Category Archives: Soups

Turkey Posole With Toasted Guajillo Pepper Salsa

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Ummm….hi.  It’s been a while.  A looong while.  In August I thought I was going to get back in the swing of blogging and it just never happened.  It’s not that I haven’t been cooking…but while I was pregnant my priorities shifted.  First, the focus shifted to just getting food in my mouth, not pausing to take a photo and write a recipe.  As I neared the end of my pregnancy, my focus shifted to making large batches of soups, stews, and easy-to-freeze dishes like manicotti to get me through the early weeks of motherhood.  We were also in the midst of frantically working on a major home project…the baby’s room.  What started with a simple home improvement project (putting down new flooring and painting the walls) ended up turning into a major project, replacing windows, tearing the room down to the studs, and working on the roof.

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My work life became very busy as I worked toward having a couple of months off of leave.  And when it came down to it, my blog fell by the wayside.  After all, the most important thing I had to cook was this little guy.  River Wilder Nelson was born four weeks ago and my life has become consumed with feeding, diapering, and staring at my sweet baby.  Can you blame me?

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I’m just now getting my bearings enough to consider blogging again.  Let’s hope this time it sticks…

As a way to cope with all of the busyness and life changes, I have become a very practical cook in recent months.  This recipe I’m about to share is about as practical as it gets.  It is my take on one of Cooking Light’s most popular dishes, Toasted Guajillo and Pork Posole.  It’s a great way to use up Thanksgiving turkey leftovers and can easily be adapted if you have leftover pork or chicken.  It’s a refreshing change after eating turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes until they come out of your ears.  Not to mention, it’s very budget friendly and healthy to boot.

I flavor my posole with toasted guajillo salsa, which has been a staple in my house for the last several months.  It is SO good.  We use it as a flavor booster in soups, as a salsa with chips, on top of tacos and enchiladas, and with my baked eggs with kale and mushroom skillet on weekend mornings.  It freezes well so I make a double batch.  I’m even thinking about giving it away at Christmas with a jar of tomatillo salsa (red and green for Christmas!).  So I highly recommend you make a batch and use some of it in this posole.  If you aren’t into making some of this salsa, see my note at the bottom of the recipe for another way to use chiles in this recipe.

Treat this like chili when thinking choosing your toppings.  I like radishes, cilantro, sour cream, and avocado on mine.  Crumbled tortilla chips are also a nice addition.  Whatever you like!  I hope you enjoy.  It’s good to be back!

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Turkey Posole With Guajillo Peppers; adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 pound leftover turkey, chicken, or pork, cut or torn in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp toasted guajillo chili salsa (recipe here) or see note below
  • 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 (29-ounce) can hominy, rinsed and drained

Instructions

  1. Add oil to dutch oven/large soup pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion to pot and stir frequently for five minutes, until onions and garlic are softened and lightly browned.
  2. Add half of the broth, cumin, cloves, salt, and pepper.
  3. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, pour contents into a blender and blend until smooth, then pour back into the pot.
  4. Add remaining chicken stock and water.
  5. Add guajillo chili salsa and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce; reserve the chipotle chiles from can and remaining sauce for another use (I freeze mine in small quantities).
  6. Stir in hominy and turkey, chicken, or pork.
  7. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. *Note: If you don't feel up for making a batch of guajillo chili salsa, you can use the following method:  put 3 chiles on a baking sheet, bake at 400° for 4 minutes or until dark. Cool; remove stems and seeds.  Place in a blender with 1 cup of liquid from soup pot and puree.  Add to soup.
http://dinnerwithaura.com/turkey-posole-with-guajillo-peppers/

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili with Chipotle

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili with Chipotle

Some things from my childhood have stuck with me and a love of chili with cornbread is one of those things.  I fondly remember the big pots of chili my step dad would make when I was a kid.  The soup was always served with a skillet of cornbread and it was always nice and spicy.  When I commented/complained about the heat, my step dad ribbed me, telling me that the heat would burn the germs from my intestines.  It’s a disturbing image but it was the start of my love affair with spicy foods, if not for the medicinal qualities, then for the taste.  

