So I've heard, here and there, that global warming is actually likely to manifest itself as "global weirding." And yeah, I do know the difference between "weather" and "climate," but good heavens we're having an annoyingly weird spring. It's rained every day except yesterday for like four weeks straight. My garden is sun-starving. My roof is dripping. And my soups are remaining in the "warm and nourishing" category rather than lapsing into the "languid and refreshing" category into which I thought they would have fallen by now.
Anyway, this hearty lamb soup certainly fit the nourishing bill. You could certainly vary the amount of barley used to make it thicker or thinner, and just about any fresh veggies you have sitting around would be excellent candidates. I bet it would be lovely in fall/winter with a whole bunch of root vegetables, too. The cabbage may not be a traditional addition, but everyone gave it a thumbs-up.
Do try to find some teeny-tiny "creamer" potatoes if you're making this soup. Their flavor and texture really complement the lamb's slight gaminess in a way that chunks of bigger russets just wouldn't.
Scotch Broth Serves probably eight or ten; I made a bunch on purpose; it gets even better with age.
2 lamb shanks, 2 to 3 pounds total, trimmed of excess fat Salt and pepper 2 Tbsp olive oil (or, for a full-on taste sensation, use bacon fat!) One bouquet garni: several stems each of parsley and thyme, plus a couple of bay leaves, tied together or crammed into a tea ball 1/2 to 1 cup (I used 3/4 cup) pearl barley, rinsed, possibly soaked for a couple of hours in cold water if you have time and/or the inclination Water to cover 4 or 5 medium-sized carrots, scrubbed (peeled if they're particularly ugly, otherwise don't bother) and sliced About 1/2 pound small white creamer potatoes, halved or otherwise cut down to bite-size 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded 2 Tbsp more olive oil (or, y'know, bacon fat) 1 large onion, chopped 2 or 3 ribs celery, likewise chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp (Drunken Angel) hot sauce, optional but advised Plenty of salt. Seriously. I probably ended up using about a tablespoon. Don't freak out; just go for it. Freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkle lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the lamb shanks and cook, turning every few minutes, until well browned on all sides.
Add barley and bouquet garni; cover with cold water; bring to a simmer; cover and simmer over nice low heat for a long, long time. Two hours or so should do it. (You could also give this project 8 hours or so in the slow cooker.) Check periodically to make sure the water level hasn't dropped too low.
When barley is tender and lamb shanks are cooked through, remove bouquet garni and discard; remove lamb shanks and set aside to cool. Stir in carrots, potatoes and cabbage; return to a simmer and cook for another half hour or so, until carrots and potatoes are sufficiently tender. (If you're making this in the slow cooker, give it an couple hours or so on High.) Once lamb shanks are cool enough, shred off meat with fingers and reserve. Discard bones or feed them to a nearby dog, who will love you forever and ever as a result.
Heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Add onion and celery; saute over medium heat until tender, about 7 minutes; add garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Scrape sauteed vegetables into soup and mix well. Simmer for a couple more minutes.
Stir meat back into soup and heat through. Whisk in hot sauce; taste and season generously with salt; grind in some pepper.
Serve with buttered whole-grain toast for that full-on hearty Highland experience.
It's amazing what a half-empty refrigerator (and two-thirds-empty pantry) can do for the old creativity.
No meat (except bacon). Just a few fresh veggies. Half a package of tofu. Oh... wait... um... score! Peanut butter! And some frozen shrimp! And a couple of bell peppers!
The result: a globe-trotting meal, indeed. In an effort to provide Vernie with something more than just another bowl of soup, I made Senegalese Peanut Soup as a first course. (In retrospect, it would have been just fine as a main course. It was pretty darn hearty.)
Then, inspired by this delicious-sounding recipe, I attempted some Chinese red-cooked tofu. Of course, we only had half a package of tofu, so the dish morphed into red-cooked-ish tofu, peppers and zucchini. And we didn't have hoisin sauce (how did that happen? I love hoisin sauce! This omission must be remedied ASAP), nor did we have celery or carrots. So it wasn't exactly the same sort of thing, but everyone seemed fairly appreciative anyway.
Leftover soup: currently simmering on the stove, morphing into lunch. Smells delicious. GTG.
Senegalese Peanut Soup with Shrimp Adapted from Splendid Soups: Serves six-ish to eight-ish
2 Tbsp peanut or other vegetable oil 1 medium onion, finely chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 tsp (or more or less, to taste) cayenne pepper 2 Tbsp garam masala or other sweet-style curry powder (seriously, go for the garam masala) 3 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth 10 fresh tomatoes, peeled/seeded/chopped, or 5 cups (basically, two large cans) peeled tomatoes, drained/seeded/chopped 1 cup coconut milk 12 ounces or so (a small bag) frozen small shrimp (optional, but yummy; you'll probably want to salt the soup lightly if you don't use the shrimp) 2/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter Lime slices for serving
Heat peanut oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about ten minutes. Add garam masala and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.
