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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Soups

TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Soup

You don’t have to turn on the stove or the oven to make this refreshing dessert: fruit soup.

Made from fresh or dried fruit, served hot or cold, fruit soups are underrepresented on American menus. Yet, they offer variety year-round.

  • Cold soups tend to be made with seasonal fruit and are thus served in warmer weather.
  • Soups made of dried fruits, such as Norwegian fruktsuppe (made of raisins and prunes), can be served hot or cold in any season.
  • Fruit soups can be cream soups or purées with or without the addition of fruit juice, and can include alcohol such as brandy, champagne, Port or wine.
  • Sweet fruit soups can include meat; and in at least one instance, a fruit soup can be completely savory, like \Chinese winter melon soup.
  • While fruit soup can be served for dessert, it also can be a first course or an intermezzo between fish and meat courses.
  •    

    blackberry-gazpacho-driscolls-230sq

    Fruit soup in a footed bowl. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    Here’s a no cook light summer dessert dessert recipe from berry king Driscoll’s. Made primarily of blackberries, it adds red wine for a sophisticated layer of flavors (some red wines are often described to have hints of blackberry flavor).

    Prep time is 5 minutes. Serve with a piece of shortbread on the side.

     

    http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-blackberries-image11753307

    Fresh blackberries. Photo © Ninette Luz |
    Dreamstime.

     

    RECIPE: BLACKBERRY FRUIT SOUP

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 packages (6 ounces each) blackberries
  • 1 cups dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, or substitute a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cups sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 package (6 ounces) Driscoll’s Raspberries
  • 1 package (6 ounes) Driscoll’s Blueberries
  • Fresh mint for garnish
  • Optional topping: crème fraîche, thin lime slice, mascarpone, sour cream, toasted sliced almonds, vanilla yogurt or frozen yogurt
  • Optional: shortbread or other cookie
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PURÉE blackberries, wine and sugar in blender or food processor until smooth. Press through a strainer to remove the seeds. Discard solids.

    2. STIR in lemon juice; season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and chill several hours or overnight.

    3. LADLE soup into chilled bowls, footed glasses or wine goblets. Drizzle or spoon sour cream on top, and scatter with raspberries and blueberries.

    4. GARNISH each serving with a mint sprig or coarsely chopped mint.
     
    MORE FRUIT SOUP RECIPES

  • Chilled Papaya and Watermelon Soup Recipe
  • Chilled Raspberry Yogurt Soup Recipe
  • Diet Fruit Soup Recipe
  • Simple Fruit Soup Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Tortellini En Brodo

    Tortellini en brodo (often misspelled in the U.S. as tortellini in brodo) is a classic Italian dish. Some Americans call it tortellini soup.

    It is served as a first course—chicken broth with a few tortellini—or as a main dish packed with tortellini. It’s a cousin of dumpling and chicken soups from Jewish chicken soup with kreplach to Chinese wonton soup, not to mention American chicken-noodle soup.

    While most Americans eat tortellini with a red or white sauce and grated Parmesan, en brodo is a lighter way to enjoy the little loops of pasta.

    The dish, which originated in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna (more about that below), is warming in cold weather, but light enough to be summer fare. You can make it from scratch or purchase the components. Both the tortellini and the broth can be made ahead and reheated.

    While a flavorful bowl of chicken broth and tasty tortellini are comfort food in any season, if you don’t add veggies and herb garnishes, you’re leaving a lot off the table.

  • Add lots of fresh herbs. Parsley will do; but you can pick your favorites, from cilantro to dill. They may not be authentic Italian herbs, but this is your show (and they taste great with the dish).
  •    

    http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-tortellini-soup-delicious-vegetable-image30876662

    Tortellini en brodo in its simplest form, with fresh herbs. Photo by Aas2009 | Dreamstime.

