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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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

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Archive for Soups

RECIPE: Gazpacho Verde

On really hot summer days, we like to cool down with a chilled meal. A bowl of gazpacho and a large salad, accompanied by lots of iced tea, fit the bill.

Gazpacho, a low-calorie, high-nutrition dish, is one of those recipes that afford 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 and herbs is endless.
  • The soup can be made with regular or flavored olive oil and vinegar.
  • It can be served plain or topped with a broad variety of garnishes (see the list below).
  •  
    Many people think of gazpacho as tomato based. But, as this recipe for gazpacho verde (green gazpacho) shows, no tomatoes are required. That’s good news right now, since our stores and farmers markets stores are filled with pricey hothouse tomatoes. If there’s a bumper crop of tomatoes in August or early September and the price goes down, that‘s the time to make tomato-based gazpacho.

     

    Gazpacho verde garnished with diced avocado. Photo courtesy Pink Sands Resort | Bahamas.

     

    We love the ease of gazpacho: Toss chopped vegetables into the blender, and in a minute you’ve got soup.

    Chef Ed Boncich of Pink Sands Resort in the Bahamas has shared his gazpacho verde recipe with us:

    GAZPACHO VERDE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber (a nearly seedless variety)
  • ½ red onion
  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 4 tomatillos (paper-like skin peeled off)*
  • 1 avocado
  • 2-3 ounces rice wine vinegar
  • 10 ounces olive oil
  • Dash hot pepper sauce or to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  

    *Canned tomatillos can be substituted for fresh ones, but the flavor of fresh tomatillos is far superior. Tomatillos are not “little tomatoes”; they are cousins of tomatoes. While both are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae, they have a different genus: Physalis for tomatillos (P. philadelphica) and Solanum for tomatoes (S. lycopersicum).

     

    Tomatillos. Photo courtesy Burpee.com, which sells the seeds to grow your own.

     

    Preparation

    1. ROUGHLY chop the cucumber, onion, peppers, tomatillos and avocado and place them in a blender (you may have to add blend it in two batches).

    2. ADD the rice wine vinegar and oil and blend until smooth. Add the hot pepper sauce. If you’ve added too hot, dilute it by adding additional rice wine vinegar or some honey.

    3. CHILL. Garnish and serve.
     
    GAZPACHO GARNISHES

    Dairy Garnishes

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

  • Baby beets or diced whole beets
  • Boiled potato, half or whole
  • Crab meat or other seafood, chilled
  • Diced avocado or cucumber
  • Croutons (small) or large garlic crouton/crostini
  • Steamed vegetables (broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, etc.)
  •  
    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. 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.
     
    *A member of the Nightshade family of plants, the tomato was deemed poisonous until it was eaten out of desperation during a famine in the early 1800s in Italy. The original tomato, which grew wild, was the size of a cherry tomato, which made an attractive house plant.

     
    HOW MANY TYPES OF SOUP HAVE YOU HAD?

    Check out the history of soup and the most popular soups in our Soup Glossary.

      

    Comments

    CINCO DE MAYO: Mexican Chicken & Rice Soup Recipe

    Soup for Cinco de Mayo. Photo courtesy
    Dole.

     

    You could whip up some tortilla soup for Cinco de Mayo. Or, try this Mexican Chicken & Rice Soup.

    There are dozens of “Mexican-style” Chicken Soup recipes out there. This one is tasty and easy to make. Don’t omit the lime or the cilantro; both provide authentic (and delicious) Mexican flavors.

    MEXICAN CHICKEN & RICE SOUP RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs (6 ounces)
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice for garnish
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE chicken thighs, carrots, onion, bay leaf and salt in a large stockpot and cover with 8 cups of cold water. Cook over medium-high heat just until the mixture begins to boil. (NOTE: We remove the skin from the thighs to reduce the fat and cholesterol in the soup.)

    2. REDUCE heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is tender. Remove all the ingredients from the stock. Discard the onion and bay leaf. When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the bone and chop the chicken and carrots into bite-sized pieces.

    3. PLACE 1/4 cup rice in the bottom of each of 4 bowls. Distribute the chicken, carrots, chopped red onion and cilantro evenly among them and top with 1 cup of stock. Squeeze some lime juice on top and serve, garnished with a lime wedge.

