Posts tagged with soup

nettle

 

In true-to-me fashion, I’m whipping up this post a mere 4 hours before the deadline for a fun recipe contest happening here in Halifax! It’s called FARM : MARKET : TABLE and is simple. Ingredients must come from my home away from home, the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market.

I spend every Saturday at the Seaport Market for my biz, Made with Local. There, I sling super-delicious and healthy granola bars that are made with loads of Maritime produced ingredients. I LOVE spending each weekend surrounded by my market pals and fantastic customers, but  the winter there feels loooong, and as much as I love root veggies, seeing greens trickle on to farm stand displays in the Spring is beyond exciting!

Many of Spring’s first greens are celebrated, common salad stuff such as spinach and mesclun mixes, asparagus, and our region’s seasonal veggie superstar, the fiddlehead. But stinging nettle is not something I’ve ever really paid attention to before. I purchased a nice big bag of it from TapRoot Farms via Noggins Farm stand at the Seaport and my wheels started to turn. Spring soup. Vibrantly green. A light lunch that’s perfect for cleaning out the system after a weekend of indulgences. And healthy? Nettle’s been used for centuries to remedy inflammation, allergies, arthritis, it’s a diuretic, and is great for your GI system. I hate the word, but dare I say, superfood?

I meandered over to RiverView Herbs’ table, and picked up a celery-like herb, lovage. It’s pungent and lovely and also something that’s not usually found in my cupboard. I’m breaking out of my winter sweet potato/turnip funk in grand fashion here, folks! The other veggies in this soup are common soup culprits though, some white potatoes, an onion, and a leek, all gathered from Noggin’s Farm. I picked up a tub of my favourite locally-made yogurt from FoxHill and headed ‘er for home!

Here are the fruits of my labours – a soup that tastes as green as it looks, in the best possible way! Keep your eye out for these lovely, off-beat greens and let your mind wander. Get creative. With ingredients this fresh, let their flavours shine through and keep it simple!

Stinging Nettle & Lovage Soup

Serves 4-6

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped (Noggins)

1 leek, white and light green parts, rinsed and sliced (Noggins)

2 cloves garlic, chopped (Noggins)

3 medium potatoes, chopped (Noggins)

200 g stinging nettle, tops only (TapRoot via Noggins)

1 handful of lovage leaves and stems, chopped (RiverView Herbs)

5 cups vegetable broth

2 tbsp lemon juice

Salt, pepper to taste (I added about 1 tbsp salt and 1 tsp pepper)

1 cup plain yogurt, for garnish (Foxhill Cheese)

 

In a large pot, heat oil and butter and add chopped onion and leek. Sautee until softened, then add garlic and chopped potatoes and heat them through for  a couple of minutes. Add in nettle and lovage to pot, stirring and incorporating it until it begins to wilt. Once it reduces down a bit, add the stock and bring to a low boil. Cover and let it go until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let it cool down a bit. With an immersion blender, food processor, or regular ol’ blender, puree the heck outta that soup. You want to make it as homogeneous as you can. Once it’s all smooth and lovely, taste test, and add more salt/pepper/lemon juice if needed. This soup’s flavour is delicate, but should be well balanced.

Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or a drizzle of cream. The colours and flavour are so fantastic and unique; welcome, Spring, and all the freshness you bring!

 

 

 

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Zuppa di Pesce

zuppa di pesce

Being an East-Coast girl, I never have any shortage of beautiful, fresh fish available at the market near my house. Being able to talk to the fisherman who pulled my to-be-supper from the sea is only one of the many awesome things about calling the Maritimes home.

But you know where else is awesome?

ITALY!

And I’m going there in just 7 weeks. It’ll be my second time there and I’m just beyond stoked. Hitting the road with my man for a romantic vacay, which will revolve around absolutely sickening quantities of gelato and cheese and sightseeing and wine and gelato. Mark my words…some day I may be at the helm of a gelato empire…or simply the 1# supporting customer of someone’s else’s. I have a deep admiration for the stuff and pledged to eat it every single day last time I visited Italy. And just in case there was any doubt in your mind…I did accomplish that feat. Some days I doubled up. NBD.

In anticipation for my Italian romp, I have been hitting the burpees and laying off the butter. 2012 has been a bonkers year for me, and yep, I’m a little rounder than I’d like to be. So the gym’s back on my daily agenda and the corkscrew has been shelved for a few weeks. It feels good to be working on a squeaky clean diet again and getting creative in the kitchen!

I had a couple of buds over for supper the other night and really wanted to make something special and interesting, yet light. Often when I’m at an Italian restaurant I’ll order the seafood soup as a starter or a light main, and it’s never steered me wrong. Firm chunks of white fish, shellfish, and veggies in a herbed broth; perfect for dunking a crusty wedge of buttered baguette. Top with a some torn basil leaves and little shredded parmesan cheese and you’ll wish that your soup bowl went on for days.

Zuppa di Pesce

Serves 4 (very generous portions)

 

Generous glug of olive oil

1 onion, small chop

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 slices bacon, diced

28 oz can diced tomatoes

2/3 cup dry white wine

1 cup clam juice (found usually in the ethnic food aisle at the grocery store)

1 cup water/veg broth

4 basil leaves, torn

1 cup cannellini beans (canned or rehydrated)

2 cups swiss chard, chopped

3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 lb freshest white fish, like haddock, halibut, cod, monkfish

1 lb cooked, peeled & tailed shrimp

Salt & Pepper to taste

……..

Sautee chopped onions and garlic in large, heavy bottomed pot (I used my Creuset dutch oven) in olive oil on low-med heat until onions are softened. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, for another few minutes.

