Asparagus Ends Soup

If there is one thing I hate it is wasting food. Anytime you waste food is like emptying your wallet into the trash. Often with produce you have parts of the fruit or vegetable you are not going to eat. I will never eat an apple core or the peel of an orange or outer layers of an onion. What about the ends of asparagus? Those woody ends that either end up in the trash or at least hopefully in your compost pile. Is there a better fate for them? Should I try to choke them down? I think they are definitely usable in a way that is delicious and will keep you from spending an hour flossing asparagus strains out of your teeth. Make soup.

Asparagus Ends for Stock

This past week I saved up about 40 or so ends from 2 bunches of asparagus I purchased. Then got out pot, covered them completely with water and boiled them until they were the mush you see in the picture below. I also had another secret ingredient up my sleeve. In the theme of using discarded “waste” I threw a couple rinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that I got at Whole Foods on the cheap. This would infuse the flavor of the cheese into the stock.

Asparagus Ends Soup (Stock)

While it may not look pretty or tasty, the liquid that was left behind after I turned the ends into mush only a baby could appreciate was a flavorful asparagus stock that was little green in color.

Asparagus Ends Soup (Strained Stock)

Once the stock was made, I cooked about 3 peeled and sliced Russet potatoes. Although I wish I had some Yukon Gold on hand as I like their butteriness (it’s my word!) in soups. All that was left was to season and cook the potatoes until done. As for the seasoning I used kosher salt and freshly ground Grains of Paradise or alligator pepper. Grains of Paradise has a more mild, sweet bite than your standard black pepper. I really like it in soups. You could also use white pepper or maybe some smoked peppercorns to add a bit of smokey flavor to the soup. I pulled out my immersion blender to blend it up but not without leaving some chunks of potatoes. If you like serve it with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. My 5-year daughter loved the soup and she doesn’t like asparagus.

Asparagus Ends Soup
Soup
 

Ingredients
  • 30-40 asparagus ends (about 2 inches a piece)
  • 3-4 medium sized Russset potatoes or 4-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Place asparagus ends and Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds into a pot. Cover with at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until the asparagus can be mashed with a potato masher about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Strain out the ends and rinds through a mesh strainer.
  4. Add the potatoes. Bring back to a boil. Then simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Blend with an immersion blender until completely smooth or leave some chunks.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.

 

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Ina Garten's Beef Barley Soup

I think often people only think of beef, when they hear the words barley. While barley has many uses, I am definitely all for the beef and barley combo. I have made this kind of soup before, but I am always open to new techniques and recipes. So after an episode of the Barefoot Contessa aired this past weekend, I decided to give Ina’s Rich Beef Barley Soup a go. In this episode, Ina visits a fire station planning to serve them a meal right after their fire drill. Along with the soup she also makes sloppy joes, caramel pecan sundaes, and stilton dressing.

This soup is a bit different than you might be use to. She uses oxtails and beef stock to make a rich tasting soup. Oxtails don’t have a lot of meat on them, but they do have a lot of flavor. At the end I found the meat to be too tough to actually shred for serving in the soup.

Here are my notes from this recipe. You can print off the recipe at Food Network’s website.

1. I picked up some oxtails at the store for $3.99/lb. I was hoping for a bit cheaper but I wasn’t going to spend the extra gas to go out of my way.

2. I used my Lodge Dutch Oven to make this soup. It’s a great tool for browning meat and cooking soup in.

3. She recommends canned beef stock but I would never use canned. Too salty and the quality is poor. You are better off buying the stock in a carton, using a beef base, or using homemade.

4. I really like that she uses leeks. Leeks are overlooked. I think they have a better flavor than onions (which I know is also in the recipe, but I omitted them)

5. Give your vegetables the amount of time they need to start browning. This will increase their flavor and the overall flavor of the finished product.

6. Unfortunately I was out of bay leaves, but I did have some fresh thyme. I just threw the leaves into the pot without tying them.

