Herby Garlic Soup

I’ve received more winter weather and wind chill advisories from my iphone weather app than I’d like to think about lately. Talking about the weather may be a little overdone, but seriously, this has been a harsh one. Oh, and I am running a half marathon on Saturday–a day for which the weather forecast keeps getting colder and colder and snowier and snowier. Good thing we have a trip to Puerto Rico coming up in just one week. In the mean time, garlic soup.

2014-01-23 at 12-32-08

This garlicky broth is not at all as harsh as it sounds. And for a 15-minute broth, this one packs a lot of flavor. In fact, I may ditch all my other vegetable broth recipes and just stick to this from now on.

2014-01-23 at 12-35-04

With lots of watercress and chives, this soup has nice herby, savory notes. The beans and carrots make it hearty, too. It’s just good.

2014-01-23 at 12-32-39

Herby Garlic Soup

1 head garlic
10-5 peppercorns

1-inch knob of ginger, sliced into 4 slices
2-3 bay leaves (optional)
4 cups water

1/2 cup cannellini beans, cooked
1/2 cup borlotti beans (or other heirloom bean), cooked
2 carrots, sliced thinly
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 bunch watercress, chopped
chives, sliced (optional)
salt, to taste

In a saucepan, combine garlic, peppercorns, ginger, bay leaves, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. After five minutes, remove the ginger and simmer another ten minutes. Strain out the garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves (set the garlic and peppercorns aside; discard the bay leaves).

Pour the broth back into the pot and add the beans, carrots, and zucchini. Bring it back to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. This should be just enough to take the raw edge off the vegetables but still keep them crisp.

Salt to taste, and garnish with chives and watercress.

As for the garlic and peppercorns, combine with a bit of water in a blender and grind until smooth. Use a spoonful here or there to make a vinaigrette, or mix it with tahini and more herbs to make a vegetable dip. The garlic will taste mellow and sweet, almost as if it’s been roasted.

Advertisements

One Bowl of Veggies, Day 2: Creamy Coconut Soup

It’s day 2 of having a big bowl of vegetables in the fridge (see day 1 here). Today’s recipe is super easy. Simmer coconut milk with some aromatics and then add your vegetables to the pot. Done.

Veg Lentil Bowls2 3

Què màs? Well, Eric and I are heading to Louisville this weekend to drink our way through the Bourbon Trail. We have an ambitious plan of visiting four (maybe five, if we can handle it) distilleries on Saturday, including Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, Heaven Hill, and Willet. We’re quite excited. I’m making a big batch of quinoa patties to sustain us between distilleries, and I’m loading them with veggies. Broccoli, rapini, and butternut squash are getting mixed in for maximum health benefit in addition to herbs and parmesan cheese. This trick of ours – bringing quinoa patties to munch on – also helps us cut down on eating-out costs while we travel. Win-win.

Veg Lentil Bowls2 2

Veg Lentil Bowls2 4

Creamy Coconut Soup with Veggies

1 13.5-oz can full-fat coconut milk
13.5 oz water (just use the can to measure this)
1/2 inch knob of ginger, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 stalk lemongrass
salt to taste
mixed vegetables
handful of toasted pepita seeds

In a pot, combine the coconut milk, water, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. To prepare the lemongrass, remove the tough outer leaves and cut off the ends. Cut it into 4-inch pieces and smash it with the back of the knife. Simmer the mixture for 20-25 minutes, being careful to never let it boil.

You can heat the vegetables in the microwave for a minute or two to warm them, then place them in a bowl. Ladle the coconut broth over the vegetables and top with toasted pepita (pumpkin) seeds.

Mushroom Miso Ramen

I love a good bowl of ramen. Lucky for me that ramen shops have been popping up like weeds in Chicago.

Mushroom Miso Ramen 3

This bowl might not be as satisfying as a fatty, porky tonkotsu, but it is certainly a lot healthier and quicker. Some of the ingredients are definitely specialty items that I picked up at the Japanese and Vietnamese grocery stores. You can easily make substitutions for the harder-to-find ingredients, as noted below. At the very least, the dried shiitake mushrooms are needed to make a tasty broth.

Mushroom Miso Ramen 2

Mushroom Miso Ramen

Notes:

-Mirin is a sweet rice wine that can pretty easily be found at any asian grocery store or even whole foods. The Seattle Times has suggestions for substitutions.
-There are a few varieties of miso paste. Aka miso is a red miso and shiro miso is a white miso. Awase miso is a mixture of aka and shiro miso, which is what I used here.
-If you can’t find ramen noodles sold individually, just buy the college-standard ramen packages that have the flavor pouches. Same stuff. Just be sure to discard the flavor pouches.
-Any variety of mushrooms will work here for the toppings.
-If pea shoots aren’t available, a more common topping would be sliced green onions.

