Monthly Archives: December 2014

French Onion Soup Crocks – What To Buy

By | December 30, 2014

(photo courtesy of www.foodplace.co.uk)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make a really great French Onion Soup, dripping over with thick gobs of melted cheese, you need a soup crock that can stand up to the heat of an oven or broiler. And it occurred to me after a recent recipe posting for Classic French Onion Soup that many of you who love this soup may not have the proper soup crocks to make it at home. Normal soup bowls are not recommended for such a preparation, so if you don’t have any French Onion Soup Crocks, here are my Top 3 recommendations:

1. Kitchen Supply 8035 White Porcelain Onion Soup Bowl with Handle(1 Bowl)
While these bowls are on the expensive side at $14.99 each, they are oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and have handles, making them very easy to remove from the oven and serve.

Kitchen Supply 8035 White Porcelain Onion Soup Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Over & Back Lion’s Head Porcelain Bowls (Set of 8)
At less than $40 for a set of eight bowls, the Over & Back Lion’s Head set is an excellent value for a family or for small gatherings. They hold just shy of 1 pint of liquid, more than enough to serve big appetites. The downside? The bowls don’t have handles, and that might be a deal breaker for some of you.

Over & Back Lions Head Porcelain Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Daily Chef Fireside Soup Bowl  (4 Pack)
These oven-safe soup bowls are the most expensive of the group, with a set of four bowls at just under $70. However, the soup lover and soup maker will both benefit from the dual-handle design, making the bowls very easy to slip in and out of the oven and onto the dining table.

Daily Chef Fireside Soup Bowl

Slow Cooker Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

By | December 27, 2014

To me, chicken noodle soup must have two things: plenty of chicken and plenty of noodles. That’s exactly what this slow cooker chicken noodle soup recipe delivers along with (mostly) hands-off cooking. (Serves 8)

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 quarts chicken broth
1 large onion, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups dried egg noodles
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

How to make Slow Cooker Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

• Place the diced onion, celery and carrot in the bottom of a large slow cooker and spread to distribute evenly
• Put the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables and sprinkle everything with the marjoram and thyme
• Pour in the chicken broth and add the bay leaf
• Cover and cook on low setting for 6 to 8 hours, until chicken is fully cooked
• Add the egg noodles and let cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender
• Taste for seasoning
• Remove bay leaf and serve

French-Canadian Habitant Pea Soup

By | December 21, 2014

My wife and I were vacationing in southern Manitoba a few years ago and for part of the trip stayed in a yurt at Spruce Woods Provincial Park. We had a small camp stove with us to prepare our meals in the park, and in one of the local grocery stores found a large can of Habitant Pea Soup. We both love split pea soup, so I bought the can of Habitant and later heated it up for a quick lunch. It wasn’t “homemade” good, but for a canned soup it tasted much better than I expected. And everything tastes better when you’re cooking and eating outdoors.

French-Canadian Pea Soup

French-Canadian Pea Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had made split pea soup many times before, but it was always Swedish style, where split pea soup is a national institution. In Sweden, pea soup can be found on tables across the country on Thursdays, when it is traditionally served. I later learned that pea soup has a history in French-Canadian cooking, where the hearty soup has long been served in kitchens and restaurants across Quebec. What makes the French-Canadian version so tasty is the use of savory, a very underrated herb that doesn’t get the attention in the States that it does across the northern border. And where I would use a piece of ham for Swedish-style pea soup, for the Habitant version I use salt pork. Because this recipe uses water and not broth or stock, it stands up to heavier doses of dried herbs for flavoring.