    Makes: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: French Onion Soup Fondue, A Neighborly Fusion

    Voilà: a fusion of French onion soup and
    fondue. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    We love fusion cuisine—the art of combining ingredients or techniques from different cuisines to create exciting new flavors.

    Fusion cuisine typically combines foods from different countries or global regions (Japanese-Mediterranean, for example, or barbecue chicken pizza). But is it still a fusion when we combine two iconic dishes from neighboring countries?

    Here we have a fusion of French onion soup with cheese fondue, which originated in Switzerland. It’s more of a neighborly fusion than a combination of ingredients from different parts of the world. But cheese lovers won’t quibble over semantics.

    Who would have thought to fuse two dishes famous for luscious melted cheese?

    The answer is: chef David Venable of QVC.

     
    We think of this recipe as part of a romantic dinner or a weekend family special. But it’s crazy snowing here today, so we’re about to chop the onions and grate the cheese.

    The recipe uses everyday ingredients and is easy to follow. It takes mere minutes to prep. A quick timing tip from Chef Venable: Pop your second course in the oven before you sit down for the onion soup fondue.

    FRENCH ONION SOUP FONDUE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1/2 pound Swiss cheese, grated
  • 1/2 pound Gruyére cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  • 1/2 tablespoons concentrated beef broth
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the oil into a medium-size sauté pan set to medium heat. Sauté the onions, tossing frequently, until brown and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside.

    2. TOSS the cheeses with the flour in a medium-size mixing bowl until evenly coated; set aside.

    3. COMBINE the beef broth, cooking sherry and concentrated beef broth in a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat. Bring to a slight simmer. Whisk the cheese into the mixture in four batches, waiting between each addition for the cheese to melt. Don’t let the mixture come to a boil. When the final batch has melted completely, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the caramelized onions.

    4. TRANSFER the mixture to a fondue pot and sprinkle the nutmeg on top. Serve with French bread, or blanched asparagus spears, potatoes, broccoli, or cauliflower.

    Find more of Chef Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.

    MORE FONDUE FUN

  • The History Of Fondue
  • Classic Cheese Fondue Recipe
  • 18 Flavored Cheese Fondues
  • Fondue Dippers & Garnishes: Far Beyond Bread
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sistema Microwave Plastic Containers

    The soup gets hot, the bowl stays cool.
    Above: soup mug and noodle bowl. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We don’t have a huge amount of storage space, so we resist buying things that have single-purpose uses.

    In the kitchen, that restriction covers numerous gadgets and appliances. For example, we’d love a rice cooker to prepare healthy grains more easily; rice cookers can also be used to steam other foods. But we have more than one steaming solution already. So if we’re not going to use a rice cooker several times a week (as with the toaster, microwave, coffee maker and food processor), we can’t justify squeezing it in.

    Along the same lines, we resisted special plastic microwave dishes, opting to use our everyday dishes, which can be microwaved. But conventional plates and mugs can get overly hot-to-the-touch.

    One day, we were given a Sistema microwavable plastic mug at a trade show. We heated soup in it and—epiphany—the plastic remained cool to the touch while the soup got super hot. It was a solution worth making space for.

     

    We went on to purchase a Sistema noodle bowl and a covered plate to store and heat leftovers.

    Unlike ceramic, porcelain or other plastic containers—Tupperware or take-out containers—Sistema pieces, made of virgin polypropylene, do not get hot in the microwave.

     

    Sistema products are BPA free, microwave safe, freezer safe and dishwasher safe.

    The soup mug is $8.00 on Amazon; the noodle bowl is $8.49. The microwavable plate, $11.00, can double as a steamer.

    The products are available nationally; we just picked up a second mug at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

    ABOUT SISTEMA MICROWAVABLE CONTAINERS

    Sistema Plastics makes “dedicated microwave cooking products to make life easier.” We concur!

    Designed and made in New Zealand, the line includes steamers that make it easy to steam meals, covered plates to store and reheat leftovers, the soup mug that is perfect for soup or hot drinks, and a larger noodle bowl for ramen, pasta, or in our case, matzoh ball soup.

    See the whole line at SistemaPlastics.com.

     

    Spill-proof lids make the soup easily portable. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: A Soup Bar For Parties Or The Weeknight Dinner Table

    How can you make soup the most fun dish of the week?