  • Root vegetables add fragrance and flavor the broth. Also consider spinach or kale.
  •  
    Customize your recipe:

  • Combine both white and green tortellini. Mixing up different fillings offer a pleasant surprise with each bite.
  • In spring, add fresh peas or other seasonal vegetables such as asparagus.
  • Make it a heartier dish with strips of poultry or pork, or tiny meatballs.
  • Spice it up with a garnish of sliced fresh jalapeño.
  • Go fusion with a garnish of tortilla or wonton strips.
  •  

    sauces-tortellini-230

    The next time you make tortellini, try it en
    brodo
    instead of with traditional sauces.
    Photo of Randazzo’s tortellini and sauces by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    THE HISTORY OF TORTELLINI

    Tortellini are made by filling long strips of pasta, rolling them into tubes and cutting individual pieces, which are pinched together with the thumb and forefinger. The famous “loop” shape is said to be based on the belly button of the Venus, the Roman goddess of love.

    One of the most famous versions of the legend, written in the 14th century, tells us that that Bacchus, Mars and Venus came down to earth to intervene in a 12th century war between Bologna and Modena (in Emilia-Romagna). They spent the night at an inn in Castelfranco, a small town located between the two cities.

    In the morning, Bacchus and Mars arose early to visit the battle site. When Venus awoke and could not find her companions, she called for the innkeeper, who arrived to find the goddess of love naked. Inspired by her navel, he created a new shape of pasta. (Seriously, Mr. Innkeeper—her navel inspired you?)

    Tortellini are made in a size that fits easily onto a soup spoon. There is a recipe for tortelli, larger tortellini, that dates back to the 12th century. The first recipe for tortellini alla Bolognese, tomato and meat sauce, appeared in Bologna in 1550 and became a signature dish in that city. (Note that Tuscans also claim tortellini as their regional pasta.)

     
    Tortellini en brodo was the traditional Christmas soup, made with capon broth, which was favored by the ruling classes. The broth was made rich by cooking all the meat in it. The meat was then turned into a stuffing with Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto crudo and/or mortadella.

    Today you can find tortellini filled with everything from cheese blends to meat and cheese to pumpkin.
     
    THE CULINARY LEGACY OF EMILIA-ROMAGNA

    If you love great Italian food, consider a trip to Emilia-Romagna. It’s the birthplace of, among other culinary pearls:

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano cheeses
  • Prosciutto di Parma
  • Pasta cuts including cappelletti, garganelli, gramigna, lasagne, strozzapreti, tagliatelle, tortellini and tortelli alla lastra (ravioli)
  • Wines such as Lambrusco, Sangiovese and Trebbiano
  • Zuppa inglese, a trifle-like custard dessert
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese In Your Soup 2 ~ Mozzarella

    Sure there’s Parmesan in minestrone, Cheddar cheese soup and other varieties featured in our article, Cheese In Your Soup.

    Here’s an idea from Puglia, Italy for a garnish of cubed mozzarella—and anchovy, for anchovy lovers. (No lovers, just leave it off.)

    RECIPE: ZUCCHINI SOUP PURÉE WITH FRESH MOZZARELLA

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into
    1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • Fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium zucchini (courgettes), quartered and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  •  

    Mozzarella: It’s not just for pizza and parmigiana. Photo courtesy PugliaShopPnline.com.

  • 3 cups vegetable broth, heated to a simmer
  • 4 flat anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOSS together cheese, 1 tablespoon oil, oregano and a pinch of salt in a bowl.

    2. HEAT the remaining 2 tablespoons oi in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.

    3. ADD zucchini, stir to combine and cook for 1 minute more. Add broth, bring to a simmer and cook until zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes.

    4. CAREFULLY PURÉE mixture in a blender until smooth; season with salt to taste. Cool soup to just warm. Serve topped with cheese cubes and some chopped anchovies.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 7 Uses For Broth Or Stock

    Digging in the back of the pantry, we found several cartons of beef, chicken and vegetable broth and stock stock nearing expiration. We grabbed a pencil and created this list of how to use them:

    Braise & Glaze. Braise meats, glaze vegetables. Any savory recipe that calls for the addition of water can probably be improved by substituting stock.

    Cook Grains. Substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the cooking water and your grains will taste so much better. Use two parts stock to one part barley, couscous, rice, quinoa or other favorite grain.

    Drink A Cup. Beef and chicken broth are protein-packed alternatives to a hot cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy a cup plain or with cracked pepper, minced herbs and/or a tablespoon of grated Parmesan. Spice it up with a splash of hot sauce or minced chiles.

