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

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    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Soups

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.

      

    Comments

    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.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pasta e Fagioli Soup

    If you’ve watched enough “Abbott & Costello” reruns, you’ll hear Lou Costello wanting a dish of “pasta fazool.” That’s Neapolitan Italian dialect for pasta e fagioli, correctly pronounced pasta ay fah-JOE-lee.

    Pasta e fagioli, pasta with beans (typically cannellini beans), is a popular Italian peasant dish.

    Some Americans call it bean and macaroni soup, but “pasta fazool” seems to have captured the public’s imagination:

  • “Pastafazoola,” a 1927 hit song, beckons “Don’t be a fool, eat pasta fazool.” The catchphrase became that era’s version of “Where’s the beef?” Here are the song’s writers, Van and Schenk, performing it.
  • Dean Martin’s 1952 hit song “That’s Amore,” advises: “When the stars make you drool, just-a like pasta fazool, that’s amore” (watch this video of his performance).
  •  

    This version of pasta e fagioli is made with conchigliette—baby shells—instead of the conventional tubetti (see photo below).

     

    How about some pasta fazool for National Soup Month (January)? Here’s an easy recipe for Pasta e Fagioli from Patsy’s restaurant in New York City.

     

    Tubetti pasta: “little tubes” used in soup.
    Photo courtesy Sabato.co.nz.

     

    RECIPE: PASTA E FAGIOLA

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1/2 pound (2 cups) tubetti pasta, elbow macaroni or other soup pasta, cooked to package directions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 3 cups (24 ounces) marinara sauce
  • Garnish: fresh basil chiffonade
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT olive oil in a deep skillet and sauté the onions until lightly browned.

    2. ADD stock, beans and marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Add the cooked pasta.

     
    3. REDUCE heat and simmer for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    TYPES OF SOUP PASTA

    Italians have long made very small cuts of pasta called soup pasta, or pastini (“little pasta”). Pasta in brodo—soup in broth—is a popular dish. Types of soup pasta include, among others:

  • Acini di pepe (peperini), shaped like peppercorns
  • Alphabets (alfabeto)
  • Anelletti, small rings
  • Conchigliette, baby shells
  • Ditali/ditalini, small tubes and even tinier tubes
  • Farfalline, small bow ties (tripolini are a small bows with a rounder shape)
  • Grattoni, tiny diamonds
  • Orzo (rosamarina), pasta shaped like grains of barley
  • Risi (risoni, pasta a riso), rice shaped pasta
  • Seme di melone, melon seed shaped pasta
  • Stelle (stellette, stellini), star shaped pasta
  • Stortini, tiny elbow macaroni
  • Tubetti, small tubes
  •  
    Each region of Italy made its own shapes before the days of mass communication. Thus, there are very similar shapes with different names (for example, orzo, risi and seme di melone).
     
    CHECK OUT THE MANY TYPES OF PASTA IN OUR PASTA GLOSSARY.
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Low Calorie Seafood Chowder

    Lower calorie “chowder.” Photo courtesy
    Swanson.

     

    We just discussed transforming favorite, calorie-packed recipes with lighter cooking techniques. This recipe for a lower calorie seafood “chowder,” from Swanson’s, substitutes vegetable broth and tomato soup for the cream used in many chowders.

    FOOD 101: Call it what you want, but even with cream, this is not a chowder. Chowders are enriched with salt pork fatback and thickened with flour or crushed soup crackers—two ingredients that define a chowder, but are missing from this recipe. In addition, potatoes as well as other vegetables are typically added to a chowder; this recipe omits the potatoes.

    You can call it “chowder” for marketing purposes (i.e., making the dish sound more exciting to your family). But know in your heart that it’s simply “seafood soup.”

     
    LOWER CALORIE SEAFOOD CHOWDER/SOUP

    Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 3/4 cups Swanson Vegetable Broth
  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup
  • 1 package (about 10 ounces) frozen whole baby carrots, thawed (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 pound fresh or thawed frozen firm white fish fillets (cod, haddock or halibut), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound fresh large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 3/4 pound mussels (about 12), well scrubbed and beards removed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion and thyme and cook until they’re tender. Stir the water, broth, soup and carrots in the saucepan and heat to a boil.

    2. ADD the fish. Cover and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Discard any open or cracked mussels. Add the shrimp and mussels.

    3. COVER and simmer for 3 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork, the shrimp are pink and the mussels open. Discard any mussels that do not open. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve.
     

    KNOW YOUR SOUP

    A brief history of soup and the different types of soup.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Gazpacho Day

    Gazpacho made with yellow bell peppers. Photo
    courtesy Chicken Fried Gourmet.

     

    Gazpacho is a soup served chilled or room temperature and usually associated with summer, when few people desire hot soup. So why is National Gazpacho Day on December 6th?

    Our guess is that whoever requested the establishment of National Gazpacho Day was from a warm Southern state. But even those of us facing freezing temperatures today can dig in.

