Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dal

This is going to be brief, but I need to share this recipe.  What a week – I can hardly believe it is almost over.  I really feel like I blinked, and it went from Monday to Thursday night.  It didn’t help that I was in meetings pretty much all week, and have barely had a chance to catch my breath – and in the process came down with a nasty cold. My body was definitely trying to tell me something…maybe I just need some soup.

Fall came really quickly this year, and all of a sudden it became soup and stew weather.  Not only is it pretty easy to make (for the most part), you can make a large batch and it usually it gets better the longer it sits.  One of my favorite recipes to make when the weather turns is Dahl.  I just love Indian food – those wonderful flavors and spices all blended together, and Dahl is just super easy to make – particularly this recipe from Cooking Light.

We used to eat Indian food quite a bit, but with my husband’s dairy allergy we have really cut that out of our routine.  The girls also have not embraced Indian food as much as they have embraced other international flavors.  This dish though got them a little closer to asking for it – they both loved it, and even ate the large pieces of spinach.  Hopefully they will be able to ward off this cold – and I will be seeing some Indian food in my future….more soon.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 3/4 cup dried small red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2  serrano chiles, minced (optional)
  • 2 ounces spinach (about 4 cups loosely packed)

Preparation

To prepare dal, combine 3 cups water and lentils in a bowl. Let stand 20 minutes; drain.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add the chopped onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add ginger and next 6 ingredients (through serranos); sauté for 30 seconds. Add lentils and remaining 2 cups water to pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 23 minutes. Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.

To prepare salad, combine 2 tablespoons oil, rind, juice, and sugar in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add carrot, sliced onion, and cilantro; toss to coat.

To prepare flatbreads, shape each dough portion into a 5-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Coat dough with cooking spray. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Add 2 dough portions to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly charred. Repeat the procedure with remaining dough. Combine coriander and 1/4 teaspoon salt; sprinkle over hot flatbreads. Serve with rice, dal, and salad.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dahl 2

Asparagus Soup

Asparagus Soup

This is an exciting time.  The countdown has begun to the last day of school – less than 10 days to go;  the first week of Junuary has greeted us with sunshine and warm temperatures (I swear everyone had a little extra bounce today in their steps) and asparagus is still selling at a decent price in the markets.  All year I wait for my favorite veggies to go on sale…asparagus and artichokes.  My rule of thumb for my green goddesses is to start looking after St. Patrick’s day (the green holiday), and by the time it is berry season they are gone – but at that point we are talking about berries…so onto something bigger and better. This year I have really been enjoying the asparagus. In fact, my children have also become connoisseurs.

The other week my husband went to the market with my younger daughter, and one of the items on the list was asparagus.  My husband was eyeing up the stalks, and chose what he thought was a decent bunch.  My younger daughter took one look and started lecturing him on the correct diameter of asparagus stalks.  I love it, at 7 years old, she is already an expert.

Unfortunately we have eaten so much asparagus lately, my kids have started to hold up the white flag.  I have tried to take a positive spin on that and think of it as a challenge.  What else could I do with those delicious green stalks that would make them happy?  Well, I thought about pasta with asparagus cream sauce, that was until I saw this recipe in the Parade Magazine for Asparagus Soup.  What intrigued me most about this recipe was the use of evaporated milk.  What a great addition.  I have made asparagus soup without milk or cream, but I love the creaminess that it brings.  The girls loved it too.

As asparagus season comes to a close, don’t you want to try something new?  Isn’t it time to shake things up a bit?  I know I’m ready for that.  And a sunny Junuary might just give people the energy and inspiration to do so.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup evaporated 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • parmesan cheese, grated

Preparation

Trim the woody ends from the asparagus; reserve tips of 8 spears.  Cut the remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil over low heat.  Add the onion, celery and carrot; cook 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook one minute.  Add the asparagus, salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes.  Add the broth and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.  Blanch the asparagus tips in boiling water for 3 minutes.  Drain.