How to make Habitant Pea Soup, French Canadian-style

1 pound yellow split peas (there is no difference in flavor between yellow and green split peas, but yellow peas are traditional in Quebec)
1/2 pound salt pork, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 quarts water
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried savory
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

  • Rinse the peas under cold water and put them into a large Dutch oven or soup pot and cover them with cold water and allo to soak overnight
  • Drain the peas and rinse again
  • Place the salt pork pieces at the bottom of the Dutch oven/soup pot
  • Add the onion, carrots, celery and peas
  • Sprinkle savory over everything, add water and bay leaf
  • Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cover partially for 1 hour
  • Stir occasionally and skim off any foam with a slotted spoon
  • Remove cover and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until peas are tender (add more water as needed)
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve

If you want to finish the soup with flair, try a bit of chopped fresh parsley and/or a sprinkle of red wine vinegar.

I would love to hear from anyone with French-Canadian roots who grew up eating this soup. Maybe you have an heirloom recipe that beats them all!

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

 

Chinese Egg Drop Soup

By | December 20, 2014

Chinese Egg Drop Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egg drop soup is one of the most popular items on the menus of Chinese restaurants across North America and beyond. This humble soup requires little more than chicken broth or stock and an egg or two to make something special out of the ordinary. By slowly incorporating and swirling eggs into the hot broth, little flowers of egg thicken the soup like noodles and give it added substance and flavor. I like to add chopped scallion and a drizzle of sesame oil just before serving. And this soup stands up well to experimentation, so feel free to add a spoonful of chopped parsley, ginger or some cooked shrimp or chicken to make a heartier version.

Ingredients

1 quart chicken broth or chicken stock
2 eggs at room temperature
1 scallion, green part sliced into thin rings
Sesame oil to finish

Egg Drop Soup Ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to make Chinese Egg Drop Soup (serves 4)

Pour the chicken broth/stock into a saucepan or stock pot and bring to a boil

Pour chicken broth into a saucepan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beat the eggs in a small bowl

Beat Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the stock is boiling, slowly pour the eggs into the soup and stir in a circular motion with the tines of a fork or chopsticks until thin threads of cooked egg form in the liquid

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take the soup off the heat and add some chopped scallions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour into bowls, making sure that each diner gets plenty of egg “flowers” in his or her soup, and drizzle sesame oil over the top

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Classic French Onion Soup

By | December 18, 2014

FOS

Classic French Onion Soup

French onion soup is an example of a dish that is very simple to make but has an incredible depth of flavor. Cooking the onions for a long period of time caramelizes them and brings out their natural sweetness, which is a perfect flavor counterpart to the savory heartiness of beef broth. And who can resist a golden cap of melted cheese to bring the soup together? With just a handful of ingredients and a little patience, anyone can make a superb French onion soup.

How to make Classic French Onion Soup

4 large onions (Spanish, yellow, Vidalia)
4 tablespoons butter
1 quart beef broth/stock
½ cup shredded cheese (I recommend any of these cheeses: Emmental, Gruyère, Idiazabal, Parmesan)
Day-old French bread cut into ½-inch thick rounds

Peel and slice the onions into thin rings

Into a large Dutch oven or soup pot, add the butter and heat over medium

Add the onions and saute in the butter, stirring occasionally, for approximately 45 minutes until the onions are a deep, rich brown color.

Pour the beef broth/stock over the onions and stir well.

Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

Place a piece of bread on the bottom of an oven-proof French onion soup crock.

Ladle the soup over the bread and top with cheese.

The soup can be finished by placing the crocks under a broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, until cheese has melted and turns bubbly and crispy. Or, put the crocks onto a sturdy baking sheet and into a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes to melt the cheese. Be very careful with the crocks after they’ve been under the broiler or in the oven.

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

Ground Turkey Chili with Roasted Red Peppers and Garlic

By | December 16, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is one of my “go-to” chili recipes when I’m serving company or other folks who like chili but can’t tolerate the heat of chipotles or spicy chili in general. The key to this is the roasted red peppers and garlic. They create a rich depth of flavor, with a hint of smokiness that doesn’t go overboard. The coriander adds a subtle sweetness. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t like this chili. I usually make this when ground turkey goes on sale. Let’s face it: cooked ground turkey doesn’t have much flavor, but that makes it perfect for the chili pot where it can slowly simmer with a bunch of spices to yield a delicious finale.