    Gazpacho is a low-calorie, high-nutrition dish, a boon for dieters and people who don’t eat enough veggies. It is one of those recipes that affords maximum customization: Each cook can do his or her thing, and even a favorite recipe can be tweaked each time it is made. The combination of vegetables, herbs, types of vinegar and flavored olive oil, and garnishes is endless.

    Our favorite idea for “winter gazpacho” is from Chef Michael O’Boyle of ChickenFriedGourmet.com.

    He serves a yellow bell pepper gazpacho as a shooter, which can be served from trays at a cocktail party or as a first course at a seated dinner. The garnish on top of the shooter is a tortilla chip cup filled with salsa.

     

    It’s an ideal recipe for winter, when tomatoes are not in season.

    This bell pepper gazpacho recipe was adapted from TheLunaCafe, which also has an e-book for the iPad, 12 Days Of Christmas Cookies.

    RECIPE: BELL PEPPER GAZPACHO

    Ingredients

  • 6 red or yellow bell peppers, roasted, cored, seeded, de-ribbed and chopped (1½ pounds roasted yields 3 cups chopped, roasted, peeled bell peppers)
  • 5 ounces red or yellow grape tomatoes (match to color of peppers)
  • 1/4 red onion, peeled, and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 serrano* chiles, halved lengthwise, cored, seeded, and de-ribbed
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • ¾ cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons excellent sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons smoked hot paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  •  
    *For milder heat, use an ancho, cascabel or poblano chile.

     

    GAZPACHO GARNISHES

    Dairy Garnishes

  • Greek yogurt, plain or herbed (mix in finely chopped fresh herbs)
  • Large crouton/crostini with fresh goat cheese
  • Crème fraîche
  • Sour cream
  •  
    Non-Dairy Garnishes

  • Baby beets or diced whole beets
  • Boiled potato, half or whole
  • Crab meat or other seafood, chilled
  • Diced avocado, cucumber or tomato
  • Croutons (small) or large garlic crouton/crostini
  • Fresh herbs
  • Steamed vegetables (broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, etc.)
  •  

    The more familiar tomato gazpacho, garnished with avocado and crabmeat. Photo courtesy McCormick. Here’s the recipe.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, chiles and garlic in a blender. Cover and liquefy. NOTE: Use disposable gloves when handling hot chiles to avoid accidental irritation from the capsaicin in the seeds and ribs.

    2. ADD the stock, orange juice, olive oil, orange zest, vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper. Cover and liquefy. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. If you want a thinner soup, add more stock.

    3. CHILL, covered, for at least 4 hours. Garnish and serve.
     
    GAZPACHO HISTORY

    Gazpacho is a cold raw vegetable soup that originated in Andalusia, the southernmost region of Spain. The name is of Arabic origin, and literally means “soaked bread,” an ingredient of early recipes that made use of the prior day’s stale bread. The term has become generic for “cold vegetable soup.”

    The original recipe came from the Arabs who occupied much of Spain from the 8th through the 13th centuries. Early on, gazpacho was a way for field workers to make lunch from the vegetables at hand. The recipe typically included stale bread, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, onion, tomato, wine vinegar and salt—which remains the Andalusian style. Since the tomato is a New World fruit that was not eaten in Europe until the 1800s*, the earliest gazpacho was made without it.

    There are many variations of gazpacho, depending on local ingredients and preferences. The familiar red tomato-based gazpacho is just one of many possibilities. American recipes tend to leave out the bread, although some garnish the soup with a garlic crouton. White gazpacho is made with olive oil, sherry vinegar, bread, garlic and salt, and substitutes green grapes and almonds for the vegetables.

    —Steven Gans

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

    Hearty corn chowder. Photo courtesy Spice
    Islands.

     

    We don’t use a slow cooker, mostly because we work steps away from the kitchen. But those who want to come home to a hot dish of comfort food rely on slow cooking.

    With a chill in the air, this Slow Cooker Corn Chowder recipe from Spice Islands may be just what you’re looking for. The prep time is 20 minutes, and while you’re away, your slow cooker simmers the ingredients for 8 to 9 hours.

    Pick up a a crusty loaf on the way home, or refrigerator rolls from the fridge, or some saltines or oyster crackers.

    You can also cook this recipe on the stove top, cook time 25-35 minutes.

    For a heartier meal, substitute 6 sausages, sliced, for the bacon. We used chicken sausage flavored with garlic and spinach.

    RECIPE: SLOW COOKER CORN CHOWDER

    Ingredients For 10 One-Cup Servings

  • 6 slices crisp bacon, crumbled
  • 5 cups peeled and cubed, red potatoes
  • 1 bag (16 ounces) frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1/4 cup minced dried onion
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) Monterey Jack or white Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Optional garnish: fresh or dried chives, thyme or other herb
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE bacon, potatoes, corn, onions, broth, water, garlic salt, pepper and turmeric in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 8 to 9 hours, or until potatoes are tender.

