Category Archives: soup

Picspam: Smoked Ham & Bean Soup and Japanese Purple Sweet Potato Bread

Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to make a comprehensive recipe post but you still want to share something you think is worth while. I made both of these dishes over the last few days.

The first dish, a smoked ham and cannellini bean soup that I’ve made in the past, is an easy, fast and filling dish, especially if you use canned cannellini beans. Or, you can be like me and soak about a pound of dried beans overnight and cook them when you finally get up on a lazy, Saturday morning.

I didn’t have any smoked ham hock but I had a chunk of smoked ham so I diced some of it up and threw it in along with the veggies at the end. If you’re cooking for a family of four, you’ll have enough for a second serving for everyone. If you’re cooking for one, it freezes very well for future meals. For my friend, spikesgirl58 on LJ, who doesn’t care for ham, I think you could use smoked turkey leg in its place.

I stocked up on some pantry items from a local international (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese) grocery store, a few days ago. One of the things that caught my eye in the fresh fruit and vegetable section was a small display of Japanese purple sweet potatoes. I was bored so I decided to try a fun purple sweet potato bread recipe I found on the Bake with Paws blog. (PS: The name made me think of the Youtube channel Cooking with Dog which I recommend for anyone interested in Japanese cooking.)

The recipe is relatively straight forward but I thought I’d throw in some pretty pictures … just because I took a LOT. The potatoes were peeled, sliced and steamed until tender and then riced to get a nice even texture.

I was pleased with the colour of the dough

Unfortunately, the post-bake colour was a lot less vibrant … sort of lavender in colour. Toasting it seemed to pep up the colour a bit. The texture was nice and fluffy and the taste was somewhat sweet due to the sweet potatoes. I wouldn’t use the bread for an egg or tuna salad sandwich but it provided a nice contrast to the salty peanut butter.

Pumpkin Fudge and Pies/Tarts

I haven’t bought a can of pumpkin puree in six to seven years but I decided to make my first ever pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, so I picked up a can. It was even on sale.

But before attempting the pumpkin pie, I made something that I haven’t tasted for even longer … pumpkin fudge. My first taste of that rather unique flavour came from the seasonal fudge that my brother made for my SIL’s chocolate store. It was an unexpectedly tasty candy and I hoped to be able to make something similar. My results weren’t bad but not as amazing as the one I remember. Of course, my cranberry fudge wasn’t as good as his either. Maybe one day.

Pumpkin Tart and Fudge

I made a couple of half batches (400-420 gm) of pumpkin fudge using this recipe. I over-cooked the first batch because I don’t have an accurate candy thermometer, so I had to use the soft ball test. It may have been a bit crumbly but it was tasty and I ate the whole thing in no time at all. For the second batch, I may have under-cooked it JUST a bit but some judicious stirring once I had poured the fudge into the pan and I got it to where it should be.

The half batch of pumpkin pie filling I made used Chef John’s recipe from Food Wishes, and filled a couple of mini pie crust shells (6 inch diameter) and two tart shells made in muffin tins.

And, lest you think that all I made with that pumpkin puree was desserts, I also made a batch of creamy red lentil and pumpkin soup using about a cup of the puree.

Chicken Meatball Soup

It’s that time of year again … soup making time.

Not that I don’t make soups year round. It’s just that I kick it into high gear when the weather gets cooler.

This chicken meatball soup uses lean breast meat ground up in my food processor and a half package of chopped spinach. The result is delicious and filling.

Chicken Meatball  and Spinach Soup – serves 4-6

Meatballs – makes 16 meatballs (292 gm, divided into 16 x 18 gm portions)

210 gm chicken breast, ground
1 egg
3/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp several shakes of garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

For the Soup

3/4 cup orzo, tubettini, ditalini or other small pasta
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup chopped spinach, frozen and thawed*

* Swiss chard was used in the original recipe that inspired this.

In a medium bowl, combine the ground chicken, bread crumbs, egg, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well, then form into 1-inch (2 cm) meatballs. You should have 16-18 total.

In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Sear the meatballs on all sides until golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the remaining tbsp of oil. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the pasta and meatballs. Cover and simmer for 7-8 minutes, until the pasta is tender.

Add the Swiss chard, cover, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the chard has wilted.