Add tomatoes, wine, clam juice, stock/water and basil, and 1 tbsp parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add beans and swiss chard. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. At this point you can analyze the thickness and adjust it to your liking. Adding broth to thin it out or simmering a little longer to cook off some of the liquid. Soup’s the best for being oh-so-easy to get along with.

Add the fish and cook for 5 minutes, or until it’s opaque. Add the shrimp and heat through gently for 3 minutes.

Just before serving, adjust the seasoning again to your liking. It will vary for everyone depending on what combination of wine/juice/water/broth you’ve used.

Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with remaining chopped parsley and serve immediately. Best accompanied by a big loaf of crusty Italian bread!

 

 

Sometimes I wonder if people who are real, knowledgeable cooks/chefs ever see some of my ‘original’ recipes and think ‘She’s doing it wrong’.

I have zero proper instruction on how to cook or bake and often find myself wondering if what I’m doing is the best way to get maximum tastiness out of the dish I’ve got at hand. My love for food revolves around the act of eating, and as much as I do like to spend time in the kitchen, it’s safe to say that I feel pretty freaking clueless sometimes.

Soup’s pretty hard to screw up, but I managed to do just that, a lot last winter. Soup and I lost our mojo and took a little break from each other. Fall 2012 has been a time for us to rekindle our relationship, and so far, things are going pretty well!

I had some tasty root veggies that I picked up at my local farm stand, Noggins Farm. A couple of turnips, carrots, onions, the homely veggies that so many hearty, starchy soups are spawned from. In rummaging around my fridge looking for some butter, I found a pack of gorgeous, thick-cut bacon from a local butcher. Um, yeah. That bacon was going in my soup. No questions.

So here’s when I get a little iffy about my soup-ing method. Obviously I wanted to put the fat off that bacon to good use; my onions were getting browned in it, for sure. So chop bacon, get it all brown and toasty in the bottom of the pot, lots of tasty bacon grease to work with. Now…to leave the bacon in the pot or remove it? I left it in there. The bacon was along for the full soup ride. Not sure if that was the right way to go about this soup but hot damn…the end result is indisputably amazing.

Next post - this gorgeous, oat-y, sweet, soup-dunkable bread!

 

The smokiness of the bacon, earthiness of the veggies and a generous drizzle of maple syrup makes this soup the lunch equivalent of a heavy home-made afghan. So cozy and warm. This one’s a keeper, peeps!

 

Maple, Bacon & Winter Veggie Soup

Ingredients

  • 2-3 strips thick cut bacon
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 medium turnips (about softball size) chopped in about 1 inch cubes
  • 5 cups broth, I used veggie
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch cayenne powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

In a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven (I used my Creuset), sautee the bacon until just done.

So here, I left the bacon in, but most bacon-y soup recipes call for it to be removed at this point, placing the bacon on some paper towel to drain. Do whatever!

Now sautee the onion, carrots and turnip in the bacon fat, seasoning with salt and pepper, cooking until onion softens, 5 or so minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce to a simmer a let it go until all veggies are cooked through.

Once they are tender, remove the pot from the heat, throw the bacon back in (if you removed it in the first place), and add nutmeg, cayenne, and maple.

Puree using immersion blender or regular blender...just be careful! Once smooth, return to pot and adjust the seasonings as necessary for your tastes!

Enjoy with a thick slice of brown bread and have a little love for the winter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All hail, September! Likely my favourite month of the year. No jokes. It may have taken me 27.5 years to realize this, but I find the turn of summer to fall so invigorating. Cool nights with wool socks, spicy reds, hot suppers and early bedtimes just feel so good. It also seems like the slate clears a little in September too, doesn’t it? Even though I’m not a student nor do I have any little ones heading off to school, I still find that when August’s calendar gets flipped and pinned up, there are big opportunities for new beginnings and re-focusing of goals.

I had a tumultuous relationship with soup last winter, I was off my game and had many flops. This one will be different though, I’ve got a feeling! It doesn’t hurt that I’ll be spending every weekend at the Farmer’s Market, eyeball deep in Made with Local biznass and amazing locally grown produce! If there was ever a reason to be motivated to get back in the kitchen and start whipping up fantastic meals for me and the mister, it’s a pretty damn good one.

Butternut squash is my main veggie man. I love it. It bakes quickly and is so freaking good roasted simply with s&p or as part of a more elaborate dinner scheme. It purees beautifully in soups and gives it a silky, creamy texture, sans cream. It’s the main act in this soup, and is a veggie that’s now in season in Atlantic Canada. Keep your eyes peeled at the grocery store for your produce’s area of origin or pop into your nearest farm market to make sure you’re getting local, seasonal goods!

This dish is easy-peasy and has a feisty kick!  It’s inexpensive to make, and will set you up for lunches for the whole week.

Yup, I’m back on my game.

Fall Kick-Off Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or any other oil)
  • 2 small red onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I use my beloved garlic press)
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp garam marsala (a cumin/cumin blend would be okay too)
  • 1/3 tsp cayenne powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in heavy bottomed pot. Add onion, sautee onions until soft, add garlic and sautee a little longer. Add broth, chopped squash, maple syrup, cider vinegar, and spices. Bring just to a simmer and let it go until the squash is soft. Take it off the burner and allow it to cool down a bit. Once you\'re able, puree with immersion blender or like me, use a regular old blender. Just be careful, and do it in batches!

This will keep in the fridge for a few days, and is best enjoyed with a wedge of crusty bread and a dollop of sour cream!