Fassolatha – A Greek Godess Yummy Navy Bean Soup

Oh boy, it’s been ages since I blogged about a soup!! I’ve been busy trying other recipes outside of soups (like homemade gnocchi, dehydrated snacks and a few different vegetarian pâtés). I have a liking to get back on the soup bandwagon again…we’ll see how that goes though!

Just last Saturday, I was having a girlfriend over for dinner and I decided to make it a Greek night. I made this soup along with homemade spanakopita, ttzatziki (with cashew cream instead of yogurt) and greek salad and it all did not disappoint!

The Verdict of Fassolatha Greek Bean Soup:

At first, I did not have any plans to add in bacon, I had FULL intentions to making this soup vegetarian. But when I was at the boiling stage just before simmering the soup, when I tried a spoonful test, the soup seemed bland to me and at this point I decided to add bacon, lemon juice and lemon zest to my recipe. I think the new ingredients made a huge difference. Also I shouldn’t short change the 1 hour simmering process that lifted the velvety navy beans and the just-right acidic diced tomatoes which were dancing in the pot with screaming delight!

We had this soup as left-overs for the next few days and on the third day I loved it just as much as the first day!

I would make this soup again and perhaps freeze it for an impromptu lunch one day in the near future.

Fassolatha Greek Bean Soup Ingredients:

  • 4-5 slices of bacon, chopped small and cooked until crisp
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cans organic navy beans (2 x 14.5 ounces)
  • 4 springs thyme (approx 1 tablespoon finely chopped)
  • 1 can organic diced roasted tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup of chopped parsley
  • 5 cups of veggie stock (may add more to your liking)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest


Fassolatha Greek Bean Soup Instructions:

  1. Cook small bacon pieces in fry pan until crisp, transfer to plate over paper towel. Set aside.
  2. In soup pot, add a little olive oil heat up on medium.
  3. Sauté chopped onions and garlic, cook until translucent, 5-7min.
  4. Add carrot and celery, saute for another minute or so.
  5. Add diced tomatoes and the 5 cups veggie stock.
  6. Add beans – add more veggie stock or water to cover beans if needed.
  7. Add thyme, parsley, salt and pepper to your taste.
  8. Cover and bring to boil.
  9. Once boiling, add in the bacon.
  10. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 – 60 minutes.
  11. Serve soup in bowls.
  12. Garnish with some extra parsley and delightful lemon zest.

The Original Recipe From Herehttp://www.lemonandolives.com/fassolatha-greek-bean-soup/

What I Changed From The Original Recipe:

  • used canned navy beans instead of great northern dried beans
  • did not use a bay leaf
  • used organic vegetable stock instead of water
  • added about 1/3 cup of cooked bacon pieces
  • used my smoking gun to give a tad smoked flavour
  • added juice of one lemon at the end of the cooking process before serving
  • added lemon zest to each bowl of soup before serving
  • used more parsley
  • I used roasted canned tomatoes and I did not mash the canned tomatoes, I kept them chopped just like they are.
  • I added garlic. What soup is not friendly for it?!! :)
Soup Mistress Rating for Fassolatha Greek Bean Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5
Presentation: (3.75/5) 

Taste: (4.75/5) 

Parsnip & Turnip Soup at Fairmont Chateau Whistler – A Perfect Apres Ski Warmer Upper

Over a week ago, I took a beautiful drive up to Whistler and stayed the weekend. My time there was filled with a lot of fun – dining, spaing  and sking. I had the opportunity to catchup with old friends that I previously worked with at a tech startup a few years back. Nicole, now from Florida gave me a shout and invited me to stay with her at Chateau Fairmont Whistler and I felt spoiled. Nice hotel and great fine dining.

After being outside for the day enjoying the snow and blue skies, I went for dinner at The Wildflower Restaurant in The Fairmont and ordered the soup of the day, which was a Parsnip & Turnip Soup with Bacon.

The Verdict of Fairmont Chateau’s Parsnip and Turnip Soup with Bacon?
Well…let’s just say this soup purred with bacon and the root vegetables were delectable. This soup was rich, tad sweet with an earthy warm base. The root chips were a superb touch for a garnish. The serving size was just right – not to big nor too small. I had just enough room to have the Quinoa risotto afterwards. The soup was a great warm bread dipper and I loved how this restaurant serves up a basket of variety of breads. I loved the fact that the soup had maple syrup and lee and persons – two ingredients I never used in soup and may do so in the future!