Puree soup either using an immersion blender (easiest) or in batches in a blender.  Return to the saucepan over medium heat and add evaporated milk and lemon juice.  Warm though – although don’t let simmer.  Top with tips and add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Serves 4

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Asparagus Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Soup Shots

Red Pepper Soup Shots

It is amazing what a good somewhat relaxing weekend can do for you.  For the first time in weeks, I am actually ready for the week to come.  I got a ton done this weekend, and caught up on some much-needed sleep.  I feel like a new person – now let’s see how long it takes for that to all come undone…

So lately I have had a bit of a glass fetish.  I find myself combing Etsy for the vintage glassware – and believe me, I have stocked my bar with some keepers.  I completely turned over my somewhat modern looking glassware for all vintage stuff – ranging from the 30s  (I think) through the Mad Men era.  I am quite pleased with my collection, and love having people over so I can try them out.  Most of my more modern glasses were pretty easy to part with.  I was never really fond of them, but they were what I had – and there was no use in getting new ones.  I brought a big bag over to Goodwill and had a good time thinking about how someday maybe these glasses would become vintage…but it will be quite a while before that happens.

As I was going through my glasses, I found these tall shot glasses that I had only used once before.  That right there should have been the nudge I needed to part ways, but there was something telling me that I should hold onto them.  So, I moved them to a different cabinet – one that wouldn’t make me think of them as glasses to drink out of, but instead glasses to serve from.  It was not long afterwards that I found this recipe in Bon Appetit for these Roasted Pepper Shooters – that was it.  That was exactly what is supposed to go in these glasses.  They are appetizer glasses – or as they say in fancy restaurants – for an “Amuse Bouche.”  Something to waken your palate in anticipation of the meal.  So – when I had some friends over, I whipped this up (and literally, that’s exactly what I did – they were that easy).  My only mistake is that I did not serve them chilled.  We had the leftovers the next night – nice and chilled, and they were fantastic.  I wanted an entire bowl – which is exactly what a good Amuse Bouche does.  Now, let the week begin!

Ingredients

  • one 16-ounce jar fire-roasted red peppers with  their juices
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

Purée the first four ingredients in a  blender on high speed until very smooth, about 1 minute. With motor running,  gradually add the olive oil. Season to taste  with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if  desired.

DO AHEAD Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Cover;  chill.

Divide soup among small cups or shot glasses.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Roasted Red Pepper Soup Shots

Red Lentil-Pumpkin Soup

Red Lentil Pumpkin Soup

I am not really a huge kitchen gadget person – believe me, I have a lot of gadgets in my kitchen, but I am shocked to look through my drawers at what I use, and what just sits there collecting dust.  Since we are in the gift giving season, I have decided to post my all-time favorite kitchen gadgets.  Please note, I have not been paid what-so-ever to promote any of these items – these are all mine, and I am giving you my honest feedback.  I would give you a top 10 list, except that I cam really only think of my top 5 – would you believe that I really don’t have more than 5, with all the cooking I do? I think that says a lot right there – I use the same things over and over…these are in no particular order.

  1. Giant Spatula – I use this for everything: cakes, roasts, pommes Anna – anything I need to move from one place to another.
  2. Ice Cream Scoops – mostly I use these to bake with, and I have multiple sizes: cookie dough and cupcakes.
  3. Silicone Pastry Brush – fabulous because you can stick it in the dishwasher and it comes out perfectly clean!
  4. 1/4-Cup Measuring Cup – great for baking, and for making cocktails!
  5. Immersion Blender – what an amazing thing this is – it saves tons of dishwashing time.

Speaking of immersion blenders – I really don’t know what I would do without mine.  Before I had one, this soup would have been a pain in the neck.  I hate putting hot liquids into the blender, it always makes me nervous.  This soup was one of the easiest dinners I have made in a long time – and the best part of all was how few dishes I had to wash.  Oh, the other bonus is that this soup is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free (as long as you skip the yogurt garnish) – and for my husband these days – that is a really good thing.  The soup was delicious, and perfect for this time of year.  You even have enough pumpkin left over to make some pumpkin bread.

So – with all the craziness of the season, do yourself a favor – get yourself an immersion blender, make this soup for dinner – and then order the rest of the gifts above for your friends and family.   Done, done, and done.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 cup dried small red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt (optional)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seed kernels, toasted (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Preparation

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in 3 cups broth, lentils, and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.  If you don’t have one, place the lentil mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return lentil mixture to pan over medium heat. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth, 1 cup water, and pumpkin to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in ginger and lemon juice.

Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 2 teaspoons yogurt, 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, and 1 tablespoon cilantro if using.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Red Lentil-Pumpkin Soup

Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

My kids crack me up.  Yes, there are times when I have had enough, and I just snap, but sometimes the things they say are just too much.  Last month when we were with my father-in-law, my youngest was playing a guessing game with him.  She wanted him to guess the person she was thinking of – he happens to be a very famous person, with a very big job.  She said, “His first name begins with a B, and his last name begins with a B.”  At first we thought we knew who it was, but when she told us the last name began with a B, we were all stumped.  After a few more clues, we were sure she was talking about the President.  We asked, “Are you sure his last name begins with a B?”  She said, “Yes, Barack0 Bama.”  I swear I could not stop crying, I was laughing so hard.

