Summer Potato Soup

This is another kid-friendly soup that makes mama happy with all kinds of “goodness” hidden inside. This pureed number sports new potatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini and carrots that all help to nourish the body: low-fat, high protein, high fiber, vitamin packed. But who cares about all that after a week of trips to the old-fashioned candy store, all-you-can-eat Oreos, and making faces on Ritz crackers with Easy Cheese? Watching the boy scarf down two bowls of the soup without a single complaint makes me think his body was in need of nutrients after the “Up North at the Cabin” binge.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into chunks
  • water to cover potatoes
  • 6-8 small carrots
  • 2 cups large lima beans, pre-cooked
  • 2 cups garbanzo beans, pre-cooked
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch hot pepper flakes

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a stock pot. Add onions and saute on a low heat until they begin to brown. Add garlic and cook for a minute – remember, don’t let it burn! Add diced potatoes and fill the pot with enough water to just cover them. Bring the water to a boil, and cook the potatoes until they are just tender. Add the zucchini and cook for a few minutes.

Puree the onion, garlic, potato and zucchini with an immersion blender or a standard blender. I used a standard because I wanted it finely pureed. (Max doesn’t like potatoes or zucchini!) You may need to do the blending in two batches.

Return the puree to the stock pot and add the carrots. Heat on a low simmer until the carrots are cooked. Add the pre-cooked garbanzo and lima beans to the mix. Season with salt, pepper and pepper flakes.

Note: This soup was garnished with an herb chimichurri that I made with a handful of fresh herbs, a the juice of one lemon, about 1/4 cup olive oil, a clove of garlic and salt and pepper.

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Potato Leek Soup

This is not your average potato leek soup. It has no dairy, waxes pink from a flurry of swiss chard stem antioxidants, flushes with a little sweet honey mead, and swoons mellow from roasted potatoes and leeks. That’s right, they are roasted before they are made into soup, and the sheet pan used to roast them get’s a stove-top deglazing with the white wine. Have you ever deglazed a cookie sheet before? I had never, and the technique made me think I was in a European kitchen wearing chef’s whites and a touque!

The whole idea to roast the potatoes and leeks comes from Ina Garten, Back to the Basics. Using this technique definitely adds more time to the meal, but the flavor is quite stunning, and it was fun to use a few seasonal veggies as well as a bottle of mead from White Winter Winery in Wisconsin – getting back into the local scene after a long winter!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large leeks, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced
  • 3 pounds potatoes, diced
  • oil to coat
  • 1 head garlic, roasted in foil with a drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stems and a bit of greens
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into small chunks
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degree. Toss the sliced leeks and potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes or until tender. Place the foil-wrapped garlic on the cookie sheet to roast while the leeks and potatoes cook. You may want to flip the veggies during cooking, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

When the potatoes are tender, remove the cookie sheet from the oven and place on stove-top over medium heat. Here’s where you get to deglaze a cookie sheet! Pour in 1 cup of wine and scrape the crispy bits off the bottom. Mash the potatoes with a fork and mix with the wine. Remove the cloves of garlic from the head, and squeeze out the roasted garlic paste. Mix everything together. Let some of the wine cook off then scoop the mixture into a stock pot. Add about six cups of water or stock, salt and pepper to taste and more wine if you like. Bring it to a simmer.

Add the swiss chard stems and allow to simmer for about ten minutes. Last, add the asparagus and cook for another five minutes on very low heat. You don’t want the asparagus to get stringy. It should be bright green and still just a bit crisp.

Curried Carrot Soup

One of my students asked me today on the way to the buses, “Mrs. Washburne, what are you going to make for dinner tonight?” That’s when my mind started racing. What am I going to make for dinner? This question reminded me of the fact that last night Jeff picked up Chipotle because the cupboards were basically bare. I’ve been working so much lately that our family’s grocery shopping didn’t get done this weekend. As soon as I got home, I surveyed the fridge, found a large bag of carrots and two lovely red peppers, and the idea of Curried Carrot Soup came to me. Pressed for time, I ran all the veggies through the grater on the food processor and had the soup simmering in less than ten minutes.