Add broth and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer; cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Whisk in coconut milk; gently stir in shrimp; return to a simmer and cook until shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in peanut butter. Taste for salt (you probably won't need any) and serve, poured over steamed brown rice if you like, adorned with lime slices.
It's like the unholy love child of Charlie Brown and Pigpen. (Envision that for a second.) A constant accompaniment of clouds, only they are (for the most part) sad gloomy thunderclouds instead of dusty little stench-clouds.
And it's hell on writing. Hell on everything. Hell on everybody who has to be around me. (Sorry, family.)
I've been making the soups and not blogging them. And the backlog is getting fierce. And who really wants to read recipes interspersed with whining? Waah waah, poor me and my First World problems.
Anyway: Yesterday's soup was, according to Fisher, "one of the ten best [I]'ve made so far." Not so sure if that's necessarily the case, but... it didn't suck, either. And it's 100% Crock-Pot friendly, but it still feels like Real Cooking 'cause there's browning and stirring and timing involved. But not too much. You can make it even if you're in the Funkiest Funk that ever Funked. (Wish this funk were funky, instead of just funked-up.)
White Chicken Chili, which could also be made with veggie broth and no chicken, in which case I'd throw in some mushrooms and/or roasted red peppers Adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook
, my favorite Crock-Pot cookbook Serves plenty; Fisher had thirds last night, Rhys had seconds, and now everyone but me is eating the leftovers for lunch
1 pound white beans, picked over, rinsed and drained 1 onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced 8 cups chicken broth 2 Tbsp olive oil 1 more onion, chopped 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced 1 pound bone-in chicken thighs, skinned and extraneous fat removed (or boneless/skinless thighs... either way) 2 4-ounce cans roasted green ("Ortega") chiles 2 tsp ground oregano 2 tsp ground cumin A fat pinch of ground cloves 1 Tbsp poblano chile powder or other pure chile powder (look in the "Mexican foods" aisle for the little plastic bags) 2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels 1 to 2 tsp salt For serving: grated Cheddar cheese and sliced black olives, plus some liquid hot sauce for those who like such things
In a medium to large slow cooker, combine beans, 1 chopped onion, minced garlic and chicken broth. Cover and cook on High for about an hour, then switch to Low and cook for about two hours more. (Or just cook it on High for two hours. Yesterday's cooking schedule had to adapt to my being gone for various chunks of the day. Your results will probably vary.)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring frequently, until just tender. Add chicken and cook, stirring veggies around the edges but not disturbing the chicken, until well browned; flip and cook on the other side until similarly well browned. Transfer mixture to slow cooker. Add canned chiles, oregano, cumin, cloves and chili powder; stir well; switch to Low heat if it's not there already; cover and cook for about 6 hours, stirring once or twice if you think of it.
When chicken is cooked through but still tender, remove with tongs and allow to cool slightly. Strip meat off the bones if the bones are still in it. Chop meat and stir back into chili, together with zucchini, corn and salt. Cover and cook on Low for 30 minutes to an hour, or until zucchini is nice and tender. You should have time to make some cornbread in the interim, and then everything will be done at the same time and you will feel so incredibly accomplished.
Top each serving with a sprinkling of cheese and chopped black olives, plus a few drips of hot sauce if you like.
It was Angel's birthday--yes, that Angel, the Ladybug Lady, the creator of Drunken Angel Hot Sauce.
So we were out a little late, and maybe debauched a bit, and then Angel, Sarah and I all ended up back at our house ISO soup. Fortunately, we had a head start on deliciousness, because there were a few cups of presoaked chickpeas just kind of hanging out in the refrigerator doing their thing. And in honor of the birthday girl, something needed to be made with a bit of kick to it courtesy of her eponymous sauce.
As near as I can remember, this is how it came together:
Late-Night Spicy Chickpea-Tomato Soup Serves... um, well, I'm not sure. Four? Six? Somewhere in that neighborhood.
2 Tbsp olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped fairly fine 1 to 2 tsp Drunken Angel Hot Sauce (accept no substitutes!) 2 tsp Montreal steak seasoning 2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight (then left to sit in the fridge for a couple days if that works for you--you could also make it with unsoaked chickpeas, but it will take probably about 20-30 minutes longer to cook. You could also use canned/rinsed/drained chickpeas, but I refuse to take responsibility for the results.) 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles 5 cups vegetable broth 2 smallish zucchini, unpeeled, chopped Juice of 1/2 lemon
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in hot sauce and Montreal steak seasoning and cook, stirring, one minute more.