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Six Bean Soup With Butternut Squash and Farro

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Soup season has arrived, folks.  You’ll be seeing many soups posted on this blog over the next several months, a testimony to my efforts to survive another cold and dark Michigan winter.  The leaves on the trees are nearly gone (please hang on while I wipe the tear that is rolling down my cheek…sniffle), the lawn furniture looks eerily out of place and begs to be put away, Halloween is over and talk of the holidays creeps into conversation.  We’ve already got a game plan for Thanksgiving dinner (my first time hosting!) and my mind is focused on developing recipes for healthy Thanksgiving sides for my next cooking class.  The sun sets at around five o’clock and I’m still considering bucking the trend and ignoring daylight savings time (who’s with me?).  The space heater is fully broken in and we are ready to hunker down under afghans for the next five months.  For those of you who do not live in a similar climate, this is serious stuff, folks.  A true test of resilience or sisu, as my mom would say.  Sisu is the Finnish word for strength in the face of adversity…my mom would say, “you’ve got sisu, girl!”

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Roasted Carrot Soup with Cilantro and Coconut Milk

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What an incredibly gorgeous weekend it has been.  The weather was perfect.  And by perfect, I mean 70 degrees, crisp, sunny, and chock full of fall fun.  On Saturday we headed about an hour and a half southeast to Bellevue, MI, to Crane Fest.  It was well worth the drive.  Each year, thousands of sandhill cranes migrate to Florida for the winter.  They happen to stop off for a rest at the Baker Sanctuary in Bellevue each year in October.  Sandhill cranes are amazing and beautiful birds.  They are the oldest living species of bird, having existed for over 9 million years.  They are graceful, lovely, and have a gorgeous rolling trumpet song that fills the air as they join together for the evening at the sanctuary.  If you’d like to read more about Crane Fest and about these beautiful birds, click here.

Now, at the end of the weekend, cozied up with my sweetie, the pup, and our brand new calico kitty (!), I’m thinking of the week ahead and what I’ll make for dinners.  I’ve got plenty of squashes and root vegetables and not much time this week so I’ve got a hunch I’ll be making some soups.  This time of year is perfect for soups.  You’ll be seeing a lot of soups posted here over the next several months.  As gorgeous as Michigan is in the spring, summer, and fall, winter is (though beautiful in its own way) long and cold.  Perfect for warming bowls of soup.

This soup is a creation of mine.  Most of the time I see carrot soup, it is carrot-ginger soup.  Carrot-ginger soup is great but it’s everywhere so I wanted to make something a little different.

This soup is so easy and takes only about 15 minutes hands on.  You roast the veggies in large chunks until soft, add to a soup pot with broth, coconut milk, cilantro, and spices, and give it a whirl.  Easy, warming, and delicious.  And healthy to boot.  I hope you enjoy!

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Roasted Carrot Soup with Cilantro and Coconut Milk

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 and ½ lbs. of carrots, scrubbed
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced into thick slices
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth or water with bouillon if you prefer
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. garam masala spice blend
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, stems and all
  • 2 tsp. good quality olive oil to garnish, optional
  • Cilantro to garnish, optional
  • 4 tbsp. goat cheese to garnish, optional
  • OR 4 tbsp. plain yogurt to garnish, optional
  • Pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds) to garnish, optional
  1. Heat oven to 375°.  Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  2. Roughly chop carrots and sweet potatoes into pieces about 1 inch in size.  Slice onions into thick slices.  Peel garlic clove (you can leave the garlic clove whole).  Place all into baking dish and cover.  Roast vegetables for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender.
  3. Pour roasted vegetables into a heavy stock pot or Dutch oven and turn heat to medium.  Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, cumin, coriander, garam masala, and cilantro.  Be sure to save a little cilantro for garnish.
  4. Using an immersion (stick) blender (see note below), blend the contents of the soup pot until smooth.
  5. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a few leaves of cilantro.  If you are in the mood, sprinkle some goat cheese onto the soup.  Or plain yogurt.  Or pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds).  Whatever you fancy!  The version in the photos is cilantro and olive oil.  Simply delicious.
  6. This makes a large batch of soup—you can enjoy it for several days and freeze any leftovers.