To save time I even cut corners on the grilled cheese and made them open-faced under the broiler. The trick for that is to toast both sides of the bread under the broiler and then put the cheese on for a quick melt. This is a really nice way to make lots of cheese toasties, but keep a close eye on them or they will burn quickly! Dinner was ready to eat in less than twenty minutes. Now I am just waiting for the boys to come home to eat it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly slice in half-rounds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 red peppers, grated
  • water to cover veggies
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder
  • dry roasted pistachios to top (optional)

Directions: Saute the onions in the oil until translucent then add the minced garlic. Once the garlic gives off its’ aroma, add the grated carrots and cover them with water. Add the spices and bring the soup to a slow boil. Add the peppers at the very end when the carrots are tender. Top with toasted pistachios and enjoy!

Chili Colorado

“Oh Mom, that looks so good!”

Yeah, I did it again! Another soup Max will eat! He loves Lima beans, he loves chili, and he loves carrots and red peppers. Put them all together and you get a happy nine-year-old who will eat something other than toast! He even helped me name it. While I was making the soup, Max was working on a drawing and using some colored pencils named in English, Spanish and French down the side. He was quizzing me by asking me how to pronounce the colors in Spanish. When he came over to look at the soup, he said, “It looks like Fall. It’s so colorful. How do you say ‘colorful‘ in Spanish? It’s ‘colorado’ I replied. There you have it, Chili Colorado.

Chili Colorado:

  • oil to coat pan
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 pound dried Lima beans
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale, deveined and finely chopped
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, roasted and finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 – 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 2 large red peppers, diced

Directions: Start by washing the beans then cook them until tender. Once the beans are soft, drain the water off and rinse them a few times. All this washing and rinsing helps eliminate gas.

In a stock pot, saute the onion until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic. When the garlic becomes fragrant, return the Lima beans to the pot, and fill with water just a little above the level of the beans. Add the carrots, kale, cauliflower and spices and bring the soup to a simmer. I often taste here and add more cumin, chili powder or salt. When the carrots are tender, add the red peppers. You don’t want them to cook for too long or they get mushy. Serve with cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, crackers or tortilla chips.

Curried White Bean and Potato Soup

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Yes, it’s another soup – my ultimate comfort food. I never eat soup in restaurants or buy it from the co-op because it’s never as good as the pots that come from my hands! I find soup totally satisfying on so many levels. First, I love the layers of healthful ingredients like beans and veggies. The heat from soup makes it soothing to consume, and the ease of putting together a large quantity of reheatable food is a true de-stressor! One pot of soup in the fridge means we can easily nourish our bodies through our sixty plus hour workweek without much additional cooking.

The other thing I love about eating soup is that it’s a vehicle for crunchy tidbits and cheese. We almost always cut up chunks of cheddar and then eat the soup with our favorite tortilla chips. Sometimes our soup gets topped with croutons, and Jeff and Max also enjoy the provincial saltine cracker. This soup is a little spicy so it pairs well with sour cream and tortilla chips. One thing is for sure, I never eat a bowl of soup without a crunchy grain along side.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger piece, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 bunch collard greens, deveined and sliced into ribbons
  • 2 cups brussel sprouts, quartered
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 6 red potatoes, diced
  • 4 cups white beans, precooked
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder

Directions:

Saute the onion in the oil until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and jalapeno and saute just until the aromatics are released. Next add the ribbons of collard greens, potatoes, brussel sprouts and enough water to cover the vegetables. Mix in the beans and spices and cook on a low simmer until the potatoes are tender. Of course, taste it before you serve it to make sure you have a spice combination you like. I often find myself adding a little more of this and that.

Sweet Potato Zuppa, White Beans and Crust

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Man is this delicious, or what! And so easy. The beauty of pureed soup? Very little prep as it all get’s pulverized in the end. Ready made were the white beans in the freezer from a big batch made a couple of weeks ago, the veggies came from last week’s CSA, and the bread a cinch. After all is said and done, the aromatics of the curry and ginger fill the house with an away-from-Minnesota smell and we end up with a beautiful and satisfying Minnesota winter soup. Oh, actually, it’s not winter yet. Would somebody please tell Mother Nature – not it!

