Dinner By Dagny

Not just food, food with flavor

Archive for the tag “soup”

Homemade Soup

Why is it that people are a little afraid of making homemade soup? It doesn’t make much sense to me. Homemade soup is extremely nutritious and you can customize it to your liking without any real effort. It is also a really good vessel for using leftovers, things from the freezer or fresh ingredients. You can make it over a couple of days, overnight in a crockpot, in a couple of hours or really quick if you have ready ingredients on hand.

Chicken soup is the most common for me, but that’s because I tend to cook chicken regularly and keep the pan drippings and chicken carcasses. I tend to add the pan drippings to a container with other pan drippings. One thing to note here though it that you really need to be careful about how much pan drippings you add to your soup stock. It is very easy to go from perfectly flavored to almost too rich.

For today’s soup I used two small chicken carcasses. The first thing I did was pull as much meat off the bones as I could. This allows you to use that meat for the soup later, plus any additional meat that you were not able to liberate until after the stock making process. I added a quartered onion (skin and all), 3 carrots, 3 celery hearts (leaves and all), a couple of slices of ginger, the rest of an open bottle of white wine and covered it all with water. I let it simmer for 3-4 hours and put it in the fridge overnight. I strained the stock into another pot, and picked off any additional chicken. I then let the stock reduce for about an hour and tasted it for flavor (at this point, I have added no additional seasoning). My tastings led me to add about a cup of pan drippings and let that simmer as well. Now it’s ready for all the goodies we want – we’re doing chicken, carrots, celery, kidney beans, peas and corn, maybe some cous cous. I’ll let you know in the directions below.

Directions

1. Bring 6-8 cups prepared (or purchased) stock to a boil

2. Chop raw veggies you plan on adding – carrots and celery for us

3. Plan what else you are adding. We are adding kidney beans, frozen peas and corn, frozen turnips, and some cous cous. There is a little orchestration going on here as you need to make sure everything gets the proper cooking time, without overcooking anything. For me, this was adding the carrots and celery and simmer for 20 mins, add beans and cous cous (3 scoops – about 1/2 cup) simmer for 2 more mins, add peas and corn and chicken.

4. Based on the relative cooking time of your goodies, add them to the pot

5. Taste and season constantly (using my standard Adobo, pepper, oregano, thyme)

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Results

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My daughters gave me Chopped style running commentary on my soup. It even won Chopped! That’s so exciting. But it definitely made us warm on this cold winter day.

Baked Potato Soup

I love a good baked potato soup. I had never made it before although I figured it really couldn’t be that difficult. But the other night after dinner I had 3 little and 1 big leftover baked potatoes. We don’t eat a lot of hash browns or breakfast potatoes so I started dwelling on what I was going to do with them.

As a general rule, baked potato soup can’t be that hard to make. It has a cream and roux base and usually includes bacon and sometimes cheese. I skipped the bacon because I didn’t feel like dealing with an entire frozen packet. And once I skipped the bacon, I figured I would jut lighten it up a little with stock, adding cream at the end.

Ingredients
3 small and 1 large baked potatoes (you can really use whatever you have leftover, or bake a coupe extra)
Olive oil
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup milk or cream
Adobo, thyme, oregano to taste

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan
2. Dice onion and toss in pot
3. Cook onion for 2-3 minutes
4. Meanwhile, peel and cube potatoes
5. Toss potatoes into pot and stir
6. Slowly add vegetable stock
7. Use potato masher to mash potatoes a little bit
8. Add remaining stock and crushed garlic
9. Being to a boil and simmer 15 mins
10. Add in seasoning to taste
11. Add cream
12. Mix thoroughly and cook for additional 5-10 mins

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Results
This soup was very hearty and filling. It tasted like a baked potato soup should, without the weightiness of the cream based roux. I would definitely encourage everyone to use their extra potatoes like this.

Apple Brie Quesadilla and Broccoli Squash Soup

My family really likes broccoli, so I buy a lot of it and we eat a lot of it.  In recent years, I have gotten in the habit of keeping the stems and stalks and using them for soup.  It does require a little prep time to peel the stalks of the fibrous outer layer, however you end up with a better soup at the end.  If you choose not to peel it, you will need to strain it so you do not end up with strings of fiber in your soup.  The broccoli stalks last for a pretty long while in your vegetable drawer in the refrigerator.

It was a nice rainy day today and I had a little extra time so it seemed perfect to make up that pot of soup.  Besides tonight was leftover night anyway as we have lots of food in the refrigerator we need to eat.  It just makes sense to add something else.

