Soups, Stews, Chilis and Chowders: Part One, The Puréed.

I find that when I’m very busy, what comes to mind most readily to cook and have on hand for quick weeknight dinners is a good bowl of soup or a stew, some chili or a chowder. Not only are these bowls truly the epitome of comfort food year round, but they’re the meal that keeps on giving by virtue of leftovers. And since most soups and their kind tend to taste even better the day after you make them, they’re a great dish to prepare ahead for company or freeze portions for later use.

Though I haven’t had time to develop any new soups, stews, chilis or chowders in these last few months, I have made several of my previously posted favorites quite recently and I’m looking forward to revisiting even more of them. All are tried and true recipes that I basically know by heart, and I think you’ll find with this and the next two posts that there’s something here for everyone, starting with puréed soups.

My complete line up features puréed, chunky and hearty varieties of in the bowl goodness. A few of these are cooled or creamed by way of dairy or coconut milk, some feature a clear broth and are mild, while others are highly spiced or curried. Several are vegetarian, some are vegan and others are strictly for the carnivores.

I hope you’ll try some of the recipes featured throughout this 3-part recap series and that one or more will be added to your list of favorites, too. Click on the link in the text below each photo to find the recipe or post for the following puréed soups. Many of these are best served hot, but several are equally good cold, where noted. Pair any one with a simple green salad and you’ll have a delightful meal.

soup3Curry, coconut milk, apple and Asian spices bring some delightful flavor to butternut squash in this elegant and Easy Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

Soup1This light, delicate and interestingly flavored soup happens to be vegan and is perfect as is, but Tomato, Orange and Tarragon Soup can be embellished with a touch of dairy or made with chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, if you so desire.

There's just something about a bowl of soup and some good bread that says

There’s just something about a bowl of soup and some good bread that says “come hither” to me.

Easy Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Soup just might be my most favorite vegetable soup. The roasting of the veggies caramelizes and intensifies the flavors…making this heavenly soup become so much more than its individual parts. Definitely on my “next to make again” list.

soup4Creamy Avocado Cucumber Soup is super easy to make and just the ticket for a hot summer day. It’s creamy and cooling, but has a slight kick to it as well. Just throw everything into a blender, give it a good whirr and it’s ready to slurp.

soup3BThe flavors of my favorite gratin were the inspiration for this Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup. I made this again last week and we never get tired of it…whether served hot with a parmesan crouton or served cold right out of a mug. Great stuff!

soup2Until I tried this recipe, I never would have thought I’d enjoy the pairing of sweet potatoes, red bell pepper and peanut butter so much. This slightly adapted version of Ellie Krieger’s African-inspired Spicy Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup is a real winner.

The beautiful green color of this soup just makes me happy.

The beautiful green color of this soup just makes me happy.

Lean, Mean and Green Broccoli Spinach Soup is exactly what it looks like…very healthy. But it’s also very delicious and in fact, this one is at the top of my list to make again soon.

Advertisements

Chicken, Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup…just what the doctor ordered!

bowlofsoup2I’m baaaaack!!! I hope all of you had really lovely holidays and that 2015 has been a great year for you so far!

I apologize for the radio silence for so long, as even with taking some time off for the holidays, I certainly didn’t intend to stop posting for so long. It appears I became a bit run down by the time Christmas was around the corner and I managed to contract one bug after another. I’m now finishing up my third cold/flu/stomach thingy in as many weeks. I know it’s been going around, but for someone who rarely gets sick, I think I’ve had more than my fair share! Definitely not what I had in mind in ringing in a new year. My heartfelt thanks to you all for hanging in here with me in spite of my lack of posting. I assure you that I’m more than ready to get back to my regular programming.

Winter is now upon us and it’s been very cold here indeed. And with the chilly weather my thoughts naturally turn towards soup. A nice, hearty soup is just the perfect meal to brighten up these short, dark days and warm you up. And a chicken soup has the added benefit of all those famous medicinal qualities. Continue reading

Fall Frolic and a Warming Ham, Potato and Cabbage “Chowder”

chowder2On a whim, husband and I decided to take a day trip to the mountains last Saturday for some much needed R&R and a romantic picnic. We hadn’t taken a day for just the two of us to get away and relax since, well, you know the story. This was a restoration of the soul!