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Zuppa Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 1 inch piece ginger, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, cut into pieces
  • 4 Thai chiles
  • 1 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 – 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 3-4 large carrots, diced
  • 6-8 cups white beans, pre-cooked
  • 3/4 cup condensed milk
  • salt to taste

Directions:

1) Saute the onions, garlic, ginger and chiles in the oil.

2) Once the onions begin to caramelize, add the cumin seeds, garam masala and curry powder. The idea is to toast the spices for a few minutes on a low heat.

3) Add the sweet potatoes and carrots and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender.

4) Use a blender to puree the sweet potato and carrot mixture and return to the stock pot.

5) Add white beans and salt to taste. Allow the soup to simmer for at least five minutes to bring the flavors together.

Crusts:

1) Slice a loaf of chiabatta or peasant bread.

2) Cover a cookie sheet with a thin layer of olive oil.

3) Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

4) Place slices of bread into oil and rub around to collect some of the oil, salt and pepper. Flip the slices over and do the same to the other side. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

5) Bake at 375 degrees just till the bread starts to brown on the edges. 7-10 minutes.

Corn and Bean Chowder

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We can’t handle too much corn-on-the-cob around our house. Max has braces which makes it impossible to eat with the cob, and the richness of corn hits my satiated level after one serving per year. We’ve had corn for the last four weeks from the farm, and I’ve been zapping it in the microwave, shucking it, removing from the cob and freezing. Today I set out to tackle the last fifteen ears in our fridge only to discover the new batch was perfectly white and bodacious. Along with this perfection in the box came some very sassy Biscayne Peppers just asking to be blister roasted. The wheels started to churn, and the idea of a bean infused corn chowder came to be. I like the idea of adding some protein in order to complete the amino acids needed for perfection, and to be able to balance out this giant carb load.

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Corn and Bean Chowder Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil to coat pan
  • 1 tsp. dried chipotle powder (or smoky paprika if you don’t want too much heat)
  • 1 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1 tbs. fresh sage, chopped
  • 12 ears corn, kernels removed
  • 4 cups white beans
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 2 or 3 roasted peppers, peeled and diced (Use whatever peppers you have – hot or sweet.)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Corn: My technique for the corn involves a five for five method. Take five ears of corn, husks and all, and zap them in the microwave for five minutes. Take them out and let them cool on the counter for a few minutes before you pull off all the husk and silk. If you are used to removing the husk prior to cooking, you will be amazed by how simple it is to do this way. Once those are all cooked, cut the kernels from the cob.

Now, let’s get this soup cooking. Dice your onions and put them into the hot oil in a stock pot. Cook them on a low heat while you mince the garlic. Toss in the garlic, cumin, chipotle and sage. Let the aromatics cook and the spices toast a little. Now add the water, corn and beans. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.

Roasting the peppers: Use an all metal set of tongs to hold the peppers directly over the flame on your stove. They will begin to crackle and blister. When the skins turn mostly brown with spots of black, turn them. This will take a few minutes to completely char both peppers. Don’t be afraid to just set them on the stove racks for a few moments then flip. Once they are completely blistered, set them aside to cool. It also helps to put them in a closed paper bag. The steam from the hot chiles helps the skins peel off more easily once they cool. I’m not patient enough to spend much time waiting, so I usually run them under cold water and rub the skins off. Then all you have to do is slit them open with a knife to remove the seeds, take off the stem, and dice them up.

Finish the chowder by adding the diced chiles, salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve.

Hasty Soup

This one is for all the cooks out there with kids. What do you do if you’re finally relaxing after a long day and the brightest, sweetest boy in your life comes to you and says, “When are you going to make soup again?”

In a split second your brain quickly calculates all the veggies you can hide in one single bowl while at the same time you reflect on the last few days of junk food binging and you ask, “When would you like me to make soup?”

“I was just thinking about that kinda carrot-chunky, but not too potato-chunky soup you make with the peanuts on top. Could you make that now? I started to like soup and I feel like eating some now.”

