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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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Archive for Soups

TIP OF THE DAY: Cream Of Chestnut Soup & Other Chestnut Recipes

Cream of chestnut soup is just one delicious way to enjoy roasted chestnuts. Photo © Evegny B | Fotolia.

 

When the air becomes crisp and the autumn leaves rustle, the aroma of roasting chestnuts fills the air. Served up by street vendors in our town, this is old-time comfort food.

In addition to snacking on roasted chestnuts, we have a passion for chestnut soup and for the classic French dessert, Mont Blanc, which uses sweetened chestnut purée. (More about that below.)

Much of our canned chestnut supply is cultivated in, and imported from, southern-central France. Canned chestnuts are peeled and pre-cooked, so they can be enjoyed without “roasting on an open fire.”

Look for the Roland brand at your grocer’s or specialty food store. They’re available whole, peeled and pre-cooked, in water, or as a cream or purée. (If you’re new to cooking, please note: Chestnuts in water are NOT the same as water chestnuts. You want the former.)

Chestnuts are chock full of antioxidants, and studies show that they may reduce the risks of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Chestnuts also deliver one’s daily dose of vitamins B6 and C, and are a good source of fiber and potassium.

 

Chestnut soup is an easy-to-make comfort food and a classic to ward off the fall-winter chill. A recipe from chef and beekeeper Laurey Masterton follows. It’s from her forthcoming “The Fresh Honey Cookbook” (September 2013 / Storey Publishing).

“From-scratch advocates may want to roast and peel their own chestnuts,” says Laurey, “which is easy enough to do although time-consuming. Or you can purchase whole, peeled chestnuts.”

Don’t pair chestnut honey with the chestnuts. “Chestnut honey has too strong a flavor for this recipe,” she advises. “Instead, I suggest eucalyptus, a dark honey that doesn’t have an overly assertive taste, so the chestnut flavor can shine.” (See the different varieties of honey.)

The recipe serves 6–8.

We don’t like a lot of sweetness in soup, so we use only a teaspoon of honey.

CREAM OF CHESTNUT SOUP RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 pounds cooked, peeled chestnuts
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock, plus more if needed
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons honey, preferably eucalyptus or other dark honey
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 3 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnishes: whole or halved roasted chestnuts plus smaller pieces, fresh thyme and/or sage (or parsley)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over low heat. Add the onion and sauté until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the chestnuts, carrots and stock. Simmer over low heat until the chestnuts are very tender (until you can poke a fork through one), about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    2. BLEND. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth, or drain the vegetables in a colander and pulse them in a food processor until smooth; return to the pot and blend with the broth.

    3. ADD. Add the cream, honey and sherry. Add the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If the soup is too thick, add additional stock or cream. Warm over medium-low heat but do not boil, as the cream will curdle.

    4. GARNISH. Garnish as desired and serve. We like the combined garnishes of chestnut pieces and fresh herbs, but you can serve the soup plain, with just a bit of fresh pepper and/or a simple crouton.

    Find more of our favorite soup recipes.
     
    MORE WAYS TO ENJOY CHESTNUTS

    While chestnuts can be eaten raw, cooking them allows for a sweeter, more delicate flavor. Other delicious uses include:

  • Roast as a snack in the oven or toaster oven (recipe below in footnote)
  • Sliced and sprinkled on a salad
  • Chopped and stirred into risotto or rice pilaf
  • Candied, as a delicious sweet treat
  • Chopped and added to stuffing
  • As a rich dessert, Mont Blanc,† a classic French recipe of sweetened chestnut puree in a meringue shell, topped with whipped cream
  •  
    *For a snack, preheat oven to 425 F. Place chestnuts in a shallow baking pan and roast for 30 minutes or up to 40 minutes for larger chestnuts. For even cooking, shake the pan several times to rotate the chestnuts. If you just the chestnuts for a recipe, cooki them for 10 to 15 minutes; then you’ll be able to peel them. Peel as soon as the nuts are cool enough to handle. Once completely cool, they are difficult to peel. But if they cool before you get to peel them, you can reheat them briefly to soften the shells.

    †The dessert is named after the highest mountain in the Alps (and the entire European Union). It lies between the regions of Haute-Savoie, France and the Aosta Valley in Italy.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Mango Gazpacho With Fromage Blanc Sorbet

    Our bad: We forgot to publish this delicious mango gazpacho recipe in the height of summer gazpacho season.

    But it’s still warm out; and this recipe from Vermont Creamery, served with fromage blanc sorbet, is worth your attention.

    MANGO GAZPACHO RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 8 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 large mango,* peeled, seeded, and diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced
  • 4 scallions, chopped fine
  • 1 orange, juiced (set zest aside for the sorbet)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  

    Mmm, mmm, mango gazpacho. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    *Add 2 teaspoons sugar if the mango and tomato are not quite ripe.
     
    Ingredients For Sorbet

  • 8 ounces fromage blanc
  • 1/8 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. GAZPACHO: Place all ingredients except the orange zest in a large bowl or container overnight. Adjust seasonings in the morning. If the mixture is too chunky, pulse half of it with an immersion blender or a hand mixer.

