“Wild” Mushroom Soup

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This is relatively easy to make, and may make you swear off of buying canned mushroom soup.  Start by taking a stroll through your produce aisle, selecting three different types of gourmet mushrooms. Feel free to substitute your own favorites from what I am listing here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces of portabello mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces of oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces of shitaki mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 tablesoons of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of marjoram
  • 2 ounces of brandy or cognac
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium sized pot. Add the onions, and saute until soft and slightly golden.  Add in the mushrooms, reduce the heat, and cook for ten minutes.
Pour two cups of the chicken stock into the pot, add the parsley and marjoram, and simmer for one hour.
Pour the remaining two cups of chicken stock into a Vitamix or blender.  Add the mushroom and onion mix with broth, reserving 1 cup of the cooked mushrooms.
If you are using a Vitamix, start the machine at Variable 1, gradually increasing to Variable 10. Run four or five minutes until steaming hot. If a blender, start on low and increase speed until smooth; you will have to return it to the stove to heat in a couple of steps.
Add the reserved mushroom mixture and run on Variable 1 for 10 seconds, resulting in small mushroom bits in the soup.
Salt and pepper to taste. (Here’s where the non-Vitamix folks will want to return yours to the pot to heat up the rest of the way, stirring in the brandy just prior to serving.)
Add the brandy or cognac, run on Variable 1 for 10 more seconds, and serve.

Cheesy Poblano Pepper Chowder

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 Poblano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 4-6 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 russet potatoes, roasted and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
  • 1 cup of shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of diced, roasted chicken breast
  • 1 ear of steamed corn
  • 1 15-oz. can of black beans or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper
  • Shredded cheese and Tortilla chips or strips, for topping

Preheat the broiler, setting the oven rack 6-8 inches from the heat.  Place the poblano peppers on a baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil.  Place this under the broiler, checking and turning until the skin is blackened slightly on all sides, about five minutes.  Remove the peppers to a paper bag, rolling the top closed.  Set this aside 15 minutes to allow the peppers to “sweat”.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic, stirring until golden.  Remove these from heat, and place in a blender (I use a Vitamix), along with the chicken broth.

Add the potatoes, cumin, and shredded cheese to the blender and affix the lid.  Set to Variable 1 and start, increasing the Variable speed gradually to 10.  Allow to run for four to five minutes until steaming.  (Those of you who aren’t using a Vitamix may want to pour the pureed mixture into a pan to heat on the stove.)

Meanwhile, back to the poblano peppers.  After “sweating”, the skin will peel off easily.  Remove the stem and the seeds as well.  Do yourself a favor and DON’T remove the skin under a running faucet; you will be removing flavor!

Cut the kernels off the ear of steamed corn.

Add the chicken breast, poblano peppers, corn, and black beans to the blender.  Set the Vitamix to Variable 1 and pulse four or five times until mixed.  (I made the mistake of “running” the Vitamix once to mix in corn and tortilla chips to a chowder…it emulsified them into the mixture!  So if you want some texture to the soup, pulse!)

Taste, and add salt and pepper as you see fit.

Pour into bowls and garnish with shredded cheese and tortilla strips.  Enjoy!

Curried Cauliflower Soup

This is what happens when you go on a grocery run and find the most beautiful head of cauliflower ever in the produce department.

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I love smooth, creamy, flavorful soups, and this one fit the bill.  Yes, it really is as good as it looks, so let’s get our blender on!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a large head of cauliflower (or one small head), cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered
  • 2 stalks of celery, in 4 inch chunks
  • 1 large russet potato, in 1-1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups of low-fat chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 cup of extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheese or sour cream for garnish.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a deep baking dish with aluminum foil.  Place the cauliflower, onions, celery, and potatoes in the baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil.  Give it a stir to coat the veggies, and into the oven it goes to roast for 50 minutes.

Allow the veggies to cool for just a bit upon removal from the oven, and then place them in the blender with the chicken stock, curry powder, and cumin.  If you have a Vitamix, start out at Variable level 1, and increase gradually to 10 (high).  Blend 4 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is steaming.  If using the cheese, add it now, and process on Variable 2 until blended through.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper, or even additional curry powder, to taste.  Blend through on Variable 2 for 30 seconds.

Serve garnished with additional cheese or a dollop of sour cream.

Note: A word on Curry Powder

Not all curry powder is created equal.  I use Spice Islands curry powder, which has a bit of kick, and has “bits” for added texture.  Other curry powders may be milder in comparison, or even hotter, if you purchase it from a more ethnic source.  As they say in one of my favorite Indian restaurants, “When it comes to curry, there’s hot, and then there’s Indian hot!”  Use your curry powder according to your taste buds.  It’s great for your health, and tasty to boot!

Fall Vegetable Bisque soup

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Every so often, fate intervenes in the kitchen, or in this case, the produce in my refrigerator did. I had made plans to repeat the Vitamix’s Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup, but there, waving to me from the vegetable drawer, were some leftover root vegetables. If I didn’t use them, I would eventually lose them.  I also knew that the freezer had a recent addition of beef broth, a full can’s worth that I had mistaken for chicken broth, only realizing my faus pax AFTER removing the lid.  Hmmmm….

That is how this soup was born.  It is creamy, rich, but low in calories.  I am sure that you will find it as comforting and filling as I do.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, sliced thick
  • 1 leek, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 russet potatoes, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 carrots, sliced thick
  • 2 parsnips, sliced thick
  • 1/2 of a small head of green cabbage, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons of McCormick Salt Free “It’s a Dilly” seasoning
  • 6 cups of low-fat beef broth
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)
  • Low-fat Sour Cream (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot.  Add the onions and the leek.  Saute for four minutes, stirring until slightly translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the potato, carrots, parsnip, and cabbage.  Cook five minutes, until the mixture is heated through.  Add the seasoning, stir, and then pour in the beef stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer the mixture until the potato is tender. Remove from heat and let rest for 30 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a 64 ounce Vitamix container.  If using the 750, select the Soup pre-set and blend.  If using a different model, select Variable 1, start, and slowly increase to Variable 10.  Process until smooth and heated throughout.

If desired, garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.