Cauliflower Cheese and Potato Soup

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This simple soup is a delicious warm-me-up on a cold day. Roasting the cauliflower adds a nice flavor to the soup. Creamy without adding cream.

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1 large head cauliflower

1 medium onion

2 small cloves garlic

4 cups chicken broth. You can substitute vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup.

2 large Yukon gold potatoes or one large Russet potato

3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Approximately 3 Tb olive oil for roasting and sauteing

Directions: Preheat oven to 425′

caulifloweretsCut the cauliflower into florets, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt in a baking pan.

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Roast cauliflower for 20 minutes, until it is golden brown and crispy at the edges.

While cauliflower is roasting, chop onion and saute in olive oil in the bottom of a big heavy saucepan. Smash and mince garlic and add to onion. Saute over medium heat until translucent. Add the chicken stock (or vegetable stock) and heat to boiling. While soup is heating, peel the potatoes and chop into small cubes. Add to the boiling soup.

Add most of the roasted cauliflower, reserving about 1/3 cup for garnish. Let soup cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.

While soup is cooking, grate the sharp cheddar cheese.

When potatoes are soft, add the soup in batches to a blender. Blend in batches and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Add the cheese to the last batch, then pour back into the pot. Pour all the blended soup into the pot and heat until it’s hot enough to serve, stirring well. Adjust salt and pepper.

Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the reserved roasted cauliflowerets.

 

 

 

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

soup with coconut creamI whipped up this rich and creamy soup without dairy, using coconut milk. The spices lend warmth and a bit of a kick. You can roast the squash, but I found that microwaving it works well and takes only 15 minutes.

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash

4 cups broth. I use chicken broth, but you can use vegetable broth for a vegan soup

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp ground sage

several grinds pepper

13.5 oz can coconut milk. Full fat yields a richer soup; low fat is lower in calories. Reserve a spoonful of the coconut cream that rises to the top for garnish

1 couple of shakes of cayenne (to taste)

salt to taste (depending on how salty the broth you use is)

1/4 cup pepitas (Green shelled pumpkin seeds)

Directions

Stab squash in a few places and microwave for  15 minutes. Squash should be soft. Let it cool enough to handle it. You can do this the day before and store it in the refrigerator.

Heat the broth to boiling.

split squash

Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Spoon out the squash and put it in the soup.

Add the seasonings except for cayenne and salt, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Let it cool for about 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk, reserving about 2 tablespoons of cream from the top.

Ladle the soup and squash into a blender and blend on high. (You may want to start low, then build up speed.) It will likely take 2 batches, so pour the first batch into a large bowl. Heat soup again and add cayenne and salt to taste.

roasting pepitasHeat pepitas on a comal or heavy frying pan over medium heat until crispy. Ladle soup into serving bowls. Sprinkle with pepitas. Stir in a teaspoon of the coconut cream until a pretty swirl appears.

 

 

Roasted Mushroom Barley Soup with Chicken Stock or Vegetable Broth

I made a simpler version of my roasted mushroom barley soup with rich chicken stock instead of beef broth and a mixture of fresh and dried mushrooms. I used Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup made with double the amount of bones and drippings. I save the bones and drippings from roast chicken in a container in the freezer, then boil them with the vegetables and herbs to create a rich broth. After letting it sit long enough for the fat to solidify, I spoon out the fat, leaving a spoonful for flavor. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan you can substitute Vegetable Broth

I use a variety of dried mushrooms, including porcini, shiitake, and chanterelle. I soak them in warm water for ten minutes, then chop them and add to the broth, along with the soaking liquid.

roasted mushrooms

Roasted fresh Crimini mushrooms make the bulk of the mushrooms in the soup. These brown mushrooms are a more mature version of the common white mushroom, so you can sub white mushrooms if you can’t find criminis in your grocery store.

I roasted fresh shiitake, king and oyster mushrooms. They stand up to roasting and add a variety of flavors and textures. You may be able to find them at your farmer’s market in the fall. You don’t need to buy too many of these more expensive but flavorful mushrooms. Feel free to mix up the mushrooms as you find them. King mushrooms can make some good food porn too, if your tastes run that kinky!

