Tag Archive: winter food

Mussels 4 Ways

musselsAhh, mussels. It’s hard to describe precisely why I like these crusty, salty bivalves. Once in a while I get a little piece of shell as I’m eating, and I think to myself: why do I do this? Simply speaking: mussels are delicious. Labor-intensive, yes. Delicate and high maintenance, a little. Dirty and fishy, often enough. So what’s the big deal? Again, mussels are delicious – and good for you to boot. Plus, making mussels (avec le bouillon) is an art form that I have a lot of respect for – the art of broth-making.

There’s something salivating about a big pot of mussels on the table, filled with dark shells submerged in a broth that smells something of butter and wine. Furthermore, mussels are one of those magical foods that become heavenly when cooked with/in alcohol. The catch? You have to take care when making them, or at least pay some attention. I used to buy the poor creatures alive, keep them padded with damp paper towels in my fridge for 24 hours while I got my act together to go ahead and steam them for dinner. A quarter of the little guys would die as I was trying to de-beard them between the sink and the hot stove. I’ll agree, that’s way to much work… My solution? The seafood section at the grocery store is huge, have you checked it out? There’s all sorts of stuff there, including — mussels, in the shell, beautiful and ready to go. I buy a huge, flash-frozen batch for around $9.00 and keep it in the freezer until I’m ready. The best part? No defrosting, you get to concentrate on the broth and as soon as that’s ready you crank up the heat, add frozen mussels, and five minutes later (less, really) you’re ready to dig in.


Mussels seem like a poor man’s food but when you’re eating the poached and pinkened sea creatures between pieces of a baguette and some roasted garlic, it’s close to heaven 😉 My advice is to make mussels in any form — and experiment a little with your favorite seafood spices and sauces. Get the mussels frozen and save them in your freezer for a rainy day. I’ve been playing around with mussel recipes and these particular 4 I made up from looking over the various versions in existence (and my own taste and favorite ingredients). Belonions1ow are what I think are the best ways to serve these sweet & salty little things. As always, when making a big pot of mussels, remember to serve them in bowls with big spoons; and other than the mussels + steaming broth, all you really need is a lot of bread and, oh yeah, napkins.

My star ingredient? The onion family. In every one of these mussel recipes, one of the onion family is used; and thank god it’s a big family. Cooking the onions/garlic is how this dish begins and the finished product would not taste the same without this aromatic group of ingredients. The super hero ingredient? Vegetable bullion allows you to make broth with some hot water in seconds, and it can sit in your spice drawer until needed for months. Just be aware it packs a salty taste. But broth is what makes mussels such a sensational dish, so be sure NOT to water down the both any more than is needed, or maybe just water it down with wine instead 😀

Mussels – 4 Ways (!)

(1) American – Beer Mussels with Bacon, Red Beans, Roasted Garlic, & Fresh Thyme

2 lbs. frozen musselsbeer_mussels

Broth: 1 bottle (light) beer, 5 pieces of bacon, 5 shallots (sliced), 3 Tbs. butter, 3 cups vegetable broth, 1 can kidney beans (drained & rinsed),

Season with: fresh Thyme (minced)

Serve with: whole wheat baguette (sliced), 4 heads of garlic (roasted), & aged Parmesan (shredded)

(1) To roast garlic: preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit). Cut the top off 4 heads of garlic with a serrated knife. Season lightly with oil, salt, & pepper and wrap OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtightly in foil. Bake for 60-65 minutes until cloves are golden and sweet. Let cool and remove from foil before serving. (2) Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add shallots and cook about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. (3) Add bacon sliced and cook until fat had rendered and the pieces have browned slightly, 4-5 minutes more. Remove bacon from pot and chop (or chop in the pot with a pair of scissors). (4) Return bacon to the pot. Add broth, beans, and a Tablespoon of fresh Thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat; simmer, covered until reduced by 1/3, 10-15 minutes. (5) Return heat to high and add frozen mussels and beer. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until mussels are pink and fragrant, 5 -6 minutes. (6) Season the broth to taste with salt, pepper, and fresh Thyme. Serve immediately in bowls accompanied by bread, roasted garlic, & cheese.

