Since late fall, most Saturdays have been Soup Saturdays around here. I’ve been making all kinds of different hearty and delicious soups. Today’s soup was green pea. Here’s how I made it.
I had a piece of bbq bacon from Starsky’s so I sliced it up and fried it up until it started to crisp, then chopped it into little pieces and set it aside.
I chopped up some leeks (normally I would use an onion for this but I had some nice leeks so I thought I’d use them), some bok choy that I found in the fridge (I thought I ought to use it before it became a science project), a big carrot and a red shepherd’s pepper and started them cooking with a little vegetable oil in a Dutch oven. I added in a little salt and just a little dried cumin as the veggies sauteed. Meanwhile, I soaked some dried mushrooms in a bowl of water (use whatever dried mushrooms you have for this, whatever you like).
After 10 minutes or so, I added some stock and a splash of beer (I was drinking a Steam Whistle at the time). I chopped up the mushrooms and tossed them into the pot. Then I rinsed about a cup and a half of dried green split peas (the yellow ones work just as well….choose your colour) and tossed them in. Oh, and I also added in a couple bay leaves. These can be removed later.
I brought the soup up to a simmer, put the lid on, left the heat on low and went to practice the oil can banjo for an hour. At that point I added in the bacon and as well, I chopped up a piece of kielbassa and tossed that in too. Ten more minutes and the soup was ready. The only thing to do was to adjust the seasoning and add in some fresh ground pepper.
Some people like to puree their pea soup or partially puree it (separate out a portion of the soup, puree it and add it back in to the rest), but I thought the texture was just right and I was enjoying the bits of orange from the carrots and red from the pepper so I kept it as is.
We served the pea soup with fresh bread (also great with skillet corn bread – next time). Delicious.
You know it…I’m talking turkey pot pie, and Tuffy P made some tonight. Fantastic!
Tuffy P found a recipe for chestnut soup and suggested we have it tonight for dinner. I’ve never made chestnut soup before, but that didn’t stop me from more or less ignoring the recipe and making it up as I went along (my usual approach). Here’s how I did it.
The recipe suggested that if I cut two slits in an X shape in each chestnut then put them in a pot with cold water, then brought the water to a boil, the shells and skins would peel off no problem. That plan didn’t work very well at all. Maybe if I kept them in the boiling water a little longer it would have been more successful. Alternatively, maybe if I roasted the chestnuts for a while, I would be able to get them prepped easier. Suffice it to say that it was a time consuming task to get the chestnuts cleaned up, but I got the job done.
OK let’s see, what other prep did I do? I had some dried Italian porcini so I dropped a small handful into a bowl of water to reconstitute. Then I chopped a red onion, a big carrot, some garlic, a zucchini and quite a few cremini mushrooms. I poured a little really good olive oil into a heavy bottom pot and heated it up. The rest is easy….
I added the onions to the pot first, added a little salt, and after a minute added the garlic and then the carrots, and after another couple minutes, the chestnuts and the rest of the veggies. I had planned to add some fennel seeds, but I couldn’t find them in the pantry so instead, I used a little dried basil, and also a tiny amount of dried hot chile flakes. I let it all cook together for a few more minutes, then added about 1.5 litres of stock. By this time, the porcinis were soft so I tossed them in too. Then I bound together some sprigs of thyme with kitchen twine and tossed it in, put the lid on and let it simmer. I cooked it until the carrots were done, then used an immersion blender to puree the whole business.
We served the soup with some fresh chives chopped in and some insanely fresh pumpernickel we bought this afternoon. We added some fresh ground pepper at the table. This soup is astonishingly good.
Roasted Squash Soup. Perfect for a cool fall day.
Start by putting on some tunes. I selected an old fave CD called South Texas Polka Party, but you can feel free to select whatever music makes you happy.
Cut up and add to a roasting pan:
- loads of butternut squash
- a big red onion
- several ripe tomatoes
Add several whole cloves of garlic and a sprig of rosemary. Drizzle some olive oil over the whole business
Roast it for an hour in the oven.
Meanwhile…..dig up that two day old bread you’ve been meaning to toss out. Cut it into little squares. Splash some good olive oil into a cast iron pan (you can use any pan but I like making these in a cast iron pan) and heat the pan to medium. Add the bread along with some spices. Don’t tell anybody but I use my standard bbq rub spice mix for this. Be generous with the spices. Cook the croutons for 3 or 4 minutes, then set them aside in a bowl.
Take the roasted squash et al out of the oven and add it to a soup pot. Pull the rosemary leaves off the stem and discard the stem. Add some dried thyme and some stock. I didn’t measure any of this but today I used about 1 and a half good sized squash to about about 2 litres of stock. Cook it all together for a few minutes and using an immersion blender, blend until you achieve a nice smooth consistency.