I have to give kudos to the waiter. Chris, the waiter was extraordinary because he was probably one of the first servers ever who provided me with the most detail when asked about what was in the soup. He came back to me with a full list of ingredients from the chef. Normally when I ask at a restaurant, I get a two main ingredient answer, which shows no effort what-so-ever.

The following are the ingredients Chris shared with me: parsnip, turnip, onion, maple syrup, potato, celery root, bacon, thyme, salt and pepper, garlic, lee & perons, butter

Chris did not give me the measurements but I am going to take a guess at them and perhaps try to make this soup in the near future,

Parsnip and Turnip Soup Ingredients (Estimate of measurements from my soup making experience):

  • 1/4 cup bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups parsnip, chopped
  • 2 cups turnip, chopped
  • 1 cup potato, chopped
  • 1 cup celery root, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lee & Perons
  • 6 cups Vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
Parsnip and Turnip Soup Instructions:
  1. Chop the bacon into small pieces and cook it over very medium-low heat in a heavy bottomed pan.
  2. Reserve the bacon on a plate with paper towel, leaving about a tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan to saute the onions.
  3. Add the butter to pan, saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
  4. Add parsnip, turnip, potato, celery root to the pan, saute, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 8 more minutes.
  5. Add the bacon pieces, maple syrup, lee and perons, thyme and the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Cover the pan and simmer until the root vegetables are soft (30 minutes). Check the soup occasionally to see if more liquid is needed; the lentils should be covered.
  6. Turn stove off and puree.
  7. Add the salt and pepper (to taste) and serve.
  8. Ladle in serving bowls, garnish with fried root vegetables
Soup Mistress Rating for Parsnip and Turnip Soup with Bacon:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (4.5/5) 
Taste: (4/5)

Menudo Rojo at Taqueria Playa Tropical

The other day I decided to take a lunch break to get away from the computer and go to a  Mexican restaurant called Taqueria Playa Tropical (Facebook page here) in New Westminster, BC. I heard that they had some mighty fine tacos and some authentic soups.

There were four soups on the menu, and I decided to have to most authentic one (in my mind) that may not be served in many Taqueria’s in the lower mainland. My choice was the Menudo Rojo – a Mexican soup with beef tripe and beef feet!

The Verdict of Menudo Rojo?
I first tried the Menudo Rojo and it was wonderful! It had a very warm spiced broth with a lot of depth to it. I’m guessing that it may have been simmered with a lot of TLC and perhaps around five different mexican spices. When I added the finely chopped onions and cilantro and tried my second spoonful, the soup sang in my mouth with some zippy freshness! Yum!

But I then tried a piece of tripe…

I decided to try some of the spongy looking tripe. I didn’t like the texture of the tripe. Felt fatty on my tonque and very much tasteless. I’m usually pretty open to different kinds of foods (IE  liver, heart, bone marrow and pigs feet) but tripe did not fancy me what-so-ever for texture and taste. While I was eating the soup, I decided to Google `”tripe” and I read what Wikipedia had to say about it here:

Beef Tripe: Beef tripe is usually made from only the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach: the rumen (blanket/flat/smooth tripe), the reticulum (honeycomb and pocket tripe), and the omasum (book/bible/leaf tripe).

Not a good idea to read about during my meal. I was fixated on the reticulum part and it grossed me out a tad. I couldn’t swallow another piece of tripe – the texture just bugged me. I slurped up the broth leaving behind feet and tripe all by their lonesome.

What I Would Change With This Soup

If I was to serve up a more contemporary Menudo Rojo and win over some not-so-adventurous soup lovers, I would sieve the broth and omit the tripe and feet bones from the final presentation of the soup. If those body parts main purpose were to give great depth to the broth I really don’t think they serve a purpose in my bowl – adios amigos! I would perhaps add some shaved or thin slices of beef to the clean broth and keep the side of onion, lime, cilantro mix to be added at the table. I would also add a great big dollop of sour cream and serve the soup in a shallow bowl with a full sprig of cilantro as a garnish.

Don’t get me wrong, I will return to this hidden Mexican gem in New Westminster to try their soft tacos! With my soup, I had a stellar tasting mushroom Quesadilla that came with a pretty flower of sour cream! Not a crumb left behind.


Soup Mistress Rating for Menudo Rojo:

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

Beef Pho Bo – A Vietnamese Soup Repeat is a Must!

