Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

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Corn Chowder

September 9, 2010

So I take it you guys aren’t big fans of eggplant pasta, LOL. No worries, today’s recipe is much more sinful.

Yesterday’s weather made me crave soup. The wind, the overcast skies – I knew I wanted to make soup after work. You see, living in Sacramento, CA with hotter temps has made us all think 70 degrees is freezing. Break out the hoodies, blankets and Uggs. No seriously, I’m not kidding.

I had remembered seeing corn for super cheap at the store and corn chowder is one of my favorite soups – so I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store and surfed the Internet on my iPhone to come up with a recipe. I ended up combining several recipes to make my own.

The Ingredients:

6 Ears of Corn – I used 3 sweet white and 3 yellow – it was just over 3 cups.
8 Ounces of Bacon – Cut into strips
1 Large Sweet White Onion
1 Large Leek – sliced into moon shapes – slit down center and chop
1 Pound Yukon Gold Potatoes – 3 medium = 1 pound
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme
2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
4 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Teaspoons Cornstarch – dissolved into 2 tablespoons water
Salt and Ground Pepper – to taste

Bacon, bacon, bacon… I love me some bacon. I used a dutch oven and set the stove to a medium heat and added the chopped bacon. Once it rendered a few tablespoons of fat, I increased the heat to high and cooked the bacon until crisp and golden brown. I then poured off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pot.

I prepped my onion, leek and thyme and measured out the ground cumin and butter.

Adding butter to bacon fat felt so wrong, but so right at the same time. The smells coming from this pot were heavenly. I Sautéed the ingredients, stirring occasionally until the onion and leeks were soft.

I then added the corn, potatoes…

and chicken stock to the pot. I brought things to a boil and cooked for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes were soft. I used a potato masher to mash some of the corn and potatoes in the pot. I reduced the heat to medium.

I added the corn starch and water mixture and waited for the soup to thicken a bit. The mashing really helped to thicken it as well. I let the soup simmer for about 5 more minutes – stirring it throughout. I then pulled it off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes.

I added the super sinful heavy whipping cream and continued to give the chowder a good stir. I did try the soup before adding the chowder and it was really good. You could omit that step if you are really watching calories. Me, not so much. I wanted mine super creamy and rich. I added salt and pepper to taste.

Outdoor photo with what natural light was left…

Indoor photo just before diving in. I seriously had to refrain from eating 2-3 bowls of this chowder. I stopped after one and have been thinking about it ever since. Sort of like the scalloped tomato dish. I have bowls stacked in my fridge ready to go for lunches.

I found so many corn chowder recipes the included bell pepper, cheese and many other interesting ingredients. I am happy that I omitted some things and added others. 2 thumbs up – I will for sure be making this soup many more times.

Dan came through the front door and thought we were having taco night because of the smells. Taco night is his favorite, guess that will need to happen soon.

So are you a fan of corn chowder? How about clam chowder?

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South of the Border Tomato Soup

August 30, 2010

The weather over the weekend was a sneak peek into fall – it was overcast in the mornings and I actually broke out a sweatshirt. I love Fall so much that I knew I wanted to find a soup recipe. My Mom is the “Queen” of homemade soups and it’s time I adopted a similar title.

I have stacks and stacks of magazines full of recipes and I decided I would focus on the latest Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine. There was a recipe for South of the Border Tomato Soup and apparently I still have an obsession with all things tomato.

I have always loved a good tomato soup teamed with a grilled cheese sandwich, but this had a different spin and I knew I wanted to give it a try.

The Ingredients:

4 Pints Grape Tomatoes – I had another container in the fridge – that’s a lot of tomatoes, thank God for Trader Joe’s and their cheap grape tomatoes.
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 Cups Chicken Broth – I used low sodium because I had some left from the Tofu Shirataki Ramen recipe
1 Teaspoon Honey
1 Ripe Avocado
1/4 Cup Plain Reduced-Fat Greek Yogurt – I used Fage 0%
4 Ounces Sharp Yellow Cheddar Cheese – Shredded (1 Packed Cup)
1/2 Teaspoon Ancho Chile Powder
1.5 Cups Lightly Crushed Baked Tortilla Chips – I used Trader Joe’s Spicy Soy and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and place the tomatoes on top. My parchment paper said it could withstand 400 degrees F. I was a little leery to try it at 450, but decided after consulting with Dan to give it a go. No issues, it worked like a champ.

Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Oven shot…

Roast the tomatoes until the skins begin to split and blister, about 15-20 minutes.

