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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Leftovers = Soup! Turkey Soup with Lime and Chile

The day after Thanksgiving is officially "Turkey Sandwich" day at our house. I do absolutely no cooking whatsoever that Friday, and if anyone stands in my kitchen and has the gall to ask, "I'm hungry... what can I eat?" I really cannot be held responsible for my reactions.

On the other hand, if Friday is Thanksgiving-Part-Two-Served-Up-On-A-Roll, Saturday is "Leftover Transformation" day! After a full day of countless sandwiches made with a variety of leftover Thanksgiving wonders, I don't want anything I eat or make on Saturday to taste like Thanksgiving. We have been there/eaten that by Saturday.

This year I stole transformative ideas from other bloggers. I loved Savory Sweet Life's  Cranberry-Apple Crisp made with all my leftover homemade cranberry sauce. Transformed, and delicious! Our leftover New England Sausage, Apple, and Dried Cranberry Stuffing became a Stuffing Frittata by My Last Bite. Yum!

And then it was time for soup! I still had lots of lovely turkey, but we were all craving bolder flavors than just a plain turkey noodle. So this year I made Turkey Soup with Lime and Chile. The end result tastes NOTHING like Thanksgiving. The bright lime is in the forefront and the chiles leave a nice lingering heat behind. It's really good... I would make it even if I didn't have turkey to use up!

Turkey Soup with Lime and Chile
Serves 6-8

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 c. diced yellow onion (1 med. onion)
1 c. diced carrot (about 1 large carrot)
1 c. diced celery (about stalks)
grated zest of one large lime
2 cloves garlic, pressed through a press
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. ground ancho chili powder
2 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
6 c. chicken broth
4 c. cooked turkey, shredded into bite-sized pieces
7 oz. can of diced green chiles
1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed
Toppings: diced green onions, fresh cilantro, tortilla strips

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until soft and tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add in carrots and celery and continue to sautee until vegetables soften slightly, another 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic, lime zest, and all the spices. Sautee for one minute until the vegetables are coated and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the lime juice, broth, turkey, chiles, and beans. Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, or until the flavors have had a chance to come together. Test for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve, topping with chopped green onions, freshly chopped cilantro, and tortilla chips.

**I found the spicy heat held nicely with a night in the fridge, but the lime juice needed to be bumped back up the next day with another fresh squeeze.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Traditions: Warm-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower Soup

A word to the wise: if you offer to host Thanksgiving for your family for one year... you will never ever be able to give it back.

The first few years we were married we alternated every other year at our parents' houses for Thanksgiving. One year at my folks, the next at his. However, in 1999, I offered to host since our house was halfway between both of theirs. Believe me when I say that neither mom ever looked back.

That first year I was so excited! It was the first year I would be cooking the whole meal by myself. I wouldn't let anyone bring anything (I've since wised up on that front) and spent hours, no... days, perusing cookbooks and cooking magazines to formulate the perfect menu.

Somewhere in all my menu planning I came across a little blurb that caught my imagination. I think it was in Bon Appetit magazine, but I can't be sure since it was so long ago. There was an article on favorite Thanksgiving traditions, and one of the responders talked about how they always greeted guests at the door with teacups of soup. No spoons, just a nice soup to sip and enjoy as you entered their home. I was instantly charmed.

Beginning that first year, I have always served a soup as a starter for Thanksgiving. Not at the table, of course, but out in the living room where we are all relaxed and chatting. Over the years I have allowed spoons to sneak in if the guests want them, but in deference to the spirit of that original tradition, I always serve a blended soup.

This year's soup was particularly successful, if I do say so myself. Spending the past year obsessed with soup has served me well.

Warm-Spiced Roasted Cauliflower Soup
serves 8

1 head cauliflower, core removed, florets separated into ping-pong ball sized portions
5 T. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 t. kosher salt
1 yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1 stalk celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1 t. grated fresh ginger
1 t. turmeric
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
6 c. chicken broth
sour cream for garnish

Toss cauliflower with 3T. olive oil and the salt and roast in oven at 425°F for 1 hour. Rotate the florets every 15 minutes so that you get a nice even carmelization on them.

Set cauliflower aside and heat remaining olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until soft and tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add in carrots and celery and continue to sautee until vegetables soften, another 6-8 minutes. Stir in ginger, garlic, and spices. Sautee for an additional minute until the spices are distributed over the vegetables and the ginger and garlic are fragrant. Add in the reserved cauliflower and the chicken broth. Bring the soup to a simmer and let it simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or so to bring everything together. Cool slightly and blend well with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender. Garnish with a sour cream drizzle.

I made this on Tuesday, and served on Thanksgiving Thursday. I actually thought it benefitted for resting those two days... so make at least one day ahead if you can!  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kielbasa, Take Two: White Bean Soup with Kielbasa and Kale

Allow me to justify posting two soups in a row using kielbasa.

A. This is a soup I made at the end of August, planning to freeze it as part of my back-to-school lunch repetoire. Unfortuntately, I loved it so much I couldn't stop eating it. I ate it twice a day, for both breakfast and lunch, and it was long gone before I started teaching. No lie.

B. Kielbasa was on a Buy-One-Get-One-Free sale.

That should about cover it.

This recipe originally caught my eye in one of my favorite soup cookbooks: Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom. It has turned out to be a real winner in my cookbook collection. Her version uses Spanish Chorizo, which is delicious, but not very easy to find. I've only been able to get it if I'm in Seattle or by mail-order. That doesn't meet my "soup for everyday life" requirements. (Mexican Chorizo, by the way, is a completely different product and the two are not interchangeable.) Kielbasa makes a tasty substitute, in my opinion.

I also loved the idea of this soup because it has 2 sources of protein, the kielbasa plus white beans. But the real selling point for me? It calls for kale. **Pause here for a worshipful moment for kale.** I so love kale. I was sold on the idea of this soup long before I ever made it and tasted its brothy soupy wonderfulness.

White Bean Soup with Kielbasa and Kale
Adapted from Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom

14 oz. beef kielbasa (I usually buy Hillshire Farms)
1 T. olive oil
1 lg. onion, diced
2 lg. carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. dried thyme
8 c. chicken broth
3 cans cannellini beans, rinsed well (you could also use another white bean like great Northern)
1 head kale, center ribs removed and discarded, leaves washed and chopped (around 5 cups)
2x2" chunk of parmesan rind (optional)

Slice the kielbasa into 1/4" rounds. Heat olive oil in bottom of soup pan over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add kielbasa in a single layer and brown on one side, around 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side. Remove kielbasa with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add onions to pan and sautee, stirring to scrape up the fond left by the kielbasa, until the onions are nice and soft, around 5-8 minutes. Add garlic clove, red pepper flakes, and thyme. Sautee for 1 minute. Add in carrots and celery and continue to sautee until vegetables have softened slightly, around 5-8 minutes longer.

Add chicken broth, rinsed beans, and reserved kielbasa to pot, along with the parmesan rind if you're using one. Bring to a simmer, and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Remove the paremesan rind and add in the kale, stirring until it wilts, approximately 3 minutes.

Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if desired.