Ying and Yang – A Balanced Chowder For Vegan and Not-So Vegan

One soup recipe that I have been meaning to create for quite sometime is a chowder that is lactose-free (no milk or cream) and vegan for myself and not so vegan for my husband with salmon. I have fallen off the vegetarian wagon lately and not sure if meat is my thing once again. I feel so much better sticking to vegetarian.  I have made this chowder in the past with bacon and wine, but for last night I wanted to make it a lighter healthy bowl of soup.

The Verdict of Vegan and Not-so Vegan Chowder

This chowder is very hearty with crusty toasty bread and is milk/cream-free (I used Almond Milk for the creaminess). 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. This is a perfect ying yang soup recipe to make two people happy, one wanting vegan and the other not. Was very good as left overs today!

Vegan Chowder Base

Vegan Chowder Ingredients:

  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots (approx 1 cup), diced small
  •  2 celery (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 1 serano chile, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 4 medium red potatoes (approx 2.5 – 3 cups), diced small
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced small
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red chiles
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3 teaspoon chives, finely sliced
  • dash of salt and pepper

Optional for your guest or husband who may not want to go vegan as bad as you do:

  • 1/5  pack of wild smoked salmon,  torn or cut in smaller pieces.

Vegan and Not-so Vegan Chowder Instructions:

  1. In a large pan, over medium, heat olive oil up.
  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, tomato, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Add the almond milk, lemon juice, and thyme to pot. Heat through until potatoes are soft, but do not boil at this point. Reduce heat to low – simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle soup in bowls
  6. Garnish with chives.

Optional for your guest or husband who may not want go vegan as bad as you do:

  1. Distribute the smoked salmon to the top of bowl before the chives.

Soup Mistress Rating for Vegan and Not-so Vegan Chowder:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5
Presentation: (4.25/5) 

Taste: (4.25/5) 

Clint Would Bring Out A Smoking Gun Out For This Vegan Chipotle Corn Chowder

Ohhh Vegan Corn Chowder I love you so. You are a beautiful filling and thick vegan cream-based soup, a great vegetarian alternative to clam chowder.

I’ve been meaning to make a soup with these beautiful yellow niblets for sometime as we had a bag of frozen ones in our freezer. I was skeptic that frozen corn wouldn’t be as tasty as fresh organic corn, but I was so VERY wrong to do so!

The Verdict of Vegan Chipotle Corn Chowder

Well, lets just say that this soup is a match made in heaven when treated with a smoking gun. It’s begging for some smoke and mimicking Clint Eastwood saying “Go ahead make my day”.  Don’t get me wrong, this soup is a superstar without the smoking process, but the it adds a manly smokiness leaving you begging for seconds. If you don’t have a smoking gun, your second best tactic is to use a few drops of liquid smoke, usually packaged in a little glass bottle found in most grocery or gourmet food stores.

 

What I love about this soup is that it is nice and creamy. Using cashews with the almond milk is a perfect touch and one may guess that there is a bit of cream in this soup and not a vegan soup. Oh ya, make sure you keep a reserve of corn and bright red pepper morsels on the side to add as a garnish in the end!!

Vegan Chipotle Corn Chowder Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 parsnip, shredded
  • 1 yukon gold potato, chopped fine
  • 1 red pepper, chopped fine (reserve some for garnish)
  • 2 cup veggie broth
  • 1 (16 ounce) bag frozen corn (reserve some for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dired oregano
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 2 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro (chopped fine)

 Vegan Chipotle Corn Chowder Instructions

  1. Heat oil, sauté onion and garlic until soft on medium
  2. Add parsnip and potato, sauté for about 3-55 minutes more.
  3. Add corn, salt and pepper
  4. Add in broth
  5. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer
  6. Add oregano, almond milk, and simmer 10 – 15 minutes (or until your potatoes are tender
  7. While the soup is simmering add the cashews and chipotle with 2 cups of the soup and puree in blender. If using a smoking gun, add the hose in while you are blending the soup for best smoking.
  8. Stir mixture back into the soup. Add lemon juice. Add in red pepper (remember, keep some for garnish).
  9. Heat back up
  10. Optional: give the soup another punch of the smoing gun here if you wish (with lid on of course).
  11. Serve in bowls.
  12. Garnish with reserved red pepper, corn and cilantro
  13. Bam, enjoy!

