Delicious Chickpea Soup

I’ve made this twice and loved it and totally forgotten to post it. The original is here and I don’t think I’ve made that many changes to it. A couple of notes, though: using dried chickpeas never works for me. I soaked those little bastards for about 18 hours and they were still hard when chopped up. When I made it again, I just went with canned and the texture benefited greatly. And use the fresh rosemary. It makes all the difference.

1/2 lb (250 g) dried chickpeas soaked overnight and then simmered for 2 hours until tender *or* 1 can of chickpeas, drained (I used two cans – I like lots of chickpeas)
2 T olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 T tomato paste (one small can
1 sprig rosemary
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 c vegetable or chicken stock or water the chickpeas were cooked in, with more plain water added to make up the difference, if necessary
* optional* 500ml extra water or stock for if you cook the pasta in the soup
Parmesan rind
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb small dried tubular pasta (ditali)
*optional* olive oil for on top
*optional* shredded Parmesan for on top

Heat the oil to medium-low in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the carrot, celery and onion to the oil and sautée until soft and translucent. Stir in tomato paste, rosemary and garlic, then add chickpeas.

Cover everything with stock or water and throw in Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove the rind and rosemary and pass everything through a food mill or give it a blast with the stick blender until you achieve the desired texture. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Now, two choices:

1. add some more water or stock to the soup, bring it to the boil and cook your pasta directly in the soup

or

2. cook your pasta separately, then add it to the soup, letting things rest for about 5 minutes so the flavors mingle. Serve drizzled with oil and some freshly grated Parmesan.

Lentil Sausage Soup

Here’s another recipe from my mom. It’s good the first day you make it, but it improves after a couple of days.

1 c brown or green lentils
1 T olive oil or butter
2 medium green peppers, seeded and chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 c water
2 t chicken bouillon granules
1/2 t sage
1/4 cayenne pepper
1/2 lb smoked sausage, sliced

Rinse and drain lentils. In a deep soup pot, heat oil or butter to medium high and sauté peppers, carrot, onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add lentils, water, bouillon, sage and cayenne pepper to vegetables, bring to a boil and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Over medium heat, brown sausage in a skillet and add it to soup. Once sausage is heated through, serve.

Homemade Tomato Soup

Cliff is a big proponent of eating grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup when the weather starts getting chilly. I’ve never been all that jazzed about it – thus far, all of the tomato soups I’ve tried here have been either repulsive or so acidic that I end up with raging heartburn. So I finally broke down and searched for a tomato soup recipe. I found a winner here, but the proportions need tweaking. My version is below, calling for much less dairy than the original.

8 tomatoes, peeled*, seeded and roughly chopped (they’re getting boiled and blended anyway)
1.5 L (50 oz) tomato juice
15-20 leaves fresh basil
2 T c heavy cream
1 1/2 T butter
pinch sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Bring tomatoes and juice to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil and pulse in blender or process with immersion blender until smooth. Over medium low heat, stir in cream, butter, sugar, salt and pepper until heated through. Do not boil or the cream will curdle.

*Do you know how to peel a tomato? I’d always heard you’re supposed to stick a whole tomato on the end of a fork, then immerse it in boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Jesus, that sounds like a trip to the emergency room (complete with tomato-shaped burn scars) just waiting to happen. If you have a gas stove, there is an easier way: stick your whole tomato on the end of a fork and roast the tomato in a burner flame (medium high worked for me), turning it slowly to get most of the flesh in the flame for about 5 seconds (if the skin turns black, blisters or pops, you’re done – turn that thing!). Don’t burn yourself trying to get every square inch – as long as you get most of it, you’re fine. Then, quarter the tomatoes to seed them. If you roasted them well enough, you should notice the skin starting to pull away from the cut edges. You can pull the skin up from the loose edge and peel the tomatoes now.

Perfect Chili

This is originally from here, but I made a few changes. I was tempted to add more spicy elements, but was glad I didn’t – the chili powder, chipotle pepper and pepper flakes really combine to create a nice, cumulative burn.

2 T olive or vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large chipotle pepper, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1 t salt
2 t cocoa powder
1 large pinch red pepper flakes
1 T molasses
1 c chicken broth
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans
1 c amber beer
1 c tomato sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil to medium and sauté the onion, garlic and chipotle until tender. Add the ground beef and cook until mostly done, then drain fat. Combine chili powder, cumin, salt, cocoa and red pepper flakes and stir into meat until just fragrant. Add molasses, broth and tomatoes and break up tomatoes with spoon, then add beans. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, the stir in beer, tomato sauce and Worcestershire. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally for at least 45 minutes or until thickened.

Bacon, Potato & Leek Soup

Grand St. Café in Kansas City has the best potato soup I’ve ever had. I was thinking about that when I was wondering what I could do with leeks for dinner. Here’s what we ended up with – it’s super yum.

