Season of Soup

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Seasonal soup is an easy win for the week and can be stocked in the freezer for easy access at a later date. I like to make a big pot and then break it down into smaller containers immediately. It’s important to break down large pots of anything: soups, stews, gumbo, etc. for food safety to ensure the food properly cools before being refrigerated or frozen. I’d recommend a couple of individual servings for easy lunch and 2-4 servings per frozen container.

I picked up some seasonal cabbage and kale from the farmer’s market and rounded out the veggie mix with mushrooms, carrots, onions and stewed tomatoes. To add smokiness, I browned a few strips of bacon to start the soup and layered on flavor with dried herbs. Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Cabbage, raw

2 cups Kale, raw

1 lb. Organic Carrots

14 fluid ounce, Stewed Tomatoes No Salt Added

8.00 oz, Baby Bella Mushrooms

6 fluid ounce, Tomato sauce, canned, no salt added

6 cup (8 fl oz), Water – Municipal

6 Slices, Premium Bacon

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. coarse Ground Black Pepper

2 tsp. Italian seasoning blend

2 tsp. red pepper flakes  or cayenne

2 cups of onion

4 cups organic Free Range Chicken Broth

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse and chop cabbage and kale. Peel and chop onion and carrots and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, brown 6 slices of bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon and add in carrots and onion and a splash of water. Turn down to medium heat and cook until softened.
  3. Add cabbage, kale, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water and stock to the pot.
  4. Dice mushrooms and bacon and add to the pot. Add all seasonings, mix well and bring to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Simple Shrimp Soup

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With the latest cold front in Louisiana, I was inspired to make a simple shrimp soup with an Asian flair. A friend of mine introduced me to the Chinese hot pot and I thought some of those flavors would work great in a soup with a few leafy green vegetables and mushrooms. Though this soup would work with any mushroom, I found enoki mushrooms which I had not previously cooked when before and picked up a pack from a nearby Asian food store. They have a very mild flavor and their long stems with the rounded bulb tops look more like a noodle when separated. It’s incredible how well the flavors of simple ingredients gel together for a quick and easy meal on a cool evening. This soup took 20 minutes to make and it was helpful to use one of my frozen bags of shrimp where I peel and devein them in bulk ahead of time and put them into 1 lb, single and double serving portions for later use. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Ingredients:
3 cups water
32oz organic chicken stock
1 lb raw shrimp
3 cups bok Choy
1 cup spinach
1/8 cup shallots
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
3 tbsp Lee Kum lee soup base for satay hot pot (or any flavor preferred)
1 cup enoki mushroom
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp chili garlic sauce (Huy Fong)
1 tsp fresh chives (optional garnish)

Directions:
1. Defrost frozen shrimp in cool water in its plastic bag 15 minutes before starting to cook or overnight unless using fresh.
2. Bring liquids to a boil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of soup base and stir until well blended. Peel and dice shallot and add to the pot of liquid. Grate in 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger.
3. While waiting for it to boil, rinse and break off leaves of the bok choy and cut white ends into 1 inch chunks and leafy green tops into large ribbons. (Not too small if you want to keep some texture!)
4. Rinse spinach leaves and slice into ribbons. Rinse enoki and cut off roots. Remove any wilted or slimy mushrooms.
5. Add greens, mushrooms, chili sauce and soy sauce to the pot.
6. Rinse and add shrimp. Reduce to medium low heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Bowl and serve with optional garnish.

 

Freezer Fix

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With the holidays in full swing, this is the perfect time to save some cash to go toward those holiday preparations by eating out of the freezer and reinventing leftovers. I for one got the most bang for my buck out of my thanksgiving turkey breast with turkey, smoked Gouda, creole mustard and fresh cranberry sauce sandwiches. I also plucked the turkey breast clean for turkey and sausage gumbo that will be perfect for Christmas and a few servings for this week.

In addition to the gumbo, this week will be a mix of some of my favorites including curry, turnip, sausage and sweet potato soup, chili and succotash.

What’s in your freezer?

