Tom Kah Soup

Posted on
Amazingly, my number one favorite soup, Tom Kah Soup, is totally feasible on my cleanse.  In fact, aside from omitting the red pepper flakes that give it a nice spicy kick, I didn’t even have to adapt this one at all, to make it work on the cleanse.

Admittedly, it is pretty basic, and as simple as throwing all these things into a pot together, boiling, and simmering.

That is, a base of homemade chicken broth (that’s what’s in the salsa container) and water, Tom Kah soup paste from FuBonn (an ingredients check reveals no cleanse-crashing culprits!), fresh mushrooms (normally I don’t buy pre-sliced mushrooms, but I was already at TJ’s and there they were, just as cheap as all the others) half a bag of Trader Joe’s seafood blend, bamboo shoots, fresh basil, and green onions.

I first let the broth cook down with the mushrooms, soup paste, bamboo shoots, and seafood.  Then I added some coconut milk, and some wide rice noodles at the end, so that this soup would be filling enough to have as a meal, which is fortunate because it’s still been 50 degrees and pouring rain all week long.  Portland’s soup season is a long one.

Curried Ginger Carrot Soup, Black-Eyed Pea Salad, and Tangy Citrus Cabbage Salad

Posted on
 This is what a fantastic Monday looks like:
  • Waking up as the little spoon
  • Having someone else make you a supremely rich and flavorful cup of coffee, out of hand-ground, French-pressed beans
  • Catching up on the weekend’s email and blogosphere news
  • Getting a looming dentist appointment out of the way
  • Scoring a new pair of cute Mary Janes for $10
  • Figuring out how to hook your iPod up to your car stereo so you can catch up on phone calls while you drive around town doing errands
  • Finding a cool shelf for the super exciting new pattern station(!) you’re installing at work this week
  • Buying like 100 pounds of vegetables for the next week for only $35
  • Getting all your laundry, dishes, and cleaning out of the way in the early afternoon
  • Cranking out an hour of transcription in 90 minutes
  • The thrill of watching UCU applications come pouring in at the speed of about one every five minutes during the last 24 hour rush of summer apps before tomorrow’s deadline
  • Spending the evening listening to Democracy Now and WTF while you cook up a storm.

Let me elaborate.  I cooked a lot tonight.  I was kind of on a roll with being productive and didn’t want to stop.  And, this way, all I have to do tomorrow during my (faux) day off is some morning transcription, go for a run, and then my favorite: parking it at a cafe on a (hopefully sunny) Tuesday afternoon with some iced coffee, cranking out 4+ hours of UCU and Yarnia work so the rest of my week is a little more manageable.  Especially because this week holds a lot of fun things in store, including one of my favorite bluegrass shows, dinner with friends, and a trip up to Seattle.

So.  I did the obvious.  You know, roasted a chicken, baked some bread.

Sundried tomato / fresh dill / half whole wheat bread

But then I also made curried ginger carrot soup, tangy shredded cabbage salad, and black eyed pea salad.  Oh, and soaked and boiled chickpeas for some hummus that I’ll be making tomorrow, and homemade chicken stock is boiling on the stove as I write this (in the same pot I used to make the soup, after transferring the latter to tupperwares for the week.  Genius!)

So first, the soup.  Not sure where I stumbled upon this recipe from, but as soon as I saw it, I couldn’t get it out of my head and even though I really shouldn’t be this excited about soups in April, it’s still like 40 degrees and raining in Portland, so even though I try to defy the weather by incorporating sockless shoes and vests into my wardrobe, it’s still a welcome warming meal.

This soup began by melting 3/4 of a stick of butter in my big soup pot, and sauteeing half a yellow onion (chopped), and a good sized chunk of ginger (minced).  
I accidentally stumbled upon a great trick for the ginger, BTW.  I have this part of my fridge that is supposed to “chill” things, but it’s so close to the icebox it really just half-freezes them.  I’ve started putting things like ginger and jalapenos and lemons in there — little flavor punches that I like to buy without clear intention, and that sadly go bad when left in the regular part of the fridge.  And apparently ginger, in this half-frozen state, flakes off like crystal, beautifully and effortlessly, when you pretend to try to slice it really thin.   

