Friday, November 9, 2012

SW: Wrap-up, one last recipe, and time to link up!

Hi Friends!

Hold those tears! I know we're coming to the close of this year's soup week, but it's okay! For one, there are all sorts of yummy recipes from this year to try out:
Plus, there are all sorts of recipes from the last two Soup Weeks in case you need more ideas.

For today's soup post, I had grand ideas to introduce you to my Chicken Enchilada soup. I really did. But when I made it earlier this week, well, friends, it was nasty. (I'm not joking. It really was. I HATE throwing away food, but I seriously threw away the entire pot because I couldn't stand the idea of anyone actually eating it.) So, I'll instead link up to another recipe for chicken enchilada soup, and when/if I get up enough courage to try again, I'll post the recipe. 

When I first started mulling over ideas for my personal theme for this year's soup week, one of the earliest ideas I stumbled on was converting my chicken enchiladas into soup form. Fun, right? Then, when I happened to be looking through dinner recipes for ideas, I discovered someone else had already made one. Dude! Never fear, the version I made uses a much different ingredient list, and this one looks tasty. I make my own enchilada sauce, so I have an aversion to using a canned version, but that shouldn't stop you, unless you have similar qualms. 

And, if you have a soup you'd like to share with the class--no really, it would be awesome--please link up! Super fun, right? Right.

SW: Chickpea Curry Flamingo Soup (Guest Post)

There are days when I truly believe I am friends with the coolest kids on the planet. Case in point: my friend, S. Don't believe me? Read this post, and you'll be changing your mind! (Oh, and S blogs at Saturday Sequins, which is a lovely blog containing all sorts of pictures of pretty sparkly things. Go there. Go there now!)


Chickpea Curry Flamingo Soup

This started out as a regular old soup recipe. However! Since this is Audrey's blog, I decided to make it extra special and pink. So I wondered ... what's bright pink and goes with soup? And the answer came to me. A whole, live flamingo, of course!

(Really, I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.)


1 medium-size Phoenicopterus ruber

1 can chickpeas

2 sticks celery

5 cherry tomatoes

5 baby carrots

One ½-inch thick slice onion

1 cup veggie broth (or water)

1 handful fresh spinach

1 TBS olive oil

A light sprinkling of mixed dried Italian herbs

About ½ tsp Curry powder


Gently introduce the idea of soup to the flamingo. Explain that he's a garnish, not a dinner guest.

Chase the flamingo around and around your kitchen table in your sock feet, slipping comically on the tile floor and landing on your face. Curse as you feel itty bitty birdie feet on your back – this is the flamingo dancing the Victory Jig.

Leave the flamingo for now. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until completely smooth.

Transfer the liquid into a sauce pan and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until thick. At this point, if the soup isn't completely smooth, let it cool and return it to the blender.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Decide that honestly, the soup looks pretty darn tasty, even without the flamingo garnish.

Invite the flamingo to dinner. He's worked up quite an appetite with all the dancing, so he'll accept. Please note that flamingos can't hold spoons – it helps to have a straw on hand. Also note that if you turn your back for even a second, the flamingo will slurp up all of your soup, and you'll be back at square one.

Finally, note that if you leave out the curry powder, this also makes a great vegetarian gravy.

Serves: One hungry flamingo.


Dude! I am SO making this. Come back later today for a Soup Week wrap-up post and my linky party! :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

SW: Minestrone & Focaccia (Guest Post!)

Dudes! I know you're going to read this and say, "Audrey, how is it possible that you love us oh-so much? You got your friend John to come back and share MORE recipes with us! You are a magical, lovely human being that deserves to be crowned and fattened up with red velvet cake." 

Well, if you insist! I do love me some red velvet....


Marvelous Minestrone
It's great to be back for my third Soup Week guest appearance! My soup last year focused on one particular vegetable, and a very small number of ingredients. This year we'll clean out the fridge and/or the pantry and make a soup that can contain quite a few ingredients: minestrone. This is a great slow cooker recipe to start mid-afternoon on a weekend, but can also be made in a stockpot in an hour or so.

Minestrone is a classic Italian peasant soup from the "cucina povera" ("kitchen of the poor") tradition. Minestrone is a class of Italian soup that is thick and hearty, more like a stew than a thinner vegetable zuppa. So while I'll be showing you a typical tomato-centric version, the essence of minestrone really is that it is made from whatever you have on hand, and whatever is in season. There are no rules, just an infinite variety of soups!

