Cheesy & Creamy Broccoli Soup

This is the quintessential, classic green vegetable soup that we all grew up on in America. Our parents ‘conned’ us into eating green veggies with this soup, but perhaps we conned them into enjoying such a luscious and creamy and cheesy treat! πŸ˜‰ My soup craze continues, and I hope you enjoy this simple yet delicious recipe that you can share with both your young and adult friends!

Love,
Priyanka

Yields approximately 6 servings
Broccoli Soup PK
Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian!)
6 cups broccoli florets, steamed
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream (or milk, for a lighter version)
3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium sized stock pot, and saute onion and celery until tender.

Add broccoli and broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Put all the ingredients in a blender (don’t fill the blender pitcher more than halfway full and be sure to hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel). Carefully start the blender, pulsing first, then leaving it on the ‘liquefy’ or ‘puree’ setting for about 30 seconds-1 minute (depending on the strength of your blender).

Note: If you do not own a blender, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot.

Pour blended soup back into a saucepan, add cheese, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes on low-medium heat. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper, according to taste. And serve hot with a crouton garnish! Enjoy πŸ™‚

Avgolemono (Egg-Lemon-Chicken Soup) with Orzo

This is by far my favorite mediterranean soup recipe – if I ever see this on a menu, I order it without blinking. If I am ever craving something rich, creamy, tangy, and yet healthy, this is my go-to recipe in the kitchen. The creaminess of this soup comes from the eggs and flavorful chicken broth. It is a light soup, that is decadent at the same time. It can also be made in under 20 minutes, thanks to store-bought rotisserie chicken that is hard to replicate in your every day kitchen! Why waste 30-40 additional minutes cooking or boiling chicken for this recipe when you can buy gorgeous, roasted chicken meat at your local Costco or grocery market? πŸ™‚

My favorite flavor in this soup is the citrus from the lemon juice – it is gorgeous against the meaty, starchy nature of the chicken and orzo. This is truly a one-pot meal that you can always accessorize with toasted bread and/or crackers to complete it. Perfect for that weeknight family meal, or as an appetizer for your worldly weekend dinner spread!

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Love,
Priyanka

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Yields: 6-8 portions
Ingredients
8 cups chicken stock (or to make vegetarian, use vegetable broth)
3/4 cup orzo pasta (optional)
2-3 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken (already cooked) – depending on how ‘meaty’ you like it (can omit to make vegetarian)
5 eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh dill

Directions

In a large saucepan, bring stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add orzo. Cook uncovered until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Five minutes before pasta is done, add chicken.

Meanwhile, place eggs in mixing bowl. Whisk eggs while adding lemon juice. Stir in zest. Whisking constantly, slowly pour a ladle of the hot stock into the egg mixture to temper (this is to ensure that your eggs don’t curdle – you have to keep whisking constantly so that the room temperature egg mixture does not cook!).

Reduce heat to very low. Then, while whisking the soup in pan, slowly pour in the egg mixture (continue to whisk constantly!). Soup should thicken slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with parsley or fresh dill. Serve hot!

Italian Rustic Vegetable & Polenta Soup

Winter has definitely made it’s statement with recent events (namely hurricane Sandy in the US), along with heavy rain in California these days. What better way to ring in the colder months with a satisfying, one-pot meal! This soup is hearty (the polenta fills you up!), but it’s healthy with a chicken broth base and lots of fresh vegetables. Serve this as a starter or have a bowl of this for dinner!

Feel free to experiment with different vegetables like zucchini, leeks, and even eggplant if you enjoy those. However, this is traditional Italian style ribollita!

Enjoy! πŸ™‚


Yields: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup of fresh corn kernels, cut off of a corn ear (or use canned corn if fresh not available)
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed or chopped
3 tomatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/3 cup instant polenta (available in the pasta section at Trader Joe’s and other local grocers)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Garnish: freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, corn, onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion and corn begin to brown, about 6 minutes.

Add the parsley, thyme, garlic, and tomatoes, cooking for approximately 2-3 minutes, stirring often to make sure the garlic does not burn. Stir until fragrant. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the polenta and cook until the soup thickens and the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with grated cheese, and serve hot with breadsticks or sliced baguette!

Piquillo Pepper & Chickpea Soup

I tested Food & Wine’s recipe, and have made a few measurement adjustments and added some new garnishings which I think are amazing with this soup. I actually prefer the recipe without rice and without chicken, but feel free to add those if you wish! If you do end up adding rice and/or chicken, it becomes a very satisfying one-pot meal!

