Gluten-Free French Onion Soup, An Apres Ski Delight

Ladle the soup

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Ladle the soup into 4 ovenproof serving bowls. Top each with a slice or two of toasted bread cheese rounds

I have been wanting to make a gluten-free vegetarian french onion soup for sometime. Being up in Whistler for the skiing season was a perfect start to get back to some soup making.

I decided to spend some extra special attention to caramelize onions for this soup – time was on my hands since I am so blessed to work at home. I let them carmelize for close to double the time the original recipe called for.

The Verdict of Gluten-Free French Onion Soup?

This broth and the onions were super delish and especially so the next day.  I would use even more cheese next time. My soup tester said he’d prefer regular Gouda instead of the smoked Gouda I used.

Udi’s Gluten-free Millet Chai bread is pretty tasty and kept well in the soup but costed a whopping $9!! Yikes! I think I have to go back to making my own homemade gluten frees bread.

 

Gluten-Free French Onion Soup Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick goat butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • a splash water
  • a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 4 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 slices of Udi’s gluten free bread (Millet Chai), cut if needed to fit your bowls
  • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
Gluten-Free French Onion Soup Instructions:
  1. Melt the butte and oil—and then add the onions, a splash of water and salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. This will capture steam and help the onions release all their moisture. Cook, stirring now and then, until the onions soften and become quite wet, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the lid and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until all the water has evaporated. Lower the heat a bit and slowly begin to caramelize the onions, stirring them frequently. This will take about 1.5 hours. You don’t need to stir continuously, just enough to keep the onions from sticking to the bottom. Continuing to lower the heat will also help prevent sticking.
  3. For the soup, when the onions are a deep golden colour and have shrunk dramatically, add the brandy. Turn up the heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the additional liquid seems to have evaporated. Add the worcestershire and broth and bring to a simmer. Add the thyme leaves, season with salt and pepper and continue cooking for 15 minutes or so.
  4. Preheat the broiler in your oven. Toast the gluten-free bread slices both sides for a minute.
  5. Cover the bread with an even mound of shredded cheese. Broil until the cheese has melted and browned and looks beautiful.
  6. Ladle the soup into 4 ovenproof serving bowls. Top each with a slice of toasted bread cheese, enough to cover the top of the soup.
  7. Enjoy!
Original Soup Recipe: http://chefmichaelsmith.com/recipe/french-onion-soup/#.UreUKRaiKZM
What I Changed From Original Recipe:
  • Used goat butter instead of regular cow milks butter
  • Added worcestershire sauce
  • Used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
  • Used gluten free bread (Udi’s Millet Chai)
  • Used smokey gruyere instead of regular
  • Used brandy

Soup Mistress Rating for Gluten-Free French Onion Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)  
Presentation: (4/5) 

Taste: (4.25/5) 

Vegetable Meal-in-a-Bowl-Caldos at Chicago’s XOCO is all xoxo’s!

Just this weekend I ventured to Chicago for a layover on my way to Winnipeg to visit my family. I’ve been in Las Vegas for the last 3 months with beautiful warm sunny weather and holy moly my body was in shock when I got outside in Chicago!!! it was windy and very wintery freeze your butt off weather. Everyone on the streets were bundled up in big bulky jackets, hats, scarfs and gloves. I had a tiny leather jacket and leather gloves…not good enough for my walk to check out XOCO for some mexican fare.

By the time I got to the restaurant, I changed my mind of trying one of their famous Tortas. The Meal-in-a-Bowl-Caldos (AKA soup) fancied me way more – I really needed some hot broth to thaw out my insides and extremities!

I ordered the Vegetable Meal-in-a-Bowl-Caldos and it had: black beans, woodland mushrooms, zucchini, potato-masa dumplings, greens, avocados, and serrano chile.

The Verdict of XOCO’s Vegetable Meal-in-a-Bowl:
I felt the love big time with this this Meal-in-a-Bowl (AKA soup)…. it should be called xoxo Soup! My tummy had a genuine almost cuddling-like affair with this soup and was very grateful to the warm tasty broth! The big chunks of avocados, lots of onions, tasty mushrooms, deep flavourful broth and black beans that weren’t mushy made up this delightful meal-in-a-bowl. The broth was unique and not like all other Mexican soup broths, I couldn’t pinpoint what all of the spices were.  And the healthy greens were nice and fresh added on top. XOCO’s soup puts the tortilla mexican soup I had two days ago at El Segundo’s in Vegas to shame.