Again the brain is way ahead and you’re quickly processing the memory banks for any soup recollection involving chunks and peanuts all the while you know he hates most of the ingredients included in soup. He just brought you a giant bag of broccoli from Grandpa’s community garden, so you say, “Would you like a cream of broccoli with Asian flavors? That would compliment the peanuts?

“Yes, but can you leave the broccoli out?” he asks in all earnestness.

“I’ll puree it so you won’t even know it’s there.”

By this time you are already in the kitchen dicing onions and mincing garlic afraid he will change his mind about the soup. Five minutes into the onion saute and veggie prepping he comments, “That smells so good! Is it done yet?” Time is of the essence, you don’t have time to think, and a hasty twenty minutes later you put out a bowl of “kinda chunky, but not too potato-chunky” Asian infused broccoli soup.

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As he devours the bowl of soup you hear, “I don’t think the potatoes are quite done, Mom…These are kind of big pieces of broccoli…Can I have some hot pepper flakes – it’s a little bland…maybe you should put it in the blender with some hot pepper flakes, cumin and some more spices…” Despite the feedback, the bowl of soup disappears!

What do you do? In amazement of his culinary expertise, you cook it a few more minutes to ensure the spuds are cooked through, you spoon it into the blender, add pepper flakes, cumin, nutmeg and curry. Then you ask, “Would you like to try a little bowl of the new soup?”

“No, I want a big bowl – more than the last bowl.” So you scoop it up and present him with the edited version of the first.

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“Oh, man! What a terrible color! It’s kind of greenish brownish. That’s the worst color ever!” Nevertheless, he sits down to eat an entire of bowl of broccoli, potatoes, carrots, cilantro, onions and garlic!

So, the next time the sweetest picky-eater boy in your life asks when you will make soup, what will you say and do? I recommend you follow a recipe!

Note: The soup is greenish brownish because I used soy sauce, Mirin and Thai red curry for the Asian flavor base, and the pureed carrots and broccoli didn’t help. I think with some coconut milk we could lighten the color and make it a little more presentable, but I don’t think I will bother as this soup has already completed its’ purpose – “It has healthiness!” as the boy would say.

Roasted Yellow Beet and Sweet Potato Soup

Tonight’s soup ended up being a Roasted Yellow Beet & Sweet Potato Soup that I served with chunks of cheddar and corn tortillas locally made by the Whole Grain Milling Company in Welcome Minnesota. Last weekend I roasted two large yellow beets and forgot to use them in a salad so they were waiting in the fridge for inspiration. I also had on hand a large sweet potato. The sweet of the beets and the sweet potato paired well with the tomato base of organic Muir Glen tomatoes. Jeff and I both enjoyed it, and Max devoured two bowls! It’s a winner! The recipe follows.

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Roasted Yellow Beet & Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbs. olive or canola oil
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 large roasted yellow beets
  • 1 large can Muir Glen diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground curry powder (I used Penzey’s Vindaloo)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chunks of cheddar to top soup
  • tortilla chips or crackers

Directions: In a large soup pot warm the oil on low heat while you dice the onion. Mix the onion into the oil and let it slowly saute. I remove the skins from the garlic and chop them in the food processor. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic. Keep the heat low, so the garlic can cook, but not burn. Max and Jeff don’t like chunks of tomato, so I puree the diced tomatoes. Add the tomato puree to the pot, and dice the sweet potato. Add these to the pot and raise the heat just enough to bring the tomatoes to a slow simmer. Add a little water to thin out. I added about two cups. Add spices and let cook. While the soup is cooking, I chop the bunch of cilantro in the food processor, and cut up chunks of cheese to top the soup. Sweet potatoes don’t take long to cook, so check them after about five minutes. While the soup cooks, I peel and dice the beets. Toss the beets in the pot after the sweet potatoes are soft. Let warm for about a minute and then mix in the chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with cheese and chips.

This meal for eight is entirely organic, took me about twenty minutes to prepare, and cost less than $7.00. You can’t beat that at Turtle Bread.