Soups & Stews

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

 

As uninteresting as a cauliflower soup may sound, here is an easy cauliflower soup that may persuade you otherwise.

With just a hint roosted roasted garlic, a dash of golden turmeric, a flurry of dried marjoram leaves, and a splash of lemon juice is what turns everything around and delivers a delightfully soothing, fresh, and warming winter cauliflower soup. The flavors are subtle but just assertive enough to win over any cauliflower skeptics at your table.

Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 medium size head garlic, roasted
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and divided into florets
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper + more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock, simmering
  • broad leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced, or whole cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice per serving

 

Place the whole head of garlic in a 325 degree oven and roast just until the flesh is softened and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. When cool enough to handle separate the cloves and squeeze the garlic out of their skins and set aside.

Place a stock pot on the stove top set over medium high heat. When hot add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onions and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the roasted garlic, and stir to combine. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and sauté for several minutes while tossing all the ingredients together. Add the turmeric, salt, white pepper, marjoram, and sugar and toss while sautéing for another 5 minutes.

Add about 1 ½ quarts of simmering stock to completely cover all the ingredients. Adjust the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes or until all the ingredients are very soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients until the soup is thick and very smooth. Then add more stock until the soup is the consistency you prefer. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning to your liking.

When you are ready to serve the soup add the parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice and stir into the soup until combined
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

If you plan to serve the soup later, omit the parsley or cilantro and the lemon juice and set aside to aside to cool. Then transfer the soup to containers and cool on a rack before covering with lids and either refrigerate or freeze.

Be sure to remember to add the parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice just before serving the soup nonce it has been brought back to a full simmer before serving.

 

Mexican Rotisserie Chicken Soup

Mexican Rotisserie Chicken Soup

 

Rotisserie chicken soup seems to be getting a lot of buzz these days. It’s a given that those beautifully browned super market rotisserie chickens more often than not fail to live up to expectations, so why not repurpose the chicken for a better outcome. The bones will make a very flavorsome stock for any hearty home made soup that strike your fancy.

The Mexican rotisserie chicken soup recipe that follows is just one of many possibilities you might choose for your rotisserie chick soup. The idea is to be creative and utilize what you have on hand. The objective is to make a hearty soup with all the depth, character, and flavor of a hearty regional chicken soup from any culture that inspires you.

Mexican Rotisserie Chicken Soup

A whole rotisserie chicken,  skin, meat, and bones separated

For the stock:

  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • reserved chicken bones and skin
  • 6 quarts water + more as needed
  • 1 bunch of cilantro sprigs or broad leaf parsley
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot and add the onions and sauté until the onions have softened. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened.

Add the bones and skin and stir to combine. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the cilantro or parsley, peppercorns, bay leaves, and the marjoram.

Bring the pot back to a boil and lower the heat too a simmer and cook for 1 ½ hours. The broth/stock should have reduced by about half.

Let the stock cool and then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Be sure to press the solids and bones as you strain to extract all their flavor. Set the stock aside and discard all the solids.

Once the stock is cool skim off excess fat and discard. Otherwise refrigerate the stock and skim off the fat once it has solidified.

For the soup

Prepare ahead: flame roast or broil 1 large red bell pepper and 1or 2 green serano chiles until charred. Place them in a bowl and seal with cling film and set aside to sweat. When cool enough remove the charred skin and discard. Open the pepper and chiles and remove seeds and membranes. Slice the red pepper into thin strips and cut the stripe into 1 inch lengths. and finely dice the serrano chiles .

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 2½ cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ quarts stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • pulled rotisserie chicken
  • 1 prepared red bell pepper and serrano chiles as described above above
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add the oil to a sock pot set over medium heat. When hot add the onions a sauté until the onions soften. Add the corn, carrots and sauté for several minutes. Then add the stock and bring the contents of the pot to a simmer. Add the marjoram and cook for 20 minutes.

 pull the chicken into bite size strips and add them to the soup and bring back to a simmer.

Add the prepared red pepper strips and diced seranno chiles and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Serving:

  • tostada chips
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • fresh lime wedges

Bring the soup to a simmer and ladle the hot soup into individual serving bowls.