Kitchen Tip:  If you don’t have a stick blender, you should get one!  It is one of my favorite kitchen tools.  It helps you avoid having to pour hot liquids into a blender.  All you need to do is place the stick blender in the soup and whirl away.  You can also use it for smoothies, hummus, salsa, and so much more! But if you don’t have a stick blender today, you can use the ol’ blender method, just be careful!  And put a stick blender on your wish list…!  And no.  Cuisinart Smart Stick does not pay me for this endorsement 🙂).

Vegetarian Soup Sampler: French Lentil and Wild Mushroom Soup, Split Pea Soup, and Minestrone

It is 25 degrees out and snow is softly falling.  Christmas is over and New Year’s is just around the corner.  My fresh fraser fir is still up and decorated and Christmas music has given way to George Winston’s December and some great banjo tunes.  I’m thinking warm and cozy thoughts snuggled on the couch under an antique wool afghan.  Really no better time to share with you a sampler of the soups I made recently.

One day a few weeks ago, I decided my life needed some serious soup therapy.  There’s nothing I want more in cold Michigan weather than a hot bowl of soup and some crusty bread to dunk in it.  That day I set to it, chopping up mounds of carrots, celery, potato, onion, and garlic and creating three hearty vegetarian soups.  Oh, what a day!  With steam coming off of three big soup pots on my stove, the warmth in my kitchen and in my heart was tangible.

The great thing about making big pots of soup all at once (and getting the labor out of the way) is that you can freeze and enjoy the soups long after they are made.  Once the soups had cooled, I ladled some of each into quart-sized freezer bags and laid them flat in the freezer.  I’m looking forward to grabbing my choice of three soups to thaw and heat on a cold winter day in January or February.

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French Lentil and Wild Mushroom Soup

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups finely diced onion
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups French lentils (sort through for debris/rocks and rinse)
  • 1 cup of dried wild mushrooms with reconstituting water/mushroom stock
  • 1/2 cup of kale or collard greens, thinly sliced, optional
  • 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned), optional
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • Minced parsley for serving
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until it browns slightly and softens somewhat, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste to the onion and stir to coat.  Add the garlic, celery, carrot, and parsley and cook for a few minutes.  Add the lentils, 1-2 cups of mushroom stock, 1 and 1/2 quarts of water, mushrooms and 1 and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil then turn heat down to simmer, partially covered, until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in the collard greens and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mustard and vinegar.  Taste and add more if you prefer.  Garnish with parsley and serve with a salad and crusty bread.
  4. Serve 4 to 6.

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Split Pea Soup

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 3 cups dry split peas
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  1. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato.  Saute on medium heat until vegetables are somewhat softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Lower heat slightly so vegetables do not continue to brown and cook for another 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. Place split peas, water, salt, and dry mustard in a Dutch oven if you have one.  Otherwise a stock pot works fine.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer with a lid to partially cover for about 40 minutes.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato.  Simmer gently for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables and peas are soft.  If soup is too thick, thin with some water or vegetable stock.
  4. Add pepper and vinegar to taste.  Serve with a good crusty rye bread.
  5. Serves 6-8

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Minestrone

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 stalks of celery, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini or summer squash (1 inch diameter), diced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cups water
  • 20-30 oz of canned tomato puree or strained tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, white beans, or garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup dry pasta (I use mini shells or ditalini but any small pasta will do)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Parmesan cheese to serve
  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Add onion, garlic, and salt.  Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add celery, carrot, oregano, and basil.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  2. Add bell pepper, zucchini, water, tomato puree, and beans.  Cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add pasta.  Cook pasta according to instructions on the box.  Drain and set aside.
  4. Test the soup to see if the vegetables are tender.  Add pasta, stir, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan cheese on top and with a crusty sourdough or baguette.
  5. Serves 6-8
  6. NOTE:  If you are freezing some of your minestrone, do not add the pasta before freezing or it will come out all mushy.  Freeze the minestrone and when you are ready to thaw and enjoy it, cook up some pasta to add to the minestone–much better!