    Make Pasta En Brodo. An Italian classic, soup pasta or tortellini cooked in broth and served in the cooking broth with generous amounts of pasta. You can substitute barley, quinoa or other nutritious grain for the pasta. (Add spaghetti to chicken broth and you’ve got chicken noodle soup.)

     

    swanson-chicken-broth-carton-230b

    A versatile pantry sample. Photo courtesy Swanson.

     

    imagine-vegetable-broth-carton-230

    For recipes or a cup of pick-me-up. Photo
    courtesy Imagine Foods.

     

    Make Polenta. While we typically save time by purchasing premade rolls of polenta, the homemade version is so much better—and even better when made with stock instead of water. (In cooking school, which followed French techniques, we were instructed to make it with cream. Nope!)

    Make Risotto. We love an excuse to whip up a risotto. You need arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano rice (these starchier varieties create risotto’s creaminess—see the different types of rice). While plain risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano or other Italian grating cheese is delicious, wild mushroom risotto or seafood risotto is submlime. Seasonal vegetables are another fine addition. Here’s a recipe for asparagus and shrimp risotto.

    Make Soup. Add pasta and veggies for homemade chicken noodle soup; use as a base for anything from minestrone to hot and sour soup.

     
    STOCK & BROTH: THE DIFFERENCE

    The difference between a stock and a broth is the seasoning. Stock is not seasoned; it is an unfinished product that is an ingredient in another dish. For example, stock is used to make gravy (beef stock is use used for au jus), marinades, risotto, sauces and other soups.

    So, if you’re using stock, you’ll need to add salt to your desired level. Broth already contains salt.

    Broth is a thin soup is made from a clear stock foundation. The terms bouillon and broth are used interchangeably. However, a bouillon is always served plain (with an optional garnish), whereas broth can be made more substantive with the addition of a grain (corn, barley, rice) and vegetables.

    Here are the related types of soups, including consommé and velouté.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Leftover Ham Recipes

    white-bean-ham-soup-qvc-230

    Use leftover ham in a delicious bean soup.
    Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    You can just enjoy so many ham sandwiches and ham scrambles with the leftover Easter ham. Here are two recipes from QVC’s David Venable, that take a different approach.

    RECIPE: WHITE BEAN SOUP WITH HAM

    This recipe uses the ham bone, hock, or shanks.

    David comments, “Though it may officially be spring, there are still plenty of days that call for a recipe that takes out the chill. This broth-based soup is a great way to use leftover ham: It’s light enough for spring, but hearty enough to be filling.”

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry Great Northern beans*
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 meaty ham hock or 2-3 lbs of ham shanks
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups ham, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Garnish: fresh parsley
  •  
    *A mild, white, oval bean, similar to the white kidney bean.

    Preparation

    1. RINSE the beans, sorting out any that are broken or discolored.

    2. BRING a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt and the beans and remove the pot from the heat. Let the beans sit in the hot water for at least 60 minutes.

    3. RETURN the pot to high heat and place the ham bone, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, mustard and bay leaves in the pot. Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 60 more minutes.

    4. REMOVE the ham bone and discard. Stir in the chopped ham and simmer for 30 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh parsley (if desired).

     

    RECIPE: SMOKED HAM & CHEDDAR HASH

    David advises, “This hash recipe works just as well with ham that hasn’t been smoked. Try serving it as a breakfast item by throwing some fried eggs on top. Like a little spice in your hash? Add some hot sauce to the pan!”

    Ingredients

  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (preferably smoked)
  • 6 cups smoked ham, diced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup coarse breadcrumbs (such as panko)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  •  

    smoked-ham-cheddar-hash-qvc-230

    Yummy smoked ham and Cheddar hash. Photo courtesy QVC.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. In a large sauce pot, boil the potatoes until fork tender. Drain the water and set aside.

    2. ADD the butter to a 10″ or larger, deep nonstick skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until slightly colored.

    3. STIR in the paprika and ham. Add the broth, cream of mushroom soup and scallions. Stir well to combine and bring to a simmer.