Now back to food…I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and I knew it would be risky.  Squash is not a fan favorite among the little people of the house.  I decided I wasn’t going to let that stop me though.  If it was tasty enough, they would love it.  I happened to make it one night when my older one was not home for dinner – which sometimes helps my younger one to be more adventurous.  I served the soup, and my husband and I loved it.  It had a really nice tomato flavor, and chock full of stuff – chicken, squash and couscous – with this lovely cinnamon flavor.  It was even better than I imagined.  Then came the moment I was waiting for – she was all excited to have soup for dinner, and took a bite, and actually went in for another.  After a few bites she said, “Mommy, I wouldn’t say I hate this.”  Well, that is better than the alternative.  She didn’t eat a ton of the squash, but managed to eat around it and got lots of chicken, couscous, and soup.  At least we avoided the cold cuts…success!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup uncooked couscous
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind

Preparation

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken; cook for 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Add cumin, cinnamon, and pepper to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add butternut squash and tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Stir in Chicken Stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Stir in couscous, salt, and zucchini; cook 5 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove pan from heat. Stir in chopped basil and orange rind.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

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Tomato-Basil Soup

I know you have all been sitting at the edge of your seat waiting and wondering what I served with those delicious Mini Bacon and Egg Tarts…and here it is.  Tomato-Basil Soup.

When I was in college, my roommates were into food almost as much as I was.  For the most part we cooked for ourselves (and I got really good cooking for one), but sometimes we would make stuff for us all to share.  One of my roommates was not a huge fan of cheese, but she loved italian food, and had spent a lot of time in Italy growing up.  She made this amazing pasta dish for us that we would ask for again and again – the secret was that she added cream cheese to the tomato sauce, and it made this very creamy sauce, almost like a vodka sauce, that covered the pasta just beautifully so you would get a mouth full of sauce with every bite.  I absolutely loved it, and was so excited whenever it was in my future.  I had almost forgotten all about this, until I saw this Tomato-Basil Soup…

As I was looking through my Cooking Light, I spotted this soup.  My girls have been asking for tomato soup lately – mostly because they know it goes well with grilled cheese, one of their favorites.  I looked at the recipe and I noticed the cream cheese.  My mind went instantly to college and that pasta recipe my roommate used to make.  I could taste the soup before even making it – and I knew it would be amazing.  Well, I was right – and as a bonus, this was incredibly easy to make, and a light version.  Back when I was in college, I don’t think light cream cheese existed, but I tell you, you would not notice the difference.  This soup was so creamy, and so rich tasting – and together with those delicious tarts, it was just perfect.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add basil and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in cheese until melted. Place mixture in blender, and blend until smooth. Return to pan; stir in milk, salt, and pepper. Return to medium-high; cook 2 minutes.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Tomato-Basil Soup

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Swedish Meatball Stoup

I found out today I am a finalist in the Girl Scout Cookie recipe contest with my Chocolate Peanut Butter Tag-A-Dos Cheesecake!!!  I am thrilled, but now I really need your help – the winner is determined by who gets the most votes, so I really need you to go here and cast your vote.  Now for the fun part…so if I win, I get $250 (plus Girl Scout Cookies, for my team at work).  I have never done a give-away on my blog before, so I am going to try something new.  Please leave me a comment on the charity you think is most deserving of the money – and as a bonus, the wonderful company that I work for is going to match my donation, which means $500 to a deserving organization.  The only rule is that it must have a valid 501 (c) (3) public charity status.  My daughter will pick a random comment, and if I win – that charity will be given $500.  So please send this blog post to your friends, ask them to vote, and leave a comment with a the charity of your choice – and better yet, post a link on your Facebook account or Twitter – this is a great cause!!

On a completely different topic – I have some milestones that I would like to acknowledge – I just posted my 300th recipe – can you believe it?  I certainly can’t – but again, I do cook a lot.  I love looking back to the first few posts, to see how much the blog has changed.  In addition, I am one person away from having 500 subscribers – now that is even more amazing to me than the number of blog posts!  When I started this blog, I never imagined that anyone would ever read it, outside of my family and friends.  Then I discovered Foodgawker and Tastespotting, and now I have Pinterest to thank.  It is amazing how these sites can get people to your blog – so thanks to all those sites that have helped me reach these milestones.