  • 1 small onion (or half a larger one), diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed, diced, or whole tomatoes
  • 32 oz broth (vegetable, chicken, or beef); or use bouillon cubes
  • 8 oz water
  • 15 oz white beans (cannelini, navy, etc.)
  • 15 oz chickpeas
  • pasta, about 1/2 lb
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • dried herbs (basil, oregano, chives, parsley)
  • olive oil
  1. If you're using dried beans, you'll need to plan ahead and soak them overnight or par-boil them.
  2. Dice the onion and carrots.
  3. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in your stockpot (or a saute pan, if making the soup in a slow cooker).
  4. Saute the onion and carrots until they soften and the onions just begin to caramelize.
  5. Add the tomatoes, broth, and water to the stockpot. (Chop or crush the tomatoes first if you're using whole ones.)
  6. Add the beans, onions, carrots, herbs, and pepper, and heat to boiling.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
  8. Add the pasta (or rice, if using) about 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
  9. Season with salt when fully cooked.
  • Pasta: use whatever you prefer, but especially those remnants in your pantry that are just not enough for a regular meal. Keep in mind that certain types and shapes retain their structural integrity better than others, especially if you have leftovers to save. I typically use orecchiette (which are thick and somewhat shell-shaped), and a handful of large (aka "Israeli") couscous.
  • Meat: The version above is meatless, but you can add some cooked sausage, diced chicken, turkey, ham, lamb, or duck.
  • What else is available locally at this time of year that you could use? Try some potatoes or rice instead of pasta, leeks (not too much, to keep the flavor from overwhelming), a little shredded kale or spinach, peas, or any root vegetables or squash that would complement your other ingredients. Celery makes a frequent appearance in minestrone recipes, but is not essential if you don't already have some (although it's a great way to use it up if you do).
As the personal baker to The Audrey, I of course also have an easy bread recipe to accompany this and other soups. The dough can be used for a variety of breads (baguettes, boules, even pizza), but we'll focus here on focaccia, since it is easiest for those new to breadmaking, and requires no specialized kitchen gear. It does require a few words, though, if you've never made bread before. If you have, skip to the Procedure section.

Focaccia is a rustic Italian flatbread whose name comes from the Latin focus, or hearth. The oven was the center of the house or the village, and bread was central to the diet, baked fresh daily. Like minestrone, there are endless ways to make focaccia, but what I describe here is a simplified approach.

Slight digression: One of the key ideas of modern artisan bread (otherwise known as "bread" or "real bread") is a long, slow fermentation of the dough, to allow the biochemical reaction of the yeast to consume the sugars in the flour and release more flavor. Factory bread is typically mixed and immediately extruded through a machine, which is (partly) why it's like eating pillow stuffing. The good news is that we can quickly reanimate those hardworking little dried yeasts and then leave them alone to "git 'er done!" while we do other things. This means we can have great bread with very little actual effort, with the only drawback being that we have to plan ahead a little. At least a day. (See "Timing", below.)