Broth:

8-9 small dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup dried bonito flakes (optional)
1-inch piece of ginger, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed and skins removed
1 stalk lemongrass, outer skins removed and sliced in half
9 cups water
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons awase miso paste 

Combine the dried mushrooms, bonito flakes, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and water in a large pot and heat until water comes just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Mushroom Miso Ramen 5

Mushroom Miso Ramen 6

Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids. You can keep the now-rehydrated shiitakes and incorporate those into the soup if you wish, or save them for later for another use. Add the mirin and soy sauce and stir to combine.

Remove a ladle of the broth into a small bowl. Whisk in the miso paste until it is smooth, and then combine it with the rest of the broth. Set the broth aside and keep it warm.

Toppings:

ramen noodles
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 package cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 package maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms
1 package bunashimeji (beech mushrooms)
baby bok choy
pea shoots or sliced green onions
fried, puffed tofu (optional)
1 package enoki mushrooms
sriracha

Bring a pot of water to a boil and then cook the ramen noodles for ~3 minutes. Remove, rinse with water, and set aside.

Pour the oil in a large wok or frying pan and stir fry the cremini, maitake, and bunashimeji mushrooms. Set aside.

Mushroom Miso Ramen 7

Blanch the baby bok choy in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately cool in an ice bath.

Cut the puffed tofu into whichever shape you prefer.

Ramen Assembly:

Put the noodles in the bottom of a large bowl. Scoop a few ladles of broth on top, then add your preferred toppings. If you need an extra kick, squirt on some sriracha. Serve hot with chopsticks and a soup spoon.

Three Bean Chili with Turnip Greens

I know I have already posted two other chili recipes on here, but something with this cold weather has me making yet more chili. Different chili. This time I wanted to add some greens and lots of beans. I pureed the chili using a hand blender just before adding the (cooked) beans and greens because I wanted a really smooth texture rather than a really chunky chili. I also discovered that I like garnishing chili with fresh tomatoes like these little golden cherry tomatoes. They’re pretty, but they also add some summery freshness, which may not exactly be seasonal, but it is a nice contrast.

_MG_9937 - 2013-02-12 at 14-11-09

I still had frozen borlotti beans from when I made a bunch last time, but you could use any variety of beans you prefer. Kidney beans would be more traditional, but I can see pinto beans also tasting great. I have been making huge batches of beans the slow way (soaking overnight and then boiling the next day) and freezing them so I always have some on hand when I want them. I’ve also seen these quick-cooking beans at the grocery store in the refrigerated section of vegetables. I think they have already been soaked – they only take 15 minutes to cook. If you can find those, they work well also.

_MG_9938 - 2013-02-12 at 14-11-20

Three Bean Chili with Turnip Greens

2 yellow onions, diced
1 head garlic, minced
4 serrano peppers, minced
1 pound ground turkey
2 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, whole (if hand blending) or diced
2 heaping tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons chile paste*
4 cups water
1 teaspoon shaved dark chocolate
1.5 cups black beans, cooked
1.5 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
1.5 cups borlotti (or other) beans, cooked
1 bunch turnip greens, stems removed and finely chopped/shredded

Sauté the onions, garlic, and serrano peppers in a large pot (like a dutch oven) in olive oil or butter over medium high heat. When they begin to soften, add the ground turkey and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until the turkey is browned.

Add the tomatoes, spices, chile paste, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste-test not and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the shaved dark chocolate and allow it to melt into the chili.

Here you have the option of hand blending the chili to smooth out the texture. If you prefer a chunky chili and used diced tomatoes, you can leave it as is.

Lastly, add the beans and shredded turnip greens. Allow beans to warm through and serve.

*I almost always have a container of chile paste in the fridge from other recipes. I take a package (or packages) of dried chiles – check the Mexican aisle – like guajillos. I dry toast them in a pan, then soak them in boiling water for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft. Use a blender to purée the chiles by adding in water a little at a time. You can add this to soups, chili, or even make it into a hot sauce by thinning it out and adding vinegar, a touch of honey, and salt. If it is too much of a fuss to make simply for this, you can omit it, though it certainly adds another element to the chili.

