Tag Archives: soup

Battle Inflammation: Carrot Ginger Soup

There are many little bits of good out there in the world.

Let’s make sure we keep celebrating them!

Today I’m very lucky to be featured on my friend Kelly’s blog, Little Bits of Good. There she’s counting her blessings with fellow “Celebrationists”, looking for the good things in life to focus on and “lifting up the amazing humans who are making the world a brighter place to play”. I’m honored she considers me to be one of those people, and I spent two lovely hours working on her interview, which focuses on my living with Lyme and the things I do to make life rewarding and so beautiful despite the many hiccups a chronic illness puts in one’s way.

It was both really emotional and really empowering to write, and the best start to a long writing day a gal could ask for. Head on over there for my favorite super-foods, the habits I’ve built that keep me focused on good things, and stories from some really special people who have turned their struggles into superpowers, and whose stories have lifted me up and inspired me weekly!! Continue reading

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Summer of Soups – Shrimp, Corn and Crab Chowder

I’m now officially out east cooking for a family for the summer, tapping my fingers away on an iPad and hoping this post comes out alright. In the few weeks since I’ve joined the private chef field I’ve had moments both of panic / anxiety and major food triumph – my cooking skills are back to where they were before going more fully into pastry, if not better.

The family loves a rich or bright soup as their first course. So after frantically packing up their apartment, heading east, unpacking, marketing and running out repeatedly for odds and ends, I threw together this soup – start to finish – in about forty minutes. Longer simmering or letting it sit overnight would have made it even better, but it was pretty darned delicious, and a great start to cooking by the water for the summer.

Happy Friday,
Jacqueline

Shrimp, Corn and Crab Chowder

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cans crab meat (I used one fine lump and one regular)
16 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3 ears of corn
3 cups fish stock plus more as needed
4 Tbsp unsealed butter
1/4 cup olive oil plus more as needed
1 large red bell pepper, diced small
1 large red onion, diced small
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin with 1/2 inch of greens
5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped fine
6 small fingerling potatoes, peeled and diced small
Salt and pepper to taste (kosher or large-flake salt and freshly cracked pepper are best)

Directions

In a soup pot, bring oil up to a low/medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until soft. Add red pepper and sauté until just softening. Add crab meat and toss to combine. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Add diced potatoes and stock, bring up to a low boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are just softening.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a small sauce or fry pan. Cook shrimp in batches on medium/high heat, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove to a cutting board and cut in two or three pieces each.

Remove corn kernels from cobs, reserving cobs. In remaining butter, sauté corn on high heat in batches, cooking until crispy and slightly golden. Remove with melted butter to a boil.

When potatoes are softened but not yet mushy, add corn to soup. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When ready to serve, use the sharp edge of a knife to scrape any extra raw corn kernel remains from the cobs directly into pot,then fold in shrimp and bring up to heat for a few minutes.

* Note, that scallop was leftover from what I seared for them, and therefore the little treat that topped my tiny bowl of the chowder.

Chicken Coconut Soup

Chicken Coconut Soup

It’s warm in NYC today, but the boyfriend and I are a bit under the weather.  So we need a soup that’s light but also complex in flavor and filling to our Day-4-cold bodies, and I need something that’s extremely easy to make.  Enter Chicken Coconut Soup.  The boyfriend doesn’t eat much meat (sniff), so he often requests chicken when asked what I should make for dinner.  Conveniently I had some boneless thighs in the fridge and a can of coconut milk and coconut cream as well as a bunch of leftover lemons.  A container of mushrooms, some green onions and some fresh basil – voila!  This is an extremely affordable soup that – when served over rice – can comfortably feed four hungry bellies.  Weakened condition optional.

Since I have a bit of baking to do and know my energy waxes and wanes on its own schedule when I’m sick, I’m preparing the soup early, then I’ll let it sit in the fridge and the flavors meld.  Tonight I’ll cook up some jasmine rice, bring the soup up to temp and we’ll be good to go.

I decided to poach the chicken as my new best friend Jacques Pépin learned from his buddy Danny Kaye (who I love, sigh).  I also added oyster mushrooms to this recipe out of inspiration from Jacques.  If you want to learn tricks of the trade, read chef memoirs.  And they’re just so much fun!

Ingredients:

  • About 1 – 1 1/2 pound chicken.  I used boneless thighs to give the soup a bit more fat and flavor, but breasts work as well.
  • 2 whole lemons
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3/4 can coconut cream (NOT cream of coconut).  If you can’t find this, just use 3 cans of coconut milk in lieu of as much water.
  • 1 bunch of green onions, tough greens removed, chopped.
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • About 3 oz mushrooms (optional).  I used oyster mushrooms, but any delicate mushroom will do.