XOCO had a superb ordering process and great customer service experience. A sweetie of a gal who gave me a seat number, asked me when seated  if I’d like sparkling or still water. The sparling water was for free – a nice touch for so-called street food in a restaurant that did not break the bank!

Here’s a spoonful of all the scrumptious chunks of love and lot’s of onions oh my!

If you are going to check out XOCO’s Meal-in-a-Bowl-Caldos make sure you also order the Roasted Garlic Tomotilo Guacamole with choice of 2 toppings, tomatillo salsa, 3 chile salsa and just-made chips. I had the queso fresco and grilled onion!
Soup Mistress Rating for XOXO’s Vegetable Meal-in-a-Bowl-Caldos:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (5/5
Presentation: (4/5) 

Taste: (4.5/5) 

Oh So Very Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup Sans Cream!

Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup

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The completed Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup with Goat Brie Pesto grilled sandwiches,

Lately I’ve been using cashews in recipes for replacement of sour cream or cream cheese (in savoury dishes as well as sweet dessert toppings) and all have turned out so wonderful. I have a fair bit of almond milk in soups to date, but wanted to try cashew cream in its place. This particular recipe grabbed my attention because it had a range of spices that I would not normally use together in one recipe. I was first a little septic because I never thought of using cumin, curry, dill and basil together with cloves. I thought “what the heck”, let’s risk it and give it a shot.

The Verdict of Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup

Wow, let’s just say it is a home run! If I was served this soup in a restaurant I would definitely think that it had a ton of fatty cream and butter!

I must say that my scepticism was wasted thinking time. The mix of spices played very well together. Not one spice was overpowering and they all seemed to be in perfect harmony!

The soup had delightful hint of heat…not too much either.

And oh so awesome creaminess!!!

This soup goes very well with the goat brie pesto grilled sandwiches I made with yummy gluten-free bread!

I also think this soup is very versatile and tasty for any kind of pasta. The next day I simmered it down a little and added in fresh cooked gluten free pasta with jumbo shrimp, smoked salmon and a bit more pieces of fresh basil.  Who would know that this delectable pasta sauce was a soup the previous day?!!


Note: Cellery is missing in the above ingredient picture – I did add it in the recipe though!

Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups onions,
  • chopped
1/2 cup celery, sliced
  • 1/4 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle, dried
  • 3 tablespoon fresh basil
 , finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 whole cloves 
(or ground)
  • 2 28-oz cans chopped or diced oragnic tomatoes
  • The juice from one lemon or lime
  • basil for garnish

Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup Instructions:

  1. In a blender (I used a vitamix) blend the cashews and water until smooth.
  2. In a large sauce pan, heat the oil, and add the onion, celery and salt. Cook slowly, partially covered. Stir occasionally. When onions are soft and translucent, add the garlic and chipotle and cook until fragrant. Add remaining spices and continue to cook another minute or two.
  3. Add tomatoes, and stir. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until soup begins to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.
  4.  Blend using an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender (be very careful when blending hot liquids!), until soup is smooth.
  5. Add cashew cream into soup.
  6. Add the lemon juice and fresh basil
  7. Reheat gently, watching carefully as it’s easy to scorch the bottom.
  8. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the optional basil leaves.
  9. Enjoy!
I made a pesto with nutritional yeast instead of parmesan for a lactose-free alternative for the brie goat grilled sandwiches, here’s the recipe:

 Basil Pesto Ingredients:

  • 1 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 cup Nutritional yeast

Combine the basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

The Original Creamy Cashew Tomato Soup Recipe Here: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Cashew-tomato-soup-346120

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Used olive oil instead of canola oil
  • Did not use fennel
  • Used fresh basil and added it at the end.
  • halved the recipe
  • Added a 1 1/2 cup of water, it seemed to thick

Soup Mistress Rating for Creamy Tomato Cashew Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.75/5
Presentation: (4/5) 

Taste: (4.25/5) 

Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup With Quinoa

Curry Squash Lentil Soup

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Brrr, can someone turn up the heat please? I’m in Vegas and it has been chilly and rainy for the last few days – I feel very much like I am back home in rainy Vancouver, BC!

Soup is on my mind more lately and since there seems to be abundance of squash at the supermarkets – I asked myself “why not make a soup with it?”

I found this recipe online (link below) but I adjusted it a tad to my liking.