Black Bean, Butternut Squash, and Chorizo Soup

This recipe has been sitting on my Pinterest board for a while now, and the butternut squash and dried black beans have been on my counter for almost as many days. The original recipes comes by way of Sprouted Kitchen and did not include chorizo. Of course, the original recipe was much healthier! But chorizo makes everything better, and since I had some left over after I made Eric’s birthday chorizo mac and cheese, this Mexican-inspired soup seemed a perfect fit.

I had to adjust some quantities, so the recipe below is written as I made it.

Black Bean, Butternut Squash, and Chorizo Soup

adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped (about two cups)
3 cups cubed butternut squash
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, plus a little adobo sauce
3 cups cooked, black beans, plus extra liquid from black beans
1 pound chorizo, cooked

salt to taste

cilantro, for garnish
fried corn tortilla “crumbs” or strips, for garnish
pickled onions, for garnish

Sauté the onions in garlic in oil for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Then add the squash, cabbage, cumin, and cocoa powder. Stir around for a minute, then add the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

In the meantime, cook the chorizo in a separate pan. Finely chop the chipotle and add it, with some juice, to the chorizo and stir around.

When the veggies are tender and cooked, add the black beans and chorizo. To make tortilla chip crumbs, I put some day-old corn tortillas in the food processor, then fried them in oil in a pan. I also happened to have some pickled red onions on hand – to make those, soak finely sliced red onions in lime juice for an hour or more. They make for a really pretty topping, and the acidity is a nice touch. Alternatively, squeeze a bit of lime juice over the soup before serving.

Really Good Chili

I have two weeks left of my first semester of grad school! I am feeling the pressure, let me tell you. Papers and projects plus work and work. Aaah. Somehow I will get it all done. Somehow.

_MG_6573

As the cooler weather starts coming on, I always start thinking of soup. And chili. I love chili. I decided to get a bit complicated with it this time and make Lisa Fain’s Seven Chile Chili (by the way, does anyone else get bothered when people interchange chile, chili, and chilly? Chile=pepper, chili=stew, chilly=cold) as featured on the Amateur Gourmet, a blog that I’m increasingly pulling really good recipes from. This chili cooks a long time, but the prep time isn’t so bad, so just find something to do for five hours or so in the meantime. The recipe below is written as I made it – who cares what Texans think because I love beans in my chili – but for the original, see here.

Really Good Chili

adapted from Lisa Fain’s recipe, as posted on Amateur Gourmet

4 dried ancho chiles
2 dried pasilla chiles
2 dried guajillo chiles
4 dried chiles de arbol
4 pieces of bacon
1 pounds chuck roast
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle of beer (I used Goose Island Harvest Ale)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 15-oz can black beans
1 28-oz can diced or whole tomatoes (if whole, you will need to break them down a bit after they’re cooked)
1 28-oz can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons masa harina
Grated cheddar and chopped onions, for serving

Start by toasting the dried chiles. Rip the stems off the top and dump out most of the seeds – I left a few in to add some heat to the chili. Put them in a dry pan and toast them over medium heat for a few minutes, until they’re sort of fragrant. Pour water over the chiles, bring to a boil, then turn off heat and let the chiles soak while you prepare the other ingredients.

_MG_6551

Prepare your meat by removing the gristle from the chuck and then cutting it into 1-inch cubes. In a large pot or dutch oven, fry the bacon until pretty crispy. Remove and place on paper towel, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Add the chuck and cook in the bacon fat until browned on all sides.

_MG_6554Bacon Strips!

_MG_6556

Remove the beef and place on a separate plate. Add more oil if needed, and cook the onions and garlic until translucent. Then add back the beef plus the beer, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Crumble in the crispy bacon. Stir for a few more minutes to combine all the flavors, then add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.

_MG_6559

_MG_6564

Meanwhile, drain the chiles (save the water!) and place in a blender with one cup of the chile water. Blend until you have a smooth paste. Add the paste the the chile.

Turn the heat to low once the chile boils and let simmer uncovered for 5 hours. At this point, you can taste for seasoning and add a little more salt and/or pepper if needed. I also added just a touch more cumin and a smidge of granulated garlic.

In a separate bowl, mix 1/4 cup water with the masa harina (you can also use corn flour or corn meal here, like I did). After 5 hours, pour the masa harina mixture in the pot and stir.

_MG_6567

Simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Top with fresh-grated sharp cheddar cheese and onions.