    4. ADD the parboiled potatoes and stir carefully to evenly incorporate all ingredients. Season the hash, to taste, with salt and pepper.

    5. COMBINE the Cheddar cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the hash. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until evenly browned.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: April Fool—It Isn’t Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

    We’re cooking up some food fun for tomorrow, April Fool’s Day. This year, it’s trompe-l’oeil food.

    Trompe-l’oeil (pronounced trump LOY), French for “deceive the eye”, is an art technique that creates the optical illusion that a piece of two-dimensional art exists in three dimensions. You may have seen some amazing sidewalk art that fools you into thinking you’re about to step into a hole, a pool, etc.

    We’re adapting the “deceive the eye” reference to “food trompe-l’oeil”—food that looks like one thing but is actually another. Serve this “grilled cheese and tomato soup” dish, which is actually orange pound cake and strawberry soup.

    Thanks to Zulka Morena sugar for the recipes and fun idea. If you’ve got a great palate or simply preferred less processed sugar, try it. The top-quality sugar is minimally processed and never refined. You can taste the difference!

     

    strawberry-soup-orange-pound-cake-zulkasugar-230

    April Fool’s food: Standing in for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich are strawberry soup and pound cake. Photo courtesy Zulka Sugar.

     

    RECIPE: ORANGE POUND CAKE

    Ingredients

    For The Pound Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  •  
    For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract or juice
  • 2-5 drops natural orange food color
  •  

    zulka-morena-cane-sugar-2-230

    Zulka makes less processed, better tasting
    sugar. Photo courtesy Zulka Sugar.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a standard loaf pan.

    2. CREAM together in a medium bowl the butter, sugar and orange zest until fluffy. Add the eggs in 3 parts, combining well after each addition. In a separate small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture until just combined. Add the sour cream and orange juice and mix well.

    3. POUR into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top, and bake for 1 hour or longer, until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean. If the top starts to brown too much before the cake is done, tent with a piece of foil.

    4. REMOVE from oven; cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

    5. MIX the frosting ingredients together until well combined. Add more food color as needed to reach desired color.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Slice the pound cake into 1/2 inch slices. Spread a small amount of butter on one side and grill on a griddle or skillet until toasted looking, being careful not to burn. Let cool completely. Repeat with remaining slices. Once all are cool, cut them each in half to make the two halves of each “sandwich.” Spread about a tablespoon of frosting on a non-toasted side of the cake, spreading some to the edges to make it look like melted cheese, and then top with the other half. Repeat with remaining slices.

     

    RECIPE: CHILLED STRAWBERRY SOUP

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 pounds strawberries, stems removed and hulled
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 1-1/2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt
  • Optional: yellow food color
  • Optional garnishes: 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream, fresh basil leaves
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DICE the strawberries, sprinkle the sugar over the top and let sit for 15 minutes. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Let chill completely. If you want the color to be more orange, like tomato soup, add a few drops of yellow food color.

    2. DIVIDE among 6 bowls. Drizzle a little heavy cream over the top and garnish with basil leaves.

    APRIL FOOL’S DAY HISTORY

    The origin of April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, is obscure. The most accepted explanation traces it to 16th century France.

    Until 1564, the Julian calendar, which observed the beginning of the New Year in April, was in use. According to The Oxford Companion to the Year, King Charles IX then declared that France would begin using the Gregorian calendar, which shifted New Year’s Day to January 1st.

    Some people continued to use the Julian Calendar, and were mocked as fools. They were invited to bogus parties, sent on a fool’s errand (looking for things that don’t exist) and other pranks.

    The French call April 1st Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish. French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying “Poisson d’Avril” when the prank is discovered.

    What a fish has to do with April Fool’s Day is not clear. But in the name of a kinder, gentler world, we propose eliminating this holiday. (Source: Wikipedia)

      

    Comments

    TIP: Soup As A Main Course

    lentil-soupr_mccormick-230

    Add enough protein to a lentil or bean soup
    and you’ve got a main course. Ham and
    sausage pair deliciously with beans and
    legumes. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    As we published the post below, for acorn squash soup with gnocchi, we thought about soup as a main course.

