Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

The soup place I used to work at had a couple of varieties that they offered every day. Chicken Pot Pie Soup was one of them and it was outstanding! Thick and rib-sticky, with a topping of pie-crust crumbles to really make it feel indulgent. This is an approximation of that soup with a few more vegetables thrown in for good measure. Leave out noodles and add 2-3 diced potatoes and this could work as pot-pie filling.

2 T olive oil
5 T butter, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
75 g all-purpose flour
1.5 L chicken stock
300-400 g shredded cooked chicken
1 t Brathähnchengewürz (rotisserie chicken seasoning; poultry seasoning should work here)
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t tarragon
200 mL boiling water
250 g (1/2 lb) short noodles
200 g frozen peas
50-75 mL cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a deep pot over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add 2 T butter, heat until starting to foam, then add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender and fragrant. Add 2-3 more T butter and cook until butter is deep golden and nutty smelling, then sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture. Lower heat to medium, stir until all flour is incorporated and roux turns dark blonde and nutty-bready smelling. Whisk in chicken broth in gradual additions to avoid lumps (3-4 additions will do). Add chicken, poultry seasoning, thyme and tarragon and bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 6-8 minutes.

Turn heat back up and add boiling water. When boil is steady, add noodles and cook until about 2 minutes short of done. Add peas for final 2 minutes of noodle cook time. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Adjust seasonings and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Egyptian Red Lentil Soup

I just had my wisdom teeth out, so on top of not being so smart anymore, I have to eat soft food. Luckily, I know a few recipes for delicious soft food. The original recipe involves a fried onion topping, which looks wonderful yet chew-intensive. Luckily, lentils and a stick blender yield a gently textured, full flavored product that I’ll happily eat even with teeth.

3 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 t dried thyme)
1/2 t cayenne pepper or ancho chile
1/2 t sweet smoked paprika
3 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
2 T tomato paste
8 c beef stock (vegetable stock makes this vegan!)
salt and pepper to taste (how much salt depends on your stock – taste often)
2 c red lentils
1 lemon, juiced

Pick over your lentils for any unwanted debris. Heat oil to medium high in a soup pot or deep dutch oven. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté until soft. Add spices and stir well into vegetables, cooking for a couple of minutes until very fragrant. Add tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, until they begin to break down. Add tomato paste and stir well. Add stock and reduce heat to medium low – soup should not boil. Season with salt and pepper and add the lentils. Simmer 30-40 minutes (reducing heat to low, if necessary), until lentils and vegetables are very soft.

Remove soup from heat and process with immersion blender (or purée in batches in a heat-safe blender) until desired texture is achieved. Remember, it will thicken as it cools. If soup is still too thin, bring it back to a simmer for a few minutes. Check seasoning and stir in lemon juice. Serve with additional wedges of lemon and yogurt.

Chipotle Corn Soup

The Germans aren’t huge fans of corn – I think it’s a more a novelty or garnish that makes something ‘American’ to them (see pizza). So corn season can be a fraught, unreliable affair filled with dashed expectations.

But the corn is ok this year, so I get to try things like this! The original is here, but I tweaked and tinkered, so this is my version.

2 T butter
6 green onions, sliced thin (about 1 bunch)
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 t chipotle pepper in adobo, roughly chopped
1 1/2 t salt
ground black pepper to taste (go easy – chipotle is potent)
1/2 t ground cumin
6 ears corn, shucked and kernels cut off
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced (optional)
3 c chicken broth
1 c whole milk

In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat until foaming and add green onions, garlic and chipotle. Sauté until onions are tender and fragrant. Add salt, pepper, cumin, corn and potatoes (if using) and stir well to coat with butter. Add chicken broth and milk and bring to a low boil, turn down heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove soup from heat and blend with a stick blender. The original recipe instructs you to then strain soup through a food mill or fine mesh sieve, removing solids and pressing all liquid out of them. We skipped the sieving, which leaves lots of…um, ballast. Consider the quirks of your digestion going forward.

