Tag Archives: soup

Red lentil coconut soup (plus a bonus feature!)

Now that I’m getting back into my Rouxbe cooking lessons, it was time for some more tasty practice. Today’s lesson: submersion cooking techniques (poaching, simmering, and boiling), as demonstrated by making a soup. There were a number of soups to choose from, but I settled on the red lentil coconut soup. (For those not on Rouxbe, you can see the slightly-modified recipe here.)

(Much more detail on my experience behind the cut… plus a bonus feature!)

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Roast vegetables and tomato sauce

As I mentioned last time, all the knife practice exercises I’ve been doing this week have left me with quite a lot of vegetables leftovers. Today my boss decided that it’s slow enough in the office that we were entitled to a one-day spring break, so I decided to put some of my newfound cooking skills to use.

Just over two hours in the kitchen resulted in the following:
– one and a half trays of roasted carrots (most of a 2-lb bag)
– half a tray of roasted zucchini (one zucchini’s worth)
– two trays of kale chips (half a bunch of kale, roasted)
– a small pot of tomato sauce (about a 15-oz can’s worth)

Now, this might seem like a lot, and indeed it looked like a lot before I went through the roasting / sauce making process, but by the end, it looked like a whole lot less. The roasted carrots were so good that I kept munching them. A lot. The entire bag of carrots, raw, make me think, “Oh, dear God, who could possibly eat so many carrots?” After roasting, it was more like, “Yeah, I could totally eat all of these right now.” Ditto for the kale chips.

So in the end, I’ve got about two cups of roasted carrots, a tiny amount of roasted zucchini (not as good as the carrots: still very mushy — I’ll have to find a better way of cooking them), and a soup-bowl of kale chips.

The tomato sauce did not turn out as good as the roast vegetables. It’s… okay. But it’s got that very acidic, “Whoa, I’m a TOMATO!” feel to it. I added some sugar, which cut the edge a bit, but not as much as I’d like. It might be because I added an entire can of tomato paste. See, I didn’t want more leftovers, and there was a whole lotta juice that needed to get thickened up, and… Yeah. I may have overdone it. Just a bit. *looks down shamefully*

In any event, I find it okay. Marc doesn’t really like it. I’ll probably spoon some over the pan-fried chicken that I’m making tonight as my next Rouxbe lesson, and then have the rest with some pasta or something.

I’m still amazed at what looked like so much raw vegetables turned into so little cooked vegetables. It’s barely enough for a couple of servings. I can’t imagine how many vegetables I’d need to buy if I wanted to have enough for a whole week! Am I the only one who feels this way?

Minestrone soup

Tonight was another practice night from Rouxbe. Today’s lesson: minestrone soup. Ostensibly, this was more knife skills practice, the last of the knife skills lessons before moving on to other stuff. (Next up: pan frying.)

The short version: Very tasty, but too finicky and long for me to make again. The long version is behind the cut.

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Curried butternut squash and red lentil soup

Oh, my God, this one came out fantastic. Definitely a keeper. A lot.

I got the recipe by searching around the net for butternut squash recipes, since I love butternut squash and now’s the time for it. I stuck pretty close to the recipe. I think the only change I made was using pre-mixed curry powder instead of the turmeric in Martha’s curry powder recipe, and I also replaced the fresh ginger with 1/8 tsp ground ginger, added in with the rest of the spices. (Both substitutions because I didn’t have the product at hand.) Also, instead of the two 14.5-oz cans of broth and 2 cups of water, I used one 10-oz can of condensed chicken broth and then filled the can about three and a half times with water, which I think works out to the same volume of liquid.

Oh, and at the very end, I used a hand blender to make it a puréed soup instead of a broth-plus-chunks soup.

People, this thing is phenomenal. It’s a perfect soup for a cold fall evening. Seriously. You owe it to yourselves to make this.

Cholent

I’ve been puttering around in my comfort zone for a while in the kitchen, so it’s about time for another capital-A Adventure: cholent! I used to love my bubby’s cholent, and sadly never got the recipe from her, so I’m working from scratch. I’m actually working from two different recipes, one from Second Helpings, Please (a quintessential Montreal Jewish cookbook) and from this recipe, which was the highest-ranked cholent recipe I could find online.

