Creamy Curried Carrot Soup

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Carrots and curry seem made for each other. Throw in a little ginger and you have a great flavor combination. This creamy curried carrot soup has a velvety texture and wonderful spicy heat. It can easily be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Cream of coconut could also be substituted for the heavy whipped cream. Or you can leave the cream out all together. This soup is wonderfully creamy without it and you may not miss it.

Don’t worry about peeling the carrots for this. A good scrub with a stiff vegetable brush is all they need. If you like a little more heat, increase the amount of curry or use a Madras curry.

Here is what I did:

Creamy Curried Carrot Soup

Ingredients

1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 cups sliced carrots
1 potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or cream of coconut
1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Additional salt (if needed)

Directions

Heat the butter in a 5 quart stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, and celery and sauté until onion is translucent; about 10 minutes. Stir in ginger and cook a few minutes. Then add potato and  chicken broth. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Uncover remove from heat.

Add curry powder and using an emersion blender, blend until smooth. Stir in cream and taste for seasoning. Add additional salt if needed. Return to low heat and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes.

Alternatively, you may transfer soup in batches to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth then return soup to the stock pot or Dutch oven. Stir in cream and taste for seasoning. Add additional salt if needed. Return to low heat and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes.

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French Onion Soup

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Done correctly, French onion soup is very pleasing. The beefy broth and sweet onion flavors can’t be beat. Served gratinéed, it makes a nice lighter meal as opposed to a starter as it is often presented in restaurants.

I’ve had some excellent French onion soups, but I have also had a few that were less than exceptional. The difference can typically be traced back to the broth and how the onions were cooked. A good – preferably home made – beef broth should always be the base. Secondly, French onion soup takes time. The onions need to be cooked slowly over low heat so they have a chance to caramelize yet not burn. It will take 30 to 45 minutes for this to happen, but your patience will be rewarded. fullsizeoutput_1767

Start over low heat and slowly sweat the onions along with a couple sprigs of thyme and bay leaves. Generously season them with salt and pepper. I like to use a variety of onions including red, yellow, and white. They each bring subtle differences in flavor to the party.

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The onions will begin to caramelize after about 30 minutes. Continue cooking until the onions become very brown.
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Add red wine, bring to a boil, and then reduce reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all the wine is cooked out.

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The onions will once again look somewhat dry.

 

 

Turn the heat to low, dust the onions with flour and cook for about five minutes or until the flour takes on a nutty aroma. You don’t want a flour taste in your soup.

Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves before adding the broth. Bring back to a simmer and cook for another ten minutes. Ladle the soup into heat proof bowls, top with a slice or two of baguette and Gruyère cheese. Place the soup under a broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and just begins to brown. Serve immediately.

 

French Onion Soup

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/4 pound grated Gruyere

Directions

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Add the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has cooked down and the onions are somewhat dry.

Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn and cook until the flour takes on a nutty aroma and loses the raw flour taste; about 10 minutes.

Now add the beef broth and bring the soup back to a simmer.  Cook for about another 10 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

A few minutes prior to serving, preheat the broiler. Slice the baguette into 3/4 to 1″ thick slices and lightly toast both sides of the baguette under the broiler. Then, ladle the soup into oven proof bowls and float a slice or two of toasted baguette on top of the soup. Top the baguette with Gruyère and broil until bubbly and golden brown; 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Baked Potato Soup

fullsizeoutput_1751I have mentioned I began blogging my recipes for my children so they will not be in the same predicament I found myself in after my mother passed away; I didn’t have written recipes for the comfort foods I enjoyed growing up.

I started by creating a database which I pulled up the other day and started to browse.The earliest entry in the database is September of 2004. A lot of the recipes have made their way to this blog over the past five and a half years. I was surprised to come across this recipe for one of my favorite soups. It was entered into the database ten years ago in October of 2006. It has to have been at least six or seven years since I made it which surprises me because it is one of my favorite soups.

Here is my recipe for Baked Potato Soup. It is wonderfully creamy, cheesy, and full of bacon flavor. I know my daughter Elizabeth used to love this soup; she loves potatoes. I may need to make it vegetarian sometime by using my “facon” in place of bacon for her. “Facon” is a bacon substitute using shiitake mushrooms. I’m also experimenting with a thinly sliced Japanese eggplant for “facon.” But that’s another blog post.

Here is what I did:

Baked Potato Soup

Ingredients

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups milk
4 to 6 large baking potatoes, baked, cooled, peeled and cubed, about 4 cups
6 green onions, thinly sliced; reserve greens from two green onions for garnish
1 pound bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled; divided and reserving 1/4 cup for garnish
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese; reserving 1/2 cup for garnish

Directions

Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly and takes on a nutty aroma; about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly, and cook until sauce just begins to thicken; about 15 to 20 minutes. Add potatoes and onions. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until soup begins to bubble. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add approximately three-quarters of the bacon, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Check seasoning of soup. You may need to add additional salt and pepper depending on the saltiness of the bacon. Return to simmer and then stir in cheese and cook until cheese is melted.

Garnish with small amount of cheese, bacon and green onion tops in this order. Serve baked potato soup immediately.

Chicken, Broccoli, Rice and Cheese Soup

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I love a good challenge. There is a lunch spot called The Prairie Soup Company a co-worker and I frequent that makes some of the best soups and some really amazing sandwiches. The chicken salad is fantastic. It actually reminds me of my mom’s.