Then I chopped this gargantuan bundle of carrots that I bought today.  I love how cheap carrots are.  Seriously, this entire pile of carrots cost $1.90 and they are sooo bright and crisp and sweet.
After cooking the onions and ginger in the butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes, I added in the carrots and stirred so they were coated in the butter.  Five minutes later, I added three cups of my homemade chicken stock, 
and 2 tablespoons of my favorite curry powder (“Muchi” curry powder, in the bulk section at New Seasons).

I let this boil together for 30 minutes, and then pureed it in the blender in batches, leaving a cup or two un-pureed so that there are still some carrot slices in there for texture.  Not a fan of the 100% pureed soups.  I returned all the soup to the pot and added a cup of milk and salt to taste.  

Okay, while this was all happening I’d been cooking some black eyed peas that I started soaking this morning.  Bean salads are one of my favorite make-ahead meals for the workweek.  They just get better the longer they sit in their marinade, they’re super easy to transport, proteinalicious, and can be made with whatever leftover crunchy vegetables you have lying around.

For instance, celery that never got used from last week.  I chopped up the rest of that bunch and added it to the big salad bowl with the cooked beans (I had started with 1/2 cup of dried beans this morning, if you’re concerned about quantity).
I also added half a red onion, 1/3 of a jalapeno pepper, and half a bunch of parsley, all finely chopped.  I also had some leftover mint that was left at my house left weekend when I hosted a ladies’ afternoon clothing swap.  There were Mojitos aplenty, but not enough to eat up two packages of fresh mint, so that got chopped up and added to this salad, too.  
Then, a super simple dressing:
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar (about half as much as the oil)
  • smoked paprika
  • fresh oregano, chopped
  • salt & pepper

And then, still on the salad kick, I whipped up this salad, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.

I know this is weird, but cabbage is pretty much my favorite vegetable (nudged out only by kale.  But come on…you can’t compete with kale!), so rather than the 2 cups she recommends I just went ahead and chopped up the whole head.  I have no patience for grating cabbage with a cheese grater, nor do I have a Cuisinart, so I took a chef’s knife to it instead.
I actually did buy a serrano chile just for this purpose, in a rare fit of recipe adherence, but I have to say, that and the toasted mustard seeds totally give this salad the perfect flavor, and just different enough from my go-to cole slaw recipe to make me feel like maybe a new season is finally in the air.  

So in addition to the minced chile, I added to the mix:
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 teaspoons salt
1.5 teaspoons sugar

And then I toasted 1.5 teaspons of whole mustard seeds in some canola oil and, once the seeds started giving their satisfying pop, poured the fragrant topping straight into the bowl.  I can’t wait to see what this tastes like tomorrow after it’s had a night to mellow out in the fridge.

Oh, and since I was roasting that chicken for future lunches, and never know what to do with the wings within my grand scheme of roast-and-freeze-in-meal-size-portions-for-work-night-dinners, they seemed like the perfect way to round out tonight’s dinner.

Okay, now I get to reward myself with some pajamas and serious veg-out knitting.

Fancy Grilled Cheese and Tom Kah Soup

Posted on
I’ve gotten into a nice little tradition these past few mellow months of going in to work late on Sunday afternoons after busy and plan-filled weekends, not having any social commitments on Sunday evening, and just staying late and finishing up whatever I need to before coming home for a night with myself to listen to Radiolab, do my dishes, and eat an easy meal of leftovers in some form.

Tonight, it was a reheated bowl of some delicious Tom Kah soup I’d made earlier in the week, with chicken and napa cabbage, an entire sliced yellow onion, and fresh crimini mushrooms.

Balanced with a culinarily incgonruous, but nevertheless delicious gourmet grilled cheese sandwich: fancy cheese left over from my birthday party, fresh tomato, and red onion grilled inside of my homemade herb-parmesan bread from this week, stuffed with some amazing homemade sauerkraut gifted to me by a friend.

For garnish/dessert: the rest of the tomato sliced, with nicoise olive salt and a drizzle of balsamic, and the very last of my fruit for this week — a trooper of a grapefruit.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Posted on
So my crazy life finally got the better of me, and now I’m sick.  Only for a brief little minute, because I can usually wrestle these things out of my body within 24 hours of it really settling in full force, but still, it’s enough that after coming home from work today, all I could possibly think about was drinking a mug of this while making chicken noodle soup, and going to bed.

