Category Archives: Soup/Stew

More Cheese Please: Vermont Cheddar and Leek Soup

Vermont Cheddar and Leek Soup. Photo: Heather Platt

Vermont Cheddar and Leek Soup. Photo: Heather Platt

“Isn’t it funny how we all remember Vermont?” Said Nana into the land line phone in her nursing home apartment.

I’d called  her to tell her that her famous Limpa Bread recipe and the guidance she’d given me over the phone the day before had lead to the most perfect batch yet. So perfect that two entire loaves of the crusty, soft, brown goodness seemed to have already disappeared from our countertop. Mysterious, I know.

Nana was pleased. “Mmmm.” She said, imagining she could taste it too. “It’s the best warm, with butter…” she specified trailing off in thought into the fantasy of Limpa deliciousness.  And then it occurred to me. That’s where this came from. This utter obsession with achieving maximum deliciousness, the utmost joy from watching someone happily devour the food you made. I got that from Nana.

“Oh no, I never bothered with any recipes at the restrunt.” She answered after I inquired about the menu items at her and my late-grandfather’s Vermont eatery.

“How did you make everything?” I was blown away. The woman owned, managed and cooked, from scratch with apparently no guidance, everything on the menu at “Bischoff’s Restaurant.” In the 1940s and 50s, hungry skiers  and locals alike piled into cozy wooden benches to enjoy her cooking.

“I just made it and tasted as I went along.” She said matter-of-factly. “Have you ever made my split pea soup? I wrote it down for you somewhere.” I will get that recipe as soon as possible. But until then, this Vermont Cheddar soup will have to do. And it does.

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Filed under Appetizer, Dinner, Fall, Heather Platt, Lunch, Soup/Stew, Uncategorized, Winter

Winter Wonders: Javier’s Tomato Salsa

Javier salsa 2

It’s that time of year again.  That runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, I-never -want-to-get-out-of-bed time of year. It’s as if December was one fabulous month-long holiday party and January is the painful hangover day after.  Except, worse than a hangover, its contagious. In an attempt to combat this cold season, I’ve been stocking my kitchen with citrus fruits.  Blood oranges, cara caras, navel oranges, and the large and succulent oro blancos  are spilling out across my counter top like a still-life painting from the Italian Renaissance.   I take pride in my artillery of vitamin C. I admire these seasonal treats for their vibrant beauty and expected health-benefits. I’ll often just pick one up, give it a sniff, a little squeeze and toss it into the air and catch it.

But truth be told, my oranges and grapefruits did not save me from catching the worst cold I’ve had in years this winter. This is not to say that I’ve given up on them. In fact, this morning upon arriving at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market to tag along with the Lucques chefs, I told Chef de Cuisine Javier, “Ben (my boyfriend) has the cold now, I need to get him more citrus fruits and some orange juice from farmer Peter Shaner….” I was on a mission. Now Javier is probably the nicest chef you or I will ever meet. But when he needs to get a point across, he has the most sobering, deadpan, serious look on his face. “No. Dude. It’s chips and salsa man. You gotta make him chips and salsa.” I looked at him like he was joking. He wasn’t. Did I also mention that Javier makes the best salsa you’ll ever have in your life? Well, he does. And here’s his secret recipe for the alleged cold-buster.

Enjoy!

Heather

Nov 2012 047

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Filed under Fall, Soup/Stew, Super Bowl, Uncategorized

Super Bowl Specials: Beef and Vegetable Chili

I love Super Bowl parties. I’m not going to lie, I rarely know which teams are going to play in the game or care much who wins. (I usually decide who to cheer for the day of.)  But I love the Super Bowl because it is yet another excuse to make food for a group of hungry friends. And by food, I mean chili.

I have a particular fondness for the hearty stew. As a kid growing up in Vermont we would spend most winter weekends on the ski slopes. And if you’ve ever been to Vermont in February you know that we’re talking a -30 degree wind chill factor and extremely icy slopes. In my early 20s I went skiing in France, my first time outside of Vermont, and realized that it could actually be a pleasurable experience. But the one thing that made my numb digits and nearly frost-bitten cheeks feel better was a steaming bowl of that delicious ski-area chili, topped with a handful of grated Vermont cheddar cheese. And as  I sat in the Vermont mountain top lodge savoring every spoonful as I gradually got feeling back in my fingers and toes, the chili somehow made the frigid weather and dreadful conditions all okay.

I write this now in Los Angeles with our windows and doors open on a sunny mild February day. But the pot of chili on the stove  is just as delicious and comforting as on those cold winter days on the slopes. It is the ideal Super Bowl party dish.  One big pot of chili can feed the entire crowd. So make it in advance and relax when your guests arrive!

Enjoy!

Heather

Don't forget to serve it with a dollop of sour cream!

