Category Archives: Soups

Guinness Beef Stew. Guinness is Good for You!

We went on hike around tiger mountain in the blistering fricking cold the other day.  ‘Tis the season for the light to pass perfectly through the trees, and for the cold to make its own beauty.

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I had been home a few hours and my ass still hadn’t warmed up. What better way to toast up my insides than a Guinness beef stew. When I was a kid, the very mention of anything about Guinness would cue up my grandmother to say the Guinness rhyme.  guinnes

Wouldn’t you know that Guinness is not only good for you, but its also good in stew. Its rich flavor deeply compliments the salty beef broth perfectly and makes pairing a drink with your stew super easy.

 

2 lbs Beef cut into 2″ chunks

2 large onions sliced

6 cups beef broth

1 can Guinness

6 cloves of garlic chopped

1 lb fingerling potatoes

4 celery stocks

12 oz mushrooms

1/2 cup barley

1 whole nutmeg seed

3 black cardamom pods crushed

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 sprigs of thyme

2 sprigs of oregano

Salt and pepper

In a large pot caramelize your onions, and brown the beef.  Add in the broth and beer. Place nutmeg, cardamom, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a cheese cloth or large tea strainer, and add it to the soup. Throw in the celery, mushrooms, potatoes, and barely. Let all of that simmer for approximately 2 hours, or until you can separate the beef  easily with a fork. For extra cool points plop some Swiss and or Gruyere cheese in there for that amazing gooey cheese factor.

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Tom Kha Gai Soup. Yummy In My Tummy

So I found all of my ingredients for this at G mart. If you have lived here in Washington for a while, I’m sure you’ve been to Uwajimaya. It’s the go to place around the area for all of your Asian staples, its busy, and almost like a fun grocery field trip. If you live in the north end, you may have hit up H mart, with less exciting results, but they are still a bustling little Asian market.  Then there’s G mart. Oh G mart, you need a hug, a makeover, and maybe a trip to a local rehab center or group home for a little therapy. I did find all of what I needed with some extra treats to try. But it was one of the odder less stocked Asian markets I’ve been to.

For someone who doesn’t really appreciate soup that much, I sure do make a lot of it. Tom Kha soup is by far my favorite. Its rich and creamy, and full of little flavor surprises. And it only takes about 30 minutes to make up. It leaves you feeling like you’ve forgotten several major steps in the process, but then you test it, and realize its just that easy.

2 cups of chicken tenders, thinly sliced

12 oz sliced large oyster mushrooms

24 oz coconut milk

4 cups chicken broth

2 chopped lemon grass stocks

2 sliced shallots

4 or 5 finely minced Thai chili peppers

10 to 15 cherry tomatoes (optional)

2 tbs chopped galangal (Angry ginger) or just regular ginger

A generous splash of fish sauce

the juice of 2 limes

a liberal smattering of cilantro

Put chicken broth, fish sauce, lime juice and coconut milk in a large pot and heat it up to a simmer. Add in the lemon grass, shallots, chili peppers, cherry tomatoes, galangal, switch the heat to high, and bring it to a boil. Once the soup is boiling Add in your chicken and mushrooms, and drop the heat to medium high, allowing it to simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until your oyster mushrooms are cooked through. Finally ladle it into bowls and sprinkle fresh cilantro leaves over the top.

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You don’t have to eat meat! I brought enough gazpacho for everyone!!

Gazpacho is a wonderful thing. It takes that whole idea of turning on burners, and ovens and throws it straight into the trash. I made Gazpacho Verde. Its like Regular gazpacho’s’ bitchin’ cousin. It takes the tyranny of a hot day and makes it a non issue. With easy (and cheaper) substitutions. One thing that you might want to take heed on, is the jalapenos. 3 adds a tasty zing to the flavor . 6 adds makes it into a small oral inferno. However, letting those additional jalapenos think about their behavior in the fridge overnight, really mellows them out into a a considerate level of spice that most people (meaning me, the spicy weenie) can handle.

The gazpacho verde has spawned something though. I have a pension for adding alcohol to things. I thought that adding vodka would make an excellent drink. I call it a Vulcan Mary. Its got spice, a touch of sweet, a little sour, and has a wonderful combination of refreshing and please make the hangover go away.