Broccoli Squash Soup

Ingredients

5 broccoli stalks

1 14 oz package frozen butternut squash (this can be made with squash in any form – fresh, frozen cubes or variety)

1 small onion

3 garlic cloves

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

Adobo, tumeric, cumin to taste

Directions

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1.  Peel the broccoli stalks of the fibrous outer layer – The easiest way to do this is to start from the bottom up and cut off smaller stalks as you going, peeling each one individually

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2.  Cut the peeled stalks into roughly the same size chunks (you want it to cook evenly)

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3.  In medium pot, add broccoli, garlic cloves, onion (cut in into equal size parts – I had about 8), squash and vegetable stock

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4.  Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook for 20-25 minutes, until broccoli stalks are tender and squash has defrosted

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5.  Use blender to puree all the ingredients, return to pot

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6.  Season to taste with adobo, cumin, tumeric

Results

Broccoli squash soup is incredibly simple, delicious and versatile.  You can flavor it with any flavor combination from curry spices (as I have done) or Italian spices (oregano, basil, etc).  You can add cream, or roast the vegetables beforehand.  It is healthy and hearty.

Apple Brie Quesadilla

I stumbled across this in a food network recipe on 5 dinner meals in 45 minutes.  It sounded pretty interesting and I just happened to have some granny smith apples that I needed to eat.

Ingredients

1 tortilla

1/2 granny smith apple

4-5 slices brie

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon mustard

Directions

1.  Cut apple in halve and use mandolin to cut thin, even slices

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2.  Drizzle with olive oil and grill for 3-4 minutes in grill pan, over medium high heat, until marks appear

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3.  Layer tortilla with brie and grilled apples

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4.  Grill quesadilla in grill pan for additional 3-4 minutes on each side, until grill marks appear and cheese melts

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5.  Mix maple syrup and mustard together to drizzle over top

Results

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This meal was perfect.  It was the right size, and it balanced out the rainy weather perfectly.

Asian Noodle Soup with Shrimp

find Asian cuisine pretty simple and comforting.  It also coincides with philosophy of taking a flavor profile and mixing and matching the protein and vegetables.  My daughter requested shrimp noodle soup for dinner.  This particular recipe is a take off of a beef noodle soup recipe from The Ultimate Chinese & Asian Cookbook, that my inlaws gave me a couple of years ago.  While I’m not a big fan of licorice, I do love the addition of Chinese 5 spice in this recipe.  It adds that extra flavor.

Ingredients

1/2 package of large cooked shrimp xx/pound

1/4 ounce dried mushrooms – I used shitake this time

1 cup boiling water

2 medium carrots

1 celery stalk

1 small onion

1-2 garlic cloves

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

4 decent squirts Gourmet Garden fresh chopped ginger (about 2 tablespoons)

7 cups chicken stock

6 tablespoons rum

5 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1/2 cup chopped spinach

1/2 box spinach fettucine

Adobe, pepper and Chinese five spice to taste

Directions

1.  Break the mushrooms into small pieces, place in bowl and pour the boiling water over them.  Set aside to soak.

2.  Slice the carrots, celery and onions and dice the garlic

3.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the garlic, carrots, celery and onions along with ginger and stir-fry for 3 minutes.

4.  Add the chicken broth, mushrooms and their soaking liquid, soy sauce, fish sauce, rum, sesame oil and plenty of seasoning.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 10 minutes.

5.  Break the fettuccine in half and add to the pan with the spinach.  Simmer for 6 minutes.

6.  Add defrosted, cooked shrimp to pot and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.

7.  Adjust any seasonings before serving.

Results

This is a pretty simple, mild, comforting soup.  There are lots of options for proteins and vegetables.  Additionally, there are shortcuts you can take and substitutions you can make.  I usually use the sesame oil for stir-frying the vegetables, but got distracted and used olive oil.  Sesame oil still adds a nice flavor so I added some to the broth instead.  Additionally, I have used fresh ginger, but find that I usually waste a pretty big portion of it so recently purchased a squeeze bottle of XXXXX.  You could use bok choy instead of spinach and add any other variation on vegetables.  In this case, I happened to have cooked shrimp on hand, but could just as easily used uncooked shrimp, but cooked it a little longer.

 

 

Chicken Soup

I pretty regularly re-invent leftovers.  Taking the chicken carcass and making chicken soup is pretty standard.  This is another great recipe where you have a basic understanding of what to do and then can add your personal flavor profile.

