Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Garden Soup

If you're a regular Monday's Soups reader you'll know there is nothing Alayna and I like more than discovering a new vegetable or ingredient. To the point that after our first "meeting" we often refer to it with a surname and sort of suggest that we have just made a new friend. (Ernst the Eggplant, Mr. Kale, Ms. Swiss Chard, etc.) So today, gang, it's time to say hello to little Ms. Dandelion Green.

We have been saying we should use dandelion greens for some time, Alayna even went as far to say they're trendy. I mean, that seems lofty, but they are healthy. Did you see that counter picture I took? That's like vegetable porn. Oh my gosh, SOUP QUIZ! From left to right list the greens on the counter, the winner will get a jar of soup.

Alayna was a little late coming to my apartment so I started making the soup. Taking a sip of it I discovered it was essentially like drinking garden water. Alayna even casually mentioned maybe I ought to clean the vegetables better. Let me just say I did scrub those guys, it's just that I bought it all at the farmer's market and they really have that just-pulled-out-of-the-ground feel. So you know, sometimes I miss a pocket of dirt and you get a little crunch in your bite. Big deal. Anyways, Alayna worked her magic by adding salt, lemon and a bunch of cheese, and suddenly our garden water tasted a little more like dinner.

Okay, enjoy friends. With a post like that, how aren't ya'll salivating at your desk?

Hello cross-promotional plug. Book Club meets this Sunday!
Garden Soup
  • Heat olive oil in your soup bowl
  • Add 2 leeks chopped, let them simmer for 5 minutes on medium to low heat
  • Add 4 to 6 big cloves are garlic, heat until fragrant, about one minute
  • Add handful of finger potatoes chopped
  • Add a bay leaf
  • Add greens. You can really add any greens, these are the greens we added: 3 heads of Dandelion greens, 1 bunch of beet greens, 1 bunch of yellow chard greens
  • Add six or so cups of chicken broth (mine was homemade, what! what!)
  • Let cook on low for 20 or so minutes
  • Add the following to taste: 2 generous pinches of sea salt, 3 sprigs of thyme, a sprig of rosemary, 3 generous squeezes of lemon and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Persian Lentil Soup

I love when Mo is in town because it makes Monday's Soups feel like a whole lot less work (uhm, maybe just for me) and a whole lot more wine. Mo introduced us to the mung bean, explained how to make our own yogurt, and told us about how wonderful sour cherries are from her uncle's trees in Iran. That all sounds nice doesn't it?

It especially sounded nice on red wine bottle number 2.5. This soup might win for overall bulk. See picture below. Not even that time we used an entire Halloween pumpkin have we filled the soup pot so high. This soup took longer than normal to cook, because we had to soften all those beans, but that was fine by me. We ate Alayna's baba ghanoush, I realized I need to buy a small food processor, and we talked about how stupid the Atkins Diet is and my new obsession with potted herbs and how maybe putting them all on my bathroom windowsill isn't the smartest idea. A few hours later I walked home, all 30 blocks north, with the heaviest giant pickle jar of soup I've carried yet. So many lunches. So exciting.

  • saute one large yellow onion in olive oil with a generous bit of turmeric until soft
  • add three cups of mung beans and cover with water and bring to a low boil
  • after the mung beans have been simmering for about ten minutes, add about two cups of green lentils, one cup of rice, and about 3/4 a stick of butter (butter is delicious), adding more water if necessary, and get back to a simmer for another 30-40 minutes until all parts are soft and mushy
  • at this point you can also chop 2-4 carrots and throw them in (optional)
  • chop up two bunches of chard (red or swiss) and put them in about the last ten minutes, as well as a generous handful of parsley
  • adjust turmeric, salt and pepper flavoring as necessary
  • serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream

Friday, April 16, 2010

Martha Stewart = My Hero

Alayna doesn't know this yet but what did I go ahead and do? Applied to get tickets for Martha Stewart's show for food bloggers! That's right soup lads & laddles, hope Alayna isn't busy May 5th because we're headed to the Martha Stewart TV Studios in midtown!

How can anyone say no to my request? My Martha Stewart submission is pasted below:

Tell us about yourself and the guests with whom you'd like to attend the show. Are you crafters, food enthusiasts, gardeners, or part of a school group? The more details, the better!