My chicken noodle soup has three crucial attributes: garlicky, spicy, and salty.  So I started with four huge cloves of this:

And took a look at what veggies I had in my fridge to give this soup some heartiness.  Turns out I had some leftover leeks, and collard greens.  Works for me.  

This was an urgently necessary soup so I didn’t even bother with sauteeing the onions and garlic in the pot beforehand — I just threw the chopped garlic, leeks, and chicken in a big soup pot and got them boiling in some water, to start with, and added some of my frozen homemade chicken stock.

To satisfy the hot and spicy craving that I get when I really can’t taste anything else, I grated in some ginger, added a few squirts of Sriracha, and even a couple spoonfulls of red curry paste, realizing that despite the main veggie being collard greens, this soup was taking on a somewhat Asian flair.  

After about 45 minutes of this all simmering together, I salted it to taste, threw in the chopped collard greens, and half a package of ruffle-y egg noodles, which I keep on hand specifically for the occasion that I, or a friend that I can make this soup for, gets sick.  

I continued to let the soup simmer until the noodles were fully cooked, ladled out a huge bowl, ate it with some crackers while I caught up on my own blog reading, and then promptly passed out.  

Broccoli Soup and Pasta Salad

Posted on
Tonight I had the wonderful company of my good friend Kate over for dinner for some much-needed girl time.  This is probably one of my favorite evening activities of all time — having friends descend upon my kitchen, sit on the counter, and keep me company while I slowly and distractedly assemble a meal for the two of us.  
Sometimes we eat out at my big dining room table, but usually we end up sidling up to the long counter on padded chairs, where the stove is still warm and last-minute condiments are handy.  

I’m thrilled to do this any night of the week, but when it so happens to fall on a Monday or Tuesday — my two official days off — there’s the added bonus of a fresh loaf of bread to nosh on while dinner unfolds.

The main event tonight, in celebration of wintry, cruciferous vegetables being in season and on sale, was a tangy broccoli soup, suggested to me by this recipe.  It started with the usual suspects — yellow onion, leeks, and garlic.

These were sauteed straight in the soup pot with some olive oil and homemade butter, before adding a gargantuan head of chopped broccoli.

I filled the pot with broth (normally I’d use my homemade chicken stock but Kate is veg, so I went with Better Than Bullion veggie base), and let that all simmer together for awhile (about half an hour) before pureeing it in batches, in the blender.  

The recipe I was working from suggests a delicious creamy garnish to use with this soup.  I opted for yogurt as the base rather than sour cream, because I always happen to have yogurt on hand and hate to have to buy a whole tub of sour cream just for one recipe.

To a hefty scoop of yogurt, I added a few chopped scallions, the zest and juice of one lemon, a pinch of sugar, and the last few inches of a chunk of Parmesan that remained in my fridge.

The soup was a little too watery tonight to hold up to the garnish, but I have no doubt that for its revival tomorrow at lunchtime, it will be up to the test.

Meanwhile, I cooked a package of tricolor radiatore and tossed it together in a big salad bowl with some chopped celery, scallions, canned black olives, and parsley. 

I whipped up a quick dressing of chopped shallots, olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and my favorite condiment of all time — Trader Joe’s red pepper and eggplant spread.  Give this all a little shake in a jar and use it to coat the salad; crack some black pepper on top, and call it done.

Split Pea Soup

Posted on
I think it says something when the first thing you do after flying across the country for 11 hours is run out and buy some veggies, doesn’t it?

I just spent 5 days in Orlando and Miami, having a much-needed girls’ vacation weekend and visiting family, and while I got to spend two solid days basking in this

by the end, I was desperately eager for some good Oregon lovin’.

  • 1 red onion ($0.72)
  • spring greens ($1.96)
  • 3 carrots ($0.97)
  • fresh herbs ($0.57)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper ($0.45)
  • ginger root ($0.36)
  • 2 yellow onions ($2.11)
  • 1 green bell pepper ($1.73)
  • dozen eggs ($1.99)these are the New Seasons brand: cage free, antiobiotic/hormone free, locally grown, and still this cheap??  I don’t get it.
  • almond milk ($2.49)
  • heavy whipping cream ($2.99) time to make a new batch of butter soon!
  • half & half ($2.29)
  • 1 grapefruit ($1.43)
  • 1 Fuji apple ($1.06)
  • 1 bunch cilantro ($1.49)
  • 1 bunch purple kale ($2.29)
  • 1 bunch broccoli ($3.50)
  • 1 huge eggplant ($3.93)
  • 1 bulbs garlic ($1.80)
  • 1 Haas avocado ($0.99)
TOTAL: $35.12
I have this really dorky ritual of playing Raina Rose’s “O Oregon” on a straight loop, immediately upon arrival back home, for as long as it takes me to unpack from a trip.
So I guess it should be no surprise that I indulged in the rare treat of returning home from an east coast trip before midnight by cooking up a little something.