7. Ina cooked the barley in a separate pot. I thought this was a waste of energy and pots. I just added them half way through cooking the soup. This also gave them a chance to take on some of the flavor of the liquid.

8. Since I was planning on eating for my meals at work this week, I refrigerate the soup when done overnight. This also give a chance for all the fat to rise to the top, so I could remove them more easily. Plus I always think beef soups taste better the next day!

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Spaghetti Squash Chicken Soup

Chicken noodle soup – the ultimate comfort dish. Some might say something so good should never be messed with. I decided to do the sacrilegious thing. Noodles are of course always delicious. But what if I could up the nutrition factor. Since we are now in the Autumnal season, I am starting to mess around with squash. After preparing a stewing hen for the first time, I was planning on going with the classic comfort soup. I was going to make my own noodles. But after glancing at the kitchen, I knew the clean up needed I would be unable to do in the allotted time I had before work. That’s when the light bulb moment took place. Why not use spaghetti squash like I would the noodles. That squash has a noodle-like texture and I have been telling customers at work that you can use it as a pasta replacement. So why not be crazy and replace it in one of pasta’s finest moments.

Like previously mentioned I cooked up a stewing hen. This is an older bird that is very flavorful (especially it’s broth!) but is tough, so slow cooking is a must. I going to provide a post on how to do this in the near future. All you need is some shredded chicken how ever you can get it along with some good chicken stock. Then it’s just a manner of roasting the squash and putting the final soup together.

Chicken & Spaghetti Squash Soup Recipe
Soup
 

Ingredients
  • 1 whole cooked chicken, meat shredded
  • 6 cups chicken stock (homemade if possible)
  • 1 lb spaghetti squash
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut on the bias
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Carefully slice your squash in half.
  3. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. This will help pull our moisture, speeding up the cooking process.
  4. Bake in the oven for 45-60 mintues or until the flesh is as soft al dente pasta
  5. Cool, before removing flesh. Remove with a fork. If strands are too long, cut in half.
  6. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add carrots. Simmer until carrots are soft. Then add your chicken, squash, and thyme. Bring back to a boil.
  7. Add dried thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

 

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A couple weeks ago I was planning my meal for St. Patrick’s Day. The last couple years I had served corned beef along with cabbage and potatoes. This year I decided to put the cabbage into the mashed potatoes. So I felt like I needed another dish to complete my meal. I wanted it to be something that was genuinely Irish. After much searching I found someone who had made a cream of turnip soup. That person was trying to re-create an experience they had eating cream of turnip soup during a trip to Ireland. So I thought hey why not start our meal off with a soup course. We don’t have do that at home, if I was going to do it any day why not St. Patrick’s Day. I made the soup and it came out delicious.

I am not known for leaving well enough alone. I was thinking what could make this soup even better. What about roasting the root veggies before hand. That would add a whole another dimension to this soup. Yesterday, I gave this a try and everyone was pleased with the results. My 4-year old said it was the best soup she ever had. The consistency was nice and thick. By roasting the veggies, they lose moisture concentrating the flavor and helping to thicken the soup.

The recipe is a take off of the one I found, with the changes I made.

Ingredients
2 medium sized turnips, peeled & diced
3 small parsnips, peeled & diced
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
olive oil
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
freshly ground white pepper to taste
kosher salt to taste

To roast the turnips & parsnips
Peel and dice the root vegetables. Place them on a half sheet pan, along with some olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Then into a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until they have taken one a lot of brown color (not black!).

To prepare the soup
Add the butter to a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the chopped onions when the butter has melted. Cook the onions until they start to turn translucent. Then add the chicken stock and roasted vegetables. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the veggies are soft. Remove from heat. Using a immersion or stick blender, blend the soup until it’s smooth. Add the cream and bring back to the heat. Just cook until the soup is warm enough for you. Add salt if it needs it, I found that it didn’t. Serve immediately along with some freshly cracked white pepper and croutons.