Original recipe. I combined ideas form the following two recipes:

What I changed from the original recipe(s):

  • I did not use celery nor carrot
  • I used a parsnip instead of the carrot, and I shredded it into of fine chopped.
  • I used almond milk and not coconut milk
  • I used cilantro instead of chives
  • I used oregano instead of coriander
  • I used lemon instead of red sherry vinegar, and more of it. I seem to favor lemon juice most of the time to give a punch to soups to lift the taste.
Soup Mistress Rating For Vegan Chipotle Corn Chowder Soup:
Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5) 
Presentation: (4/5 )
Taste: (4.7/5) 

Cooking up Green Chile Stew with Chipotle Cream at Sur La Table

Over a week and half ago I attended a cooking class with my girlfriend Dianne at Sur La Table Downtown Summerlin. The evenings class was “Winter Soups and Stews”. By the end of the evening we had a few wonderful warm bowls of goodness to try out, they were:

  • Maple-Braised Butternut Squash Soup with Thyme
  • Hearty Tuscan Beef and Red Wine Stew
  • Chicken and Herb Dumpling Soup
  • Green Chile Stew with Chipotle Cream
You can find a list of all Sur La Table cooking classes close to where you live here: http://www.surlatable.com/category/cat2211278/Cooking+Classes

The store has a decent kitchen setup, more so for demos, as you don’t really have a cooking prep kitchen to yourself. We had small chopping area and hot pots for cooking our soups. It did it’s purpose.

The Verdict of the Evenings Soups?

I don’t normally eat chicken nor red meat but I had a small taste of all of the soups & stews. If you are a meat eater the Tuscan Beef and Red Wine Stew was a hit by a few of the students that evening. I would  let it simmer way longer though so that the meat just melts in your mouth – it was a tad rubbery but the broth was buttery and beautifully rich with the red wine.

For myself, I LOVED the Green Chile Stew with Chipotle Cream (picture above)! It was my superstar of the evening and I took that as my soup to bring home. I love any kind of soup with new potatoes. The green chiles and tomatillas made the soup taste so fresh and delightful. It was just as good the second day, but I wished I had the chipotle cream as well as it was missing some punch it had the first I have tried it. Don’t skip the step for the cream on top.  This soup is very healthy outside of the cream, so in the future I would attempt to make the chipotle cream with cashews (lactose free option) or a lower fat option (like yogurt instead of sour cream).

Green Chile Stew with Chipotle Cream Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large jalapeño chiles, trimmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried mexican oregano
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound new potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 6 large tomatillos, husks removed, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 pounds roasted and peeled green chiles, such as Anaheim and Poblano, or a mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
Chipotle Cream Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sour cream (or yogurt or cashew cream)
  • 4 tsp chipotle peppers in Adobo, or to taste, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste
Green Chile Stew with Chipotle Cream Instructions:
  1. Place olive oil in a large Dutch Oven and heat over medium heat
  2. Add onion, tomatillos and jalapeño, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle vegetables with flour and cook, stirring often, for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add broth and stir well. Taste the stew and season generously with sal and pepper.
  6. Add potatoes, beans and chiles. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover Dutch oven, and simmer until potatoes and tomatillos are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro into stew during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Chipotle Cream Instructions:
  1. Place sour cream (or yogurt or cashew cream) in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in chipotles and lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper, plus additional chipotle and lime juice as needed.
Serve stew in serving bowls. Top with dollop of chipotle cream and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Don’t Be Shrimping Out – A Seafood Chowder Delight!

Over a week ago, I had the great opportunity to cook for a wonderful couple (Joyce and Mike) from Minneapolis. We planned a fun evening to play Games Against Humanity, and boy what a hoot the evening was!

On the dinner menu along with this Seafood Chowder we had:

  • vegan cheese and pate
  • kale caesar slaw
  • phylo pastry pear tart with cashew cream.