Beef Pho Bo - Vietnamese Soup

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The completed Beef Pho Bo (Vietnamese Soup)

Tonight  I invited my very good friend Sharai (plus house sitter + niece + cool nerdette) over for some Beef Pho Bo (Vietnamese soup).

I have been meaning to try a Pho (Vietnamese soup) recipe all last winter but never done so. Tonight was perfect timing to give it a whirl since I knew Sharai really loved Pho. I wanted to treat her to a soup night and thank her for house sitting my place over the last 5 weeks when I was in Vegas.

The Verdict of Beef Pho Bo?

The best thing about making this soup was the aroma in the house –  it was unbelievable! Cloves, ginger, star anise, fish sauce and beef – oh my! They are having a mighty fine party in my pot!

Sharai and I both agreed that the original recipe simmering time of 1.5 hours can be extended to a half day or all day event. The broth was superb, but I can imagine if it was simmered longer it would be served up in the VIP section in heaven!

The soup was flavorful, refreshing and the meat just cooked perfect by the broth being poured over it. I added additional pea shoots that was not called for in the original recipe and think it was a fine choice indeed. I also used beef back ribs instead of beef short ribs (a recommendation from my butcher at Safeway).

This Vietnamese soup is definitely going to be a repeat in my home!

Beef Pho Bo Ingredients:

  • 24 cups water
  • 4 lbs beef back ribs
  • 1 lb beef inside round rouladen (thinly sliced beef)
  • 3 inch piece ginger – large chopped pieces
  • 3 garlic gloves, large chopped pieces
  • 5 star anise
  • 7 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorn
  • 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 package rice vermicelli noodles
  • 8 lime wedges
  • 4 green onions, large chopped pieces
  • 3 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 bunch pea shoots
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 thai basil
  • sriracha sauce

Beef Pho Bo Instructions:

  1. Add water, beef back ribs, ginger, star anise, garlic, cloves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and fish sauce to a very large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer with lid on for 3-4 hours.
  2. Remove broth from heat and strain broth.
  3. Put pot back on stove, stir in noodles and wait 10 minutes or when noodles have softened.
  4. Ladle noodles into large deep soup bowls. Place bean sprouts, pea shoots, lime wedge, basil, cilantro, green onions and thinly sliced raw meat on top of the noodles.
  5. Ladle broth over soup, enough to cover and slightly cook the thinly sliced beef.
  6. Drizzle sriracha sauce over top of soup.
  7. Grab some chopsticks and/or spoon – enjoy!!

Original recipe from: http://www.theblackpeppercorn.com/2012/01/beef-pho-vietnamese-soup-pho-bo/

This soup got thumbs up from Sharai!

Soup Mistress Rating for Beef Pho Bo:

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

Taste: (5/5)

Ocean Wise Chowder with Halibut at Hapa Izakaya in Vancouver

On Monday evening, I went to Hapa Izakaya in Vancouver (Coal Harbor location) for my good friend Sherry Cooper’s birthday dinner. We had a nice time, enjoyed some great food and wine. I am a huge fan of Hapa Izakaya (been many times) and highly recommend it.

I decided to have Hapa Izakaya’s Award-Winning Ocean Wise Chowder, it sounded so scrumptios with BC halibut, scallop, bacon, dashi and cream.

Oh cream, luscious cream! You make me work out harder the next day on the treadmill – but so worth it.

The Verdict of Hapa Izakaya’s Ocean Wise Chowder? The chowder had a wonderful velvety texture and yet at same time, very delicate flavor for broth. The chunks of halibut were nice and flaky, but a little sparse (I shouldn’t blame the restaurant on the lack of halibut though because the price of halibut in general is ridiculous and it won’t get better with the fishing quota dropping 8% this year, read more here). Like most Japanese food, the chowder was not overpowering but had a very authentic taste leaving me wanting more. I think there were some tiny pieces of fried wonton on top as well (at least, that is what the waitress told me) – they were very crispy and added another level to the chowder.

I definitely want to recreate this soup in near future. Afterall, it is halibut season and I will be picking up my special halibut order from 1fsh2fish soon! Can’t wait.

I was curious to figure out how the chowder had a nice delicate broth. Most chowders are made with broths from fish carcass, clam juice or crustation shells. But this chowder was made with Dashi.

Hmmn, so what is Dashi?