Transfer the tomatoes and any of the juices to a food processor.

I had to do mine in 3 batches – how sad is it that I had to reference my post on the minty pea and butter bean hummus recipe to see how the blender/food processor went together. Hah! I need to use it more often.

Add 1 cup of chicken broth to the tomatoes and process until coarsely pureed, about 10 seconds.

Force the mixture through a fine sieve/strainer set over a medium saucepan, discarding the seeds and pulp.

You are left with the above nightmare. Cleaning that puppy was not fun!

Add the honey and the remaining 1 cup chicken broth to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, about 5-10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash the avocado; stir in the yogurt and season with salt and pepper. (You could also do this step while the tomatoes are in the oven)

I used a fork to mash the ingredients together.

I stored the avo mixture in the fridge and started on the cheese. Place the cheese in a medium bowl and sprinkle the ancho chile  powder on top.

Let the soup finish simmering and then ladle into bowls and serve with the avocado cream, cheese and tortilla chips.

This soup was incredible! Totally worth the extra work and steps of making it from scratch.

I was able to enjoy a rather large bowl, and I had 3 containers left for lunches or dinners this week.

Next time I think I will double the recipe – especially when I can get tomatoes on sale.

The mess was not equal to the fruits of my labor – a double batch and a full-sized food processor would have helped.

I look forward to many more soup recipes here on the blog and enjoying them all Fall/Winter long.

What’s your favorite soup?

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Tofu Shirataki Ramen

August 25, 2010

Back in my Weight Watcher years (2003-2005) Hungry Girl started mentioning House Food’s Tofu Shirataki Noodles. Hungry Girl posted a recipe for Fettuccine Hungry Girlfredo! that used Laughing Cow Light Cheese.  I couldn’t find the noodles (back in 2005) in any local stores. I ended up ordering them online – they came in a fresh packed cooler. Us Weight Watcher girls weren’t going to pass up a pasta option that yielded only 1 point per package. 40 calories with 4 grams of fiber and only 6 grams of carbs – FOR THE ENTIRE package.

Once I got my noodle delivery, I sliced open the package and OMG, they STUNK so freakin’ bad. People had talked about the smell on the Weight Watcher message boards. They had a fishy/formaldehyde smell to them. Come on, you know you want some after that glorious description. hah!

The ingredients included: Water, Tofu (Water, soybeans, calcium sulfate, glucono Delta Lactone), yam flour and calcium hydroxide. I honestly could barely stand the smell. The directions stated that you should rinse thoroughly and parboil for 2-3 minutes (or 1 minute in the microwave) to reduce the authentic aroma. Authentic? Yes, that would be a stretch. “Stank ass” would be a better description. I did get used to the smell and the parboiling was key – it did go away.

I was really excited when Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Raley’s/Bel Air and Nugget Markets all started carrying the tofu noodles. They became a regular staple in my Weight Watcher’s point counting diet.

I was never able to find the angel hair shaped noodles, only the fettuccine. I then stopped my Weight Watcher’s point counting obsession and I forgot all about the noodles for years. I was shopping at Trader Joe’s a few weekends ago and I saw them. They had the angel hair and I knew I wanted to give them a try. My goal was to create a less fattening ramen noodle soup. Did you know that a regular package of Top Ramen has close to 400 calories, 14 grams of fat, over 50 grams of carbs and nearly 2000 mg. of sodium? That’s crazy! I used to eat 2 packages for dinner while in college. Cheap, but definitely unhealthy.

The Ingredients:

1/4 Cup thinly sliced white onion
1 Bok Choy – washed – cut off the end to separate leaves.
1/2 Cup Bean Sprouts – rinse and pat dry with paper towels
1/2 Large Carrot  – sliced thinly
1 Package Tofu Shirataki Angel Hair Noodles
2 Cups Chicken Broth – you could use any broth – I only had low sodium, I would use regular next time.
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce – I also ended up adding a bit to the top of the bowl once served.
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil

I got everything washed and chopped. I then rinsed the noodles and put them into the microwave for 1 minute to take care of the parboil.

I got all of my veggies going into the Canola oil. The burner was set to high. I let the veggies sizzle in the wok for a good 3-5 minutes. I then added 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of the rice wine to get the flavors going.

Once the veggies took on a grilled appearance and the bok choy shrunk in size, I added the noodles.

I used a fork to separate the noodles and then I added the chicken broth and remaining soy sauce and rice wine.

I continued to let everything cook for a few minutes on a lower temperature. I then served my ramen in a new bowl.