1 lb tomatillos

1 honey dew melon

1 cucumber

1 green pepper

1 white onion

4 cloves of garlic

6 Jalapenos

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup vinegar

1/2 cup sparkling water

1 cup chopped parsley

1 tsp salt

Take all of these lovely ingredients, chop them up into small pieces, and place them into a blender to puree. The smaller you make the pieces, the more you can fit into your blender. Pour the puree into a mesh sieve, and allow it to sit over a bowl for 30 minutes to an hour. (overnight if you’re letting the ingredients settle).

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I feel like gazpacho is a personal food. Its like eggs, or mash potatoes, or spaghetti. No one can make it just the way you like it. some people like it thick, some like it thin. Others like it rich and creamy or even chunky. I always save about 1 cup of the blended ingredients to add to the gazpacho. The other thing I do, is set aside some greek yogurt. A tablespoon thickens and adds a very rich flavor to the gazpacho.

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Now, onto the the Star trek themed drink. For those of you who aren’t super awesome, Vulcans bleed green … as long as you make an arterial cut…. Hence the extra special name, the vulcan bloody mary. Simply take the gazpacho sans any pulp or greek yogurt, add that to a shot or 2 of vodka and some sparkling water, with a celery and a lime wedge to garnish, and enjoy.

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Creamy Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

Kale is one of the latest and greatest super foods. It lowers cholesterol, fights heart disease, cancer, and is a wonderful source of potassium. However, It tastes kind of like spinach had a torrid love affair with thistle, and together they made a bastard, misshapen little gargoyle of a love child, kale. Its quite tough, not quite like eating a thistle, but really rather rough in texture. Don’t let that put you off. There are many, many ways to beat it into shape.

You can can eat it plain in a salad, bake it into chips, massage it with olive oil and a vinegar (no really give it a loving rub down, it will soften it) saute it with any flavor you want it to pick up, and unlike spinach, it won’t wilt into a stringy mess. This weekend, I tossed it into a soup.

1 lb Ground Italian sausage

6 slices of chopped thick cut bacon

1 chopped raw onion

5 cloves of minced garlic,

1 potato

2 sticks of celery

4 cups chicken broth

Juice of one lemon

1 cup mushrooms

1 cup cannellini beans

1 cup cherry tomatoes

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 tbsp fresh oregano

1 tbsp chili peppers

1 cup heavy cream

several leaves of fresh purple kale

Brown your sausage meat with bacon, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add the chicken broth herbs, celery, herbs, chili peppers, beans and potatos. Let that simmer for approximately 30 minutes (until the potatoes are soft). Toss in the tomatoes and let the soup simmer until the cherries split. Add in your heavy cream, let it simmer for a few minutes and stir in your kale until it softens.

Serve it up with some fresh grated Parmesan and enjoy!

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French onion soup you would step over your own mother to eat

There comes a moment in every girls life where she has an excess of cave aged gruyere cheese, and is at a complete and total loss as to what to do with it. Don’t worry, I have a solution. It’s French onion soup. French onion with enough Swiss and gruyere to almost be a choking hazard.

What is cave aged you ask? It’s not actual cheese that is aged in a cave(it should though. I want a cave full of aged cheese), but cheese that is aged in specific cave like conditions. For example, humid, chilly , but not so chilly that it doesn’t age. It is then left there for over 3 months. What you get, is a cheese that is moist, but not gooey, flavorful, and smells like a hobos armpit. Don’t smell it. Just eat it. Some things you should just stick in your mouth and not investigate.

Back in the day, the vikings used to use onions as a way to test entry wounds to the stomach. They would feed them to the wounded, and if they smelled like onions after, they were doomed to die.   This soup could surely have been used for such a test, as a recipe for 2 contains no less than 4 onions. half of which a cooked down into an amazing sludge that will end up in your beef stock. Not only is that sludge amazing in your stock, I found that spreading it all over slices of gruyere toasted baguettes made moan in food ecstasy.

French onion soup for two

4 red onions sliced
1 bulb of roasted garlic
2 tbs butter
1 tsp sugar
4 cups beef stock
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 dash of oregano
8 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup Shredded gruyere
2 slices of roasted baguette
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 .Remove the out layers of the garlic so that the individual cloves are exposed, chop off the top, place it on tinfoil and pour olive oil over the top. Cook for 45 minutes. Squeeze out the garlic cloves and set them aside

While your garlic is cooking begin to saute half of your onions with butter, sugar, and salt on medium high until they are blanched, and begin to brown. Drop the heat down to medium low and let them simmer for about 10 minutes. Add half a cup of water, and continue to cook them down. I repeated this process 5 more times, each time allowing the water to almost cook off almost completely until it had the consistency of a gravy. One you have reached that point, add in the roasted garlic. When you’re done it should look like this..

