Tag Archives: soup

Improv Tom Kha Gai

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I had most of the ingredients for tom kha gai but I just didn’t have time to skip out to the Asian grocery for traditional elements of this soup, like kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. Shiitake, oyster or maitake mushrooms weren’t available at my grocery but baby bellas are a nice substitute.

I had bought a jar of almond butter that had way too much oil floating on the top. So I poured it off and used it to saute my onions. SUCH amazing flavor. But ordinarily I would use EVOO.

There is no substitute for fresh ginger and cilantro. There just isn’t. So if you have them, use instead of ground spices. Sauté a sliced 1/2-inch nub of fresh ginger with your onions and add a handful of chopped cilantro at the very end.

If you want to use precooked chicken, add it at the mushroom stage.

Sambal oelek is my favorite way to add heat to a dish. But you can use red pepper flakes, Louisiana Hot Sauce or sriracha sauce as you like. I would advise not adding so much that you drown out the other spices.  But, hey, this is your soup, you can do whatever you want.

If you have more people than soup or want to stretch it out, ladle it over a bowl of rice noodles or vermicelli. IMHO, nothing is finer than finding noodles at the bottom of my soup.

INGREDIENTS
extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 fresh whole chicken breast, cubed
1 cup chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms

2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sambal oelek, more or less.  Or none.

salt to taste

DIRECTIONS
Heat olive oil over high heat in a Dutch oven and sauté onion for 2-3 minutes. Add peppers and sauté another minute or so until the onions are soft.

Add cubed chicken and cook just until all the pink disappears. Add a little more oil if you need to. Don’t overcook. It will finish during the simmer phase.

Stir in chicken broth and coconut milk and when it reaches a simmer, turn down the heat to continue simmering.

In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, ginger and coriander. Stir in soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar and sambal. Add a couple of tablespoons of the simmering broth to the bowl and stir well. Then add all this back to the pot and stir.

When your chicken has simmered for 10-15 minutes, add the mushrooms and simmer another 5-10 minutes. Then turn off the heat.

I like to let mine rest for 10-15 minutes. It’ll still be hot enough to eat but that allows the spices to continue to bloom.

Taste your broth and add salt, lime juice, soy sauce or sambal as you like. Garnish with fresh cilantro if you have it.

White Bean Chili

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white bean chiliThis is another of those recipes that welcomes improv.

If you are lucky enough to live where you can pick up a hot rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, you can have the wings and leg quarters for dinner another time and make this soup with the breast.
Or dice and saute your own boneless breast.

If you have the time and the presence of mind, cook your own Great Northern beans.
But a can of white beans works fine — you can sub cannellini, navy or limas.

A mild yellow onion is my preference here, Vidalias are best but a white onion works.
And you can sub bell pepper (any color) or jalapenos for the chilies.

Add handful of chopped greens (turnip, spinach, kale) if you need green leafies in a meal.
Add a cup of cooked macaroni to tempt the kids.
Throw in some diced cooked carrots for color.  It’s all yum.

I keep ground cumin in my pantry, but if you’re out, no worries. Use chili powder or oregano or basil.  Or not.

ingredients

1 c diced onion (1 cup)
2 T cooking oil
1 small can chopped green chilies (1/4 cup)
1 T minced garlic (2-3 cloves)

1 entire chicken breast, cooked and diced (2-3 cups)
1 quart cooked beans with broth (1 can beans with broth to make 4 cups)
1 t ground cumin
Salt to taste (1 tsp)

1. Saute first 4 ingredients in a hot kettle until onion is soft.
2. Add next four ingredients, stir and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Serve with hot bread (try the Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread!)

Field Pea Soup

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20150330_184435Too tired to grocery shop and not in the mood for fast food, this is what’s for supper tonight. It’s a lighter soup for a warmer evening.

Yes, this soup is almost entirely from cans. But it’s probably still healthier than drive-thru.

indexCanned field peas are hard to find lately. These are *not* blackeyed nor crowder peas, but probably an Austrian winter pea, also known as a dun pea. They are currently my favorite legume and when I see them on the shelf I get half a dozen cans.  I particularly like Allens or Texas Fair.

2 c. sliced smoked sausage
1 c. chopped onion
1 can field peas with snaps
1 can chilies
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1 t Cajun spice mix
1 t cumin

Saute the sausage and onion together in a small amount of water until the onion is soft. Before lowering heat, add tomatoes and chilies and stir well for a couple of minutes to prevent sticking. Lower heat and add peas, broth and spices. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Do a taste check before adding additional salt or spice. Both the sausage and the peas will add salt and occasionally chilies will add a little fire.

Serves four.

Happy Kale Soup

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ImageI had a dream last night: I was talking to someone about how much I love kale. This morning is sort of gray and green, cloudy and rainy behind the lush foliage on the trees that look like June more than early April.

So I’m thinking it’s a day for my happy kale soup, which incidentally has sausage, beans and onion, but for me it’s all about the kale.  The other stuff is in there just to keep it happy.

For anyone that wants to play along, here’s what you’ll need:

Soup kettle or Dutch oven big enough to hold a mountain of kale
A big cooking spoon or paddle (mine is wood)
Extra virgin olive oil — 2 T, more or less
One large onion, coarsely chopped. (Vidalias are a favorite, but a nice red is pretty.)
One package of smoked sausage (turkey, beef or pork, depending on the moment), sliced or diced
One can of white beans (Great Northerns are my fave)
Chopped kale (fresh or bagged; can use can in a pinch, but it’s not the same)
One box or two cans of broth: chicken, beef or vegie — (no MSG, please).
Season-All or Mrs. Dash to your liking

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Heat about 2 T olive oil in your kettle. Add the onion and saute until soft. Throw in your sausage and continue to saute for 2-5 minutes, depending on how long you’re willing to stand there.  Add kale, in batches if necessary, and toss until it wilts.  Add beans and broth and bring to a simmer.  At this point, it’s ready to eat, but I like to simmer for at least an hour so all the flavors blend together and the beans and onion are really, really soft.

I can’t look at that first picture and not want to make cornbread to go with.  That particular bread is my jalapeno cheddar version, and you can find that recipe here.