It is a japanese soup stock most commonly made by heating water containing kombu (edible kelp) and kezurikatsuo (shavings of katsuobushi – preserved, fermented bonito) to near-boiling, then straining the resultant liquid. As an alternate there is also a powder Dashi. Read more on Dashi here.

I found a decent blog post on how to make Dashi (image above is from the original source). It seems simple enough and I would rather make it myself versus resorting to the powder version: www.thekitchn.com/japanese-cooking-dashi-57749

Soup Mistress Rating for Hapa Izakaya’s Ocean Wise Chowder Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.75/5) 


Chicken Tortilla Soup with Homemade Goat Queso Fresco

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco

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The Completed Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco

Over a week ago, I took a cheese making course with Debra Amrein-Boyes from The Farm House Natural Cheeses. She was very passionate and makes some mighty fine cheeses. The class was fun and very educating. Her Goat Gouda was my favorite tasting cheese that she shared with us that day.

The class gave me a bit of confidence with cheese making. I even bought Debra`s cheese making book: 200 easy Homemade Cheese Recipes. I found it fascinating that whole milk can be transformed into so many variations of cheeses. Basically it comes down to science and how it is processed (heating temperature, fermentation of bacteria, coagulation and draining).

This week, I decided to make Queso Fresco with goats milk (since I am a tad sensitive to casein in cows milk) and what a perfect opportunity to combine it with a tortilla soup! Queso Fresco is probably one of the simplest soft cheeses to make. I was very surprised on how easy it was and how good the results were. This blog post has two sections; first is the ingredients and instructions for the tortilla soup and second; how I made the yummy Queso Fresco.

The Verdict of Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco? I really adore this soup because of the variety of tasty elements in it. Especially having chunks of corn made it look very rustic to me. Although it was time consuming to make the homemade tortillas as well as the Queso Fresco – it was well worth it. I am sure I would make this again in future. The Queso Fresco is good for up to two weeks and you can use on top of other soups or even salads. I would not suggest to add the tortillas in the pot of soup as they would get soggy for leftovers (that is if you have any left over). Keep the tortilla pieces in a paper bag until you make your next bowl of left over soup. Also, this soup is not super spicy. For those soup-a-holics who like it hot, add in a little more chiles!

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco Ingredients

  • 7 Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 1 white onion, cut into chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 fresh poblano chiles
  • 6 6-inch corn tortillas cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 8 ounces roasted chicken, shredded
  • 2 corn husks
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup Queso Fresco
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, plus thin wedges for garnish
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to  425 F (210 C). Place tomatoes, corn (still in husks), onion and garlic on a tin foil covered baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until tomatoes and onion are soft and garlic begin to brown. Remove from heat.
  2. Stem and seed chile peppers; cut crosswise into ½ inch slices. In medium skillet, heat the ¼ cup of canola oil over medium heat until very hot and not smoking. Add the sliced chiles and fry for about 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon or thongs, remove the chile peppers and transfer them to a paper towel lined plate. Chop and and reserve chiles for soup. Reserve oil in skillet.
  3. Working in batches, fry the tortilla strips in the chile infused oil until the strips start to brown. Drain tortilla strips and transfer them to a paper towel lined plate.
  4. Add 5 roasted tomatoes (keeping two aside), onion, garlic, cumin, one cup of stock into large pot. Using a hand blender, blend until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Roughly chop the 2 left over roasted tomatoes. Add into the soup.
  6. Add the rest of broth and chopped chile peppers to soup.
  7. Cook soup over medium heat just until boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Husk corn and take off cob.
  9. Add roasted shredded chicken, corn and beans. Simmer for 5 more minutes; add lime juice, stir, cover and keep warm.
  10. Ladle soup in bowls
  11. Add tortilla strips, Queso Fresco, lime wedge, avocado, and cilantro.


Goat Queso Fresco

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The Completed Goat Queso Fresco

Goat Queso Fresco Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon whole goat milk (avoid homogenized or ultra-pasteurized)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

Goat Queso Fresco Instructions:

  1. In a 6 quart dutch oven or heavy stock pot (Important: do not use aluminum pot), combine milk and salt. Heat mixture over medium-high heat to 190 F (use a quick read thermometer) stirring gently and frequently. Remove from heat.
  2. Gradually add vinegar, stirring gently, let stand for 5 minutes. Stir gently (some curds should start form), if it needs to stand for 5- 10 minutes to see curds, let it.
  3. Place a double-thickness cheesecloth in a colander set in sink. Carefully pour mixture into the colander, discarding the liquid whey. Allow cheese to drain for 15 to 20 minutes to remove all of the excess whey.
  4. Gather cheese and transfer to a small bowl. If you prefer to make a Queso Fresco mold, line a plastic container with plastic wrap and place another container with a can of food to weigh it down.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
  6. Cheese can be stored in fridge for 1-2 weeks.