Beef and Vegetable Chili

Serves 12-14

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 small onions,  chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound 90 percent lean organic ground beef
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream, for serving
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated for topping
  • 1 cup scallions, sliced for serving

In a large (4- quart) pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the garlic, onions, bell peppers, carrots, cumin, chipotle chili powder, oregano, and smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the vegetables over medium-low heat until they are tender. Add the beef and break it up with a spoon. When the beef has been completely broken up and has cooked until brown, stir in the beef broth and beans. Then add the crushed and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Ladle chili in to serving bowls and sprinkle with cheddar cheese, scallions and a dollop of sour cream.  Serve with a side of cornbread if desired.

Cook the garlic, onions, peppers and carrots and spices before adding the beef.

Serve with cornbread

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Filed under Heather Platt, Soup/Stew, Super Bowl

Provencal Comfort Food: Cod Stew with Garlic and Roasted Red Pepper Rouille

This rouille is pretty in pink, but it packs a bite!

This recipe is not for picky eaters. First, it’s a fish stew — not the kind of thing I usually gravitate towards. Plus the rouille accompaniment is essentially a garlic and roasted-red-pepper spicy mayonnaise. So my dinner guests and I were a little skeptical as we stirred mayonnaise into, well, fish stew.

But even though we couldn’t shake the feeling that adding mayonnaise to soup was somehow wrong, we were won over when we tasted it. The flavors combine into a garlicky, saffrony, slightly fishy tomato-based bouillabaisse, and every bite of the giant crouton at the bottom of your bowl is a reward. (You definitely want to serve this with chunky bits of crusty bread. Cornbread would be good, too, for the gluten-free.)

To serve, spread the rouille onto a piece of thoroughly-toasted bread, then ladle the soup over the top and garnish with some more rouille. And if you have leftover rouille, use it to take your sandwiches or egg salads to another planet.

Enjoy!

Anna

Cod Stew with Garlic and Roasted Red Pepper Rouille

Serves 6

For cod stew:

  • 2 lbs. cod, chopped into 1″ or 2″ pieces
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3 leeks, washed, cut lengthwise, and chopped into 1/2 pieces
  • 8 medium carrots, washed and chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, washed and chopped
  • 5 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 bunches of kale, rinsed and torn into pieces, excluding the stems
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp. herbes de Provence
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron threads
  • 4 strips of orange zest (use a peeler for large strips)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 thick slice of baguette or bread per person (I used gluten-free bread for me and wheat sourdough for guests)

In a dutch oven or stockpot, cook onion, garlic, leeks, carrots, celery, herbes de Provence, cayenne, saffron, salt, and pepper in olive oil over low heat until softened, about 10 min. Add white wine, tomatoes, and orange zest. Bring to a boil, and add cod, tomato paste, and water. Cook until fish falls apart and vegetables are soft, about 30 min. Add kale, and cook until kale is wilted. Pick out the orange zest strips before serving or you’ll get a zesty surprise. Salt and pepper to taste.

While the soup is cooking, make rouille.

For rouille:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup roasted red peppers
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron threads soaked in 1/4 tsp boiling water
  • 5 heads of fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne

In a food processor, pulse all ingredients until smooth and thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust seasoning. (I added more red peppers and garlic, resulting in the recipe above.) The strong flavor of the rouille augments the soup and adds a rich kick.

To serve, toast 1 thick slice of bread per serving until very dry. (I toasted my “croutons” in the oven at 350F.) Place bread in a bowl, spoon with rouille, and ladle the soup over the top. Eat immediately.

*Based on a recipe from Epicurious.com.*

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Filed under Fall, Fish, Gluten-free, Main Course, Soup/Stew

Who Knew?: Celery Root Soup

Do you have a lot of experience with celery root  (a.k.a. celeriac)? I don’t. I’ve only seen it on a few restaurant menus, and I want to say that was mostly in England? When I went to look for it at the grocery store, I don’t think I’d ever noticed the giant brown bulbs in the parsnips-and-stuff section before. Celeriac is a bit of a wallflower.

So, on the promise of some hard-to-imagine celery root soup, my friend Swaan came over for dinner last night. Neither of us was that hungry for dinner food, so we skipped the soup course. And then, naturally, we made five (FIVE!) batches of kettle corn, including a buttery chocolatey batch. We ate so much corn syrup and brown sugar and chocolate that we were both as sugar-high as two humans can get by the end of the night.

And after all that? I desperately wanted a bowl of this soup to even me out. And it tasted amazing.

This is the first time I’ve cooked with celery root, the bulbous and alien-looking base of the celery plant, and I have to say: it makes for some damn good soup. This easy and extremely healthy light-green winter puree packs a depth of peppery flavor that belies the simplicity of the ingredients. Make it vegetarian by substituting some high-quality vegetable broth for chicken broth.

After glutting myself with kettle corn for dinner, this healing soup made for the most amazing dessert. I practically licked the pot clean.

Seriously, celery root. Who knew?

Enjoy!

