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Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

It’s hard to imagine that 2012 has arrived!  2011 has flashed by quicker than either of us expected, and both of us have loved writing entries for gourm(eh?).  Neither of us could guess how rewarding this blog would prove to be.  We are so grateful for our reader’s supports and comments, and hope you will continue to enjoy our posts in the year ahead! In the meantime, we wanted to share with you our 10 most popular recipes from 2011.

To a wonderful 2012!

10. Coconut Turnovers – A  recipe Sitelle invented while reminiscing about her travels in Belize — these turnovers are mouth wartering.

9. Okra, Potato and Cauliflower Curry – Who doesn’t love Indian food?  Madhur Jaffrey spotlights okra is this spicy dish.

8. Pesto Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Asparagus, and Zucchini  – Pesto is a favourite of Catherine’s, and this pasta dish (or a variant) features at least once a month in her kitchen.

7. Mocha Chip Meringue Cake – Our very first gourm(eh?) post!  This is a little taste of meringue heaven.

6. Crispy Baked Mac and Cheese – The more cheese, the better in our opinion.

5. Chocolate Zucchini Cake – One of Catherine’s top secret family recipes, she has yet to meet a picky eater who didn’t love this chocolatey, moist cake.

4. Flaky Pastry Crust: Savoury or Sweet! – A cornerstone of both our baking inventories, delicious buttery pie crust is our foundation for most pies.  And if you need a filling, may we recommend Catherine’s two favourites from 2011:

3. Cream of Broccoli and Spinach Soup – Concocted during Catherine’s month of vegetarianism, she’d eat this any day of the week!

2. The ultimate Canadian butter tarts! – We wrote developed gourm(eh?) partially to explore Canadian cuisine.  This here is Sitelle’s take of this delicious Canadian treat.

1. Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch – The post that saw us freshly pressed (!!!!), this rich pasta casserole is keeper.

You'll devour the pine nut crunch topping!

– Catherine & Sitelle

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Falls

Beulach Ban falls

A few weekends ago, I visited Cape Breton with my sister and my friend Alex.  The colours were just past their peak, although still vibrant.  We stopped a few places along the Cabot Trail to take in all her splendour.  The skyline trail led us through spruce groves before opening to a magnificent view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  At MacIntosh Brook, we strolled through maple forests beside a babbling brook to a waterfall. We ventured down a small gravel road to the beautiful Beulach Ban Falls.  Ever searching for the perfect picnic spot, we lunched at the rocky headland on Green Cove, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  At Franey, we climbed like mountain goats to a small look-out perched on a steep cliff, with lovely views of the Clyburn River Canyon and the coast.

Towards the Atlantic Ocean at Freney

We spent the night in Pleasant Bay, a lovely fishing village halfway around the Cabot Trail.  Having dallied to arrive, the only restaurant still open was the Pleasant Bay motel.  The dining room was modest, but the kitchen was a delight with delicious, yet simple Maritime fare.  We each started with a bowl of chowder – creamy with a generous serving of seafood.  La piece de resistance, however, was the fish and chips: crispy batter around succulent haddock, cooked to perfection served with tangy coleslaw and home fries.

Since visiting Pleasant Bay, I have tried to recreate my taste experience.  I’m still brainstorming on how best to create homemade fish and chips without a deep-fryer, but with winter descending, this has given me the perfect excuse to experiment with chowders.  Inspired by cans in the pantry, this corn and salmon chowder was hearty, yet refreshing with the added dill.

Salmon and corn chowder

Salmon and Corn Chowder

(serves 6 bowls)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

2 onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cans kernel corn, drained and rinsed

4 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoons flour

Generous dash of tobasco

2 cans of salmon, drained and finely mashed (I like my soup infused with salmon – if you wanted to let the corn shine through, one can would suffice)

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped plus more for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Saute the onions and garlic in the butter.  Stir in the potatoes and saute for another five minutes, and then stir in the broth, corn, and bay leaves.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Throughly mix the flour into the milk before adding it to the chowder base. Return the soup to a simmer and allow to thicken, about five minutes.  Add the tobasco, salmon, dill, and salt and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.  Serve, garnished with extra chopped dill.  Delicious served with a crusty piece of bread!