Place the tostada chips, cilantro leaves and lime wedges on the table to be add to the soup to each persons liking.

 

Simplified Winter Cassoulet

Simplified Winter Cassoulet

 

With winter’s weather bearing down in earnest hearty meals are de reguer and I can’t think of a better meal to make than a cassoulet. It is my very favorite winter meal bar none!

Cassoulet is a classic French white bean stew with an assortment of herbs, meats, and poultry all baked together in an earthenware pot. It is undeniably delicious and the perfect antidote for winter’s bitter chill.

 

That said, making a classic Langeuuedoc white bean cassoulet requires copious amounts of assorted meats, sausage, duck confite and fat along with a considerable investment of time and expense.

Winter Cassoulet

Winter Cassoulet

Deconstructing the concept however, as radical as that may seem, can produce an as hearty and flavorsome cassoulet with all the allure of the original sans excess fats and expense.

In the recipe that follows I have included a modest amounts of pancetta and sausage, but they may be omitted without sacrificing flavor. It really is all about the quality of the beans, vegetables, and seasonings that brings this cassoulet to life with or without including meats.

Be sure to source your dried beans for freshness and quality. My favorite supplier is Rancho Gordo in California at ranchogordo.com (click here). All of their dried beans are top quality. Supplies do vary so it’s a good idea to subscribe to receive harvest updates and availability.

 

A simplified Winter Cassoulet

For the beans:

  • 1 pound dried white tabais, canellini, or great northern white beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 thin slices pancetta, finely diced (or substitute 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, added later)
  • 3/4  cup diced onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt plus more as needed after the beans are cooked
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3 quarts stock or water, plus more as needed

Pick through the beans and rinse well. Place them in bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside to soak for several hours or overnight. Then drain the beans and set side.

Add the olive oil to a stock pot set over medium low heat. When the oil is hot add the pancetta and saute until fragrant and just beginning to color. If you are omitting the pancetta, add the smoked paprika along with onions and saute until wilted. Then add the garlic and saute until softened. Add the thyme, rosemary, sage, and bay leaf and saute until well combined and fragrant. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Stir in the drained soaked beans and promptly add the hot stock or water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook the beans until they are softened but still holding their shape. Cooking times will vary depending on the age of the beans, but generally about 1 ½ or 2 hours should do it. Taste the beans and add salt to taste and set aside.

While the beans are cooking you can go ahead and prepare the sausage if using as well as the radish leaves or kale.

For the sausage:

  • 1 pound Polish or Kielbasa sausage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine

Heat the oil in a skillet and when hot add the whole sausage and seer on all sides until nicely browned. Then add the wine and cook until the wine has mostly evaporated. Remove the sausages and slice on the diagonal into 1 ½ inch pieces and set aside. 

Add a little stock to the  skillet and swirl to gather up the juices and scrape them into the pot of cooked beans and stir well.

For the Greens:

  • 2 large bunches of radish leaves or kale, well rinsed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

Note: If you are not using sausage  you may want to use both radish and kale leaves seasoned with 1 teaspoon of crushed marjoram leaves and ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. when hot add the chopped greens and saute just until wilted. Season with salt and set aside.

For the topping:

  • 1 cup bread crumbs, or panko
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced flat leafed parsley 
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 sea salt 
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Toss the breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, and salt together. Drizzle with olive oil, toss, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 300 F /150 c with the oven rack set in the middle position. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any overflow while the cassoulet is baking.

Assembling the cassoulet:

Select a large earthenware casserole dish. Using a ladle add a layer of drained cooked beans in the bottom of the casserole dish. Layer some sausage pieces ( If using) over the beans, and add a layer of the sauteed greens. Continue to layer the ingredients in the same order, ending with a layer beans with a few pieces of sausage  (if using) for the top layer.

Spread the crumb topping evenly over the casassoulet. This will form a nice crusty topping to the finished cassoulet.