The Verdict of This Seafood Chowder

I was very impressed of the simplistic yet so wonderful tasty broth that I used for the stock of this chowder. This was my first time to use shrimp shells as a stock. And boy they did deliver an A+ job I tell ya. I don’t think I will ever throw away shrimp shells ever again!

Also, this was my first time to cook with monkfish and everyone was impressed with the fish. When I was originally shopping at Wholefoods for all of the ingredients, I asked if I should substitiute monkfish with halibut as I was not sure about using it. The seafood department fella said that I should in fact use monkfish as it is tougher and meatier just like lobster and halibut would not be ideal as it would flake and fall apart in my chowder. I was so happy I took his advise, because monkfish was a superstar of the dish. The fish was definitely meaty, very tasty white fish and held together quite well in the chowder.

And the chowder overall was good as ever, I used the same recipe I have done in the past as I did with my Smoked Salmon Chowder with the addition of the homemade shrimp stock, shrimp. monkfish and scallops.

Seafood 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 fish broth (recipe below)
  • 1 cup white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
  • 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 pound large shrimp, peeled and divined (keep shells for stock)
  • 1/2 pound scallops
  • 1/2 pound monkfish
  • 3 teaspoon chives, finely sliced
  • dash of salt and pepper

Shrimp Stock Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • shells from 1 pound large shrimp
  • 2 cups yellow onions
  • 2 carrots unpeeled and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup good white wine ( I used a Chardonnay)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme

Shrimp Stock Instructions:

  1. Warm the oil in a stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add the shrimp shells, onions, carrots, and celery and sauté for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
  4. Add 1 1/2 quarts of water, the white wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Strain through a sieve, pressing the solids. You should have approximately 1 quart of stock. You can make up the difference with water or wine if you need to.

Seafood Chowder Instructions:

  1. Cut the seafood into bite sized pieces and put aside in a bowl.
  2. 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.
  3. Add in shallot, garlic, carrot, celery, serano, crushed chile, red & yellow peppers and potatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in fish broth, 1 cup wine, tomatos, bring to a boil. Add almond milk. Reduce heat,  to medium-low and simmer for at least 15 -25 minutes or till potatoes are semi soft.
  5. 10 minutes before serving, bring soup back up to almost boil.
  6. Add the seafood (shrimp, scallops, monkfish); reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 7 to 10 minutes, until the fish is just cooked.
  7. Add lemon juice, thyme and bacon to pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Ladle soup in bowls
  9. Garnish with chives.

Original link on where I got the ideal to incorporate my chowder recipe with seafood and shrimp stock: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/seafood-chowder-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Soup Mistress Rating For This Seafood Chowder:

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

Taste: (4.75/5) 

Northwest Salmon Soup, Starring Grammy Award Winning Kale!

Northwest Salmon Soup

Picture 1 of 5

Northwest Salmon Soup

Saw this recipe in a magazine at the book store, can’t recall what magazine it was though. The sight of the salmon with the roe looked so delightful along with the use of kale in the soup. So I decided to give it a whirl and voila – what a delight!

The Verdict of Northwest Salmon Soup?

Even though I added lemon juice to the creme fresh, it seemed like not enough, next time I would add some lemon zest to the creme fraiche. The broth tasted better and better after a few minutes. The the kale and salmon played so well in the taste. I’m starting to like kale a ton more especially in broths – it gives a flavourful depth to any soup! I’m going to give the Kale the superstar Grammy ingredient for this recipe – it deserves it!

Northwest Salmon Soup Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen salmon
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 – 32 ounce vegetable stock
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped potatoes
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 1/4 creme fraiche
  •  1 tablespoon monkfish caviar
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Northwest Salmon Soup Instructions:
  1. Pat dry salmon, cut in 1 inch pieces.
  2. In large pot (or dutch oven) heat butter over medium low heat until melted. Add onion and garlic, cook, covered 10 – 15 mins until tender, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high, cook onions, uncovered for few more minutes, stir in paprika and pepper.
  3. Stir in broth, kale, potatoes and carrots. bring to boiling reduce heat. Simmer covered, about 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. In a separate pan add salmon to hot pan on med/high, cook until salmon fillet pieces flake easily when tested with fork.
  5. Ladle soup in bowls, add salmon pieces to each bowl.
  6. Top each serving with a kettle chip, sour cream, dill and caviar.