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Lightly drizzle Olive oil over your slices of baguette, and sprinkle a scant amount of gruyere over the top. Place them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes, or until they are beginning to brown and are crispy. While they are toasting, take the rest of your onions and saute them with a bit of salt and the thyme and oregano until they are blanched. Add in 4 cups of beef broth, and your onion and garlic mixture. Let that simmer while your baguettes cook.
Place your toasted baguette into your ramekins, and begin ladling your soup into the bowls to just shy of the brim. You want that baguette to float to the surface, so your cheese has something to rest on. Evenly distribute your cheese over the top of your bowl and sprinkle the remainder of the gruyere over the top.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Set it out to cool for 10 minutes, and dig in.

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Smoked Salmon Bisque

To bisque or to chowder, was the question of the day. Whats the difference you ask? Chowders have chunks. The potatoes, meat and veggies are all intact, creating individual bites of flavor magic. Bisque is thought to have originated in Biscay Bay, and is a puree of all the deliciousness that you put into it.  I decided on bisque because I have an awesome hand blender that I plan on over using until its motor blows.

I chose nova lox for my smoked salmon. Remember, not all smoked salmon are created equal, or the same. I live in the great Pacific Northwest. Our smoked salmon is almost a jerky. Don’t get me wrong, its quite flavorful and delicious. Excellent on a cracker with some cream cheese, but its not the delicate flavor I was searching for. The first time I had cold smoked salmon, it was sold to me by my massage therapist. Funny place to get it right? But who the hell could resist a moist smoked calico salmon that almost melts in your mouth. It was at that moment that I really started exploring my smoked salmon options.  Lox are cold smoked, and every time you eat it, tiny angels sing as you take a bite. Its moist, and delicate. It falls apart in your mouth. Its exquisite on a bagel with cream cheese. It also is the perfect seafood for my bisque… Yaaaay!

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3 cups chicken broth

1 stewed tomato

1 chopped red potato

1 chopped onion

5 cloves of garlic

2 celery stocks

1 cup of chardonnay

The juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne

1 tsp dill

1 drop of liquid smoke. Seriously. Get out an eye dropper if your have to. DO NOT POUR FROM THE BOTTLE… ONE …. DROP. you’ll only make that mistake once… Don’t be like me…

chili peppers, salt and pepper to taste

1 lb of nova lox smoked salmon

Bring 3 cups of chicken broth to a simmer. Cut the top off your tomato, and drop it in until the skin begins to peal off. Remove the tomato and pull off the skin, cut it in to quarters and put it back in. Add your potatoes, onions, garlic, and celery. Turn the heat to medium high and drop in your chardonnay and lemon juice. Let your alcohol simmer off (you’ll know when the scent stops biting your nose). Add in your paprika, smoke, dill, and cayenne pepper. Once your potatoes are soft, take the soup off the burner and add and stir in the heavy cream. Here’s the important part, chop up the smoked salmon and throw 3/4 of it into the soup, and use your hand blender  to puree the mixture ( or pour it into your regular blender). Pour your delicious bisque into bowls for serving, and sprinkle the rest of the bits of smoked salmon over the top.

 

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Chicken noodle soup with spice

The temperatures have finally hit frigid here in the northwest. Its been downright sultry until now. Time for soups! As a kid I despised soup. I would plug my nose, quietly spoon it into my napkin, rub it on the underside of the table, and of course, sit there bitterly complaining until I fell asleep at the table, all in the name of not having to eat it. Now that I’m a bit older, I don’t hate it. Its almost to the point where I like it.

Sometimes when cooking we all need a perverted little voice that whispers creepily in our ear “shhhhhhhhhh… just go with it.” That’s about what happened with this chicken soup. It turned me into a spice-o-file.  I’ve taken a keen interest in whole spices and fresh herbs lately. The flavors are completely unique from their dried and ground up brethren. I like to think of soups as a savory tea with chunks in it. All you are really doing in steeping flavors into a broth to make cozy food magic.  Recently I’ve noticed nutmeg in a lot of recipes, in no particular amount, never mentioned again in the recipe, and not really stating what form it should be used in (thanks for that). I’m not going to leave you hanging that way today. I use the whole seed.  I plop it in there with a few of its whole spice friends, to let their spice BO permeate throughout my soup.  Life hack: If you have a tea strainer, put your spices in there. That way they are easily removed from you soup.