Add the Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

Happy Easter!! (2019)

No, you’re not having a flashback to four months ago.

I just realized that I never posted the meal for this past Easter.

Which was a shame, because I made a delicious Tuscan bread and vegetable soup called “ribollita” for starters …

… baked lamb chops seasoned with rosemary and garlic, risotto and asparagus for the main and vanilla “cake for one” filled and frosted with a vanilla buttercream and decorated with Easter jimmies for dessert. A simple lemonade spiked with raspberries and blackberries to wash it down.

Easter cake

It’s been so long since I made the soup that I can’t remember which adaptation I used of the four recipes I have saved in my Italian folder. Based on the pictures of the ingredients in the photo folder for the soup, I’m guessing this one. Though I didn’t use canned beans but cooked cannellini beans from dry.

Home made croutons were used both in the soup itself as a thickener and, seasoned, as a garnish that was stirred in just before serving. If you like your croutons crunchy, serve a bowl of the croutons on the table and let each diner add their own.

 

 

It was a great meal … even in retrospect.

Ground Beef … Soup, Rice Bowls and Burritos

For the last few months, I’ve backlogged a number of new recipes I’ve tried and old recipes I’ve repeated with slight changes which I’m posting below. The theme to anchor these dishes … lean ground beef was used for each recipe.

Cabbage Roll Soup – This is a new one. Shredded coleslaw mix was used as the base for this delicious soup. The recipe used elements from several recipes I found on line with substitutions designed to use things I had in my pantry and/or that I liked.

Cabbage Roll Soup – serves 8

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb/227 gm lean ground beef (or pork or ground turkey)
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced *
1 large carrot, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
2 1/2 cups coleslaw mix
1 cloves garlic, grated or finely mince
4 cups beef broth
1 cup tomato/spaghetti sauce
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup pureed tomatoes
~1 tbsp packed light brown sugar (to taste to cut back on acidity of the tomatoes)
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano or 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh
1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh
1 bay leaf
4-6 tbsp raw long-grain white rice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
water, as needed

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

* Used 3 tbsp sauteed diced onion from freezer

Heat vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.

Add ground beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up beef occasionally, until browned. Transfer beef to a plate lined with paper towels while reserving 2 tbsp of the rendered fat in pan, set beef aside.

Add onion and carrots to pan and saute 1 minute, then add coleslaw and saute 2 minutes, then add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

Pour in beef broth, tomato sauce, tomatoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire, paprika, oregano, thyme and bay leaves. Return beef to soup mixture.

Season soup with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a light boil, then add rice, cover pot and reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.

Stir in up to 1 cup water or more beef broth to thin as desired (it will thicken as it rests and become almost like a stew), then stir in lemon juice and parsley.

Serve hot.

Mapo Tofu – Szechuan style ground beef, tofu and broccoli dish, served over long grain rice. I’ve made variations of this dish in the past.

Soboro Don – Japanese rice bowl topped with seasoned ground beef and peas. Recipe adapted from this one.

Beef and Bean Burritos – Seasoned ground beef with home made black bean refried beans. Top as desired.

Niko (Beef) Udon Noodle Soup

In a recent search through the freezer I ran across a single serving of velveted beef, broccoli and mushrooms which I transformed into a filling pot of noodle soup … enough for three servings.  Although I already had the seasoned beef and vegetables, I’ve included a recipe (found online) for cooking the beef and mushroom mixture from scratch. If desired, you may add a cup of prepared broccoli florettes to the recipe.

Niko (Beef) Udon Noodle Soup – serves 2-3

1 portion of seasoned beef and mushrooms  (RECIPE follows)

Soup Base Recipe

4 cups dashi stock
1-1 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
1-2 pkg udon noodles**
1/8-1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
2-3 green onion tops, thinly sliced for garnish
shichimi powder, to taste (Japanese chili pepper)

** I added one package of fresh udon noodles which only need to be cooked for three minutes.

In a medium sized soup pot, add the dashi stock, ginger, salt, soy sauce, mirin and sake. Bring to a boil over medium/medium-high heat.

Add the seasoned beef and vegetables and stir until warmed through. Add the udon noodles and cook according to package directions. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

Divide among two or three bowls and garnish with green onions and shichimi powder.