King and Oyster mushrooms

Ingredients

6 cups chicken broth

½ cup pearl barley

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2  tsp white pepper

several grinds black pepper

3 – 4 Tb olive oil

1 lb crimini (brown) mushrooms

6 fresh shiitake mushrooms

1 fresh King mushroom

5 fresh oyster mushrooms

4 dried shiitake mushrooms

5 dried porcini mushrooms

5 dried chanterelle mushrooms

3 Tbs dry sherry

1 tsp salt, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring broth to boil in a large pot over high heat.

While waiting for the broth to boil, soak the dried mushrooms in enough water to cover them by 2 inches.

Rinse and gently scrub the fresh mushrooms with a wet paper towel or mushroom brush and let them dry over paper towels.

When broth is boiling, Stir in barley, thyme and pepper.

Place fresh mushrooms in a roasting pan and toss with olive oil. until they are coated on all sides. Roast for 20 minutes. When they are done, let cool, then ladle a few cups broth over them, then remove the mushrooms to a cutting board and pour back the extra broth.  Chop the mushrooms roughly and stir them into the broth.

chopped soaked dried mushroomsRemove the dried mushrooms from the soaking liquid onto a cutting board. Dice them, then add to the soup along with the soaking liquid.

Simmer  the soup for 30 minutes. Correct seasonings, stir sherry in and salt to taste.

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Serve the pearl barley inside the oyster mushrooms for good luck!

 

 

Chunky Kabocha Soup with Appeal

chunky-kabocha-soup-with-appeal

Kabocha squash has a delicious green peel.  My friend Randi turned me on to kabocha soup with chunks of squash with the peel. We cut it up and roasted it with the peel immersed in a 1/2 inch water bath until it was tender. This recipe can be made vegan with vegetable stock.

Makes about 1 gallon.

Ingredients:

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1 medium kabocha squash

1 small piece of ginger root, grated to make 2 tsp (more if you really like it gingery)

2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

14 oz. can coconut milk

1 quart (4 cups) broth (chicken or vegetable stock)

a few grinds black pepper

1 tsp salt to taste

about 1/4 cup of roasted green pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for garnish

Preheat oven to 350′

cutting-stem-off-kabochaRinse off Kabocha and dry with paper towel. Cut off the stem.

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Cut squash into about 16 pieces. cut-kabocha-in-water-bathPlace in 8″ x 11″ x 2″ pan and fill pan with 1/2 inch water.

Sprinkle with 1 tsp melted coconut oil.

Roast for 45 minutes until squash is tender.

Let cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

While squash is cooling, grate ginger, discarding fibrous part. Saute it in 1 tsp coconut oil in a gallon size heavy pot.

After a minute, add broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.

bite-sized-pieces-of-squashAdd the small pieces of squash to the broth. Stir in pepper.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the softened squash into the broth. Add salt to taste.

Serve topped with roasted pepitas.

Tom Kha Gai ต้มข่าไก่ Thai Coconut Soup with Mushrooms

soup

This creamy coconut milk soup, fragrant with lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro and galangal, pungent fish sauce and a bit of chili heat, is one of my favorite Thai foods.
I am fortunate to live within shopping distance of Monterey Market, Berkeley Bowl and several Asian markets that carry the authentic ingredients. If you can’t find galangal you can substitute its relative, ginger.

Serves 3 large bowlfuls

ingredients

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth (I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup)
2 inches galangal, sliced thin
2 stalks of lemongrass
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 Thai bird chili (bright red)
1 large Roma tomato

2 cups white mushrooms, sliced

1 scallion, sliced

2 Tb fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup cilantro leaves

5 large basil leaves, julienned

14-oz can of coconut milk (low fat works fine, regular makes a rich soup)
½ raw chicken breast, thinly sliced, OR sliced leftover roasted chicken breast

OR 1/2 pound raw shrimp. Use medium shrimp or chop large shrimp into bite-sized pieces

½ teaspoon salt (to taste)

Instructions

tomato

Bring broth to a boil. Dip tomato in the boiling broth for a minute, and then cool.

While broth is heating, trim ends from galangal and slice thinly.

lemongrass         smashing lemongrasss

Remove a couple of inches from the root end of the lemongrass and the dry outer leaves. Slice the main stalk diagonally into 3 inch pieces, then smash the lemongrass with the blunt side of the knife.

