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the soup is dead.

long live the soup.

The Soup Lady loves to get email. A lovely surprise came into the mailbag from Denmark and a reader named Birthe.

Dear Soup Lady,

I’m a foodie from Denmark and I have my own
foodblog on
: www.newyorkerbyheart.blogspot.com
  You are welcome to stop by if you feel like it.
It’s in Danish, but has a LOT of pictures of the food I make – and the latest
recipes are translated to English.

My best, Birthe

And so stop by I did and I picked up a little something for you all while I was there.  Birthe is a lovely person and has agreed to share one of her recipes here.

ONION SOUP WITH SPICY MEATBALLS

Ingredients for broth:

  • 4 onions, cut in half and sliced very thin
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 50 g butter
  • ½ big potato (baking potato)
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 4 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1,2 litre chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage, chives or flatleaved parsley

Ingredients for spicy meatballs:

  • 200 g minced beef
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 shredded onion
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1½ tsp. chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • salt, pepper

Directions:
Soup – Melt the butter in a big pot. Add the onions and the garlic at let them simmer at medium temperature for 4-5 minutes, until they’re soft and clear. Stir often.
Shred the potato and add it with paprika, soy sauce, chili powder/cayenne pepper and chicken stock. Put a lid on and let it simmer for about 18-20 minutes. Add salt, pepper and cayenne/chili to taste.

Spicy_onion_soup_with_meatballs_2
Meatballs –
Stir the minced meat with all the ingredients. Let it rest for about 10 minutes. Make 20 small meatballs and fry them on a pan in olive oil, until they’re crisp on the outside.

Serving – Chop the herbs right before serving and add with the meatballs. Serve with some bread.

The Soup Lady loves this soup and has spiced it up just a bit more by making a mixture of the milk and egg and adding about 7 drops of hot sauce to the meatballs and putting just a pinchof red pepper flakes into the broth. I was also a bit reluctant to shred the potatoes for fear they’d dissolve in the broth. I wanted to make a small dice, but I put my faith in Birthe and she was right – the shreds held up nicely and were still visible in the serving dish. Next time I make this, I’ll be using 2 potatoes because that’s what I like.  I’d advise you all to  go visit New Yorker By Heart to see what else Brithe has on the menu.

Need help with measurement conversion?
Click here: Conversion Table for Cooks

Gt
Are you tired of looking at everybody else’s garden leftovers yet?  Now that the days are getting shorter and a chill wind is starting to blow,you might think that you’ve seen the last of the zucchini, the eggplants and the tomatoes. Let me tell you soemthing -there’s never an end to the tomatoes. Fallen leaves are piling up on the lawn and the home gardeners are still trying to get you to take those hard little green tomatoes off their hands.

Fried green tomatoes – the scourge of the autumn kitchen everywhere. first of all, they’re not so easy to make without burning the coating. Second, any flavor comes from the grease, not the tomato itself. While I am a big fan of grease in all its yummy forms,  there’s a limit to how many fried green tomatoes can a person eat even if you get it right.

So what to do? Make soup!

SPICY GREEN TOMATO SOUP


3 tablespoon  oil      

1 cup  diced onions

2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2   cloves  of finely chopped garlic
      

1 teaspoon ground coriander
      

2 teaspoons cumin
   

2 teaspoons curry powder

3 cups chopped green tomatoes       

1 diced green pepper          

2 cups diced potatoes      

2 cups  vegetable broth
      

1 tablespoon of honey
      

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes, finely chopped
   

1/2 cup coconut milk   

1/2 teaspoon salt
    

1/4 cup plain yogurt
    

1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts    

In the bottom of a soup pot, heat the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin and curry powder over medium heat until the fragrance is released. Stir continuously.  Then add  the  onions and the salt and stir to coat.  Add the oil and cook until the onions are soft. Add the  tomatoes, pepper, potatoes, broth, honey, and hot pepper flakes. Bring  to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 30  minutes. Puree the soup using a hand-held blender. Stir in the coconut milk, then heat just to a simmer. Ladle into serving bowls and top with 2 tablespppons of yogurt and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

How fortunate that this recipe comes along at just this time. The Soup Lady is having a love affair – a love affair with curry.  Some like it hot but you already know that the Soup Lady likes it hot and sweaty. I would put a picture of Fabio here but he’s not sweaty. Just hot. Oh, what the heck:

Fabio

Yummy!

