I thought I would have a little fun with this recipe. There are butter beans, pintos, and white kidney beans simmered with browned pancetta and ham cubes, sauteed spinach, onions, and diced tomato bits in the soup. I made it pretty thick, no water added aside from what came out of the several cans. The frybread bowl liner did soak up a lot of the liquid.
The frybread is about as basic as it gets – today I mixed a little milk and some water into flour, salt, and baking powder and stirred it until the dough came together. Let the dough rest for a half hour then pat or roll it into a circle for frying.
With a nice spinach salad. Haven’t broken the gas grill out yet, these spent a good while in the oven at 300 or so. Five hours, or six, with a rub I had leftover from an earlier project and a squirt of BBQ sauce in the last hour. Used up the last of my par cooked cut fries – I’ll need to put jumbo potatoes on the grocery list and prepare some more. I hope the snow stays gone from my spud cutting bench.
Broccoli-Cheese Soup Photo by JeffreyW
I had decided to put together soup for the recipe exchange tonight and in my email this morning there was a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for Broccoli-Cheese soup. I’m posting it here because even though I’ve linked to it, you may not be able to get to it because their recipes often go behind a pay wall pretty quickly.
Then while I was searching to see if JeffreyW had a nice photo to go with it, I found the recipe he used by Emeril. Since I’m always up for anything Emeril, I’m posting that one, too. I don’t do broccoli, so you’ll have to trust JeffreyW, Emeril and the experts at America’s Test Kitchen on this one.
First up Emeril Lagasse:
Broccoli-Cheese Soup with Croutons
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup yellow onions or sliced leeks (white parts only, well rinsed)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups chicken stock or canned, low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli, thawed and separated
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/4 cups shredded medium Cheddar
- Croutons, for garnish
In a medium pot, melt the 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme cook, stirring, until fragrant, for 20 seconds. Add the flour and cook, stirring until the mixture is well blended and smells fragrant, 2 minutes. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring, until tender, for 10 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and puree with a hand-held immersion blender. (Alternatively, in batches, puree in a blender or food processor and return to the pot.)
Add the cream and bring to bare simmer to heat through. Add the cheese and cook over low heat, stirring, until melted. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter, stirring to blend.
Remove from the heat and ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle croutons over the top of the soup and serve immediately.
If you click on Emeril’s name above, there’s also a recipe for the croutons.
And from America’s Test Kitchen, a cream-free rendition:
We were after a soup with pure broccoli flavor that wasn’t hiding behind the cream or the cheese. Overcooked broccoli has a sulfurous flavor, but we discovered when we cooked our broccoli beyond the point of just overcooked—for a full hour—those sulfur-containing compounds broke down, leaving behind intense, nutty broccoli. Its texture was fairly soft, but that was perfect for use in a soup. Adding baking soda to the pot sped up the process, shortening the broccoli’s cooking time to a mere 20 minutes. A little spinach lent bright green color to the soup without taking over the flavor. After adding cheddar and Parmesan, we had a soup so full of flavor and richness that it didn’t even need the cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 pounds broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1- 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Table salt
- 3–4 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note)
- 2 ounces baby spinach (2 loosely packed cups)
- 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
- 1-1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine (about 3/4 cup),plus extra for serving
- Ground black pepper
1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and baking soda. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking.
2. Add broth and 2 cups water and increase heat to medium-high. When mixture begins to simmer, stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer half of soup to blender, add cheddar and Parmesan, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer soup to medium bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to Dutch oven, place over medium heat and bring to simmer. Adjust consistency of soup with up to 1 cup water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.
I’ve posted a few of the ATK recipes, ones I’ve tried and really liked. If you sign up for their emails, they send some great ideas.
Stay tuned….recipe exchange coming up later…
I know it’s grilling season, but we’ll have all summer to talk about grilling recipes. This week I wanted to try out a recipe that has been tucked away and waiting for me to put my spin on it.
A while back, I asked you guys for a vegetarian meatball recipe, and you came through with some great ideas. Once I had the general concept down, I thought it was time to flavor it up a bit more. So tonight’s featured recipe is a vegetarian spinach ricotta meatball. With that in mind, the recipe theme came into focus. The versatility of ricotta cheese, from main course to desserts.
To start, how about homemade ricotta? JeffreyW has done it and you can click here and he’ll take you step by step through the process.
He then puts his homemade ricotta to good use with Stuffed Shells, as pretty to look at as they are delicious. (recipe here)
I have a great alternative to regular gnocchi, a lighter, easier version using ricotta cheese and a fire roasted sauce to make a simple, quick Baked Gnocchi. (recipe here)
Moving on to dessert, a friend of mine has what feels like weekly potlucks at work and she often takes Apple Lasagna, recipe here, that is always a hit.
And finally from JeffreyW, a beautiful Cannoli recipe, pictured above that can be found here.
Now that you have a bunch of ideas for that tub of ricotta, let’s switch things up before we get to the featured recipe. I’d like to know if you’ve ever made your own wine, beer or hard ciders. I’d like to know details, where did you get your ingredients and how did it all turn out? Besides that, what’s on your menu for the weekend?
Now on to the featured recipe. These a so simple to make and taste so good, it’s a great vegetarian alternative for your pasta dishes. They’re very light and once you get the technique down, you can play with the flavors and customize them to your palate.
Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. I think next time I might add a bit of red pepper flake.
Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
- 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- Salt and pepper
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
- Olive oil
Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.
Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.
Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.
Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.
You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.
To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.
To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.