. Seriously Soupy: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Homemade Meat Stock Recipe

Straining the stock

Storing the stock
Leftover meaty goodness for another soup
Last year I made a Chicken Stock and a Vegetable Stock and I loved how easy it was - not to mention how they naturally seasoned my recipes. I really want to try to make a Fish Stock, a Duck Stock, a Pork Stock, a BBQ Beef Stock, and a Roasted Vegetable Stock (among many others). Another stock I wanted to test out was a Homemade Meat Stock. 

Before I actually made the stock, I researched several recipes such as Cantaloupe Alone's Baked Bone Stock, a stock recipe from Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried, and a meat broth recipe from the book The Classic Italian Cookbook. All very different, Cantaloupe Alone's and Straight Into Bed's focuses on oven baking the meat bones to extract the flavors while the recipe from The Classic Cookbook involves a boiling method. Having a basic idea of what ingredients I wanted to use, I decided to boil my stock (mainly because my oven is not reliable and is also very old). For my stock, I used fresh beef parts, along with some fresh parsley, thyme, leeks, bay leaves, celery, carrots, onions and a potato. The whole process took about three hours to cook and some salt was added during the end to taste the stock. A simple recipe, I loved how flavorful this homemade stock was and how many new soups are going to come out of this easy and rich stock.

Homemade Meat Stock Recipe
1 pound of beef (with bones)
12 cups of water, approximately
1 yellow onion, cut up
1 leek, cut up - use white part only
1 parsnip, cut up
1 white potato, cut up (with the skin)
1 large carrot, cut up
2 celery ribs, cut up
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons of thyme
1 sprig of parsley, cut up
salt, to taste

Add water to a large soup pot and let boil. Cut up the onion, carrot, potato, leek, parsnip, and celery and add them to the pot, along with the bay leaves, thyme, and parsley. Wash the meat and add them to the pot. Lower flame, cover, and let cook for approximately 3 hours - checking on it periodically. During the last hour, add some salt and taste. Turn off the flame and strain the meat and vegetables. Let cool and freeze or use your stock and meat for another soup! Enjoy.

Tip: When freezing, keep the fat in the stock in order to seal the flavors. This layer will be easy to remove when you defrost your stock.

How do you make your meat stock?
Seriously Soupy Serena

March 31st is "National Order-In Day" on AllMenus.com

Although I love creating homemade meals and soups at home, there are some days when that seems downright exhausting. Ordering in offers the best of both worlds - the chance to be home but you don't have to cook! AllMenus.com, an online food ordering company, wants to encourage more people to eat out but for less with "National Order-In Day" on March 31st. Customers will get 50% off their take-out bill of $40 or more that is designed to offer consumers a hassle-free way to enjoy over 250,000 restaurants nationwide on Allmenus.com and through its sister site Campusfood.com. "We honor the busy, the lazy, and the hungry. Our web and mobile sites and services let people enjoy great food in a convenient way, a process which will now be celebrated with its own day," Sloan Gaon, CEO, Dotmenu stated. Through this campaign, people all over the country can “check-in” to the national holiday on Foursquare as well!

For additional information, please visit www.allmenus.com

Monday, March 28, 2011

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup - Seriously Soupy
Lentil soup is one of my all-time favorite soup recipes. Despite the thousands of soups I want to create (and hopefully will) sometimes only this classic and comforting bowl of soup will do. After a frigid day at the zoo with my family, I decided to make lentil soup but wanted to vary the recipe a bit. I decided to add coconut milk and some curry for a slight nutty taste. I also added some mint, lime, and ginger to balance out the flavors. Since Mr. Soupy aka My Income Lab is my official taste-tester, he gave me some critic to the recipe. He didn't think the mint was needed since it overpowered the other flavors - so keep that in mind if you choose to use that herb. Overall, this is a very easy soup recipe (for a bean-based soup can) that can be whipped up in less than two hours. Enjoy!

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
Serves 4
4-6 cups of water
2 cups of dry lentils
1 yellow onion, cut up 
1 teaspoon of ginger, minced and shredded
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 zucchini, cut up
1 rib of celery, cut up
2-3 carrots, cut up 
3-5 bay leaves
Bunch of fresh mint
1/2 lime, cut up
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 cup of coconut milk

Add water to a pot and let boil on a medium heat. As the water starts to boil, cut up the ginger, onions, and garlic and place them into the pot, along with the bay leaves. mint and rosemary. Cover and lower flame. Let cook for 10 minutes. Add the lentils and let cook for about an hour. Cut up the celery, carrots, zucchini, and add them to the pot, along with the curry powder, salt, pepper, lime and coconut milk. Cover and let cook for another 10-15 minutes. Taste and drizzle with some lime - you may need to add more salt and pepper. 