Seasoned Beef and Mushrooms Recipe

2-3 tsp vegetable oil, as needed
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3-4 mushrooms, thinly sliced
225 gm/ 1/2 lb thinly sliced beef (chuck or rib eye)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce

In a large saute pan, heat two teaspoons of oil over medium/medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute until golden on both sides. Remove to another plate. If needed, add another teaspoon of oil, heat and then add the onions and saute until softened and translucent. Add the beef and brown on all sides. Don’t move the beef around until it has seared and loosened from the bottom of the pan. Once all the beef has been browned, add sauteed mushrooms, the sugar and the soy sauce and let it caramelize a bit.

Add the beef and mushroom mixture to the soup base.

Easy Japanese Dishes Pt. 3 – Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu)

The last post on the theme of easy Japanese dishes features a Japanese version of the classic Western hamburger, hambagu, or hamburger steak patty. I’m including a couple of miso soups, a vegetable side dish and some pudding (or purin, in Japanese) to finish things off.

The recipe for the hamburger comes from TabiEats and the result was meant to be used in a bento box. Instead, I used it as a topping for leftover Japanese mixed rice.

Hamburger Steak Mixed Rice Bowl

Hamburger Steak Patty – for 2 patties

100 gm /~1/4 pound ground beef or chicken
30-40 gm enoki mushroom base, shredded
1/8th finely diced onion (or 1 tsp fried onions)
1/4 tsp salt
few grinds of pepper

Ground beef and shredded enoki mushroom base

Mix all the hamburger patty ingredients together well. Shape into patty to get out the air. Divide into 2 and reshape into hamburger steak patty. Make a small depression in the center as the middle puffs up during frying. Pan fry over medium heat in 1 tsp vegetable oil for a few minutes on the first side and then turn and finish.

Since the burger on its own seemed a bit dry, I borrowed a recipe for a wine reduction hamburger steak sauce from Nami’s Just One Cookbook. Halve the ingredient amounts for the sauce, from the recipe below, if you’re only making two patties.

Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) – for 4 hamburger steak patties

1-2 tsp vegetable oil
4 hamburger patties, about 90 gm each
~1 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Sauce for the hamburger steak

3 tbsp red wine
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp tonkatsu sauce (or Worcestershire sauce)

Heat a cast iron or non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the hamburger patties and fry 3-4 minutes on the first side. Flip, and add a couple of teaspoons of red wine into the pan.

After you flip, pour 2-3 tsp red wine into the saucepan and then lower the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minute, or until the inside of the patty is no longer pink. Take the lid off and increase the heat to medium-high to let the red wine cook off. When the pan is almost dry, remove the patties to a serving plate and reserve.

Combine the liquid sauce ingredients in a bowl. In the same pan in which you fried the hamburger patties, add the butter the and sauce ingredients and mix well. Lower the heat to medium low and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol. With a slotted spoon, remove any meat bits or scum from the sauce so it’s nice and smooth.

When the sauce has thickened to your liking, pour it over the hamburger steaks.

Serve with vegetable sides and rice.

Shira-ae is a tofu ‘dressing’ made of ground sesame seeds/tahini, miso and tofu and added to shredded vegetables.

I used it to dress some blanched broccoli florettes and served it with one of the hamburger patties and a bowl of miso soup.

Two kinds of white miso soup … egg drop/egg flower and tofu or a clear soup.

To finish up … dessert. Cause you ALWAYS need to finish up with something sweet. (Ok, I like cheese and fruit and nuts too but they weren’t in my budget nor did I know any savoury Japanese afters.)

Dessert was pudding, or purin, in Japanese. Both these desserts were made with the same vanilla bean custard mixture. For the flan/creme caramel, I made a hard caramel and poured it into the bottom of the large ramekins. The smaller ramekins were turned into creme brulee and bruleed under the broiler.

Vanilla Bean Flan/Creme Caramel and Creme Brulee


Italian Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta E Fagioli)

This delicious Italian soup is filling and usually inexpensive to cook up. The name says it all … “pasta and beans”. I used a copycat Olive Garden recipe that I found on line many years ago, and adjusted the recipe for ingredients and amounts that I liked and had available. I’ve re-posted the recipe below.

