I don't know why, but the Food Glorious Food song from Oliver keeps going through my mind...

Actually, I've been singing Soup, Glorious Soup... I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I made a big pot of soup that was really good...

We are on a serious soup kick, right now. What I especially like is that it's dinner and an instant lunch the following day - or two. Totally unattended cooking and we get numerous meals from it. Not bad, at all...

Tonight's soup consisted of:

  • 2 chicken thighs
  • 2 links chorizo
  • 1/2 cup beluga lentils
  • 1/2 cup heirloom rice blend
  • 1/2 cup wheat berries
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 cup ditalini pasta
  • celery
  • carrots
  • onion
  • hot sauce
  • bay leaves
  • oregano
  • cajun seasoning
  • soy sauce
  • worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper

Put it in a pot and make it hot.

It's the simplest cooking. I keep collecting soup recipes and not making them - instead, making something completely unrelated. One of these days I may break down and actually follow one.

In the meantime, though, I'm getting some great ideas. And we're eating well.



Zuppa di Pesce

Zuppa di Pesce

Another vat of soup. I needed soup after last night's dinner. I ate too much and felt it. It's amazing that we used to actually eat more than that - and then have a huge dessert. Every night. I'm really glad those days are behind us - and that if we do overeat - we know and feel it. I also learned the volume of those little pie plates. They're deceiving - they look small - but there's not a container in the world I couldn't overfill if given half a chance. I know how much to put in next time I use them.

Learning experience.

I got the idea for tonight's soup from the NY Times food section. Of course, what I read and what I made are pretty much polar opposites, but the idea came from Martha Rose Shulman.

It's another clean-out-the-'fridge dish. This is what was here when the stars aligned. Next time it will probably be very different. That's the beauty of soups.

The amounts are pretty much estimates - there's no real reason to be exact with any of this. I used mahi mahi and shrimp, but any fish will do.

Zuppa di Pesce

  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 2 anchovies, minced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup radishes, diced
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 4 cups clam juice
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes in juice
  • 8 oz small potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • 8 oz shrimp
  • 8 oz mahi mahi
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • hefty pinch crushed red pepper
  • salt & pepper, to taste

In a soup pot, brown pancetta. Add anchovies and stir. Add onion, leek, garlic, celery, carrot, peppers, and radishes. Cook until vegetables begin to wilt. Add a pinch of salt & pepper.

Add the white wine and bring to a boil. Add the clam juice and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the seasonings, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add potatoes and simmer until 99% done. Stir in spinach and cook down about 2 minutes.

Stir in fish and cook just until done - a minute or two more.

Check seasonings and add more S&P, as desired.

It looks like a lot of ingredients but it really is a clean-out-the-'fridge meal. Add or subtract things, as you have them.

It's soup. You can't mess it up!



Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon - Sorta

I have made Julia Child's classic Boeuf Bourguignon many times. I have followed her painstaking directions, cooked the pearl onions - fresh, of course - and the mushrooms separately, straining the sauce - the whole bit. It's fabulous - and a lot of work.

I've streamlined her process several times - and today, came up with another variation that is more than adequate. It's all done in one pot - a far cry from the numerous pots Julia used - and the results were stupendous. And really good, too!

I'm a peasant at heart, and just can't see straining out perfectly good vegetables to make a silken sauce - on a Monday. I would do it for a special occasion - I have done it for a special occasion - but I also like how the carrots and onions just kind of melt into the sauce and how the mushrooms add to the meatiness of the dish after several hours in the oven.

The dish still takes hours to make - but it's oven time, not prep and cooking and washing pots and pans time.

Totally doable.

Boeuf Bourguignon - Streamlined

  • 3 ounces bacon, cut into matchstick strips
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • flour for dredging
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 6 shallots, halved - quartered if large
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms, small left whole, large halved or quartered
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

In an ovenproof casserole, cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and set aside.

Dredge beef in flour and add to the bacon fat in batches and brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Sauté shallots, green onions, garlic, and fennel until they begin to wilt - adding a bit of olive oil, if necessary.

Stir in tomato paste and cook about a minute. Add the brandy and start scraping up the bottom of the pan.

Add the wine and the beef broth - then the mushrooms and carrots. Add the thyme and bay leaf and salt and pepper, to taste.