What is your favorite recipe for lentil soup?

Seriously Soupy Serena

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Children's Books About Soup

What I really love about this soup making experience is getting to share it with my family as I test out new recipes and experiment with new flavors. I also love how excited my daughter gets when I create a new soup. Although she doesn't eat the soups (still working on that), she loves helping me add spices and mix up the water (before the flame is turned on). The attention span ends around there but it is still amazing that she is learning about different smells, tastes, and new flavors. Another way to teach children about soups and food is through books. After discovering the classic Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert, I was inspired to find more soup books for budding cooks. Here are some of my picks:

 1. Growing Vegetable Soup - A recent find from the library, Lois Ehlert's story cleverly shows how soup starts as a seed. Beginning as an idea between a Dad and his child, Growing Vegetable Soup  explains how seeds are planted, watered, and taken care of until they grow into vegetables. Finally, they pick and dig the vegetables and make a soup together. I love the concept of growing food and how that experience is shared among a parent and his child. The story also ends with a vegetable soup recipe by Peggy Daum.

2. Stone Soup - The classic folktale about how a kid tricks an older woman into making him a bowl of soup with a stone. Starting by asking for water and then meat, vegetables and butter, the stone soup grows into a hearty bowl of soup. This version by Ann Mcgovern is considerably shorter and is designed for children 4 through 8 years old.

3. Little Critter: Snowball Soup - As a part of the Little Critter series, this book follows how Little Critter, Little Sister, and their Dog make soup for their snowman. Written by Mercer Mayer, Little Critter: Snowball Soup is designed for kids 3 to 6 years old.

4. Campbell Kids Alphabet Soup - Featuring advertising art from the Campbell's soup company, the book is not just about soups but a fun ABC book featuring art from over 100 years ago. The colorful illustrations are also fun for older readers to share with their grandchildren aged 4 to 8.

5. Alphabet Soup - A book designed for children in the second grade, Alphabet Soup follows otter (the new kid) who invites his friends to his house for a soup party. They all bring ingredients from A to Z that are added to a communal pot as they create a massive bowl of soup.

What children's books featuring soups have you read?
Seriously Soupy Serena

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chunky Tomato Vegetable Soup

Chunky Tomato Vegetable Soup - Seriously Soupy
It is still pretty nippy out there and I even saw some snow this morning - despite the fact that it is technically spring. To take refuge, I am still enjoying hearty soups like this chunky tomato vegetable recipe. Originally featured as a guest post on Mom in the City, I recently made this soup using beans, tomatoes, onions, kale, carrots, broccoli, dried basil and rosemary. This recipe is also very flexible and you can use any variation of vegetables that you have or add some pasta or rice for a quick and hearty post-winter waiting for warmer days soup.

Chunky Tomato Vegetable Soup
2-3 cups of water – you can add more if you want a thinner soup
5 heirloom tomatoes, cut up or 1 can of chunky tomato sauce
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and minced
1 can of kidney beans
1/2 bunch of kale trimmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
2-3 stalks of carrots, peeled and cut
1/2 bunch of broccoli, cut up
2-3 red potatoes, cut up
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of dried basil
1 tablespoon of dried rosemary

Drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of medium-sized pot. Cut up the tomatoes (or open the can) and add them to a pot. Let cook for 5 minutes and add one cup of water. Remove from flame and blend together using a hand mixer – should be slightly chunky. Return to a low flame and add the rest of the water and cover. Cut up the onions and garlic and add them, along with the basil, rosemary and bay leaves to the pot and bring to a slight boil. Prepare and cut up the carrots, potatoes, kale and broccoli and add them to the pot along with the beans and some salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a medium-heat. Cover and let cook for 30 minutes, checking on the soup periodically. Taste and add more salt or pepper, if necessary. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions:
Top with Parmesan cheese or croutons.

Seriously Soupy Serena

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Post: Potato and Fresh Herb Soup

Potato and Fresh Herb Soup by "Deja Vu" Cook
Guest Blogger: Kathleen of Deja Vu Cook 
We have a tendency to think of fresh herbs and something to add to a soup, but surprise yourself when you make this soup (especially in the spring and summer) with fresh herbs from your own garden.  Here in Florida we have these herbs in our backyards year round but spring seems the appropriate time to really celebrate them wherever you may live.