Recipe makes 4 yummy servings.

Original Soup Recipe: Jeepers, I cannot recall what magazine, if you do know, let me know and I will give the publisher full credit and a link!

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Added a large clove of garlic (minced)
  • Added 1/4 tablespoon lemon juice to the creme fraiche. Could have use even more! I wanted to add lemon zest, but where I was staying in Whistler did not have a utensil to do so.
  • I didn’t use salmon roe, I used two types of monkfish caviar (red and black)

Soup Mistress Rating for Northwest Salmon Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.75/5
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4/5) 

San Francisco and Napa Valley – A Souper Duper Culinary Crawl

For the last week and half I have been in San Francisco, Napa Valley and then to San Mateo for work. It has been a wonderful culinary experience and a souper duper time. And especially so, because I had a partner in crime who likes food close to or a tad more than I! For probably half of our meals, if a soup fancied me on the menu, I just had to try!

Below is a list of soups I tried during the past week and half. I ranked them from the highest in taste. I definitely have no major complaint about any of the soups. The choices of restaurants were fine choices indeed in the first place, so no run ins with dud soups what-so-ever.

  1. French Onion Soup (Bouchon Cafe)
  2. Spring Suppa (A16)
  3. Asparagus Soup (Auberge Du Soliel)
  4. Beer Crab Soup (Kingfish Restaurant)
  5. Panna Cotta Chilled Carrot Soup (French Laundry)
  6. Tofu Soon Dobu (Sesame Korean Cuisine)
  7. Tom Yum Pak (Lemongrass Thai Cuisine)
  8. Wild Mushroom, Farro and Thyme Soup (Foreign Cinema)
  9. Potato Leek Soup (Cindys Kitchen)

Rank #1: Bouchon Bistro: Soupe a L’Oignon

A perfect afternoon in Napa Valley first started with a quick stop at Bouchon Bakery for a coffee and Monkey Bun and then over to Gotts for a lighter lunch. Shortly after sitting outside at a picnic table eating some mighty fine tacos from Gotts, we headed for a superb tour at a winery. After our wine tour we found ourselves back in Yountville at Bouchon but instead at the Cafe for second light afternoon snack!

We had the Soupe a L’Oignon (French Onion Soup) and Moules au Safran (Mussels) with French Fries with some nice white wine (can’t remember what wine exactly, but I’m pretty sure it was a local one).

Bouchon Bistro
6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA, 94599
http://bouchonbistro.com

The Verdict of Bouchon Cafe Soupe a L’Oignon?

The onions were probably one of the best carmelized onions I had in an French Onion Soup. I asked the bartender if there were any special secrets to the soup. He said that the onions were first dredged in flour then caramelized slowly with red wine. I’m betting that they used some mighty fine red wine to caramelized these sweet babies in.

The soup had a lot of onions, and the bread in the soup kept it’s texture and not to mushy unlike some french onions soup may be guilty of.

The Gruyere cheese was the super star of the dish, I do wish that they used way more of it and had it oozing over the side of the bowl so that I could have peeled the crispy browned cheese off. I was sharing the soup – I do believe that my culinary partner in crime ate more cheese than me when I wasn’t looking! Doh!

Soup Mistress Rating for Bouchon Cafe Soupe a L’Oignon:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (2.5/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Rank #2: A16: Spring Zuppa

A16
2355 Chestnut Ave, San Francisco, California
http://www.a16sf.com

The Verdict of A16 Spring Zuppa?

The soup was not your stuffy high end soup with heavy cream. It had a wonderful tasty and delicate broth. Actually probably one of the top broths I’ve had. It had very thinly sliced asparagus morsels and oh so fine crispy fried croutons. The herbs seemed very fresh, and they definitely used some fresh English Peas – oh my, I liked how they popped in my mouth! The soup seemed simple yet very elegant and oh so tasteful. It seemed as though the soup is an au natural for your tastebuds. No need to glamourize and heavy it up with fat and cream! I am guessing that the broth was a vegetable base – the roasted spring onion oil gave a really good depth to the broth that a meat based broth may have done. Brilliant. Overall, my tastebuds felt very satisfied with A16s Spring Zuppa and my hips didn’t feel guilty what-so-ever.