Bring to a boil, cover, and then place in a 325°F oven for three hours, stirring a couple of times.

Before serving, check for final seasoning and add S&P, as needed.

Serve over potatoes or noodles.

This is like really awesome beef stew - and you can make it even more stew-like with celery, parsnips, rutabagas... cooking potatoes in the sauce...

Go for it!

Lentil Barley Soup

Lentil and Barley Soup

It's 49°F, outside. Time for soup, inside.

Soup is generally one of those things I just make. It's the original put it in a pot and make it hot meal. That being said, I also like to see what other folks have put together - different spice blends or soups from different countries or cultures.

Since we're heading right in to soup season, I ordered a copy of Soup Beautiful Soup by Felipe Rojas-Lombardi from and online used book dealer. Felipe was James Beard's assistant for five years and shared his philosophy on cooking. His premise was If you can boil water, you can make soup. Words to live by!

Born in Peru, he was also the founding chef of Dean & DeLucca, America's Bicentennial Chef, and is credited with bringing Tapas into the mainstream in America.

While waiting for it to arrive, I started scouring cookbooks in the house to see what I had overlooked. I found a Lentil and Barley Soup from Jacques Pépin in Encore with Claudine that sounded pretty good. And then the new book arrived, and I was torn... What to make first?!?

Jacques won - I had everything I needed already in the house.

Soup Beautiful Soup has an introduction by Craig Claiborne - and he quotes M.F.K. Fisher in the opening paragraph:

Years ago she noted that the basis of French cooking is butter, that of Italy olive oil, of Germany lard, and of Russia sour cream. Water or drippings are attributed to the English kitchen, and to those of America the flavor of innumerable tin cans.

Claiborne goes on to state that he believes this is the reason why Americans, by and large, have never spent a lot of time making soup in the home.

Being the second of six kids, I ate a lot of homemade soup - my mother was the master at making them - but I get what he means. Campbell's Soup averaged about 10¢ a can in the mid-'50s to mid-'60s. On those occasions where we had a canned soup, it was the even less-expensive Lady Lee store brand from Lucky Market. Canned soup was pretty affordable. Why make it when you can just open a can and add water?!?

Besides my mom's soups, there are certain soups that stand out for me. When I worked at Pirro's, our Minestrone Soup was a mixture of 2 different canned minestrones - Homestead and Riviera. It would sit in the steamtable and get so thick you could stand a spoon up in it. It was excellent and no one ever dreamed it came out of cans - and pretty much proves M.F.K. Fisher's observation. The Sizzling Platter house soup was every leftover in the kitchen thrown into a pot. Even the family-style salad bowls that came back from the tables went into the pot. People bought it by the quart to take home. They loved it.

The Hyatt Lake Tahoe had a number of excellent soups on the winter menu, but two will always stand out all these years later - a thick, golden Mulligatawny and a Hot and Sour Soup with Short Ribs. I'd love to have those original recipes. I've replicated the Mulligatawny pretty well, but I still think theirs was better. I've never even tried to replicate the Hot and Sour.

The Fish Chowder at the No Name in Boston was a favorite back in the day. It's been many years since I've been there but I remember it well - a thin milky broth as opposed to the thick, creamy sauce usually associated with a Boston Clam Chowder.

Soup... I still can't get enough of it.

Here's Jacques' soup from today. Felipe's soups are forthcoming!

Lentil and Barley Soup

  • 1 lb lentils
  • 1⁄2 cup pearl barley
  • 4 quarts beef stock
  • 2 Hot Italian sausages, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp herbes de Provence
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 medium leeks, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces and washed
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 5 large cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1⁄2 tsp Tabasco
  • 1⁄2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Place all of the ingredients except the hot sauce and cheese in a large pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook gently for 1 1⁄2 hours.

Emulsify the soup with a handheld immersion blender for 8-10 seconds to make the mixture somewhat creamy. Or, process 2 cups of the soup in a blender or food processor for 20 seconds, then combine the purée with the remaining soup.

Add the hot sauce and serve with the grated cheese.

It's not dramatically different from our regular lentil soup - but different enough. I didn't blend any of it because we both tend to like a more broth-y soup. And we topped it with freshly-grated parmesan - not swiss.

I upped the Tabasco at the end - because I like Tabasco - and I browned off the sausage and vegetables before adding the broth and the lentils. It makes a lot, so we are set for lunch for the week!