It must be my lucky day, because my blog friend Kirsty just posted her Banana Bread recipe contest, and my mother’s recipe came in a tie for second.  I am thrilled, and so should you Mom!!  She had a lot of great recipes, so I am honored to have come out almost on top.  Thanks Kirsty!!

And, I almost forgot – Kristi from Necessary Indulgences awarded me a Liebster’ed Award – this is my first blog award!  Thanks very much Kristi – I really appreciate it, and what a surprise that was!!  Kristi has a lovely blog, so please check it out…

Now, I think I have used up my blogging time tonight…so I leave you with this recipe for Swedish Meatball Stoup, which I adapted from Rachael Ray.  Normally, I am not a huge fan, but I must say – she makes some great dishes with meatballs.  I made this for a crowd of people the other weekend, and it was a huge hit – for the kids and the grownups.  It will take you longer than 30 minutes to make this, but it is worth it – and while you are waiting for it to cook – maybe you can vote for me again…

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) (once around the pan)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 pound white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, cut into rounds
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef stock or broth
  • 1 quart chicken stock or broth
  • 1/3 pound ground veal
  • 1/3 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 2 rounded teaspoonfuls Dijon mustard
  •  1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup plain bread crumbs (about 3 generous handfuls)
  •  1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound medium or wide egg noodles
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or fresh dill, your choice

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a medium soup pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the EVOO and butter and when the butter melts into the EVOO, add the mushrooms, celery, carrots, onions, and bay leaf. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and the celery, carrots, and onions begin to soften, 7 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the flour. Cook for another minute. Whisk in the beef and chicken stock to combine. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.

While the soup comes to a boil, mix the meat with the mustard, egg, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Roll the meat into small balls, 1 inch in diameter, tops.  Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until slightly browned.

Remove the lid from the soup and add the balls. After 2 to 3 minutes, stir in the egg noodles and cook for 6 minutes more. Turn off the heat and stir the sour cream into the stoup. Adjust the salt and pepper and fish out the bay leaf. Serve the stoup with a generous sprinkle of either chives or dill.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Swedish Meatball Stoup

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Spinach and Lentil Soup with Cheese and Basil

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I love making lentil soup in the winter.  It is one of the most delicious and healthiest soups I make.  Unfortunately my kids have not always agreed with me.  Every year I make it again, hoping that this will be the year they change their mind.  My kids are really surprising me these days, they will try almost anything I make, and more and more often, they actually like it.

So, before I get more into this lentil soup, a slight diversion…  A few times recently my girls have commented on how they think I am the best cook ever.  Today we were talking about eating at other people’s homes, and my younger daughter told me that she much prefers to eat at our house – “Mommy, you are such a good cook, no one is as good as you.”  I almost cried.  But seriously, what does she want?  There must be something…and please don’t be offended if we have been to your house for dinner recently, this is a new phase, one I haven’t quite figured out yet…

Back to this soup – I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and decided it was time to try again.  While it was cooking, my younger one asked what I was making for dinner – when I told her lentil soup, instead of a face that she has made in the past – she said “Yum!!”  Ok, who are you and what have you done with my daughter??  Well, they both ate it, and although they didn’t have seconds, they at least ate enough.  The biscuits were a huge hit as well, and filled them up – but as long as they got some lentil soup in them, I was happy.  Another milestone done – wow!!

On another completely unrelated note…Correen from the Food Lovers Website interviewed me, and she published it today.  Thanks Correen, it was quite fun!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped pancetta (about 1 ounce)
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pancetta; cook 1 minute or until pancetta begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add onion and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add lentils, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until lentils are tender and mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf.

Place 2 cups lentil mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape), and secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters), and blend until smooth. Return pureed lentil mixture to pan. Add baby spinach, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and black pepper; stir until spinach wilts. Serve immediately.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Spinach and Lentil Soup with Cheese and Basil

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Split Pea Soup

Sometimes I feel like I am swimming in a big bowl of split pea soup…everything is very thick and foggy, and it is my job to find a way out of it.  There are days when I go to bed, still trying to find my way out – fortunately I have an abundance of flavorful food around me when I get hungry.  When people at work find out I have a blog, they often wonder how I do it – and the secret is the food.  It is what gets me through the day, what I think about when I need a break – and usually the main topic at the dinner table, after we learn about what happened at school.