The Verdict of Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup With Quinoa

This soup’s broth turned out pretty tasty with just enough curry.  The original recipe called for only water in the base – I think adding in vegetable stock in place of the water made the broth much nicer! I liked how the cilantro oil floated on the top and gave a nice herbal flavour. The quinoa was hearty and filling and a great source of protein. If I was to make this soup again in the future (and I think I may), I would add a little more celery. I think the soup had a little more room for some chunky vegetables like celery and carrot if you like. I also liked the fact that I substituted coconut oil for olive oil – it added a little bit of a Thai flair to the curry broth. My soup tester fella really liked the souo as well and only commented that it needed a little more ginger in the next batch!

I found it interesting that the red lentils sort of dissolved into the soup. I am sure they added to the tasty broth even though I could not distinguish them in my spoonful of goodness!

We ate the soup two days in a row and on the second day, we added some torn up kale – it worked very well in the soup!  I never felt healthier after soup as I did with this one!

Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup  Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 2 carrot, chopped small
  • 2 celery rib, chopped small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 quart (32 oz) vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup quinoa

For cilantro oil:

  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoon coconut oil
  • salt
I like to chop the vegetables really nice and small so it presents well in the soup!

 

Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup Instructions:

  • Heat coconut oil in a large heavy pot,  on medium saute squash, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir in curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
  • Add lentils, broth and water and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Stir in lemon juice into soup and season with salt and pepper in the soup.
  • In a separate pot while soup is simmering, boil 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water, simmer until fluffy.
  • Ladle soup into bowls, add in a scoop of quinoa and drizzle cilantro oil.
  • Enjoy!

Make cilantro oil: 
Purée cilantro, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender.

Serve soup drizzled with cilantro oil.

Original recipe from here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Curried-Squash-and-Red-Lentil-Soup-351416#ixzz2l7gwR653

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Replaced butter and vegetable oil with cocnut oil for soup base and cilantro oil.
  • Changed basmati rice to quinoa as the accompaniment.
  • Replaced half the water with broth – I like always using a vegetable broth for more depth.
  • Added 1 more carrot and celery rib.
  • Added salt to cilantro oil. It tasted too bland without the salt. Salt lifts the flavours very much so!

What I’d Do Next Time to Make it Even Better:

  • Add one more celery rib.
  • Add one more teaspoon of minced ginger.

Soup Mistress Rating for Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (5/5
Presentation: (3.5/5) 

Taste: (4.25/5) 

Wild Smoked Salmon Chowder – A Lactose-Free Delight!

Serve Chowder

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Ladle soup in bowls. Distribute the smoked salmon to the top of each bowl of chowder. Garnish with chives.

Yippee! I’m Whistler bound in a few weeks for the ski season and I imagine I will be making a ton of hot soups. One soup recipe that I have been meaning to create for quite sometime is a smoked salmon chowder that is lactose-free (no milk or cream). Just last week, I had the liberty to make it for my boyfriend and one of his friends for dinner. I served it as the main course. I am quite sure I will make this chowder up on the ski mountain a few times!

The Verdict of Wild Smoked Salmon Chowder?

The chowder was very hearty with oven warmed Naam bread.

This chowder recipe is milk/cream-free (I used Almond Milk for the creaminess) but does have some naughty bacon. Bacon makes a chowder base so yummy – a little bit is only needed. I think I have done a good job on creating this lactose-free chowder!

I did not feel like I missed any of the cream, the almond milk worked very well. And the base had just enough heat with the crushed chiles and the serano chile. I can’t wait to make this same chowder again while skiing on the mountain – I think I’m going to look for the perfect thermal canister to carry in my back pack.

Wild Smoked Salmon Chowder Ingredients:

  • 200 grams diced Pancetta (or smoked bacon)
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots (approx 1 cup), diced small
  •  2 celery (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 1 serano chile, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper (approx  3/4 cup), diced small
  • 1 yellow pepper (approx  3/4 cup), diced small
  • 4 medium red potatoes (approx 2.5 – 3 cups), diced small
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced small
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed chilis
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 large pack of wild smoked salmon,  torn or cut in smaller pieces.
  • 3 teaspoon chives, finely sliced
  • dash of salt and pepper

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is a great wine to drink as well as to cook with. I think it gives the chowder base a really refined acidity level and a crispness that enhances the spices and all of the delish vegetables.

Wild Smoked Salmon Chowder Instructions:

  1. In a large pan, sauté pancetta/bacon over medium heat until brown and crisp, approximately 3-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to plate and allow to rest.
  2. Add in shallot, garlic, carrot, celery, serano, crushed chile, red & yellow peppers and potatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add in vegetable broth, 2 cups wine, tomato, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Add the almond milk, lemon juice, thyme and bacon to pan. Heat through until potatoes are soft, but do not boil at this point. Reduce heat to low. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle soup in bowls
  6. Distribute the smoked salmon to the top of each bowl of chowder
  7. Garnish with chives.

