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This bout of bronchitis is still hanging on. I haven’t been able to do much so I’ve been filling my time with culinary endeavors and working on the cookbook manuscript. I’ve been pretty much a homebody during this illness but late Friday morning I managed to get out on a little adventure to the Brantford Farmers’ Market.
I bought six pounds of fresh local carrots, a few sweet potatoes, cooking onions, and garlic. It was the perfect selection for the soup I decided to make today. This also gave me a chance to take my new Caphalon immersion blender for a spin. I purchased it a few weeks ago with some of my Air Miles so that I could replace the one my husband accidentally melted a few years ago. I forgot how convenient an immersion blender is.
I served the soup with thick slices of Artisan Potato Scallion Bread from the bakery at Sobey’s grocery store.
curried carrot and sweet potato soup
makes 8 servings
My dear friend, Laurie Moniz, loves to pop over for coffee and some days even lunch. One day she arrived bearing a pot of carrot and sweet potato soup and there were leftovers. My husband devoured what was left which was pretty surprising because he usually won’t even try carrot soup. I was impressed so I asked Laurie for her recipe. She’s much like me in that her personal recipes are more like guidelines than recipes. This is my version of her scrumptious soup.
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 medium sized onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 litres beef or vegetable stock
2 medium to large sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 pounds carrots, chopped
2 teaspooons medium curry powder
salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onions until they start to become translucent and soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer, being careful not to brown it. Add the stock, sweet potatoes, carrots, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the vegetables are fully cooked. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
Optional: garnish with your choice of goat cheese, sour cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt. Top with a little fresh cilantro.
Vegan option: use veggie stock and skip the optional dairy suggestion.
The last time I posted on this blog was in November 2011. In and around that time I decided to become a runner. Fast forward a few years and here I am training for a second half-marathon. Unfortunately I’ve had to put training on a brief hiatus as I have bronchitis. Ack! It’s horrible timing but thankfully it’s early enough in training that I will still be able to work towards my goal.
When I feel like this I want the comfort of a warm bowl of soup. When I was little, my Mom made lentil soup with stock from a ham bone. Her version had onion, shredded carrots, red lentils, black pepper, and was often served it with a side of mashed potatoes. It was good but I like stronger flavors so I decided to kick it up a few notches.
curried chicken, sweet potato, and red lentil soup
makes 6-8 servings
I discovered Arvinda’s line of spices and spice blends at a local shop called Goodness Me. The spice blend is slightly moist whereas most grocery store varieties of curry masala are a dry powder. If you can find it, Arvinda’s is best, but any curry masala blend will do in a pinch. Like all soups, this is better the second day.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large boneless or bone-in chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (heaping)
1 1/2 teaspoons Arvinda’s curry masala blend
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 litres homemade or low-salt chicken stock
1 1/4 cups dry red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup water
5 cups baby spinach
If you are using boneless chicken cut it into bite-sized pieces. If you are using chicken that is on the bone cut the breasts in half with a sharp knife. When using bone-in you will have let the meat cool enough to handle, remove the bones and chop before adding the lentils.
Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a heavy pot on medium-high. Add the onion, chicken, salt, pepper, cumin seeds, and half of the curry masala blend. When the onions are soft and the chicken browned, add the sweet potato and saute for 5 minutes. Then add garlic and saute for another minute. Pour the stock in the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce to a simmer. If you de-boned chicken place it back in the broth. Add the rinsed and drained lentils, the remaining curry masala blend, lemon juice, and 1 cup of water. Let simmer for 40 minutes and re-season if necessary. Remove from the heat and add the spinach. Let it sit for a few minutes until the spinach wilts.
Serve with toasted pita wedges if desired.
You can easily make this vegan by substituting roasted tofu or chickpeas for the chicken and replacing the stock with your favorite vegetable stock.
Last weekend I decided that I was going to make soup. Bryan loves the Quinoa and Spinach Soup from my first cookbook, but I was not really in the mood for that particular soup. I was thinking more along the lines of chicken noodle soup.
To satisfy both of us, I suggested that I make a soup inspired by the flavors of Peru. I’d have the yummy chicken soup aspect that I was after and Bryan would have the quinoa that he apparently was craving. Sometimes I think this act of finding the middle ground is why we’ve been together for almost 20 years. The soup turned out fantastic, if I do say so myself, and is now on our list of favorites.
I promised some of my friends that I would share the recipe so here it is…
Peruvian chicken & red quinoa soup
makes 4-6 servings
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is the seed of the goosefoot plant, prized by the ancient Incas. It is a complete protein and a good source of the amino acids. Quinoa is also gluten free. If you can’t find aji amarillo, a yellow pepper with medium heat that has been dried and ground, then use 1 tablespoon of fresh jalapeño pepper that has been finely minced. When you make this recipe, it is best to prep all the ingredients before you start to cook. We like to serve it with grilled flatbread or fresh cornbread.
