Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Soup

Long time no see, fellow bloggers! I can’t believe how busy I’ve been the last few weeks. Hope you can forgive me. I made this soup a few Mondays ago, but never got around to sharing it with you.

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Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Soup

Ingredients
1/2 cup red lentils
5 baby gold potatoes
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
4 mini red peppers
1 large spoonful of tomato paste
6-8 cups of water or vegetable broth
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes
Parsley

Directions

1. Cut the tops of the red peppers. Remove the seeds and rinse with water. Roll in olive oil and broil in the oven until slightly charred. Remove from heat and set aside.

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2. Boil red lentils in a small to medium sized pot until soft. Lower heat to simmer.
3. Saute onions, carrots, and potatoes in olive oil. Once transparent, mix in the tomato paste. Pour mixture into the pot with the lentils.

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4. Continue to cook another 10 minutes, then add the roasted red peppers and seasonings.
5. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

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I love how creamy this soup was without a single drop of actual cream. It was also very filling and tasty.

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French Onion Soup

Have you ever been to Nordstrom Bistro? I used to work close to a mall with one of these and it was one of my favorite lunch spots. Yummy chicken, sandwiches, garlic aoili, and French Onion Soup. It was the perfect place to reward myself for getting through those stressful days.

After falling in love with Nordstrom’s version, I’ve been itching to try my hand at this classic soup. And tonight, I decided, would finally be the big day.

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One of the main things that kept me from making this soup sooner was finding the right recipe. I’ve tried French Onion Soup at a few other restaurants only to be greatly disappointed.

I tried to find the Nordstrom recipe…but I couldn’t trust the ingredient list. Guess I’ll have to actually buy their cookbook to know for sure. In the meantime, I found confidence in Martha Stewart’s French Onion Soup recipe. So I hit the store to gather the ingredients.

There were two key ingredients I struggled to find: dry sherry and guyere cheese. Thanks to Google, I learned that sherry is either kept with wine or vinegar. As for the guyere, all I found was apple smoked guyere. It turned out okay, but it didn’t melt very well and didn’t have the original taste. I guess I’ll try Whole Foods next time.

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French Onion Soup

Ingredients

3 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 chopped mushrooms
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp sugar
1 large yellow onion (I cut mine with a mandoline slicer)
1 tsp Thyme
Salt and pepper
Guyere cheese
French bread slices

Directions

STEP 1
Melt butter in a heavy pot on medium-low heat. Add onions. Spread them out in as thin a layer as possible. Sprinkle with sugar, and cook, stirring just as needed to keep onions from sticking, until they are melting and soft, golden brown, and beginning to caramelize, about 1 hour.
STEP 2
Sprinkle flour over onions, and stir to coat. Add sherry, stock, and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, to allow the flavors to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
STEP 3
Meanwhile, lightly toast bread under a broiler; set aside. Ladle hot soup into ovenproof bowls. Arrange the bowls on a baking pan. Place 1 or 2 slices of toasted bread over each bowl of soup. Sprinkle 1/2 cup grated cheese over bread in each bowl, and place under the broiler until cheese is melted and crusty brown around the edges. Watch carefully that bread doesn’t burn. Serve immediately.

Le sigh. This soup tasted good…but it was a little too heavy. Not sure if it was the sherry or the broth or what…but I’d definitely make some more adjustments to the recipe next time around. It was a lot of work for a Wednesday night. :/

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Meatless Monday – Broccoli Cheddar Soup

It’s Monday again…and you know what that means…it’s time for another Meatless Monday recipe. I’ve been wanting to make a really delicious broccoli cheddar soup for a while now and I may have found the best recipe ever. I modified it a little, of course, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

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The thing I liked best about this soup is that everything was cooked in one pot, making clean up a little less cumbersome. Cooking every night is great, but I do get tired of the constant dishes.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup half n half
1 cup milk
2 cups filtered water (no tap)
2 tsp Better Than Chicken Boullion
1/4 cup orzo pasta
8oz sharp cheddar
1/2 lb broccoli
1 handful of carrots sticks
Chopped onions
Chopped garlic
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Melt butter over onions and garlic
2. Add flour and stir

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3. Pour in half n half, milk, water, and chicken paste
4. Cook on medium-high heat until it’s just about to boil
5. Mix in broccoli and carrots, lower heat to a simmer for 20 minutes
6. Mix in cheddar, orzo pasta, and spices
7. Cook for another 10-15 minutes
8. Serve with bread or crackers

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Turkish Feast

To celebrate our good friend’s birthday, I prepared a Turkish feast! These are by no means the most authentic ways to prepare these dishes, but they are a good way to get the flavor.

Sarma

My boyfriend’s mom sent me this recipe a few years ago and this was only my second time making it. These are stuffed grape leaves with ground beef, onions, and seasoning. It sounds easy enough, but this dish takes some time and effort to prepare. Good thing the end result is well worth it.