Butternut Squash Soup

The End of Week Twelve

24 pounds, boys and girls. Twenty-Four Pounds!

I am really psyched. When we started this, we had a goal - something that seemed nigh on impossible - but we had to aim somewhere. Today, our goal is not only realistic, but totally doable.

The gym is getting both easier and more difficult. I still can't squat and touch the floor - hell, I can't bend over and touch my toes - but I'm closer today than I have ever been. I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be there within a month. I'm more limber than I have been in years - although I have a long way to go to get to where I need to be.

We're both progressing well - although differently. Victor can squat and touch the floor - and does more weight on the leg presses.  He's also much more limber and flexible than I am. I tend to be a tad more stubborn and get the other damned reps in without stopping. Usually. Today, in a sitting position up against a pillar with a kettlebell in my hands twisting from side to side, my legs were burning like you wouldn't believe. Thirty reps - done in groups of ten. No way could I do thirty straight through. Hell - doing ten was murder! It still surprises me what we can - and can't - do. And our Trainer knows what we can - and can't - do. He keeps pushing the can't. He's good. Really good.

Here's a little math for you to put weight loss in perspective... A pound is roughly 3500 kcal, so, to lose 2 pounds in a week, one must cut or otherwise burn 7000 kcal - 1000 kcal per day. That really can't be done by diet, alone. Not only is it unrealistic, it sets us up for failure because it means we're hungry all the time and tend to binge and make bad choices. And the metabolism slows, starts hoarding fat... It's a vicious cycle. Diets are designed to fail, hence the multi-billion dollar diet industry in this country. Follow the money.

A vigorous exercise routine burns calories, so you can eat more and still lose. I mean... you see what we're eating here. We are not skimping. Our portions are smaller than they were 4 months ago, but there is nothing we can't eat if we so desire it. We're not depriving ourselves. We're paying someone to beat the crap out of us so we can eat what we want and lose weight at the same time. It's a much more realistic approach.

And having a Trainer really is what's driving this. There is just no way we would be doing this - to this extreme - without being pushed. It's worth every cent.

So weight is down and spirits are up!

Also up tonight was a big bowl of Butternut Squash Soup. This is one of Victor's excellent go-to recipes. He used our homemade chicken stock, fried peppers, and a jar of the beans I canned a couple of weeks ago. It's really a simple soup with just a few ingredients, so make sure the ingredients are good!

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 butternut squash – peeled and cubed
  • 2 qts chicken broth
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 hot pepper, or to taste
  • 1 can beans
  • Salt, to taste

Sauté  shallot and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil. Add squash, broth, and beans. Simmer until squash is falling apart-tender.

Puree in a blender until completely smooth.

Serve with a drizzle of good-quality olive oil.

The beans add a creaminess to the soup without having to add cream. You can also make it with water or vegetable broth to make it completely vegan. I added a few chopped scallions just for grins and giggles.

And we have enough for lunch, tomorrow!




Chicken Soup with Eggplant

The End of Week Nine

It's been nine weeks. Nine whole weeks since we began this odyssey. And, slowly but surely, it's starting to pay off - Victor is down 19 pounds, I'm down 17 1/2. Hallelujah!

I hafta tell ya, though, this has not been the easiest thing I have ever done. Our trainer is really starting to push - and there are moments when I'm not sure I'm going to survive. Trying to breathe and catch a breath is the hardest part - other than trying to lift some godforsaken thing over my head or trying to pull myself up just one more time - when I have 12 more to go after that. Piece of cake. A walk in the park. The seventh circle of hell.

But... we're getting there - and that's the whole reason we're doing this.

I'm rather enjoying the eating habit change, although it's still a bit strange getting a new cooking magazine and not immediately heading into the kitchen to try out the latest gooey dessert. On the other hand, I like feeling full after eating a lot less that I used to. And I do feel better.

The next test is Wednesday when I go in for my annual physical - I'm curious as to what the numbers are going to be...

And speaking of eating... It's rapidly becoming soup season! I'm rushing it just a little bit, but I do love soups! I did a clean-out-the-refrigerator pot this evening - Eggplant and Chicken! It worked.