    Set up a “soup bar.” It’s similar to a baked potato bar, where bowls of garnishes are laid out so that everyone can customize his or her own soup.

    The garnishes are what you already have in the kitchen, and a soup bar is a great way to use up leftovers. Scout the cabinets, fridge and freezer to see what you’ve got. Then, set out a selection of at least five options:

  • Beans, lentils, rice and other grains and legumes
  • Broccoli florets
  • Croutons, tortilla chips or crackers: Goldfish, oyster crackers, crumbled saltines
  • Crumbled bacon, hot dog/sausage slices, shredded ham
  • Corn kernels
  •  

    A bowl of potatao soup, loaded up with choices from the “soup bar.” Photo courtesy PotatoGoodness.com.

  • Dairy toppings: crème fraîche, plain Greek yogurt, mascarpone, sour cream
  • Grated or shredded cheese
  • Herbs: arugula, basil, chives, cilantro, jalapeño, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme
  • Other leftover meats and seafood, diced or shredded
  • Onions: chopped green onions or red onions
  • Mushrooms, zucchini, cooked or raw
  • Pasta and noodles, including wonton strips
  • Peas, snow peas and other cooked vegetables
  • Tomatoes: halved cherry tomatoes/grape tomatoes, diced fresh tomatoes, diced canned tomatoes
  • Wild cards: almonds, avocado, baby corn, diced cucumber, shredded coconut, shredded carrots, olives, raisins, roasted garlic cloves, tofu, water chestnuts, whatever you have
  •  
    PARTY SOUP BAR

    Offer two or three different soups that provide a good canvas for the toppings: mushroom soup, potato soup and tomato soup, for example. Soups that already have multiple visible ingredients, like chowder and minestrone, don’t need more embellishment.

    You’ll also want to fan the excitement by doubling the number of garnish options.

    Soup’s on! Get it while it’s hot!
     
    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE SOUPS & SOUP RECIPES.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Gumbo (Chicken Andouille Gumbo Recipe From Emeril Lagasse)

    A seafood gumbo with crayfish, oysters,
    shrimp and okra. Photo courtesy
    MackenzieLtd.com.

     

    With most people we know discussing Super Bowl recipes, we’d like to throw an idea onto the table: gumbo.

    Even if you’ve never had gumbo, you’ve heard about it: a famous Creole* dish from Louisiana. As with just about any dish, ingredients vary and can include just about anything:

  • In the meat group: poultry (chicken, duck), rabbit or other game, sausage (Andouille, chaurice) tasso (smoked pork shoulder)
  • In the seafood group: crawfish, crab, oysters, shrimp
  • In the seasonings group: bay leaf, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, dry mustard, fresh parsley, garlic, paprika, parsley, sage, thyme or a commercial Cajun seasoning blend
  • In the “whatever” group: chayote squash, tomatoes and anything that appeals to you. Many cooks enjoy creating their signature twist to a recipe.
  •  
    Whatever the details, the recipe will include what gumbo fans consider the basics: celery, green bell peppers, onions (called the (called the “holy trinity” in Cajun and Creole cuisines) and a chicken stock base thickened with a roux (fat and flour). And no gumbo would be complete without a base of white rice, over which the gumbo is ladled.
     
    *Creole cuisine developed in Louisiana as a blend influenced by the local populations: African, French, Italian, Native American, Portuguese and Spanish, on top of the existing Southern cuisine. Creole is often confused with Cajun cuisine. Both are based on local ingredients. The key distinction is that Cajun cuisine is a rustic/peasant version of French cooking whereas Creole cuisine produces more elegant fare using classic haute cuisine techniques.

    ABOUT OKRA

    Gumbo is an African word for okra. The vegetable came to America with the slave trade and was introduced into Southern cuisine by African cooks. Gumbo was originally thickened with okra pods; the French added the roux for more thickening.

    More than a few people avoid gumbo because they don’t like the texture of okra, which is used as a thickener as well as for its flavor. Guess what: No okra is needed.