One of their specialty soups is a chicken, broccoli, rice, and cheese soup. It is my favorite soup, but the problem is they make it very infrequently and we never know when. That is why at some point every morning either my co-worker or I will call them and ask what the Chef’s Choice soup is.

My co-worker challenged me to duplicate the soup. I am on vacation this week so I have some extra time to try. I think I nailed it. I would love to be able to taste what I came up with and what they make side-by-side. This soup is every bit as good as theirs.
Here is what I did:

Ingredients

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
1 (6 ounce) package quick cooking long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet (such as Uncle Ben’s)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup butter
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups broccoli flowerettes
8 oz sharp Cheddar finely shredded

Directions

Combine broth, water and chicken in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Bring to boiling and then stir in rice. Do not add the seasoning packet at this time. Cover and remove from heat.

Combine salt, pepper, and flour in a small bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a medium sized sauce pan and stir in contents of seasoning packet. Heat until butter begins to simmer. Reduce heat to low and then stir in flour mixture creating a roux. Slowly whisk in cream until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook about 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Return chicken, rice, and broth to heat and stir in roux. Add broccoli. Heat to a simmer and then whisk in the shredded cheese. Cook over medium heat about ten to fifteen minutes until heated through.

Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Soup

I included this soup in a post last October that contained three recipes. I made this again today and tweaked it just a little. This soup is also so good I thought it deserved its own post. You can easily make this a vegetarian soup by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Here it is:

Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Soup

Ingredients

Approximately 4 pounds of roasted butternut squash (instructions below)
Two carrots
Two stalks celery
One small to medium sized onions
Several cloves of garlic
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Olive oil (for sautéing)
Walnut oil (for roasting squash; you may use olive oil instead)
1 cup heavy cream
One canned Chipotle peppers plus a little of the adobe sauce

Directions

Roasting the Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 375° F. Slice squash length wise in half and scoop out seeds. Rub walnut oil over cut side of squash and place face up on baking sheet. Season with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and fresh ground nutmeg. Roast until squash is fork tender, approximately 45-60 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Making the soup
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in large pot. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and salt and sauté until soften, about 10 minutes. Scoop flesh from roasted butternut squash into pot. Add chicken broth and diced Chipotle peppers along with some adobe sauce from peppers. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Working in small batches, transfer soup to blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Return to pot, stir in cream, and serve.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of preparing a prom dinner for my son Gregory, his date, and several of their friends at the Benton County Historical Society’s Ray House in Vinton, Iowa. The dinner menu had a very classic theme: A roasted red pepper soup for a starter, filet mignon with a herb steak butter, herbed potato mashers, green beans almondine, and finally a crème brûlée for dessert. This soup can easily be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

I will be sharing a couple of the recipes from this dinner in my next couple posts. First is the roasted red pepper soup.

Ingredients

4 Red Bell Peppers roasted, seeded & peeled
2 tablespoons Butter
1 Red Onion Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves Minced
4 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Kosher Salt And Pepper to taste

Directions

Saute onions and garlic in butter until soft. Add red peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Add lemon juice. Process in food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Place back on stove until ready to serve.

Additional note

This soup can easily be made the day before, but if you roast the peppers in advance it goes together very quickly. Serves 4-6. I float a sprig of basil or parsley on top for a nice colorful touch. I often add a dollop of crème fraîche when serving but it’s great naked!

Chili — Nothing like a good bowl of red on a cold winter day

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You can’t have just one bowl of this chili. I use shredded chuck roast and shredded pork roast instead of the ubiquitous hamburger. The beef and pork compliment each other and gives chili a flavor and mouth feel you just can’t get with ground beef. This is how chili should be made.

Chili

Ingredients

1.5 lbs Combination of shredded chuck roast and pork butt roast (Recipe follows)
1 T Olive Oil
1 Onion
4 T Hot Mexican Chili Powder
1 Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes with garlic
1 Can Mexican Styles Stewed Tomatoes
2 Cans Red Kidney Beans (Optional)
1 46 oz Can Tasty Tom (Spicy V8 will also work but Tasty Tom is better)

Directions

Heat olive oil in large stew pot. Add onion and chili powder and sauté until onion just begins to get tender. Side Note: Sautéing the chili powder along with the onions brings out a somewhat smokey flavor to the powder. Add shredded beef and heat until warm. Add tomatoes, beans and Tasty Tom. Heat until chili begins to bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for as long as you like.

Shredded Beef or Pork

Ingredients

beef roast or pork butt roast – trimmed of fat approximately 2 to 3 pounds
1 onion – coarsely chopped
4.5 oz jar minced garlic – unless you want to mince all that garlic
1 to 2 bay leaves
Oregano
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Cumin
olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325F. Rub the beef thoroughly with olive oil. Generously season both sides of the roast with the salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Spread entire jar of minced garlic on top side of roast. Top with onion. Add bay leaves and wrap the meat in heavy-duty foil sealing the edges all around with tight crimps. Place the meat in a baking dish and bake for about 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until the beef is tender enough to fall apart. If you hear much sizzling as the meat cooks, turn the heat down.

When the beef is fork-tender, unwrap the top of the foil package, push aside
the onions, and cook another 5 to 10 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and let the meat cool. Shred it into long shreds with a fork. Beef may be stored in the refrigerator (for up to a week) or frozen. I use this style of shredded beef and pork for tacos, burritos, chimichangas, chili, shepherd’s pie or any other recipe in place of ground meat.