Fall Flavor Fix

IMG_8141.JPGIf you’re as excited as I am for the cooling weather, it’s both a great time to get outdoors and to step into soup recipes. The Fall is abundant with a variety of vegetables that are easy to make into soups. I am a fan of roasting vegetables to bring out and transform their flavors. For my first soup of the season, I decided on roasting eggplant, butternut squash and garlic for a buttery and nutty flavored soup. Not only is it rich and creamy, but nice and flavorful. If you’re missing the meat, crumble a slice or two of bacon on top with a little fresh green onion for an added punch of bold. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

Soup ingredients:
1 medium purple eggplant
1 medium butternut squash
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup of water
1 cup of milk (2% or whole recommended)
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh minced rosemary
1 tbsp. onion powder

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Cut squash in half longwise and scoop out seeds and pulp with a spoon. Add to baking sheet.
3. Rinse eggplant and cut off each end then cut in half. Cut 1-inch thick chunks and slice longer slices in half. Add to baking sheet.
4. Peel garlic and cut in half. Add to eggplant and coat it in olive oil on the baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.
5. Remove eggplant and garlic and place into a bowl to cool. Check squash with a fork and if it is tender (fork sinks in) remove sheet from oven and let cool. If not, let cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off oven.
6. Once cooled (10 minutes) remove skin from eggplant and squash. Add to a food processor or blender with water and blend until smooth.
7. Add to a medium pot and add seasoning and milk and stir until well blended. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
8. Serve and enjoy.

A Bit Of Rosemary

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It was great to be part of the last Red Stick Farmers Market of the year and make a warming dish for the cool morning. It was even better to see people young and aging, try something new and for most, find something they enjoyed and would like to try making at home. Let me just say, the quality of lamb from Our Family Farm, the Fekete Farm and Morrow Farm vegetables and the spices from Red Stick Spice Company made all the difference. Since this will be my last post until the New Year, I wish you all a happy holiday season and inspiration for memorable meals. Enjoy!

Rosemary lamb and vegetable stew

1 lb. of ground lamb
1 cup of chopped carrots
1/4 cup minced shallot or 1/2 cup of yellow onion
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup chopped green onion
1 1/2 cups of shredded or chopped kale
1 1/2 cups of shredded or chopped Swiss chard
1/2 cup sliced sweet peppers
1 cup fresh corn
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. onion powder
1/2 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. whole peppercorn
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. of rosemary finishing sea salt (sprinkle on each serving)
1/2 can of 14 oz diced tomato (no salt added)
4 tbsp. of tomato paste
4 cups of water

Optional garnish ingredients
1 cup of thinlyshaved turnips
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. or raw sugar
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of pepper

Directions:
1. Peel and slice shallot or onion and garlic. Add, with the lamb, to a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
2. Break meat apart with a large spoon and brown evenly. Add 1 cup of the water to prevent sticking.
3. Peel and chop carrots and add to pot. Let simmer for 5 minutes and open the cans.
4. Add the diced tomato, paste and two cups of water to the pot.
5. Mince fresh rosemary and add to pot and add all seasonings except finishing salt. Stir and let simmer for 15 minutes.
6. While simmering, add sugar and rice wine vinegar to a bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Peel two medium large turnips leaving green stems attached for stability. Score the turnip into fourths without removing the stems and then slice over the bowl using a mandolin on the thinnest setting. (If you do not have a mandolin, you can use a box grater or a potato peeler to make ribbons of turnips.) Season with salt and pepper, stir and set aside to steep.
7. Shuck and rinse corn. Cut off cob into a bowl or on the cutting board. Add to the pot.
8. Rinse a few leaves of kale and Swiss chard and rip or cut leaves from the stems. Slice into thin strips and wilt in greens one cup at a time. Add remaining water if needed. Let simmer for 5-7 minutes then plate.
9. Sprinkle a pinch of rosemary finishing salt to each plate and top with a fork full of pickled turnips.
10. Enjoy.

A Bit Of Seafood

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Though the weather cannot decide if it wants to be warm or cold, my taste buds certainly decided on gumbo. Gumbo can be made in lots of ways. I grew up eating chicken and sausage gumbo, a bit of everything gumbo  and my favorite, seafood gumbo. I have fond memories of trips to Castnet’s in New Orleans, which meant bringing out the newspaper and paper towels to peel and devein shrimp. With this recipe, I solemnly admit that my baby brother, of 7 minutes, is also a great cook. He created an amazing gumbo, sans roux, that uses another favorite and Louisiana star, okra, which is used to thicken the gumbo. My only tweaks were to add whole crab and everything local-fresh crabmeat picked two days ago, fresh shrimp that I peeled and deveined myself, Cutrer’s sausage and locally grown and harvested sassafras all from the Red Stick Farmers Market. I essentially doubled everything to make enough to freeze in individual servings. I hope this dish brings you great flavor and a take on a classic. Please see the ingredients and directions below. As always, please share your thoughts and feedback.