The story behind the bowl… I helped a girlfriend a few months back with her garage sale. She was helping to sell another girlfriend’s stuff – she sold her house and moved from the west coast to the east coast and really paired down. I was looking through some of the boxes and I found the bowl. I loved that it had the hole for the chopsticks and the teal color was amazing. Then I turned the bowl over and I knew I had to have it. The original owner of the bowl (Emilyn) had actually painted the bowl and her name was etched into the bottom.  I scooped it up and now Emilyn’s bowl gets to be featured here on Foodiddy. I love my new treasure and that it has a story.

Pretty bowls and plates make eating that much more enjoyable. Treat yourself to some fun and exciting bowls, dishes and placemats. You are worth it.  I usually find mine on the sale shelves of HomeGoods, TJMaxx, Tuesday Morning or Ross. I have an entire shelf of single dishes and bowls and I love each of them for different reasons.

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Green Grape Heirloom and Avocado Gazpacho

August 24, 2010

I’m finally at the end of the Tomato Summer Tour 2010. The last recipe of the evening was Green Grape Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Gazpacho.

I know lots of bloggers eat and make gazpacho on a regular basis, so I was excited to see what this option would taste like. I’ve ordered gazpacho in restaurants, just never made it myself. Now I’m kicking myself – it’s so dang easy to make and perfect for a hot weather/summer meal.

The Ingredients:

25-30 Green Grape Heirloom Tomatoes
2 Cucumbers  – peeled, seeded, and diced
2 Limes – juiced
1/2- 1 Cup Chicken or Veggie Stock – Chef Terese used Chicken – I’d use veggie to make it vegetarian.
1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves
1 Small Jalapeño
2 Green Onions – sliced, including green tops
2 Ripe Avocados – add extra virgin olive oil if the avocados aren’t ripe enough – it makes them creamier.
Salt and Pepper to taste – 1/2 a teaspoon at least
Croutons, Cilantro and Extra Virgin Olive Oil for garnish

Directions:
In a blender, puree cucumbers, tomatoes, lime juice, 1/2 cup broth, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, jalapeño, green onions, and 1 of the avocados, diced. Season to taste, with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until the next day.

To serve, thin gazpacho with additional broth if desired. Dice remaining avocado finely and add to gazpacho base. Pour into bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves and croutons and top with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.

I really liked it. Kristen, my cooking class partner in crime, would have rather had tortilla chips to dip into it.  She isn’t a fan of cold soups in general, but in her defense, it did taste a little like salsa verde. It was pretty acidic and everyone at the table stopped eating after 3-4 spoonfuls.

I’ve seen green, white, red – smooth, thick and chunky gazpacho soups. Some recipes use bell peppers, onion, lemon, and other fruits. I guess it’s like other soup recipes, lots and lots of variations.

Do you have a favorite gazpacho recipe to share?

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Meatballs – Childhood dish with a twist

July 30, 2010

This week has been a little stressful. “Little” would probably be an understatement, but I’m trying not to go all drama llama queen on this blog, hah! I just feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to fit everything in. I know things will slow down a bit, but until then, it’s cook when I can, grab healthy on the go alternatives the other nights.

Growing up I had a list of favorites that my Mom made and Porcupine Meatballs (My Mom’s name for them) were one of my favorite dishes. She used white rice and just added bread, egg, seasonings and tomato soup. I decided to switch things up a bit to make a new Foodiddy version. The porcupine name came from the way they looked with the rice sticking out of the meatballs, making them look spiky.

Ingredients:

1 lb. lean ground sirloin – I used 7% (Could easily be made with ground turkey)
Fresh baby spinach – chopped – as much as you want – I used the entire bowl (about 2 cups)
Brown Rice – I used 2 servings – Trader Joe’s frozen – cooked it before adding to the meatballs
1 Large Shallot – diced and sautéed with 2 cloves garlic, salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano
1 Egg
1 Can Tomato Soup
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
2 Teaspoons garlic powder
2 Teaspoons Italian Seasoning
Salt
Pepper

I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. I then got the spinach chopped, the shallots sautéed, the brown rice cooked and everything besides the tomato soup added into a big mixing bowl.

I used a spoon and then my hands to get everything really mixed up.

I made 15 fairly large meatballs and placed them into a glass baking dish. No need to coat the dish.

I poured the tomato soup into a glass measuring cup and added a can of water per the soup instructions. I then poured the soup contents on top of the meatballs.