Soup Mistress Rating for Wild Smoked Salmon Chowder:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4.5/5) 

Jaleo, A Sopa De Ajo Spectacle in Vegas!

Just this last weekend, I had the opportunity to go out with three wonderful gals two evenings in a row in Las Vegas. The first night we dined in The Paris Hotel at Mon Ami Gabi and the second night we decided to walk on over to the Cosmopolitan Hotel and check out the options. And Jaleo was our choice for the evening – we all loved the fact of sharing Spanish Tapas!

When I first glanced at the menu, it was a no brainer to start with a soup. Jaleo had three wonderful soups: A Gazpacho, An Anjo Blanco and a Sopa Ajo. I have had the former two soups on other occasions, so I decided on trying a new soup. And Soupa Ajo (a black garlic soup with black garlic and egg) it was!!

The Verdict of Sopa Ajo?:

No need to go to a show in Vegas to get a spectacle! Wow, just go to Jaleo and order soup! When the waiter arrived at the table with my soup I was very impressed, this is how it was presented to me:

Then the waiter had a mini carafe in his other hand which was full of broth. He was going to pour it over the soup bowl canvass! This is it in action:

The soup had many flavourful depths to it. First the wonderful crisp crustini kept up quite well for a few bites in. The broth was so delicate yet very oozing with creamy delight. When I sliced into the very soft and delicate poached egg, it started to run in my soup and bring different spoonfuls of taste each time I lapped it up! The garlic broth was a licker candidate for sure.

I lapped the soup up in no time and could have lifted the bowl up to finish the last of my lovely liquid, but I resisted from embarrassing my gal friends and gracefully pushed it aside for the waiter to take away.

Soup Mistress Rating for Sopa De Ajo

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.25/5
Presentation: (4.75/5) 

Taste: (4.75/5) 

Raw Cucumber Avocado Chilled Soup, A Vegan-a-licious Delight with Zip!

Raw Cucumber Avocado Chilled Soup

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Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice. Serve chilled, garnished with the lemon, and fresh dill.

Yup, I am on a quest for some great summertime soups and think I am on the right track. This is my second cold soup recipe for the summer that I adjusted and I am now thinking that there may be endless possibilities to find some keepers in the chilled soup category!

Just the other day I got inspired to make a full raw meal after perusing Brendan Braziers Thrive book. His book is great and full of wonderful ideas to eat a great plant-based diet to optimize a lifestyle that has a lot of sports and endurance activities.

So last night was my first attempt of a 100% homemade vegan and raw meal, it included:

  • Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup (with horseradish)
  • Strawberry Mint Lemonade
  • Zucchini Lasagna (with cremini mushrooms, sage lemon cashew cream, herb pesto (with nutritional yeast instead of parmesan), sun-dried tomato sauce, tomatoes, pine nuts)
  • Raw Raspberry Torte (almonds, macadamia nuts, cacao powder, dates, raspberries)

 

The Verdict of Cucumber Avocado Chilled Soup?

I adjusted Barefoot Contessa‘s Chilled Cucumber Soup recipe (link here). It originally called for yogurt, cream and shrimp – so I adjusted it to be vegan and raw, substituting the milk products with almond milk and avocados. Also in the end when I tasted the soup, it was so delish but seemed as though it needed a little kick. There was some mighty fine fresh horseradish in the fridge and so a put a dollop in to swim with the cukes!

I had this soup the very next day and it was just as good and uber refreshing.

For those peeps who are looking for an ultra healthy alkalian diet, this soup is it! I never felt so healthy eating this soup yet at same time my taste buds are not left feeling jipped what-so-ever!

I will make this soup in a heart beat!

Cucumber Avocado Chilled Soup Ingredients:

  • 2  avocados
  • 3 cups plain almond milk
  • 2 hot house cucumbers, unpeeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh horseradish
  • thinly slices of lemon, halved, for garnish
  • fresh dill, for garnish

Cucumber Avocado Chilled Soup Instructions?

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond milk, avocado, cucumbers, red onion, scallions, horseradish salt, and pepper.
  2. Transfer the mixture in batches to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Or use an immersion blender.
  3. Process until the cucumbers are coarsely pureed. Fold in the dill, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until very cold.
  4. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice. Serve chilled, garnished with the lemon, and fresh dill.