Directions:

  • Spread chicken in a (preferably cast-iron) soup or stock pot.  Add coconut milk and enough water to cover chicken by 1/2 inch.  If you’re not using coconut cream as well, use 2 more cans coconut milk and add water to top.
  • Add salt, peppercorns and 1/2 of the chopped green onions.
  • Turn on heat and start to bring liquid up to a boil.
  • While the pot heats up, juice one lemon and add to the broth.  Take the other lemon and slice into 1/2 inch rounds, then dice.  Add to soup in entirety.
  • When the liquid is at a strong boil, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  This should poach the chicken to a perfect level.
  • After fifteen minutes, remove chicken and check to see that it’s done.  If not, return to pot.  If so, remove all chicken and allow to cool.
  • Meanwhile, whisk in enough coconut cream to thicken the broth a bit and enhance the flavor.  I added about 1/4 cup at a time, and my perfect level was 3/4 of the can.
  • Add almost the rest of the green onions.
  • Chop 3/4 of the mushrooms and add.
  • Reserve remaining green onions, mushrooms and lemon rind.
  • When the chicken is lukewarm, shred it with your hands along the “grain” of the meat (much easier than cutting, promise) and return to pot.  Bring back up to a simmer and serve immediately or cover and put in fridge until ready to eat.
  • Garnish with remaining green onions, mushrooms and lemon rind.

Serving suggestion: try it over some rice noodles or jasmine rice.  Adding a bit of crushed red pepper would also be delightful.

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever Soup

It has come – that time in February when my body just won’t let my brain ignore it.  As anyone with a chronic illness can attest, there are some times of the year that you go into bracing yourself, no matter the positive attitude you live by nor the years of knowledge you’ve accumulated to date.  That time for me is now, when my body screams “hibernate!”

Lily and I backstage for FALL OF HEAVEN

Last year at this time I was in Cincinnati, Ohio working at the Cincinnati Playhouse on the premiere of Walter Mosely’s FALL OF HEAVEN, directed by the incomparable Marion McClinton and featuring a cast of some of the loveliest people I have had the privilege to work with.  I did stage-crew for this show, meaning every night at about 10 minutes to curtain I threw on what we called “The Liza Minnelli Choir for the God of Smurfs” costume.  Or some variation on that combination of ideas.  The pants were puffy and brown, covered in glitter.  Over that was a soft, sky-blue choir robe, hemmed above the knee, with bell sleeves and a darker blue hood, also covered in glitter.  Very comfy and warm!  My partner Lily and I would do one onstage costume-change with an actor, then spent the rest of the show moving set pieces, holding curtains during entrances / exits and sitting behind the scrim reading books and drinking tea, our blackberries on the table in front of us.  I haven’t done crew for a show in years, but didn’t mind it one bit.  In fact, I had a whole 25 minutes in the first act when I’d go to my dressing room and either nap under my dressing table or watch 90210 on my computer (the original, on DVD, courtesy of Lily).

Why relay these (somewhat shameful) tales?  Because being part of this company gave me a whole new group of people to meet and adore.  And to bake for.  It was cold in Cincinnati, horribly cold.  So only rarely would we go out after shows for a drink, as was the norm with other casts.  I was only working on this show, whereas throughout the rest of the year I’d be memorizing lines for one show while rehearsing or performing in another.  So I had my days free to huddle in bed, my space heater nearby, and, well, hibernate.

Along with black bean brownies and cinnamon pan bars, I made a lot of soup during this time.  I needed to get nutrients without much food, because when I’m run down my body doesn’t seem to want to eat.  So this soup recipe, now lovingly titled “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever Soup”, was the perfect answer to this need.  It contains edamame for protein, peas for vitamins, a good veggie stock for all things that are good, and seaweed for nutrients.  It’s both light and filling.  And I utilized the amazing frozen vegetable and stock selection that my neighborhood Kroger was stellar in supplying, so there was no chopping or lengthy simmering.  And this soup is simple enough that it can be sipped from a mug, backstage, with footlights blaring while you read Julia Child’s memoirs and an audience sits enthralled on the other side of a scrim.

Enjoy.

Clear Day Soup

In a large, cast iron pot combine:

  • 1 pint good, clear vegetable stock
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup frozen edamame (shelled, obviously)
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 Tbsp. wakame seaweed
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Bring up to a boil, then turn to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the edamame is soft.  Season with black pepper to taste.  I poured this over rice noodles for a heartier version.