    To turn a first course into a main course, simply add more of the protein: beef, chicken, ham, sausage, tofu, etc.

    It’s also an opportunity to double up on the veggies and to add whole grains like barley, brown rice or quinoa.

    Serve it with a large and interesting side salad, and you’ve got a delicious lunch or dinner.

    Here are 25 ideas to start; or create your own combinations:

  • Albondigas (meatball soup)
  • Bean & barley soup with choice Of protein
  • Black bean soup with ham or sausage
  • Bouillabaisse/cioppino
  • Borscht with meatballs
  • Chicken or sausage gumbo
  • Chicken rice soup (go whole grain: use brown rice)
  • Chicken matzoh ball soup with lots of chicken (switch out matzoh balls with rice or noodles)
  • Chili with meatballs
  • Fish soup (fish or vegetable stock with rice, poached white fish, vegetables)
  • Gazpacho with poached shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab, etc.
  • Greek meatball soup
  • Hot & hour soup with shiitakes and protein of choice
  • Kale or spinach and white bean soup with pork and pork sausage
  • Lentil soup with ham
  • Minestrone or pasta e fagioli with sausage
  • Paella soup
  • Pepperpot soup with beef chunks
  • Ravioli in brodo
  • Root vegetable soup with choice of protein
  • Salmon chowder with salmon chunks
  • Scallops & fennel in saffron-tarragon broth
  • Seafood bisque with shrimp
  • Southwestern bean soup with chicken
  • Split pea soup with ham
  •  

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOUP, STEW &
    RAGOUT

    There’s a thin line between soup and stew. Both can be combinations of vegetables, proteins and starches (beans, dumplings, grains, legumes, noodles, potatoes, rice, etc). Both are cooked in, or with, a liquid. Both can be served in a bowl.

    Stews are thicker, with the liquid reduced to a gravy. Because they are made to be main courses, the ingredients are cut into larger/chunkier pieces. Meat-based stews are an opportunity to slow-cook tougher (least expensive) cuts of meat. Soups cook for a shorter time at higher temperatures.

    Yet, stew is not simply a thick or chunky soup. There is a different approach to cooking:

  • Stewing is a method of cooking the solids with a slow, moist-heat method. When you make a chicken stew, you are stewing the meat in a liquid.
  • When you make a chicken soup, however, you are extracting flavor from the chicken into a liquid—making a chicken-flavored liquid instead of cooked chicken.
  •  
    Here are more differences:

     

    albondigas-meatball-soup-melissas-230

    Albondigas—meatball soup—is a Mexican classic. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

  • SOUP: Any combination of ingredients cooked in a liquid base: fish/seafood, fruit, meats, starches and vegetables. Soups can be thick and hearty or thin and delicate. While cooked ingredients can remain in the soup, the objective of the ingredients is to flavor the liquid. Soup can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. Fruit soups can be served for dessert.
  • STEW: A hearty dish of meat or other protein and vegetables, optionally with grains, starches and/or fruits, simmered in a liquid until cooked. The liquid becomes the gravy. Stews are served warm. There are no dessert stews.
  • RAGOUT: The French name for a main-dish stew.
  •  
    Both stews and soups may be thickened:

  • By reduction
  • With flour (by coating pieces of the protein with flour before searing, or by using a roux or beurre manié, a dough consisting of equal parts of butter and flour)
  • With thickeners such as arrowroot or cornstarch
  •  
    Hot soups and stews are particularly suited to cold winter days. It looks like we’ll have more than enough left to pull out some favorite recipes, or try new ones.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Acorn Squash Soup & Sauteed Gnocchi

    acorn-squash-soup-gnocchi-garnish-giovannirasta-230close

    Acorn squash soup with gnocchi and a garnish of
    dried cranberries, Brussels sprouts leaves and
    crème fraîche. Photo courtesy Giovanni Rana.

     

    Italians are known for combining pasta and soup: minestrone, pasta e fagiole (pasta and bean soup) and pasta in brodo (chicken broth with pasta) are classics.

