Autumn Vegetable Soup

a bowl of vegetable soup with carrots, tomatoes, onions and fresh kale

The middle of October on Cape Cod is not only Autumn but it can also mean Indian Summer.  Gloriously warm days in the 70’s, reminiscent of summertime with clear blue skies that get chilly as the sun sets.  Forgetting to bring a sweatshirt to Ava’s field hockey game because it was as hot as a late August day at 3:00pm can lead to me shivering in the stands by half time as the sun dips behind the treeline.  A warm meal is welcome after a long day of work, school, games and homework but we are still not ready for heavier fare.  Colder evenings signal the kale growing in the garden and soon a light frost will sweeten up the root vegetables in the ground.  But until then, a few carrots and a bunch of kale add to the bright colors in this soup and a loaf of crusty bread is always a welcome addition to make it a meal. Continue reading “Autumn Vegetable Soup”

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Mexican Corn Soup

Fresh corn soup with tomatoes and cream

I can’t wait for summer to make this soup. But don’t fret if you read this post months from now, in the middle of winter.  Although it’s best made with fresh corn and ripe on the vine tomatoes, a bag of frozen corn and a good can of petite diced tomatoes do the trick, too.  Somehow I manage to forget about this recipe in the winter months when I feel the need for hardier fare.  Perhaps I should remember to make this gem a bit more often instead of waiting to see corn appear on the local farm stands.

P.S.  As I was transposing this recipe from my mother’s recipe card, I noticed for the first time the note at the bottom of the recipe about Corn and Shrimp Soup.  Where have I been?  I must try this next time!

Continue reading “Mexican Corn Soup”

Creamy Tomato Soup with Caramelized Onions, Bacon and Chives

tomato soup in pot with chives and bacon

Oh tomatoes!  I cannot wait until they are heavy on the vine, bursting with juice and seeds, ready for BLT’s, tomato sandwiches on homemade white bread, slathered with mayonnaise, cut into wedges ready to scoop up chunky blue cheese dip, or just sliced with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Since the fresh, native ones haven’t arrived yet, I will satisfy my tomato craving with this soup.  All that is required is a few cans of good tomatoes along with the other ingredients that jazz up the flavor.  It reminds me a little of a cross between a BLT and a thick tomato soup that would go great with a melty, gooey grilled cheese sandwich for dunking.

Continue reading “Creamy Tomato Soup with Caramelized Onions, Bacon and Chives”

Focaccia Bread

focaccia bread sprinkled with rosemary and sea salt

 

Yesterday, I was craving fresh, hot pizza.  But we had a lot of leftovers to eat for dinner.  Since I never like to let anything go to waste, the pizza would have to wait.  But I still did not want to let that thought go.  So, I compromised. We needed a little bread to go with dinner, anyway.  At least that is how I justified making this easy focaccia to jazz up our plates.  And, today, there is barely any left.  So, I guess I didn’t need to make any justifications, anyway.

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Fast and Easy Turkey Meatballs in Red Sauce

turkey meatballs in red sauce over pasta with a glass of red wine

Sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table.  Am I right?  Springtime in my household presents numerous challenges when it comes to making a warm, satisfying dinner that can be served at different times throughout the evening.  One kid is off to baseball practice not to return until well after 7:30pm but the dancer would like to eat before class which starts at 6:00pm.  And what about the hangry parents?  (Who do you think will finally get to drink that glass of red wine likely after 8:30pm once everyone is home and showering before bed?)  I also like to make lighter versions of favorite meals since it means I may not be eating until well after regular dinner hours.  That’s where the turkey comes in.  But then there is the problem of dense, dry meatballs due to the lowfat nature of the turkey meat.  I solved that problem by adding ricotta cheese and eggs as well as crumble feta for some extra flavor.  Don’t be alarmed form the meatballs, they are super sticky.  Relax.  Just set up your rolling station right next to your pot of simmering sauce and drop the meatballs in as you roll them.   Boil up some pasta and pour yourself a glass of wine and in no time, you will be a dinner hero.