We are soup enthusiasts! Alayna and I have a maintained a weekly soup blog for over a year. Monday's Soups; Don't be afraid of Mondays and Don't Be Afraid of Soup! In addition to making soups, which we believe sets a solid foundation for cooks of all levels, I would also like to add here that I have been a fan of Martha Stewart's since the age of 9 when my friend (Alison Smith) and I would make videos of ourselves cooking. I pretended to be Martha, while Alison was "Nartha," Martha's evil sister. She would try to ruin Martha's perfect plans to make everything beautiful and just-right. Don't worry, Nartha never succeeded. When I was 11, Martha came into a small lobster restaurant where my family and I were eating in Maine near Bar Harbor. My mother encouraged me to go over and say hi as that whole summer I would wake up at 8am to watch her early show. But instead, overwhelmed, I couldn't breath and had to rest my head on the table for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Calabash/Calabassa Soup

Annnnd I'm back! I am back from the jungles of Guatemala. I come back with new parasite friends, wall to wall hand woven carpeting that looks ridiculous in my apartment, and the new ability to carry laundry on my head.

It was exciting to see Alayna because it's been weeks. Or months, I swear. We talked boys and soup and then went to Back Forty, best bar ever. Best bar because they make delicious cocktails and it's perfectly situated between my apartment and Alayna's. Lovely Mo was there and taught us the ways of the Texan belt. Texan belt? Did I just make that up?

In other news, Alayna's moving. I know we've been touching on her grad school application process over the last few months but somehow I never put together that applying to grad school in different states means, you know, you will probably then move to a different state. Horror of horrors, I know.

So we're figuring out how Monday's Soups can not only go on, but can prosper, as we report live from two different states. Don't fret folks, the principal of everything you need to know about cooking, which is soup... will go on. Suddenly Celion Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," just started playing in my mind. And I like it.

This meal was da bomb. Roasting stuff and then cooking it and then blending it always makes for deep rewarding flavors. Or, what we say in the biz, "RCB'ing." I mean, no one says that but I'm going to start right now. Oh, I also wanted to shout out that I had the best black bean soup of my life in Antigua. I think it's because it was filled with pig lard. And let me tell you pig lard is delicious. And so is this, sans lard.

  • Take 3 half calabash (this is how they're usually sold at the market... no idea why) and roast them at about 400 for 30-40 minutes by punching some holes in them with a fork, putting a splash of water in each and covering in tin foil
  • when your squashes are pretty soft, roughly chop one white onion and saute in olive oil until opaque, adding a few shakes of cinnamon and chili powder
  • add one zucchini, chopped, and cook covered, stirring occasionally until mostly cooked... at this point if your squash are done, you should take them out so they have time to cool off a little
  • add two cans of drained sweet corn
  • scoop out the innards of the calabassa and add to the soup
  • top off with veggie broth and blend
  • Delicious with avocado on top!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Almost Summer Soup (Porcini and zucchini soup with walnut basil pesto)

So, we're having a warm snap in New York right now and I LOVE it. Windows open, sandals on and air drying my hair instead of bundling up on the way to work (and having SUNSHINE when you leave for work instead of freezing cold darkness and/or snow and rain) is pretty amazing.

We're a day late because Mary had to catch up on work after her vacation, but don't worry, this soup is worth it. It's vegan, but surprisingly filling. Sounds complex, but is really simple to make. And it straddles that line between a hot day and a cooler night quite well. It's also delicious and I made up the recipe, so I'm feeling super proud. SO:

Almost Summer Soup (Porcini and zucchini soup with walnut basil pesto)

  • THE SET-UP (things to do while you're doing other things)

  • Chop up 3 red potatoes and bring to a boil in a separate pot until you can stick a fork in them easily, but they aren't too soft

  • Throw about half a cup to a cup of walnuts onto a cookie tray and put in the oven at 250 for 5-10 minutes until toasted, then set aside to cool

  • microwave about 4 cups of water for about 5 minutes and put in an ounce of dried porcini mushrooms to soak, re-heating as necessary


  • Chop about 5 cloves of garlic and sauté in olive oil with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a few sprigs of fresh thyme

  • Add half a white onion and the white and light green parts of three leeks, chopped and cook covered to reserve liquid

  • Once fragrant, add two zucchinis, chopped and cook covered

  • When the zucchinis are starting to cook, add 4 portabella mushroom caps, chopped and cook covered, stirring occasionally

  • PESTO BREAK! Now you have time to make the pesto! Take a big bunch of basil, take out any bad leaves, and rinse thoroughly. In a food processor, layer in the basil first, then add some walnuts, then parmesan cheese and 2 cloves of garlic with a generous amount of olive oil. You may have to do in batches as things get copped up and move down. Adjust flavoring to your taste (I love garlic) and put in the fridge for later.

  • By now your veggies should be cooked through, so add your potatoes (drained) and your porcini juice (with the mushrooms strained out and squeezed for juicy flavor)

  • Blend (taking out your rosemary and thyme stems) and serve with a dollop of pesto in the middle.

  • YUM!