Cauliflower Soup with Shiitakes

When I am looking ahead at a week of sub-zero temps, I know a salad for lunch just isn’t going to cut it; I need something warm to eat midday and in the evening, too. When I saw a photo of this creamy white soup with a small dollop of shiitake mushrooms on top, I knew I had to try it!

I think cauliflower gets a bad rap. I’ve always liked it; this time of year I’ll just chop and roast with a little bit of olive oil or sometimes I’ll make “mashed” cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, but I can see where some people see it as a blah vegetable. If you’re watching your grocery bill, you can usually find it on sale and it makes for a couple of side dishes. Yet I admit, it is a real pain in the neck to chop, little pieces go everywhere, and I’ll find bits on the floor and counter days later despite my best cleaning efforts. But when it is $2.99, I can’t resist such a good price!

I love shiitakes and rarely buy them because of their price, but I found a package for $4.99, which made for two meals, plus they were already sliced, so the work was already done for me!

My medium cauliflower head was more than four cups chopped, but I used it all and just added a bit more broth to thin it out. And the Worcestershire sauce and vinegar was the perfect complement and added a little zing to what would be an otherwise ordinary soup!

cauliflower soupCauliflower Soup with Shiitakes

This recipe originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

For a vegetarian version, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth or water and use a vegetarian Worcestershire sauce or use all sherry vinegar.

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 cup thinly sliced leek, white and light green parts only
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower florets (about 1 medium head)
1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson), divided
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 (3.5-ounce) package shiitake mushroom caps
1 teaspoon lower-sodium Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add leek; sauté 1 minute. Add 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 5 minutes or until leeks are softened, stirring occasionally. Add cauliflower, 1 cup and 6 tablespoons stock, 3/4 cup water, and thyme. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes or until cauliflower is very tender. Place cauliflower mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return to saucepan. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, milk, butter, and pepper. Keep warm.

2. Thinly slice mushroom caps. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add mushrooms; sauté 6 minutes or until browned. Add remaining 2 tablespoons stock, Worcestershire sauce, and sherry vinegar. Cook 1 minute or until liquid is reduced and syrupy.

3. Spoon about 1 cup soup into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with about 2 tablespoons mushroom mixture. Sprinkle evenly with parsley.

Need more cauliflower inspiration? Try this one, Creamy Cheese Cauliflower Soup.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Scrambled Eggs

mccartneyHere’s a little bit of trivia for you this week. Did you know when Paul McCartney wrote the song “Yesterday,” to substitute a working lyric they used the words “scrambled eggs?”

I doubt he also wrote about waffle fries and tofu wings, but this is something silly for this Wednesday morning. This clip is from a couple of years ago, before Jimmy Fallon took over “The Tonight Show.” You can watch and listen to the song here.

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Tis the Season for Light Eating: Chicken and Rice Soup with Lemon and Ginger

Good Wednesday morning! How did you fare over the holiday? Were you hit by the snowstorm? It arrived for us mid-day Wednesday, but cleared out by Thursday morning. For the first time in many years, I think I can say my big dinner went off without a hitch—and I didn’t even draw up a timeline! Granted, the turkey was done about 45 minutes than I planned and I left the rolls in too long, but everything was delicious with leftovers kept at a minimum. And I’ve boiled up the turkey carcass for some soup later on this winter!

So now that our bellies are filled to the rim and it’s December, which means lots of sweets and out of the ordinary eating, I try as much as I can to have light meals throughout the day. Sugar and sweets are terrible for my waistline as well as my psyche, so I try to make healthy and delicious meals that aren’t fussy. This soup, which I made for lunches, was perfect. With accents of lemon and ginger, to me, this was a souped up (pardon the pun!) version of miso soup you get in Japanese restaurants.  While it is light yet filling, you don’t go away feeling like you ate a heavy meal.

For substitutions, I poached a chicken breast instead of using the rotisserie chicken and I cooked up the brown rice instead of the instant and made a pilaf of the leftovers. But their suggestions are excellent quick replacements if time is lacking. This was so delicious, it has become my new favorite soup! And for those gluten-intolerant, just use tamari instead of soy sauce!

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Chicken and Rice Soup with Lemon and Ginger

This recipe originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Serves 6 (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon white miso
1 (8-ounce) package presliced cremini mushrooms
4 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 1/2 cups shredded skinless rotisserie chicken breast
3 cups chopped bok choy
1 (8.5-ounce) pouch precooked brown rice
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger, and miso; sauté 4 minutes. Add mushrooms; sauté 2 minutes. Add stock, chicken, and bok choy; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes.

While soup simmers, prepare rice according to package directions. Stir rice, soy sauce, salt, and pepper into soup; cook 4 minutes or until bok choy is tender. Remove from heat; stir in lemon rind and juice.

england's flagMVK Eats London!