Potato and Fresh Herb Soup by "Deja Vu" Cook

4 T. Unsalted Butter
1 1/4 C. Diced Onions
1 1/2 C. Diced Potatoes
1 t. Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
1 T. Mixture of Fresh Parsley, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Chives and Marjoram
3 1/2 C. Chicken Stock
1/2 C. Whole Milk
Fresh Parsley (chopped for garnish)

1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan; when it foams add the onions and potatoes; toss in the butter thoroughly
2. Season with salt and pepper; cover and sweat on low heat for 10 minutes
3. Add the fresh herbs and the stock; cook until vegetables are soft
4. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or transfer in batches to blender)
5. Season and thin with the milk to the consistency you desire
6. Pour into warmed soup bowls and garnish with fresh parsley

To read more recipes by Kathleen, be sure to check out her blog, "Deja Vu" Cook.

Do you have a soup that you would like to contribute to Seriously Soupy? Email me at seriouslysoupy@gmail.com for more details!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Soup Recipes for Peanut Lovers

Image Credit: The National Peanut Board
If there is something I love more than soup it is peanuts and peanut butter. A creamy and high-protein food packed with vitamin E and vitamin B, peanut butter is the perfect healthy snack that I love to eat with carrots and apples or as a simple sandwich with jelly. I also recently learned from The National Peanut Board that peanuts are a great ingredient to add to salads, stews and soups and being that it is National Peanut Month this is a perfect time to share some of their delicious and healthy soup recipes. I included three recipes that peanut and soup lovers will enjoy - including a Spicy Peanut Soup with Avocado Salsa, Hearty Quinoa and Peanut Soup, and a Two Continent Peanut Vegetable Soup. The National Peanut Board's website also includes delicious recipes for a Cauliflower Soup with Peanut Arugula Pesto, Posole Green Chile Peanut Stew, a Spicy Senegalese Sweet Potato & Peanut Soup and a Creamy Ginger Carrot Soup. With all of these options, you'll never look at that jar of PB the same again.

Soup Recipes for Peanut Lovers

Spicy Peanut Soup with Avocado Salsa - Recipe and Image from The National Peanut Board
Spicy Peanut Soup with Avocado Salsa - Recipe by The National Peanut Board
Peanut Soup:
2 t
ablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 red onion, minced
1 leek, cleaned and minced
1/2 cup minced celery
2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato
2 cups freshly chopped tomato
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo
2 cups peanut butter, smooth
2 quarts chicken stock
Bouquet garni of thyme, parsley and bay
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste.

To garnish:
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped

Avocado Salsa:
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and cubed to 1/2 inch dice
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. When butter foams, add red onion, leek and celery. Sweat down for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sweet potato, tomato, curry and chipotle. Cook for five minutes.

Stir peanut butter into the pot. Add chicken stock and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for twenty minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft. Add cream. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Puree soup while still warm in batches in a blender, taking extreme care not to overfill the blender. Once pureed, pass the soup through a fine mesh strainer and season. Heat it up when you are ready to serve and garnish each bowl with a tablespoon of avocado salsa and some roasted peanuts.

Mix all ingredients and season the mixture. Snugly cover with plastic wrap for later use.

6 servings 

Recipe created by Hugh Acheson

Hearty Quinoa and Peanut Soup - Recipe and Image from The National Peanut Board
Hearty Quinoa and Peanut Soup - Recipe by The National Peanut Board
1 c quinoa
2 tbsp achiote-infused oil
1c white onion, finely chopped
½ tsp ground cumin
2 oz. creamy cheese (or feta), crumbled
2 tsp salt
2 medium Russet potatoes, small dice
1 ¼ c water
3 c milk
2 oz. unsalted peanuts, finely ground
4 tsp lime juice
1 serrano pepper, finely minced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Place quinoa in a medium-sized saucepan and cook dry, while stirring, over medium heat until the quinoa has a nutty aroma and begins to pop slightly. When the quinoa has toasted, add 6 cups of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and reserve.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cumin and sauté briefly.

Add half of the crumbled cheese and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the salt, potatoes, 1 ¼ cups water and 3 cups milk; simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the quinoa and the ground peanuts. Add remaining cheese and stir to mix for 2 to 5 minutes. Thin with more milk if the soup is too thick. Adjust seasoning with lime juice to taste and garnish with Serrano pepper and cilantro.

Two Continent Peanut Vegetable Soup - Recipe and Image from The National Peanut Board
Two Continent Peanut Vegetable Soup - Recipe by The National Peanut Board
2 Tbsp canola oil
½ cup onion, finely diced
½ cup celery, finely diced
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
2 qts vegetable broth, canned
4 cups fresh kale (collards or spinach), chopped
2 cups sweet potatoes, unpeeled, diced
1 cup corn, fresh, frozen or canned
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Hot sauce to taste
10 Tbsp salted peanuts
Option: add 6 oz grilled, diced Portuguese Liguria or other well seasoned sausage

In large stockpot, with cover, heat oil. Cook onion, celery and garlic, over medium-low heat, for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Stir in peanut butter until thoroughly combined with vegetables.

