It’s been a rough week – mostly for people around me. I found myself retreating to the kitchen often to cook. Definitely helps clear my head and regroup. Soup season is in full swing as Autumn is fast approaching. We may actually blow off work tomorrow and head up to the mountains to see the colors.
Today I decided to make a big batch of one of my favorite soups. It did not disappoint. I ‘beefed’ it up because I had some ground beef that I needed to use up. I’ll do that again. Yum.
- 1 lb ground beef (or 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 spicy Italian sausage)
- 1/4 of a small onion, chopped
- 24 oz diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
- 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, cleaned
- 8 oz sliced carrots (I use frozen)
- 1 cup green beans
- 1 cup water, as needed
- 2 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
- 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan for garnish
- spinach chiffonade for garnish
In saucepan, brown ground beef and onions. In a blender, blend together spinach and tomatoes, until smooth*. Add to beef mixture, along with vegetables and spices. Bring to low boil, stirring frequently, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with Parmesan and spinach chiffonade. Makes 4 generous servings.
*Blending the spinach, tomatoes together gives you a nice hearty tomato base for the soup. You can add some additional spinach leaves at the end if you like, letting them get limp but not overcooked.
Mmm… shred some potatoes and cook them down in chicken stock for the base soup – then start with those little flourishes that make cooking fun. This one has onions, celery, and carrots along with the potatoes. Let them cook down a while then hit it with an immersion blender. I used some Swiss that I’ve had in the fridge for too long for the cheese component, then stirred in some heavy cream at the end. Bacon or ham works well in this sort of thing. Shave some Parmesan on top for a garnish.
I saved some of the water leftover from simmering that corned beef and used it today to boil the traditional veggies for the dish. The beef slices were warmed separately.
I found a frozen block of turkey broth while rummaging through the big box and dragged it out. I added more broth and a few more chicken thighs, tossed in some veggies and a bag of dumplings that have been in the freezer since I can’t remember when. It all simmered for a good while but the dumplings never did get quite right, they’ll be better tomorrow when they have had more time to soak.
Wikipedia tells me that “lo mein” translates from the Cantonese to “stirred noodles”. This dish had chicken breast chunks and shrimp with broccoli, onions, and carrots along with rehydrated mushrooms that I bought dried. I’ve learned to simmer them for at least an hour before they are anywhere near tender enough to eat, and don’t try to save the stems. I simmered these with the dried cayenne peppers, and used the broth from that in making the brown sauce. I ran across a good discussion of brown sauces here. Mine has dark soy, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, chicken paste in that mushroom stock, a little chili paste, tamari, and a lot of garlic. I sweeten ours with Splenda but sugar is more common.
I swear I didn’t see that bay leaf in there. I actually had it in my mouth and had to take it out. Nothing special about the veggies or the broth but I did use a different noodle this time:The package has several little noodle bundles, each just about right for a single serving. I boiled two of them separate from the broth and then drained them and plopped them into the bottom of the bowl before adding the soup proper. It does solve the problem of noodles disintegrating when saved as leftovers. Tomorrow or the next day it will be a snap to boil a serving of needles, takes five minutes, and the serving size won’t be a problem.