_MG_6569

Pho Bo – aka, Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Eric and I tend to travel like we eat out – rarely, if ever, duplicating the places we go. When we first moved to Chicago, we instituted The Restaurant Rule: one new restaurant every weekend. While we don’t follow this rule so religiously anymore (I could eat Urban Belly every weekend if Eric would let me), it gives you an idea of our philosophy on travel. That is, there are so many places to visit, we’d like to see them all before doubling back.

But, just as we have started doubling back on some of our favorite restaurants, I imagine it is almost time to start doubling back on our favorite destinations. Almost. And the first place I want to go back to? Vietnam. Between the amazing food and a culture so far from our own, I’ve never been so mesmerized.

These girls started taking pictures of us walking down the street, so we took a few photos in return.

cheap fabric abounds

I tried to take a cooking class while we were there. I thought I registered for a class, but as can be commonplace in Vietnam – or anywhere you don’t speak the language – we had a bit of a miscommunication. I woke up early and took a taxi to class, only to find that the kitchen was closed. Nonetheless, I found a fantastic Vietnamese cookbook when I got home. Andrea Nguyen’s Into the Vietnamese Kitchen makes Vietnamese food accessible without dumbing it down or “Westernizing” so it is unrecognizable. I’ve already made a number of dishes from this book, and they’ve all been delicious.

the iconic tiny plastic kid stools at every restaurant

gotta add in the super hot peppers

market

Perhaps one of the most recognized Vietnamese dishes is the classic soup, Pho. It generally comes in two varieties – Pho Bo, with Bo being the word for beef, and Pho Ga – ga = chicken. Pronounced fuh, Pho is eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can eat it in between meals, on the street corner, sitting on child-size plastic stools. Anytime, anywhere, this soup is the shit. I was also happy to find out that some of the Pho I’ve had in Chicago tastes very similar to the versions we had on the street in Hanoi – authentic, indeed.

I made my beef stock before I decided I was going to make Pho, so I had to improvise a bit. There really is not much to Pho, so the broth is very important. To make mine a little more authentic, I simmered my stock with star anise and cinnamon and tossed in some fish sauce at the end. If you can, though, definitely make a fresh stock with Pho in mind.

IMG_2064

Pho Bo (aka, Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
adapted from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen, recipe written as I made it

8 cups beef broth or stock
1  1/2-2 pounds dried banh pho noodles (at an Asian market, they’ll be labeled this way; at other markets, they’ll probably be called rice noodles)
1/2 pound flank steak, sliced into thin strips against the grain
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
salt and black pepper

Garlic chives or scallions
Bean sprouts
Thai chiles
Lime wedges

Warm the broth in a large pot. If you are not making the stock yourself, simmer chopped ginger, cinnamon, and star anise in it. Slice your onion and let is soak in cold water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. In a large pot, boil some water. When it is boiling, turn off the burner and submerge the rice noodles. Let them sit for approximately 15 minutes, or until they are soft. Drain immediately and rinse the noodles in cold water.

Meanwhile, heat some neutral oil in a pan and sear the steak. You want to keep it pretty rare because it will continue to cook in the broth when the soup is served. Prepare all the garnishes – chop the chives, wash the sprouts, thinly slice the Thai chiles – and BE CAREFUL – these guys are hot!

When you’re ready to serve, layer the ingredients in a bowl – rice noodles on the bottom, then the steak, then the onions. Then ladle the broth over the top, and garnish with herbs, bean sprouts, limes, and chiles.

Beef Stock

My mom gave me a dutch oven for my birthday, which is perhaps a little odd considering my birthday is in July and I received the gift in December. Someone was excited, I guess, to get me cooking soup. So with a dutch oven taking up space in my cabinets, and a new artisanal butcher right down the street, the stars were aligning – it was time to try my hand at a beef stock.

IMG_2022

I was really excited to go to The Butcher & Larder for the first time. I knew they sourced whole animals from reputable, sustainable farms – organic, pasture-plentiful, humane farms. I also knew they offered up daily sausages and pâtés in addition to the fresh cuts of meat. It’s no surprise, then, that I walked in looking for beef bones and walked out with a bag full of sausages (and bones, of course).

They took the liberty of roasting the bones, so that was one less step for me. Most recipes recommend roasting the bones first to bring out a deeper flavor in the stock. I started with a basic recipe from Simply Recipes, but added in a few extra ingredients at the last minute. This week – hopefully – I’ll share the soup that I made using the stock.