Serves 4

(2) Asian – Spicy Mussels with Saki, Thai Chilies, Mushrooms, & Sesame Seeds

2 lbs. frozen musselsmussels_asian

Broth: 1 cup saki, 1 bunch green onions (sliced), 3 Tbs. butter, 2 cups mushrooms (sliced), 1 small can bamboo shoots (drained & rinsed), 1 small can water chestnuts (drained, rinsed, & sliced), 3 cups vegetable broth, 2 Thai chilies (sliced), 1 piece fresh ginger (peeled & sliced), 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce.

Season with: sesame seeds (toasted) & chili flakes

Serve with: garlic bread or steamed rice

(1) Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add green onions and cook about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. (2) Add mushrooms and 1/2 Tbs. sesame seeds, stirring occasionally until slightly browned.  (3) Add ginger, bamboo shoots, chili-flakesand Thai chilies, stirring often until fragrant, another 5-6 minutes. (4) Add the broth, soy sauce, and water chestnuts. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat; simmer, covered until reduced by 1/3, 10-15 minutes. (5) Return heat to high and add frozen mussels and saki. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until mussels are pink and fragrant, 5 -6 minutes. (6) Season the broth to taste with salt, chili flakes, and sesame seeds. Serve immediately in bowls accompanied by rice and/or bread.

Serves 4

(3) French – Provencal Mussels with White Wine, White Beans, Dill, & Fresh Tomatoes

2 lbs. frozen musselsMUSSELS-PROVENCAL

Broth: 1 cup white wine, 2 red onions (sliced), 3 Tbs. butter, 2 tomatoes (chopped), 1 can white beans (drained & rinsed), 1 celery stalk (sliced), 3 cups vegetable broth, 1 can artichoke hearts (drained, rinsed & chopped), 1 Tbs. dried Dill, 2 garlic cloves (sliced).

Season with: sea salt, cracked pepper, & lemon juice

Serve with: buttered bread & dollops of Greek yogurtwhite_beans

(1) Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add red onions, celery, and garlic. Cook about 3-4 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. (2)  Add tomato, dried dill, and artichoke hearts, stirring often until fragrant, another 5 minutes. (4) Add the broth, and white beans. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat; simmer, covered until reduced by 1/3, 10-15 minutes. (5) Return heat to high and add frozen mussels and white wine. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until mussels are pink and fragrant, 5 -6 minutes. (6) Season the broth to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Serve immediately accompanied with buttered bread & dollops of Greek yogurt 🙂

Serves 4

(4) Indian – Curry Mussels with Chickpeas, Red Wine, Leeks, & Cashews

2 lbs. frozen musselsCurry-Mussels

Broth: 1 cup red wine (sub Indian beer), 1 bunch leeks (washed & sliced), 3 Tbs. butter, 2 celery stalks (chopped), 2 carrots (peeled & chopped), 3 Tbs. curry powder (any), 1 can chickpeas (drained & rinsed), 3 cups vegetable broth, 1/2 cup cashews (salted), 1/2 cup milk (or cream), 3 garlic cloves (sliced).

Season with: roasted paprika & fresh cilantro (minced)

Serve with: garlic naan & seared veggies

(1) Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add leeks, celery, carrot, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand garlic. Cook about 10-12 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. (2)  Add cashews, curry powder, and chickpeas, stirring often until fragrant, another 5 minutes. (4) Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat; simmer, covered until reduced by 1/3, 10-15 minutes. (5) Return heat to high and add frozen mussels and red wine. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until mussels are pink and fragrant, 5 -6 minutes. (6) Season the broth to taste with milk (adding more if needed), salt, roasted paprika, and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately accompanied with buttered naan or seared veggies of your choice.