Soup Mistress Rating for A16 Spring Zuppa:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Rank #3: Auberge Du Soliel: Asparagus Soup

Auberge Du Soliel
180 Rutherford Hill Road
Rutherford, California
http://www.aubergedusoleil.com

The Verdict of Auberge Du Soliel Asparagus Soup?

The soup was wonderful and the swirls of oil and cream were a very fine touch to the eye as for taste. Seasoned just right and no complaints. I do wish that there were a tad more morsels of asparagus in the soup.

Ok, I must confess. I didn’t take much notes of this soup nor did I pay attention to the exact  ingredients. Perhaps my culinary dropout mishap was because I went on a wine tour prior and my attention to detail was impaired due to alcohol and the breath taking view sitting on the deck looking down at the hills and vines. Best view ever of our trip dining for sure!

All I remember is that I really loved this soup (and it deserves this rating) and the grilled artichokes were awesome!

Soup Mistress Rating for Auberge Du Soliel Asparagus Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4/5) 

Rank #4: Kingfish Restaurant: Crab and Beer Soup

Kingfish Restaurant
201 South B Street, San Mateo, CA, 94401
http://www.kingfish.net

The Verdict of Kingfish Restaurant Crab and Beer Soup:

For my first spoonful, I thought this soup was very strong and had too much of a bold taste. Thinking that it was the beer itself in the recipe that made it so. But after my second and third spoonful, it really grew on me. I loved how it also was bitter yet spicy. I think when my soup came to life is when my chardonnay arrived to join the party. Somehow the wine tamed the bold taste and the really complimented it a ton. The soup had wonderful crab pieces and even some whole claws. Yum! I would order it again.

I loved the little drops of oil in the soup, I do wish that the soup had a dollop of creme fraiche and that they used chives instead of green onions though!

Soup Mistress Rating for Kingfish Restaurant Crab and Beer Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4/5) 

Rank #5: French Laundry: Panna Cotta Chilled Carrot Soup

The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, California
http://www.frenchlaundry.com

The Verdict of French Laundry Panna Cotta Chilled Carrot Soup:

This is one of the many dishes we were treated to above and beyond the tasting menu at the French Laundry last week. My culinary partner in crime seemed to have a good connection with Thomas Keller indeed. I felt like royalty and oh so lucky!!

Wonderful eye candy – the best of my soups for presentation by far for the week! It’s where culinary presentation meets performance art! Loved how we first got a peek of the Panna Cotta in the bottom and then experienced the server pouring the chilled soup over top. This beautiful tiny serving looked so delicate yet had the flavour of many garden fresh carrots! The soup was so velvety good and had just the right amount of sweetness and I think it had a tiny dash of curry. I loved digging down and getting the Panna Cotta with a pop of fine herbs (I think there were some finely chopped chives).

This is one chilled soup I would love to recreate at home – and yes, even making my own Panna Cotta may be in store! Thomas Keller’s establishment is top notch indeed, no wonder it can take months to get a reservation there! Check out their kitchen below – a sparkling perfection!!

Soup Mistress Rating for French Laundry Panna Cotta Chilled Carrot Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (5/5) 
Taste: (4/5) 

Rank #6: Sesame Korean Cuisine: Tofu Soon Dobu

Sesame Korean Cuisine
1355 Broadway
Burlingame, CA 94010

 

The Verdict of Tofu Soon Dobu :

This is the first of a Korean Tofu soup I ever tried. A very good friend of mine introduced me to this kind of cuisine. We were first served the small dishes, which is also known as Banchan. Then shortly after our bubbling hot soups arrived in little clay pots, the server walked away and we kept talking for a few minutes. Just as I was ready to dig into my yummy looking soup the owner came up and explained that the new server messed up and she needed to make the pots all bubbly again for us. And poof! they were taken away just as I was salivating at the smell of the broth!