    (makes two large focaccia or other breads)
  • 20 oz (about 4 cups) bread flour (also called "high-gluten" or "strong" flour); or substitute all-purpose. You can also substitute in 10-20% whole wheat flour if you'd like.
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • 1.5 tsp salt (you can use a little less if you'd like, since you'll be sprinkling some on top)
  • 14 oz Water
  • Olive oil
    Dough-making Day
  1. Whisk the flour, yeast, and salt together in a large mixing bowl (one that's about four times the size of the flour; if you have one with a lid that's best).
  2. Add the water, and mix with a large, strong spoon (wooden spoons are good) until the dough forms a stiff ragged ball. Use the spoon in more of a chopping motion as needed to combine remaining dry flour.
  3. Let the dough sit for about 5 minutes so the flour absorbs ("autolyses") the water.
  4. Wet your hands and use them to continue to mix the dough in the bowl until it becomes a smooth ball and all of the flour in the bowl has been incorporated (about 3-5 minutes). Avoid stretching the dough, just squeeze it and fold it and generally move it around ("knead it"). Stretching the dough causes it to become more difficult to work. Note that the dough will be very very sticky -- this is what you want, really! Do not add more flour!
  5. Once you have a smooth ball of dough, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or a lid (such as a plate, or, like I do, a stretchy shower cap!) and put it in the refrigerator.
    Bread-making Day
  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before baking.
  2. Oil a large (~16x12) sheet pan (with sides) or 9x13 glass baking dish.
  3. Divide the dough in half, and on a large plate or cutting board, re-form the dough into a ball by lightly pulling out and folding in the dough from opposite sides, until it has firmed up.
  4. Place the dough ball in the center of the baking pan and begin to flatten it out toward the sides. You'll have to stop and let the dough relax for a minute a few times. You eventually want to end up with a uniformly-thick piece of dough that fills the pan.
  5. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil over the surface of the dough, spread it evenly with your fingers, and then use your fingertips to dimple the dough all over. This will keep it from rising too much as it bakes.
  6. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let the dough rise undisturbed for about an hour. (Note: this would be a great time to start making some soup!)
  7. If not making two focaccia, return the other half of the dough to the bowl, cover, and return to the refrigerator. It will be good for up to about 5 days. If you have leftover soup, make another focaccia, or try making a pizza, a couple of baguettes, or a large loaf of Italian bread.
  8. After the dough has risen for an hour, set a shelf in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400F.
  9. Sprinkle sea salt over the top of the dough.
  10. Bake for approx. 15-25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Add some dried rosemary to the dough when you are shaping it. So tasty!
  • You can add toppings of various kinds: herbs, tomatoes, olives, etc. Timing Let's say you're reading this on Thursday, when it's published, and you want to have some nice warm focaccia with minestrone on Saturday or Sunday. A timeline could be: mix the dough today or tomorrow, and let it ferment in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Take it out a couple of hours before you begin making the soup and let it warm up. Follow the timing above from there.
  •  If this is all too much for you, you might consider trying my cornbread recipe from last year's Soup Week. It's in the same spirit of improvisation as the minestrone soup, and you can use some polenta if you want to be all Italian and stuff.


John isn't lying. He really is my personal baker. The best part of this arrangement is that he brings me delicious baked goods because he is nice. I bring very little to the table except my delightful wit and pink hair. (Occasionally I bring my own baked goods or enchiladas.) Dudes. I strongly suggest becoming friends with a baker. They will make you yummy things if you are nice.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

SW: Loaded Potato Soup

Ready for round two? You know I am!

How 'bout a loaded potato soup? OMG rawr. So good.

I mostly followed this recipe
4 hearty servings; 6 not as hearty

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 oz. light-bodied beer
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large russet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar
And for the garnish, add sour cream, bacon pieces, chives, more cheese, whatever makes your heart happy, etc.

The Cooking and the Assembly
  1. With soup pan at the ready, melt butter over medium heat, then toss in the onion, celery and garlic and let cook until translucent. Add your flour slowly and cook for another couple of minutes. 
  2. I added my beer first and gave it a minute or so to chill out, then added the stock and the cream. Add potatoes and bring the entire thing to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. 
  3. Using a spatula or spoon of some variety, smoosh the potatoes until the soup is to your liking. (I left some potato chunks in mine.) Return the soup to low heat and add a handful of cheese. Stir your soup until it's smooth, then repeat.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste, plate, then garnish. Enjoy!

I do not have an immersion blender. The original recipe called for the use of an immersion blender before the cheese was added, but my potatoes and contents were soft enough that a little arm power took care of it. If you have an immersion blender and you prefer a smoother end product, definitely utilize it. 

Yum yum yum....

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

SW: Caramelized Shallot Soup (Guest Post!)

Friends, Audrey here. The post that is about to follow is full of silliness AND tasty soup. (Perhaps my new favorite kind of post?) Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for the tasty soup OR the silliness. My friend D is today's guest blogger, and you can find more of his work at Twenty-Fingered Cooking, where he blogs with his lovely wife K. You can also find a copy of his Chicken Tortilla Soup, which is one of my absolute faves. And be sure to check out D&K's recipe from last year's SW!

Caramelized Shallot Soup (or How Captain Soup-Man Saved the Day!)

