Hungarian Pepper Bisque Soup

Image

Now this has some spice!  It wasn’t that long ago that I was at the Taste of Buffalo where I tried, for the first time, Hungarian Stuffed Pepper Soup.  It was good enough that I visited the restaurant and had a bowl of it for lunch.  It was full-flavored, rich, smooth, but not thick and gloppy like so many soups are served up elsewhere.

Let’s fast forward to the Williamsville Farmers’ Market at the Mill this morning.  There were these beautiful Hungarian peppers, and I thought back to that wonderful soup.  Could I do anything like it?  Some of the peppers made their way into my vegetable purchase, and from there, they eventually made their way into my Vitamix.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 Hungarian peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped (if you like heat, add 3!)
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon of freshly chopped Basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of freshly chopped Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon of freshly chopped Parsley
  • 1-1/2 cups of grated Romano cheese
  • 4 to 8 oz. of cream cheese (not whipped cream cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • smoked paprika
  • shredded smoked chicken (optional)

Heat the olive oil over medium in a fry pan.  Add the onions and the garlic, and lower the heat to low.  Saute for two minutes and then add the green bell pepper and the Hungarian peppers.  Continue to saute until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat.

In a 64 oz. Vitamix container, place the chicken broth, basil, oregano, and parsley.  Add on top of this the sauteed vegetable mixture, the Romano cheese, and the cream cheese.  Note that I try it first with four ounces, and then add more if it needs it to “contain the heat”. Secure the lid on the Vitamix and set the Variable Speed to 1.  Start the Vitamix and gradually turn the speed up to 10.  Let run for six minutes at this speed until hot.

Taste the soup, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Be sure to secure the lid afterwards, then blend on Variable Speed 1 for 20 seconds to combine.

This soup is lovely, smooth, and rich.  I like to ladle it into a mug, topping it with a sprinkle of smoked paprika.  If you want a heartier dish, place some warm, shredded smoked chicken in your bowl first, then ladle soup over it.  Heavenly!

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

This is not a wimpy, thin tortilla soup.  The texture is thick and rich, with a complexity created by four different types of peppers.  The roasting of the poblano and bell peppers gives a slightly smokey flavor to the dish, making you want to come back for seconds.

  • 1 to 2 poblano peppers (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper (depending on how spicy you want it), cut in half, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 15-oz can of roasted tomatoes, or three freshly-roasted tomatoes (if you use fresh, make sure that they are naturally ripe in-season)
  • 1 rib of celery
  • 1 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Penzy’s Adobo
  • 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 4-oz can green chilies
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 ears of corn

Toppings (optional)

  • black olives, pits removed and chopped (I used the canned variety)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • 1 broiled skinless chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 small bag blue tortilla chips, broken up
  • minced fresh Cilantro
  1. Pre-heat the oven broiler.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Wash and dry the poblano peppers and the red pepper.  Place these on the baking sheet, and set under the broiler.  Broil, turning occasionally, until all sides are blackened.  Remove from the oven, and place the peppers into a glass bowl, covering with a plate.  Leave these to “sweat” for a bit.
  2. Peel both the red and yellow onions, as well as the garlic cloves.  Quarter the onions, and place both the onions and the garlic in a 64 oz. Vitamix container.  Set speed to Variable 1, and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add the onion and garlic mixture to this, reduce the heat to low, and saute until the onions are golden.  Remove from heat.
  4. Return to the (hopefully) cooling poblano peppers and bell pepper.  Sloth the majority of the loose skin off, then slice open, removing the stem, core and the seeds.
  5. Add to the 64 oz. Vitamix container the chicken stock, jalapeno pepper, roasted tomatoes, celery, chili powder, Adobo, cumin, smoked paprika and green chilies.   Add the poblano peppers, bell pepper, and onion mixture.  Don’t wash that soup pot yet!
  6. Secure the lid on the Vitamix, and set the Variable Speed to 1.  Start the Vitamix, gradually increasing the speed until you reach 10.  Run this for six to seven minutes at Variable 10.
  7. Once the soup base mixture is hot, it’s a great time to check the salt level of your soup.  Taste the thick broth, adding sea salt to taste.  Replace the lid, and run at Variable 1 for 20 seconds to blend.
  8. Husk the corn, and cut the kernels from the cob.  Rinse the beans well.  Set aside the corn and the beans.
  9. Pour the soup base mixture into the large soup pot.  This will de-glaze all that lovely caramelization left behind from the onions, adding more flavor to your soup.   Add the corn and beans to the mixture, stirring over low heat until the corn and beans are heated through.