For those who don’t know, cholent is a Jewish stew typically eaten as a Sabbath lunch. It’s a stew made with meat, beans, potatoes, barley, and whatever else you’ve got handy. Start it up Friday night, leave it in a warm oven (200 degrees) until noon Saturday, and voila! Lunch!

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Tomato and white bean panade

Today I learned how to cook panade (a stew thickened with bread or breadcrumbs). Because the weather was so miserable out today and I didn’t feel like doing groceries, I decided to find a recipe I could make using stuff I already had in the pantry, and found this recipe for tomato and white bean panade. I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, except with less added salt (I don’t think I added any salt, actually) because I was using condensed chicken broth. Also, I left out the star anise, because who has star anise floating around, really? (If you have star anise in your pantry, don’t tell me. Leave me my illusions.) I actually did have fresh parmesan in the fridge, which was a very nice touch (as opposed to the packaged stuff I usually use, which isn’t great but lasts forever).

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I was using my normal around-the-house bread, which is a whole-wheat flax bread. But actually, it turned out very tasty. It’s far from the most appetizing-looking dish you’ll ever see, but it’s filling, hearty, and wonderful for a yucky-weather night like this. The bread not only turned mushy but dissolved, so that Marc got a third of the way through his bowl before remarking “I haven’t hit a bread piece yet.” (Oh, yes, darling, you did. You just didn’t realize it. Mwahaha…)

I’d make this again. Very tasty, very filling, and aside from the parmesan, very cheap.

Beef stew

Today’s recipe for beef stew arrived in my iTunes feed this morning from startcooking.com. And — clearly overstepping my meager cooking knowledge — I thought, “I bet I could modify that.”

You see, I’ve become enamored recently with Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters” cooking philosophy, in which you reverse the proportions of meat and vegetables in a dish. The meat is still there, but it’s supporting cast instead of the lead. It’s there to give flavor, a bit of texture, and the knowledge that the dish is still “meaty” without every bite needing to have a large chunk of animal flesh in it. It’s better for the health of both the eater and the planet, and I think it’s a reasonable philosophy.

So anyway. I planned to modify this recipe quite a bit, halving the meat (to 1 3/4 pounds), and adding a lot more vegetables. But I discovered when I’d added only slightly more vegetables that my crock pot wouldn’t hold the extras I’d bought! Oh, no! So instead, I think I managed to make 3/4 of the amount the recipe calls for, keeping the proportions more-or-less the same.

The biggest changes I made were replacing the fresh tomatoes with half of a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained, because that’s what I had on hand and it seemed a shame to waste it. (Montrealers: I have utterly failed to find 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes. Do they even exist in this city?) I halved the amount of mushroom (I don’t like mushrooms but Marc does) and added about 50% more more baby carrots (because that’s what was in the bag). Also, I replaced the red wine with beef broth (cheaper, and we’re not big wine drinkers) and the tapioca with cornstarch (Google told me I could).

Finally, since I don’t have a Dutch oven, I decided to cook the whole thing in my crock pot. Put it in for five hours on high, ate my own dinner, and then turned it down to low until Marc gets home. Oh, one more change: I couldn’t find frozen pearl onions at my grocery store and settled on a 10-ounce bag of fresh cocktail onions. They worked out the same, flavor-wise, but they were so hard to peel! It took 45 minutes to peel a 10-ounce bag! Friends, help me! How do you peel cocktail onions? Clearly, my way (cut off both ends, cut in half, laboriously take off skin with fingernail) just doesn’t cut it.

By the time it was done in the crock pot, there was a lot more liquid in there. I’d started off with only two cups plus whatever hadn’t drained from the tomatoes. By the end, the liquid was all the way up to the top of my crock pot. But at least it was thick! Not quite as thick as I might have ideally liked it (I like really thick gravy), but certainly not a soup.

In any event, the final result is delicious. Rich, meaty, thick… the perfect autumn comfort food. I was a little worried about the turnips, since I think this is the first time I’ve ever cooked with them, but they turned out fine. Their flavor is pretty neutral, much like potatoes or parsnips. I sopped up all the gravy dredges with some slices of ciabatta baguette… heaven. I’ll definitely do this one again.