Indian-Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Did anyone else have a delicious Thanksgiving?  You, you, and you?  Well, I did too.  And I am so thankful for the friendship I enjoyed over meals and the classic Thanksgiving dishes (cranberry sauce recipe to post soon) as well as some new favorites (hello, sweet potato and coconut milk puree!).  But now that that Butter Fest 2012 is over and done with I am craving some good clean foods, some hot yoga, some brisk walks, and a push to get back to some good whole foods eating.

This year started out on a great foot.  I was eating only whole foods and shying away from refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats.  After the holiday season my body was begging for vegetables, spices, and whole grains.  But alas!  Somehow, somewhere along the way I fell into a vat of whipped cream veered somewhat off of the path…(was it when I discovered this spring that I loved baking and became semi-addicted to sugar?) and now, at the beginning of this holiday season I have decided to get back on the wagon with my eating.  It feels necessary.  And happily, it feels so good.  This weekend, I went back to January and dug up the healthy living recipes I had so carefully selected, many from Sarah B. at My New Roots (love, love, love this blog).  One of the recipes was a butternut squash soup.  Imagine my delight when I realized that this week’s host of the Food Matters Project, Jen from Prairie Summers, chose a roasted butternut squash soup as this weeks recipe for all of us project participants to cook up.  Using elements of each recipe, I created my own vegetarian version, adding Indian spices and celeriac for a simple soup chock-full of flavor.

I paired my soup with a beautiful salad with mixed greens and microgreens, radishes, broccoli, and roasted acorn squash drizzled with a simple tahini vinaigrette.

And how goes hopping on the clean food wagon again?  Not too shabby, I say.   With food this colorful and flavorful, Thanksgiving is a distant memory and I’m not in any rush to get to the sugar cookies just around the bend in December.

I will be posting many more colorful whole food recipes this month–please join me and try one out.  I recommend starting with this one!

Indian-Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup; adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook (original recipe was Roasted Butternut Chowder with Apples and Bacon, (page 120)

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 bulb of celeriac, peeled and chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  1. Heat the oven to 400F. Spread the squash, onion, apples, celeriac (if using), and garlic on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Roast until veggies are tender and slightly browned, approx. 45 min.
  2. Remove sheet from the oven and transfer the roasted vegetables to a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat.
  3. Add the stock and the seasonings and simmer until the squash, onion and apples become very soft and begin to break apart.  You may either leave the soup chunky at this point or puree partially or fully with an immersion blender.  I pureed my soup partially to leave some chunks of apple, squash, and celeriac.
  4. Top with some shredded cabbage, cilantro, some raw pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of olive oil, or some yogurt–whatever you like!  I would recommend this with a salad and some naan, hot from the oven.  Mmmmm!