  • You can substitute filé powder. Prounced fee-LAY, it’s a thickener made from ground sassafras leaves. Filé adds a special flavor without what some people call the “gumminess” (or worse, “sliminess”) of the okra.
  • Filé powder is added at the very end of cooking: Boiling it turns the whole pot of gumbo gummy. Some people stir 1/4 teaspoon of filé into each individual bowl of gumbo: an especially good way to keep the gumbo at the right texture if you have leftovers that need to be reheated.
  • You can buy filé powder online.
  • Okra note: Okra doesn’t have to be gummy. Just cook it long enough, about 45 minutes, and the gumminess disappears.
  •  
    Here’s the recipe served at Emeril’s New Orleans restaurant, NOLA, which uses filé instead of okra. It’s adapted from his Louisiana Real and Rustic cookbook (William Morrow Publisher, 1996, copyright MSLO, Inc., all rights reserved).

     

    CHICKEN & ANDOUILLE GUMBO RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1½ cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut crosswise into ½ inch slices
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 pound boneless chicken meat, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon Emeril’s Original Essence (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon filé powder
  •  

    Emerill Lagasse’s chicken and andouille sausage gumbo. Photo courtesy NOLA | New Orleans.

     
    Gumbo Preparation

    1. COMBINE the oil and flour in a large cast-iron or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, over medium heat. Stirring slowly and constantly for 20 to 25 minutes, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate.

    2. ADD the onions, celery and bell peppers and continue to stir for 4-5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the sausage, salt, cayenne, and bay leaves. Continue to stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the water.

    3. STIR until the roux mixture and water are well combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

    4. SEASON the chicken with the Essence and add to the pot. Simmer for 2 hours, adding additional water if necessary. Gumbo should be the consistency of a somewhat thick soup.

    5. SKIM off any fat that rises to the surface. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, green onions and filé powder. Remove the
    bay leaves and serve in deep bowls.

    Makes 4 servings.
    You can purchase Emeril’s Original Essence seasoning online. Or, you can create your own from this recipe:

    EMERIL’S ORIGINAL ESSENCE RECIPE

    Ingredients

    Combine thoroughly:

  • 2-1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  •  
    EMERIL’S ADVICE FOR SUPER BOWL FOOD PREP

  • Plan your play book. Take time to plan out the menu ahead of time. Spend a few minutes to write a grocery list and a prep list. Plan out your dishes based on cooking time and see if there are any items that you can prepare ahead and just reheat. That way when it comes time to set up for the party you can enjoy the festivities, too.
  • Consider clock management. Super Bowl parties are an all-evening outing, and people stay hungry! So prepare dishes that your guests can continue snacking on, such as big pots of gumbo, chili or soups, served with a big piece of crusty French bread.
  • Celebrate the victory. Whether you’re having a small family gathering at the house, or one of those big parking lot tailgate parties before the game – it’s all about having fun! What really makes a successful Super Bowl party is great food, fun people and some refreshing drinks!
  •   

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Campbell’s GO Soup—Not Your Mother’s Campbell’s Soup

    Campbell’s Soup is one of those iconic brands that goes back so many generations as to be ho hum to today’s youth. So the company got hip and developed the new Campbell’s Go line: microwavable pouches of soup that heat conveniently in the microwave and pour easily into the nearest mug.

    Not only is the new line can-free, but it’s spice-laden. The blander red and white cans of soup consumed by generations have given way to the hotter tastes of Millennials, who have been raised with access to curry, salsa and wasabi. This is not your mother’s Campbell’s Soup.

    And the branding is “hipster-inspired,” with a different hipster model for each flavor. The target market: soup lovers 18 and up, with a focus on the nation’s 80 million Millennials between the ages of 25 and 35, whom the company describes as “restless spirits with adventurous tastes.”

    At $2.99 for a satisfying 14-ounce pouch, Campbell’s Go is a more reasonable alternative than what you get at the deli (we just paid $4.99 for a takeout cup of miso soup at Whole Foods).

     

    Dude! It’s time for soup! Photo courtesy Campbell’s Soup.

     

    Hipsters, wannabees and the rest of us need only go as far as the microwave to enjoy Campbell’s Go. The pouches of soup require no refrigeration and no can opener. You do, however, need scissors to vent the top of the pouch before microwaving.

     

    No can opener required…but you do need a
    scissors to cut a vent at the top before
    microwaving the bag. Photo courtesy
    Campbell’s Soup.