Add broth and bring to boil. Add kale, bring to boil again, reduce heat, cover and cook 10-15 minutes. Add potatoes, salt and pepper; cover and cook additional 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

Add corn; turn off heat. Add hot sauce to taste. Let sit 5 minutes.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls, adding 1 Tbsp peanut to each serving.

Have you ever made soups with peanuts?
Seriously Soupy Serena

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Garlicky Green Soup

Garlicky Green Soup - Seriously Soupy
Another ode to St. Patrick's Day, this Garlicky Green Soup is essentially just that - tons of garlic and various green vegetables that I blended together.  I cooked a mixture of celery, peas, broccoli, spinach, and green beans with some onions, potatoes, rosemary, thyme and a dollop of Greek yogurt for a healthy rich vegetable mixture. Since I am a die hard garlic fan I was also really excited that I was able to test out a new line of gourmet garlic products called Garlic Gold in this recipe. Essentially chunky garlic nuggets, this organic garlic company features a line of condiments ranging from Italian Herb Nuggets to Parmesan Nuggets, and of course, a great selection of crunchy garlic nuggets. For this super garlicky soup, I used a combination of their Garlic Gold with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and their Garlic Gold Nuggets - resulting in a rich and powerful flavor that worked really well with the earthy combination from the vegetables. This soup can also be easily modified based on the vegetables you have at home and can include a combination of other colors as well, even though, it's pretty hip to be green...

Garlic Gold's Product Line

Garlicky Green Soup
(Printable Recipe)
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 cups of water
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1/2 cup of broccoli
2 ribs of celery, chopped up
Bunch of spinach, rinsed
1/4 tablespoon of dried thyme
1/4 tablespoon of dried rosemary
2-3 potatoes, cut up
1/2 cup of green peas
1 tablespoon of Garlic Gold with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 
1/4 tablespoon of Garlic Gold Nuggets
dollop of Greek yogurt (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste 

Add water to a medium-sized pot and let boil on a low heat. Cut up the onions and potatoes and add them to the pot, along with the garlic, rosemary and thyme when the water boils. Cover and let cook for 10-15 minutes. Add in the green vegetables, salt and pepper and cover for another 15 minutes. Blend the mixture and top with yogurt. Enjoy!

Seriously Soupy Serena

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Irish Beef Stew

Irish Beef Stew - Seriously Soupy
For St. Patrick's Day this year I wanted to make a traditional Irish Beef Stew. Although this is a slight deviation from soup making, I thought it would be an interesting recipe to try out - using similar cooking techniques that I have been using on the site. For the stew, I used a flavorful base of onions, rosemary, garlic, parsley, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves that was slowly cooked with beef tips and dark beer. The result was a distinctive and hearty stew that can be also made with mutton or lamb. Enjoy and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Irish Beef Stew

2 cups of water
drizzle of olive oil 
1 pound of beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces 
1 large yellow onion, chopped up
2-3 stalks of carrots, peeled and chopped up2-3 potatoes, cut up (I kept the skins on)
4 cloves of garlic, minced 
1/2 bottle of dark beer- (I used Trader Joe's Black Toad Ale)
1 can of tomato paste 
1 tablespoon of thyme 
1 tablespoon of rosemary
2-4 bay leaves
Bunch of parsley, chopped
sea salt 

Drizzle olive oil in a pot and chop up the onions and garlic and add them to a pot. Cook on medium heat and add in the thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, parsley, tomato paste and some water and let cook for 10-15 minutes. Cut up the carrots and potatoes. Stir the mixture and add them into the pan. Reduce flame and add in the beef and beer. Let cook for an hour, checking on it periodically and tasting as you go. Enjoy!

Serve with Irish Soda Bread by Simple Bites.

Seriously Soupy Serena

Thursday, March 10, 2011

All About Wontons

For the soup tour, I originally planned to take the group to Marco Polo, a restaurant that specializes in wonton and dumpling-based soups. Unfortunately, I later learned that Marco Polo closed down so we decided to check out Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles for some hearty (and cheap) bowls of vegetable and meat noodle-based soups. Since I learned a lot about wontons and wasn't able to talk about it on the tour I thought it would be a great Soup 101 piece for the site. After you learn more about some wonton basics, you can also find some wonton-related links on how to make your own as well as how to wrap wontons and three wonton soup recipe to try out at home. Enjoy! 