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Pumpkin Tortellini Soup

I love the challenge of using ingredients that are typically used in sweet dishes and use them for savory. During the fall I cook up my fair share of pumpkins to use in all sorts of recipes. Most of the time they are going into sweet recipes, but I have been learning how to incorporate them into the savory. I was originally inspired to make a soup with them when I was browsing through some cookbooks at my local library. I came across an idea to wrap a pumpkin filling in wonton wrappers and serving it in a broth. I went to work on developing my own filling.

Pumpkin Tortellini Soup

What I like about this soup is that it is easy to make and full of flavor. The filling is a little sweet from the pumpkin and creamy from the Parmesan. Then when you serve it a homemade chicken broth it makes it a complete well balanced soup. Perfect for a cooler, cozy autumn day.

 

Pumpkin Tortellini Soup
 

Ingredients
  • 8 oz pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • ¼ cup hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese)
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 20-30 square wonton wrappers

Instructions
To make the filling
  1. Start by mixing the pumpkin puree, cheese, Panko, nutmeg, salt, and pepper together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Then add in one egg yolk.
  3. Make sure to save the white to use to seal up the wontons.
To make the chicken stock
  1. I made the stock by placing the bones from a whole chicken I roasted, into my slow cooker when the chicken was done.
  2. Then I filled it up with water, some salt and pepper, slightly broken up celery and carrots. I cooked the stock in the slow cooker all night long and later the next day, the bones were easy to break apart, so I had accomplished my goal.
  3. I then placed the stock into my fridge to allow it to cool.
  4. I remove the layer of fat that collected on the top and brought the stock up to a boil and boiled for 2 mintues before introducing the tortellini.
To fold the tortellini
  1. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wonton (we used square ones).
  2. Brush the egg wash on the top and right edge of the wonton and fold it in half on the diagonal.
  3. Moisten one of the two diagonal points with egg wash and join the points together in the middle.
  4. Then moisten the back of the top point and fold it backwards- opposite the first 2 points. What you will end up with looks something like an envelope. I made these in assembly line and it went rather quickly that way.
Final preparations
  1. Bring your chicken stock to a boil. Then add the chopped sage.
  2. Then introduce your tortellini. Cook until tender and the filling is heated through. This should take about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Serve pipping hot with some freshly cracked black pepper on top.

 

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good_eats_logo This was the 5th straight Monday featuring a brand new episode of Good Eats. And out of all the shows, this one was the least appealing to me. The idea of a fish based soup, just doesn’t sound like Good Eats to me. But as a loyal Good Eats fan, I had to watch the episode anyway. The fish soup Alton makes is called Bouillabaisse. It is a French soup, that probably didn’t really originate in France. It involves several different types of seafood, served in fish stock. Typically a piece of baguette with a Rouille spread on it served along the soup.

Positively, Absolutely, Not Real Bouillabaisse | Click here for the recipe
To begin the soup, Alton starts with a fish stock, made from fish heads, tails, and bones. The stock doesn’t take that long to make, only about 25 minutes. Then the stew is made up of Cobia, Black Cod, lobster tail, and blue mussels along with some fennel, white wine, onion, parsley, tomatoes, orange peel, saffron, garlic, and cayenne pepper.

Sustainable Seafood
Alton says when it comes to choosing seafood, he goes for sustainable types. He gives a website to learn more about sustainable fish: http://www.seafoodwatch.org
This website is hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They recommend what seafood you should buy and what you should avoid. Fish that is to be avoided is usually done so either because it’s been over-fished or the methods used to fish for it are not good for the environment.

Rouille
As I mentioned in the beginning Alton makes a spread called a Rouille that goes onto of a slice of baguette. It contains a roasted red bell pepper, garlic, red chile, lemon juice, sea salt, and olive oil. This is probably the only thing I will make myself from this episode, as my wife wants to give it a try on some bread.