Smash the galangal slices with a mortar and pestle, molcajete, or other heavy object to release their fragrance. Add these to the boiling stock along with torn kaffir lime leaves,  julienned chili, and salt.

add shrimp shells to brothDefrost frozen shrimp by placing it in a container in the fridge the night before. If you are using it straight from the freezer, defrost in a colander under cool running water for about 8 minutes.) Shell the shrimp and add the shells to the broth for extra flavor. Put shelled shrimp in a container in the refrigerator.

Simmer the broth and seasonings for 30 minutes. You can make this part ahead of time and refrigerate.

straining flavoringsStrain the broth into a bowl or another pot and discard the shrimp shells, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and chili pods. Heat the strained broth to boiling.

Peel the skin off the cooled tomato, then slice tomato thickly and stir into the broth along with the mushrooms and white parts of the scallions. Next, add the raw chicken (if using) or shrimp and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in coconut milk and heat for 5 minutes.

When meat is thoroughly cooked, stir in lime juice and fish sauce. If using cooked chicken, add it at this time.  Pour soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, basil, and sliced green parts of scallion.

shrimp soup

Smooth Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

coconut cream heart

This smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash, onions and carrots, It is rich and creamy from coconut milk and brightened with fresh ginger. I’ve tried this soup with both regular and low-fat coconut milk, The regular gives a rich coconut flavor.but the low-fat is lower in calories. Chose what’s right for you. In any case, I recommend the most natural coconut milk you can find, with only guar gum added, no preservatives.

You can roast the squash ahead of time. It’s a good way to warm up the kitchen on a frosty morning. If you’re in a hurry, you can microwave it for 10 minutes (stab it first so it won’t explode!)

serves 4 bowls (8 cups), more or less, depending on the size of squash

Ingredients:

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1 medium kabocha squash

2 large carrots, peeled

2 tsp unrefined coconut oil (it tastes like coconut)

2 tsp grated ginger root

1 onion, chopped

2 – 3 cups water

several grinds black pepper

14 oz can coconut milk (regular or low-fat)

1 1/2 tsp salt to taste

Garnish: 1/3 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

Instructions:

roasted squash and carrotsPreheat oven to 430◦ Stab whole kabocha several times and place on a foil-lined heavy pan. Roast for 20 minutes.  Add carrots and turn off oven. Let the vegetables sit in the oven for half an hour.  Remove carrots from oven. Let squash stay in the oven several hours until it’s cool.

Melt coconut oil in a medium- large pot. Saute chopped onions until they soften. When squash is cool, cut it in half and scoop out and discard stringy seed pod from the squash. Carefully cut off the thin peel and add chunks of squash to the sauteed onions. Stir a few grinds black pepper.

Slice carrots crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Add carrots and ginger to the onions and saute a few more minutes.

veggies in soup for smooth kabochaSimmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

pour coconut milk into soup.jpgReserve a few tablespoons of coconut cream from the top of the can for garnishing the soup. Pour coconut milk into the broth and stir well.

Let soup cool for 30 minutes.

Pour into blender in batches and blend until smooth.

Stir in salt to taste

Heat soup until ready to serve

toasting pepitasToast 1/3 cup pepitas on a comal or heavy skillet over medium low heat and toss on top of each soup bowl to garnish

Have fun making designs with reserved coconut cream.coconut cream topping.jpg

Vegetable Broth

vegetable brothPerfect to make for the vegetarian cousins for my Seder’s matzo ball soup, or great as a base for Minestrone soup, mushroom barley soup, kale and white bean soup, borscht,  or other veggie soups. It smells fantastic while cooking.

vegetables3 medium leeks

1 bunch celery, outer stalks and leafy tops

1 onion

4 cloves of garlic

3 carrots

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 Tb thyme (fresh or dried, depending on the season)

1 tsp each dried dill weed, oregano,

4 bay leaves

1 – 2 Tb salt

several grinds black pepper

Boil 6 cups of water in a large pot.

soaking leeksDiscard root end off of leeks. Slit leeks down the middle several times, then chop crosswise. Place them in a salad spinner and fill it with water. Let soak while chopping other vegetables. Then lift basket and discard dirty water. Repeat 2 more times, rubbing leeks to loosen dirt, then rinse thoroughly.