– Catherine

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I love leeks.  They have such a delicate flavour, with delicious nutty undertones.  Versatile, they are the perfect substitute for onions in any risotto or soup.  Leeks are often overpriced in the winter, but the Halifax market is currently overflowing with this vegetable, so I have been taking full advantage of their presence!

Vichysoisse is one of my go -to soups.  Ready in less than half an hour, this soup is lovely served either hot or cold. With a piece of crusty bread, it makes for a rusting meal. While purists may recommend serving it chilled, I also love this soup hot. Its flavour is subtle, but comforting.  The secret is to use flavourful broth (homemade is best – although if you buy yours in-store, I recommend spending the extra 50¢ to upgrade from a can to a box) and fresh leeks.

My largest recommendation?  Do not get impatient with your blender.  I may have tried to velouté too large a batch, only to end up with my blender and the hot soup exploding on me.  There are smudges of vichysoisse on my kitchen ceiling to prove it!

 

Vichysoisse

(serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

1 bunch leeks, dark green segments discarded and the rest coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons butter

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 bay leaf

About ½ teaspoon salt

Broth (about 3 cups)

Pepper to taste

Cream (about ½ cup) – Both liquid or sour cream work well here

Chives or green onions for garnish, finely chopped (optional)

Directions:

Sauté the leeks and garlic in the butter until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes, broth, bay leaf, and salt, and bring the soup to a boil.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes and leeks are cooked through.  Allow to cool slightly.

Blend the soup in batches in a food processor until smooth.  Return to the stove and season to taste with salt, pepper, and cream.  Serve either hot or chilled, garnished with chives or green onions.  Delicious with a crusty slice of bread.

Bon appétit!

–       Catherine

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I’m studying like crazy these days, and there’s nothing like the nourishing warmth of a delicious velvety soup to keep me going.  Well, that and the fact I’m nearly done. I can hardly believe I’m just 12 days away.

Yesterday one of my lovely high school friends came for lunch, so naturally we cooked and cooked in anticipation.  We had mini jalapeno and green onion corn breads with this delicious soup, and then the madeleines whose batter had rested overnight.  What a treat!

Ingredients

-2 leeks, dark green parts removed, washed and diced
-1 small potato, cut into tiny pieces
-3 cups fresh or frozen green peas
-2 Tbsp butter (if you cannot have butter, olive oil is also tasty)
-2 cups water
-2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
-5 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
-salt and pepper to taste
-sour cream (optional)

Directions

Wash and cut the leeks.  Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot until bubbly, and then add the leeks over medium-low heat. Stir to coat in butter, and gently melt for 8 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, so the leeks don’t brown.

Add the few potato pieces, and stir. Then add 2 cups water, and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the peas. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Add the parsley and cook a further 2 minutes.

Using a blender/food processor/whatever you have, purée the soup in batches. Meanwhile heat the stock in a separate pan until simmering. Then return the puréed soup to the pan with the stock, and stir to incorporate it. Heat it through, and let it thicken over low heat for a few minutes if it is too liquid. And if it is not liquid enough, just add a bit more water or stock.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream if you like, and buttered toast or corn bread.

-Sitelle

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I’m sure many people are thinking, what in the world are sunchokes?  They’re also called Jerusalem artichokes.  Still doesn’t ring a bell?  That’s because they’re a little-known tuber.  My guess is they’re going to be making their come-back, because they store high amounts of inulin, a prebiotic that the market is becoming quite enamoured with these days.  They’re also beautiful flowering garden plants, although if left to their own devices they can become nuisances because they are quite hardy and can be difficult to get rid of.  They are in the sunflower family, and are, contrary to their names, not related to artichokes at all, aside from the fact they both contain high amounts of inulin. That said, when roasted or in soup, they do taste quite similar to artichokes and are a real treat. They can be found in many places in Canada – even the Don Valley Brickworks in Toronto!