For serving, ladle into bowls and garnish with your choice of sliced avocado, shredded chicken, grated Cheddar cheese, sour cream, blue corn chips, black olives, and fresh cilantro.  Note: If you are “shy” of spicy soups, be sure to try yours with cheddar cheese and sour cream.  It mellows it right out!

Dairy-Free Asparagus Soup

Image

 

This is one of my favorite, quick, yet flavorful soups.  So many asparagus soups are weighed down with heavy cream, and they really don’t need to be.  What we are going to do is roast our asparagus to bring out the flavor.

When I was little, my grandparents and my parents both had asparagus patches.  When the season was upon us, we would all the asparagus that we could.  At that time, we couldn’t purchase asparagus in grocery departments, as it was an “oddity”.  Lucky us that not only can we now purchase asparagus during prime season, but almost any other time of the year as well!

Anyhow, on to the recipe!  Please use only fresh asparagus for this.  Frozen asparagus is sad, and canned asparagus is a travesty.

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • One to two tablespoons of virgin olive oil (if you have flavored olive oil with herbs, even better…I used Wegmans’ Basting Oil)
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (depending on whether one is vegan or not)
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of raw cashews
  • a large pinch of white pepper
  • salt to taste

Line a stainless steel pan with aluminum foil (for easy clean up).  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  

Meanwhile, trim the ends off of your asparagus.  The easy way is simply to “snap” off the ends of the asparagus.  If it snaps, you’ve got coarse material to discard, and a longer stem of tender asparagus to make into soup.  Now if you are lucky, and your produce manager was on the ball, they stored the asparagus with the ends soaking in water.  If the ends are still moist, and you are using a Vitamix, you probably won’t need to trim the ends at all.  Place the asparagus into a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl.

Peel the yellow onion and halve it.  Peel the garlic cloves.  Add both to the bowl with the asparagus.  Now toss the vegetables with the olive oil until coated.  Spread out the vegetable mixture in your lined stainless steel pan, and place in the oven.  Roast for 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside.  In the Vitamix container, either 48 ounce or 64 ounce in size, combine your chicken or vegetable broth, thyme, cashews, and pepper.  

Cut off a few of the best “heads” of the asparagus for garnishing your soup.  Set these aside.  Place the remaining asparagus pieces, as well as the onion and garlic, into the Vitamix container.  Secure the lid and set the Variable Speed to 1.  Start the motor, and gradually ramp up the motor until you reach 10.  Set a timer for six minutes.

When the timer goes off, check your soup to make sure that it is hot.  If not, run for a couple more minutes until it is.  Taste, and salt according to taste.  Blend for a minute on Variable Speed 2 until combined.

Pour into bowls, garnish with the reserved asparagus tops, and enjoy!

Tomato Basil Soup with Quinoa

Image

Tomato soup is one of my comfort foods, one that I will likely never get bored with, as there are so many varieties and takes on it.  This is a good recipe to fix when you’re craving rich flavor, but it’s not the height of the tomato season.

  • one large yellow onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups of chicken broth
  • two 15 oz. cans of fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic
  • one 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
  • 4 tablespoons of fresh, chopped basil
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

Note: I used my 64 oz. Vitamix container for this entire soup.

Peel the yellow onion and cut it into quarters.  Place these and the peeled garlic cloves in your Vitamix container.  Cover with water to one to two inches above the line of the onions.  Secure the cover, and set to Variable 1.  Start the Vitamix, and process for 6 to 8 seconds.  Pour the resulting chopped onion/garlic mixture through a sieve or colander.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan, and gently saute the chopped onion and garlic mixture over low heat until the onions become translucent.  When done, remove from heat and set aside.

In the Vitamix container, combine 1-1/2 cans of the fire-roasted tomatoes, green chilies, basil, chicken broth, the reserved onion/garlic mixture, and half the quinoa.  Secure the lid, and set the Variable Speed to 1.  Start the Vitamix, and slowly raise the Variable Speed to 10.  Let process for six minutes or until the mixture is hot.

Add the remaining quinoa and the half can of tomatoes, re-secure the lid, and set the Variable Speed to 3.  Start the Vitamix and blend for 10 seconds until mixed.  Don’t process for longer, unless you want a perfectly smooth soup.  I like a smooth base with some chunky bits in mine.

“Wild” Mushroom Soup

image

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

IMAG1312


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.

Image

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!