Rinse onion, trim top and tail, then cut into large chunks, including the skin for its lovely golden color. Peel the bitter skin from carrots and chop roughly. (I sometimes use dried but edible baby carrots instead). Pull outer stalks from celery and discard the dirty bottoms. Rinse well and chop roughly. Cut leafy tops from the inner stalks and rinse and chop roughly. Smash garlic in a molcajete or mortar and pestle to remove shell, and chop.

cooking brothAdd all vegetables and seasonings to boiling water and let boil for ½ hour. Transfer to a crock pot and let cook all day or night, depending on when you begin.

Strain broth through a sieve and adjust salt. The broth freezes well, so put in several containers for future use.

Unbeetable Borscht!

borsht

This was one of my favorite dishes that my mom made when I was a kid. We used to eat it with blintzes  on the side. This is not traditional Russian hot borscht which has meat, cabbage and potatoes, but cold simple beet borscht, served back in the day with sour cream, Meyer lemon juice and a spoonful of sugar.

I roasted the beets before boiling them, for a deeper flavor. I’ve added the beet greens for more body and nutrients, as well as a bit of salt, dill and lemon zest for flavor. Since I’m watching my waistline, I added nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Not quite the same, but not bad either.

Ingredients:

beets with lemon

2 3/4 cups mild vegetable broth (see below)

1 bunch of 2 large beets, leaves included

1 Meyer lemon (a regular lemon will do if you can’t find a Meyer)

A few shakes, dill weed, salt, sugar, to taste

Trim “tails” and stems from beets. Scrub beets well. Line a covered container with foil (to prevent baked-on beet juice), then place beets in with ¼ cup of water, cover and roast at 400 for 40 minutes.

While beets are roasting, make vegetable broth. (You can do both a day ahead of time.)

trimmed leeks

3 1/2 cups water

1 large leek, dark green parts trimmed

2 large stalks celery. chopped

1 parsnip or 1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 sprig parsely

1/2 tsp dried thyme, or several springs fresh thyme

1/4 tsp dried dill weed, or several springs fresh dill

Several grinds black pepper

3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar to taste

Salt to taste

Directions:

veg broth with leeks celery parsnip garlic thyme and dill

Bring water to boil in medium pot. Trim outer dark leaves from leeks. Slice lengthwise into quarters, then chop crosswise and rinse thoroughly several times in a salad spinner

Rinse and chop celery and peel and chop parsnip or carrot. Thinly slice shallot and garlic clove. Add all vegetables to boiling water with herbs. Simmer for 25 minutes. After it cools, strain through a sieve into a bowl, pushing on the vegetables with a large spoon.. You should have approximately 2 3/4 cups left.

washed beet greets

While broth is booking, rinse beet leaves thoroughly: first rinse, then soak in a salad spinner for about 10 minutes in warm water, then rinse several more times. Chop them finely.

grating beets

Remove beets from oven and let cool. Peel them under running water. The peel should come off easily, revealing the jewel-like beets. Grate them on the large part of a box grater. Unless you have a pair of thin gloves handy,  prepared for hot pink hands!

grated beets

Bring vegetable broth to a boil and add grated beets and greens. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Grate lemon zest (the yellow part) on a fine grater into the soup, and then squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir in vinegar, a few shakes of dill weed, ¼ tsp salt to taste and 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp sugar to taste. Let borscht cool, then refrigerate. You can also serve it room temperature.

Serve with more lemon juice and sour cream. (or substitute plain Greek yogurt for a low-fat alternative.)

Pozole

Oy vey! Nice Jewish girl learns to cook with pork products! My friend Jann made this hearty and delicious pozole with her Mexican husband, Luciano, for their  New Years Eve parties. She gave me her recipe using pork shoulder, but the second time I made it I used the leaner pork loin.

Cooked with chilies and hominy and topped with cabbage, oregano, radishes and cilantro, it makes a rich and satisfying stew.

This recipe made 10 servings, including leftovers.