Vegetarian or not, this is a fabulous recipe. I was taken aback by how QUICK it is. With the BlendTech blender I use, this is actually a no-cook recipe (also goes for VitaMix users), since these blenders heat up the soup so much while blending it’s not even necessary to reheat. I timed myself and it took a total of 6 minutes to make this recipe start to finish. It takes me more time to drive to Whole Foods and pick up a ready-made soup from there!

I hope that those of you who don’t have much time to cook try this out and make this a regular on your recipe rotation – I know I have!!! And lastly, if you like your meat, use chicken stock instead of vegetable, and top it with shredded chicken!

Enjoy! πŸ™‚


Ingredients
1 cup drained piquillo peppers, reserving a 1/4 cup on the side, thinly sliced for garnish
1 cup store bought plain hummus (or you can make your own homemade hummus – my recipe is so easy!)
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Garnish:
high quality extra-virgin olive oil, drizzled
habanero hot sauce (Trader Joe’s)
cubed avocado
fried chickpeas
thinly sliced piquillo peppers
store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredded

Directions
In a blender, combine piquillo peppers, hummus, and stock. Puree until smooth and season according to taste with salt and pepper. Heat in microwave or in a saucepan over medium heat until desired temperature. Serve hot in bowls garnished with drizzled olive oil, piquillo peppers, and any other garnish ideas I’ve given that tickle your fancy. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Chiang Mai Spicy Curry (Panang Meat or Tofu Curry)

[NOTE: This recipe can be made vegetarian!]

Living in the Bay Area allows me to indulge in a large lot of Asian dining options – the diversity here is immense and incredible. Part of that, however, leads to people like me to be utterly confused about the true origin of certain dishes. For example, one of my all-time favorite Asian eateries is called ‘Mingalaba‘ in downtown Burlingame, California. I find every and any excuse to drag my friends and family there for a meal :). However, go figure, they are a ‘Burmese-Mandarin’ restaurant. Now shoot, last time I checked, those are two very different cuisines with incredibly different ingredients and spices.

My favorite two dishes there are their ‘Tea Leaf Salad’ – it’s incredible and one of these days I will try and recreate it. Once I perfect it, I PROMISE to post the recipe. πŸ™‚ The other is their ‘Ong Noh Kaw Soi’, or their Coconut Chicken Soup.

This Panang Meat Curry recipe, my friends, is my attempt, to recreate what they have at Mingalaba.

For those of you that are of Thai background, you might wonder why I ate this typical Thai curry at a Burmese and Mandarin style restaurant. To be honest, I can’t answer your question and am at a complete loss. The further research I do on this curry , the more I am lead to a Thai and Malay heritage for the dish. Perhaps over the ages, cultures merged from a culinary perspective, or there were a lot of similarities – I don’t know.

But either way, here is my rendition of one of my favorite curry soups of all time – it’s creamy, spicy, crunchy (with the right garnishes), and extremely satisfying. It is traditionally served over fresh hot noodles, however this is a low-carb version without (but feel free to serve this soup over freshly cooked noodles (spaghetti, linguine, chinese noodles, or any other long, slender noodle that you fancy or have in your pantry). Also, you can make this curry vegetarian if you wish by using firm tofu instead of the meat, and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

And lastly, if you are in a rush (like I often am), don’t fret! Pick up a fresh rotisserie chicken from the market and add the cooked chicken at the very end! This will cut your cooking time down from 30 minutes to about 8-10 minutes TOTAL! It’s an incredible ONE-POT weeknight meal, yet fancy enough to serve to guests.

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

PS – If any of you wonderful readers of mine can shed any light on the heritage of this curry or your experience at home with it, would love to hear your thoughts! πŸ™‚


Yields: 6-8 generous servings
Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.5 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons panang curry paste [Note: this yields a pretty spicy curry – if you want a milder flavor, cut back on this paste]
3/4 lb boneless chicken, cut into big bite-sized chunks (Variation: can also use 3/4 lb boneless beef such as tri-tip or flank steak sliced thinly. To cut down cooking time, use cooked rotisserie chicken. VEGETARIANS: Use firm tofu instead!)
2 15 oz. cans of unsweetened coconut milk (can use light coconut milk for a lower-calorie result)
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 teaspoons ground turmeric or 2 teaspoons curry powder
3 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Garnish ideas:
cooked noodles
chopped shallot
chopped red onion
chopped fresh cilantro
thinly sliced green onion or chives
lime wedges
fried onions
a dollop of sour cream
boiled eggs, sliced


Directions:

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and panang curry paste at the same time, mashing and stirring it constantly to soften it in the oil (I prefer using a wooden stick in order to avoid damaging my pan). Do this for about 1 minute. [Note: Use a splatter screen or be VERY careful! The hot oil and ingredients can jump up out of the pan and stain your clothes or worse, burn you!].