Doh! What? Why?…. The new server forgot to crack in an egg in each of our bowls!

It was well worth the extra minutes of wait because when the owner came back, she had two eggs in her pocket with our bubbling soups and cracked the eggs in right away. Nice touch!

I stirred in my egg and watched it cook then dug in!

OMG, who needs meat and seafood?! This soup was very good with tofu and I loved how eating the Banchan between spoonfuls made a great marriage. I especially loved the pickled components because they brought out the soup broth even more.

I’m now going to keep a look out for this sort of soup back in Vancouver. Surprised that I never experienced before.

Soup Mistress Rating for Tofu Soon Dobu :

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5) 
Taste: (3.75/5) 

Rank #7: Lemongrass Thai Cuisine: Tom Yum Pak

Lemongrass Thai Cuisine
2348 Polk Street, San Francisco, California
http://www.lemongrasssf.com

The Verdict of Lemongrass Thai Cuisine Tom Yum Pak?

We didn’t scope out this place before hand, but just stumbled across it after walking up and down very steep hills in the Russian Hill area of San Francisco.

Two thumbs up for this soup. The broth was sweet and tangy just like any Tom Yum broth should. But the choice of the veggies and the way better than average broth made this stop so very delightful and unexpected!

Soup Mistress Rating for Lemongrass Thai Cuisine Tom Yum Pak:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5) 
Taste: (3.75/5) 

Rank #8: Foreign Cinema: Wild Mushroom, Farro and Thyme Soup

Foreign Cinema
2534 Mission Street, San Francisco CA 94110
http://www.foreigncinema.com

The Verdict of Foreign Cinema Wild Mushroom, Farro and Thyme Soup?

Foreign Cinema is a very neat restaurant nestled in a yet to be gentrified neighbourhood. When we first got out of the cab, I thought we were taken to the wrong place. But once we entered, the entrance was quite elegant with a red carpet and then we entered a large bustling place!

We decided to have the Wild Mushroom Farro and Thyme Soup for one of our appies. It was a good soup, but I was puzzled about the absence of mushrooms. There was no hint of mushrooms per se, but I am guessing it was a part of the broth perhaps? Loved the Farro and the broth was very tasty and seemed light and healthy (good in my books btw). The use of the thin crusty bread was elegant and it kept its crispiness quiet good. Kudos to the kitchen to split the one order up in two bowls. That was very nice of them!

The use of fresh thyme made the soup and I think another green herb (larger than thyme) was used, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was.

Soup Mistress Rating for Foreign Cinema Wild Mushroom, Farro and Thyme Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5) 
Taste: (3.5/5) 

Rank #9: Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen: Potato Leek Soup

Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen
1327 Railroad Avenue, St Helena, CA
http://www.cindysbackstreetkitchen.com

The Verdict of Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen: Potato Leek Soup?

This soup was good tasting, but seemed plain jane to me when comparing to the rest of soups above. Not really any wows from myself. Nothing outstanding stood out for me. It most likely had cream, butter and the use of chives is expected.

One dish that did blow the soup away that is notable from Cindy’s was a wonderful Rabbit Tostada with red chile salsa, black beans and feta. I felt really naughty since my diet is usually 90% vegetarian with some sort of bacon.

Soup Mistress Rating for Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen: Potato Leek Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (3/5) 
Taste: (3.5/5) 

Soup Artwork in Sonoma – Green Garlic and Potato Leek Soup at El Dorado

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Just this past weekend, I had the liberty to go for a beautiful drive to Sonoma when visiting San Francisco. This is one very cute town and I would love to go back and stay at least one night and do more wine tastings in town.

After trying and buying some wonderful wine at Bryter (www.bryter.com) in the Historic Sonoma Plaza we ventured on over to the Eldorado Hotel (www.eldoradosonoma.com) for some lunch.

It’s like soup art!
I ordered their Green Garlic and Potato Leek Soup. It  had smoked salmon, crispy fingerling potatoes, lemon pearls and creme fraiche.This was a very nice soup and probably the best looking soup I have ever been served up even though some soup was on the edge of bowl (just ignore that)! It’s like soup art! Just check out the creme fraiche lines in the soup picture above. I would like to try to do that in a soup in the future.