    2. STIR in milk and cheese. Cover and heat until cheese melts, about 2 to 3 minutes.

    3. GARNISH each bowl with chives, if desired. Serve hot.

    Stove Top Method

    1. PLACE bacon, potatoes, corn, onions, broth, water, garlic salt, pepper and turmeric in stock pot. Cover and bring to a boil.

    2. REDUCE heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. (Add 1 additional cup of broth, if needed).

    3. ADD milk and cheese, and stir until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

    Find more tasty recipes at SpiceIslands.com.

     

    FOOD 101: WHAT IS CHOWDER?

    To many Americans, chowder is a soup with fish or seafood as the main ingredient. However, as with the recipe above, there are non-fish chowders such as corn chowder and chicken chowder.

    In any chowder, potatoes and other vegetables are typically added. The soup was originally enriched with salt pork fatback (the fat from the back of the pig) and thickened with flour or crushed soup crackers—two ingredients that define a chowder. In the recipe above, bacon stands in for the fatback.

    The name “chowder” derives from the French word for the pot in which such a soup was cooked, chaudière, from the Latin caldaria. The word came to New England via Newfoundland, where Breton fishermen tossed some of the day’s catch into a large pot to make soup.

    That soup was originally thickened with crushed ship’s biscuits (hardtack); today flour is used.

     


    Here’s a recipe to make your own. Photo courtesy HardtackIsBack.Blogspot.com.

     

    WHAT IS HARDTACK?

    Hardtack (or hard tack) is a simple water biscuit (cracker) made from flour, water, and sometimes, salt. Baked to remove most of the moisture for a long shelf life, it was sustenance for travelers. Merchant seamen, sailors and soldiers saw more of it than they’d have liked.

    The name derives from the British sailor slang for food, “tack.” Other names include cabin bread, pilot bread (rations for the ship’s pilot), sea biscuits, ship’s biscuits and sea bread. There are numerous pejorative names for the hard, flavorless rations. One is “dog biscuits,” because people fed them to dogs until the more nourishing and pet-specific dog biscuit was developed.

    You can still buy hardtack, known in modern times as water biscuits and saltines. Paired with moisture-rich foods—cheeses, dips, soups, spreads—they are quite enjoyable.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Quick Curried Carrot Soup & Carrot Hummus

    We all know that carrots are good for us: 1 medium carrot, just 25 calories, provides 203% of our daily value of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant.* Beyond nibbling on a carrot stick or baby carrot, though, we just don’t take enough time to think about what to do with them.

    Here are two easy recipes from Grimmway Farms, a California grower of carrots (and most of the baby carrots you come across). Find more carrot recipes at Grimmway.com.

    RECIPE: CURRIED CARROT SOUP

    This dairy-free recipe is low in calories: just 91 calories per serving.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

     

    Curried carrot soup. Photo courtesy Grimmway Farms.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pound carrots (about 6 extra large), diced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Optional garnish: yogurt squiggle; fresh basil, chives or parsley
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the diced onions, diced carrots, curry powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and cook for about 3 minutes.

    2. ADD the chicken broth and cover the pot. Continue to cook over medium heat for another 15 minutes.

    3. PURÉE: Carefully remove the cover and purée the soup in batches in a blender. Alternatively, purée the soup in the pot using an immersion blender wand.

    TIPS:

  • To make the yogurt squiggle, put yogurt in a plastic sandwich bag and cut off one of the corners. Squeeze as you would a pastry bag.
  • If you more body in the soup, stir in some Greek yogurt.
  •  

    Nutrition Per Serving: 91 calories; 4 g total fat; 0.6 g saturated fat; 2 g monounsaturated fat; 1 g polyunsaturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol and trans fat; 946 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 5 g protein.

     

    Carrot hummus. Photo courtesy Grimmway
    Farms.

     

    RECIPE: CARROT HUMMUS

    Here’s a spin on conventional hummus, adding even more nutrition to this very healthful dip and spread. The orange color is also just right for Halloween and the harvest season.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 5 minutes.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup well-packed shredded carrots
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about two lemons)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  •  Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times to coarsely chop. Then let food processor run for about 2 minutes until smooth.

    2. REMOVE hummus from food processor bowl to serving bowl, using a spatula. Serve with carrot and other vegetable chips, baby carrots and other crudités, or pita chips.

    Nutrition Per Serving: 102 calories; 5g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 g trans fat; 2 g monounsaturated fat; 2 g polyunsaturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 306 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 4 g protein.

    CARROT TRIVIA

    Contrary to popular belief, baby carrots are not grown bite-sized. They are bred long and slender, and then cut into two-inch pieces and lathed to a uniform width.

     
    *Yes, is key to good vision, a healthy immune system, good skin, and general cell growth. It has been studied as a treatment for many other conditions, including cancers, cataracts and HIV. However, the results to date are inconclusive.

      

    Comments

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