As the chill seeps through the crack under the door, our heaviest defense is in our soup pot. I am a soup person. In addition to being the perfect immune-boost, to me it is the best comfort food. And though it is quaint to work all day on a home cooked meal, I would secretly trade slow cooking for fast any day of the week. This shouldn’t mean that your food isn’t awesome. There are plenty of express meals that will keep the whole family happy, satisfied and fit, and come flying out of the kitchen in under 20 minutes.
Soups are especially good for this. It’s the ultimate one-pot meal. My auto correct wanted to write ‘unlimited’ instead of ‘ultimate’ and it is that too. A soup can be as decadent or as lean as the cook wishes. Many classic soups have a base of salt pork, hock, belly or some other flavorful cut that appreciates in taste with a long cooking time. I definitely support this style but when you want to get dinner out a bit faster or cook a little leaner, the pig can easily be
omitted from any recipe. The trick is to make up for that missing savoriness by building flavors as you go. Starting with garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes or onions with a little extra caramelization and finishing with a touch vinegar, olive oil or sea salt can really bring a soup to the next level. The recipe below features smoked paprika, or pimenton de la vera. It has a deep smokey spice akin to chorizo, without the fat and calories.
In this recipe, a take on a Sopa Verde, the ingredients are really flexible. The greens can be swapped out for any hearty leaf like chard, turnip greens, escarole, mustard greens or spinach (which will wilt straight into the finished soup –no cooking required*). You can also use any kind of broth or even water. Another way to get a little extra flavor if using plain water is a splash of white wine or beer.
VEGETARIAN SOPA VERDE
6 main course-sized servings
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups stock/water
1 pound white or sweet potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups kale and collards, washed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 cans (15oz, each) white beans (great northern or cannellini)
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
a few dashes hot sauce (optional)
Black pepper to taste
cilantro leaves for garnish
• Warm the oil and butter (if using) in a large saucepan. Add the
onions with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and sauté on low heat until soft and
translucent, about 5 minutes.
• Stir in smoked paprika and garlic.
• Pour in the 8 cups of liquid, raise heat.
• When it begins to simmer, add sweet potatoes.
• Bring the soup up to a boil and add the greens (except if using
spinach*). Boil for 5 minutes. Reduce to simmer, add beans.
• When the sweet potatoes are cooked through and greens are tender, remove from heat. (If using spinach add at this stage, stir until wilted*)
• Add another tablespoon of salt, mix well. Add 1 tablespoon of red
• Adjust the flavor to your liking with another spoon of vinegar,
salt, black pepper and/or hot sauce, if using.
• Serve the soup warm with fresh cilantro leaves and a few slices of
jalapeño if you love heat.
Like most soups and stews, the taste gets better as it sits, especially the next day! MMMMmmmm…leftovers!
This is a great base recipe with plenty of possibilities. Personalizations can be beans, croutons, pumpkin seeds, dried chilies, mushrooms, tortilla strips and on and on.
Lots of resolutions here. First, I resolve to ignore my blog less. As life is a bombardment of experiences, and I am always hungry for them, the time to stop and write about the thing I love to do most (cook!) escapes me frequently. And because I love to tell stories about cooking/eating adventures I need to practice it more. Hopefully these stories, inspired by experiences, help people to cook/eat well or better! I promise to exercise these meta things.
I have been meaning to write about frittatas for a long time, ever since my friend runningwithreilly and I made a frittata-making video. It’s weird. Why I am whispering at the frittata, we may never know.
Normally in an an 9 inch skillet I would use seven or eight eggs for a thickish round, full of chunked vegetables, cheese, greens or all three. This very different, authentically Italian version, inspired by a chef/colleague‘s mama, uses a mere three eggs and paper thin potatoes fried in the skillet before pouring the few seasoned eggs over. A refinement! I like my own method as well, it yields a hearty product, but this one is nice in many ways. It’s one of those five-ingredient recipes that achieves harmony. Each ingredient is used with a light hand, and together they are solid.
It would be great with martinis. Or maybe wrapped around the straw of a Bloody.
1 tablespoon cooking oil
small pat of butter
2 tablespoons milk or water
1 small clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of your favorite green herb, chopped
- Warm the oil and butter in a 9 or 10 inch skillet (preferably cast iron or non-stick). Meanwhile slice the potato thinly on a mandolin or with a sharp knife. Place the potatoes in the skillet and allow to cook on both sides until brown and crisp in places but still pliable.
- Whisk the eggs in a small bowl with the milk or water, garlic and a bit of salt and pepper. When potatoes are cooked, pour the eggs over and swirl around in the pan so they coat it evenly.
- Sprinkle the herbs over.
- When the bottom of the frittata is set, place a dinner plate over the skillet. With one hand holding the plate in place, use the other hand to flip the skillet (along with the plate) to invert the frittata onto the plate. The cooked side should be up and runny side down.
- Slide the frittata back into the skillet (keeping runny side down) to finish cooking the bottom .*
- Transfer the finished product to a plate or cutting board, slice and serve drizzled with some olive oil.
*if your cookware will allow high heat (i.e. cast iron) the alternative to the janky flip is to place the skillet under the broiler after the bottom has set to finish cooking the top with the direct heat. Just be sure to keep a very close eye on it and take it out when just firm.
I guess I say this every year. Joining a CSA is major! There are many resources that can help you to find a Community Supported Argiculture group in your area: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ , for example.
Support your community, the planet, your health and best of all challenge yourself to incorporate all of that good eating into your lifestyle. Everyone wins!
Past posts on CSA love:
It was like Thanksgiving in July (exactly like Thanksgiving in July, actually) on a shoot for Campbell’s classic green bean casserole that rolled out last year. I did not make/style the green beans (it had an entourage of its own) but I did cook the surrounding feast:
See the whole commercial here:
I’m into it. Keep me in mind for all of your styling needs: email@example.com
Radishes are awesome for so many reasons. They add beautiful color and texture to all kinds of dishes and they are full of vitamin C and potassium. Radishes stimulate hunger as well as aid in the digestive process so, depending on the culture, they are served before and after big meals.
Among different varieties of radish, flavors can range from mildly peppery to downright hot and spicy. Cooking the radish however, changes that significantly. When heated, especially grilled, they take on a sweet, juicy consistency that is very different from the crisp raw version.
Synopsis: when looking for interesting veggies to throw on the grill (even on the stovetop grill pan) think radish! Simply slice and sear.