I have been so proud of my kids lately – they are really eating so many different foods – including vegetables, it all has to do with how delicious it is.  Over the holidays we smoked a ham – yes, we smoked a ham – for those of you who know me, this is not something we normally would do – but as circumstances were, we had one in the freezer, and what a better time?  As I looked at this huge ham bone on the counter, with lots of meat still attached, there was only one thing I could think about – split pea soup.  This smoked ham made the most delicious split pea soup I have ever made.  The kids devoured it, yes, every last drop – and even had seconds.  So – the next time I am swimming in split pea soup, I really hope it was made with a smoked ham.  I might even stay linger a bit…it is really that good.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped peeled carrots
  • 1 smoked pork hock
  • 2 cups diced ham (if needed)
  • 1 cup green split peas
  • 6 cups water

Preparation

Pour olive oil in heavy large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and carrots. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add pork and marjoram; stir 1 minute. Add peas, then water, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Partially cover pot; simmer soup until pork and vegetables are tender peas are falling apart, stirring often, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Transfer hocks to bowl. Puree 5 cups soup in batches in blender. Return to pot. Cut pork off bones. Dice pork; return pork to soup. If needed, add more ham.  Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until cold, then cover. Rewarm before serving.)  You can easily double or triple this recipe depending on how big your ham hock is.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Split Pea Soup

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Tortilla Meatball Soup

As I have mentioned before, my daughter is part of a book club, and therefore, I am also part of a book club.  It is my first one, and I love it.  It forces me to read what she reads, and broadens my reading horizons beyond food.  So far, I have liked every single book we have read – I have to admit though, I do get some pretty interesting looks when I whip out my children’s book on the bus, but it makes for an interesting conversation if the someone actually gets the nerve up to break the silence and say a word.

When we started the book club, there were a few rules:

  1. we take turns hosting each month
  2. the host orders the pizza – enough for both the kids and the moms
  3. everyone else signs up to bring the rest:  drinks, fruit, appetizers, dessert, salad

So, for the past year and a half, we have been following the rules, and eating our pizza, one night a month.  I have been noticing that it is the kids that love the pizza, and the moms eat the pizza – but prefer the appetizers and salad.  This month things changed…and I was so glad they did.  Instead of pizza, the host provided soup – and three kinds I might add!  She did a spectacular job, and I guess her daughter made one all by herself – very impressive.  I thought it was a novel idea, and one I hope we stick to – and maybe shake it up a bit?  I could tell that the next host was feeling out the crowd a bit for the next one, and I was not the only one that like where this was headed.

So, I have already been thinking about when I host – fortunately it will still be winter time, so hopefully the soup theme will stick.  I love making meatball soups, so when I saw this in Cooking Light, I figured I better start testing.  The soup needs to be kid friendly yet hearty enough for a meal.  This one definitely fits the bill – my kids loved it, and with the meatballs, it was definitely filling.  So, as I said, hopefully this will stick – although kids really love pizza, and this is a bunch of really bright girls…I wouldn’t be surprised if they stage a rally soon – but until then, I will enjoy our new monthly dinner – and save the pizza for another night.

Ingredients

  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 ears corn on the cob
  • 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups (3/4-inch) cubed red potatoes
  • 1 cup (1/2-inch-thick) slices carrot
  • 3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

Preheat broiler.

Cut jalapeños and bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Arrange corn on baking sheet with peppers. Broil 4 to 6 minutes or until blackened, turning corn once. Place peppers in a paper bag; fold to seal. Let stand 15 minutes; peel. Mince jalapeños, and coarsely chop bell pepper. Cut corn kernels from cobs. Set aside.

Place tortilla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet; lightly coat with cooking spray. Broil for 3 minutes or until golden brown, turning after 2 minutes. Set aside.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 garlic clove, panko, and the next 3 ingredients (through chipotle chile) in a large bowl, and gently mix until just combined. With moist hands, shape the meat mixture into 24 meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each).

Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add meatballs to pan; sauté for 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Add onion, potatoes, and carrot to pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 5 garlic cloves; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add peppers, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally. Return meatballs to pan. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and corn; return to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes or until meatballs are done. Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with 4 teaspoons Monterey Jack cheese, 2 teaspoons cheddar cheese, and 4 teaspoons cilantro. Top evenly with tortilla strips.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Tortilla Meatball Soup

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