Vegan Barbecue Soup

I think I’m coming down with something.  My body’s hot, my brain is cloudy, and I have a certain feeling of existential bewilderment that usually comes before a cold / flu / general feeling of nastiness.  I shake my fist to the universe – “what’s the point of anything?  Why should I cook?  Why wake up early for an audition tomorrow?  Who really cares?!?!”

Then I cook myself some soup, staple my resume to my headshot, and grab my computer.  As Sam the Eagle of the Muppet persuasion says, “It is the American way”.

Now this picture does NOT justify the deliciousness of this soup.  It’s adapted from the recipe Lemon and Lima Bean Soup I got from Bloodroot restaurant in Bridgeport, Connecticut – a vegetarian joint that’s been around since the 70s and serves up some of the most scrumptious, natural food I’ve ever had in a wonderfully women-centric environment.  I tend to use a bit more liquid and seasonings and a dash of something more to get the flavor I want, but their original recipe and cookbooks are highly recommended.

The first time I had this soup I was BLOWN away and ate up two servings of it with gusto.  So I HAD to buy the book, and have often made this soup when feeling a bit run down but wanting something more substantial than my ol’ veggie medley soup.

Have fun with the amount of flavors.  I like to call it Barbecue soup because the combination of tamari and tomato paste tastes like the best part of a bbq to my happy tastebuds.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of baby dry baby lima beans, picked through
  • 2 large red onions, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Marsala wine
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more to taste
  • 4 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter) (optional)
  • roasted walnuts (optional)

Directions

  • Soak the lima beans overnight or for at least 6 hours.  Drain and rinse thoroughly, then place in a large (preferably cast iron) pot and cover with water at least 3 inches higher than beans.  Add about 2 tsp salt.  Bring up to a boil, low to medium heat and cook until soft, about 2 hours.
  • After the beans have been cooking for about an hour, heat oil in a large skillet and cook onions and garlic on low until soft, about 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Season onions with salt and pepper, add Marsala wine.
  • When beans are soft, remove about 1/3 into saucepan.
  • With a hand blender, blend the remaining beans with their broth until smooth.
  • Add onion / garlic mix with beans into large pot, add tamari, lemon juice and tomato paste.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and olive oil or ghee if desired.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Serve with swirls of olive oil and toasted walnuts.

Makes four servings.

Kitchen-Sink Soup – Kale and Carrot with White Beans

Kale and Carrot Soup with White Beans

I can always feel February coming because my green Le Creuset pot calls my name, asking me to fill it with, well, anything, really.  The holidays are a distant memory, and desperate yearnings for Spring aren’t making it come any faster.  Especially this winter, when we’ve been hit with storm after storm after storm, my kitchen and body and soul crave… soup.

Kitchen-Sink Soup is just that – anything that I have on hand or have miraculously thought to buy preemptively goes into my pot with broth and seasonings, then gets hand-blended into creamy perfection.  Soup is one of the easiest things to make well without a recipe.  All it takes are the tastiest and most natural of ingredients – vegetables, chicken or veggie stock, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and a protein such as beans, lentils or meat.  The simpler, in a way, the better.

But if you want a delectable recipe, follow this one, for Kale and Carrot Soup with White Beans.  For this soup I had picked up a few things: a bunch of carrots with the greens, as carrot greens are good for you and provide a rich carrot smell more than the carrots themselves, 2 cans of Cannelli beans, and a big bunch of green kale.  The rest I had around, and peeled and threw in for fun.

The result?  A blend of sweet (from the parsnips, sweet potato and carrots) and bitter (from the kale), made hearty from the white beans.  Easy to prepare, and it’s provided me with about 6 healthy servings to get through a week of working from home.

Ingredients

  • 1 small bunch of carrots (about 8 small carrots), scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 bunch of carrot greens, thoroughly washed, and chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 pint of clear vegetable or chicken stock
  • 4 cups of water
  • I bunch of Kale, chopped
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cans of white Canelli beans
  • olive oil to taste

Directions

  • Place the carrots, greens, parsnips, onion, sweet potato, broth and water in a medium pot (preferably cast iron), and bring up to a boil.
  • Lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 1/2 hour or until vegetables are almost cooked through.
  • Add kale and season with salt and pepper, cook for another 15 minutes until kale is soft.
  • With a hand blender or standing blender, blend soup until smooth.
  • Add Cannelli beans and cook until warmed through.
  • Add olive oil to taste when serving.