Serves 4

painting_musselMy “trick,” if you will, is that I only add the wine/saki/beer to the pot of broth when I throw the mussels in, that way the little critters basically poach in alcohol, versus it just burning off in all the boiling… Steaming hot and wreaking of herbs and butter, it’s hard not to get a little messy devouring dishes like these 😛

My question: what is your all-time favorite seafood dish to eat ? – something you wouldn’t make for yourself, but might treat yourself to? Mine would still have to be lobster tail, mmm… 🙂



Lemony Pasta meets Peppered Bacon

I am back from Barcelona and have had some wonderfully spiced and flavorful foods during my time there. I believe we could all take some pointers from the Spaniards on how to cook food as it seems they love the process–the seasoning, the roasting, the aging, the frying–as much as I do 😀 For now I have renewed adoration for the tasty variations of thinly sliced and salted meats, be it Serrano ham, bacon, and (still my absolute favorite) prosciutto. Mmmm.. Somehow I am STILL craving citrus in this, the sixth month of my pregnancy, and decided to make a dish that had both light and rich elements, plenty of fiber (’cause I can’t get enough of that these days), vegetables, and some peppered protein.

The original version of this dish I got from next month’s edition of Eating Well, while I did add the bacon, cauliflower, and double the cheese (cheese!) I also like my pasta to have a little more moisture so I used 3 eggs in addition to olive oil and lemon juice for the sauce. I remember reading in authentic Italian cooking magazines about the practice of adding beaten eggs to pasta dishes to contribute texture (and protein), just remember that when you do so the pasta should be steaming hot. Anyway, so the title of my recipe may be elaborate, but I’m feeling a little extravagant these days so why shouldn’t my verbage? 😉 Although it does describe the dish very well with its mix of richness and freshness (what I mean is enough fat and vegetables, ’cause we all need a bit of both)..

The star ingredient in this recipe is the bacon. Why? Because bacon is already awesome on its own and contributes this awesomeness to anything you may add it to. Maybe it’s the American in me that just loves the taste of bacon, so much it might be criminal 😉 So it amps up your cholesterol, that just means we don’t need to be eating it all the time 😦 but I have been inspired with all the (yes, fatty) salted meats I had the pleasure of sampling in Spain so I thought I’d use its mystical powers to add a little attitude (ahem, sodium) to this vegetable-filled dish.

Lemony Linguine with Sautéed Leeks, Peppered Bacon, & Steamed Cauliflower


3 lemons

1 head of cauliflower

1 packet of sliced bacon

1 bunch of leeks, white and pale green parts chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced

1 packet (18 oz or 500 g) of whole-wheat pasta

1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

3 eggs, beaten

olive oil

sea salt & ground black pepper

(1) Fill the bottom of a large pot with 2 inches of salted water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. In the meantime, wash and trim the head of cauliflower, breaking into small florets. When the water is boiling, put all cauliflower pieces into a strainer and place in the pot, cover with lid, and steam the vegetables until soft, 5-7 minutes. Remove cauliflower, set aside, and cover. (2) Add more water to the pot until it is about halfway full (and a pinch more salt). Bring to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile zest 2 of the lemons and reserve for juicing, cut the remaining lemon into wedges for serving. (3) Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add bacon and fry 3-5 minutes, turning once and seasoning with plenty of pepper until bacon is cooked (not crispy). Remove from pan and put on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover to keep from drying out (and any stray snacking). (4) In the frying pan heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil. Add the chopped leek and minced garlic, cooking until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. (5) When the pot of salted water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and return pasta to the pot, immediately stirring in the beaten eggs. Over very low heat, add the cauliflower, lemon zest, 1/3 of the fresh parsley, the leeks, and use a pair of scissors to cut the bacon into medium-sized pieces as you add it to pasta. Season liberally with salt and pepper and add 3 Tbs. olive oil for moisture (or more if needed), and half of the cheese. Mix well. (6) When ready to dish up, remove pasta from heat. Juice 2 of the lemons into pasta, stir, and divide among 4 bowls. Garnish with a generous layer of grated cheese, ground pepper, and a pinch of minced parsley. Serve with lemon wedges on the side

Serves 4

So once again, pasta has proven to be one of those versatile, hearty, and healthy dishes that’s simple to prepare and easy to eat! As the (chilly) month of February comes around, I will need to come up with some more economically-minded recipes (not that bacon isn’t cheap…) to fit my dismal winter budget. Wish me luck with that 😀

My question: What is your favorite (fattiest) meat to eat?