While far from being my favorite episode, it still was informative, with the information about sustainable seafood and the recipe to make the Rouille. That is the great thing about this cooking show. Because it’s a teaching show, even when the recipes don’t appeal to me, I can still become a better and more informed cook.

saffron

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good_eats_logo March has been a great month for Good Eats fans, with 4 new episodes covering chickpeas, chocolate cake, chicken pot pie, and lasagna. There is even more in store for fans in April. Three new episodes are currently scheduled.

April 4, 2011
Waiter, There’s A Fish In My Soup – Fish Stew

April 11, 2011
The Proof is in the Bread Pudding – Bread Pudding

April 18, 2011
Roll Call – Yeast Rolls

I am most excited about the yeast roll episode. I have been waiting for him to make some. Not so excited about the fish stew show. Fish in soup doesn’t sound appealing to me.

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SlowCookerThis is part four of a five part series on different ways I use my slow cooker. This series is a part of my month long “5 Days With My Appliances” series..

On a cold winter day, nothing beats a bowl of warm soup. Even better if you arrive home and that soup is already pipping hot. With a slow cooker at your disposal this dream can be a reality. I would not necessarily do any soup in a slow cooker. A slow cooker is good for those soups that have ingredients that need a good amount of time to cook. Some examples include any dried beans, split peas, or lentils. Below you will find some recipes for soups using these ingredients. These recipes don’t necessarily call for slow cookers, but they can be adapted for them. If you have a slow cooker like mine you can set it to how many hours you want. I can’t guarantee the exact amount of time it will take in your cooker. Soup is a meal you can experiment with.

1. Bean & Bacon Soup
2. Split Pea w/Potatoes Soup
3. Alton Brown’s Lentil Soup

One soup that I never cook in a slow cooker is chicken noodle soup. I prefer to cook an entire chicken, and then with the leftovers make a quick soup in a pot on my stove top. If I did cook chicken noodle all day, the noodles would end up total mush. Also the noodles, chicken, carrots, celery, and anything else you put it would also just have the same taste. I like everything in my soup to have it’s full flavor still intact. This is the same point I made when I talked of making pot roast in a slow cooker. I really want to drive home with my readers to not just dump, cook, and eat. Add some additional flavors to your soup near the end or at the end of the cooking. Never miss an opportunity to improve your food. To my bean soup, I add liquid smoke at the end and puree some of the soup to thicken it. To my split pea soup, I like to add freshly cooked bacon at the end of the process, so it still retains some of it’s crispiness, giving the soup an added texture.

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Leftover Turkey Fajitas So you have survived Thanksgiving. You may be looking in your fridge at containers full of leftover turkey. You might be thinking do I really want to eat turkey sandwiches every day for the next week. I am here to give you some non-sandwich options.

Turkey & Rice Soup
A simple soup that is easy to make and delicious!

Turkey Fajitas
Why not use turkey for fajitas? If a recipe calls for chicken, you can try replacing it with turkey.

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Leftover Turkey & Rice Soup One great way to use your leftover turkey from Thanksgiving is in soups. It’s so easy to make up some soup and just throw some turkey in it. The first soup I made this year was turkey & rice. It involves cooking some rice in turkey or chicken stock, along with some carrots until finished, then throwing in handfuls of leftover turkey. I forgo the more common long grain rices and pick out a short grain or sushi rice. It just makes the soup better. I also like to throw in some chopped fresh rosemary and sage. Those herbs are classic Thanksgiving flavors. This recipe is meant for a big single serving or two smaller servings, so this is perfect to make a quick lunch. I saved some of the soup in a zip top bag and placed it in the freezer for when I need a quick lunch.

Ingredients
Leftover turkey
1/2 cup short grain (sushi) rice
fresh rosemary & sage, chopped fine
1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
1 celery stalk, chopped fine (optional)
3 cups turkey or chicken stock

Combine the stock, carrot, herbs, and rice in a pot and bring to a boil. Slap on a lid and simmer until the rice is cooked, about 10-15 minutes. Add a couple handfuls of leftover turkey and bring back to a boil, just to heat up the turkey. Serve and enjoy!

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