Super Bowl Chili

Full disclosure – I have no idea who is in the Super Bowl this year.  I rarely ever know who’s playing. I don’t quite understand football.  I mean, I get it, I understand the rules and all.  But huge men running at each other, the purpose to either knock another down, not get knocked down, or catch a ball without getting piled upon?  Maybe it’s the fact that I’m 5′ 2″.  I can hardly see on top of my fridge.  When I’m around big men I suddenly feel like my neck is really thin.  Just saying.

But, I LOVE the Super Bowl!  Why?  Because it’s the one day a year I make Super Bowl Chili.  Literally, I don’t let myself make it any other time.  It’s a recipe I’ve adapted from a friend, and it’s delicious.  Warm, filling, gluten-free and vegetarian-optional.

I don’t have a picture of it, but you know what chili looks like, right?

Go team.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 lbs. sirloin steak, cubed (to make vegetarian, cube 4 packages of tempeh and follow directions as if cooking steak)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 green zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large can Italian stewed tomatoes
  • 1 lb plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp each cumin, basil, paprika, chili powder and oregano
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can dark kidney beans
  • 1 can dried chickpeas
  • 1 can white beans
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Chopped scallions, greens and whites
  • hard bread of choice
  • shredded Manchego cheese

Directions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large (preferably cast iron) pot, add onions and garlic, cook for 4 minutes
  • Add steak and saute till browned on all sides
  • Add zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, all fresh and dried seasonings.  Cook for at least 30 minutes.
  • Add beans and lemon juice.  Cook for another 30 minutes.
  • Keep on low until ready to serve.
  • Serve with chopped scallions, shredded cheese, hard bread or sour cream if desired.

Thai Shrimp Coconut Soup

Thai Shrimp-Coconut Soup

So last year I lived in Cincinnati, and the freezing cold temperatures of the city and my high-ceiling-ed apartment made me want to make soup everyday.  And a few resolutions for making my life better contributed to my making up a recipe for Thai Shrimp-Coconut soup: 1) Use more items from my pantry instead of jetting to the market when I’m inspired to cook.   2) Don’t buy EVERY ingredient a recipe requires.  Use my solid knowledge of food to make do (thank you Julia Child for the dose of confidence).  3) COOK MORE IN LESS TIME!  I usually plan elaborate meals when a half an hour can result in something warm and simple.  So, yes, this recipe only took about a half an hour!

Now, let me preface.  I’ve never cooked any Thai food before… never a curry.  But I love cooking with coconut milk and was craving a soup at a Thai restaurant I love in NYC.  So I literally guessed at this process and added things progressively as I went along.  The result was DELICIOUS! And it made a LOT of soup!

Ingredients – Soup

  • 1 lb bag frozen shrimp, peeled and tails removed… the rise in demand in the U.S. for shrimp has produced some dangerous sources across the globe.  Please buy responsibly.  Chances are the cheap bag from the local grocer has bad energy about it.
  • 2 cans coconut milk – I used one regular and one Lite.
  • Fish sauce – purchased in the Asian section of most grocers.
  • crushed red pepper
  • tumeric
  • Olive oil
  • a hot curry paste
  • 1 8oz bag bean sprouts
  • 1 small bunch of chives
  • 1 lemon, plus more lemon juice as desired

Substitution note: I used olive oil because it’s what I had, but sesame oil would be more authentic.  And I used bean sprouts because they’re inexpensive and I don’t use them enough.  But bell peppers, carrots or a green vegetable sliced really thinly would also be great.  And you can never go wrong with a little fresh ginger zested in.

Directions:

  • Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive or sesame oil in a large soup pot on medium/high heat.  When hot, add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of curry paste and mash to dissolve.  Add the thawed shrimp and saute for about 4 minutes.  Strain the shrimp out in a colander set over a bowl, and return liquid to pot.
  • Add another 2 tablespoons of curry paste, about 1 teaspoon of tumeric, the bean sprouts and 3 tablespoons of fish sauce.  Blend and bring up to heat, stirring constantly.
  • Add the 2 cans of coconut milk and 3 cans of water.  Bring up to a soft boil.  Add the juice of one lemon, taste, and add more as desired.
  • When hot, add back in the shrimp.  Cut the chives into pieces about 2 inches long, and toss in.
  • Add about a teaspoon of freshly crushed red pepper.
  • Enjoy!

What I learned: Fish sauce is STRONG! It’s literally sardines, salt and a little sugar.  It gives food a delicious richness but should be used wisely.  I added 3 tablespoons and, when everything was put together, got brave and added a 4th.  It was WAY too strong and salty.  So I added some organic lemon juice I had in the fridge, which balanced it out. 3 would have been perfect… the more you know!