I’m thinking some of the more tastefully sinful cuts…prosciutto, lamb chops, (and yes, bacon) or anything else that packs a punch (of flavor I mean;-)


Spicy Chocolately Chili

Finally, Winter is here! (Never thought I’d be excited about that 😉 and now that it’s oh so cold outside, I have renewed interest as well as every reason to be cooking rich, hearty meals that can simmer on the stove (ahem, hotplate) until tender and flavorful enough. I decided to make chili because for one, it is obvious I am missing American food and second, this mouth-watering recipe contains all of nourishingly good stuff I like, fat and sugar, veggies and salt, protein and carbs (and just enough…) But I must emphasize here, this is no ordinary chili.

I got this recipe from Food & Wine and while I’m wondering what this ‘Texas-style’ phrasing is indicative of, there is no doubt that this chili is blissfully tasty. With spicy flavors like chili powder and canned chipotles, herbaceous flavors like fresh Thyme and crushed Coriander, sugary flavors like coffee and dark chocolate, and other wonderfully wholesome ingredients like beef and beer (see what I’m saying?!!) I highly–emphatically, joyfully, exuberantly–recommend making this recipe for yourself, and you will see, I mean smell & taste, what I mean!

The image I include in this post is a rather poor visual representation of the final product because in actuality, the chili was this very deep, dark color, probably owing a lot to the coffee and chocolate, and the sauce very thickened, a process that is perfected by allowing this to cook (or simmer…) for the allotted amount of time needed on the stove. Patience here is the key, but in the process of this ‘stewing’, the kitchen (or very small apartment) will be filled with the delicious aromas of spicy goodness 🙂

The star ingredient in this recipe would have to be the dark chocolate–not that the chipotles, thyme, or beer were lacking in any respect–but simply because it gives the chili this rich (and yes, chocolately) flavor that was interesting, undeniable, and worked in delicious conjunction with the other savory aspects of this meal. When served, zesty fresh flavors of minced red onion and melted cheddar cheese on top combine in an exceptional feast 🙂 Just writing this post has made me want to cook this chili all over again, mmm….

Texas-Style Beef Short Rib Chili with Chocolate, Coriander, and Chipotles


2 lbs. beef short ribs

3 medium red onions

2 Anaheim or Pasilla chile peppers

2 Poblano chile peppers

1 red bell pepper

3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 can white beans, drained

1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

4 cups chicken broth

1 bottle of pilsner beer (your choice:-)

3 Tbs. ground Coriander

2 Tbs. ground Cumin seeds

2 Tbs. Ancho Chili powder

1 bar of dark chocolate, broken into pieces

1 1/2 cups fresh-brewed coffee


olive oil

salt & cracked pepper

pita bread/tortillas, for serving

shredded cheddar cheese, for serving

(1) Heat a skillet or frying pan over a medium-high temperature on the stove. Add fresh peppers and roast, uncovered, turning occasionally until skins are charred, 6 to 8 minutes. Put peppers in a bowl and cover with boiling water, letting sit 20 minutes or so until softened. (2) Meanwhile, chop 2 of the red onions coarsely for the chili and finely chop the remaining onion for serving. Cover the minced onion to be used for garnishing in a small dish and refrigerate until ready to serve. Separate fresh thyme leaves from their stems and put coarsely chopped onions, minced garlic, sliced mushrooms, and fresh thyme all in one large bowl; set aside. (3) Drain the peppers, de-stem, and seed them. Add roasted peppers, chipotle peppers with adobo sauce, and fresh-brewed coffee to a blender, pulsing until smooth (or if you don’t have a blender like me, just mince the peppers in a mug with scissors, before mixing the three together in a bowl). (4) Trim any large strips of fat from short ribs and cut into 1/2-inch or small 1-inch cubes. Season meat generously all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbs. of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. (5) When the pot is hot, add short rib cubes and cook, stirring to prevent sticking, until pieces are browned all over, about 8 to 10 minutes. (6) Lower heat to medium and all of add the onion-mushroom mixture, stirring often, and cooking until veggies are slightly softened, another 4 minutes. Add the Coriander, Cumin, and Chili powder, mixing well until fragrant, another 2 minutes. (7) Next, stir in the blended peppers and coffee, chicken broth, white beans, and bottle of beer. Lower the heat, partially cover, and let chili simmer until meat is tender and the sauce is reduced, about 2 hours. (8) Ladle 2 cups of sauce into a bowl and stir in 2 Tbs. of flour with a fork, whisking until well blended; return sauce to the pot and cook until chili has thickened, another 10 minutes. Mix in the dark chocolate pieces until melted and remove from heat. (9) Dish up chili in bowls with warm or toasted pita bread on the side. Sprinkle finely chopped red onion and grated cheddar cheese across top of chili and serve.