The Verdict of Green Garlic and Potato Leek Soup? The creme fraiche gave the soup a velvet taste, yet not too rich. I really loved how tiny the chives were chopped and how the chef fried up the fingerling potatoes. If I was to come back to Sonoma I would try the restaurant again for dinner for sure in a heart beat!

Arugula Soup with Poached Egg and Truffle Oil

Arugula Soup

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The Completed Arugula Soup with Poached Egg and Truffle Oil

I love arugula and poached eggs, but I would have never thought of them together in a soup. When I saw this recipe in one of my cook books, it intrigued me. Hmmn, a poached egg with truffle oil is a nice touch indeed! I decided to give the recipe a whirl with few modifications.

The Verdict of Arugula Soup with Poached Egg and Truffle Oil? I found the original recipe a little bland, so the second time around I added garlic. Also, this is one soup that lends itself to a fair bit of pepper – it goes well with the potato/arugula base. I really love the idea of the egg, but there is no room for a poached egg on the hard side – a very soft and runny egg makes this soup very good indeed. I would even put two eggs in one large bowl of soup if that is all I was to have for my meal.

Arugula Soup with Poached Egg and Truffle Oil Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups leeks, chopped
  • 3 – 1/2 cup new potatoes, chopped
  • 2 garlic gloves, finely chopped (additional adjustment the second time I attempted this soup)
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 5 oz arugula
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons goat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons white truffle oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Arugula Soup with Poached Egg and Truffle Oil Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy based saucepan.
  2. Saute leeks for about 5 minutes on medium heat, until soft and glistening.
  3. Add potatoes, garlic and saute for a further 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add vegetable stock, bring to a boil and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are really tender.
  5. Remove from heat and add the arugula, let it wilt for about 10 minutes.
  6. While arugula is wilting in soup, bring a deep skillet of water to a boil; add the vinegar, and then turn down to a gentle simmer. After soup is blended (step 8), crack the eggs in each corner and turn off the heat. Let sit for 3 minutes or until the eggs start to float up.
  7. Transfer the soup to a blender and pure until smooth (I usually count to 25 seconds).
  8. Return soup to pan, stir in yogurt, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. If soup is to thick at this stage, add more vegetable stock to your liking.
  9. Heat soup up, but do not boil.
  10. Divide the soup between 4 bowls, top each with a poached egg, and serve with fresh grinding of black pepper and drizzles of truffle oil.

The Original Recipe: Soups no-fuss recipes for Hearty Soups, author Tonia George (Hard cover book, page 50)

What I changed from original recipe:

  • Replaced butter with olive oil
  • Replaced chicken stock with low sodium vegetable stock
  • Replaced heavy cream with goat yogurt
  • Adjusted and converted ingredients to measurement in cups
  • Added garlic

Soup Mistress Rating for Arugula Soup with Poached Egg and Truffle Oil:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (3.5/5) 

Spicy Oyster Chowder Perfect to Serve up for Valentine’s – A Soup Recreation

Spicy Oyster Chowder

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The completed Spicy Oyster Chowder garnished with chives.

Happy Valentine’s day! If you are looking for ideas on what to cook for your loved one tonight, why not serve up some Spicy Oyster Chowder?

Did you know that oysters are an excellent source of zinc, a nutrient known for its contribution to sexual development, hence the reputation as an aphrodisiac? Well, if you didn’t, you know now. Oysters are also rich in iron, copper and other minerals, which contribute to good health.

I have been on a hunt for a good Oyster Chowder recipe and decided to modify another recipe last night. This recipe is a recreation from a Clam Chowder I made at a cooking class a few months ago.

The Verdict of Spicy Oyster Chowder? Yup – this is a keeper recipe for sure. This is one soup I am very proud of. With the modifications, this chowder base can be very versatile and used with other variations of fish (I.E. salmon, clams, shrimp or any white fish). The superstar ingredient is the Thai Red Chile (don’t underestimate this little chile – one alone can really heat up your whole pot of chowder). I also decided to use a goat yogurt (10% Greek style) instead of a cows milk/cream since I am a little sensitive to casein which is found in cows milk and not in goats milk. Along with the heat from the red chile, the tangy goat yogurt with the lemon and thyme, the chowder has an addicting freshness and good balance of acidity!