    Here’s an even fancier creation from pasta maker Giovanni Rana: acorn squash soup with potato gnocchi. This hearty starter can also serve as a main course—an example of how you can build on a simple bowl of soup to create a meal.

    RECIPE: ROASTED ACORN SQUASH SOUP
    WITH SAUTÉED GNOCCHI

    Ingredients

  • 1 package (17.6 ounces) potato gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 large shallots (or 3 small), cut in 1/4″ dice
  • 2 bulbs fennel, core and stem removed, cut in 1/4″ dice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic or champagne vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves removed
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 425°F. Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Cut the squash halves into segments, following the natural seams. Toss segments with extra virgin olive oil and season with kosher salt. Lay squash in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast until tender; about 30-35 minutes. In the meantime…

    2. MELT butter with extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Sauté shallots and fennel until soft, about 8-10 minutes. While shallots and fennel are sautéing, peel leaves from Brussels sprouts. Toast in a dry nonstick pan over medium high heat until starting to char in spots. Remove and set aside.

    3. INCREASE heat to high and add half of the vegetable oil. When oil is shimmering, add half of the gnocchi directly from the bag. Sauté gnocchi, tossing often, until browned. Set aside and repeat.

    4. REMOVE acorn squash from oven when tender; allow to cool enough to handle. Peel skins off and discard. Working in batches, purée squash, sautéed shallots and fennel, vegetable broth, heavy cream and vinegar in a blender or food processor.

    5. RETURN soup to a pan and gently reheat. Adjust consistency with more vegetable broth if necessary and season with kosher salt. Add gnocchi and divide among bowls.

     

    1002200_gnocchi-NecoGarnicia-230

    Boiled potatoes are riced and rolled with flour into ropes of dough. Small pieces are cut off and handmade gnocchi are pressed between the thumb and the tines of a fork to make the characteristic indentations (no dents in factory-made gnocchi). Photo courtesy Neco Garnicia.

     

    6. GARNISH with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream, toasted Brussels sprouts leaves and dried cranberries.
     
    WHAT ARE GNOCCHI?

    Gnocchi (NYO-kee) are light and fluffy Italian dumplings. The most commonly known in the U.S. are made from potatoes and flour, although other styles are noted below.

    You can find butternut squash, spinach and sweet potato gnocchi on modern menus, and creative chefs can create a myriad of flavors. Some also substitute semolina for the potato flour—the original recipe (more about that in a minute). Shapes and ingredients vary by region.

    The word “gnocchi” means “dumplings” in Italian. There are two suggestions for the origin of the word:

  • Nocchio, “gnarl,” referring to a gnarl in wood
  • Nocca, “knuckle,” referring to the knob-like appearance
  •  
    They’re Not Italian!

    Gnocchi are of Middle Eastern origin; the originals were made with semolina dough. As the Roman Empire expanded, favorite recipes were brought home and adapted, based on local ingredients and preferences. Depending on where you are in Italy, you can find:

  • Gnocchi alla romana (Roman-style gnocchi), made with semolina flour and rolled out in a thick, flat dough. Circles are cut from the dough and then baked.
  • Gnocchi di ricotta (ricotta gnocchi), which uses ricotta instead of potatoes with the flour and egg mixture.
  • Gnocchi di patate (potato gnocchi), shown in the photos above; essentially mashed potatoes with egg and flour, cut into small pillows and boiled.
  • Gnocchi Parisienne (Parisian gnocchi), made with boiled pâte à choux (cream puff dough, which can be used in savory recipes). They are often pan-fried in butter and great tossed with fresh herbs.
  •  
    Whether covered in sauce, tossed in butter or pan-fried, gnocchi are crowd-pleasers.

      

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    RECIPE: Red Lentil Soup, Other Greek Yogurt Delights & Aleppo Pepper

    Choabani

    Red lentil soup is golden and glorious. Photo
    by Marcus Nilsson | Chobani.

     

    What do you do after your start-up Greek-style yogurt brand becomes the number one brand in the country?

    You continue to share your love of your homeland’s foods by opening a café.

    Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya moved to New York from his native Turkey and couldn’t find thick yogurt as widely available as it was back home. The rest is yogurt history; now, hopefully, the other wonderful yogurt-based foods at his Chobani Soho café* will find as many fans.