Soup? What soup?

Oh, yeah – the green tomato soup. It was okay, but it was completely unappetizing to look at – a pale blend of iffy coloration that did not provide enough contrast with the whiteness of the yogurt on top. There was a nice spicy tang to it but it lack muscle, if you know what I mean. It was more of a liquid heat instead of the robusto performance you want from a soup when the chilly weather starts to come around and the sweetness of the coconut milk and honey only served to get in my way.

So when all is said and one, this soup was good for a laugh  but it’s not something that you’d want to get involved with any too often. It’s a good thing that green tomato season is so short.

Happy Easter!

Img_0089_1

Click Here For Easter Bread

Faith and begorrah! It’s St. Patrick’s Day and the idea of boiling up a giant stock pot full of corned beef and cabbage makes you blanch! Maybe you don’t really like corned beef and cabbage but you feel the need to go with the flow. Your family insists on being festive but changes their minds when faced with the reality of a pot full of floating fat blobs. That leaves you – the under-appreciated cook – to consume the whole pot by yourself. What to do?

Here is the answer: Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup. The same traditional ingredients, the same great taste, but shortened cook and prep time, less greasy, more economical and has an easily adjustable yield.

 

CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE SOUP

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan. Cut one large onion into a small dice and saute over medium heat until tender. Add 1/2 head a medium-sized green cabbage which has been shredded and turn in pan to coat. Add salt and pepper and let this heat for 2 minutes.

2. Transfer to stock pot and add 6-8 cups of chicken broth. Dice 3 large potatoes into 1/2" dice and slice 5 baby carrots into coins, then add both to the pot.

3. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
4. Cut 1/2 pound of lean corned beef from the deli counter into julienne strips and add to soup pot to heat through.

5. In a saucepan, make a roux by melting 2 tablespoons of butter, then stirring in 2 tablespoons of flour to make a paste. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Add one cup of hot soup stock from the pot and blend. Cook to boiling while continuously stirring – mixture will thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of brown mustard and one tablespoon of white horseradish.

6. Add 1/4 cup of the horseradish sauce to the stock pot and mix thoroughly. Taste and add more, up to 1/2 cup.

Ladle the soup into bowls for individual serving and place a tablespoon of the horseradish sauce in the center. Serve with rye bread.

The Soup Lady likes a lot of the horseradish sauce, but that’s just me. Taste this soup before you add the horseradish sauce – it might be enough flavor for you. Not for me, begorrah, but maybe for you. For those faint of heart, omit the mustard and horseradish and use salt and pepper to taste. Only use this version to add to the stock pot, it won’t add much to the experience by dolloping into the serving bowls.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For those of you who go ahead and make the real deal and find that you have a lot of your own corned beef left over, along with soggy cabbage wedges and overcooked potatoes, please be my guest and transform it into an appealing soup:

  • First get rid of all the pot liquor, save one cup. The broth the stuff was cooked in is just too greasy to contemplate. Replace all that liquid with chicken broth, plus the one cup of cooking liquid. Strain the cooking liquid if there are floaters in it. In fact, just strain it anyway.
  • Drain the vegetables as well as you can. They will be sodden and hard to hold onto, but do your best to chop them into soup-spoon sized pieces.
  • Remove as much of the fat from the meat  as you can. This is essential. No fat globs are to be found in the soup bowl at all. While a little fat from the broth will add flavor and body to the stock, no visible fat globs can be tolerated in the bowl.
  • Shred the meat and return it to the pot, along with the chopped vegetables.
  • Heat through.
  • If you’ve spent your St. Patrick’s Day without the horseradish sauce, make it now. You won’t be sorry.

