Category: Soups

Roasted Eggplant Tahini Soup

Roasted Eggplant Tahini Soup

It’s (finally) sweater weather!

There are two seasons I love more than any other — Spring and Fall. And for good reason. My reasons may or may not be entirely fashion-based. No judgment, right? But really, I’ve been waiting all September and October to start wearing my cozy layers and chic boots.

Roasted Eggplant Tahini Soup

Ask me what my other reason for loving fall is … Soup! Yes, soup. It’s socially acceptable to have a steaming bowl of soup for lunch and dinner every day and it just makes me so happy. I have no shame having soup every single day all Fall/Winter long. As my love for soup has grown, so did my need to find a way to transport my soup to work and still be able to heat it up to almost-but-not-quite-burning-your-mouth temperature. I tried almost everything– Even bringing soup in a coffee thermos. About a year or so ago, I found this lightweight, portable, microwavable, Campbell’s soup mug at Bed Bath and Beyond. It has changed my life ever since. P.S. it even comes with a breathable lid. 

Roasted Eggplant Tahini Soup

I’m especially partial to homemade soups. I know exactly what I’m putting in there, and can make them as healthy or hearty as I’m feeling. My favorites include: Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Carrot Curry Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup, Roasted Cauliflower and Green Pea Soup, Nacho Corn Soup and French Onion Soup in no particular order. Most recently though, I’m in Love with Roasted Eggplant Tahini Soup. Love with a capital L. I mean, eggplant is my jam. Roasted to perfection, mixed with onions, coriander and smooth tahini then blended down. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Roasted Eggplant Tahini Soup

Roasted Eggplant Tahini Soup

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil +1 tablespoons for roasting
  • 4 whole eggplants, cut into quarters
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups Low Sodium chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander (optional)
  • 1/4 cup tahini paste
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Fresh, chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Pierce the eggplants with a knife 3-4 times and place on a large baking sheet
  3. Brush with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, until they can be easily pierced with a fork
  4. Using a spoon, scoop out the eggplant flesh and set aside. Discard the skin
  5. In a medium soup pot, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat
  6. Add the onions and sauté until translucent
  7. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant
  8. Add the eggplant flesh and stir (add optional coriander here)
  9. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil
  10. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes
  11. Use an immersion blender to smooth to your desired consistency. NOTE: You can also blend the soup using a standing blender. Have another empty pot available. Using a ladle, spoon the soup into the blender and blend until smooth. Then return to the pot. Use the additional pot if you have too much liquid for the standing blender.
  12. Stir in tahini and lemon juice and heat on low for 5 minutes
  13. Serve warm topped with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley or cilantro
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Roasted Cauliflower and Green Pea Soup

Cauliflower Pea Soup

So one day, the day I was prepping for my dinner party and Ultimate Charcuterie, I was at none other than my favorite grocery store, wegmans. I was stocking up on all the cheeses, meats and goodies I wanted to feature on my board. And at the very last second I picked up what I thought was chunks of parmesan cheese. It wasn’t until I started putting the Charcuterie board together that I realized I had actually picked up parmesan rinds. Parmesan rinds are hard and practically inedible. Devastated, I just threw them into the fridge thinking I’d figure out what to do with them later.

Cauliflower Pea Soup

It wasn’t until I was on a work trip to Rome, that I had mentioned the unfortunate incident to a fellow colleague while talking about the buffet of cheeses at our conference. She had suggested freezing the rinks and throwing them into a soup. Brilliant! I’m not sure why I hasn’t thought of that before. As soon as I got home, I threw the rinds into a freezer-safe ziplock bag. 

It’s been the warmest February in DC on record. The Washington Post even says it was warmer than the average March! That’s good news for me, she who does not like snow. But it’s bad news for the me who loves cozy soups in the cold months. I cannot let all of winter and early spring go by without at least one more soup recipe – Roasted Cauliflower and Green Pea Soup. And lucky for me, the weather took a turn for the cold when overnight we hit 20 some degrees Fahrenheit.

Cauliflower Pea Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Green Pea Soup

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil + 1 tablespoon
  • Salt, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock
  • 12oz Frozen Green Peas, thawed
  • 1 Parmesan Rind

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Wash and cut the cauliflower head into medium-sized (1 1/2-inch) florets
  3. Place the florets in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, cumin, cinnamon and ginger, until coated
  4. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, toss and return to oven for another 10 minutes
  5. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat
  6. Add the onions and sauté until translucent
  7. Add the Parmesan Rind
  8. Add the peas, stir for 1 minute
  9. Then finally add the roasted cauliflower florets
  10. Pour in the vegetable stock, stir then bring to a boil
  11. Once boiling, use an immersion blender to smooth the soup to your desired consistency. NOTE: You can also blend the soup using a standing blender. Have another empty pot available. Using a ladle, spoon the soup into the blender and blend until smooth. Then return to the pot. Use the additional pot if you have too much liquid for the standing blender.
  12. Simmer on low for 5 minutes
  13. Most of the time the Parmesan rind dissolves in the soup. If it hasn't dissolved, scoop it out with a slotted spoon before serving.
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Crockpot Beef Pho

Crockpot Beef Pho

‘Tis the season for short days, long nights, chilly weather, cozy layers… and lots of Pho! 