The Original Recipe:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chilled-cucumber-soup-with-shrimp-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

What I Changed From The Original Recipe:

  • instead of using Greek Yogurt and half-andhalf I used 2 Avocados and 3 cups of plain almond milk
  • added a teaspoon of horseradish

Soup Mistress Rating for Cucumber Avocado Chilled Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (5/5
Presentation: (4/5) 

Taste: (4.75/5) 

Summertime Soup Series: Anjo Blanco, A Gluten-Free White Gazpacho

Anjo Blanco

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Anjo Blanco a great summertime soup!

I’m down in Vegas for a while and it is hot hot hot! The last thing I feel like doing is chowing down on hot hearty soups – so I’m on a hunt for some great summertime soups!

I am keeping a total open mind – as I was one of those people who did not fancy cold soups. I think I changed.

This is the first of my many summertime soups I want to try and I have had this particular Anjo Blanco recipe bookmarked since January from a foodie magazine. It is a Spanish version of white gazpacho.

Ladle and garnish

 

The Verdict of Anjo Blanco Soup?

I would have never thought that these particular ingredients would conjure up into a soup! I was a tad sceptic on the output, but kept an open mind because it looked oh so pretty in the magazine. I am impressed of the way it turned out, especially with my modifications turning it into a gluten-free and cows milk-free soup!

The garlic worked well with the sweetness of the apple, grapes and almond milk. The graininess of the bread made me feel like I was eating a hearty soup because I used a medium sieve (not a fine one that was called for in original recipe)…and that was just fine.

My partner in crime, tester of food extrodinaire, liked the texture of the toasted almonds and the zip of the red wine vinegar it gave the soup. He also gave the soup, to his surprise a 4.5 out of 5 for taste. We both agreed that the presentation came out well too and it deserved a 4.5 out of 5.

Would I changed anything? I would perhaps serve this soup in a martini glass, which would allow me to have a choice of sipping on the soup versus spooning it up.

Anjo Blanco Ingredients:

  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped fine
  • 2.5 cups crust-less gluten-free bread
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 blanched almonds
  • 2.5 cups almond milk (I used vanilla flavour which worked, you can also use plain)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • dash salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Anjo Blanco Instructions:

  1. Combine apple, garlic, bread, grapes, blanched almonds, almond milk, and 1 cup water in a medium bowl; season with salt.
  2. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.
  3. Transfer soup base to a blender (or use immersion blender) and puree, adding water by tablespoonfuls if too thick, until smooth. With motor running gradually add 1/3 cup olive oil and 3 tbsp vinegar.
  4. Strain soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; cover and chill until very cold, about 2 hours. Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
  5. Toast sliced almonds to a slight brown, let cool.
  6. Ladle soup among bowls; top with toasted almonds: drizzle with oil and vinegar pretty swirls or droplets.
  7. Now go sit out on your summer deck, watch the sunset and enjoy the soup there!

What I Changed From The Original Recipe:

  • Used 2.5 cups of almond milk instead of whole milk & water (but did add some water)
  • Used 1/3 cup of olive oil instead of 3/4 cup
  • Used shaved almonds in the soup base but thin sliced almonds for garnish
  • Used 2.5 cups of my favorite gluten free bread recipe (minus the olives and almonds) instead of 3 cups of white country bread.

Soup Mistress Rating for Anjo Delight:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4.5/5) 

Seafood Swimming in a Fine Red Wine, A Cioppino Delight!

A Cioppino Delight and Friends!

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Completed Cioppino with gluten-free bread (top left), ingredients (bottom left) and my friend Brain helping me cook! (right)

Just last month I had a bunch of good friends over for a dinner party. The theme was Mediterranean and everyone came dressed in white.  We started off with warmed olives & herbs, homemade humus & eggplant dip, and fennel and apple slaw.

The main course was the Cioppino with my favourite homemade gluten free bread (check out the recipe here but this time I made it without the olives and almonds). And then after the Cioppino, we finished off the night with some baked apples with fig & walnuts with homemade coconut ice-cream! Yum! The Cioppino I made has two parts:
  1. The fish stock made from scratch (If you choose not to do so, you can use clam juice or purchase some prepared fish stock).
  2. The Cioppino itself
The Verdict of Cioppino Delight?
I was checking out a few Cioppino recipes online and most had instructions to simmer the cioppino tomato wine base for 20 minutes. I decided to simmer it well over an hour. The wait for the longer simmer was well worth it – it was so rich and full bodied at an hour when compared to what it tasted like at 20 minutes. I also used a tad more expensive bottle of wine. I’m not a believer of using cheap wine for cooking. The homemade fish broth was superb and all of the seafood was cooked just fine and soaked up the base with love (except the clams…see my lesson learned below ). I really love how the soup is presented in a rustic way, especailly with the full corn piece.