IMG_2024

Beef Stock
adapted from Simply Recipes

5 pounds beef bones (ask your butcher, and let them know you’re making a stock)
Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
5 stems fresh thyme
1 large chunk of ginger, chopped roughly
1/2 cup dry red wine
handful of peppercorns
water

If your bones are raw, start by roasting them in a 400° oven for 45 minutes to an hour. You can also roast the veggies, if you prefer – just coat them in olive oil.

Since my bones were already roasted, I started by sauteing my veggies – the carrots, onion, garlic, ginger, and celery. Pour some olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven, then toss in all the chopped veggies. Saute on medium-high heat until onions are translucent. Pour in the red wine and let it reduce to at least half.

There are endless variations on this – some people add mushrooms, or tomatoes, or tomato paste. Other herbs would be great, or you could toss in discarded veg parts like the stems of kale. You could up the Asian flavor by removing the carrots and celery and adding a dash or two of fish sauce or soy sauce.

When the wine is reduced, add the beef bones, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns to the pot. Fill the pot with water so that all the ingredients are covered. Let simmer on low heat, covered, for 6-8 hours. I let mine sit overnight.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the veggies and bones and discard them. Let the stock cool in the refrigerator. A layer of fat will rise to the top and solidify in the fridge, which makes it easy to remove. Just scoop it off the top and save it for later – you can use it in place of other oils for cooking in the future.

Strain the broth through a fine sieve and/or cheese cloth. From here, you can freeze the stock or keep it in the fridge for about a week or so. I froze half of mine in plastic tupperware.

Asian Wonton Soup

_MG_3889

Yes, another soup. I can’t get soup recipes out of my head right now. I do have some other good stuff to post, so I will promise you this: no more soup recipes! At least for a little while.

I think my obsession with soup right now  goes right along with my inability to get out of bed in the morning. All summer, I was getting up at 5 or 6 in the morning to go to spin class or go for a run, but ever since the mornings have gotten darker and the weather colder, I am hoarding every minute of sleep. I make excuses to push snooze one more time; it’s very easy to rationalize sleeping just a little bit longer when your eyes are closed and your brain is only half functioning. Even as I’m walking out the door to go to work, I’m still thinking about my warm, comfy bed. My down comforter. My cozy, cuddly kitties. This cold weather is messing with me – my sleep habits and my appetite – and yet again I’m asking myself why I still live in the Midwest.

Anyway, I recently bought wonton wrappers at the store to try out one of those ravioli recipes I see everywhere; they were so easy to use and I had leftovers, so I thought an Asian dumpling soup would be great. If I had any, I would’ve thrown some greens in the pot – spinach or Chinese broccoli – but sometimes you just have to make do with what is in the fridge.

This soup was really fantastic. Eric really liked it too, and this time he didn’t add the “then again, I’m starving” afterthought to the sentence. It was perfect after an extra hard spin class last night – after who-knows-how-many squats, I walked in to spin looking for a low-resistance cardio workout. Instead, our instructor informed us we were going to max out Watts – in spin speak, this means high resistance, fast legs, trying to push your power output (measured in Watts on the spin computer) as high as humanly possible. It’s a tough, tough workout, and my legs were not willing to push my Watts much higher than 300 at first (as a point of reference, my usual spin class average is 160-170, pushing 250 in the intense parts and coming down lower during recovery). This is not much higher than normal for me, and since the intensity bursts are so short, I should have been killing this workout. After a while, though, my legs got used to the spinning motion and I managed to push up to 525 Watts at one point, even if it only was for 5 to 10 seconds. Whew. You really feel whipped and accomplished at the end of those workouts.

_MG_3886

Asian Dumpling Soup

an original recipe – this makes a pretty large pot of soup; halve it if you prefer

12 cups beef stock
10 – 15 wonton wrappers
1 red pepper, sliced or chopped however you prefer
½ package baby bella or white button mushrooms, sliced
2.5 ounces soba noodles (in the package I bought, the noodles are separated into 3 bundles – I used one bundle)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
½ teaspoon fish sauce
½ pound ground pork
slivers of sliced green onion
salt and pepper to taste

First, get all your veggies chopped and ready. Sauté the ginger and garlic in some neutral tasting vegetable oil for a couple minutes, then add the mushrooms and red pepper. Sauté a couple minutes longer, then pour in the stock and let it warm up – almost to a boil.

Meanwhile, make the wontons. Combine the pork, granulated garlic, granulated onion, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Spoon a small dollop in the center of the wonton wrapper. You don’t want to add too much – otherwise they won’t cook through or the wonton won’t close. Wet the edges and form a little pocket – the corn starch that coats the wrapper will make it stick together.