Ingredients:
2 lbs okra
2 lbs peeled and deveined shrimp
1 lb (16 oz) of crabmeat (claw or lump crabmeat)
1 lb of Louisiana blue crab
1- 1 1/2 lb of sausage
2 cups diced onion
6 quarts of water
2 tbsp ground file (sassafras)
3 tbsp fresh minced garlic
2 tbsp sea salt
1.5 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp coarse black pepper
1 tbsp onion powder

Directions:

1. Chop onion. First cut off each end with sprouts to stabilize the onion, then, placing a flat end down, cut the onion in half. Peel the skin and first layer off of each half, cut into thin strips and then chop the onion. Mince garlic by popping the cloves out of their pods and chop into small pieces.
2. Place onion and garlic into a large 7-8 quart pot, over medium heat, with an inch of water to prevent sticking.
3. Wash and chop okra into 1 inch pieces. If using frozen pre-chopped okra, defrost it by placing the bag(s) in the fridge overnight.
4. Add okra to pot and let it cook for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add all of the water, top the pot and bring to a boil. This will cook out the slim of the okra but also thicken the gumbo. Some of the liquid will also evaporate.
5. Slice sausage into 1/2 inch thick pieces and add to the pot.
6. Break whole crabs in half to stretch your pound, and add the piece to the pot.
7. Add all of the seasonings, Reduce heat to low-medium and top the pot.
8. While the gumbo is cooking, peel and devein your shrimp. This should take 45 minutes to an hour. Note: fill one medium-sized bowl with ice and a little water to place your shrimp in that have been peeled and deveined. This will keep them chilled until you are finished. If using frozen shrimp, let the gumbo cook for the 45 minute to an hour timeframe.
9. Add shrimp and crabmeat to the pot. Let cook for 10-15 minutes.
10. Turn off pot and enjoy.

Note: If serving with rice, start the rice before adding the shrimp and crabmeat to the gumbo.

 

A Bit Of Warmth

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Ok, I know I said the boudin dressing and black drum recipe would be next, but with this wave of cold, my sausage and kale lentil soup is bound to meet the need for something warm, comforting and delicious! As my friends and family are well aware, I am a huge fan of the Red Stick Farmers Market which is  my main source of fresh, local and seasonal produce. This morning I picked up some sausage from the Cutrer’s and kale from a Ponchatoula farmer to go with some hearty lentils and the special ingredient, dried shitake mushrooms that I previously purchased from the farmers market.  The shitakes make a rich broth which paired with the sausage, adds incredible flavor to this soup. This dish doesn’t take long to make; however I am certainly a fan of cleaning as I go because you will need a couple of pots and bowls for this one. Below are the ingredients and directions to make this dish. This makes 8-10 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of lentils
  • 1 lb (16 oz) of Cutrer’s original sausage (or your favorite)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup of chopped yellow or white onion
  • 1 cup of dried shitake mushrooms
  • 4 cups of chopped fresh kale
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. coarse black pepper

Directions:

  1. If using whole kale leaves from the farmers market, rinse kale and place in a bowl of water, or fill one side of a cleaned sink with water and let the leaves soak to remove any excess dirt.
  2. Add  dried shiitake mushrooms to 6 cups of water in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, turn off heat and top it. Let it sit for 15 minutes. This will make the stock for the soup.
  3.  Rinse lentils in a bowl and cover in water. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4.  Dice onion and add them to a large pot over medium high heat. Add a splash of water to prevent sticking and let cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Strain lentils and add them to the pot to lightly toast with the onions. It’s ok if there is a little water from the straining process.
  6. Pull mushrooms with a straining spoon from stock and dice on a cutting board.
  7. Add liquid and diced mushrooms to the large pot of lentils and onion and bring to a boil.
  8. Slice sausage in half longwise, then dice into thin chunks.
  9.  Open and add the can of low sodium chicken stock to pot, 2 additional cups of water and all of the seasonings. Bring to a boil.
  10.   Once it begins to boil, top the pot and reduce to medium heat.
  11.   Let it cook for 5-7 minutes.
  12. Rinse kale and chop into inch thick ribbons. Add to the pot and reduce it to low-medium heat and cook for 10 minutes.
  13. Turn off heat and enjoy!

Note: This is great by itself or with homemade grilled cheese or a ham and cheese sandwich.

Also, if you find you like more broth for your soup, you can always add additional water or chicken stock, to stretch the dish out.

Please let me know what you think!