Eggplant and Chicken Soup

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  •  1 hot red pepper
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 6 small red bliss potatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • 6 oz cooked chicken
  • 1 1/2 qts chicken stock
  • 1 can diced green peppers
  • 1 can great northern beans
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp ras el hanout
  • salt and pepper

Cut eggplant in half, rub with olive oil, sprinkle with cumin, salt, and pepper, and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. Cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, saute onion, leeks, garlic, red pepper, and bell pepper in a pot. When wilted, add spices and cook about 30 seconds. Add broth.

Scoop eggplant pulp into pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend everything to a smooth consistency.

Add chopped carrots, celery, chopped tomatoes, quartered potatoes, and drained beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 10 minutes.

Add cooked chicken and heat through.

Taste for seasonings and adjust, as necessary.

Ladle into bowls and top with chopped green onions.

As I said - a clean-out-the-'fridge soup. And it worked on every level. Just enough spice to make it interesting, the eggplant made the broth creamy like a bean soup, and everything else made it hearty and filling - perfect for those of us who are watching what we eat!

Tomorrow is going to be the test - we're heading up to New York City for the day. Coney Island. I've never been there. Weather permitting, we'll be walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and catch the subway in Brooklyn down to the amusement park.

I see a Nathan's Hot Dog in my future...





Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock

Last night, as I was making my shopping list, Victor said, if you get a couple of chickens I'll make chicken stock and you can can it. With an offer like that, how could I refuse?!?

We both prefer homemade stock, but lack the freezer space to make and freeze it. I honestly never thought of canning it, but it was a brilliant idea - and easy as 1-2-3!

I spent $12 for 2 chickens - 99¢/lb at 6 pounds each. Chicken stock is $1.99/qt. I got 9 quarts and all that cooked chicken. Even with using a bottle of wine and the vegetables, I'm ahead of the game, for sure!

We broke out the big pot and into it went two whole chickens, 2 onions, quartered - skins and all. 6 carrots, halved - skins and all. 6 celery stalks - leaves and all. 3 bay leaves, 6 garlic cloves, a handful of peppercorns, a bottle of pinot grigio, and some salt. And then filled it with water.

Put it on high to boil and then let it boil away for about 3 hours.

I strain it and then skimmed the fat. Into hot sterilized jars, and then into the canner.

This was seriously too easy.

I didn't filter it so it's not crystal clear, but I don't really care about that. The flavor is fantastic - and that's the important part.

I think this is our new normal!

And... because I had broth and chicken, I made soup!




Chicken Rice Soup with Leeks and Lemon

Chicken Rice Soup with Leeks and Lemon

Since Victor made a vat of chicken stock, I thought it only fitting to make a small pot of chicken soup. I'm clever like that, sometimes.

My mantra is soup is soup is soup. You put stuff in a pot and make it hot. And... that is generally my thought on it. But every now and again, I like to see what's out there - what others are doing or revisit things from the past.

We were raised on soup and crusty bread and as much as I talk about not replicating recipes, I'd love to be able to make a bowl of her vegetable beef soup. She wrote out a recipe, but... it's not her soup. The other reality is she never quite made the same soup twice - it was always similar and always really good - but it was never exactly the same. I don't try and make hers. I just miss it.

But I digress...

I headed over to the NY Times Food Section to see what they had in the way of chicken and leek soups. I was thinking something like a traditional cock-a-leekie since I had lots of leeks. What I found was a similar soup - but with lemon juice and thickened with eggs. Be still, my beating heart!

Chicken Rice Soup with Leeks and Lemon

adapted from NY Times - Martha Rose Shulman

  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 pound leeks, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup short grained rice
  • 4 large eggs
  • Fresh juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup diced cooked chicken
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Hard cooked eggs, for garnish

Combine the stock and leeks, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add the rice and continue to simmer until it begins to break down - about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.

Remove about a cup of broth to cool a bit. Stir in chicken.

Beat together the eggs and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

Just before serving, mix the semi-cooled broth with the eggs. Remove the pot from the stove and quickly stir the egg mixture into the soup.

Garnish with sliced hard cooked egg and black pepper.

This was really awesome - and is being added to the fall and winter rotation.

AND... there's enough for lunch, tomorrow!!!