Add chickpeas, undrained tomatoes and broth. Bring just to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until chickpeas are tender but not quite done. This is best done by repairing to another part of the house with your friends and forgetting about them for a while (30 to 40 minutes? It really depends on the chickpeas).
Stir in zucchini, replace cover and simmer until zucchini is tender, about 10 more minutes. Stir in lemon juice; taste and adjust seasoning; serve forth to ravenous tipsy friends.
Word of warning: this soup would probably be just fine with either frozen meatballs from the store, or with homemade meatballs that were either fresh-not-frozen, or relatively freshly frozen. With meatballs you made yourself at some time in the past which is now just a misty dream and cannot recall for the life of you, but which you need to get out of your freezer and they can't really probably kill you, can they?... this soup is kinda meh. Or "ah-ee-ah-ee-ah-ee," which is the sound of a rubbery meatball between the molars.
Everyone ate it, though, and I seemed to be the only one who really didn't enjoy it. Such is life.
Tortellini-Meatball Soup Serves four-ish, or so.
Chop up an otherwise perfectly good onion and a couple of carrots; sauté in a little olive oil 'til tender; toss in some garlic and cook just a few seconds more.
Add six cups of chicken broth, one 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and some chopped kale. Bring just to a boil; add some frozen/unthawed meatballs. Reduce heat and keep at a simmer--resist the urge to stir for the first few minutes, or the meatballs may fall apart--until meatballs are heated through, probably 20 minutes or so.
Add cheese tortellini according to package directions. In some cases, you may be directed to boil them; in my case, the tortellini in question needed to be Gently Simmered, not boiled, and they took only 3 minutes to be done through.
Taste; add salt; add pepper; sprinkle with grated Parmesan or Grana cheese; serve forth; good luck.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you an abundance of soup... make another kind of soup.
This technique works especially well with the sort of thick, hearty, bean- or pulse-based soups that get tastier the longer they sit around. Just do it up fancy-like with a few additional vegetables--roasting vegetables works especially well because their sweetness and half-crisp texture contrast nicely with the existing soup base.
Harira with Roasted Garlic and Carrots Serves four (obv., your results will vary based on how much soup you have left over)
2 Tbsp olive oil Four or five medium carrots, chopped A couple pinches of coarse salt A few grinds of black pepper 1/2 tsp or so red pepper flakes A little bit more olive oil One head garlic, top sliced off to expose the tops of all the cloves Leftover Harira (or, really, any other thick beany soup), as much as you have
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss the olive oil, carrots, salt, pepper and pepper flakes together on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top of the head of garlic, then wrap it snugly in aluminum foil and set it on the baking sheet next to the carrots.
Roast for about 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender and browning around the edges. Remove from oven, scoop carrots into a bowl and return garlic to oven to roast until tender, probably another 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat soup in a heavy pot, covered, over low heat just until barely simmering. (You don't want to boil it, 'cause it's already got yogurt in.)
When garlic is tender, unwrap and allow to cool slightly; then squeeze cloves into a bowl and mash with a fork.
Mix carrots and garlic into soup; heat through; serve forth; enjoy heartily.
Harira, also known as "the national soup of Morocco," is apparently what you eat at the end of a long exhausting cranky day of fasting during Ramadan. It restoreth your strength and giveth you the strength also to wake up the next morning and starve yourself all over again.
Since I am deeply personally opposed to all sorts of fasting, I can't vouch for its efficacy as a temporary-starvation-alleviator. It acquits itself admirably well on the tastiness front, though. The chickpeas soak up all the good spicy flavors and the slight gaminess of the lamb folds itself around all the other ingredients like a cloak made of YUM.
This recipe makes quite a bit--enough, in fact, that we had it two nights in a row. Stay tuned for "Slightly Altered Harira," coming to a blog near you sometime today or perhaps early tomorrow.
Harira (With Leeks Instead of Celery, Because We Were Apparently Out, But That Might Have Been an Improvement) Adapted from James Peterson's Splendid Soups Serves oodles, kind of; tastes even better a day later
2 lamb shanks 3 Tbsp ghee (or you could use plain ol' butter... I used ghee that I'd accidentally cooked a little past golden and dangerously close to dark, but it smelled amazing the whole time I was cooking) 1 large onion, chopped fine 3 small-to-middling leeks, chopped fine 2 Tbsp finely chopped or grated fresh ginger 2 tsp ground turmeric 1 tsp ground cinnamon A healthy pinch of saffron threads 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 1 tsp salt 2 quarts (that's 8 cups, math geniuses) chicken broth 1-1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours (I really don't think this would be very nice with canned chickpeas) 3/4 cup brown or green lentils 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, seeded and chopped 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro 1 cup plain yogurt, preferably whole-milk A little more salt and plenty of pepper
Give the lamb shanks a quick rinse and pat-dry with paper towels while heating the ghee or butter over medium-high heat in a large soup pot. (If you're using whole butter, you probably won't really want to go over medium heat.) Arrange the shanks in the pot and cook, turning every few minutes, until well browned on all sides; this will probably take a good 10 minutes all told. Remove shanks with tongs and set aside.