When you serve the soup, set out a bowl of your super-tasty home-made croutons, a bowl of coarsely grated Gruyère cheese, and a bowl of Arno’s ground habaneros (or, since I have Arno’s habanero powder and you don’t, any hot chiles will do) so your guests can fire up the soup as much or as little as they like it.
Mashed potatoes and gravy from a machine.
This comes to you courtesy of The Presurfer, where anything is possible.
Well, it’s been a while since I’ve taken you on a little trip up to the Comfort Food Diner, but I made up a little concoction this week I just have to share. I suggest here that my vegetarian and vegan friends go for a little walk, or perhaps visit some other sites. This post is not for you.
Left-over Pot Roast Pasta
To make this delicacy, you first have to have some left-over pot roast. In this case, along with a generous chunk of roast, I also had the liquid I braised it in, complete with a few chunks of carrots, a few mushrooms and some onions that had pretty much been cooked down into sauce. You need it all.
First, resist the temptation to simply make up a pot roast sandwich. Let’s save that for another day. Instead, prepare the left-over roast by breaking it up into smaller pieces. Next, choose your pasta. I leave this choice entirely to you. Bring a big pot of water up to a boil and toss in your pasta.
While the pasta starts cooking, coarsely chop up lots of garlic. Add some olive oil to a heavy pan, heat it up and gently start cooking the garlic. Add in generous quantities of dried chiles. I dry my own scotch bonnets in my handy mushroom dehydrator because I like them plenty hot but you might find red chile flakes from the market more to your taste. Don’t let the garlic burn. Instead, add two or three cups of pasta water, then when the pasta is a couple minutes away from being ready, add the left-over pot roast to the pan with the garlic and water, along with whatever braising liquid and veggies you have with it.
When the pasta is just this side of being fully cooked, drain it or for long pastas, simply fish it out with tongs, and add it to the sauce and roast bits, tossing it about for a minute or two. Shut the heat off and add in a generous amount of freshly grated Italian cheese (your choice which one) along with a handful of chopped up parsley or basil. Toss it one more time. Finish with some fresh ground pepper, and enjoy with a cold beer.
Most of the regular readers of this blog know that over the past few years I’ve become a mushroom hunter. When mushrooms are fruiting well, I’ll often collect quite a number of them and then dry them in a dehydrator to eat later. From time to time I’m asked how I use these dried mushrooms. The other day I made a very tasty soup and here’s how I went about it.
I started by soaking about a cup of assorted dried mushrooms in water for half an hour to reconstitute them. My assortment consisted of lobster mushrooms, saffron milk caps, hedgehogs and two varieties of boletes.
Then I added some good olive oil to a heavy-bottom pan, heated it up and added a chopped up onion. I let the onion cook for about 10 minutes, adding some salt along the way. Five minutes in, I added a chopped up clove of garlic. Then I removed the mushrooms from the water, chopped them up and added them to the onions and garlic. I found a piece of kielbassa in the fridge so I diced it and tossed it in as well.
If you’ve cleaned your mushrooms well before drying them, carefully removing all dirt and grit, reserve the soaking water and add it to the soup later. I chopped up and added a zucchini, and since I had some swiss chard growing in the garden, I added some chard as well, and a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half. After a few minutes I added a litre of stock and then let the whole business simmer for another twenty minutes. When it was almost ready, I chopped up plenty of fresh oregano and parsley from the garden and tossed it in. Just before serving, I poured in a good splash of milk and stirred the whole business.
Serve it with toast or some home-made croutons and a cold ale.
Each Easter we make paska, or Easter bread. We don’t get too fancy about all the decorative braiding that some people do, but we make some rockin’ good bread every year. We bake the loaves in coffee cans and we make plenty so we can give paska to our friends. This year we’re making two batches. The first batch is rising up by the woodstove right now.
Our paska is a slightly sweet egg loaf enhanced with plenty of lemon zest. We use different sizes of coffee cans. The loaves in the smaller cans are tall and look like silos. Later, I’ll post some pictures.
The salad is romaine with slivers of red onion, seedless clementines, cut into pieces, and toasted walnuts. The dressing is walnut oil, lime juice, a half-teaspoon of an exotic lime mustard and a pinch of sugar. The omelettes are made with two eggs and filled with a mixture of shallots and cremini mushrooms sauteed with a splash of red wine and a hint of Worcestershire sauce. On the side, slices of Polish sausage and fresh half-sour dill pickles.
I made a most delicious frittata last night. I started by heating some good olive oil in my trusty cast iron pan, added a shallot, some onion, a zucchini, and some mushrooms, frying them together with a little smoked paprika, salt and pepper. I broke 3 eggs in a bowl and beat them with a fork, adding a splash of milk along the way. I poured the eggs on the veggies and while the eggs set on the stove, I turned on the broiler. After two or three minutes on the burner, I put the cast iron pan in the oven under the broiler. When the eggs started to turn golden, it was ready to cut into wedges.
Here are The Hot Frittatas: