Monthly Archives: November 2014

Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder with Thyme

Sweet_Potato_and_Corn_Chowder1 (1 of 1)This extremely tasty chowder warms the soul on a chilly autumn night. I enjoy any type of chowder (fish, clam, corn, you name it!), but I find this version particularly interesting because of its use of sweet potatoes, sherry and thyme, and the crème fraîche adds a delicious finishing touch. Long list of ingredients in this recipe, but it’s really easy to prepare — I hope you’ll try this chowder one night!

4 oz bacon, diced
2 Tbsp butter
2 leeks, trimmed, rinsed and finely chopped (white part only)
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, very finely grated or minced
2 – 3 medium red potatoes (tot. 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large sweet potato (1 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb frozen corn kernels
6 Tbsp dry white wine
3 Tbsp dry sherry
3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley, plus some additional for garnish
2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh, finely chopped)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups beef or vegetable stock
4 oz crème fraîche

Heat bacon in a small pan over medium-high heat. Cook until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Reserve 1 tsp of the bacon fat.

Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in the leeks, shallots, celery and reserved tsp of bacon fat. Sauté about 8 minutes, until leeks and shallots are translucent (and not burnt). Add the bay leaf, garlic, red potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. Cook 8 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in the wine and sherry. Reduce heat and cook 5 minutes.

Stir in the parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, cayenne and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover partially and simmer for about an hour, until the potatoes are soft, but not falling apart. Remove from heat. Stir in the crème fraîche and season with additional salt, if desired (I added another 1 tsp salt, which seemed about right). Pour into serving bowls, and garnish with chopped parsley and black pepper. I like to serve this dish with cornbread sticks.

Serves 6.

Chickpea and Pasta Soup with Sage and Rosemary

Chickpea_and_Pasta_Soup1 (1 of 1)Here’s another hearty and deliciously satisfying soup for fall. We’ve had a few nights of frost, but I still have some healthy sage and rosemary in the garden, as well as the other ingredients on hand in the pantry. I decided to make this comforting soup, and I have to say, it was wonderful. The fresh herbs and dash of nutmeg make it — I hope you’ll give this one a try!
4 oz very small pasta (I used ditalini)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large leeks, trimmed, sliced once lengthwise (white part only), then thinly sliced crosswise
1 large clove garlic, very finely grated or minced
6 cups beef or vegetable stock
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 ground black pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg (little less that 1/8 tsp)
1 16-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Cook pasta according to package instructions, minus two minutes of cooking time. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over low heat. Add leeks and garlic, and cook 10 minutes. Stir constantly so nothing burns. Add 1 cup of the stock and deglaze pan for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the stock, sage, rosemary, salt, pepper, nutmeg, pasta and chickpeas. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired (I added another 1/2 tsp salt). Serve with healthy amounts of parmesan cheese and crusty country bread. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 6.

Leek and Potato Soup with Pearl Barley and a Hint of Nutmeg

Potato_and_Leek_Soup1 (1 of 1)Here’s a hearty fall soup with German roots. It has two of my favorite ingredients:  leeks and nutmeg, which are key to this dish (well, so is the butter). The barley adds a very nice texture and flavor, as well. I’ve had this soup before where it is practically all white because of the broth that was used, but for this recipe, I prefer to use a dark, rich vegetable stock (I used Kitchen Basics). This soup is very easy to make, yet it is very flavorful — I tend to cook recipes with long ingredient lists, but I have to remind myself now and again that simple is elegant and often better! I hope you’ll give this dish a try!

8 cups vegetable stock
1 large leek, finely chopped (white part only)
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 lb red potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup pearl barley
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or more)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, add vegetable stock and stir in leek, salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir in potatoes, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 15 minutes.

Stir in barley. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 45 minutes. Stir often, so that the barley doesn’t stick to bottom of pot. Stir in butter, and season with additional salt, if desired (I added another 1 tsp salt, which seemed about right). Serve hot, garnishing with parsley and plenty of Parmesan. Fresh, crusty bread is a must with this soup.

Serves 4.

Red Lentil Soup with Aromatic Spices

Red_Lentil_Soup (1 of 1)Last evening was blustery and cold here in New England. We even had some snow — it was the perfect night for this delicious version of red lentil soup! Red lentil soup seems to have various versions around the world, each with its unique variety of spices. The star of this international version is the spice, fenugreek, which has a wonderfully distinctive sweet smell that is similar to maple syrup. In fact, if you can’t find fenugreek (but please try!), you can substitute it in this recipe by omitting the sugar and adding 1 tsp maple sugar. The simmering of this soup melds the flavor of the fenugreek very nicely with the other spices in the dish — I hope you’ll try it tonight!

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
1 red Thai chili, minced
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup red lentils
7 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
Crusty bread

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in yellow onion, garlic, chili, cumin and coriander seeds. Sauté 4 minutes. Stir in carrots and cook another 3 minutes. Stir in fenugreek, sugar, tomato paste, red lentils and chicken stock. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 40 minutes with lid ajar. Stir occasionally while simmering.

Remove soup from heat. Add lemon juice and adjust seasoning (I added another 1 tsp or so of salt, which seemed about right). Ladle soup into serving bowls and garnish with red onion and parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 6.