So, uh, I made this soup about two months ago and have been patiently awaiting Soup Week so that I could share it all with you. I totally just didn’t forget to write about it for two months and then “conveniently” remember when Audrey started posting her Soup Week things. Nope. Not me.

I’ve always loved French Onion Soup – mmm, delicious cheese, crunchy-soft croutons, and yummy beef broth and other liquidy things1. It’s like a little drink of heaven. So when we found a recipe for Caramelized Shallot Soup in one of Martha Stewart’s magazines, I decided to temporarily set aside my disdain for all things Martha and give it a slurp2.

So as anybody knows, to make a good French Onion soup, you absolutely must use the best Gruyère cheese you can find. Fortunately for me, there is an exquisite cheese store with a very opinionated cheesemonger3 less than a mile from my house! So when I realized halfway through the making of this recipe that our fridge did not currently possess any Gruyère cheese, I put on my awesome superhero cape4 and dashed out the door, shouting to my beautiful wife K, “Hold down the fort and stir all the soup, honey! I’m off to get CHEEEESE!”

When I arrived at the cheese store, I walked confidently in with my spandex and cape, and had the following conversation with the cheesemonger:

Me5: “I’d like about 4 ounces of Gruyère, please.”
Cheesemonger5: “What are you going to do with that… cheese?”
Me5: “I’m making a carmelized shallot soup. It’s sort of like French onion soup, except with shallots in place of the onions.”
Cheesemonger5: “Oooh la la! That sounds amazing! I can just picture it now. The shallots will give it such a different flavor than the onions! More garlicky. And it’s the perfect day for it. And the beef broth… you are using beef broth, aren’t you?”
Me6: “Of course, evil cheesemonger! What kind of fowl chef2 do you think I am? A chicken-broth user?”
Cheesemonger6 (cowering): “No! Never! I never said that! Please, just take your cheese and go!”
Me6: “I thought so. Thanks for the cheese, cheesemonger. Until next time.”
Cheesemonger6: “I’ll be ready, soup-man. MUA-HA-HA-HAAA.”

1. So far everything in this post has been a fabrication. I’m not sure if the trend will continue, but odds are not good.
2. Lousy pun not intended (see footnote 1)
3. I always feel like I should follow up cheesemonger with an evil laugh. A sort of “MUA-HA-HA-HAAA!” kind of thing. I can totally picture the next Pixar movie about an evil cheesemonger villain who’s going to take all the world’s cheese and, I dunno, build a rocket to the moon with it or something. Actually, wait. Has that idea been taken yet? Can I patent it?
4. I may not actually own a superhero cape. But really? What kind of story would it be without details like that?
5. Actual line of dialog
6. Not actual line of dialog

Then I dashed home with my Gruyère to save the day and make the soup!

  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1.5 pounds shallots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1.5 tsp coarse sea salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • More olive oil
  • 1 day-old French baguette, cut into cubes
  • more pepper
  • 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

(Note that I slightly modified this recipe, because shallots are a pain in the butt to peel, and 2.5 pounds of shallots is a lot of shallots. So I substituted a bit of red onion. Whatevs. Also, the original recipe used chestnuts instead of croutons, but I couldn’t find any at the store, and croutons are fun to make!)

The Cooking and the Assembly

1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add shallots and salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally until tender and caramelized (25-30 minutes).
2. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates.
3. Add the bay leaf, beef broth, and chicken broth, and bring to a boil Reduce heat and simmer until soup is reduced by a third, another 25-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Meanwhile, heat 2-3 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high; when hot, add in the cubed French bread, making sure to get each coated thoroughly with oil (add more oil if necessary). Sprinkle a generous helping of pepper on them.
5. Continue stirring croutons until crispy (keep a weather eye on them so they don’t burn, though!); remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Mix croutons and Gruyère, and let cool.
6. When soup is ready, ladle into bowls, and add several croutons. Grate some more cheese over the top, and serve.

And so ends my saga. You can thank me once you’ve passed out on your sofa in contentment. Mua-ha-ha-haaa.


There you have it, ladies and gents. Perhaps this is the new mascot for Soup Week?

Monday, November 5, 2012

SW: Lasagna Soup

Welcome to the Third Annual Soup Week! Soup Week is...oh Friends! There just aren't words for how awesome Soup Week is! And I'm really excited about this year's!

My idea was to feature soups made from dishes that aren't normally soups. (Does that even make sense? I have struggled and struggled, but I can't seem to think of a better way to say that.) For example, today's post is Lasagna Soup. Lasagna, at least to my knowledge, is very rarely a soup. But today's recipe shows that it can be, and I'll hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I bookmarked this recipe almost a year ago, and I'm just now getting around to actually making it. Sounds crazy, right? But I'm glad I waited. (And you should see my bookmarked recipe list. It's crazy insane.) This is the perfect recipe for Nathan and myself because it has lots of man meat (aka, sausage) and the center of it is CHEESE. (OMG. Did you just swoon a little? I know I did.) I didn't make too many changes to the recipe that I found, which is based on a recipe that she found, which may have been based on a recipe from a book or something? Meaning, this recipe has been around the block. But it's tasty. So go! Do your soup thing! Eat some soup to celebrate the greatest week of the year***!

Oh, and did I mention, at the end of soup week, we'll be having a linky party in case you want to make some soup, post a post, and share it with us Soup Week attendees? Because we will. And it will be awesome. So start thinking up what kind of soup you want to feature!

I mostly followed this recipe....
4 hearty servings; 6 not as hearty

For the soup: 
  • 1 lb. ground sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into quarters (you can chop/dice this if you prefer, but I was running low on time, and we're not huge onion lovers)
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 8 oz. pasta of your choice (I had bowties.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
For the cheese center: 
  • 8 oz. ricotta--if you can bring this to room temperature first, even better
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
The Cooking and The Assembly
  1. Brown sausage in your large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, then garlic and dry spices. Cook for a minute or so, then add tomato paste and cook another 3-5 minutes. 
  2. Add tomatoes and chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. 
  3. Since you've got 30 minutes to kill, why not put on another big pot of water to boil and cook your pasta until al dente?
  4. While the pasta is cooking, combine the ricotta and parmesan cheese in a small bowl and add a large spoonful of the cheese center to each bowl. 
  5. When pasta is cooked and soup has simmered, spoon pasta over cheese center, then ladle soup over that. Cover with additional cheese if you'd like. (You know I will be.)
  6. Eat!

You could very easily cook the pasta in with the soup, but if you plan on having leftovers (like we did) I strongly recommend cooking and storing it separately because left standing in the soup goodness, it will continue to soak up liquid and get kind of soggy. If you're not planning to have leftovers, by all means! Add it into the soup to save on dishes to wash. In that case, you'll add the pasta after it's simmered at least 25 minutes.

Bringing the ricotta to room temperature is a good idea because there's no cooking of the cheese center. Our first excited bites were a little weird because the cheese center was still cold, and the soup was very very hot.

Yum yum, Soup Week! (And it's only just beginning!)
***Soup Week may not, in fact, be the greatest week of the year, but it definitely ranks up there. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Soup Week Prep: Stock Recipes

Are you ready for Soup Week? Six days!

In the meantime, why not prep and have some stock ready? All of my recipes this year include stock, and maybe some of the guest posters as well.

So, because I'm super generous, I found a couple of awesome links all about making your own stock. (Alright, so credit where credit is due, Aliza had the brilliant idea to talk about stock in advance, and I thought it was brilliant, so here we are.)

Veggie stock from Veganyumyum. Seriously, Veganyumyum is such a terrific blog name, I had to feature it! Also, it goes into an article from Cook's magazine, and I found the results very interesting and thought you might too. I recommend reading through this article, even if you're more of a chicken stock kind of person. I want to hunt down the original Cook's magazine article, but even without having read it, I'm pretty sure I always want to make my own stock from now on.

Chicken stock from Michael Ruhlman. I read The Elements of Cooking by Ruhlman quite some time ago, and it's absolutely fantastic. He talks quite a bit about stock in the book, but here's an easy recipe.

In Ruhlman's article, he also talks quite a bit about bacteria and the safety of leaving your stock on your stovetop for a week, and if that sort of thing grosses you out, how about this chicken stock recipe from Gordon Ramsay?

If those recipes still aren't enough, there are about a quatrillionbillion other recipes on the internet. I leave you to it, Friends. Remember! Come back Monday for the Soup Week opener! Not to toot my own horn, but it's pretty amazing!