Friday, December 17, 2010

Roasted Vegetable & Kale Soup

This is one of my favourite recipes from Elsa at Simply Recipes. Especially because kale is so healthy for you, not to mention always inexpensive, and yet challenging to find ways to incorporate it into one's diet easily (and tastily). Something with the process of cooking the greens in the squash, tomato, onion, garlic and broth base really helps to extract the bitterness from the kale. And it smells up your apartment something delicious.

Roasted Vegetable & Kale Soup
from and ever-so-slightly adapted

1/2 lb of white beans, soaked overnight
1 tsp. baking soda
4 cups water

4 - 6 cloves of garlic
1 onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes (if there are no ripe tomatoes at the supermarket, definitely swap them for a can of whole tomatoes -- add them after roasting the vegetables, before pureeing)
1/2 butternut squash, cut into 1" pieces
3 carrots, chopped
Olive oil

4 - 6 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch kale, rinsed and chopped into 1" pieces
1 bay leaf
2 - 3 sprigs fresh thyme

In a large pot, soak beans overnight. Drain and rinse, then cook beans with water and baking soda for about one hour.

Preheat oven to 400. In a bowl, combine garlic, onions, tomatoes (if roasting; if using canned, add before puréeing), and half the chopped squash and carrots. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil. Arrange on a baking sheet. Toss the remaining squash and carrot in a teaspoon or two of olive oil and arrange next to the other vegetables on a baking sheet. (The reason for doing this is you'll purée the onion/garlic mixture but want to reserve some carrots and squash for the soup. It saves picking out pieces with tongs later on. Been there, done that.)

Roast the vegetables for about 45 minutes, checking halfway through to toss if necessary.

When vegetables have roasted, bring vegetable broth to a simmer on the stove (a good time to add canned tomatoes and their liquid, if using). Add the garlic/onion/carrot/squash mixture to the broth and simmer for a minute or two. Using a handheld immersion blender, blend the soup, or allow to cool for a minute or two and blend in a blender in small batches. Return to the pot and bring back to a simmer.

Add the kale, bay leaf and thyme, and bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.

Add the beans and their cooking liquid (there should not be much) and the carrot and squash. Cook for an additional few minutes and adjust salt and pepper as desired.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Goulash Soup

It's been a while since I've posted, but that's because a few exciting changes have happened since I blogged last. I was offered a job at an agency in Boston and moved up here last week! But now, my kitchen stuff is unpacked, I'm settled into my new job, and figuring my way around my new kitchen.

So my days of freelancing and idling around my apartment cooking up tasty treats have come to close, but now that I'm adjusting to life entirely on my own (it's the first time I've ever lived in an apartment by myself), I think there will be lots of alone time for cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.

Since it's been seriously cold outside (27 degrees today when I checked around 4pm), I've been wanting to christen the stove by cooking up a big pot of soup. So, I put on this Scion sampler I've had lying around for a few years (found it in the trash at my last full time job) and got to work preparing one of my favourite stand-by recipes, Hungarian Goulash soup.

I think this recipe originally came from watching a Food Network episode years and years ago where they'd visit some expert and get her family recipe. Since there are about as many versions of Goulash Soup as there are Hungarians, it should come with the disclaimer that I'm not Hungarian. In fact, I have scrawled in an old journal the goulash soup recipe told to me by our Hungarian family friend, Dodie, but I've actually never tried to prepare her version. Here's mine.

Goulash Soup

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tbsp butter
flour, for dredging beef
1 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1" pieces
pinch of caraway seeds
1 carrot, diced (optional, I threw this in tonight because I had some carrots on hand)
1 potato, diced
1 Italian bell pepper, diced
4 - 6 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato paste

Cut beef into 1" pieces and dredge lightly in flour.

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent, then add paprika. Cook paprika for a few minutes, adding butter, until paprika is well incorporated into onions.

Add beef, followed by caraway seeds, and brown the meat on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Add carrot, potato, and bell pepper, followed by the beef stock, bay leaf and tomato paste.

Simmer for at least an hour, preferably 2, over low heat. The lower the heat and the longer you can cook, the more tender the meat.