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili With Chipotle

Soup weather is upon us!  See how a little exclamation point can make it look like I am excited about that?  Well although I am decidedly un-excited about the cold weather, I am very excited that I am in the mood for soup.  Over the warm months, I have built up my stack of soup recipes and ideas to try so now is the time to put them into action.  I love making a big pot of soup for my lunches for the week and always freeze half to enjoy later down the road.  Nothing says cozy to me like a bowl of hot chili and a hunk of homemade cornbread with butter and honey.  I’ve recently come up with the secret to the most moist and delicious cornbread ever.  I’m excited to share that with you…recipe to post soon!
I recommend starting with 1 tablespoon of chipotle chili and adding to that if you want more spice.  I love spice so I even stirred a spoonful of habanero sauce into my bowl (but not into the pot to spare my friends who aren’t heat seekers).  My stepdad used to make really spicy chili and would tell me it would “burn the germs out of my intestines”.  Not the best image to share with you all but it is a memory that makes me giggle as I tuck into my own bowl of spicy chili.
Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili with Chipotle
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I used red, orange, and yellow baby bell peppers because that is what I had on hand)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 4 small garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle in adobo
  • salt and black pepper
  • about 28-ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked black beans, if you use canned, rinse and drain first
  • 2 cups cooked pinto or kidney beans, if you use canned, rinse and drain first
  • about 2 cups OR one 14 oz. can vegetable broth
  • sour cream, sliced scallions, avocado, radishes or cilantro, for serving
  1. In a 4 to 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot, saute the chopped vegetables in one  tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. Continue stirring to make sure the vegetables do not stick to the pan and cook on all sides.
  2. Once the onions soften and become translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add all of the spices and canned ingredients, and stir. Turn heat to a simmer and cover for one hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. Top with any of the suggested toppings above or some favorites or your own!  I like serving my chili either with cornbread, fried plantains, or if I don’t have the time to make either, some tortilla chips do just fine.

Cauliflower Soup with Sharp Aged Cheddar and Homemade Mustard Croutons

This week’s Food Matter’s Project recipe choice was Whole Cauliflower with Sausage, chosen by Gracie over at Food Fascination.  I had every intent of trying this recipe but somehow my head of cauliflower turned into soup instead–blame it on this cold weather I guess–and I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is probably the best thing I could have done with it.  This soup is decadent, creamy, warming, easy and wait for it….healthy to boot.  A complete surprise for me, having never made cauliflower soup before.  It is the first recipe I have tried from Heidi Swanson’s cookbook, Super Natural Every Day and if this recipe is any indication, I’m going to really love cooking through and getting ideas from this book.  I’ve been a long time fan of Heidi’s beautiful blog, 101 Cookbooks, so I’m thrilled to have her book in my home.  Beautiful!

If you are wanting to try the whole cauliflower with sausage (and it does sound good!) head over to Food Fascination for the full recipe.  For endless variations, head over to The Food Matters Project website.  Now onto this delicious soup recipe…

Cauliflower Soup with Sharp Cheddar and Homemade Croutons adapted ever so slightly from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

For the croutons:

  • 6 oz of whole wheat bread, torn or cut into little pieces (less than 1 inch)–will yield about 3 cups
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • Fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into tiny cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, shopped
  • 3 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2/3 cup of freshly grated aged cheddar cheese, plus more to top
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. to make the croutons, put the torn/cut bread in a large bowl.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter oer medium-high heat.  Whisk the olive oil, mustard, salt, and sage into the butter and pour the mixture over the bread.  Toss well, then turn the bread onto a baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the croutons are golden and crunchy.  Flip them once or twice with a metal spatula along the way.
  4. While the croutons are toasting, start the soup.  Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in the onion and a big pinch of salt.  Saute until the onions soften, a couple of minutes.  Stir in the potato, cover, and cook for about 4 minutes, just long enough for the pieces to soften up a bit.  Uncover, stir in the garlic, then the broth.  Bring to a boil, taste to make sure the potatoes are tender, and if they are, stir in the cauliflower.  Cook, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes, just until the cauliflower is tender throughout.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender.  Stir in half the Cheddar cheese and the mustard.  Add more broth or water if you feel the need to thin the soup at all.  Taste and add more salt, if needed.  Serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese, some croutons, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6.

Michigan Sweet Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle

This is the last week for corn in Michigan, a truly sad state of affairs, I’d say!  I’ve been hooked on an aptly named variety called “Heavenly Bliss” from Platte Family Farms of Comstock Park, MI (find them at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market).  Luckily, I had the good sense to freeze a couple of gallon bags of it to pull out when I am most in need of the fresh taste of summer in the middle of the long winter ahead.

In the midst of my efforts to preserve the harvest, I realized that I had several perfectly good ears of corn, kernels removed, just begging to be used for corn chowder stock.  Six lovely ears of corn went to the new task and the result was this sweet and smoky corn and sweet potato chowder with chipotle, adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe.  An excellent way to enjoy our delicious Michigan sweet corn.