Ingredients:

1 gallon chicken broth. For the cross-cultural experience, use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup.
4 dried red chilies, such as ancho or pasilla chili
2 fresh poblano chili peppers
2 Tb olive oil
2 onions
2 1/2 pound pork loin.
1 Tb dried oregano
1 head garlic.
3 bay leaves
1 tsp cayenne
1 Tb paprika (Spanish smoked paprika adds a nice smoky flavor)
Several grinds black pepper
1 Tb salt to taste
2 chayotes, peeled, seed area removed, and chopped
39- oz and 15-oz cans of white or purple hominy (maíz blanco o morado)

Condiments:

1 Tb dried oregano
Black pepper
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 small green cabbage, shredded
A bunch of radishes, sliced thin
1 jalapeno, sliced thinly
4 limes, sliced into wedges
 

Bring the soup stock to boil in a large pot.

Heat a heavy frying pan and toast the dried red chilies and the poblano peppers. Place them in a covered bowl to cool, and then remove the stems and seed pods. Throw them in the stock pot

Pour a tablespoon of olive oil to the frying pan and cook the sliced onions until soft. Slice the poblano chiles and fry up with the onions, then add to the soup. Smash the garlic bulb with a molcajete or mortar and pestle, chop it finely and add it to the soup. Add bay leaves, salt, paprika, black pepper and cayenne.

Cut the pork into large (about 3 x 3) chunks and trim extra fat. Pour another tablespoon of oil to the frying pan and add the pork, sprinkling salt and dried oregano on each side. Brown pork on all sides then put in the stock. After pork is browned, add  2 ladles of hot broth to the frying pan to deglaze it. Using a metal spatula, loosen all the browned bits  into the broth and then pour it back into the pot.

Simmer the soup at low-medium heat for 1 ½ hours.

Pour the soup into a large container and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the congealed fat from the top of the soup. Pour the broth through a sieve into a large pot, and heat it. Pour the solids into a bowl. Remove the red chili and strip whatever skin from it that you can. Put in a blender with 2 cups of broth and run blender on high, then add to the broth in the pot, rinsing the blender with broth several times to get all the chili out.

While broth is cooking, shred or chop the meat, discarding bones and fat, and then add the shredded meat to the broth. Add chopped chayotes and hominy. Adjust salt to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes, until chayote is tender, and then scoop into bowls.

Top with condiments, squeeze a bit of lime in, roll up a few warm corn tortillas to dip in the soup, y disfrútelo.

Jenny’s Lemongrass and Opo Kang

My best friend at work, Jenny, shares her delicious Laotian dishes with me at lunchtime, and shares the recipes as well. She makes this with jasmine rice. I made it with brown rice.

This Laotian lemongrass-scented Kang (soup) is easy to make. The opo squash, also known as bottle squash because of its shape, is mild flavored when young. If you can’t find it in your local produce or Asian market, you can substitute chayote or zucchini. Jenny uses the seeds along with the flesh.

I bought the lemongrass, opo and Thai basil from an Asian market in Oakland. But next summer I’m going to try to grow them. Each stalk of lemongrass can become a new plant. Just save the bottom 4 inches above the bulb and suspend in water with toothpicks. The bulb will develop roots and the plant will grow quickly. I’ve already  planted one in the yard and will harvest it come summer. Thai basil is very fragrant; use just a bit so as not to overwhelm the lemongrass.

You can make this with pork or chicken. I used sustainably raised pork (from Niman Ranch) since I have issues with the environmental damage caused by commercial pig farms. It’s more expensive but you don’t use much in this recipe. If using a chicken breast, slice it thinly and add them with the opo for the last 15 minutes.

Serves 4


6 cups chicken broth Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version)

1 tomato, minced

1/4 pound center-cut boneless pork chop, fat trimmed or chicken breast.

1 stalk lemon grass

1/2 cup rice (I used brown rice)

2 opo squash

Salt to taste

fresh Thai basil leaves

Cut lemon grass into 4 inch pieces, smash with a molcajete (mortar and pestle) or rolling pin on a cutting board to release the scent, then boil in broth with tomato pieces. Cut pork in thin slices and add to broth with rice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Peel the opo and slice into bite sized pieces. Fish out the lemon grass and discard. (you don’t want to bite into one while eating the soup!) Add the opo and cook 15 minutes. Salt to taste. Shred basil and garnish each bowlful.