When the soup is almost to a boil, add the black beans and wontons. Cook for just a couple minutes, then add the soba noodles. When the soba noodles are soft – about a minute – take off the heat and serve garnished with green onions. If it needs salt, add at this point.

You might be left with some pork – we just formed them into balls and baked them like meatballs!

The dumplings are really versatile. I think in the future, I’d mix it up a bit by adding green onion or maybe shaved carrots and ginger to the pork filling. Even some shrimp would be really good in there. A dash of fish sauce in the body of the soup might be nice, also. Play around with the veggie combinations and try not adding the soba noodles.

Roasted Poblano Soup

I am posting this recipe with a warning: be careful how much spice you add! I, in my infinite wisdom, added one whole pepper – it was a pepper I’ve never used before, but I thought it looked ‘cool’ in the market, stupidly using the entire thing in one soup without knowing just how hot it was. Well, I’ll tell you, it was HOT. Two weeks later, my lips are still burning. Eric wouldn’t even touch the soup after a couple bites. Sounds like a winner of a recipe, eh?

_MG_3823

Well, the thing is, despite that quick-hitting and lingering heat, the flavor of the soup was really fantastic. Peppers and chiles, especially poblano peppers, are really among my favorite foods – especially after our trip to New Mexico last year. So it’s really easy to make this soup edible – just add less hot pepper!

Also – it seems as if I have one excuse after the other for not updating this blog enough. My current excuse – and probably the same excuse I’ve been using for a while – is I am obsessed with honeymoon planning right now. After hours and hours of online research, we have decided to cut out our trip to Cambodia. 😦 Eric and I are both very sad about this, but we decided to prioritize and focus so that we could maximize our other experiences in SE Asia; our priority = wildlife/outdoors/nature. Ancient temples? I can only imagine how amazing they are, but we’ll have to wait until our next trip to the region to explore them. We also cut out Thailand almost entirely except for a couple nights in Bangkok. This gives us 6 full days in Hanoi to explore the City and Halong Bay; TWO weeks in Borneo to explore Deer Cave and Mulu National Park (have you seen Planet Earth? the bat poop cave? yes – we decided bat poop was more important than ancient Angkor temples), Danum Valley rain forest, and Sipadan island (supposedly some of the best diving in the world, though we will only be snorkeling); and 6 full days in Bali to do whatever the heck we feel like. Of course – we don’t go anywhere without at least a loose itinerary – I can’t help it, it’s my nature as a planner. So, in Bali, I’m planning a day in Kuta – the famed surfing town loved by many Australians (just one night, and just for the experience), a couple days to explore Ubud (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) and the north/eastern coasts of Bali, then a few days hiking to the crater rim of Mount Rinjani on Lombok. Maybe, maybe if time permits, we’ll spend a day on the Gili Islands.

And well, I’m sure most of those names mean nothing to you. Just Google the names for pictures – you’ll see why I’m obsessed!

Wow, this post is long – here’s the recipe.

Creamy, Spicy Roasted Poblano Soup

adapted from Serious Eats
*I added a big dose of spinach to this soup to up the health ante and used greek yogurt instead of Mexican crema – same effect, less indulgent*

4-5 large poblano peppers
1 jalapeno, seeded and membranes removed
4-5 cloves garlic
1 medium white onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
big handful cilantro (scientific, I know) (original calls for epazote, which I did not have)
really big bunch of spinach
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup greek yogurt or Mexican crema
tortilla or corn chips or corn tortillas

Roast the poblanos over an open flame, or if you don’t have a gas stove top, roast them in the oven until blistered and black. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic to let the skins steam off.

Roughly chop the onions and garlic and start sauteing in a soup pan in the olive oil – until onion is transparent. It doesn’t matter if they’re finely chopped at this point – everything will be blended. Toss in the jalapeno and cumin and cook a couple minutes longer.

Meanwhile, remove the skins and seeds from the poblanos. Toss those in the pot as well. Stir everything around and let the cumin coat all the veggies, then dump in the stock. Bring this to a boil then let simmer for five minutes. Take the soup off the heat and add the spinach, yogurt, and cilantro. If you have an immersion blender, just blend everything together in the pot; otherwise, transfer to a blender. Add salt and pepper and adjust seasoning accordingly.

If using tortillas, cut in to strips and fry them in a bit of canola or vegetable oil until crisp. Place the crispy strips or chips on top of the soup with another dollop of yogurt/crema.