     

    HOW GOOD ARE THEY?

    Good! We would tweak a couple of the recipes as noted. The “bold and unexpected” globally-inspired recipes include:

  • Chicken & Quinoa With Poblano Chiles has very mild spice and also very little quinoa. Though chock full of nutrition—two types of beans (black and pinto) chicken and veggies (corn, bell pepper, tomato)—compared to the others the flavor is less exciting.
  • Coconut Curry With Chicken & Shiitake Mushrooms is a charmer; we just love coconut milk-based soups. Water chestnuts add welcome crunch.
  • Creamy Red Pepper With Smoked Gouda is rich and cheesy. As opposed to the other varieties, which are chunky with veggies and meat, this soup is more of a purée with some strips of red pepper and other veggies. But the soup is so tasty, you won’t miss chunkiness.
  •  

  • Golden Lentil With Madras Curry has yellow lentils, tomatoes and spinach in a coconut milk base. There’s a peppery poblano kick, with soft-style veggies that are true to curries.
  • Moroccan Style Chicken With Chickpeas has lots of al dente chickpeas and mild heat. We needed some more defined seasoning, though, and added a few shakes of Morocco’s famous spice blend, za’atar.
  • Spicy Chorizo & Pulled Chicken With Black Beans is the spiciest of the group: throat-tickling spicy. It’s chock full of large circles of chorizo, corn kernels, diced bell pepper, black beans and pulled chicken.
  •  

    We really liked these soups and will certainly stock up. But we’ll still be buying one of our favorite comfort foods, Campbell’s Tomato Soup. The one painted by Andy Warhol. In the red and white can.

    Campbell’s Go is available at food stores nationwide. Learn more at the website.

    One final note: The package suggests microwaving for 2 to 2-1/2 minutes. Our 1000 watt Sharp Carousel microwave delivered super-hot soup in just two minutes. Another half minute made the soup so hot, we were tortured by the tantalizing aroma while waiting for it to cool down.

      

    Comments

    BOOK: 50 Simple Soups For The Slow Cooker

    Make exciting soups in a slow cooker. Photo
    courtesy Andrews McMeel Publishing.

     

    Do you want to make your own soups but don’t have the time?

    Make them in a slow cooker. Lynn Alley’s book, 50 Simple Soups For The Slow Cooker, is a treasure trove of delectable recipes. No slow cooker? You can use a rice cooker instead.

    “Simple” soups are simple to make, but big in flavor. Some of the 50 recipes include:

  • Blue Cheese Potato Soup
  • Curried Butternut Squash Soup
  • Eggplant Soup With Cumin, Yogurt & Dill
  • Pasta e Fagioli Soup
  • Spanish Potato And Green Olive Soup
  •  

    There are also family favorites from black bean soup and corn chowder to French onion soup and minestrone. Global recipes range from Greek avgolemmono and Middle Eastern hummus soup to Japanese miso soup and Mexican posole.

    Every recipe looks so good, we’re going to start at the beginning and work our way through. At one soup per week, that’s almost a year’s worth.

     

    RECIPE: APPLE PIE SOUP FOR THE SLOW
    COOKER

    This easy-to-prepare seasonal soup can be enjoyed as a conventional soup course, as as a small “intermezzo” between the appetizer and main course (serve it in espresso cups or other small vessels) or as a dessert course—again, in a small cup as part of a larger dessert, or in a regular bowl.

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 4 hours
    Yield: Serves 4 to 6

    Ingredients

  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 allspice berries
  •  

    Apple pie soup: familiar and delicious. Photo courtesy Andrews McMeel Publishing.

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 large Granny Smith apples, quartered, cored, and sliced
  • 5 cups water
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons honey (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt or sour cream (we used fat-free Greek yogurt)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. GRIND. Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the cinnamon, cloves and allspice to a fine powder.

    2. COOK. Place the butter and apples in a 7-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 3 hours, until the apples are soft and the juice nice and browned. Mash any large pieces of apple, then add the water, spices, and raisins and continue cooking for 2 hours longer.

    3. ADD. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and honey. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the yogurt or sour cream. The tartness of the yogurt is a nice counterpoint to the sweet apples and raisins.

    Find more of our favorite soup recipes.

      

    Comments

    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

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