No need to cover the meatballs. Just place them directly into the oven.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes. I checked them at 15 minutes and ladled sauce over the tops of each meatball. While they were finishing up in the oven, I broke out my veggie slicer. I sliced 2 zucchini to create my pasta bed for the meatballs. I added them to a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and garlic salt and then put them on my plate.

The zucchini noodles were perfect since there was already brown rice in the meatballs. I loved the texture – the onion and added spinach and softness of the brown rice really worked well together.

Dan thought the meatballs were too centered in the first photo, LOL… so I added the second. He gobbled them up (minus the zucchini pasta) – woohoo, another dish to add to the rotation. On the days that I don’t post, it’s more than likely that I’m enjoying something I’ve already posted.

Thanks Mom for all of the amazing childhood food memories, I loved sitting down to dinner as a family.

Good times, good food and lots of laughs.

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Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

May 11, 2010

Broccoli…ranks right up there with spelling the word vacuum…and why I normally refer to it as “broc.” – it’s just easier.

Don’t even get me started on gray vs. grey…

I woke up this morning to dreary weather. It was gray/grey and overcast with a drizzle. Rain and high winds were slated for the afternoon. I knew the hub was riding his motorcycle to work, so I was worried about that …enter the never-ending headache’s return and I knew it was going to be a sucky Monday. No worries, I pressed on. I got to work just before the rain started really coming down.

It was definitely soup weather. This was confirmed when I got caught in the middle of the storm without an umbrella. By the time I got from building A to my car, I was soaked. It was at that moment that I decided to make soup for dinner.

On my way home from work, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up the bread for the bowls and some of the ingredients that I didn’t have on hand. I had come across a “Copy That!” recipe in the January/February Food Network Magazine for Panera’s Broccoli-Cheddar Soup. It just happens to be one of Hilly’s favorites, so I thought I’d try mastering it. She’s under the weather with a cold, so she couldn’t try it in person…but there was enough for the freezer for a later date.

The Ingredients:

Disclaimer: This is definitely not a low-fat soup…see all of those cubes of butter? Full fat half-and-half…yep! I was not going for healthy this evening. I was going for comfort. I can think of several ways to cut down on the goodness calories. Fat free half-and-half, reduced fat cheese, etc. Not sure there really is an etc., but there has got to be other ways.

6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Small Onion
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Cups Half-and-Half
3 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Bay Leaves
1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg (note: could use a grinder – birthday hint…)
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
7 inch Round Bread Bowls – the only fresh out of the oven ones were the Dutch Crunch – it was fine, but sourdough would be better
4 Cups Broccoli Florets (worked out to be one head)
1 Large Carrot, Diced
2 1/2 Cups (about 8 ounces) Grated Sharp White and Yellow Cheddar Cheese

I added the onion once the butter started melting over medium heat…cook onions until tender – about 5 minutes.

Adding the flour and juggling the camera one-handed proved to be a little difficult.

Whisk in the flour and cook until golden brown (took about 3 minutes)

Gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth – not exactly sure how you get it super smooth with the onions…but close enough.

Action shot…hold your excitement…I added the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg…

Then I seasoned with salt and ground pepper. I brought things to a simmer, reduced the heat to medium-low and then cooked uncovered until thickened – 20 minutes.

I diced up the carrot, shredded the cheese and got the broccoli florets ready for the pot.

I then got the bread bowls prepped and ready for filling…

I added the broccoli and diced carrots to the broth mixture and simmered until tender – it took just over 20 minutes.

I broke out my craptastic work horse of a blender…tried a smoothie blender and it sucked, this one has done just fine. I used a ladle to transfer the soup into the blender and then let it rip…(note: I just used the blend button – make sure you remove the bay leaves before the puree process) – I had to blend in two batches. Option 2 – if you have one, you can use an immersion blender right in the pot.

I then whisked the cheese into the green slop 😉 over medium heat. The recipe gives the option to add 3/4 cup water at this point, I didn’t need to do that, the consistency was perfect.

Soup is served! Yes, it really is that green.

I thought it really did taste like the Panera soup. The only difference being that I don’t think Panera purees it to the level that the “copy cat” recipe called for. Dan was not a fan of the texture. He prefers the Broccoli-Cheddar soup from Boudin Bakery at Disney’s California Adventure Park. I will now be on the search for that recipe.

I got 4 servings out of the batch and put 2 in the freezer for future lunches. Next time I think I’ll just drive to Panera to shell out $6.00 and some change.

All in all…I’m glad I tried it.