My favourite vegetable and fruit market in Kensington Market has had these in stock for the last month or so, and I’ve been dying to try making this soup from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table (p 76).  Finally, everything aligned itself tonight, allowing me to have a delicious warm soup with buttery bread while I write my end of semester essays.

Ingredients – 4 servings

The Soup

-2 Tbsp butter
-1 leek, white and light green parts, washed and finely chopped
-1 onion, diced
-3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
-1 celery stalk, finely sliced
-1 lb sunchokes, washed and peeled (if you want – they’re fine unpeeled but just make sure to wash them well)
-3 cups stock (vegetable or chicken) + 1 cup water
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 dollop of crême fraiche or sour cream per bowl (optional)

The parsley coulis

-1 cup packed parsley leaves, washed
-2-3 Tbsp olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Chop up the leek, onion, garlic, and celery.  Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed large pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped veggies, and stir until they are coated in butter.  Let them melt for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and reducing the heat to medium-low so that they do not brown. Meanwhile, wash the sunchokes and peel them if you want to.  Dice them into coarse 1/2-1 inch cubes.  Throw them into the pot with the leek and onion mixture, and stir to coat them.  Cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At this point, begin making the coulis.  To make this, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil while trimming the leaves and washing them.  Prepare a bowl of ice water and a strainer.  Blanch the parsley for 30 seconds in the boiling water, and then strain and immediately place them in the ice water for another 30 or so seconds. This makes them a vivid green. Place them in a food processor/mortar and pestle/hand blender with the oil and salt and pepper, and whirl away until you have a green, green paste.

Now, add the stock and the water to the soup.  Add a little more liquid if you want to leave it uncovered.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes.

When ready to serve, ladle the soup into bowls, and swirl in a spoonful of parsley and cream.

-Sitelle

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Today, this soup basically created itself from a craving in my kitchen.  It was so good. After though, wanting to share the deliciousness, I had a lot of difficulty coming up with a name for it.  In the end I chose “Alphabet Soup” not because of the alphabet noodles I did include (they were the only soup-able noodles I had in my pantry), but because I’m pretty sure that aside from “D”, this soup includes all of the vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and fats that are required for optimal nutrition.  The perfect meal. In retrospect, I could also call it “Rainbow Soup”.  My favorite nutritional rule of thumb: the more colours, the better.  I frequently get asked nutritional advice, given my undergrad in nutritional sciences.  That’s my best response.

The soup simmered all afternoon, the aromas teasing us all the while.  It was created from a craving I had, and was inspired by several recent experiences.

For the last 6-8 months I have been so fortunate as to be involved in launching a community kitchen in Toronto, Cuisine Partage, with a most lovely group of people at the Centre Francophone (I should probably install a translating widget onto the blog to make it more accessible…).   Every week at Cuisine Partage, we got together for 4 hours or so to shop, cook, and eat together, in an effort to increase food security (and dare I say nutritional security) for francophones living on social assistance in Toronto.  I am sad that the pilot project has already ended, and I hope that this wonderful program can continue long into the future.  This recipe is a testament to the deliciousness that can be created on-the-spot, with people from all the world over.  One of the participants had a favorite secret ingredient, and it is definitely included here: nutmeg. We got a Good Food Box from FoodShare one week, and ended up with kale, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, and tomatoes, among others.  Stew it was!

The other inspiration for this recipe was my recent adventure in Belize – the importance of flavour, and lots of it!  This was achieved by cooking the meat (or beans, for vegetarians) with cilantro and parsley at the onset, and then adding entire bunches of it near the end as well.  I hope you will enjoy this soup as much as we did.