**It is very important to sterilize your pot as well as any measuring cups, spoons, thermometer. Before making the Queso Fresco, fill the pot with water bring to a boil and sanitize all utensils and place on clean dry cloth. Wash your hands well.

Original soup recipe from: Magazine: better Homes and Gardens Special Interest- Mexican, page 87, April 2011

Original Queso fresco recipe from: Magazine: better Homes and Gardens Special Interest- Mexican, page 25, April 2011

What I changed from original soup recipe:

  • added lime, cumin, corn and black beans
  • replaced chorizo with shredded roasted chicken
  • used olive oil for roasted veggies
  • used more onion, garlic and tomatoes, and broth
  • used cilantro instead of epazote

What I changed from original Queso Fresco recipe:

  • used whole goats milk instead of cows milk
  • let it stand more for curdling process

Soup Mistress Rating for Chicken Tortilla Soup with Goat Queso Fresco:

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

Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup – Definitely a Bowl Licker!

Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup

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The Completed Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup

My soup-a-holic friend Noel Pullen shared this Spanish Chickpea and Chirizo Soup – it is one of his favorite soup recipes (actually one of his wife’s favorites). The Tomato Basil Organic Soup is his other favorite. Both soups are original soup recipes from Jamie Oliver.

I didn’t change much of the original recipe, but I did add cumin and paprika, which are ussually found in Spanish dishes. I must say that I really love cumin.

The Verdict of Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup? Wow – Noel’s wife has good taste buds indeed. This soup recipe is a keeper for sure! I am not sure if this soup will ever make it to the freezer because I had it last night and then today for lunch. This is one soup that rocks for flavor the first day and the flavors explode even more the next. I felt like licking the bowl because the base was so good. I also like how the prosciutto cooks a little and the hammy texture is so nice with the chorizo. For each and every spoonful, you are most likely to get one of the meats!

Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large (5.5 ounces) chorizo sausage, chopped
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 8 fresh tomatoes, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 (14 ounce) can of good quality chickpeas, rinsed with water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 lb fresh baby spinach
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 ounces of prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced thinly (egg slicer can come in handy!)

Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil up in large saucepan, saute chorizo until fat comes out.
  2. Add onion, garlic and celery. Turn heat to min and cook slowly for 10-15 mins with lid on – don’t colour onions.
  3. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, cumin, paprika and chicken stock.
  4. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for 40 mins.
  5. In meantime, place eggs in pot of cold water, bring pot to a boil then turn off heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse eggs in cold water and peel.
  6. When soup has simmered for 30 minutes, add in baby spinach.
  7. Puree about 1/3 of mixture or use the handheld blender for about 4 seconds.
  8. Season with salt and pepper
  9. Add prosciutto and stir for 1 minute.
  10. Ladle soup among serving bowls.
  11. Add sliced egg on top of soup.

Original Recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/soup-recipes/scrumptious-spanish-chickpea-chorizo

What I changed from original recipe:

  • added cumin and paprika
  • used baby spinach and did not chop it
  • used 3 cloves of garlic instead of 1
  • used low sodium chicken stock
  • added spinach close to the end of simmer stage
  • sliced the eggs for garnish instead of grating

Soup Mistress Rating for Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.75/5)
Presentation: (3.5/5) 
Taste: (4.75/5) 

Parsnip Red Lentil Chipotle Soup – A Tasty Soup Not Acquainted With The Freezer

Parsnip Lentil Chipotle Soup

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The Completed Parsnip Red Lentil Chipotle Soup.

The other day, Jan Comerford Surgent (another soup-a-holic and Facebook friend) posted on Soup Mistress wall that she likes to cook up a tasty lentil and chorizo soup with chipotle pepper and shredded carrots. Yum, that did sound tasty and inspired me.