Anna

Celery Root Soup

Serves 6

  • 2 large leeks, trimmed, washed, and chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, washed and chopped
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large celery root (about 2 cups) chopped in 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 whole shallot, peeled
  • 3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock (lightly salted)
  • salt if necessary
  • freshly ground black pepper
Sautee celery, leeks, garlic, and shallots in butter in a large pot. While they are cooking, peel and chop celery root into 1/2″ cubes. When celery and leeks are bright green and starting to cook down, add celery root, chicken stock, and thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Puree with a blender stick or in batches in a regular blender until very smooth. Season with salt if necessary and lots and lots of fresh-ground black pepper. Serve hot or cold.
Feel free to garnish with horseradish creme fraiche or a splash of heavy cream.

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Filed under Gluten-free, In Season, Side, Soup/Stew, Vegetarian, Winter

Countdown to Thanksgiving T-10 Days: Carrot-Pumpkin Soup

I’ve never made carrot (or pumpkin) soup before. Since we’re in the 21st Century, I did what any great chef would do and used Facebook to do a little poll. I asked friends and 3MBB readers for their insights on what makes a carrot soup great, and many nice carrot-lovers weighed in. And then I stole all the nice people’s ideas for my recipe below and made a stupendous soup. Thanks, guys!

This hearty soup gets high marks across the board. It tastes decadent and rich while packing a healthy kick. It’s seriously easy and quick to make. It looks stunning topped with cinnamon and a drizzle of heavy cream, which you will have on hand after making it. And it’s highly inexpensive, especially if you already have a good spice collection!

All in all, this soup takes about 5 minutes to wash and chop, 35-45 minutes to simmer, and another 5 minutes to puree the vegetables and season it at the end. It makes the final step even easier if you have a blender stick, because you can puree the soup in the cooking pot. Just be careful not to splash, ouch!

And yes, I used canned organic pumpkin puree. Sure, fresh pumpkin would have been better, but I wanted to use up what was sitting in my pantry. Also, I didn’t bother peeling the carrots; I just scrubbed them with a rough brush when I washed them. But the real trick with this dish lies in the seasoning and texture: make sure to add enough spices, salt, and honey, and to puree it thoroughly until it is creamy and bisque-like.

Serve it in smaller portions as a Thanksgiving starter, or in larger portions as a hearty winter main topped with homemade garlic croutons (thanks, Travis!), buttery biscuits, and a dollop of creme fraiche on top. And most important of all:

Enjoy!

xx Anna

Carrot-Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6

  • 1 lb. carrots, washed, ends removed, and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 large white onion finely chopped
  • 1 small green apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 4 cups or 32 oz. chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cans organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 small can water chestnuts, drained
  • 3 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole allspices
  • pinch each of allspice, nutmeg, and ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. (up to 1/2 tsp.) cayenne
  • salt to taste (about a tsp.)
  • 2 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup or 4 oz. heavy cream

In a large soup pot, melt butter and cook onions, garlic, carrots, and apple until onions are translucent. Add spices and half of the chicken stock, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir in pumpkin puree and the rest of the chicken stock and simmer, covered, for another 10-20 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat, and remove allspice and cinnamon stick. Puree everything else with a blender stick (or in batches in the blender) until almost smooth. Add cream, salt to taste, and honey, and puree until soup is creamy and very smooth. Serve with creme fraiche and garlic croutons or crusty bread and butter.

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Filed under Appetizer, Gluten-free, In Season, Main Course, Soup/Stew, Vegetarian, Winter

Mom’s Butternut Squash Soup

I’m going to call this Mom’s soup because my mom is the best (among other things) soup maker I know. And every fall she made a butternut squash soup with our garden’s plenty that would make the inevitable frigid Vermont winter to come seem more tolerable. Even though the temperature was about to drop below zero for the next few months, there was a plus side–at least we’d get to eat my mom’s soup.

My mom didn’t give me a recipe. In fact, when I asked her how she makes her soup she just said, “Just taste as you go along. You can always alter it. You can’t go wrong.” She also admitted that she would never put bacon in it. Ignoring that last part, I embarked on my own version of my favorite kind of soup.

I was going to make this dish as a first course, but it’s so satisfying that it stands on its own with a loaf of crusty bread. It’s loaded with vegetables, so don’t be afraid to have seconds.

Enjoy!

Heather

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 12

  • 5 slices applewood smoked bacon
  • 5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 medium leeks, (white and pale green parts only) chopped
  • 4 cups celery, chopped
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook bacon in 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pot and place on a paper towel over a plate to drain. Set aside.

Add garlic to the fat in pot and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until lightly golden brown. About 1 to 2 minutes. Add squash, leeks, celery, carrots and apples. (If there is not enough room in your pot for all of the vegetables, heat 5 tablespoons of butter in a separate pot and transfer half of the vegetables to the new pot continuing the recipe in two batches.) Stir the vegetables and add thyme, sage, broth, water, apple cider, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat the medium-low and let simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Use a ladle to spoon the soup, (which will look more like a stew at this point) into a blender. Puree the soup and return to pot. You will have to work in batches. Always use CAUTION when working with hot liquids.

When all of the soup is a smooth creamy consistency, serve in soup bowls and top with crumbled bacon.

soup prep!

 

 

Hot Toddy, anyone?

 

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Filed under Appetizer, Fall, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, In Season, Main Course, Soup/Stew, Uncategorized