Add corn and garlic, cook, stirring so garlic doesn't burn, 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes, water and spices.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, black beans and kidney beans.  cook until green beans are crisp tender, about 5 minutes.  Season with lime juice, salt and pepper.  


Summer Clam Chowder

A soup for summer!  Just like a manhattan style clam chowder but a little sunnier.  

Summer Clam Chowder

3 - 4 strips bacon, chopped

1 tablespoon grape seed oil

1 shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

splash dry white wine

1 quart vegetable stock

1 14oz tin diced tomatoes

1 cup chopped clams in their juices

1 tablespoon thyme

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

2 bay leaves

1 potato, peeled, medium dice

kernels from 2 ears of corn

1 1/4 cup (4.5oz) green beans, chopped small

s + p

In a large pot, over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel to drain.  Wipe out pot.  Add grape seed oil.  When oil is hot add shallots, cook until clear.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring, not letting garlic burn or become too brown.  Carefully deglaze pot with a splash of white wine.  Add stock, tomatoes, clams, thyme, celery seeds, chile flakes, bay leaves, potato and corn kernels.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 20 minutes, until potato and corn are soft.  Add green beans.  Cook 5 minutes, or until green beans are soft.  

Season with salt and pepper.  


Vegetarian Split Pea


I know, I know, I know.  I just made a split pea soup about a month ago.  That one wasn't vegetarian.  Although I'm not a vegetarian, I eat like one most of the week.  

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

splash olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 large carrot, peeled, diced

2 cups dried green peas (or yellow) 

8 cups vegetable stock

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika  

2 potatoes, peeled, chopped

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar  

s + p

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil.  Sauté onion, garlic, celery and carrot 5 minutes.  Add dried peas and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.  

Add stock, majoram, thyme, cumin and paprika.  Boil, reduce heat, simmer 30 minutes.  Add potatoes, simmer 30 to 45 minutes more, mostly covered.  When it's done, the peas will be very tender and with a good stirring will fall apart. 

Add cider vinegar.  Season with s + p.  



Coconut Chickpea + Mixed Vegetable Curry


Be prepared to have a lot of soup on your hands.  This recipe makes about 5 quarts.  I like to have huge amounts of healthy things like this around for a quick lunch or dinner during a busy week.  

A quick note on curry powder:  not all curry powders are created equally.  Look for one with fenugreek in it.  This  makes a big difference in flavor.  

Coconut Chickpea + Mixed Vegetable Curry Soup

Splash olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 inch fresh ginger, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, peeled, chopped

1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed, chopped

1 14oz tin diced tomatoes

1 14 oz tin LITE coconut milk

6 cups vegetable stock

2 potatoes, diced

4 teaspoons curry powder

1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded, chopped

1 14oz tin chickpeas, drained, rinsed

1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed, chopped

lime juice, to taste

s + p

In a large (at least 5.5 quart) pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and saute 5-8 minutes until soft and clear.  Add garlic and ginger.  Saute 2 minutes more.  Add carrots and cauliflower.  Cook 2 minutes more, stirring frequently.  Add tomatoes, coconut milk, stock, potatoes and curry powder. Stir.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Add bell peppers.  Simmer 5 minutes more.  Add chickpeas and kale.  Season with lime juice, salt and pepper.  


Split Pea + Ham Soup


Perfect for winter.  Make this on a cold day and you'll realize the merits of super chilly weather.  I used yellow and green split peas, but using only green will give you the color you're used to seeing.  

Serves 6.

Split Pea + Ham Soup

splash oil (olive, canola, grapeseed..)

1 yellow onion, diced

1 carrot, peeled, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups dried split green peas

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 - 1 1/2 lbs smoked ham hocks

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried ground fennel

8 cups vegetable stock

1 idaho potato, peeled, chopped

s + p

In a large pot, heat a splash of oil over medium high heat.  Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Cook 5 minutes until vegetables are glossy and onions are clear.  Add peas, thyme, ham hocks, cumin and fennel.  Cook 1 minute more.  Add stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 45 minutes.  Add potatoes.  Cook 30 minutes more.  Remove ham hocks from soup, cut meat off and chop.  Stick immersion blender into soup and blend for a couple seconds or place 2 cups of soup into a blender and blend.  Return blended soup to pot.  Soup will now be thicker.  Add meat back to the soup discarding bones, fat and whatever.  


Chicken + Cheddar Chive Dumplings


Everyone seems to be coming down with a cold so here's a little comfort food in the form of chicken and dumplings.  It's really just a simple chicken stew with dumplings cooked in.  (I used boneless, skinless chicken breast but chicken thigh meat would be good too. Also, the chicken does not need to be cooked first, I just dislike boiled chicken and find that the chicken has better texture when cooked on its own in a pan and then added to soups.  But feel free to just add your raw chicken when the recipe says so.)  No peeking at the dumplings with they're cooking.  

Chicken + Cheddar Chive Dumplings

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces

3 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, minced

few springs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 onion, peeled and chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 celery root, peeled and chopped

8oz mushrooms, quartered

1/2 cup peas (frozen ones are ok)

32 oz chicken stock

1/3 cup all purpose flour (for rue)

1 cup cake flour (for dumplings)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

black pepper

1 oz cheddar cheese, grated

1 1/2 tablespoon fresh chives, minced

1/2 cup milk, (more if needed)

In a pan, cook chicken and set aside. While chicken is cooking, get the dumplings ready.  In a bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, salt, cheddar and chives.  Stir in milk.  Set aside.  

In a large pot,on medium heat,  melt butter and add carrots, celery root, garlic, thyme sprigs and bay.  Cook 5 minutes, until onion is glossy and carrots are soft.  Add flour and stir to coat.  About 1 minute.  Turn heat to high and add stock, chicken, mushrooms and peas.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.  Drop dumpling batter in by the spoonful.  There will be about 6 dumplings.  They will expand a lot when cooking so space them out as much as you can.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes. (No peeking at the dumplings while they're cooking, opening the lid of the pot lets steam escape and your dumplings need that steam to cook.)   Test dumplings for doneness with a toothpick, if not done, cover and simmer 5 minutes more.  

Serve hot!