Since I am a big fan of chipotle pepper and I never attempted any kind of lentil soup in the past, Jan inspired me to look further. I went on my merry way and searched online for lentil soup recipes and one in particular grabbed my attention which had bacon. So I decided to run with the recipe with a few modifications plus taking Jan’s suggestions to use chipotle pepper.  I decided to use parsnips instead of carrots, since I had them on hand. I  also shredded the parsnips with Jan’s recommendation as well, instead of chopped.

The Verdict of Parsnip Red Lentil Chipotle Soup? This is one soup I wished I made two batches of because none made it to my freezer for a later date. I had a friend over to help me and the soup was well received with a request for a second bowl. Some lentil soups call for blending, but I don’t think this soup needs any blending what-so-ever – I like the tiny pieces of onion and contrast with the ingredients. This is one soup where the ingredients play really well together. I really liked the shredded parsnips and how they played into the soup background. This soup is a little on the spicy side – so no wussies allowed! If you feel like a milder soup – maybe use a small or half of a chipotle pepper but don’t omit it. The cilantro and dollop of goat yogurt cools the soup and plays well with the bacon and heat of the pepper. Yeppers, this soup will be made again in my home in the future, I am very sure of that!

Parsnip Red Lentil Chipotle Soup Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup chopped bacon
  • 2 cups onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups parsnips, shredded
  • 3 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 1 medium – large chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/8 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  •  ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (keeping some for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup goat yogurt
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Parsnip Red Lentil Chipotle Soup Instructions:

  1. Chop the bacon into small pieces and cook it over very medium-low heat in a heavy bottomed pan.
  2. Reserve the bacon on a plate with paper towel, leaving about a tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan to saute the onions.
  3. Saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
  4. Add parsnip and tomato to the pan, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 2 more minutes.
  5. Add the bacon pieces, lentils, chipotle pepper, and the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Cover the pan and simmer until the lentils are soft (30 to 40 minutes). Check the soup occasionally to see if more liquid is needed; the lentils should be covered.
  6. Add lemon juice and cilantro, stir.
  7. Add the salt and pepper (to taste) and serve.
  8. Ladle in serving bowls, garnish with a tablespoon of goat yogurt and cilantro.

Original Recipe: http://www.recipetips.com/recipe-cards/t–1748/lentil-and-parsnip-soup.asp

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • used more bacon
  • added garlic
  • used parsnip only (no carrots), and shredded (not chopped)
  • added chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • used low sodium vegetable stock\added cilantro
  • added goat yogurt as garnish
  • added fresh lemon juice

Soup Mistress Rating for Parsnip Lentil Chipotle Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.75/5) 

Playing Russian Roulette With Asian-Style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup

Asian-style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup

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The completed Asian-style Chicken Noodle Soup with pea shoots

Just the other day, I decided to play recipe russian roulette and have some fun.

Being quite adventurous, I grabbed one of my many soup cookbooks and with my eyes closed shut I opened to a random soup recipe page. I decided that the page I landed on would be my next soup I was to cook up.

And Asian-Style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup is was!

I enjoyed making and eating this soup. I did make a few adjustments though from the original recipe. It originally called for some canned straw mushrooms and I did not want any part of that soup desecration. I am very lucky to have many options of mushrooms in the lower mainland, so I substituted the canned straw mushrooms for fresh enoki and shiitake mushrooms. Yum.

The Verdict of Asian-Style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup? I adjusted the recipe and brought back my superstar ingredient that I used in my Spicy Oyster Chowder, which was the thai red chile. That little chile is so powerful and adds the perfect amount of heat to any soup – it played very well with the sesame oil and fish sauce. I swear I am going to keep red thai chiles around in my kitchen as a staple from now on. This soup also had a nice texture with the enoki mushrooms (one of my favorites) and the shiitake mushrooms had a delicate yet meaty flavor. The soup the next day had a more intense flavor indeed. I was a tad surprised that the original recipe called for cinnamon and cloves though, but they also worked very well in the soup.

I would make this soup in the future and would not change a thing from how I adjusted and made it myself.