Fun pre recipe fact

Nutmeg is not only a delicious spice, but its also a terrible hallucinogenic that will make you violently ill if taken in high quantities. Feel free to Google it and read the experiences of several morons who thought that it sounded like a good idea at the time.

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6 cups chicken broth

1 cup white wine

4 chicken breasts cut up in your favorite chicken soup style

2 cups sliced mushrooms

4 sticks of chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 chopped potato (I hate potatoes, put as many as you want in there)

1 parsnip chopped

1 onion chopped and sauteed

6 whole cloves of garlic

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 tsp fresh oregano (chopped/bruised)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup of your favorite small noodles

Salt

Pepper

In your tea strainer

1 nutmeg seed

2 black cardamom seeds

1/2 tsp fresh cumin

1 bay leaf

2 star anise seeds

Add in your chicken broth, wine and lemon juice, and bring it to a light simmer. Drop your tea strainer in, and add everything else except the noodles. Let this gently simmer for about 45 minutes, remove the tea strainer, and then add in you noodles. Let the soup continue to simmer away until the noodles have cooked all the way, and then eat it.

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Pho King Delicious

I woke up last weekend with a fire under me, and decided to make  pho.  A lovely Vietnamese dish, with a beautiful French twist.  France has a unique global history of occupation, and culinary influence, that can be seen all over the world from their many conquests. Pho being one of those diamonds glistening in the rough of their occupation of Vietnam.  My favorite part of pho, is it’s depth of flavors. Meaty broths mixed with the sweet scents of spices, and bold taste of the fresh herbs and lime.  Before I started I figured it was going to be easy enough to make in about an hour, until I caught wind of the fact that I wasn’t just sticking some bullion cubes into a pot. I would be simmering down meat and bone, extracting the amazing flavor of beef from the soul of the cow (Cow souls are delicious. It was a lengthy process).

Ingredients: For Broth

1lb ox tail

1 beef shank

 2 or 3 beef shin bone cuts

1 onion halfed and seared

1 large knuckle of ginger, seared

2 tbsp salt

2 heaped table spoons of granulated sugar (or if you can find them white sugar rocks)

Aproximately

10 Star anise seed pods

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 cinnamon sticks

5 cloves

2 cardamom pods (black cardamom if you can find it)

2 whole nutmeg seeds

For soup preparation

Thai Basil Leaves

Cilantro

Green onion

White onions

Lime

Chilis

Bean sprouts

Rice noodles

Your finely sliced meat of choice

Hoisin sauce

Sriracha

I set to work researching to create the most flavorful broth I could find. I chose ox tail, shin bone and beef shank for my meats.  The key to starting your pho is searing  in flavors. I threw my shank and my ox tail in to an empty pot on high,  and cooked them on both sides.  I then added the shin, and filled my pot with water, left the stove on high, and boiled out all the impurities. Pho should be clear.  Once your hot beef water gets several mounds of frothy nastiness on it (after about 10 to 15 minutes of boiling) empty out your pot and wash all of your bones off. This takes away most of what will cause that murky appearance to your broth. Hopefully. One other thing that will give you an edge, is maintaining a very light simmer after your second boiling, and NOT stirring it.  Fill your pot again, add approximately 2 tablespoons of salt and boil for another 10 minutes, continuing to ladle off anymore meat sludge that chooses to surface.  Drop your heat to a low simmer, and add  seared onions and ginger. I used my butane torch for the searing. The torch is not only entertaining, but actually quite effective at this task.  Walk away at this point for no less than 5 hours.  What you should return to is a thick stew. Remove your bones and meats, and strain your broth.  I became concerned about the amount of fat glistening across the surface. I weighed my options, and thought that the fridge would be my best bet to make the fats, and other tidbits rise up and solidify.

I woke up the next morning, and peered into my bowl, initially excited to see that the fat had indeed risen to the surface. My next surprise was that I had created a  bowl of gelatinous meat goo, or beef consomme. After scraping off my fat, I threw it back into a pot, and added several cups of water. Next came toasted spices. Star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg seeds, fennel, whole black cardamom and a few tablespoons of sugar. (If you can get your hot little hands on white sugar rock I recommend going that route. It is usually available in Asian markets.) These toasted tidbits should simmer for about an hour or two. Finally it was time to strain it one last time through a cheese cloth (french for paper towel). This was my last effort to really clarify my broth. It worked quite well.

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I served it up with my favorite seafood, herbs, jalapenos, and  lime, and pondered over the all of the new recipes I could try with my new found friend, beef consomme.

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