 

Drunken Crab Soup

The Soup Lady has just returned from a trip to Baltimore, a city which – according to the hotel room tv channels –  seems to be composed of only the Inner Harbor and the carcasses of millions of dead crabs. One cannot escape the city without engaging a crab in some shape or form, be it food, a tshirt that says "Don’t Bother Me I’m Crabby" or some tasty claw chocolate in the form of a crab-shaped candy bar.

You can use fresh cooked, frozen or canned crab meat for this recipe. In a minimally processed recipe like this one, the quality of the ingredients – the scotch as well as the crab meat – will affect the quality of the finished product. Never use imiation crab meat, despite it’s jolly identification as  "krab".

DRUNKEN CRAB SOUP

1/2 – 3/4 pound of crab meat
1/4 cup of butter
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of Scotch whiskey
1 quart of milk
Salt
and  pepper
Old Bay Seasoning

1. Prepare the crab meat by picking through it to remove any bits of shell or cartilage  and then shredding the meat into small pieces.
2. Melt the butter in  a saucepan over low heat and then add the crab meat and the heavy cream, followed by whiskey.
3. Stir over medium low heat until the mixture is heated through.
4. Stir in the milk and pepper and then taste for seasoning. Depending in which form of crab meat you are using*, the additional salt needed  may vary.
5. Stir frequently to avoid scorching and heat until very hot throughout – never bring to a boil.
6. Serve in individual pre-heated bowls and garnish with a  pinch of Old Bay Seasoning in the center of the bowl.

WholeHeatlhMD.com lists the different types of crab – Alaskan King Crab is sold as fronzen meat and is readily availabe anywhere, but for that true Baltimore taste experience, its the Blue Claws that you need. Knowing the difference between the types and origin can help you choose the crab that is best suited for its final use:

*Crabs are sold live, and their meat–delicately sweet, firm yet flaky–is available fresh cooked, frozen, and canned. Fresh crabmeat is sold as lump, backfin, or flake. Lump crabmeat, which consists of large, choice chunks of body meat, is the finest and most expensive. Backfin is smaller pieces of body meat. Flake is white meat from the body and other parts and is in flakes and shreds. Some fresh-cooked crab is pasteurized after cooking, which helps it keep longer. Canned crab is often imported from Asia and may come from a variety of species."  wholehealthMD.com

Other helpful information on this site lists how to select, "prepare" (kill) and cook live crabs.

 

Stuffed Grapeleaves

The Soup Lady has something you don’t have:  stuffed grapeleaves on demand. Yes, our mister was born in Egypt and when he came to the U.S., he brought along the recipes and kitchen techniques of his mother. His standards are exacting – every dish must live up to his memory of childhood perfection. I doubt very much if every dish was as picture-perfect as he remembers but picture-perfect is what he wants.

This greatly works to my advantage because whenever the menu calls for one of those classic dishes, such as babaganoush or tabouleh, he trusts no one. I don’t mind in the least giving up kitchen control especially when the end result of a labor-intensive dish as this is so delicious.

These are the grapeleaves he’s been making for all the years of our married life. Our children have been helping since they were very small and under his tutelage, have become proficient and are able to produce according to his standard. What that means for me is that anytime I want them, all I have to do is threaten to make them by my Lithuaniain self and someone with Egyptian blood coursing through their veins will intervene. Sweet!

Like all authentic ethnic recipes that have made their way to America, this one has no exact measurements. For your sake, I tried to estimate amounts but really you should follow your instincts. There are only a few things you need to know:

  • There should never be more rice than meat.
  • Never use the leanest blend of chopped meat. 88% lean is ideal, in my opinion. 93% leanis good for nothing. You need a little fat to get the right flavor for the juice.
  • The rolls must be thin and tight.
  • Never skimp on the garlic.
  • No matter how many times you tell someone that "allspice" is not "all spices in one bottle", they won’t believe you.
  • The smallest, thinnest finished rolls are the most prized.

STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES

2 pounds of chopped meat
1  1/4 cup of long-grain rice, uncooked
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
one large jar of grape leaves
5 fresh limes
two heads of garlic
dried mint leaves

(all images are thumbnails. click to enlarge)

FillingMix the meat, the rice, the allspice and the cinnamon together in a bowl. No salt is necessary because the grape vine leaves are packed in brine and that will add to the final flavor. The measurements are inexact, but the proper ratio of meat-to-rice should look like this.

RollingThe best grape leaves to use are also the easiest to find- Orlando Grape Leaves from California. It’s not unheard of to use the leaves of those pesky wild grape vines that plague your landscaping but you have to boil them first and they really are not as tender, flavorfull or as easy to work with as the bottled variety. Take the leaves out of the bottle, unroll and drain but do not rinse. Select a single leaf and start by cutting off the stem. Place the  leaf onto a plate with the smooth, shiny side down.

Ready_to_roll_1Use a spare amount of the meat filling and place it in a thin log shape onto the leaf slightly above where the stem used to be. Use a smaller amount of filling than  you think use should.

To make the stuffed grapeleaf, start by folding the lower flaps up towards the point of the leaf, covering the meat. Using your fingertips, roll the thing away from you a half-turn.

Rolling2Fold in the side flaps and then continue rolling until you reach the top of the leaf. The next part is critical to the quality of the finished product:

Line_upBring the roll close to you and use the palm of your hand to apply gentle pressure while rolling the thing away from you again. You can, if necessary, then  use a back-and -forth rolling motion to even out the filling inside the rolled leaf. This is the step that insures that the rolls are uniform and tight and will prevent unrolling in the pot and messy falling apart when you lift it up to eat it.

In_the_potThe acceptable limits, according to that high personal standard mentioned before, is that no finished roll may be bigger than your index finger. The preferred size is no bigger than your pinky finger. Place the rolls into a large stock pot, placed tightly next to one another. Fill the bottom of the pot entirely before you move on to the next layer.

Pot_fullAdd the peeled garlic cloves and enough crushed, dried mint leaves to cover the surface. Cut the limes in half and squeeze the juice on top of the rolls in the pot.

January_06_119Place an inverted plate big enough to cover most of the surface of the rolls inside the pot. (Ours is weighted with pieces of marble. I don’t recommend that, but he insists.)  Add enough water to reach the top of the rolls. Pout it gently down the side of the pot so as not to disturb the arrangement of the rolls, mint and garlic.  Sometimes he adds more lime juice at this point.

Set the pot on the burner and bring to just boiling. You don’t want to wildly boil and risk unrolling in the pot. Reduce the heat to get a slow rolling boil for 30 minutes, just enough to cook the meat and rice. Turn off heat and remove the plates. Remove the grape leaf rolls one by one with tongs.

How to eat: Consume everything. Choose the smallest ones for yourself put them on your plate with some of the pot liquor. Pick up the stuffed grapeleaf rolls with your fingers. Eat the garlic cloves, eat the mint, consume the pot liquor. Serve with warm pita bread, hummus and/or plain yogurt. Use the bread as a vehicle for the hummus, the yogurt and the pot liquor. Pot liquor. Pot liquor. I like to say that.  Refrigerate leftovers in a spot where it is hard for others to get to, assuring that you will benefit the most from others labor.

Yield: a great big potfull. These reheat in a microwave without problem. Be sure to add some pot liqour when you reheat them. Pot liquor.

The Soup Lady is poised – as are we all –  on the brink of another new year. Never one to leave things to chance, the Soup Lady has always believed in stacking the deck as much as possible to ensure that the coming year will be a lucky one.