Fish and Corn Chowder

Corn and Fish Chowder

Wow. It's cold enough to make a pot of soup! How did that happen? It's been raining all day - flood watch until Tuesday - with that wet, penetrating cold. Granted, I'm sill in shorts, t-shirt and thongs - flip-flops for those of you west of California - but it's a bit nippy outside. I'm inside. Warm, comfortable, and full of hot soup. It's moments like this where I could not care less about what the weather is - I'm content.

Tonight's dinner was brought to you by the 2 ears of corn I didn't use when I wrote about corn on Tuesday. And then it snowballed into a clean-out-the-fridge-and-freezer meal. Amazing how that happens, isn't it?!?

My first thought was to simply make a corn chowder, and then I espied the white fish - cod and haddock - in the freezer. Next thing I knew, I was making a fish and corn chowder with the remnants of the vegetable bin, a partial bag of frozen mixed vegetables, clam juice, pancetta - also from the freezer - and assorted herbs and spices from the cupboard.

It's how soup is supposed to be made - no recipe - just throw it in a pot and make it hot!

Now... In theory, chowder is a soup thickened with cream or a roux. I didn't use either - I cooked a russet potato in the broth and let it break down. But chowder sounds better when paired with corn and fish, so chowder, it is!

For those who like a bit of clarification, here's what I did:

Fish and Corn Chowder

  • 2 oz pancetta
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup prosecco
  • 1 qt clam juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 russet potato, chopped
  • 6 oz baby potatoes, quartered
  • corn kernels cut from 2 ears of corn
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 5 scallions, chopped
  • 1 lb white fish cut into pieces
  • S&P, as desired
  • assorted herbs and spices - try herbes d'provence or Old Bay, or Italian Seasoning...

Brown pancetta in a stock pot. Add celery and onion and cook until wilted. Add garlic and cook just for a second or two.

Add prosecco - or white wine - stir up any bits from the pot, and reduce down slightly. Add clam juice and broth and bring to a boil. Add potato, cover, reduce heat, and cook until potato is falling apart. Mash into broth.

Stir in corn, baby potatoes, mixed vegetables, tomatoes, and scallions, along with S&P and herbs. Cover and continue simmering until vegetables are cooked though.

5 minutes before serving, stir in fish.

Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread if you're lucky enough to have some!

This really the ultimate in clean-out-the-pantry soup. And, surprisingly, the bowls were too big! We both made it through half and were full - this eating less stuff is having it's desired effect! I also ate one slice of crusty bread when once upon a time, I would have eaten half a loaf - with butter.

The times they are a changing...

A Super Bowl of Soup

Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. It's The Philadelphia Eagles vs Those Bums Up In Boston. Yeah, I know I used to live in Boston. I saw plenty of games at Foxboro - my old roommate, Jeff, was regional sales director for Seagram's - and we saw quite a few games courtesy of Seagram's. And a lot of liquor, too, but that's another story for another time. We were out there for a snow game where you literally could not see across the field. We had flasks of Seagram's 7 in our pockets to keep us warm. We drove home drunk in a snowstorm. We had to drive - we were too drunk and too far away to walk.

Yeah, while I have some fond - albeit fuzzy - memories of the pre-Brady Patriots, it's officially 17 years since we moved to the Philadelphia Main Line. The Eagles are the Local Team, today.

The day was crazy - work was a total zoo with more Eagle's Green than I've ever seen in my life. There are some serious parties happening around here, tomorrow. Work really was fun, though,  because everyone was in great spirits, lots of laughter, lots of camaraderie... and not a lot of trash talk against New England. I think folks were trying to keep Karma in check.

This really has been fun, because the last time I actually cared about who won was in 2013 when The Niner's lost to Baltimore. The Eagles are the Local Team, but the San Francisco 49ers are the Hometown Team.

The Hometown Team has given me some great games and there are more than a couple that are mere blurs. There were a few games at my brother's bachelor pad house that rumor has were a wild and crazy time but I'll be damned if I can actually remember any of them. I only know that they were loud and raucous - but I don't think the police were ever really involved.

And then there were all the games - usually at my sister's house - once we moved east, celebrating Pop's Birthday and The Super Bowl. We'd fly into San Francisco, get our room at the Motel 8 in San Bruno on El Camino - along with all the rest of the out-of-town family - and have a big Birthday Bash/Super Bowl Party. Since we can't all get together for Christmas, it was our annual everyone get-together. It's amazing that we would move heaven and earth to get west for Pop's Birthday, but it just wasn't all that convenient to fly west once he died. Priorities, and all that...