How to make Ground Turkey Chili with Roasted Red Peppers and Garlic

4 cloves garlic
1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained of liquid
1 & 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/3 to 1/2 cup chili powder
1 quart (4 cups) beef broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (16-ounce cans) pinto beans, drained and rinsed well

Into a skillet, place the garlic cloves with their skins on, and roast over medium heat until the skins become dark and blistered. Remove and let cool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When cool to the touch, peel garlic cloves and put into a food processor with the drained roasted red peppers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blend for about 20 seconds, until the garlic and peppers liquidize. Set aside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium. Add the ground turkey and cook through.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drain the excess fat and remove cooked turkey to a plate. Wipe the Dutch oven clean, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and bring to medium heat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the diced onion to the pot and saute for 6 to 7 minutes, until onions start to become translucent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the dry spices.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate thoroughly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the roasted red pepper and garlic mixture. Stir and cook for a minute or so.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour in the tomatoes and beef broth. Stir and bring to a boil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour or longer. Longer is better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the beans and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taste for seasoning and serve. Favorite toppings in my house are cheddar cheese, sour cream, lime juice and cilantro.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

Is there a difference between chicken stock and chicken broth?

By | December 9, 2014

Chicken Stock vs Chicken Broth – Are they the same?

If you look on any supermarket shelf in the soup aisle, you will surely find a variety of chicken stock and chicken broths. There are a lot of choices and it can be confusing trying to determine whether stock or broth is better. But is chicken stock the same as chicken broth? And when should you use chicken stock versus chicken broth?

Chicken stockChicken broth

 

Chicken Stock = Chicken and Water

If you want to be technical, chicken stock should contain nothing but chicken and water. The way to make chicken stock is to put a whole chicken, or chicken parts, into a stock pot with plenty of water and let it simmer away for several hours to create a densely concentrated chicken-flavored liquid.

Chicken Broth = Chicken and Water + Veggies and Seasonings

Chicken broth, on the other hand, would be different because it depends on seasonings and often the addition of vegetables such as carrots, celery, leeks and onions to give it more of a “soup” flavor.

However, the lines between chicken stock and chicken broth have been blurred over the years, and for most people they are interchangeable. Many cookbook authors use the term stock for a broth. I think this is partly because “stock” sounds more impressive and professional than “broth.” And, most chicken stocks you’ll find on your grocers’ shelves are broths, made with vegetables and seasonings.

So, the good news is that you can use chicken stock and chicken stock in the same way. If a recipe calls for broth and you have some ready-made stock, by all means use it and vice versa.

Shchi – Russian Cabbage Soup with Beef

By | December 8, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last winter I spent a lot of time researching and cooking different soups from Russia and Poland. I discovered some truly different and great flavors that were brand new to me. One of the soups that intrigued me most is called Shchi. (Don’t ask me to pronounce it!) Shchi is a cabbage soup that is something of a national dish in Russia and has been for centuries. In the cookbooks and recipes I found online, there was no definitive version of this soup. Some recipes used beef, some used chicken, others were vegetarian. Some versions of Shchi called for cabbage only, others used sauerkraut instead of fresh cabbage, while other versions used both. So, I took all these different takes on Shchi into account and came up with my own version, using what I like best and came up something that turned out very tasty. This is a soup that takes time, best made on a weekend or day when you can commit to the soup pot.