I was craving vegetables, in a veritable onslaught, and so without even thinking I threw together a broccoli-edamame-soba noodle salad for my week’s lunches.  But I just showed you that recently, so instead I’ll walk you through what I did after that, still not satisfied that I had filled my quota.
Split pea soup is one of the easiest soups to make, and provides a hearty, filling, meat-free meal, all in a single pot.

The first step, as with almost any soup, involves chopping up some onions and garlic (I did 1 medium yellow onion and 3 cloves of garlic).
Saute these in some olive oil, in the bottom of your soup pot.  After about five minutes, add some broth.  I keep my homemade chicken broth frozen in leftover cottage cheese containers, so they’re easy to just crack open and dump in, the heat from the saute mixture slowly melting the bullion glacier.  (Substitute veggie broth or bullion here for a veggie-friendly soup, obviously!)

While the broth is melting, chop up your veggies.  I went with a carrot and the stalks from the broccoli I had just used in my salad, but celery would have also been a welcome addition.
Bring the mixture up to a boil, and once the broth has melted or incorporated, add some more water (I fill it near to the top of the pot, so that there is a lot of leeway for it to boil off and reduce, yielding a nice thick well-cooked soup). 

Love these guys.  Buy them in bulk, store them forever, and they will keep you full all day, nearly for free.  Split peas are one of those fantastic beans that don’t require soaking, draining, or blending — much like red dahl.  Just boil them long enough and they will eventually explode, and turn your soup into a wonderfully thick puree — no blender necessary!  I added 1 cup once the soup reached a rolling boil, and kept it boiling on medium high for almost an hour.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with toast or nice crunchy croutons.

Black Bean Soup

Posted on
I don’t usually end up getting to write about my lunches, but this was just too enjoyable of a perfect fall lunch to resist — warm and hearty before heading out to my favorite cafe for a long afternoon of work.
I made this soup last night, quickly and distractedly while getting ready to go out, and it turned out fantastic.  I wasn’t expecting anything mind-blowing, since I had forgotten to pick up soup veggies of any kind while at the grocery (I usually like to throw in at least carrots or celery), but you know, when you have nothing on hand but some onions and garlic, this really does the trick.
I’m a bean soaker (of course you could use canned black beans for this as well, I just don’t like the aluminum taste so I always have plenty of dried legumes on hand).
So I tossed 1 cup of dried black beans into a pot of water yesterday afternoon, and since black beans only take but a few hours to soak, they were ready by dinnertime.
This soup starts with half a yellow onion and 3 huge cloves of garlic, chopped and minced, respectively, sauteeing in your soup pot, in a few tablespoons of olive oil, on medium-high heat.  

Stir in a tablespoon or two of fresh ground cumin and coriander, and a hefty pinch of red pepper flakes.  Minced fresh jalapeno works well too, but mine had gone bad 🙁

After the onions have turned translucent, dump in the beans (soaked, but not yet cooked), a handful of sun dried tomatoes, and 4 cups of homemade chicken stock.  

If you’re using commercial stock or bullion you probably don’t need to salt it too much more, but as the beans cook, taste the broth and salt as you see fit.

Bring all this to a boil, and keep simmering at medium-high until the beans have finished cooking. 

Although half an hour of this should be enough, the longer you let it simmer, the more the beans will break down and give you a wonderfully thick broth.  I even took a potato masher and helped it along at the very end, not wanting to get my blender dirty.  A puree is definitely not necessary here.  For an October soup, chunks are a great thing.

 Top it with some shredded sharp cheddar!
And to balance it out, a piece of toast (rosemary basil whole wheat bread, baked yesterday!) with a thick layer of avocado, salt, pepper, and sliced red pepper, and a Fuji apple on the side.