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Ingredients

1 jar of grave leaves
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
Uncooked rice
Black pepper
Sea salt
Red pepper flakes
Cumin
A pinch of mint
Water

1. Chop one small onion and place in a mixing bowl.

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2. Add the ground beef, rice, water, and spices to the bowl and mix.

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3. Carefully remove the grapes leaves from the jar and unfold into a large bowl. Soak in hot water for a few minutes to soften the leaves.

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4. Put a small scoop of the meat mixture in the center of the grape leave. Then fold the grape leave like so…

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5. Place in a pot and place a plate over the sarma. Cover with water and olive oil and cook until meat and rice are ready. This took about 30 minutes or so for the amount I made.

6. Serve with garlic yogurt.

Baba Ganoush

That is not the Turkish spelling…but you get the idea. This a creamy eggplant/tahini dip.

Ingredients

2 Japanese eggplants
A few scoops of tahini paste
Fresh lemon juice

1. Peel the skin from the eggplants and chop in small disks.
2. Cover with some olive oil and broil until soft and lightly browned.
3. Blend together in food processor with tahini and lemon juice.
4. Serve with pita bread and/or fresh veggies like peppers and carrots.

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Börek

This is a cheese pastry made with fillo sheets and goat cheese.

Ingredients

Fillo dough sheets
Goat cheese
Melted butter
Half and half

1. Put a little half and half in a bowl and mix with melted butter.
2. Brush butter mixture on 1 fillo sheet, making sure to cover completely.
3. Lay a second sheet over the buttered sheet and butter again. Lay one more sheet and butter one more time.
4. Sprinkle with goat cheese.
5. Fold the square of fillo into a triangle and then again into a smaller triangle, then cut the triangle in half.
6. Repeat for as many times as you need.
7. Brush each with a little egg yolk.
8. Bake at 375 F for 10-15 minutes.

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Tortellini Soup

Pinterest is my go to when I’m looking for something new to make. I just scroll for minutes to hours on end, looking at pretty pictures of food. Later on when I’m in the mood for something new, I have a database of recipes just waiting to be used.

Tonight I was finally able to use the tortellini soup recipe I found.

Whenever I’m going to cook something new, I always read through the recipe a few times. It’s like preparing for a final exam. I want to know how long it will take, what ingredients I need, and what I can change about it. This practice has saved me from many unpleasant surprises…like finding out something needs to bake for 3 hours when you’re hungry now.

Luckily this tortellini soup was easy and quick to make. Perfect for a busy night after a busy day.

I followed the basic instructions, but made some adjustments with the ingredients: I used a sort of chicken stock paste instead of boullilon cubes; omitted the Italian sausage and replaced it with sauteed onions, garlic, and mushrooms; and used 2 cups of tortellini instead of 3.

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When it comes to new recipes, my boyfriend is a hard sell. He likes what he likes and he’s not afraid to say what he doesn’t like. His honesty has done so much for my cooking. It means a lot that I can trust him to tell me what he really thinks about the things I make.

The verdict on the soup? He liked the aroma and flavor but wasn’t impressed with the texture. He felt like something was missing. His suggestion for next time? Make a thicker sauce and add broccolli and potatoes. Make it more of a pasta dish and less of a soup. Brilliant idea. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I get a chance to reanimate. 😉

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Soup – Healing Chicken Soup

This is another big weekend for us. Friends are visiting from out of town, restaurant reservations are made, and fun is about to be had. But illness doesn’t care about plans. Those viruses just invite themselves in and make themselves comfortable. Luckily I am prepared for this unexpected visit and can get it under control before it rains on my oh so happy parade. This is an age old remedy that’s proved itself for generations: good old fashioned chicken soup. It’s antiviral, it’s tasty, soothing, and very easy to make.

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Start by boiling chicken in a mixture of filtered water and chicken broth (a bouillon cube or two will work fine as well). For two people, I usually boil a single chicken breast with about 6-8 cups of broth/water. This is great because I can just pull one from the freezer and drop it right into the pot.

While, the chicken cooks, saute a handful of chopped white onions in olive oil. Then squeeze 2-3 lemons and set aside. When the chicken is completely white, I usually add a half cup of Orzo pasta. Today I was out so I broke spaghetti into little pieces.

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Before adding the pasta, remove the chicken and place it on a cutting board. While pasta cooks, shred the chicken into bite sized strips. The chicken will be hot so you may want to use a knife at first. But I prefer to use my hands. I don’t usually shred the entire chicken breast but it’s completely up to you.

Now you can put the shredded chicken, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a little salt and pepper into the pot.

So simple! Feel free to add carrots, celery, or garlic. But I like it plain.

One bowl of this and you’ll be feeling better in no time! I know I do. 🙂

Happy Friday,

Kerry