1 cup red quinoa
1 1/2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 1/2 teaspoons ground aji amarillo or 1 tablespoon jalapeño pepper, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 pounds chicken breasts, bone-in, skin removed, and cut into 3 or 4 pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
10 cups cold water
3 medium red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 small zucchini or summer squash, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
Place the quinoa in a fine sieve under running water for about 3 minutes or until the water runs clear. Let the quinoa drain after rinsing. Toast the quinoa in a dry frying pan, preferably non-stick, over medium heat until the seeds start to jump or pop in the pan. Remove the seeds from the pan and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery until softened but not browned. Add the garlic, aji amarillo or jalapeño pepper, cumin, and oregano. Stir for 1 minute being careful not to scorch the garlic. Add the chicken, salt, water, potatoes, and quinoa. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off foam, if desired. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add the carrots to the pot and let simmer for 15 minutes. While the carrots are cooking, remove the chicken meat from the bones and shred using two forks. Discard the bones. Add the zucchini and lime or lemon juice to the pot. Continue to simmer for 7 to 10 minutes and add the chicken meat back to the pot. Heat the chicken through and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish each bowl with fresh cilantro before serving.
It is Boxing Day here in Canada and I am not venturing near a stove or oven — after all, even a cook needs some downtime. Because I enjoy sharing my food experiences with you, I thought I would tell you about our new family Christmas Eve tradition. My husband, Bryan, asked me if I would make Boeuf Bourguignon for Christmas Eve last year when we were watching the movie Julie & Julia. At first I thought he was kidding and sometimes it is difficult to tell with Bryan. However, he was being genuinely serious. With great trepidation I perused my cookbooks to find a recipe for the dish. He loved it so much that he asked for it again this year. It has the stigma of being fussy and difficult to make but it really isn’t as complicated as it first seems. I modified the recipe from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook slightly by using triple A stewing beef. The wine I used was a lovely burgundy of which I purchased two bottles from the Vintages section of the LCBO on the recommendation of the Vintages manager. I will post more about the wine below the recipe.
makes 6 servings
6 strips bacon cut into 1/2-inch (12 mm) pieces
3 lbs (1.5 kg) beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch (4 1/2 cm) cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
3 Tbsp all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) Cognac or other brandy
3 cups (24 fl oz/750 ml) Burgundy or other dry, full-bodied wine
1 1/2 cups 12 fl oz/375 ml) Beef Stock or prepared low-sodium broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb (500 g) white button mushrooms, quartered
7 ounces (220 g) fresh pearl onions, blanched and peeled (see note)
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). In a frying pan over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon until browned but not crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels.
Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, add the beef and brown on all side, 4-5 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned meat to a bowl and set aside.
Add the chopped onions and carrots to the pot and sauté over medium-high heat until the onions are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, sprinkle the flour on top, and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour is incorporated, 1-2 minutes. Return the bacon and meat, along with any juices, to the pot.
Remove from the heat, add the Cognac, and flambé. Return to medium-low heat, add the wine, stock, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Transfer to the oven and braise, covered, until the meat is fork tender, about 2 hours. Discard the bay leaf.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp butter, add the pearl onions, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) water, cover, and cook until the onions are softened, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms.
When ready to serve, stir the mushrooms, pearl onions, and 1 Tbsp of the parsley into the stew. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the remaining 2 Tbsp parsley. Serve at once.
Note: Peeling pearl onions… Sweeter and less sharp-tasting that full-sized onions, pearl onions are no more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, with papery skins. Because they hold their color and shape well when cooked, they make an attractive visual contrast in a deep brown stew or braise. To remove the skins, trim off the root ends and blanch the onions in a saucepan of boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain, then quickly transfer to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and peel off the loosened skins; they should fall away easily.courtesy of The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook © 2008
The wine that I cooked with and served alongside the Boeuf Bourguignon was a classic French Burgundy — Le Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2008 from Chanson Père et Fils.
Tasting note: “After a beautiful spring, the weather at the start of summer was quite demanding. It became fine again from the end of August with much sun and a cold wind, which aided concentration of flavours. The harvest commenced in mid-September in perfect conditions under an Indian summer. Bright red colour with dark purple nuances. Intense aromas of red currant and liquorice with a hint of spice. Concentrated and complex. Refreshing and lively. Very pure fruit aromas. Spicy nuances in the finish.” – http://www.vins-chanson.com
My notes: This was a very nice pairing for the meal. At about $20 Canadian a bottle it is quite reasonable. Because it is a lighter red than the Cabernet Sauvignon that I often serve with beef, the leftover wine also made a good pairing for the roasted turkey that we enjoyed the next evening for Christmas dinner. I love the fruitiness of this wine and how it balances with the meats. It was also delicious on its own and the finish lingered nicely.
In my last post I mentioned the Cookie Swap I hosted and the mulled wine. I had a few emails asking for the recipe and here it is. I used a Canadian Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon blend by Pelee Island Winery. Enjoy and toast to a Merry Christmas!
peel of 1/2 lemon
peel of 1 lime
peel and juice of 1 clementine
195 grams superfine granulated sugar
2 allspice berries
1 small bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
6 gratings fresh nutmeg or a scant 1/4 teaspoon
1 black cardamom pod cut in half
2 ounces cognac or brandy
5 cups dry red wine
2 whole star anise
Peel the citrus using a carrot peeler aka speed peeler. In a large saucepan add the lemon, lemon, and clementine peel to the juice and sugar. Add the spices except for the star anise and add the cognac. Pour enough wine over the mixture to just cover it. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir frequently. When the mixture has boiled add the remaining wine and the star anise. Heat gently for an additional 5 minutes and serve warm.