It seems that every year, a new ritual was added because  although the old year was fairly lucky, who couldn’t use just a little more luck in the year to come? Our list was taken from international customs and nothing was too obscure to be added. We tried mightily to accomplish all this in the 120 seconds between 11:59 of the old year  and 12:01 of the new year:

  • sweeping out the old year, by starting at the back end of the house and headed for the open front door (started at 11:59 and reaching the front door at exactly midnight – best accomplinshed by two synchronized sweepers moving between a double row of cheering party guests)
  • children banging on pots and pans begins now
  • sweeping coins into the house
  • bagpiper commences playing Auld Lang Syne ( some years this is done on the accordian insteead of the bagpipes)
  • "first footer" enters through the front door, carrying butter
  • kissing
  • champaign
  • black-eyed peas, pork, fish and donuts are consumed for good luck (not a good combination, but too  risky  to leave anything out)

Believe it or not, it took a number of years before it became evident that feeding tuna fish and sparkling apple juice to small children who are all riled up from intense pot-banging at mignight was ill-advised. Finding two clean brooms suitable for indoor use was always problematic and the garage broom was pressed into service at the last minute, doing more harm than good, cleanliness-wise. The kids grew up, the accordian player moved away and some of the customs fell away.

One ritual that remains  is eating blackeyed peas at the stroke of midnight. Well not just one – the kissing and the drinking made the cut, too.  Since the weather in New Jersey today is chilling dampness and dreary rain, what could be better than black-eyes peas in a soup? And if one bean is good, nine must be even better.

Here is the way they treat the beans in Houston, courtesy of Dave, long-time Friend of the Soup,  maker of Saurkraut Soup and Squash Geese, and host of Groundhog Day revelry.

9 BEAN SOUP

1/4 cup each of red, pinto, garbanzo, navy, baby lima, black-eyed peas, black, great northern and kidney beans
6 strips bacon, cut into 1" pieces
2 tablespoons of  butter

2 large onions (Texas 1015 or Vidalia)
, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped

1 chile pepper, chopped
4 cans beef consume

2 cans water

salt and pepper to taste.

  • Prepare the beans by soaking beans according to package directions.
  • In a large frying pan, cook the bacon until it renders the fat and bacon is slightly crisp.
  • Remove the  bacon pieces and add oil or butter to the pan.
  • Surprise onion, peppers and garlic
    by throwing them into the hot fat. Add 1 tblsp salt, 2 tsps pepper
    simmer for about half an hour until soft and reduced in volume by half
    .
  • In a large stock pot, add beans, consume and water
    along with sauteed vegetables.
  • Simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until beans are tender.
  • Correct seasonings. Remove 2 cups of soup, blend and return to pot to thicken.
  • Add tobasco and/or cayenne to taste for last-minute zing.

9_bean_soup

Dave writes:

Dear Soup Lady, This was last night’s dinner. The salad is Romaine and Boston Bibb lettuce with Clementine Tangerines from Spain, chunks of aged stilton cheese, boiled egg white slices and bacon bits in poppyseed dressing.  The bread is rye laced with prosciutto slivers.  The wine is a hearty South African red table wine.
I may have overdone the blending bit on the soup.  I blended 3 cups of the soup instead of two.  It is just a tad thicker than I intended but not pasty.

I’m sure it’s just fine, dear, but if the Soup Lady made this,  2 cups of beef consome would be replaced by chicken stock and there’d be a flurry of  crushed red pepper flakes added. Happy New year!

The first significant snow of the season has fallen upon New Jersey and if that isn’t a call to make a hearty soup, I don’t know what is. As a general rule, the Soup Lady tries to avoid restaurant soup. I know I’m not the only one who thinks that’s how they get rid of yesterday’s leftovers. The one soup in this category that cannot be resisted is Carrabba’s Sausage and Lentil Soup.

The soup is spicy (another tip-off that the ingredients are not quite fresh)  but in this case I chose to ignore that. It’s not hard to reproduce at home – this is my stab at it. A small green salad, some nice bread  and some fresh fruit at the end is all you need to make this a completely satisfying meal.