8 potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 lb bacon
3 leeks, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c half & half
1/2 tsp pepper
dash nutmeg

1. In a large saucepan or stockpot, bring potatoes and chicken broth to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender. Do not drain. Mash potatoes until smooth or leave chunky for a little texture, depending on how smooth you want the soup. (can use a hand blender or potato masher).

2. Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until slightly crispy. Remove bacon and crumble, reserving 3 tablespoons of grease.

3. Sauté the leeks and garlic in the frying pan with the reserved bacon grease 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Stir the fried leeks, half & half and bacon into the potatoes. Stir to blend, season to taste. Serve hot.

Natasha’s Borsch(t)

My friend Natasha is originally from the Ukraine and we confer on cooking quite regularly. She recently showed me how to make borscht (apparently, the t is either silent or non-existent in Russian). I’ll try to recreate what I saw her do, but it looks like one of those recipes that you feel your way through. Read the instructions all the way through (a couple times) before starting as timing is pretty important and you need to be able to do several things at once.

3-4 white potatoes, chopped (bite-size)
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, coarsely shredded
half a small head white cabbage, shredded fine
1 large fresh beet
juice of half lemon
1 cup tomato sauce (with basil, if you can get it)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt or vegetable broth powder to taste
1/3 cup fresh chopped dill

Fill soup pot (at least 5-quart) to half-way with water and put potatoes in water. Add some salt and bring to a boil. At the same time, sauté onion and garlic in a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. After a couple of minutes, add carrots to skillet and sauté until tender. After potatoes have been simmering for 5-7 minutes, add cabbage shreds to soup pot. When carrots are done, add skillet mixture to soup pot and stir, keeping at a simmer.

Now things get kind of complex. Peel the beet and shred it coarsely – don’t do it before or the purply-red of the beet will be less intense. Sauté beet shreds in onion pan over medium heat, pouring lemon juice over them to retain deep red color. After 3-4 minutes, add tomato sauce to beet and stir thoroughly. Tomato sauce will take on beet color. When beet shreds are tender, pour them into the soup pot. Add chickpeas to soup pot and simmer for 10 more minutes, tasting frequently and adding salt or broth mix as necessary. When potato is fork-tender (but not mushy), soup is finished.

Remove soup pot from heat, put in dill and cover. Allow to sit for at least an hour before serving. Serve with dark bread.

Curried Lentil Stew

Found this one here. I’m calling it stew instead of soup because almost ALL the liquid cooked off. I also made a couple of small adjustments.

1 tablespoon oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons curry powder
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 can stewed chopped tomatoes
2 cups lentils, uncooked and well rinsed
11/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine (optional – we didn’t use it and it still tastes great)
1 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (I don’t think you need to add the salt if you’re using prepared broth)

In large saucepan, heat oil; sauté onion and garlic until soft. Stir in curry powder; sauté 1 minute. Add broth, water, tomatoes, lentils, carrots and wine. Simmer, uncovered until lentils are cooked, about 45 minutes.

Stir in parsley; simmer 5 minutes.

Chicken Soup

I’m not really sure how to define this. It started out with a disappointing chicken and dumplings recipe I found online. Then I thought, ‘I can come up with something better.’ I ended up thickening the soupy brothy part with some cornstarch and throwing in some instant German Semmelknödel (like a big dumpling make of StoveTop stuffing – better than it sounds). The recipe that follows is a basic, improvised chicken soup that probably improves with adaptation.

Chicken Stock
1 whole chicken (2.5-3 lbs.)
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & sliced
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, coarsely sliced
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. thyme
11/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 bay leaf

Soup
2 T. butter
1 onion, chopped
4-6 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. black pepper
4-8 cups chicken stock
4-6 carrots, peeled and sliced
chopped cooked chicken

Chicken Stock Prep

1. Put all ingredients in large deep pot and fill with water until completely covered. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to medium simmer and cook for 40-50 minutes.

2. Carefully remove chicken from stock (it should be falling-apart tender) and set aside in a large bowl, covering with a paper towel. Allow to sit for about 45 minutes-1 hour.

3. After allowing it to cool at least 30 minutes, slowly pour stock through cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer into a large bowl. Don’t keep the vegetables! They’ve given up all their flavor to the stock and turned to mush. Allow stock to cool more before skimming fat from top.

4. Remove meat from the chicken, discarding skin and bones. You can shred it or chop it into pieces – whichever you prefer, texturewise.

Still with me? Good!

Soup Prep

1. Melt butter in deep soup pot over medium high heat. Sauté onions in butter for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Add celery to pan and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage to onion and celery and stir until just distributed.

3. Pour stock into pot. For two of us, I use 4 cups – and that makes a lot. Add seasoned salt, pepper and carrots. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender. Turn heat to low and add chicken meat. Heat through.