Asian-style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh gingerroot, finely chopped
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 small red thai chile, finely chopped
  • 3 cups rotisserie chicken (1 small chicken), shredded
  • 5 large shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 package enoki mushrooms (cut off and discard the roots)
  • 4 oz(125g) uncooked thin rice noodles
  • 1 bunch (6oz) pea shoots
  • pepper

Asian-style Chicken Mushroom Noodle Soup Instructions:

  1. Add oil to large saucepan/pot. Saute onion for 2-3 minutes on med/high heat until soft.
  2. Add stock, fish sauce, sesame oil, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and red thai chile.
  3. Bring to a gentle boil; reduce heat, simmer for 25-35 minutes.
  4. Remove star anise, cinnamon and cloves from pan, and discard.
  5. Add chicken and mushrooms to soup; simmer an additional 3-5 minutes or until chicken is hot.
  6. While soup is simmering (in step 3 above), bring 2 liters of water to boil, add noodles and remove from heat. Let stand 2-4 minutes or until softened. Drain in colander.
  7. Divide noodles among serving bowls.
  8. Ladle soup on top of noodles in each bowl.
  9. Top with pea shoots and season with pepper.

The Original Recipe: All New Soups, Stews and Chili’s, A pamphlet book by the Pampered Chef (Page 21).

What I changed from original recipe:

  • replaced vegetable oil with olive oil
  • replaced watercress with pea shoots
  • add red thai chile
  • added 1 tsp sesame oil
  • replaced canned straw mushrooms with fresh shitake and enoki mushrooms
  • didn’t bother with using a sachet for cinnamon, star anise, ginger and cloves.
  • left ginger finely chopped in the soup (original recipe instructed to have it in sachet and discard it after the simmer).

Soup Mistress Rating for Asian-style Chicken Noodle Soup:

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

Chicken Avgolemono – A Greek Goddess Soup Indeed

Chicken Avgolemono Soup

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Chicken Avgolemono Soup

I had in the back of my mind for quite sometime to make Greek Egg-lemon Soup (also known as Avgolemono = a soup made with lemon juice and egg mixture). It has been about 2 years since I have had this soup when visiting my girlfriend Karen in Long Beach, California. We went to Cafe Ambrosia and they served up a really tasty bowl of the Avgolemono soup (I think it was a soup of the day back then because I don’t see it on their menu online).

Last night, I decided to make the soup for my friend Brain Pape, a mortgage broker, who was coming over to help with my remortgage and get some paperwork signed. He’s quite a cook himself and makes a killer Vichyssoise, so I was hoping that this soup turned out yummy for him.

The Verdict? I think this soup is a Greek Goddess Soup indeed. I will make this soup again in a heartbeat. The homemade chicken broth with the tangy lemon-egg was so very velvety smooth.  I actually woke up in the middle of night to have a little bowl of this soup as a snack. This was out of character for me – I’m not really one for evening snacks – but I was craving it!

I decided to purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and take the meat off the breast and then use the carcass for the stock. I have used raw whole chicken in the past with all meat on to do the broth but the breast meat chicken gets to rubbery to use in the soup. I’d rather shred the roasted chicken and keep to the side to put into the soup.

Chicken Stock Ingredients:

  • whole roasted chicken carcass
  • 8-9 cups water
  • 2 carrots, chopped in large pieces
  • 1 onion, cut in quarter
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped in large pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • salt

Chicken Avgolemono Soup Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice
  • 14oz cooked chicken (white meat), shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • pepper

Chicken Stock Instructions:

  1. Cut off white breast meat from the roasted chicken (excluding skin – keep it for stock) , shred and put aside in fridge to use for soup later on.
  2. Bring chicken carcass (with skin and dark meat left on), onion, carrot, celery, garlic and salt to a boil, simmer over low heat for at least 1 hour (or 1.5 hours) with lid partially on.
  3. Strain stock.

Chicken Avgolemono Soup Instructions:

  1. Heat the chicken stock in a large saucepan and add the rice.
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  3. Add the chicken and warm through for 2 -3 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice in a small bowl. Add two ladles of the warm stock (slowly one at a time) and whisk until thinned.
  5. Remove the soup form the heat and gradually pour in the egg mixture, whisking to amalgamate it. It should thicken in the residual heat, but if you need to, place it over low heat for just 3-4 minutes, stirring the bottom of the pan to thicken. Do not return to high heat once the egg has been added, or it will boil and scramble.
  6. Add in the lemon zest and give it a final stir.
  7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with parsley, extra lemon zest, and pepper. Serve immediately.

Original recipe is from this book: Soups: No-fuss Recipes for Hearty Soups by Tonia George

What I changed from original recipe:

  • omitted fried croutons – I don’t think this soup needs it.
  • made my own chicken stock.
  • added lemon zest – I love lemon zest!

Soup Mistress Rating for Chicken Avgolemono Soup:

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