 Let me tell you about my very first Pho experience (it was awful, by the way). My friends had been raving on and on about Pho, which I quickly learned is pronounced, fah, and decided they wanted to plan a Pho night. It was Ramadan, and I was starving to begin with. The place was nothing to write home about. It included lots of basic chairs and tables, some Vietnamese décor, and of course only accepted cash. 

 A friend of mine, we’ll call her Dee, sat next to me. When I stared blankly at the menu and then started to panic because I had no idea what to look for, Dee told me to follow her lead. So I did. I ordered the beef Pho, added hoisin sauce, no garnish, no limes, and no siracha. It was the worst experience of my life. By the time we left, I had barely gotten through 1/4 of the Pho, coughed up the cash and promptly left. Only to cry all the way home. I never wanted to see another bowl of Pho again. 

 Note to self: don’t try new dishes in Ramadan when you’re already starving. 

 It wasn’t until I told my best friend, Z about my experience that I dared to try Pho again. Z’s exact words were “No, you did it wrong. You need to go with someone who knows how you like to eat. Let’s go to Pho together.” I learned,  with my best friend taking the lead, that I actually love Pho. With lots of limes, sprouts, basil and a dash of siracha. Turns out, our taste buds are pretty similar and she knows how I like to eat. 

 Since then, I began craving steaming hot Pho bowls on cold dreary days. 

Crockpot Beef Pho

As much as I love Pho, I hate waking up the next day with my face and fingers double their size. The amount of sodium in restaurant pho is just out of control. Making pho at home means you can really control the amount of salt you add to the broth.

If you didn’t know, Pho takes about 8 hours of stovetop cook time. 8 hours I don’t have. Enter the crockpot, this magical appliance that lets you cook food for long periods of time (4-8+ hours) without much active time. I adore my crockpot. No, really, I do. It’s great for soups and stews, and my yummy pulled beef tacos and BBQ Beef. So if you don’t already own one, I suggest adding it to your basic kitchen appliances. 

Adapted from here

Crockpot Beef Pho

Crockpot Beef Pho

Yield: 4 Bowls

Ingredients

    For the Broth: 
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced into ½ inch rounds
  • 1 3 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 4 lbs Beef bones
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 garlic cloves (whole)
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 teaspoon fennel
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 3-4 Tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8-9 cups water
  • 1–2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • For Bowls:
  • 4-5 oz rice noodles
  • 1 lb beef steak thinly sliced
  • 4 green onions, chopped 
  • 1 ½ c bean sprouts 
  • Limes, cut into wedges
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups Fresh basil
  • Sircaha, to taste
  • Hoisin Sauce, to taste

Instructions

    For the Broth
  1. Bring a large pot with water to a boil over high heat. Add the beef bones and boil on high for 10-15 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the spices and garlic for 2-3 minutes, then add to the crockpot
  3. Place onion rounds and ginger on an aluminum-lined baking sheet
  4. Broil for 5-7 minutes on each side, until charred.  Add to the crockpot.
  5. Keep an eye on the boiling bones. A froth will form. Remove the froth and discard as it's boiling
  6. After 10 minutes, remove the bones from the water and discard the water.
  7. Add the bones to the crockpot
  8. Add 9-10 cups water to the crockpot (fill to about 1 inch below the surface)
  9. Add fish sauce, sugar and salt
  10. Cook on high for 8 hours
  11. Strain the broth through a sieve before serving
  12. For the Bowls:
  13. Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and place in each bowl.
  14. In a small skillet sauté the steak until cooked through
  15. Place the noodles in the bowls, top with cooked beef and green onions
  16. Using a ladle and a sieve, pour the broth through a sieve into each bowl
  17. Put all your garnishes on small plates on the table, each person garnishes as they like
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Carrot Curry Soup

Carrot Curry Soup

When you think soup, you think a steaming bowl in a cozy corner on a chilly day, right? That’s what I generally think when I conjure up an image of soup.

Now imagine it’s 97°F, the day after the hottest day of the year, you have the chills, you’ve lost your voice, and you’re battling a stuffy/runny nose along with a hacking cough. Pretty little picture I painted there, huh?

Unfortunately, that was the state of my misery last weekend. Lucky for me, it was also Sunday, which meant that the doctor’s office was closed. So I dragged myself out to CVS where they have this neat little service called Minute Clinic. You can reserve your place in line online, which saves you so much wait time. Take your insurance card, because it’s essentially like visiting the doctor, co-pay and all. Did I mention they’re open on Sundays?! Well, we figured out what was wrong — I had a virus [insert distraught emoji here]. So no magical antibiotic for me. Just lots of rest, nasal sprays, cough medicine and Tylenol. As frustrating as being sick is, it’s even more frustrating in the summertime.