Side Dishing It:

Now I used Jasmine rice as a side dish and mixed it into the final result.  My favorite way to cook rice is in a pressure cooker.  This speeds up the cooking time, makes the rice more digestible and gives it a soft texture unmatched in any other method.

Pressure Cooker Jasmine Rice Directions:

  1. Put 2 cups of water, a few dashes of sea salt and about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pressure cooker and bring it up to a soft boil.
  2. Add the rice and cover.
  3. Once the pressure cooker comes up to full pressure (hissing and singing away beautifully), set a timer for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally. Uncover when fully de-pressured.

Portuguese Kale Soup – Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde - Portuguese Kale Soup

I have weird comfort food cravings.  Sometimes it’s grilled sardines.  Sometimes pasta with tuna and peas.  Sometimes paella.  What can I say, I’m a Portuguese gal (and Italian and Irish, so there’s lots of other cravings that go along with comfort).

In the cold of winter, a favorite is Caldo Verde – Portuguese Kale Soup.  My father’s from the Azorean island Sao Miguel, and I’ve been there many times in my 30 years.  It’s so savory and creamy and hearty and spicy and just full of rainy/snowy day deliciousness.

So I was thrilled when I realized how easy it is to make! Some potatoes, kale, butter, chorizo, maybe some leeks… brava!  And it’s so easy that quantity and process are nothing to a bit of inspiration and flow.  I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio last year for a performing gig and upon two visits home to Connecticut my father sent me packing back on the plane with chorizo, kale from the garden and hot pepper.  What more perfect dish to make than caldo verde, no?

Bom Apetite!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bunch of kale (about 6-8 pieces), shredded thinly
  • 6 small white potatoes
  • 1 large chorico sliced in thin rounds
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Garlic (ground or minced fresh) to taste

Directions:

  • Place shredded kale in a large soup pot and fill 3/4 of the way with water.
  • Add about 2 teaspoons of salt.
  • Peel and half potatoes and include in soup pot.
  • Bring to a medium / high boil and cook until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove potatoes from pot and place in large bowl, blender or food processor with a cup or two of the soup water.
  • Add chorico to soup pot and turn down to low.
  • Blend the potatoes and soup water (with hand mixer or other source) until very smooth.
  • Add back into the soup pot progressively, mixing thoroughly until incorporated.  Add more water if needed to thin the soup a bit.
  • Add butter and olive oil, taste, and add more as desired.
  • Simmer soup at least 1/2 hour or longer

Serve with Portuguese rolls or toasted Italian bread and an awesome red table wine and you’re good to go!

Notes from soup #2, January, 2010

So I made this soup again the first week of 2010, when my father had sent me home some chorico after the holidays.  This chorico was finer than the last, with a glorious dark-pink inside, less fat and thin casing.  Longer than its previous brother, it had a tight, pungent sent, perfect for flavoring the caldo verde that my cold bones were craving!  I varied the process of the recipe, and turned out the same great (albeit slightly pink in tone) soup! It made me realize the amazing flexibility of such a cuisine: because I didn’t want the fresh chorico my dad had sent to go bad,  I used two long pieces instead of one.  This, of course, made me need a bit more water and potatoes.

Directions:

  • Peel and cut about 8 small/medium white potatoes into quarters.  Place in a large soup pot and fill with water until covered, add about 2 tsps salt.  Boil until the potatoes are soft.
  • When cooked thoroughly, remove about a third of the potatoes.  Using a hand blender, blend the contents of the pot until the potatoes are thoroughly dissolved.  If the broth is thin, add the rest of the potatoes progressively and blend.  The consistency should be a little thinner than a pureed sweet potato or squash soup; not watery like a standard chicken or beef broth, but thin enough that the kale and chorico will be able to slide around comfortably.  If too thick, simply add in warm water and stir until you get the desired consistency.  If too thin (like my first attempt with this trial), simply add more potatoes and continue to a thickness you like.
  • Slice the two chorico into disks about 1/4 inch thick, and add to the pot.  Cook about 10 minutes on heat just high enough to keep it at a low boil.  You should start to smell a gloriously rich scent wafting from the pot.
  • Add the 1/2 bunch of shredded kale and cook until soft, about another 10-15 minutes.
  • Drizzle in some olive oil and about 4 tablespoons of butter.

Remember, as I learned quickly, this recipe is really adaptable.  I don’t think any of my relatives ever had a recipe written down, and I never saw them measure a thing when cooking.  Portuguese cooking should be full of tasting, reseasoning, and adding personal touches.  Enjoy!

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