We are all meeting up out west at the end of April, this year - we actually do get together now and again - but the Super Bowl is going to be celebrated with Victor's brother down the road. I'm sure it will be a tad quieter than those west coast soirées of yore.

And the night before Super Bowl is going to be a tad quieter, as well.

The quieter night started with bowls of steaming Roasted Red Pepper Soup. I roasted a dozen red peppers the other day and Victor has been eying them, ever since. Last night I stuffed burgers with some - along with some Fontina cheese - but today, he took half of them and made the most delicious soup, ever.

Rich, creamy, just slightly spicy... a total joy to behold...

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

  • 5 red peppers, roasted
  • 2 qts chicken broth
  • 1 qt water
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • pinch cayenne
  • S&P
  • butter

Saute celery, onion, carrots, garlic, red pepper, and jalapeño pepper in olive oil until vegetables are soft. Add broth, water, beans, and roasted red peppers, and bring to a boil, and then simmer about 30 minutes.

Cool, and then blend soup in blender - or with an immersion blender - until smooth.

Check for seasoning and add cayenne, and S&P, as desired. When reheating to serve, stir in a couple pats of butter for richness.

I whipped up some garlic bread from some crusty bread we had, and dinner was served!

Totally excellent.

So here's to a Super Day tomorrow - and a Super Win by Philadelphia!




Broccoli Soup

The weather may not be frightful, but dinner was definitely delightful!

A steaming bowl of homemade soup is one of life's great pleasures, and when you add a loaf of warm, fresh-baked bread, it's gastronomic heaven on earth.

This was a bit of a clean-out-the-'fridge soup - often the best kind. There's a bit of formula to them and they're similar, but they're all just slightly unique - based upon what you have lying about. We had a couple of broccoli crowns, an onion, and a half a green pepper that had all seen better days. Into a pot - not into the trash.

Victor always throws in a can of beans to puree along with whatever it is he's cooking. It adds creaminess without adding cream. Usually it's a can of white beans, but red beans were on the shelf.

This can easily be made vegetarian or even vegan without any trouble, at all.

Broccoli Soup

  • broccoli
  • onion
  • bell pepper
  • chicken broth
  • beans
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper

Saute onion and bell pepper, add the broccoli, broth, one broth-carton of water, and a can of beans. Cook until broccoli is fall-apart tender. Puree in blender or with an immersion blender and add salt, pepper, and cayenne, to taste.

You can finish it with a pat of butter and serve with a healthy drizzle of olive oil or sour cream.

This basic concept can be used for broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash... You name it, you can do it!

So clean out the 'fridge and enjoy!


Cod, Sausage, and Fennel Cioppino

The latest edition of Fine Cooking magazine arrived a few days ago and one of the first recipes I saw was for a Cod, Sausage, and Fennel Cioppino.

That's all fine and good, but there is only one cioppino - it is Crab Cioppino - made with Dungeness Crab. I'm a San Franciscan. I know these things.

That being said, it's cold outside and I had all the ingredients in the house to make the recipe. I've created worse culinary sacrileges in my life - and the recipe did sound intriguing... Into the kitchen I went...

I freely adapted the recipe, adding a lot more wine, garlic, carrots, bell pepper and I switched out the fennel seeds for fennel pollen - I had it in the cupboard. I used a can of diced tomatoes and some seasonings in place of the marinara. I also added a hefty amount of hot sauce, since Nonna wasn't going to be eating it.

Cod, Sausage, and Fennel Cioppino

adapted from Fine Cooking

  • 6 oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, sliced thin
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel pollen
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups bottled clam juice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • hefty pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. skinless cod pieces, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • hot sauce, to taste

Break up the sausage and cook over medium-high heat. Add the onion, fennel, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook, until the vegetables begin to brown and become tender - about 6 minutes.

Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the clam juice, diced tomatoes, oregano, fennel pollen, and pepper flakes, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the fish and cook until the fish is cooked through - about 5 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and add hot sauce, as desired.

It wasn't Dungeness Crab, but it wasn't bad by any means. The broth was really rich and flavorful and every ingredient just complimented the next. A perfect meal for a snowy day - and no crab shells to deal with!

I can see more of this, this winter!