    2. SORBET: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and put in freezer 2 hours before serving. Use a small melon baller or sorbet scoop. Place sorbet on top of gazpacho.

     
    Find more of our favorite soup recipes.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Japanese Miso Soup For American Breakfast

     

    Asians drink soup for breakfast (Japanese miso soup and Thai pho, for example). Americans looking for something quick, hot, nutritious and comforting should consider the option.

    All you need to make a bowl of miso soup is hot water and a spoonful of miso paste, available in many supermarkets as well as in Asian food stores.

    You can add nutritious vegetables to your miso soup, as shown in the video, or have it plain, as it’s served at Japanese restaurants. The soup can be made in advance and microwaved in a minute, which is especially convenient if you want your soup with veggies.

    Beyond a quick cup of soup before you dash out, you can carry a thermos, thermal mug or a portable coffee mug full of soup as you leave. Your soup supply can also be part of a low-calorie, healthful lunch, snack or dinner.

    Here are more ways to use the miso paste.

       

       

    Find more of our favorite soups in our Soup Section.

    Want a more conventional breakfast? Check out our Cereals, Pancakes & Waffles Section.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Whip Up A Simple Gazpacho Recipe

    A classic gazpacho. Photo courtesy
    AdSomeLife.com.

     

    Before summer ends, make gazpacho: high in taste and vegetable quota, low in calories. Get the ripest tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and other favorite vegetables such as green onions and red peppers; toss them into the blender or food processor with fresh herbs and vinegar to taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. You can even leave out the olive oil.

    The recipe doesn’t matter: In Spain, home of gazpacho, there are as many recipe variations of the chilled soup as you can count.

    Don’t like tomatoes or bell peppers? Make white gazpacho. Here’s a recipe from chef John Fraser at Dovetail, a top New York City restaurant, that doesn’t rely on summer produce and can be made year-round. It’s not the lowest calorie gazpacho, but you can substitute fat-free yogurt Greek yogurt.

    WHITE GAZPACHO FROM DOVETAIL

    Ingredients

  • ¼ cup whites of leeks, sliced thin and washed
  • 3 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 10 green grapes, washed
  • ¼ cup blanched almond slivers
  • 1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 cups cucumbers
  • ½ cup English cucumbers, peeled and juiced
  • ½ tablespoon sour cream
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more as needed
  • Garnish: fresh dill, slivered almonds, julienned leek tops and/or droplets of a dark green oil (certain olive oils, avocado oil or homemade parsley oil (blend fresh dill or parsley with a bit of olive oil)
  • Preparation

    1. Sauté leeks in a medium-size pan over medium-low heat until translucent and tender. Chill in the fridge.

    2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender; purée until smooth.

    3. Season with salt to taste.

    4. Pass through a fine mesh sieve or chinois. Plate, garnish and serve cold.

    Yield: 6 portions.

    WAYS TO DRESS UP YOUR GAZPACHO

  • COCKTAIL: Serve in a cocktail glass with a stick of celery, like a Bloody Mary.
  • VODKA: Add a tablespoon of vodka (or gin or Tequila) for Bloody Mary gazpacho.
  • SEAFOOD: Add cooked shrimp, a large sea scallop/several bay scallops or some crabmeat to make for a seafood soup.
  • PASTA SALAD:Toss over cold pasta.
  • COCKTAIL SHOT: Turn extra gazpacho into a full-blown cocktail shot, called a gazpachito (recipe).
  •  
    SPECIALTY GAZPACHO RECIPES

  • Avocado gazpacho recipe.
  • Melon gazpacho recipe.
  •  
    GAZPACHO ADDS TO YOUR VEGGIE COUNT

    Even a small amount of soup can add another portion of veggies to your daily intake.

    How many fruit and vegetable servings do you need each day? The government’s prior “five a day” recommendation has been modified based on age, gender and physical activity.

    Use this fruit and vegetable calculator from the Centers For Disease Control to calculate your personal requirements.
     
    Find more of our favorite soup recipes.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Thickeners For Soups, Stews & Sauces

    Today is National Homemade Soup Day.

    Homemade soup is not only superior to prepared varieties; it enables you to add the freshest flavor with herbs and to minimize the often enormous sodium content of processed soups.

    If you want a thicker soup, there are different ways to thicken (that also are used for sauces and stews).

    In today’s tip, chef Johnny Gnall shares what every culinary student is taught—how to thicken with:

  • Roux
  • Slurry
  • Ragu
  • Bread
  • Rice and more
  •  
    Head to the article.

     

    Tomato soup thickened with a slurry. Photo courtesy Bull and Bear restaurant | Chicago.

     

    Check out the many different types of soups in our Soup Glossary.

    Discover some new garnishes for 20 popular soups.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Alton Brown’s Christmas Soup

     

    What does Alton Brown eat for Christmas?

    A hearty, peppery soup that’s been a family favorite for generations.

    Tangy with red wine vinegar and nicely peppery, the hearty winter soup is packed with kale, kidney beans, kielbasa and potatoes.

    Whether or not you serve it on Christmas, this soup can be enjoyed all winter.