Hopefully no one noticed I was gone for a few weeks as The Eater of the House and I took the trip of a lifetime to London! Our good friends, Jen and Bill, had given an open invitation to visit them for two years and we finally took them up on their offer! November is always dark, overcast, and cold in Vermont, so it was a great time to travel, plus the weather was perfect, upper 50s, and I definitely didn’t need the winter coat I chose to bring!

Look at those doughnuts! Despite all my walking, I resisted!

Look at those doughnuts! Despite all my walking, I resisted!

London is a city for walkers, so you don’t need to worry about calories and how much you’re eating, as I averaged about ten miles every day! Our first real walk took us to Portobello Road and Notting Hill, where we walked along, checking out the stands and looking at all the food. Vegetables, bread, jams, doughnuts, you name it, they had it!

Gorgeous vegetables.

Gorgeous vegetables. I wish I could have taken some of those parsnips home with me!

All that walking made us hungry and instead of choosing to wait close to an hour at an Italian restaurant we selected, we instead walked across the street to the Spanish tapas restaurant Galicia. At first, we weren’t sure if they were open, the lights in the upstairs dining room were off and there was only a smattering of men at the downstairs bar. But they took us up, turned on the lights, and we had the most incredible lunch I think I’ve ever eaten. We selected nine dishes to share, and there almost wasn’t enough room on the table for the food and our plates. Mussels, sausages, jambon, meatballs, octopus, chicken, shrimp, avocado, everything was cooked to perfection and was so delicious with no room for dessert. Before lunch, Jen took me to the bookstore, Books for Cooks, which was an entire bookstore devoted to cookbooks and books about cooking! My kind of heaven!

Tapas lunch!

Tapas lunch!

 

 

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From the top of Primrose Hill.

Since Jen and Bill have lived in England for two years, I’ve heard about Sunday roast. I always do some sort of roast in my house on Sundays, albeit for dinner not lunch, but this was an authentic meal I wanted to experience. After a long walk from home to Abbey Road then Primrose Hill (where you can get the most gorgeous view of the city as you can see above), we took a short cab ride to Hampstead. This was a favorite part of the city for me that I would love to revisit. A small town, at the top of a windy and hilly neighborhood street was The Holly Bush, which is about as traditional an English restaurant as you can find. As luck would have it, they were able to seat our party immediately as we were all famished from all the walking.

london4If there is roast chicken on a menu, you can guarantee I will order it, but when in England, I was going to eat like the natives, so I selected the beef with Yorkshire pudding. I like my beef really rare and the piece I was given was perfection and just the right size. Small potatoes accompanied along with a big puffy Yorkshire pudding, which for those who don’t know what it is, is a popover, not what we know as “pudding.” And speaking of pudding, since we weren’t stuffed following dinner, we ordered traditional Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert. Again, not what we know as “pudding” in our country, I would say this was similar to steamed bread, topped with a little bit of ice cream. And it truly was delicious! (We also discovered that the British word for rutabaga is “swede” and that the actor, Timothy Dalton (aka James Bond), was sitting behind us during our meal!)

london6Of all the meals I ate in London, if I were to recreate one at home, this would be it. Potatoes aren’t my usual favorite, but these seemed to be boiled then roasted; so the outside was crunchy but the inside perfectly creamy. The meat, which I think was grass-fed and probably local, was perfectly cooked to my preference, spices just right, with a little bit of horseradish and gravy on the side. The veg, served family style in a bowl, was a combination of root vegetables, carrots, turnips, rutabaga, all my favorites. I left that meal incredibly happy and perfectly satisfied.

Next week, I’ll bring you two or three more memorable London meals!

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It’s Soup Season! Bree’s Lentil-Tomato Soup

I've been seeing and hearing lots of Canada Geese heading south these days.

I’ve been seeing and hearing lots of Canada Geese heading south these days.

Rabbit Rabbit everyone for the first day of October! We’ve been enjoying a spell of Indian Summer for the past couple days, but before that happened, it was cool, crisp days and once the sun goes down, it starts to get fall-like and chilly. I wanted to make good hearty soup recipe for lunches and I pulled out this old favorite from Cooking Light.