Ingredients – 1 large pot of soup

-4 cloves garlic, minced, and separated into two portions
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion (I like to use purple ones here, but any is fine)
-1 lb extra lean ground beef (meat option) or 1 can (or 1 cup soaked overnight) navy beans
-1 bunch flat leaf parsley
-1 bunch cilantro
-10 sprigs fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
-2 bay leaves
-3 ripe tomatoes, diced (I used 1 can of diced tomatoes here instead as I don’t like winter/spring red mushy things in the grocery store)
-4 carrots, chopped into half-moons
-1 orange-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and diced
-1 potato (I like yukon gold), peeled and diced
-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
-1/4 of a purple cabbage, chopped dice-size pieces, and rinced (if you do it in a bowl the blue water ensuing is amazing!)
-1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
-2/3 cup alphabet noodles or 1 cup macaroni (uncooked)
-3 cups vegetable broth (or you can make it using bouillon)
-more water, depending on volume of pot
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and add 1/2 the garlic.  Stir for 1 minute, and then add the meat and a handful of chopped cilantro and parsley.  If you are making the vegetarian version, I like to do the same with the beans as it gives a really nice flavour.  Brown the meat/beans, and remove any fat once it is cooked (this is really important as you want the broth to be clear).  Add the onion once the excess fat has been removed, and stir.  Add the bay leaves, rest of the garlic, thyme sprigs and the tomato.  Cover everything with water (but no more than covering), and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots/potato/sweet potato, the nutmeg, cayenne and the bouillon.  Let simmer for at least 1 hour, skimming the bubbles and residues from the top using a large spoon.  The more you do this, the more delicious it will be.  Replenish any lost liquids so that the veggies are always covered.  Around 20 minutes before eating, add the noodles and cabbage.  Add more water if there is not enough to cover everything.  Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning.  About 5 minutes before eating, add the chopped kale and the remainder of the chopped parsley and cilantro.  Stir well to distribute the veggies evenly.  Enjoy with a few pieces of crusty bread, or alone, as this soup is a meal in and of itself!  Although I am usually a “puréed soup” person, this is absolutely one of my favorites.  I hope you will like it too.

-Sitelle

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Thai Dragon Bowl Soup

One of the things I miss most about Toronto is an excess of delicious Thai food.  After visiting Toronto a few weeks ago, I was craving Tom Yum soup.  I had never attempted a Thai soup before, let alone Thai food: I confess, there is something about the concept of using fermented anchovies as a central cooking ingredient (fish sauce) that offset me.  For my first attempt at Thai, I roamed the internet for Tom Yum soup recipes and picked and chose elements to come up with the below recipe.  The name is inspired by the rebar recipe, which I only discovered the day after this Thai culinary soup adventure.

This soup would normally substitute shrimp for the tofu, but in line with my vegetarian adventures, tofu it was.  I discovered that the key ingredients for most tom yum soups were the combination of vegetable stock (or water), lemongrass, chili, fish sauce, and kaffir leaves.  My Halifax supermarket, however, had never heard of kaffir lime leaves.  Not to be discouraged, I decided to persevere, substituting lime zest and juice.  Many of the soups used ginger and garlic to complement these flavours, a concept which I loved. I wanted the soup to be filling for supper, so I also added red pepper, mushrooms, and rice noodles to give it some substance. Since I love the crunch of bean sprouts, I used them along with cilantro for garnish.

The final soup turned out beautifully.  With less than 20 minutes of cooking time from prep to final product, this soup is perfect for an instant meal. I was suffering from a slight cold, so the fragrant lemongrass, ginger, and garlic cleared my sinuses.  The soup was light and fresh, yet simultaneously filling.

 

Thai Dragon Bowl

(4 servings)
 

Ingredients:

6 cups vegetable stock

2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, bruised, and bundled

2 tablespoons minced ginger

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 chili pepper, diced

1 red pepper, coarsely chopped

½ pound mushrooms (about 10-12 large), sliced

½ block of extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes

150 grams of rice noodles

3-4 tablespoons fish sauce

Zest and juice of 1 lime

½ pound bean sprouts

1/3 cup minced cilantro
 

Directions:

Bring the stock to a boil.  Add the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic and simmer for five minutes.  Sit in the mushrooms, both types of pepper, the tofu, and the rice noodles.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the rice noodles are cooked.  Season with the fish sauce and lime zest and juice, adjusting saltiness and sourness as desired.  Add chili sauce if additional heat is desired.  Remove the soup from the heat and stir in bean sprouts and cilantro.  Before serving, remove the lemongrass bundle.

Ladle into bowls, and eat piping hot!

–       Catherine

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