How to make Shchi – Russian Cabbage Soup with Beef

For the stock

2 pound boneless beef ribs
1 beef soup bone
1 carrot, diced
1 rib of celery, diced
1 onion, quartered
6 black peppercorns (I prefer Tellicherry)
2 quarts water

For the soup
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 turnip, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 green cabbage
1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
1 tablespoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon caraway
3 medium potatoes, diced
3 medium  tomatoes, diced
1 pound sauerkraut (drain if you want, for a more sour flavor add the juice)

To finish the soup
Salt and pepper
Sour cream
Fresh dill

 

Add the beef ribs and beef soup bone to a large pot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peel and dice one large carrot and one celery stalk. Cut the onion into quarters.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the vegetables to the pot along with 6 black peppercorns.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour 2 quarts water into the pot and turn heat to high to boil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 2-and-a-half hours, until ribs are very tender. Add water as needed to maintain about 2 quarts total liquid.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Turn off heat and remove ribs and soup bone and let cool. Remove vegetables from stock.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dice one large carrot, two ribs of celery, one onion and one turnip.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into a large Dutch oven or soup pot, add 2 tablespoons butter and bring to medium heat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the carrot, celery, onion and turnip and cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Chop the cabbage and mince approximately 1 teaspoon dill.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the cabbage, dill, 2 bay leaves and 1 tablespoon salt to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Measure 1 teaspoon caraway and add to the pot. Cook for another 5 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Add the stock to the pot and increase heat to high.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dice the potatoes and add to the soup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Shred the meat and cut off any usable bits from the soup bone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dice the tomatoes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the meat, tomatoes and sauerkraut to the pot and stir. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes to heat everything through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladle soup into bowls and top with sour cream, cracked black pepper and fresh dill.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serve with a nice dark rye bread and butter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

Quick Easy Clam Chowder

By | December 5, 2014

Clam chowder is one of my favorite soups ever, but I know a lot of people are intimidated by cooking anything with seafood and shy away from making clam chowder. Well, here is an easy New England-style clam chowder that can be on the table in no time. It’s the perfect clam chowder for beginners or if you just want a tasty bowl of chowder in a hurry.

How to make Quick Easy Clam Chowder

2 strips of bacon
1 small onion diced
1 cup chicken stock
4 medium potatoes (about 1 pound) diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cans (6 & 1/2 ounces each) of chopped clams in clam juice
3 cups milk
Freshly ground black pepper and salt

Scrub potatoes under cold water and cut into 1/2-inch dice. (Peel the potatoes if you like. I prefer to leave the skins on.)

In a small Dutch oven or soup pot, fry the bacon over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes until crisp and remove. Let drain on paper towel and break up into small bits.

Cook the onions in the remaining bacon grease for 3 minutes, until onions start to become soft.

Add the chicken stock and potatoes and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 12 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Add the clams and juice and stir everything to mix well.

Add milk and heat until just boiling.

Season to taste with pepper and salt.

Top the chowder with the cooked bacon bits and enjoy.

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.

Simple Potato Soup

By | December 3, 2014

Potato soup is a great call when you have only a handful of ingredients to work with or you just want to make something and satisfying in a flash.  My wife loves potatoes, so I can always count on a happy diner when I start dicing spuds for a rib-sticking soup. Here is a basic potato soup recipe that is easy to make and easy to love. This is enough for 4 servings. Feel free to double – or triple – the recipe as needed.

How to make Simple Potato Soup

4 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup diced celery
1 medium onion diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 cup cream ( or half-and half or milk with another tablespoon of butter)

Freshly ground black pepper and salt

Scrub potatoes under cold water and cut into 1/2-inch dice. (Peel the potatoes if you desire. I prefer to leave the skins on.)

Into a medium Dutch over or soup pot, add the butter and warm over medium heat.

Add the celery and onion and saute for 3 to 4 minutes until the vegetables start to become translucent.

Add the diced potatoes and continue cooking for 1 minute, stirring well to prevent sticking.

Season with a couple cracks of ground black pepper and a dash of salt.

Pour in the broth and let the vegetables cook until tender, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Add cream and add salt and pepper to taste.

Feel free to top with bacon bits, croutons, ground Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley or my personal favorite – fresh dill.

 

Looking for the perfect pot to cook up your next batch of soup? I recommend the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It comes in 11 different colors and is an excellent value for the price.