Add the chicken (or beef or tofu) and brown for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing using tongs. Allow them to brown evenly and incorporate well into curry paste and garlic mix.

Add the coconut milk, chicken (or vegetable) broth, turmeric (or curry powder), soy sauce, sugar and salt, stirring well. Bring to a gentle boil and adjust heat, maintaining a simmer. Cook about 10-15 minutes until meat is cooked through.

Stir in lime juice, remove from heat and serve HOT! Garnish with some (or all!) of the ideas I’ve given. Or get creative and garnish with whatever you enjoy πŸ™‚

Sri-Lankan Spicy Lamb Curry

I had gone to a Sri Lankan restaurant with my husband a few years ago and had this amazing lamb curry – since then I had been craving that spicy, satisfying lamb dish and I’ve finally perfected a recipe that hits the spot with both its spice and flavor factor.

Don’t be afraid of the chili powder in my recipe – feel free to cut it out or down if you want! The base recipe even without the spice is really a wonderfully complex dish and I encourage all of you to try it! If you’re not into lamb, cube up chicken breast and cook it the same way!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe from the other side of the world πŸ™‚

Ingredients

1 pound of boneless leg of lamb, cubed into bite-sized pieces
3 teaspoons of chilli powder
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 tablespoons soy sauce
10 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1 tablespoon cardamom pods, smashed open (but keep skin!)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup coconut milk
Optional garnish: fresh cilantro and freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions

In a bowl that can fit the meat, mix the chilli powder, garlic, salt, soy sauce until well incorporated. Add the lamb cubes, cover with plastic, and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick, stirring occasionally for about 2-3 minutes until fragrant.

Turn down heat to low, and add coriander, cumin powder, and meat, stirring. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add onions and coconut milk and cook for an additional 20 minutes, uncovered.

Taste and adjust salt seasoning to your liking. (In my experience, I always had to add more – the meat really absorbs the initial salt you put in the marinade!).

Serve hot and accompany with rice and breads of your choice! πŸ™‚ Enjoy!

Garlic & Golden Beet Gazpacho

I find beets to be that ONE vegetable that I can’t seem to get enough of. Perhaps it’s because it takes quite a bit of effort to roast it at home, so I don’t eat it as often as I would like! πŸ˜‰ Regardless of the effort required, I am sure many of you will enjoy this golden-beet recipe. Golden beets are not that deep, dark purplish-red color that are very commonly available in stores. I bought these golden beets at my local farmer’s market (yay for them being in season!) and found that these beets have a different flavor profile: less sweet, a little more bitter, yet I would describe the flavors as more ‘muscular’ than red beets that are much much sweeter on the palette.

As a time saving tip, feel free to roast the beets, peel them, and cube them – then FREEZE! When you are ready to use these cubes for this soup (or a salad with goat cheese over arugula – hint hint!), you have just cut down 45 minutes to an hour of your prep time πŸ™‚

Lastly, this recipe involves beets after all, and can have significant bitterness – which is why I have used garlic and (cream) cheese so liberally. The lemon juice in the recipe also brings out the beautiful flavors that I love my beets for.

I hope you enjoy this garlicky, creamy, and beet-y chilled soup! πŸ™‚ PS you can get cute with this recipe and serve them in shot glasses at your next soiree as an appetizer!

Yields: 6-8 generous portions

Ingredients

5 cups cooked golden beets, roasted, peeled and cubed
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1.5 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup mascarpone
1 cup garlic herb cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or more!)
garlic extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

Directions

To keep this recipe as simple as possible, please click here to see how to prepare your roasted beets. They have explained it beautifully with pictures, so why re-invent the wheel? πŸ™‚

Put the beets, shallots and broth in a blender and blend until smooth.

Add the mascarpone, herbed cream cheese, sherry vinegar, Kosher salt and black pepper. Blend again until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings (salt, pepper, lemon juice) per your liking.

Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours and serve! Optional garnish: fried sage leaves or toasted pine nuts!

Note: Pass the liquid through a strainer before refrigeration to thin out if you prefer a thinner soup.