And though I think the leaves had just peaked, it was a stunning day in the the North Georgia Mountains, and a day filled with contrasts. There was still lots of beautiful color, and our day started off sunny and in the low 60’s with a gentle cool breeze blowing. You’ve seen my posts before on Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Lake Winfield Scott…both located within a 40 mile or so radius of the Dahlonega area of North Georgia. We started off with a stop at Wolf Mountain Vineyards, then headed to Lake Winfield Scott for our picnic, where we had last been on a lazy summer day in early June. Imagine our surprise as a huge and unpredicted cloud came up, the temperature dropped about 15 to 20 degrees, and it started sleeting on us! We ran back to the car, and headed to Frogtown Cellars, another North Georgia vineyard, about 15 miles away. By the time we arrived there it was sunny again and a bit cooler. Such is the Fall climate of the southern Appalachian mountains! Our last stop was in the little town of Dahlonega itself, sweet but a little touristy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are blessed to be so close to the mountains that one can do all of this easily in a day trip—even this time of year when the days are shorter—and be back home in the city just in time to enjoy a warming, hearty and rich chowder for dinner to take the chill off.

The chowder was inspired by a soup that my mom served us on our last visit to see her—a creamy cabbage soup. To be honest, cooked cabbage isn’t one of my most favorite things and the idea of a creamed soup with cabbage doesn’t get my juices flowing, so I was a bit skeptical about this soup until I tasted it…and it was absolutely delicious! It featured lovely chunks of ham, cabbage and other vegetables in a rich cream broth. I procured the recipe from Mom and brought it home…and then promptly lost it somewhere in the house! But I could remember the tastes—the cabbage and ham of course, plus thyme and maybe onion, some celery and carrot. I headed for the store, decided that leeks and potatoes would be a good addition and headed home.

This “chowder” is my result. I did later find the recipe for the soup, but am quite pleased with my version which is thicker and even heartier with the added potatoes than the original was, and reminds me of a chowder and hence its name. Thanks for the inspiration, Mom! We’ve decided this is a new favorite and I will be making it again this winter for sure. It freezes well, too, which is always a bonus.

Absolutely delicious. You really have to taste it to believe just how good it is!

Absolutely delicious. You really have to taste it to believe just how good it is!

Ham, Potato and Cabbage Chowder
Makes 8 hearty servings

3 small leeks, cleaned and diced, white and light green parts only (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery diced, about 1 cup
2 medium carrots peeled and diced, about 1 cup
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 medium head of green cabbage, trimmed and shredded
2 medium Idaho potatoes (or Yukon gold), cleaned and diced with skins on (about 3 cups)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk (whole, 2% or lowfat is fine)
1 lb. fully cooked ham, cubed (I used uncured slow cooked), about 3 cups
1 generous Tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the leeks, celery and carrot, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Sauté the vegetables until they are just tender, about 5 minutes, then add the chicken broth, cabbage and potato to the pot. Bring the vegetables and stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook until the potatoes are done, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the vegetables are cooking, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat in a large saucepan or skillet with deep sides. Add the 3 tablespoons of flour and stir until well blended and no lumps remain, about 1 minute. Slowly add the milk and cream to the butter and flour mixture stirring constantly until well blended, then cook the mixture over low heat until it is thickened. When the potatoes are done in the vegetable mixture, add the thickened cream sauce to the large soup pot and stir to combine. Add the ham, the remaining 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, black pepper and thyme, and stir well to combine. Allow everything to heat through and meld together, about 3-5 minutes more on low heat, taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed, then serve in bowls, garnishing with additional thyme sprigs, if desired.

Our Halloween "Punkitty" and the two kitties that inspire are below!

Our Halloween “Punkitty” and the two kitties that inspire are below!

*****