    The current café is a revision of the initial concept, which focused on yogurt with savory or sweet toppings†. They’re still on the menu, not joined by soups and simits—the bagel-like, sesame-topped street food of Turkey, available with a variety of fillings.

    We’re a sucker for a simit—we had our first one just a year ago when a simit sandwich shop opened on our block.

    Chobani Soho’s simits include “Bagel + Cream Cheese” (the cream cheese is actually labne, also spelled labneh, and called “Lebanese cream cheese”; Seasonal Preserves + Labne, Smoked Salmom + Herbed Labne; Spiced Chicken + Pomegranate Onion; and Tomato + Olive Tapenade.

     

    We were invited to a media reception where we got to taste everything, all of it terrific. But for us, the star on the menu is the red lentil soup—easy to make, and so luscious and comforting that you’ll be making it again and again. Thanks to Chobani for sharing the recipe.

     
    *The cafe is located at 150 Prince Street at West Broadway in New York City; 1.646.998.3800.

    † SWEET CREATIONS: Blueberry + Power, Fig + Walnut, Fresh Fruit + Granola, Peanut Butter + Jelly, Pistachio + Chocolate, Toasted Coconut + Pineapple. SAVORY CREATIONS: Hummus + Za’atar, Mango + Avocado, Pomegranate + Caramelized Onion (our favorite!) Red Pepper Harissa + Feta, Zucchini Pesto + Tomato.

    RECIPE: CHOBANI RED LENTIL SOUP

    Red lentils (which range in color from yellow to orange to red) are sweeter than the green lentils typically used in American lentil soup, and the brown lentils used elsewhere.

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups lentils
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon salt
  • Pinch Aleppo pepper‡
  • 4 quarts water
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup plain 2% Chobani Greek yogurt
  •  
    ‡A substitute for Aleppo pepper is 4 parts sweet paprika and 1 part cayenne. See the section below on Aleppo pepper.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE lentils in a strainer and rinse under cold water.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 25 minutes.

    3. ADD yogurt. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.

    4. COOL in an ice bath and then refrigerate. Reheat before serving. Blend with immersion blender after reheating to eliminate lumps and smooth out soup.

    5. MAKE garnish: Melt ¼ pound butter in a small sauce pan until foaming. Add ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper and remove from heat. Drizzle ½ teaspoon (for an 8-ounce portion) or ¾ teaspoon (for a 12-ounce portion). Keep butter warm and garnish with a spoon of Aleppo pepper butter before serving.

     

    Choabani

    Simit, the “Turkish bagel,” ready to meet thick labne. Photo by Marcus Nilsson | Chobani.

    WHAT IS ALEPPO PEPPER?

    Also called halab pepper, halaby pepper, Near Eastern pepper and Syrian red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper hales from Turkey and northern Syria. The town of Aleppo, a famous food mecca, is located in Syria near the Turkish border.

    Aleppo pepper is used to add heat and pungency to Middle Eastern dishes. It is not a berry, like peppercorns, but a moderately hot red chile that is sun-dried, seeded and crushed. (Ever since someone in the crew of Christopher Columbus came across a chile in the New World and called it “pepper,” the confusion has endured. Here’s the scoop on pepper, here’s the story on chiles.)

    The Aleppo chile’s high oil content provides a deep, rich aroma, somewhere between coffee and smoke; it has been compared to the ancho chile. It has fruity notes with mild, cumin-like undertones. It can be compared to—but is much more flavorful, complex, and less harsh than—that generic pizza staple, crushed red pepper.

    USES FOR ALEPPO PEPPER

    The moderate heat of Aleppo pepper is used:

  • With proteins: fish stews, roast chicken, grilled meats (including kabobs)
  • In veggie dishes: rice pilaf, simmered beans and lentils, to add kick to green salads (it’s delicious with yogurt and cucumbers or melon and mint salad)
  • As an attractive red garnish: on deviled eggs (or with any eggs), on potato, chicken, tuna and pasta salads
  • In any Mediterranean dish: tagines and couscous, for example
  • In classic American dishes: chili, pizza, soup, stews
  • As an everyday seasoning: add the flakes to olive oil to infuse for a vinaigrette, marinade, rub or for sautéing
  •  
    If you can’t find Aleppo pepper locally, you can buy it online. When you empty your jar of crushed red pepper flakes, replace it with Aleppo.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Drizzled Soup Garnish

    Have you ever been served a bowl of soup with a drizzle of oil? Floating on the surface of the soup, it’s a fashionable garnish at better restaurants.