All About Wontons:

  • Wontons originated in North China.
  • Viewed in ancient China as a sealed stuffed bun without holes and was named "Huidun" (meaning chaos). It was later changed to wonton.
  • Wonton wrappers are generally made with flour, water, salt, (and sometimes eggs). They are then stuffed, wrapped, steamed, boiled or fried. 
  • Wontons are generally thinner than dumplings, which become transparent after they are cooked.
  • The filling is typically made of: Minced pork, Coarsely diced or whole shrimp or oysters, Finely minced ginger and onion or carrots and Sesame oil and soy sauce. 
  • A triangle is the most common shape of a wonton. This is made by folding the wrapper in half by pulling together two opposite corners. 
Making Your Own Wontons: 

Homemade Wonton Wrappers by Kitchen Simplicity
  • Homemade Wonton Wrappers - An easy homemade wonton recipe by Kitchen Simplicity that includes a simple mixture of flour, eggs, salt and water. The recipe also includes helpful tips about freezing wontons, preserving them in cornstarch and how they can made super thin in a pasta maker.  
  • How to Wrap Wontons - Now that you have an incredible wonton recipe, it's time to wrap this. I love this video on SlideShare by Chinese Kitchen that includes 11 steps (with pictures) of how to cook the filing (meat and vegetable), scoop it into the wonton, fill the wonton, and finally how to boil them. The best part is that you can watch it over and over until you get your wonton wrapping just right.

    Wonton Soup Recipes:

    The wontons are made and wrapped, now it's time to make the soup. Here are a few wonton-based recipes for you to try:

    Shrimp Wonton Soup by A Growing Tradition
    1. Shrimp Wonton Soup - Created by A Growing Tradition, this Shrimp Wonton Soup recipe covers how to make a simple broth and the wontons themselves that are filled with shrimp, scallions, and cilantro. The recipe also includes some delicious ideas for garnishes such as bean sprouts and Asian microgreens.

    Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup by Food Repulik
     2.  Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup - The adorable food site Food Repulik created this amazing-looking pork and shrimp wonton soup. Using ground pork, raw shrimp, bamboo shoots, and some soy sauce and ginger, I not love the recipe but really enjoyed reading Camilla's personal story about making wontons with her mom when she was a child.

    Vegetable Wonton Soup by Seriously Soupy
     3. Vegetable Wonton Soup - My first foray into Asian cooking was with this vegetable wonton soup. Using ingredients from a local market in Brooklyn, I  added a variety of vegetables (napa cabbage, bok choy, spinach, mushrooms, and carrots) to the wontons that was then cooked in a tasty sesame-soy-based broth. I also added some spicy chili oil and garlic to complete the delicious soup.

    How do you make your wonton soup?

    Seriously Soupy Serena

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Soup Tour Restaurant Review

    Excited Soup Lovers in Front of Da Nico
    Saturday, March 5th turned out to be a great day for a soup walking tour. Not only was the weather beautiful there were 20 excited soup lovers ready eager and hungry to test out three different soups from Chinatown, Little Italy and then on to Katz's for some Matzo Ball Soup. Although we never ended up at Katz's (more on that below) the tour was a really fun way to check out new restaurants, test new soups and make a few new friends along the way.

    Seafood soup with hand-pulled noodles

    Meat wontons with hand-pulled noodles
    Hannah modeling the noodles
    The tour started on a Doyers Street at Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles, Inc in Chinatown. I heard about this place and their signature hand-pulled noodles (noodles that are literally stretched, twisted and finally cut and placed into broth) and thought this would be an exciting restaurant to try amidst a sea of restaurants in Chinatown. With over 25 soups and 7 different noodles to choose from we were all excited to test our vegetable and egg, tofu and vegetable, meat dumpling, seafood with shrimp, golden fish ball, squid, mussels, and beef soups (to name a few). There was also a tripe soup, which no one was brave enough to try and for good reason. When our steaming bowls of soup arrived I was surprised at the generous portion sizes as the rich smells took over the room. I tried the tofu and vegetable that was really completed with the addition of the long and yummy noodles. All around I heard the same sentiments and the group was really happy with the value and inexpensive price-point of the soups. My soup was $5.25 and the highest soup was about $7.00. Since we were off to a day of soup-eating most of use opted to save room for more stop and only eat half of our bowls.I could have easily finished this soup and hope to do so when I return to Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles (hopefully sooner than later)

