Chilled Kimchi Soup with Ramps and Quail Egg

The summer is beginning to ramp up, which means we are fully booked from now until mid-July. Weddings, bachelorette parties, friends visiting, family visiting, conferences – our weekends are busy. Beyond that, we are trying really hard to not plan anything for the rest of the summer. It’s tough. I already have light suggestions in my calendar for what we might want to do, but for our first summer in New York, I want to maintain some semblance of flexibility to explore the city in which we live.

Chilled Korean Soup (2)

Eric and I have started building up a bit of a routine to our explorations as well. Saturdays usually include a one-way long run – 8-10 miles to a destination that most often includes food and beer. With the weather having been so lovely lately, these one-way runs often turn into all-day patio-hopping endeavors. It’s fun. Sundays we switch it up with a bike ride to some of the farther-flung places: breweries, parks, other boroughs. We’ve found some good biking routes around the city and we certainly get our hill work in with the number of bridges we must cross on our rides.

Chilled Korean Soup (1)

So this soup – it’s tasty. Spicy. Perfect for a hot day. You can use a chicken egg instead of a quail egg, though quail eggs are cuter. And you can skip the ramps if they’re no longer in season. Or add other greens if you want to amp up the health factor. Compared to most hot soups, you don’t want a fatty broth here – the fat will congeal when you chill the broth, making it rather unappetizing – so if you’re making your own, remember to skim the fat before you use it. The tofu fries add a nice crunch and texture and frankly just taste good. Slurp these up before a big bike-riding, patio-hopping, beer-drinking day.

Chilled Korean Soup (4)

Chilled Kimchi Soup with Ramps and Quail Egg

1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
2 cloves garlic, minced, grated, or crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 cups chicken stock
1 heaping teaspoon gochujang
1/2 cup kimchi
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 bunch ramps, roughly chopped
2 cups ice water

2 servings fresh Chinese or Korean noodles
4 oz extra firm tofu, cut into strips
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil

green onion, shredded, to garnish
quail eggs, one per serving, to garnish
red chile, thinly sliced

To make the broth, start by sautéing the garlic and ginger in oil over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes, until very fragrant. Add the chicken stock and gochujang and allow to come to a boil, whisking to incorporate the gochujang. Turn off heat and add the kimchi with plenty of its juices and rice vinegar. Make sure the ice water is ready, then add the ramps, stir so they are all submerged, then immediately add the ice water. Taste for seasoning – add salt if necessary. Put the pot in the refrigerator or the freezer if you want it to chill faster.

Make your noodles according to package directions until al dente. In a frying pan, fry to tofu strips in oil over medium-high heat until crispy on the outside. You might need to do this in batches.

For soft boiled quail eggs, bring a pot of water to boil, drop the eggs in and set the timer for two minutes. After two minutes, remove from hot water and submerge them in ice water.

To assemble, layer the the noodles, tofu, green onions, quail eggs (peeled and cut in half), and red chile in a deep bowl. Pour the chilled broth with kimchi and ramps over the top. Slurp to enjoy.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Persian New Year Soup (Ash-e Reshteh)

Make this, now. So, so good. For such a simple soup, I did not expect it to be so delicious, but I have literally eaten it all day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s that good.
Persian New Year Soup (1)

The caramelized onions as a garnish are not optional. Just put in the extra effort and make them – it’s worth it.

Persian New Year Soup

I used yogurt instead of sour cream, which several of the recipes on the internet call for. The traditional accompaniment is a type of whey, or so I have read. Since I made this, I have been scouring the internet for info on this Iranian dish. It is served on the Persian New Year, which happens to be March 21 (first day of spring), not January 1. Nonetheless, it’s also pretty perfect for a wintery Chicago New Year’s Day.

Persian New Year Soup (3)

It also seems that some people make a minty oil by sautéing dried mint in olive oil. Then they drizzle it on top. Next time, I tell you, next time. Probably tomorrow. Seriously, I’m obsessed.

Persian New Year Soup (Ash-e Reshteh)

adapted from several sources, notably the Boston Globe, Turmeric & Saffron, and 101 Cookbooks

1 onion, sliced
1-2 red or green chiles, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cups cooked borlotti beans (or white beans)
~200 g dried egg noodles
2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
juice of two limes
salt and pepper

Garnishes
1 large onion, sliced and caramelized
plain yogurt
chopped walnuts

Start by making the caramelized onion. Heat some oil and/or butter in a pan and sauté the sliced onion over medium heat, stirring occasional until the onions are browned.

In a dutch oven or soup pot, sauté the other onion, chiles, and garlic in some olive oil until soft. Stir in the turmeric and cumin and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper at this point as well.

Add the stock (if using a low-sodium or homemade stock, check the seasoning after you add it). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Add in the beans until warmed through. Stir in the egg noodles and let the soup cook until they are soft – should only take a couple minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the spinach, cilantro, dil, and lime juice. Check one more time for proper seasoning. Top with garnishes and serve.