    But the oil does more than look pretty. It adds a rich dimension of flavor to the soup and creates a more complex aroma. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to go from everyday to gourmet.

    OIL DRIZZLE FOR SOUPS

    In our book, a drizzle of flavored olive oil elevates a bowl of soup to top tier restaurant level. A tablespoon or less—depending on the size of the bowl—does the trick.

  • Depending on the soup, you can match an olive oil infused with basil, chile, garlic, oregano, rosemary, sage, smoked, truffle or wasabi, among others. You can use plain olive oil, of course; but we far prefer the exciting hit of flavor from infused oils.
  • You can also “go nuts” with almond, hazelnut, pecan, pistachio, walnut and other nut oils.
  • Other oils you may have in your pantry, from pumpkin seed to sesame, are also delicious accents.
  •  

    cucumber-yogurt-soup-chocolatelabSF-ps

    Cucumber yogurt soup with a kick of chili oil, a garnish of thin-sliced baby radishes, fennel and diced orange. Photo courtesy The Chocolate Lab | San Francisco .

     
    SOME SPECIFIC MATCHES

  • Avocado oil, lightly nutty and deep green, is delicious with black bean soup.
  • Basil oil, a lighter green, is wonderful with tomato soup (and any soup that could use a hit of basil).
  • Pumpkin seed oil, nutty with a dramatic deep green color, with gazpacho, tomato soup, roasted red pepper soup, lentil soup, split pea soup.
  • Rosemary oil is delicious with any bean or lamb-based soup.
  • Truffle Oil with to any soup, but we love it with chicken, beef and root vegetable soups like carrot and turnip. (Use less truffle oil than other oils, as it tends to have strong flavor.)
  • Sesame oil wherever you’d like an Asian accent (as with truffle oil, use less—droplets are the best option).
  • Walnut oil adds a toasty accent to puréed vegetable soups.
  •  

    oil-drizzle-thegrillroomDC-230sq

    The double drizzle: pumpkin seed oil and
    crème fraîche garnish squash soup. A few
    microgreens garnish the center. Photo
    courtesy The Grill Room | D.C.

     

    THE DOUBLE DRIZZLE

    In a lighter soup you can contrast colored oils: a swirl of one with some contrasting droplets of another.

    With a darker soup, you can use a cream-based product—crème fraîche, infused heavy cream, sour cream, yogurt.
     
    HOW TO DRIZZLE

    You may have natural technique, or you may have to practice to get a nice swirl. Place the oil on a teaspoon and drizzle from the tip. If you want to practice, drizzle inexpensive oil on a plate.

    Another technique is to use a squeeze bottle or medicine dropper to create a circle of droplets, or a random pattern. In the top photo above, both swirls and droplets are used.

    You can combine both techniques and use a different oil, or balsamic vinegar, for the droplets.

     
    HOW TO DRIZZLE CREAMY GARNISHES

    Heavy cream works just fine, but crème fraîche, sour cream and yogurt are too thick to drizzle; they need to be thinned. You can do this with water, milk or cream.

    While sour cream and yogurt contribute natural tang, you can add flavor to them, or to crème fraîche or heavy cream. Lemon zest, flavored salt and pepper are some options. You can infuse heavy cream with herbs: crush the herbs and let them sit in the cream for an hour or longer. Strain and discard the herbs.

     
    RECIPE: LEMON CRÈME FRAÎCHE

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water
  • 1-2 dashes salt and pepper (to taste)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the crème fraîche, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

    2. THIN as needed with water to a drizzle consistency.
     
    Soup’s on! And today, February 4th, is National Homemade Soup Day. Check out our favorite soup recipes.

      

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