    Testing out soup at Da Nico
    Pasta Fagioli from Da Nico
    Stracciatella alla Romana from Da Nico
    The Delicious and free Fritelle from Da Nico
    Next, we were off to Little Italy for some minestrone soup. Now anyone that knows Little Italy instantly doesn't think of it as a place to find authentic Italian food in NYC. Being an ethnic food tour I heard that Da Nico served up some delicious minestrone soup and thought it was worth the toursity adventure - even if I got a little flack for it. The soup menu at Da Nico included Minestone Soup, Pasta Fagioli Canellini, Stracciatella alla Romana (spinach and egg soup), Canellini and Tortellini in Brodo Tortellini. I opted for the Pasta Fagioli with the majority of the soup lovers, including Kathy of The Experimental Gourmand, testing out the Stracciatella alla Romana. Since Pasta Fagioli is a favorite of mine I knew it could do no harm in my eyes and the version from Da Nico lived up to the test: perfectly cooked beans, curly pasta, and a light and creamy tomato broth topped with a heaping dose of parmasean cheese. As full as I thought I was from Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles I ended up finishing the whole thing, along with two pieces of bread that came with the soup. Kathy also enjoyed her Stracciatella alla Romana that she mentioned "benefited from a dusting of cheese to add a creamy, dairy bite to all the vegetables." After the soup, we were then given plates of pure deliciousness - fritelle with powdered sugar. No matter how full anyone was we couldn't pass on the free plates of fried dough - in fact, I had two pieces!

    With our full soup (fried dough and bread) bellies we were off to Katz's. Some people left but about 10 of us were ready for more...or at least we thought. When we arrived at Katz's the place was packed.  Not sure if it was the combination of the crowds or us realizing we couldn't eat anymore but no one wanted to try their split pea, chicken noodle or matzo ball soup. I, too, was full and actually pretty happy not to eat anymore but I was hoping that one brave soup would try the delicious brothy Matzoh Ball soup, but instead we walked around for a bit and talked before finally ending the tour around Second Avenue.

    Not only a day of eating, the soup tour through Explorecation.com was a great way to meet new people, try new soups and get excited for the next one: a spring soup and sandwich tour. Stay tuned for details.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo with Cayenne Corn Muffin Croutons

    Gumbo with Cayenne Corn Muffin Croutons - Seriously Soupy
    With Mardi Gras just days away I thought it was finally a time that I tried to make gumbo. More of a stew, this thick medley of chicken, shrimp and turkey (can also sub for andouille sausage) was a fun meal to experiment with whether you are in New Orleans or are just looking for a spicy and hearty soup to test out. Having never made gumbo before I looked at various recipes and took ingredients from each to craft my own Cajun treat. In addition to the various meats I added carrots, peppers - both red and green, onions, celery, okra, and chili and cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes that gave the soup a nice kick. For the corn muffins, I cheated and used a box but I added various spices (cayenne and chili pepper) in the mix for a spicy crouton that worked really well with this hearty soup.

    Gumbo with Cayenne Corn Muffin Croutons
    2-3 cups of water  
    2 chicken breast (boneless and skinless) 
    1/2 pound of turkey meat
    1/4 cup olive oil 
    1 yellow onion, chopped
    4 cloves garlic minced
    3-4 green onions, chopped up
    1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped 
    1 red pepper, seeded and chopped  
    2-3 carrots, chopped   
    3 stalks celery chopped 
    3 tablespoons of flour   
    1/4 bunch parsley, chopped
    1/4 bunch dill, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish 
    1 (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice
    2 cups frozen sliced okra
    1/2 pound shrimp- (I used frozen shrimp)
    2-3 bay leaves
    1/4 teaspoon chili pepper
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    Salt and pepper

    Cut up the onions, green onions and garlic and add them to a medium-sized soup pot with some olive oil. Let cook on a low heat and cover. Cut up the peppers, celery, carrots, okra and add them to the pot, along with the flour, two cups of water, bay leaves, parsley and dill and stir together. Add the tomato sauce and cover. Let cook for 30 minutes. In a separate pot, cook the turkey with any leftover onions (about 15 minutes). Cut up the chicken and add it to the pot, along with the turkey, shrimp, salt, and pepper. Cover and let cook for another 45 to an hour minutes, checking on the gumbo periodically. Turn off the flame, serve and top with a corn muffin crouton.

    How do you make your gumbo?
    Seriously Soupy Serena

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Soup Tour Recipes

    Hand-Pulled Noodles - Image Credit: absolutechinatours.com
    Today, myself and over 20 soup lovers are going to walk through the Lower East Side testing out hand-pulled noodle soups at Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles, Minestrone or Pasta Fagioli at Da Nico and some Matzo Ball Soup or Split Pea Soup at Katz's Deli. I'm very excited to host this walking tour with  Explorecation.com and in honor of the event here are three recipes of the soups that we are going to test out (hoping to have a hand-pulled noodle one up after this experience). If you can't make this one, there will also be a spring soup tour in April. Refer to Explorecation.com for more details. Happy weekend! 