For a special treat, I used more white wine as the base.

Spicy Oyster Chowder Ingredients:

  • 100 grams double smoked bacon, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 2 celery (approx 1 cup), diced small
  • 1 red thai chile, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper (approx 3/4 cup), diced small
  • 4 medium red potatoes (approx 2.5 – 3 cups), diced small
  • reserved oyster juice from oysters
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 large tomato, diced small
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup goat yogurt (I used 10% Greek style)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 small tubs fresh oysters, drained, washed, chopped midsized. (Sieve the oyster liquid and keep to use)
  • 3 teaspoon chives, finely sliced
  • dash of salt and pepper

Spicy Oyster Chowder Instructions:

  1. In a large pan, sauté 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, red thai chile, red pepper and potatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add in oyster juice, wine, tomato and water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Add the goat yogurt, lemon juice, thyme and bacon to pan. Heat through until potatoes are soft, but do not boil at this point.
  5. Add in chopped oysters and cook until oysters are slightly firm (edges curl a little) , approx 2 -4 minutes.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Ladle the chowder into bowls and garnish with chives.

Original recipe here: Julienning and Dicing For The Perfect Soup

What I changed from the original recipe:

  • replaced clams and nectar with oysters and juice of oysters
  • added red thai chile, celery, red pepper, tomato
  • replaced whipping cream with goat yogurt
  • omitted cornstarch and corn
  • used more veggies, thyme, wine and garlic

Soup Mistress Rating for Spicy Oyster Chowder:

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

 

Kill Dill – An Oyster Chowder Review at The Stock Market

Oyster Chowder Stock Market

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Oyster chowder with dill served up from The Stock Market at Granville Island.

Over a week ago, I went grocery shopping at Granville Island and decided to check out the daily soups at the Stock Market. I have been visiting the Stock Market from time to time for over two decades – they do make some mighty fine soups, sauces and stocks. I had the liberty to meet the founders (a husband and wife team: Joanne and Georges) back in the day when I was a sales rep for Unisource (they were a client of mine in the late 90’s). Very nice and passionate folks indeed.

So what caught my attention at The Stock Market that day? I first noticed the Oyster Chowder in their packaged soup area and it looked yummy to me. It was chilly outside that day and I was wanting something to warm me up right then and there. I peeked over to the sandwich board and noticed that they were also serving up a big pot of Oyster Chowder as well. Something was odd though, because I noticed that the chowder being served up was not the same ingredients as the packaged Oyster Chowder.

The packaged Oyster Chowder had: oyster broth, potatoes, fresh oysters, fresh spinach, onions, leeks, carrots, fresh tomatoes, celery, fresh garlic, thyme, bay leaves, sea salt, canola oil, saffron, black pepper.

The one on the board read: “Fresh Oyster chowder with dill, tomatoes, onion and black peppercorn”.

Hmmn, they are different? Oh, well, I decided to give it a try.

The Verdict of Oyster Chowder: The chowder that was being served up was just o.k. – it was not great though. There was a bit of disconnect with the ingredients – they didn’t play well together for myself. The lightness of the broth and healthy vegetables with dill, made me feel as though chicken should have been in the chowder instead of oysters. I wondered if an employee that day had intentions of making the oyster chowder but accidentally added dill as the herb and just ran with it.

  • Kill Dill: I think the dill murdered the chowder and does not go well. Alternatively when I look at their packaged oyster chowder ingredients, it had thyme instead. Now that makes more sense than dill!
  • Turn Up The Heat: I think the chowder also needs some sort of warm spice (possibly cayenne or red thai chile?) and some cream.

I decided that I will be on a hunt for Oyster Chowder recipes tonight and find one that I can make sometime soon. I am really blessed to be in Beautiful British Columbia because we have so many options to buy fresh oysters (live in shell or fresh in tubs). It’s time to get cooking with them in soups!

Soup Mistress Rating for Oyster Chowder Soup With Dill at The Stock Market:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (2.5/5)