Run a spatula round the casserole to create a crevasse. Then spoon some bean cooking liquid into the crevasse all the way around the casserole dish. Giggle the dish several times while continuing to add more liquid until the liquid has nearly reached the rim of the dish. This will ensure an evenly moist cassoulet when fully baked.

Bake for 2 hours, turning the casserole dish from front to back after the first hour to ensure even baking.

Should the crumb topping brown to quickly during baking cover the casserole loosely with foil.

Remove the cassoulet from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes before serving,

Serving:

Placing the hot cassoulet in the center of the table is sight to behold as the aroma beckons! Let everyone serve themselves family style.

 

Serving a simple wintery greens salad including some mustard greens, Belgian endive, and a baby arugula leaves completes this meal beautifully.

Bon apettite!

You might also like to try A Summer Casssoulet (click here for recipe)

 

Dutch Oven Roasted Chicken and vegetables

Dutch Oven Roasted Chicken and vegetables

I am a big fan of the high heat roasted chicken that’s been all the rage of late, but a Dutch oven roasted chicken is still a favorite method for a homey one pot meal! It is so easy and never fails to deliver a beautifully bronzed succulent moist  chicken along with colorful array of aromatic roasted seasonal vegetables that lays out a comforting meal time after time. 

No recipe required as the ingredients will vary with the changing of the seasons.

As it is now approaching late fall the vegetables I have used are season appropriate including onions, garlic, turnips, carrots, celery, potatoes, and bell peppers. Herbs used include locally dried rosemary, sage, and thyme, and a bay leaf. All the vegetables are tossed together with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and roasted along with the chicken.

The whole chicken I’ve used is free range. Rinse the chicken well and pat dry with a paper towels. Generously salt the interior of the cavity and tuck in a couple of garlic cloves, a sprig of rosemary, and some died sage and thyme, and a bay leaf. Loosen the skin covering the breasts and legs and slip in some butter and rosemary under the skin. Season the exterior of the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Set the chicken aside to come to room temperature.

By all means if you have a Dutch oven this is the time to use it. A cast Iron Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid retains heat beautifully and is ideal for slow roasting. Otherwise use a large casserole dish with lid or a roasting pan with the contents covered tightly with foil.

Set the oven temperature at 350 f /180 c

Lay a single layer of prepared vegetable vegetables in the bottom of the pan and center the chicken on top of them, breast side up.

Tuck the remaining vegetables  in around the chicken, leaving the top of the chicken exposed. Rub with olive oil and season the exposed top of the chicken with salt and pepper again if needed.

Add a half cup of water and cover tightly with the lid. Place in the oven, and roast for 45 minutes.

Open the oven and turn the pan from front to back and roast another 25 minutes, covered.

Then open the oven and remove the lid to expose the top of the chicken.. Increase the temperature to 375 f/ 190 c. Push the pan to the back of the oven and roast another 15 or 20 minutes or until he the top of the chicken is nicely browned.

Remove the pan from the oven and set aside with the lid just ajar to rest for 10 minutes.

Serving:

Transfer the chicken to a carving board, carve, and serve promptly with roasting liquid spooned over the chicken and vegetables.

Having some warm thick slices of crusty levain loaf is the perfect for accompaniment for sopping up some of that irresistibly flavorsome roasting liquid left in the pan!

 

Leftovers?: My go to favorite re purposing solution is enchiladas! They are easy to assemble and are always sure to please.

Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Enchilada

Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Enchilada

Reheat some of the roasted chicken that has been pulled along with vegetables that have been cut up along with roasting liquid to cover in a saucepan over medium low heat. Cover and bring to a summer. 

warm  corn tortillas on a griddle or in a cast iron skillet. Top with some grated mild cheese. When the cheese begins to melt transfer the now pliable tortilla to a serving plate. Top with hot chicken and vegetables and roll up the enchilada with the seam tucked underneath to hold it together.

Bring the pan liquid to a simmer. Stir together 1 tablespoon of corn starch with 1 tablespoon of cold water, or more depending on the amount of liquid, and add to the simmering pan liquid while stirring for two minutes until thickened. Add salt to taste. Ladle the sauce over the enchiladas garnished with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

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