In this case, I roasted a chicken last week and kept the leftovers for the sole benefit of making soup.  And then I got inspired by Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  While I don’t watch a lot of tv, I am a sucker for the food network when I do.  On Friday night, one of the showcased restaurants was Happy Gillis Cafe and Hangout, Kansas City, Missouri, and the featured recipe was Posole Verde.  This sounded very tasty and I figured that I would recreate it.  I was a little concerned that the soup would turn out too spicy for my kids, so I was trying to figure out how to try this out and still make the traditional recipe they enjoy.

Ingredients:

Whole chicken carcass

3 celery ribs

3 carrots

1-2 onion (second onion optional)

2 garlic cloves

1-2 potatoes (optional)

1/2 cup corn (optional)

previously made chicken broth or gravy (optional)

seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, thyme, orgegano)

for green chili pepper slurry, you need

2 poblano peppers, roasted peeled and seeded

1 jalapeno, seeded

3 chile de arbol

4 tomatillos

1/2 cup of cilantro

2-3 garlic cloves

Directions:

Chicken Broth

1.  In a large pot, add the chicken stock, 1 celery rib (or equivalent tops) cut in thirds, 1 carrot cut in thirds, 1 onion quartered leaving outer peal intact, 2 garlic cloves smashed and cover with water.

2.  Simmer for 1-1.5 hours periodically stirring and skimming the fat off the top. You don’t want it to fiercely boil.

3.  Once the chicken meat comes easily off the bone and carcass breaks apart, let the stock cool for 1-2 hours.

4.  Once cooled, strain the stock into strainer on top of another big pot or bowl.

5.  Pull all the chicken meat off the carcass and toss the vegetables, bones, and fat.

This is where my recipe veered into two.  At this point, I split the stock into to two smaller pots.  I also added some pan drippings and previously made chicken gravy to the stock as well.

Traditional soup

1.  To stock, add chicken meat, 1-2 carrots, 1-2 potatoes, 1-2 celery stalks and any other vegetables that interest you

2.  Taste broth and determine seasoning level.  If needed, add salt (or Adobe, which is my goto season salt), pepper, oregano, thyme).  This is also where you might add any previously captured pan drippings, gravy, frozen stock, chicken boullion cubes as you desire.

3. Simmer for 30 minutes

Chicken Posole soup

1.  I purchased 1 jalepeno, 2 big chili peppers (looked kind of like poblano) and 4 small chili peppers (looked kind of like chili arbolo except green).  My grocery store just labels all of them as “chili peppers” and since I’m still working my way through, I don’t have a really strong understanding of the flavor profile of the the peppers.  Given this, I tried to follow the recipe at least for the chili pepper mixture from the original.

2.  I roasted a single chicken breast I had, because there really wasn’t enough chicken for two soups.

3.  Roasted the 2 big chili peppers under the broiler for 6 minutes on 1 side and 4 on the other.

4. After peeling and seeding large chili peppers, added them with 1 seeded and trimmed jalepeno, 3 smaller “chile de arbol” peppers, 4 tomatillos, 3 garlic cloves and about 1/2-3/4 cup cilantro to the blender and mixed

5. To stock, add chicken meat, 1-2 carrots, 1-2 potatoes, 1-2 celery stalks and any other vegetables that interest you.  I added 1/2 cup of frozen corn.

6. Add 1/2 cup chili pepper green slurry to soup and stir.

7.  Taste broth and determine seasoning level.  I added a little bit of Mexican Adobo (a little heavier on the cumin and a little lighter on the salt than the Goya brand).

8.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

The results:

The results were good.  My oldest daughter was a little turned off by the green color, and after the first taste of broth tried to convince me that it tasted the same as regular chicken soup.  She agreed to try a whole bowl when both my husband and I sat down to eat it.  The flavor is great, but the heat builds on you a little bit.  By the time we got to the bottom of the bowl, our noses were running a little bit.

Substitutions:

Chicken soup is another vessel for whatever flavor profiles you enjoy.  You can add

  • lemon grass and ginger for an Asian flair
  • more basil, parsley, rosemary for more Italian flavoring
  • Add Sazon or Sofrito for more Puerto Rican flavor
  • Maybe you just like more vegetables – what about spinach, broccoli, peppers – you can add whichever ones you want. Just be careful about cooking time and piece size (so it all cooks evenly)
  • Maybe you are all about the carbs – what about pasta, rice, dumplings – you can add any (or all as we have done in the past for our “man soup”)
  • Maybe you prefer barley, lentils, cous cous – those are all fair game as well

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