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.

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.

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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.

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?

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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.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

I must say, I really felt sad when the weather started feeling like fall and I realized that summer really was over. In the last couple weeks, though, I’ve embraced the cool air – I can wear that really cute jacket I bought at the end of spring earlier this year, running is perfect for a few weeks, and best of all, it is soup season.

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I would easily consider soup to be one of my all time favorite foods. Any soup, really. I love soaking it up with a really good piece of bread and even better, it pairs perfectly with my other favorite food – salad. So when I was at the market last weekend rubbing shoulders with Rick Bayless – yes, we live in the same neighborhood and yes, I had my first sighting of him at our local market (!!), I picked up the last load of summer tomatoes.

I saw this recipe for tomato soup earlier in the summer but wanted to wait until fall, when I can bear a warm soup and am okay with the idea of cooking the perfect-as-they-are heirlooms. I think this soup would also work well with good canned tomatoes – I will definitely be trying that throughout winter. I served this soup with some fantastic sourdough bread from La Boulangerie, a new bakery in Logan Square that bakes up fresh loaves three times daily – and they post the times they’re fresh baked, so you can scoop one up just as it comes out of the oven.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

adapted, quite a bit actually, from Serious Eats

3 pounds tomatoes, quartered
2-3 whole  carrots, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
15-20 garlic cloves (yes – a lot of garlic!)
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2-3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup greek yogurt
crumbles of blue cheese or feta

Combine the olive oil with tomatoes, carrots, garlic, salt and pepper, eggplant, and chickpeas. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for ~45 minutes at 425°F. To be careful, you could roast all these separately until each one is perfectly tender, but I’m a timesaver and roasted all together – it worked fine.

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Once roasted, put about half of the veggies in a blend and puree until smooth. The original recipe called for pureeing everything except the eggplant and chickpeas – you could do that as well. Just depends on what chunks you want in your soup, if any. Pour the pureed soup and extra veggies in a pot with the curry powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and chicken stock – add more or less stock to get the desired consistency.

Bring to a boil then let simmer for 5-10 minutes. At the last minute, stir in the yogurt for a creamy finish. Garnish with cilantro, cheese, and if you’re feeling frisky, a drizzle of good olive oil.

Heirloom Tomato and Garlic Scape Gazpacho

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I finally made it to the Wicker Park farmer’s market this past Sunday. It’s a small market just a few blocks from our house, but they have all the necessities – a couple produce vendors with a nice variety of fruits and veggies, a couple meat vendors, baked goods, one Wisconsin cheese stand, and a couple flower vendors.

Farmers Market

I woke up to thunderous storms, so as soon as the rain let up, I made my way down there. It was a muggy, gloomy morning, but that meant there weren’t many people in the park, which made for a pleasant market experience. The first stand I came across had rows upon rows of heirloom tomatoes. I couldn’t pass them up. Then I saw the garlic – everything from the scape to the bulb. I knew the combination of the heirloom tomatoes and garlic scapes would be perfect is a fresh, summery chilled soup.

Picnik collage
Picnik collage

Oh my it was good. So so good. Those tomatoes – wow – and with a mild bite from the garlic scapes, I really feel I outdid myself here. I also found baby fennel, which I roasted and threw into the mix. Just perfect for that hot summer day.

Heirloom Tomato and Garlic Scape Gazpacho
The proportions here are small – I started small and did a couple different varieties (some with no cumin, some with more jalapeno, etc., so below is just the basic recipe I started with.)

3-4 heirloom tomatoes of any or all varieties
3-4 garlic scapes
1 clove raw garlic (my garlic was still very young, so it wasn’t as sharp; if you have mature garlic, you might want to halve this)
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1/2 cucumber, unpeeled
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 jalapeno, seeded

1 bulb baby fennel, roasted in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, reserve a few sprigs of the greens and 1 raw layer
a few slices whole grain bread, cut in to cubes
1/2 carrot, julienned
1 avocado
olive oil
juice of one lemon
splash of red wine vinegar
salt & pepper

Prepare croutons with the bread cubes by layering in a single layer on a baking sheet and toasting them in the oven.

Take one layer of the raw baby fennel, a sprig or two of fennel greens, the unpeeled cucumber, a couple of the garlic scapes, and carrots – finely chop them or julienne them and combine to form a crisp salad. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and set aside.

In a blender, combine the tomatoes, peeled cucumber, roasted fennel, garlic scapes, raw garlic clove, cumin, jalapeno, salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar. Drizzle some olive oil in the mixture and blend into a smooth puree. Taste to see if it needs more vinegar, oil, or seasoning. Adjust as necessary.

Serve with the salad, some slices of avocado, and croutons on top. The soup will be thin and soupy, while the salad provides a nice crisp texture.

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