Serves 4

So that comprises my experimenting in the art of slow cooking flavorful food. I will be returning home to the snowy mountains of Colorado this weekend and shall once again have access to a fully-functioning kitchen (and the wonderful guidance of my mother, the culinary expert) so who knows what wonderfulness is in store for me and my ever-expanding belly 🙂

My question: what is the best (and reasonably priced) cut of meat to slow cook in chili and/or stews?


Thanksgiving in a Danish Kitchen

So, I’m thinking ‘Danish’ can be closely compared to ‘European’ but I’d rather not generalize in this case, the fact of the matter is that I am most definitely in Europe, where stuffing mix is hard to come by and nobody tends to remember this food-loving American holiday. I did, however, in the interest of socializing with good people and cooking good food, make it a point to celebrate Thanksgiving and wouldn’t allow my location (or my very cramped kitchen) to affect the occurrence of that. My challenge: to make Thanksgiving dinner–the turkey, the stuffing, the gravy, the veggies–all of it without an oven (ha!) and using only the 2 burners on my very little hotplate. Impossible? I think not!

I have included here the entire menu I served to our company; we were five in all (oh yes, technically six:-) and I wanted to stay pretty traditional with the recipes. To just state the hardest thing about all this right off, ’twas the stuffing. Couldn’t find any sort of stuffing mix, breadcrumbs, or even croutons (I don’t think they have a Danish word for that) so I had to get 2 loaves of bread, toast them on the stove (yeah, ’cause who needs a toaster?), cut them up into little cubes, and hope for the best when I threw them all together with broth and veggies. Luckily for me, all the effort was worth it as the stuffing turned out splendidly. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the results of my toiling in the kitchen this last Thanksgiving, I know the meal was memorable and above all things, delicious!

Just on a side note, the veggie recipe I got from Cooking Light but the rest of it, including the stuffing, turkey “medallions” as I like to call them, and the gravy was basically improvised. I got to say that while having an oven would have made this all go a lot quicker (not to mention easier), not having one and being forced to innovation and creativity was an enjoyable experience with equally satisfying results. Don’t have an oven? No fear, anything is possible as long as you have some crockery and access to heat }:-)

Before I go on to the details, I have to say that the star ingredient in all this (because every menu has one), would be fresh Thyme which, thanks to my friend and ‘sous chef’ for the evening, we had plenty of since she spent an hour at least painstakingly pulling Thyme leaves from their stems; yes, SO happy I had help with that! It was an awesome, if not time-consuming task, although it ended up turning her fingers black :p, hopefully that washed off, eventually…

Peppered Sage Turkey Medallions with Red Wine Gravy


(for the turkey)

2 lbs. fresh turkey breast, trimmed

3 Tbs. dried sage

salt & cracked pepper

butter, for frying

(for the gravy)

1/2 cup red wine

3 Tbs. butter

3 cups chicken broth

2 Tbs. fresh Thyme leaves

1 Tbs. dried Sage

1/2 cup milk

2 Tbs. flour

1 cup low-fat cream

salt & cracked pepper

(1) For turkey medallions, take each breast and cut in half; put a piece at a time in a plastic bag and, over a thick cutting board, beat with a can (or meat mallet) until turkey is thin and tender. Repeat with all breast pieces. Season both sides of all turkey pieces generously with salt, cracked pepper, and dried sage. (2) Next, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat in a frying pan until melted, then add the first turkey piece. Fry for about 5 minutes, browning both sides and checking that the meat is cooked through before transferring to a separate plate and covering with foil. Repeat the frying process for all turkey pieces, adding more butter when necessary to prevent sticking. When done, cover and set cooked turkey aside until ready to serve. (3) For the gravy, use the same pan with turkey drippings and deglaze with a little red wine then add 2 Tablespoons of flour, stirring with a whisk until flour begins to brown slightly. Add the chicken broth, butter, and remaining red wine; let the entire mixture simmer over medium heat until thickened, 8-10 minutes. (4) Stir in the dried sage, fresh thyme, and milk, whisking often for another 5 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the cream and season gravy with salt & pepper. Ladle over the turkey pieces (and anything else in dire need of gravy goodness 🙂