First off, this makes 11 servings and it freezes great, so you can divide into smaller containers so you can pull one out for a late dinner or lunch and not have mountains sitting around. This is just a little bit of chopping, mincing, and throwing everything into the pot and letting it cook for an hour. It’s perfect for those days you want to make something healthy and delicious, but have a lot of things to do around the house, fix it and forget it! And if you cook it for more than an hour, that’s fine, you’re pureeing most of the soup, so it really doesn’t matter. Vegans and vegetarians, you can just use all water. I never know what exactly is means when you find “red pepper” in recipes, so I used 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne for a little kick. It was great!

lentil soup
Bree’s Lentil-Tomato Soup

This article first appeared in the September 2001 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Yield: 11 servings. (serving size: 1 cup)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/3 cups water
2 1/3 cups dried lentils
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
Chopped fresh tomatoes (optional)
Cilantro sprig (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion; sauté for 3 minutes or until tender. Add the turmeric and the next 6 ingredients (turmeric through garlic); sauté for 1 minute. Add water and next 4 ingredients (water through diced tomatoes); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 1 hour.

2. Reserve 2 cups lentil mixture. Place half of remaining mixture in blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with other half of remaining mixture. Stir in reserved 2 cups lentil mixture. Garnish with chopped tomatoes and a cilantro sprig, if desired.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: “When the Path to Serenity Wends Past the Stove”

I find when sad things happen in my life, I gravitate to the kitchen. It’s homey and one of the most comforting rooms in the house, and for me, cooking lets me work things out in my head, even sometimes grieve. The methodical chopping, mincing, stirring, it’s rhythmical and repetitive, and sometimes I need that.

The below article appeared in the New York Times a week after September 11, 2001. I read it when it was published and have thought of it often, as the writer evoked my same feelings; when things aren’t right in your life, or the world, retreat to the kitchen and cook. I thought back to this article not too long ago after the sudden death of a close friend. The night we got the news, I retreated to the kitchen with a martini and started chopping, cooking, and just being. I couldn’t do anything, but cooking makes you feel like you are doing something, even if it’s just nourishing the people in your own home.

And for another piece of kitchen magic, I didn’t realize the lentil soup recipe was from the September 2001 issue of Cooking Light until I started to write about it. (I swear I didn’t plan this!) Just another serendipitous kitchen moment.

When the Path to Serenity Wends Past the Stove

 

 

Recipe Revisit: Spring Matzo Ball Soup

DSCN4285As I was trying to decide what I was going to write about this week, I decided to revisit the very first recipe I shared three years ago, my Spring Matzo Ball Soup, which I actually made for lunches this week. Chicken soup of any sort is comfort in a bowl for me, and adding dumplings, noodles, or in this case, matzo balls, makes it all the more comforting.

I took my original recipe and added and subtracted a few ingredients based on what I had on hand. I usually have some homemade chicken broth in the freezer, but you can certainly make this with boxed broth. I love the flavor of the added fresh dill, it tastes like summer to me, but of course, it’s optional, or you can use another herb. Carrots, celery, and onion are a classic soup combination, but I’ve also added turnip and parsnip if I have it on hand. And if you have some leftover chicken in the fridge, by all means throw it in!

Our early spring, along with our winter, has been terribly chilly, so a big bowl of this for lunch is what Mother Nature ordered!

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Spring Matzo Ball Soup
Since the matzo mixture needs to rest for at least 20 minutes, make that first before you start working on the soup. I like my soups less brothy, so you may want to use more.

5+ cups chicken broth
2 tsp. olive oil
I cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup celery stalks, diced
1 cup onion, diced
A splash or two of white wine (optional)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
A few snips of fresh dill weed
Salt and pepper
Matzo ball mix (see recipe below)

1. In a large Dutch oven, warm the olive oil, and add the vegetables. Saute until soft.

2. Add in the broth, wine (if using), and tomato paste. Bring it to a boil.

3. When the matzo is ready, wet your hands and form matzo into round, one inch balls (about 7-8) and place on top of the soup. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Add the dill weed, if using, at the last minute.

Homemade Matzo Balls
I can’t take credit it for this, my good friends at Manischewitz can, as it is what I follow when I make matzo balls. They are the best!

2 eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 c. matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon of salt (I usually leave out)
2 tablespoons water or broth
A little bit of fresh dill weed

Beat the eggs, blend the eggs with the oil, matzo meal, salt, and dill weed. Add broth or water, mix until uniform. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Hot Peppered Pinto Soup with Garlic

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I love late afternoons in the winter following a snowfall. It’s just gorgeous!

I am one of those people who needs variety in my diet. While I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast, I just can’t eat the same thing for lunch every day. I get bored and tired. And forget about the same thing for lunch and dinner. When I make a big pot of soup for lunches, after about two days I start to rummage around the kitchen, looking for something else to fix for the remainder of the week, and the soup goes into the freezer for another time.

But this soup fits the bill; it makes just two servings, so it’s perfect for two solo lunches or one lunch for you and a friend! And it’s healthy and inexpensive, two other things I look for when cooking. If you want more, it’s easy to double. I decided to throw all the beans in the pot instead of leaving some whole; if you do this, just add a little more broth to thin it out. And of course, this can be vegetarian by using vegetable broth or water! I’ve been making this soup since it first appeared in Cooking Light magazine in 1996, so it’s an obvious favorite!