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Chipotle; adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Project; serves 4

  • Kernels from 6 ears fresh corn, cobs reserved
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles, minced, with some of their adobo sauce
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chipped finely
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal (fine or medium grind) or masa harina
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large red skinned potato, peeled and chopped
  • Chopped fresh basil
  1. Put the corn cobs and 6 cups of water in a pot over medium-high heat and salt it.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat so the water bubbles gently and cook for about 15 minutes.  Let the cobs steep until you’re ready to make the soup, then remove them and save the broth.
  2. Put the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When it’s hot, add the onions, chipotles with some of their adobo sauce (you can always add more later), and red bell peppers; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and peppers begin to get soft, about 1 minute.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir in the cornmeal and some pepper.  Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk or a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to turn golden, 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the milk and reserved broth and turn the heat up to medium-high.  Stir or whisk constantly until the cornmeal is dissolved and the soup starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the corn kernels, potatoes, and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and lower the heat so that the soup bubbles gently.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn and potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the basil if you like and serve.

Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup Two Ways

Wowee–already week 13 of the Food Matters Project!  This week we made Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup, chosen by Adrienne from Adrienne Eats.  I made mine two ways–chunky and pureed.  Click here to see what the other members of the project made!

After a week spent away on a business trip, it was fantastic to come home in time for the weekend to get back into my normal swing of things.  There is something very calming and reassuring about the weekly FMP recipe.  I know that no matter what else is going on, I am going to take part of my weekend to make something new.  What a great thing to add to my routine.  This soup was simple yet elegant, and captured two of my favorite things about spring:  leeks and asparagus.

This soup combines the creaminess of white beans and potatoes with the brightness of asparagus and leeks.  Bittman offers up a couple of suggestions for the final makeup of the dish–chunky or pureed.  I decided to make it two ways, one with the soup slightly mashed for creaminess but the asparagus intact and one with the soup pureed completely.  I loved both and may have even enjoyed the pureed soup better but my dining companion declared the pureed soup to be a bit too “baby-foody” for his taste.  To each his own, I guess!

One thing to keep in mind with the preparation of this dish is to wash the leeks thoroughly.  This won’t be as big of an issue if you are using wild leeks but this (now) city girl had to buy a gigantic leek from the grocery store and clean it well.  The best way I have found to clean leeks is to slice the white and light green part thinly and plunge in a bowl of cold water, swishing and then draining several times.

As a finishing touch, I chopped up a few asparagus spears and used them as garnish.

Roasted asparagus and white bean soup

Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 leeks, well-rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary, or 1 tsp dried
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 c cooked or canned white beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock, bean cooking liquid, or water, plus more as needed
  • about 1.5 lb of asparagus, peeled if thick
  • One 2-oz piece Parmesan cheese
Makes 4 servings
  1. Heat oven to 450. Put 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened a bit and beginning to color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add 1/2 cup of the broth, and stir to loosen the bits of vegetable that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the potatoes, about half the beans, and the stock. Bring to a boil, the lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles steadily. Cover partially and cook, stirring infrequently, until the potatoes are disintegrating, 20 to 30 minutes; add more liquid as necessary so the mixture remains soupy.
  3. Meanwhile (or ahead of time), put the asparagus in a shallow roasting pan, drizzle with the remaining 2 tbsp oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast, turning the spears once or twice, just until the thick part of the stalks can be pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool a bit. Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler to shave slices from the piece of cheese.
  4. When the soup is ready, mash the potatoes and beans a bit. Chop the asparagus and add it to the pot along with the remaining beans to warm through. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve each bowl with some shaved cheese on top.
Pureed Asparagus and White Bean Soup: After you add the chopped roasted asparagus in Step 4, carefully puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender or with an immersion blender; or simply mash with a potato masher. If you prefer, puree only the beans and broth and add the chopped asparagus before serving.