Turkey Meatballs in Red Sauce

(Makes about 15 meatballs with sauce)

Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, crushed and minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1  32 oz. can crushed tomatoes

3 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup red wine

Meatballs:

1 pound ground turkey

2 eggs

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

8  oz. whole milk ricotta cheese

4  oz. crumbled feta cheese

Place a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid over medium heat.  Add olive oil and garlic.  Sautee for 3 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, crushed tomatoes, oregano, sugar, water and red wine.  Stir and bring mixture to a simmer.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients for meatballs.  (Use your hands, its a lot easier than a spoon.)  Form 1″ round meatballs and place them gently into the simmering sauce.  Make one layer along the bottom then gently place more meatballs on top of the first layer.  Add additional layers of meatballs, if necessary.  Place lid on top of pot.  Do not stir.  Allow meatballs to simmer and steam in sauce for 20 minutes.  Remove lid and gently move meatballs around.  Place lid back on top of pot for another 5 minutes.  Remove one meatball to test that meat is cooked through.  Serve over pasta or rice.

 

 

Pureed Provencal White Bean Soup

pureed soup made with white beans, lamb, white wine, carrots, celery, onions and garlic served with crusty bread and Parmesan cheese with a rosemary garnish

 

I love Ina Garten.  Everything about her is chic and fabulous right down to her tailored navy blue shirts .  She lives a glamorous life in the Hamptons where she cooks and hangs out with her friends in her gorgeous home and perfectly kept gardens.  Her food is simple and rustic yet still perfectly in tune with whatever type of party she is hosting.  And the best part is that she never forgets the most important ingredient: the cocktails.

This soup idea came from a recipe Ina made in her show called Four Hour Lamb.  Her version looked mouth-wateringly divine, of course, with the tender meat falling off the bone into a bed of white beans cooked with carrots, onions, celery and bundles of fresh herbs.  She used a whole bottle of wine for her lamb braise.  I didn’t need to use as much for the soup.  So, I was lucky to have a glass while I was making it and another to go with my meal.  I like to think that Ina would agree with my soup/wine combination.  Don’t forget the Parmesan cheese on top and the crusty bread that make this bowl of soup into the perfect French lunch or light dinner, and pour yourself a glass of wine, or two.

 

Pureed Provencal White Bean Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 lamb shoulder chop

salt and pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry white wine

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

4 cups chicken stock

3  15 oz. cans white Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

For serving: Parmesan cheese, crusty bread

  Heat oil in a large soup pot on medium high.  Season lamb chop with salt and pepper,  Sear on both sides then remove from pot.  Add onion, carrots and celery.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until onions soften.  Add garlic and wine.  Tie the thyme and bay leaf together with kitchen twine and add to the pot.  Add rosemary and cook until wine reduces to half.  Add chicken stock and beans.  Cook on low for one hour.

  Remove lamb chop and use meat for another use.  (It’s pretty tough so I removed the bones and fed it to the dog.)  Remove thyme and bay leaf.  Puree soup with a hand immersion blender or allow to cool and puree in a regular blender in batches.  Return soup to pot on low and add vinegar, Worcestershire and mustard.  Stir to combine.  Serve topped with Parmesan Cheese and loaf of crusty bread.

 

Mellow Vegetarian Chili

 

vegetarian chili with carrots, black beans, poblano peppers, topped with cheddar cheese and pickled jalapenos

It’s mellow because most of my customers don’t want things to be “too spicy”.  It’s vegetarian but doesn’t have a ton of  beans because as I have noted before, I don’t like that many beans.  It works.  There is enough layered spices and different kinds of not so hot peppers to add flavor. Thick and satisfying without being filling.  Garnish it up with whatever you like: shredded cheddar, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, crushed tortilla chips and if you want to add the spice like I do, add a heaping helping of pickled jalapenos.  

Mellow Vegetarian Chili

2 poblano peppers

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium sized onion, chopped

salt and pepper

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1 red pepper, diced

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped mushrooms

3/4 cup black or green olives, chopped

2 tablespoons olive juice

1  14.5 oz. can diced tomotoes

1  4 oz. can mild green chilis

1  32 oz. can tomato puree

1 small can tomato paste

1  15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1  12 oz. can lager ( I used Coors Light)

1 cup vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 pinch cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons chili powder

 

Blacken skins of poblano peppers under a broiler or directly on the flame of a gas stove burner.  Place peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rest for 15 minutes.  Remove and scrape off  charred skin.  Remove stem and seeds from peppers and chop.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add garlic and onions.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add poblano peppers, scallions, red pepper, carrots and celery.  Continue to cook until red pepper, carrots and celery are crisp/tender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add mushrooms, olives and olive juice (from jar).  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.  Bring chili to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Simmer uncovered for one hour.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, lime wedges, jalapeno slices or whatever makes you happy.