    Vegetable Wonton Soup Recipe
    4 cups of water
    Bunch of Napa cabbage, chopped up
    1 tablespoon of garlic, minced
    1 bok choy, chopped up
    Bunch of fresh spinach
    1 can of mushrooms, chopped up
    1 whole carrot, chopped up
    1 stalk of chives, chopped up
    1 stalk of scallions, chopped up
    15 wonton wrappers (I used both Shanghai and Hong Kong-style wrappers)
    2-3 teaspoons sesame oil
    1 tablespoon of soy sauce
    2 teaspoons chili oil Salt to taste

    Other Ingredients for Your Wonton's:

    Add water to a pot and start boiling. Chop up the garlic, scallions, cabbage and bok choy and add them to the pot, along with some flavorings (soy sauce, sesame oil and chili oil). Chop up the bok choy, cabbage, mushrooms and carrots very fine (this is for your wonton's). Open your wonton's and coat the rim with sesame oil and water add the filings in the center and flap the wonton forward, then scrunch up the sides and close -- be careful not to overfill. Place them in the boiling pot, along with the spinach and extra mushrooms and carrots. Wonton's should be finished cooking when they rise. Taste and enjoy! 

    Vegetable Minestrone Soup
    3 cups of dry red beans, soaked for 4-5 hours
    8 cups of water, approximately 2-3 cups for soaking
    1 can of organic diced tomato sauce
    1 yellow onion, diced
    1/2 head of broccoli, cut up
    1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped up
    1 zucchini, cut up
    2-3 carrots, chopped up
    1/2 box of elbow macaroni
    1/4 teaspoon celery salt
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    bunch of fresh basil (about a handful)
    bunch of fresh rosemary (about a handful)  
    pepper and salt, to taste

    Let the dry beans soak for about 4 hours. When ready to cook, add water to a pot and let cook. Cut up the onions and garlic and add them to the pot, along with the beans. Cut up the veggies - zucchini, broccili, cauliflower and carrots, along with the tomato sauce and add them to the pot. Let cook for an hour, checking on the soup and stirring periodically. Add the seasonings (basil, rosemary, celery salt, salt and pepper) and pasta and let cook for another 30 minutes. Taste and enjoy!

    Part One—Chicken Stock 
    1 whole chicken cut into 1/4's (I used a small organic chicken)
    1 large pot almost completely filled (75%) with water
    4 carrots
    2 stalks of celery, cut up
    2 small parsnips or 1 large parsnip, cut up
    1 small yellow onion, diced into small cubes
    1 small bunch of dill tied tied together with white thread
    1 small bunch of parsley tied together with white thread
    Approximately 2 tablespoons of salt, tasting throughout the simmering process, adding more if needed
      Fill up a pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and cover. While that is cooking cut up, tie the thread around the dill and parsley, and the clean the vegetables. When the water/chicken starts to boil, clean any bubbles or dirt that acclimates to the surface. Add all of the vegetables and the salt to the pot. Set to a very low flame and allow the water to simmer slowly for two hours. Periodically check the pot and taste the concoction, adding salt if needed. After three hours let the vegetables sit in the pot until they cool. Discard all vegetables except carrots. Depending on when you are making the matzo meal you may need to keep your broth in the fridge or remove the vegetables and place the pot  immediately back on the heat as the matzo balls are added.

      Part Two—Matzoh Ball Mix

      • 2 eggs
      • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
      • 1/2 cup matzoh meal
      • 1/2 teaspoons of salt
      • 2 tablespoons of cold seltzer
      In a medium-sized bowl mix eggs and oil with a fork, but do not beat the mixture. Add the matzoh meal, salt, seltzer, and mix together.  Cover with aluminium foil and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Start your pot of broth again and bring it to a slight boil. After 20 minutes remove the matzoh from the fridge and wet hands. Make the balls and place them in the boiling pot.  Lower the flame, cover, and cook for 40 minutes. Remove the matzoh balls and broth with a spoon, place into a soup bowl, and enjoy!

      Friday, March 4, 2011

      Turkey Barley and Sweet Potato Soup

      Amazing Delicious Turkey Barley and Sweet Potato Soup by Skinny Kitchen
      One of the greatest aspects about working on Soupy (other than making the soups themselves) is the amazing opportunity to meet - both in person and online - so many passionate home cooks and chefs. One blogger that I have admired and really hope to meet one day is Nancy Fox. As the creator of Skinny Kitchen, a website devoted to healthy eating and cooking tips, Nancy creates weekly recipes that include Weight Watchers points, a list of healthy alternatives and nutritional information so that you can compare recipes. For this guest post, Nancy shared her Amazing Delicious Turkey Barley and Sweet Potato Soup recipe that uses turkey instead of chicken, celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions and pearl barley to create a full-bodied soup with great texture. I hope you enjoy this delicious and easy-to-prepare soup and stay tuned for more contributions from Nancy in the next couple of weeks.