Serves 6

Traditional Sourdough Bread Stuffing with Garlic, Celery, and Onions


2 loaves of sourdough (or wholewheat) bread, sliced

olive oil

1 head of celery, coarsely chopped

4 medium onions, coarsely chopped

5 cloves of garlic, minced

4 Tbs. fresh Thyme leaves

4 cups chicken broth (or 2 bullion cubes with water)

3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar


salt & cracked pepper

(1) Toast all bread by brushing each side of the pieces lightly with olive oil and placing in a frying pan or skillet over medium heat until nicely browned, turning once to toast both sides, about 3-4 minutes total per slice (if you have the luxury of owning a toaster, just use that to toast all the pieces until well-browned). (2) Cut/tear all the toasted bread slices into small cubes or chunks and let sit uncovered for a couple hours until crumbs have hardened slightly. (3) In a large pot, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat and add all of the celery, garlic, and onions, stirring occasionally and cooking until tender, about 10-15 minutes. (4) When close to serving, add all of the breadcrumbs and fresh Thyme to the pot and stir, before pouring in chicken broth and apple cider vinegar. Mix the stuffing together until well-blended, adding more broth if too dry; season to taste with salt & cracked pepper. Turn the heat to its lowest setting and cover the pot, keeping warm until ready to dish up onto plates.

Serves 6

Buttered Green Beans and Mushrooms with Fresh Thyme


1 lb. green beans, trimmed

1 lb. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

3 Tbs. butter

3 Tbs. fresh Thyme leaves

salt & cracked pepper

(1) In a large wok, fill the bottom 2 inches deep with salted water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. When bubbling, throw in the green beans and steam until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Immediately rinse green beans in cold water to stop the cooking process, pat dry, and set aside. (2) Next, drain salted water from the wok and melt 2 Tablespoons of butter, lowering the heat to medium. Add sliced mushrooms and Thyme leaves, stirring well and cooking, uncovered, until all the moisture evaporates from the bottom of the wok and the mushrooms are tender, about 10-12 minutes. (3) When ready to serve, throw in the steamed green beans and remaining 1 Tbs. of butter, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook another 3 minutes, until vegetables are warmed through and steaming. Serve immediately beside turkey and stuffing 🙂

Serves 6

So there you have it: Thanksgiving dinner for six, traditionally tasty, pleasantly affordable, and immensely satisfying. The hardest part was actually making it all (in a timely fashion, of course) but if you have as wonderful company/accomplices as I did, then that turns out to be funnest part too :] Must I really wait another YEAR to have Thanksgiving again?!

My question: what is your favorite twist on the traditional gravy recipe?

I used red wine, but I bet there are some amazingly interesting things you can do to spice up this delicious thickened sauce…


On a Cloudy Day All I Want is Soup…

Ahh, don’t get me wrong. Cloudy weather is nice, I mean it’s cold…and brisk and…did I mention cold? But, as my title points out, when it gets cloudy, all I want is soup. But who doesn’t? There’s a reason soup settles so satisfyingly in the stomach; after all, broth is best. Soup is also a genre of food with endless variation. And just for an example: think of your favorite food; now, imagine it as a soup. Eureka, right?! 😉 I could make up soups all day. Any combination of ingredients (fresh or likewise) will work and with some patience, stirring, and a blender, the soup eventually cooks itself.