I was being stingy with the amount of cannellini (aka white kidney) beans I used in this soup, since they’re pretty pricey at my local Italian grocery store, but you can’t beat the delicious, creamy texture of the beans once cooked. I added about a third of a pound of light red kidney beans, that I already had in my pantry, to make up the difference. Unfortunately, they took longer to cook than the cannellini so the latter were pretty much falling apart at that point.

Oh well.

And then there’s the pasta. I used just a very small amount of tubetti which I cooked separately, just until they were “al dente” or with a bit of texture left, and then added them to the soup for the last five minutes or so to finish cooking.

You can add meat or leave it out. I had about two thirds of a pound of ground beef which, added to two/two and a half cups of cooked beans, was plenty.

Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli – makes ~4 quarts/16 cups, quantities of ingredients don’t need to be exact

1/2-1 tbsp vegetable oil, depending on how fatty your beef is
454 gm/ 1 lb lean ground beef
6 oz/ 1 cup onion, small dice
7 oz/ 1 cup celery, small dice
7 oz/ 1 cup carrots, small dice
24 oz/3 cups canned tomatoes, diced
1 cup cooked red kidney beans*
1 cup cooked white kidney beans*
5 cups beef stock (or chicken or vegetable stock or water)
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
salt as needed, start with 1/2 tsp
2 1/2 tsp chopped parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
3/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
24 oz/ 3 cups spaghetti sauce
4 oz/ 1/2 cup/113 gm small shell macaroni (or any other small pasta)

*  Or use 2 cups of whatever type of cooked beans you like

Saute ground beef in oil over medium/medium-high heat, in a large 5 qt pot until the beef starts to brown. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and saute for 5-7 minutes just until the onions get translucent and start to pick up some colour.

Drain and rinse the beans, if using canned, and add to the pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes and pasta. Taste and add salt as desired.

Add the chopped parsley and simmer until the celery and carrots are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

NOTE: Make sure to stir all the way to the bottom at least every 7-10 minutes as the ingredients, especially the beef, settle and may stick and burn. I threw in some frozen corn for the last 5 minutes for added colour. If the soup seems too thick before serving, add a bit of water. You may garnish the soup with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Other vegetable add-ins you can include: cubed zucchini, fresh, torn spinach, and frozen green peas.

The Economical Frozen Turkey

PICTURE HEAVY: I totally forgot to post this until today. The turkey was thawed and cooked more than a month ago.

I finally got around to cooking one of the two turkeys in my freezer. Since it was bought frozen ($12 CDN for 12 lbs), it was thawed, broken down and cooked so that the results could be refrozen to extend their use and so that I wouldn’t be eating turkey for ten days straight. It was a lot of work over several days but the results were worth it, I think.

The traditional turkey plate – Roasted turkey breast, mashed potatoes with home made gravy, home made cranberry sauce and salad with sun-dried tomato dressing (by Kraft)

The Details

1. Breasts (boned out)
– one of the breasts and the two tenderloins were cut into 11 cutlets
– the second breast was seasoned with salt and pepper, drizzled with olive oil and roasted

Turkey cutlets


Roasted boneless turkey breast

2. Wings (barring the tips) separated into two, drumsticks
– marinated overnight in VHS honey garlic marinade and roasted

3. Thighs (boned out)
– ground up with trimmings from the turkey carcasse to produce 6 x ~95 gm patties

Turkey patty served on home made enriched buns

4. Carcass, along with the turkey neck and the heart
– turned into 22 cups of stock and ~400gm picked meat, 4 cups and about 100gm of the meat, plus the heart, were used for matzoh ball soup

5. Liver
– sliced, sauteed in butter and served on sourdough bread

Cream of Leek Soup

I haven’t made this soup in ages. I had a recipe for a kale, leek and potato soup but since I didn’t have any kale I net surfed for one that featured just the leeks. I decided on this recipe from the “Cooking with Campbell’s” website, though I left out the cream, after tasting the pureed soup. It just didn’t need it.

For a very elegant presentation, serve your soup in a delicate bone china cup.

Or, for a hearty home style presentation, use a sourdough bread bowl. Since I didn’t have any fresh herbs for garnish, I used a pinch of cayenne pepper for colour and to give a bit of zing to the very subtly flavoured leek and potatoes.

Sauteed leeks and potatoes in a purchased low salt chicken stock cooked until the potatoes were just tender … before and after being pureed.