  • Check out the video below.
  • Find your favorite soups in our Soup Glossary.
  • The best garnishes for 20 popular soups.
  •    

       

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Vietnamese Pho Soup From Pacific Organic

    Instead of hours of cooking, enjoy a bowl
    of steaming Vietnamese phö soup in
    minutes. Photo by Simon Gurney |
    Dreamstime.

     

    Last week we presented a video on how to prepare Vietnamese phö, one of the world’s greatest foods.

    Instead of making stock for hours, though, you can enjoy the 10-minute version with Pacific Organic Soup Starters. Not bad, given that a bowl of phö can have up to 30 ingredients (including all the seasonings in the broth).

    It’s the best commercial phö we’ve had, and an easy way for you to treat yourself (and your family) to something special.

    Phö, pronounced fuh, is also high in protein and low in calories when you enjoy the delicious broth without the traditional rice noodles.

    While Vietnamese pho is a beef-based stock, Pacific Organic makes chicken and vegetarian soup bases as well as beef.
    You can find them at natural food stores nationwide and online.

  • Read the full review.
  • Find more of our favorite soups, plus recipes, in our Soup & Broth Section.
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Pumpkin Soup In A Pumpkin Tureen

    You can buy a ceramic pumpkin tureen for the holiday season.

    Or, you can make one out of a real pumpkin, and have pumpkin soup to boot.

  • Select a handsome pumpkin of a size that suits your needs. Wash the pumpkin.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the “lid” off of the pumpkin.
  • Scoop the flesh out with an ice cream scoop. Scoop the flesh from the lid as well.
  • Toss the membrane; save the seeds to toast as a soup garnish.
  • Make soup from the flesh (recipes below).
  •  
    If you’re making the soup in advance, you can keep the tureen in the fridge or a cool spot. We’d love to save and re-use the tureen, but we’ve never had enough freezer space to see how it freezes. If you do, wash the pumpkin tureen after you’ve served the soup, let it dry, freeze it and please let us know how it goes!

     

    Serve soup from a real pumpkin tureen. Photo by G.M. Vozd | IST.

     

    Decorate Your Tureen
    The most breathtaking pumpkin tureen we’ve seen is on the website Phoo-d. The rim is circled with fresh flowers. If you have the time and energy—or simply want to see a beautiful photo—take a look.

    Pumpkin Soup Recipes

  • Recipe #1: Pumpkin soup with chicken stock and milk
  • Recipe #2: Pumpkin soup with chicken stock, half-and-half and cocoa croutons
  • Recipe #3: Pumpkin soup with anise and Pernod-flavored cream cheese “sorbet”
  •   

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Spicy Vietnamese Soup

     

    Next week’s Top Pick focuses on a ready-made base for for phö—one of the world’s great soups.

    But if you’ve got time on your hands this weekend, you may want to make some from scratch.

    This recipe starts with beef shanks, oxtail, onions, ginger and star anise in a stock pot. Sliced beef and optional tripe make it meaty.

    While Chef John Mitzewich of FoodWishes.com spends time bemoaning the fact that he didn’t buy oxtail for his soup, he gives you the “correct” recipe.

    And with all due respect, you can ignore Chef John’s comment that phö is supposed to be a “painfully hot dish.” As with many recipes that come from the Pacific Rim, you should adjust the level of heat for your American palate.

       

       

    Find more of our favorite soup recipes in our Soups & Stocks Section.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Finish Soup In Blender

    The correct technique for blending hot soup.
    Photo courtesy Cuisinart.

     

    Yesterday we discussed how easy it is to blend soups and sauces with a hand-held immersion blender.

    Today, we share a tip for using a conventional upright blender. This tip should be part of every recipe that tells you to blend hot soup, but it isn’t.

    That’s why some of us have ended up blowing the top off the blender and spattering soup on the ceiling. Perhaps it’s a rite of passage when first learning to make soup—but it doesn’t have to be.

    When a hot liquid is put into a sealed container like the blender carafe, steam builds up inside. Turn on the motor to agitate the liquid and there’s no place for the steam to go—except out through the top.

    That’s one reason why blenders have a removable plug in the lid—the focus of today’s tip.

     

    Accident-Free Puree Soup

    1. Pour soup into the blender carafe.
    2. Remove the plug in the center of the lid and cover the opening with a folded kitchen towel.
    3. Keep one hand on the towel-covered lid; operate the blender with the other.

    Yes, you’ll need to wash the soup-spattered towel, but that’s a lot easier than hauling out the ladder to clean the kitchen ceiling!

    Now that you know the trick, make some soup! Check out our Soups & Stocks Section for some new recipes.

    HOW ABOUT AN ALL-IN-ONE SOUP COOKER & BLENDER?

    So many people use a blender when making soup that Cuisinart created the Blend and Cook Soup Maker.

    This unique blender has a patented cooking technology that lets you cook the soup in the blender from scratch—from sautéing chopped vegetables; to boiling, simmering and blending; to keeping the soup hot until ready to serve.

    The Cuisinart Blend and Cook Soup Maker performs all standard blender functions as well. Here’s more information.

      

    Comments

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