Cream of AWESOME soup

Category : Stew/Soup

After a market trip, I opened my fridge and stood there a long moment admiring my bounty when I started pulling out ingredients and this soup was created. Still one of the most magnificent flavored dished to come out of my kitchen.

2 bunches of slender asparagus,
snap off woody ends,
cut tips off about 1″ and set aside, chop the rest into 1″ pieces
6 medium portabello mushrooms, chopped coarse
1 leek, halved, then chopped into 1/2″ pieces
2 Tablespoons both of butter and olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
6 cups mushroom stock
1 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon Worchestershire
1 teaspoon course ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons tarragon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half & half
1/3 cup shredded cheese
I used an unseasoned Mexican blend
1/3 cup parmesan

Saute the leek and mushrooms in a soup pot until soft. Add the garlic and all the asparagus, putting the asparagus tips aside for now.

Add the wine, mushroom stock, and seasoning. Simmer until the asparagus is soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove 2/3rds of the vegetables and put into a food processor until chopped fine, but not smooth. Return to the soup pot.

Add the rest of the asparagus and simmer until soft. Whisk together the flour and half & half until perfectly smooth. Add it to the soup and simmer until it thickens up (15 minutes). Turn off the heat, add the cheese, and stir until completely incorporated into the soup.

Serve with a crusty bread.

Red Lentil Soup

Category : Stew/Soup

Very simple, very filling, nice and thick. What really makes this soup something special are the Middle Eastern spices along with a generous amount of lemon. It’s not a lemon flavored soup at all. The lemon adds this amazing brightness to the flavor and makes the entire taste palette pop.

1 pork shank
2 quarts water

3 medium carrots, sliced thin
1 medium onion, chopped coarse
2 ounces tomato paste
3 cloves garlic
, chopped fine
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoons cumin
1 Tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 Tablespoons Pic-a-peppa sauce
¼ cup lemon juice

1 cup red lentils, rinsed and sorted

Put pork shank in the stock pot and fill pot with water until shank is covered. Approximately 2 quarts. It’s more important to cover the pork shank than measure the amount of water. Set on medium and cook for 4 hours.

Remove the pork shank to a bowl and let cool until you can handle it. Skim off any foam from the liquid in the stock pot.

Remove the meat from the bone and clean off the fat. Return the meat to the pot, shredding it slightly with your fingers while putting it in the liquid.

Put in vegetables and seasoning. Let simmer 2 hours.

Add lentils and cook 15 to 30 minutes, or until soft. (note: add some dry white wine or water to thin out the soup if it becomes too thick)

Hearty Tomato Soup

Category : Stew/Soup

Another Farmer’s Market haul of fantastic goodies inspired me to make this soup. After tasting it, I started inviting friends over. It was so good that my husband bought me a pressure canner and we made another batch to get us through the winter. This has now become a yearly event for us. It’s just that good!

2/3 bushel of tomatoes (blanched, peeled, seeded and crushed)
I did this in batches, about 8 tomatoes at a time, approximately 32 tomatoes

Soup base
The middle section of a stalk of celery (about 6 of the tender pale stalks with leaves) chopped fine
1 sweet onion, chopped
3″ of leek, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 Pablano peppers (broiled and blackened, then peeled, seeded, and chopped)
1 teaspoon course ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons of butter

Saute until onion is translucent and everything begins to get tender.

Here’s where my herb garden contributed. I went out and chopped 1/3 of my basil, and 1/2 of my parsley and 1/2 of my hot oregano. The leaves were chopped and the lot of it was tossed into the mix.

Finished Measurements
1.5 cups chopped basil,
1/2 cup chopped spicy oregano
1/3 cup chopped parsley

Add 1 cup of Chardonnay and 1/2 cup of water and simmer while prepping the tomatoes

Add the first batch of tomatoes and continue to simmer on medium. After about 10 minutes, I took a stick blender to this and got rid of any identifiable vegetable pieces. Didn’t get it smooth because we wanted a coarse texture.

After all the tomatoes were added to the pot, I added :
2/3rds of a cup of brown sugar
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire
1 teaspoon high quality vanilla
(this makes the flavor rich & exquisite!)