And that’s how I ended up making a steaming bowl of soup in the middle of July. Despite the circumstances, the soup is an amazing soup (more suited for the months of September-February, but that’s beside the point). A couple things to note with this soup:

  • Notice that I used grape seed oil instead of olive oil or vegetable oil. We’ve been using grape seed oil a lot more for a number of reasons a few of which include: grape seed oil has a higher smoke point compared to other vegetable oils, it’s great for your hair and skin, good source of vitamin E, has zero trans fat and it’s virtually flavorless.
  • I didn’t have vegetable broth, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to change out of my PJs to get some. So I substituted some Maggi (mixed with hot water). Maggi is pretty awesome in that sense. It’s an easy chicken bouillon powder that’s super versatile.
  • I’m not big on spicy food, but I added some extra sriracha to give it at extra kick

 

Carrot Curry Soup

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
  • 1 lb Carrots, chopped
  • 3-4 cups Vegetable broth, or Maggi cube dissolved in 3-4 cups water
  • 2-3 tablespoons Curry Powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons Cumin
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sriracha, to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the grape seed oil in a medium pot
  2. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent
  3. Add the carrots, and stir in with the onion
  4. Add half of the cumin and some salt
  5. Cover and cook on medium-high heat until the carrots have softened (about 15 minutes)
  6. Add curry powder and the remaining cumin, stir into the vegetables
  7. Add the vegetable broth (or Maggi mix), stir and bring to a boil
  8. Once boiling, use an immersion blender to smooth the soup to your desired consistency
  9. Add Sriracha and simmer on low for 5 minutes
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French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

It’s cold. Actually, it’s beyond cold. We were hit with snow early this week and it was terrible. Fairfax County schools, DC schools and the Federal Government all failed to call – at a minimum – a two-hour delay causing mass chaos during the morning commute.

Since Tuesday’s snowfall, the snow hasn’t melted. We’ve been seeing temperatures no warmer than 30 F with mornings at 8 F and afternoons hovering around 25 F. I’ve probably said this at least 10 times on the blog, but I am not a fan of cold weather. If it were up to me, I would hibernate all winter and come back to life when it’s no colder than 60 F, sometime around late March. The layers: sweaters, coats, socks, leggings, gloves, hats, ear muffs; it’s all too much for me. And to top it all off, the days are cut short when the sun sets at 5pm.

French-Onion-Soup

That’s not to say I would enjoy eternal summers. Having four seasons is nice, but I’ve already worn my favorite sweaters and boots and coats and I’m ready for warmer seasons.

Back to this grueling week, in terms of weather. I wanted nothing more than to put on my fluffiest sweatpants and sit around a steaming bowl of soup. Enter French Onion Soup. It’s a little time consuming, but completely worth it.

 

Adapted from Food Network 

French Onion Soup_2

 

French Onion Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 Large Onions, sliced into long pieces
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Thyme Sprigs
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Sherry or dry Red Cooking Wine
  • 3 tablespoons Flour
  • 2 Quarts Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 1 French Baguette, sliced
  • 1/2 pound grated Gruyere Cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat
  2. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes
  3. Remove the Bay leaf and thyme sprigs
  4. Add the wine and bring to a boil
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 10 minutes
  6. Sprinkle the onions with flour and stir until coated
  7. Cook on medium-low for 10 minutes
  8. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil
  9. Then simmer for 10 minutes. Keep warm until you're ready to serve
  10. In the meantime, place the baguette slices on a baking tray and cover with the Gruyere
  11. Broil on high until melted, bubbly and golden brown
  12. Pour the soup into the bowls and place the bread on top
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Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato Basil Soup_2

 

Let me just say that I’m a Northern Virginian, born and raised and I went to grad school at Syracuse. Did I mention the Northern VA part? For those of you who don’t know, it’s distinct enough from the rest of Virginia to require a prefix (but that’s a discussion for another day). What you do need to know is that NoVa and cold precipitation are not a good mix. Blame it on the location – an in-between zone where we don’t quite get fluffy snow and when it rains in 30 degree weather it usually comes down on us in a nice “wintery mix.” Snow, not for me. My favorite winters are the ones where we don’t get any snow. In Syracuse, I wasn’t so lucky. I didn’t understand the concept of Lake Effect Snow until I saw it in action… that is constant snow from October through April.

Lucky for me, this year we weren’t as fortunate not to have snow. I woke up this morning to rain/sleet with a nice dusting of snow. Imagine how excited I was to get into my car and drive to work at 6:30am! That said, I spent the majority of the workday with my gloves on, counting down the minutes until I left so I could throw on my bulkiest, warmest sweatpants and have myself some mac & cheese and tomato soup.

Tomato Basil Soup

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3 cans Diced Tomatoes, no salt added, undrained
  • 3 Garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups Basil Leaves, chopped
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, heat olive oil then add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  2. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, and salt. Stir well.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add basil, simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup to desired consistency.
  6. Serve warm with crusty bread.
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