      Guest Post: by Nancy Fox of Skinny Kitchen
      Amazing Delicious Turkey Barley and Sweet Potato Soup
      Prep Time: 10 minutes
      Cook time:  1 hour

      1 (32 ounce) container reduced-sodium chicken broth (we like Swanson’s Organic reduced-sodium.)
      1(14oz) can reduced- sodium chicken broth
      2/3 cup dried pearl barley
      1 teaspoon olive oil
      2 cloves fresh garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon from a jar)
      1 ¼ cups carrots, sliced
      1 cup celery, sliced
      1 cup onions, chopped (~1 small onion)
      2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (~2 sweet potatoes)
      1 ½ cups cooked turkey breast (skin removed), diced
      Fresh ground pepper to taste

      1. In a large pot add the chicken broth and barley.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
      2. In the meantime, in a pan add the olive oil, garlic, carrots, celery, onions,  and  sauté until vegetables are soft (~ 5 minutes)
      3. Add the sautéed vegetables to the broth.  Cook uncovered for 30 minutes
      4. Add the sweet potatoes and season with pepper.  Continue to cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
      5. Stir in the cooked turkey and cook 10 minutes longer.
      Makes 8 cups

      Food Fact:
Barley dates back to the Stone Age.  The ancient Greeks relied on barley to make bread and athletes attributed much of their strength and physical growth to their barley rich diet.

      Healthy Benefit:
Pearled barley in high in cholesterol- lowering fiber and is low in fat.  A single serving offers 11% of the RDA of iron and has a fair amount of folate and niacin.

      Shopping Tip

      You can find dried pearl barley in the supermarket aisle with the dried beans.

Substitution Tip:
      If desired, substitute chicken for the turkey.

      Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS 4

      SKINNY FACTS: for 1 cup
      162 cal, 2g fat, 10g protein, 26g carbs, 5g fiber, 418mg sodium, 5g sugar

      FAT FACTS: for a regular cup of Turkey, Barley and Sweet Potato Soup
      260 cal, 8g fat, 10g protein, 26g carbs, 4.8g fiber, 1074mg sodium, 5g sugar

      Skinny Kitchen is your fun guide to healthy yet decadent-tasting foods. Each week we share skinny recipes, cooking tips, food finds, nutrition facts and WW POINTS on every recipe. Join Nancy Fox for the recipes and more at http://skinnykitchen.com/.

      Wednesday, March 2, 2011

      Stylish Bowls for Soup

      It really doesn't matter how you 'ladle up' your bowl of soup. You can eat it out of an old coffee mug or even a paper cup and your soup will still taste delicious - but sometimes it's nice to have a versatile and cool-looking bowl that is a great for entertaining or to step up the decor in your kitchen. From kid-friendly bowls to those suited for more elegant affairs, I've found five interesting soup bowls to mix up your collection.

      The Toddler-Friendly Boon Catch Bowl
      1. Boon Catch Bowl - Featuring a built-in spill catcher and suction cup, the Boon Catch Bowl is designed for messy Toddler-eating that works by keeping the bowl firmly planted in one place. I love that it is free of BPA, PVC and Phthalates and soft so you don't have to worry if it (or your toddler's soup) ends up on the floor.

      Soup Bowls by Ayda Anlagan
      2. Pretty Soup Bowls - Created by Ayda Anlagan, a London-based industrial designer, these unique artistic bowls were created to illustrate the issue of food wastage in the domestic environment that includes a fishing scene, a child playing, and various quotes. I love their chic and modern appeal that would be great for a fun dinner party.

      Kai Serving Bowls from Crate & Barrel

      3. White Kai Noodle/Soup Bowl- As part of the Kai Serving Bowl Series, this modern Asian soup bowl includes two cutout handles for a bamboo chopstick. These porcelain white bowls are also  dishwasher-, microwave- and oven-safe.

      The Husque Bowl
      4. Husque Bowl - Designed by Marc Harrison, the Husque Bowl is made in Australia from macadamia nuts shells whose shape is also inspired by the same nut. The bowl also has a clean finish that is stained with a yellow, white, or black resin.

      Farmhouse Double-Handled Bowls by Williams-Sonoma

       5. Farmhouse Double-Handled Bowls - Created by Williams-Sonoma, these double-handled rustic bowls are sized to serve hearty portions of soups, chowders and chili. Since they are made out heat-resistant stoneware, the bowls can also be used for baking casseroles, pot pies and individual portions of macaroni and cheese. The set of four is also microwavable and dishwasher safe.