If the butter has burned, pour it off and replace with fresh butter. If not, simply carry on with the lovely lamb-flavored butter now inhabiting the soup pot. Over medium heat, add onions and leeks; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and leeks are tender, about 7 minutes. Add ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes more or until very fragrant.
Return browned lamb shanks to pot. Stir in salt, chickpeas and chicken broth. Increase heat to medium-high; bring just to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Stir in lentils and tomatoes. Return to a simmer, cover and simmer for another hour, until lentils are tender and lamb meat is about ready to fall off the bone.
Carefully remove lamb shanks from pot. Allow to cool briefly, then remove meat from the bone, shred it and stir it back into the pot. (At this point you may gnaw the bones, as illustrated above.)
Over low heat, stir in parsley, cilantro and yogurt. Heat through, stirring (a whisk works well at this stage); taste and add salt as needed plus plenty of pepper. (You could also grind fresh pepper over each serving.)
Maybe it's because I grew up in Stockton, California, home of the Asparagus Festival (and one of the largest asparagus-producing areas in the world). But the arrival of spring and the arrival of fresh asparagus in the market have always been synonymous for me. Of course, asparagus has been in the stores for several weeks now, but this was the first weekend where the weather finally cooperated enough to make us feel that spring was finally here.
Portland finally shook off its long-lasting gray blahs this weekend and gave us a couple of days' worth of gorgeous sun-drenched weather instead. This soup was a simple, tasty way to celebrate--and paired with cheese muffins made with Beecher's Flagship Cheese, it was just filling enough to cap a day spent largely outside digging in the garden. Maybe one of these days we'll have organic asparagus of our own.
Garlicky Roasted Asparagus Soup Serves four
2 Tbsp olive oil 1 lb asparagus, cut in 1/2" pieces 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 1/2 tsp salt 1 Tbsp olive oil 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth Salt and pepper 1 egg per serving
Preheat the oven to 400. Pour a little olive oil into a (cast iron) skillet, swirl to coat the bottom and set it in the oven to heat while you prepare the asparagus.
When the asparagus is sliced, pull the skillet out of the oven, add the asparagus, sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes, and quickly return it to the oven. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and just beginning to brown in spots.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth, bring to a boil, cover and simmer until asparagus is done.
Over medium heat, stir roasted asparagus into soup. Taste and correct seasoning. Break eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl and slip into simmering soup; cover and poach for a couple of minutes, until eggs are as done as you like them.
The poor old Crock-Pot had been feeling a bit neglected of late, what with all the not being used and stuff. So, since I was heading to Gauri's for abso-freakin-lutely delicious Indian food and delightful company, I thought I'd toss some stuff into it so there would be proper soup when Jim got home. I wasn't expecting to eat any myself, nor was I expecting the boys to have any; but we were overwhelmed by the spicy savory yum of its aroma and found ourselves eating it up happily. With both relish and profit, in fact.
Chicken Taco Soup Serves six or thereabouts, I guess
2 Tbsp olive oil 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or about a pound thereof; I think I had about 14 ounces all told) 1 large onion, chopped 1 jalapeño pepper, minced 1-1/2 to 2 cups cooked black beans (I used the leftovers from the previous day's bean-batch) 1 15-ounce can refried beans (no, really) A couple tablespoons of taco seasoning (mostly just salt and chili powder, maybe a little cumin... you can improvise here) 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles 2 cups chicken broth Tortilla chips and shredded Cheddar cheese (or, better yet: crumbled queso cotija) for serving
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add chicken thighs and cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides. Remove and set aside.
Add onion and jalapeño to skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent and beginning to brown around the edges, about 7 minutes.
Scrape sautéed vegetables into a slow cooker. Add beans, tomatoes, taco seasoning and broth. Mix well. Add chicken and push it down into the mixture until it's just covered.
Cover slow cooker and cook on Low until chicken is done, about 4 to 5 hours. (It can go a little longer if you like.) Remove chicken with a slotted spoon; chop or shred roughly and return to slow cooker; cook for another hour or so.
For each serving: place a handful of tortilla chips in a bowl. Stir soup well, then ladle some over the chips. Sprinkle with cheese (and/or sliced black olives, and/or sliced scallions, and/or sour cream...) and serve forth.
This soup is good enough that even if you've just returned from a stellar meal of "puffed rice stuff," "rice goop" and "shrikhand" (that last "D" sounds uncomfortably like a "T"), you will probably find yourself eating it in the company of your old friends Relish and Profit.