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Hot Peppered Pinto Soup with Garlic
This recipe originally appeared in the March 1996 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Serves 2 (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

Vegetable cooking spray (MVK’s note: I use two teaspoons of olive oil instead.)
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (MVK’s note: Instead of the red pepper and hot sauce, I used 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne. Zowie!)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can low-salt chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, drained

Coat a medium saucepan with cooking spray, and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add chili powder and next 8 ingredients (chili powder through broth); bring to a boil. Stir in half of beans; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

Place soup in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Return to pan; stir in remaining beans. Cook until thoroughly heated.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup and a Thanksgiving Message

kid_chef_with_pumpkin_pie_vintage_thanksgiving_poster-r0680bf4b15d7402e8db5298cc823fe82_it3rd_8byvr_324If you have leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving, here is a soup recipe that is perfect! I made it a couple of weeks ago and it made for a nice, warm, and comforting lunch! I don’t have a microwave, so for Step 1, I just popped the potatoes in the oven the night before when I was cooking something else. Once they are cooked, this is a 30-minute meal at the most.

You can make this vegetarian or even vegan, by substituting vegetable broth, water, or a combination and leaving out the bacon and/or cheese. Bacon doesn’t last very long in my house, so if you run out, it’s still delicious without.

DSCN0764Creamy Sweet Potato Soup
Originally published in the November 2013 issue of Cooking Light magazine. 

2 pounds sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 2 large)
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)

Preparation

1. Place potatoes, cut sides down, in an 11 x 7-inch microwave-safe baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Cool slightly; discard potato skins.

2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 1 minute or until translucent. Stir in cumin and red pepper. Add stock to pan; bring to a boil. Place half of sweet potato and half of stock mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters); blend until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining sweet potato and stock mixture. Stir in salt. Divide soup evenly among 6 bowls; sprinkle cooked bacon and Parmesan cheese evenly over top. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

* * * * * *

vintage_wishing_you_a_happy_thanksgiving_stickers-r5a3b87894bf04f3f87d534709d87f905_v9wth_8byvr_512

Thank you to all my dedicated readers and supporters! A heartfelt greeting to one and all for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Happy Cooking (and eating)!

Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup

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A drive over the mountain recently displayed no leaves left on the trees. Winter is coming. But sometimes we are treated to breathtaking sunrises, which brings beauty to the day.

Put me in the camp with former president George H. W. Bush–I don’t like broccoli. But I usually put some in my grocery cart each week. It’s dark, green, is filled with vitamins and nutrients, and everyone says you should eat it because it’s good for you. The only time I ever like it is late July and early August when I buy it at the farmer’s market; it was picked that morning and it so fresh it’s sweet. Steamed with a little bit of butter, salt, pepper, and a squirt or two of lemon, I could eat a huge bowl of the stuff. But any other time of the year, I’m less than enthused. So one day I said to myself if I should eat this, I’m going to eat it MY way!

It’s been a while since I’ve brought you a soup recipe, and in fact a while since I’ve even made a soup. But with the weather turning colder, I wanted something to warm me mid-day and decided to create a blended soup using the broccoli and  cheddar cheese I had in the fridge. This made just slightly over two cups, and was enough for two lunches; I am the type of eater who gets tired of eating the same thing every day and two days is about my max, so it was perfect for the week’s end of lunches.

I know how I’m eating my broccoli from now on!

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Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup
For a vegetarian version, you can easily substitute water or vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. And be careful with the cayenne; don’t just dump some in like I did! Add it 1/8 teaspoon at a time to taste. 

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
½ onion or about ½ cup, finely diced
About 5 cups of chopped broccoli
2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth or water, more if needed later
¾-1 cup grated cheese
Cayenne pepper, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Add the olive oil to your soup pot and gently warm over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and sauté slowly until soft, about 5 minutes
  3. Stir in the broccoli, and add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat for the broccoli to simmer until very soft, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Lower heat and with a soup ladle, puree the soup in a blender or food processor in batches until all the soup is very smooth and creamy.
  5. Stir in the cheese, cayenne, if using, and the salt and pepper. Add more liquid if needed, and serve!

Some Exciting News for My Vermont Kitchen!
Starting this week, My Vermont Kitchen is now a member of Cooking Light magazine’s “Bloggers’ Connection.” My Vermont Kitchen joins just a handful of food blogs from across the country that partner with the magazine. Since I’ve been a reader since the 1990s and really learned how to cook from the recipes in the magazine, I think this is a perfect collaboration. And don’t worry that things will change here; you’ll still receive a recipe every Wednesday morning, you just might get a few more each month! So it is a win-win situation for all!