Sausage and Lentil Soup

1. In a large saucepan, heat one tablespoon of oil. Add one carrot – diced, two stalks of celery– diced, one large onion– chopped  and two cloves of crushed garlic.  Saute until tender.

2. Remove vegetables from the pan and and add one pound of hot Italian sausage, removed from the casing, to the pan. Brown the drain off fat.

3. In a large stockpot, place eight cups of chicken broth, the sauteed vegetables and the sausage meat.  Open two cans of whole tomatoes, break them up by squeezing them with your hands and add to the soup along with the juice. Add two cups of dried lentils which have been washed according to package directions.

4. Season with one teaspoon of salt, 3/4 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds and one bay leaf.

5. Simmer until the lentils are tender, 30-45 minutes. Remove 1/3 of the soup and puree it using an hand-held blender, then return it to the pot. Correct seasonings and remove bay leaf.

The Soup Lady likes it hot, so I added a bit more red pepper. Sometimes I like to add  a 10 oz. package of frozen spinach to the pot, or to serve it with some red wine vinegar floating on top. 

 

Now we find ourselves at the end of Halloween week and more than a few of you are eyeing up the old Jack O’Lantern and thinking what a waste it is to just throw it out.  What with all that wholesome apple harvesting and hay riding going on right now, you might get to thinking that you can turn your decorative pumpkins into pies. It’s not your fault- even the most reluctant cooks can be overcome by the heady scent of cider – who wouldn’t start thinking that?

Do you know any first-time pumpkin converters who had the delusional notion that they could (a) be clever (b) be thrifty (c) be old-fashioned by hacking up their old Jack O’Lanterns before they go moldy and turning them into pies?  Has anyone of them ever reported a different result that "it was all stringy and didn’t tasted awful"?

There’s a reason for that – the pumpkins that are cultivated for appearance and size are not the ones that are cultivated for taste!  Shocking!  Haven’t we already learned this lesson with the Red Delicious Apple and the American Beauty Rose? Composed of one part appearance, one part  extended shelf life , there’s nothing else to recommend them? Form triumphs over function yet again.

This illuminating article about  pumkpin puree informs us that :

"Over the years, Libby’s used agricultural research and selective systems to develop a special variety of pumpkin (a type of squash) ideal for canning and consistent quality. That would be the Dickinson squash with rich, golden-orange color and creamy texture.
These are very different from Halloween field pumpkins; the Dickinsons are smaller, squat, meatier, heavier, sweeter and more dense."

And, my dears – pumpkin is  a superfood.

"Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A … It’s an excellent source of fiber and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals — even if the pumpkin comes right out of a can."

This rich soup comes from the Libby’s web site where other of their corporate brand products are included in every recipe. Less obedient recipe readers might substitute  their own chicken broth and heavy cream. There is no substitue for Libby’s pure-pack pumpkin and that is as it should be.

PUMPKIN  and GORGONZOLA SOUP

1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY’S 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 1/2 cups water 
2 teaspoons MAGGI Instant Chicken Flavor Bouillon
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 can (12 fl. oz.) CARNATION Evaporated Milk
3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 large green onion, finely chopped

Directions:

COOK pumpkin, water, bouillon and sage in large saucepan, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil.

STIR in evaporated milk and cheese. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring frequently, until most of cheese is melted.
SPRINKLE with green onion before serving.
SEASON with ground black pepper.

recipe from VeryBestBaking.com

I read the consumer reviews on the webiste before I made this soup and heeded the warning that the recipe as written delivered a bland result, so I added dried oregano, ground nutmeg, salt and lots of ground black pepper. I also incorporated  two  sliced green onions into the soup as it cooked.

Also, please note that LIBBY’S Pure Canned Pumpkin shares supermarket shelf space with LIBBY’S Canned Pumpkin Pie Mix. The cans are similar in size and heft – read the labels to be sure you are getting what you want – the pure pumpkin puree.