For this particular soup recipe, I substituted celery root for a normal base of potatoes because…why not? The flavors are similar, but celery root has perhaps a slightly richer (but not starchier) flavor that reminds me of anise. Did I mention celery root aids digestion? After everything is blended, the soup takes on a much smoother consistency, which is perhaps why I was able to pack in the fresh veggies, because you can never have too much of those 🙂

I originally got this recipe from one of my beloved soup books, only to discover I’d packed the book away in one of my many boxes 😦 Now that’s sloppy planning. Luckily I kept track of the ingredients, so I ended up making this soup based on a recipe from a New Hampshire Co-Op. And New England knows blue cheese. Mmmm. In this case, the blue cheese is important as the flavor should be robust enough to enhance the vegetables but not so strong that it overpowers the final dish. I decided upon Maytag blue cheese because I figure I’ll have plenty of time to try the traditional Danish blues 😉

The best thing about all this is that by the time I got around to making the soup, it was late at night and so I had the kitchen to myself and plenty of time to sample pieces off the crumbling block of blue cheese. Remember, you only need a cup for the soup and it’s the chef’s duty to test the ingredients for quality control, at least that’s my excuse!

Creamy Celery Apple Blue Cheese Soup


2 Tbs. Butter

1 head of celery, stem and leaves, chopped

2 lbs. celery root, peeled and chopped

2 yellow onions, chopped

1 golden delicious apple, chopped

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

2 Tbs. white wine

1 cup fat-free half & half (or cream/milk)

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion and celery, cooking until soft, 8 -10 minutes. (2) Stir in the broth and bring to a boil; add the celery root, cover, and reduce the heat to low, simmering until the celery root pieces are soft, about 35 minutes. Add the golden apple pieces and let cook another 10 minutes. (3) Remove the soup from the heat, uncover, and let cool. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth, returning the entire mixture to the pot. (4) Reheat the soup over low heat; stir in the half & half and white wine, adding the blue cheese a little at a time and mixing until well blended. (5) Season the soup with salt & pepper to taste and add extra chicken broth (or wine) if lacking in consistency. Garnish with celery leaves and serve with toasted bread of choice (can be kept up to 2 weeks in the fridge…)

Serves 6

It is true that soup rarely fails to satisfy. There’s something about a steaming bowl of palatable vegetables and spices that’s the best thing when your hungry and it’s cold outside 🙂 Man do I love blue cheese.

My question: What is the best soup for a cold day?


Season of Soup

So…spring is not quite here yet and, despite what everyone has been saying, Winter is NOT over 😦 which makes me turn again to comfort foods. And one of the best comfort foods ever is soup of course, warm, brothy, easy to digest, and even easy to eat as leftovers days afterward.

I have tried to be creative in my soup choices and so this recipe involves many vegetables currently in season. I used a version that could be served hot or cold (imagine that!) and I made plenty of it so we could eat for days to come. God bless Winter vegetables! 🙂


Creamed Summer Squash & Leek Soup with Chickpeas, fresh Basil, & Toasted Bread


6 cups chicken broth

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

1 bunch leeks, washed & chopped

2 lbs. summer squash, chopped

1 lb. zucchini, chopped

2 cups fat-free half & half (or milk)

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch fresh Chives, chopped

1 bunch fresh Basil, chopped

5 Tbs. lemon juice

cracked pepper & sea salt

olive oil

sliced fresh bread (like country or herb)

(1) Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium-high heat; when hot, add the leeks and garlic and cook 10-15 minutes until tender; add the squash and zucchini and let the entire mixture cook another 8 minutes. (2) Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes; working in batches, puree the vegetables in a blender until smooth; return everything to the pot. (3) Add all the chicken broth and chickpeas and mix well. Refrigerate the mixture until chilled. (4) Next, add the lemon juice, fresh herbs, and stir in the half & half until the soup is creamy and mixed thoroughly. (5) Toast the fresh bread and serve with slices. This dish can be served hot or cold, but I think it is best cold 🙂

Serves 8

So as it turns out, I packed the book with this recipe away in one of my boxes, but I had written down the ingredients, so I ended up just winging it entirely. Luckily for me, it is hard to mess up soup.

My question is, what is the best cold soup you’ve ever tasted?

Mine would have to be gazpacho, but that’s just because I love tomatoes…and salsa…and spaghetti sauce, and bruschetta…and, did I mention I love tomatoes? }:-)