Avgolemono (Greek Egg & Lemon Soup)

I got this one from here and it’s harder to explain than to make. It looks a little intimidating, what with the tempering, but it is quite simple. I suggest you have someone help you with the tempering, but it is possible to do it alone if you have a stick blender w/whisk attachment and a steady hand.

2 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 c chicken broth
1 c water
3/4 c rice
salt to taste
2 c chicken, cooked and chopped (I used a rotisserie chicken)
1 t black pepper, coarse grind
1 t dill, dried (or 2 t fresh)
3 eggs
1/2 c lemon juice

In a deep soup pot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Sauté onion and garlic until tender and slightly translucent, 3-5 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and water and turn heat to medium. Bring to a gentle boil and add rice. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add salt, chicken, pepper and dill and continue simmering 5 minutes.

While the broth is simmering, in a heatproof bowl (I used a large pyrex measuring cup) beat eggs while slowly pouring in lemon juice. Taste a grain of rice; when it’s almost completely cooked, it’s time to temper the eggs. Add hot broth by the ladle (3 will probably be enough) to the eggs while whisking. Once the eggs have warmed up, take the soup pot off the heat and stir the egg mixture into the soup until completely integrated. Serve immediately.

Celery Root Soup

Are you aware that celery is a root vegetable? I was a having dinner with my (German) boss and (Mexican) colleague a year ago, and one of them was surprised that Americans often don’t realize that celery stalks are not the whole plant. You can’t really blame them, since most of their exposure is just to the stalks — and if you’re like me, primarily as a childhood peanut butter delivery vehicle, or an early science class experiment in plant vascular systems.

But upon moving over here, we saw the roots (“celeriac”) available in grocery stores nearly as frequently as the stalks. Last year, around the time we started roasting our vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts), I saw this video from the NY Times, so we began thinking about celeriac in future meal plans.

Then Sarah recently found this recipe: http://junglefrog-cooking.com/celeriac-soup-with-crunchy-bacon-bits/

As usual, we applied our own touches and substitutions to it — in this case, mostly out of convenience. We found the mild flavor comforting and the soup’s thick-but-still-liquid texture very filling. It holds warmth really well, which makes it a great dinner on an unseasonably cold autumn evening.

Our Substitutions/Additions/Omissions

  1. Freshly grated nutmeg — not too much — and black pepper seemed appropriate here.
  2. We skipped the olive oil drizzle at the end.
  3. We went with regular old bacon instead of pancetta or lardons or something fancier.
  4. Dried thyme instead of fresh, because buying fresh around here means like a pound of it — way more than we could ever use.
  5. We used whipping cream instead of double cream.

Ingredients

150 g bacon, chopped
bit of butter
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 bay leaf
tablespoon of dried thyme
1 celery root, peeled and cut into chunks
850 ml chicken stock
100 ml whipping cream, unwhipped
a couple scrapes of freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

In a soup pot, fry the bacon until the fat renders and it has gotten as crispy as you want it. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-covered plate to drain, but leave the rendered fat in the pot. If you need more fat, add a little olive oil or butter (no more than a tablespoon) to the pot and add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes translucent. Add the bay leaf, the dried thyme, and the celeriac and cook for another 2 minutes.

Pour the stock into the pot, bring it to a boil, then turn it down and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the celeriac is soft (knife slides into a chunk easily). Remove the bay leaf, stir the cream in, add the black pepper and nutmeg, and puree the soup with a stick blender until smooth. Throw the bacon back into the soup pot or add it to the bowls upon serving.

Thai Garlic Meatball and Pork-Filled Cucumber Soup

Geng Djud Teng Gwa Jad Sei Mu Sab(?)
I think that’s Thai for “Can’t handle the fish sauce? Eat this!”
A while back we attended an evening of Indian cooking instruction at our local Volkshochschule. The next installment was last week, and we moved a little further East, culinarily speaking, to Thailand. Given Sarah’s rules about fish (it better be canned tuna or beer-battered cod) and derivative products, I was flying solo on this one. But I brought home a winner of a recipe that met with her approval this evening at home, too.

Continue reading Thai Garlic Meatball and Pork-Filled Cucumber Soup

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.

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.