I think the Cioppino was well received from my group of friends and everyone was helping themselves to more gluten free bread to dip in it!

 

So what was my lesson learned? Next time I make this Cioppino, I would change my timing of adding in the seafood. I originally threw the clams, shrimp, scallops and halibut all in at the same. The clams did not open up as much as they should have and I was afraid to overcook the other seafood. Next time I will throw in the clams first, let it cook for about 4-5 minutes then add in all other seafood (I adjusted the recipe below to reflect so).

Fish Stock

  • Equal part fish scrap and bones
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 bunch celery, halved
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • A pinch salt
  • Sprigs of thyme
  • Sprigs of oregano

Add all ingredients in a large pot. Top with water and bring to boil then lower to a simmer (just under boiling) for 2 hours. Sieve out the vegetables, herbs and bones and you should have a clear tasty broth!

Cioppino Delight Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds halibut, cut into inch cubes
  • 1 pound (or more) of large shrimp
  • 3 pounds little neck clams
  • 2 pounds scallops
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped (1 large onion)
  • 1 cup bell pepper, chopped (1 large bell pepper)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 x 28-ounce can plum tomatoes in juice
  • 6 cups fish stock
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2 bay leafs, whole
  • 1 teaspoon lemon thyme, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon  basil, chopped fine
  • 1 dash of salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dried chile peppers
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley for garnish
Cioppino Instructions
  1. Split the shrimp shells down the back and remove the black vein. Alternatively, you can shell the shrimps and devein them. Shell-on imparts more flavour; shell-off is easier to eat. Cut out the tough mussel in the scallops if your fish monger has not done so. Also take any bones out of halibut if any.
  2. In a deep 8-quart covered pot, sauté onions, garlic and bell pepper on medium heat in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes, red wine, fish stock, the herbs, chile peppers and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a gentle boil, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove bay leaves. Taste and correct seasoning.
  3. Add the clams and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the halibut, shrimp and cook, covered, until shrimp are bright pink, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook.
  5. Serve in large bowls, shells included. Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve with a great piece of bread to dip into the Cioppino with! Enjoy!

Soup Mistress Rating for Cioppino Delight:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4.5/5) 

Princess & A Pea Soup Challenge at Horizons Restaurant

Just this week I had my big brother visiting from Winnipeg. I wanted to take him for dinner at a nice restaurant with a view of Vancouver. I thought that Horizons on Burnaby Mountain was a mighty fine choice for the view.

When I read the menu the soup of the day, it really fancied me:

“Carrot & Sweet Pea Soup – Sourdough croutons, paprika oil”

So I ordered it and my brother followed suit.

Leading up to being served the soup, I imagined that it came with more than one crouton and would be very colourful to my eyes with green (for the peas) floating around perhaps in the orange broth (carrots) with some equisite kind of garnish.

This is what I was served:

The Verdict of Horizons Carrot & Sweet Pea Soup?

There seemed to be a disconnect of how it was described on the menu and what was in front of me. Don’t get me wrong, the broth was super tasty and a very nice touch with the paprika oil. But the soup overall did not wow me what-so-ever. Perhaps my expectation of a fancy dancy restaurant on one of the highest points in Burnaby was way to inflated.

 

I question if Horizons in fact used sweet peas in the soup and why did they not celebrate them floating around in a beautiful broth? Were some peas actually pureed in the soup? I don’t know and couldn’t tell if they were. Perhaps they did not use fresh sweet peas and hid them in the broth?

Also, the notion of “croutons” being plural in the description was deceiving. I only received one very thin baguette piece which got very soggy after my first spoonful. It disappointed me a tad.

 

I have been so blessed with superb soups at many restaurants I have visited in the past and would consider myself a soup princess.

So, what I am saying is this soup did not passs the princess test. I am pretty sure someone forgot to put the pea under the twenty mattresses. I was not feeling it what-soever! And the prince is asking “Where did the pea go?!!”

 

Soup Mistress (and Chris Yelland my brother) Rating for Horizons Carrot & Sweet Pea Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)

Presentation: (2.5/5)

Taste: (3/5)