NOTE: I made the first batch with a mix of regular tomatoes. This made the soup thin. In other batches, I’ve gone to using just Roma tomatoes, and the consistency is perfect without the thickening instructions I give next. In another pan I melted 1 stick of butter (8 Tablespoons) then added 8 Tablespoons of flour. Using a whisk, I kept this cooking for a couple of minutes without scorching. Then I started adding 1 ladle of hot soup at a time and whisking smooth until the mixture was pourable and thin. At that point I added it all back to the main soup pot to thicken it up to the perfect consistency.

After this I let it simmer on low for about 2 hours and salted a little more until the bouquet of the soup bloomed and the flavors were set. Perhaps another teaspoon or so.


Jalapeno Chicken Stew

Category : Chicken, Featured, Stew/Soup

Today we bundled up, stoked the fire, and prepared for what they promised would be the ice and snow storm of winter. With some foresight, my husband and I made the excursion to the local farmer’s market for root vegetables and chickens. We also found a woman selling Amish made pasta called Pot Pie Pasta. They were thick and square cut and made me want to create a thick chicken stew to showcase them. Among the stands of vegetables, we found a basket of firm, plump jalapeno peppers, carrots and sweet onions. We also nabbed a late season sweet potato that had to have easily weighed 2 lbs. A plan was coming together! A loaf of Challah and we were set!

We built a nice fire in the wood stove with the Ash and Oak. I wanted a smokey flavor to the stew, and this allowed me to roast the peppers right in our fireplace.

3.5 lb whole fryer chicken (cleaned, quartered, & patted dry)
2 lbs sweet potato (peeled and cut into quarters or very large chunks)
2 sweet onions (chopped coarse)
3 large carrots (peeled and sliced)
4 jalapeno peppers, roasted (chopped coarse)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
5 cups water
1 cup Chardonnay
4 Tablespoons olive oil or bacon grease
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon
garam masala
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt to taste
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup of cooked pasta in noodle form.

Put the olive oil or bacon grease into a deep stock pot. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the chicken and brown slightly. Add the herbs and garlic when the browning is just about done and coat the chicken.

Add the Chardonnay to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the pasta) and simmer for 2 hours.

During this time I roasted the jalapenos over the fire. You can also roast them under the broiler for about 7 minutes, until the skin is black and blistered. Turn to get all sides. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Use a knife to scrape off the skin, which will come of very easily at this point. Don’t rinse. Cut off the stem end and split the pepper in half, scooping out and discarding the seeds. Chop the pepper coarsely and add to the stew. It is highly recommended that you use gloves to handle the peppers. Roasting the peppers isn’t critical, but once you’ve tried it, you’ll understand how it mellows the flavor, but not the heat and blends well with the sweet and smokey flavors of this stew.

After 2 hours, remove the chicken from the stew carefully with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl. Your goal is to make sure no bones end up in the stew. I put mine into a colander and pick off all the meat to add back to the liquid in the pot.

At this point, fish out all of the sweet potato chunks. Put these into a bowl and mash well. Add this back to the stew to give it body. This stew has a very distinct flavor of sweet potatoes, which matches fabulously with the smoke and heat of the jalapenos.

Make sure you get all the tender meat from the chicken to put back into the stew. This is a tedious, finger singing step, but it’s completely worth it in the end.

Let the stew simmer for a while longer. I let mine go for another 2 hours before not being able to take the delicious smells any longer. Add the cooked pasta as the last step.

This dinner was paired with a sweet bread, Challah. There was a definite heat to this dish, but not a tongue blistering hot. It was a huge hit to warm us up against the ice outside.

My husband has taken the task of cleaning the whole chickens we get from the farmer’s market. A year ago I shattered my wrist and he picked up a lot of awesome kitchen skills helping me while I healed. This is one task he didn’t give back and the one that netted me a nice set of Henckel knives for Christmas! He takes the backbone out and the wings off of the bird and puts them in the freezer for making chicken stock. He removes the cartilage and a few of the small bones, then cleaves the halves into quarters. This little bit of kitchen work saves us a considerable amount of money.