January is a great month for getting back on track. The holidays and every delicious, fatty bite are gone and the time for overindulgence passed. This soup is just right for getting into a healthy routine, and is still hearty enough to serve for dinner. The recipe is from my mother-in-law who first had it at Green Mountain Inn in Stowe, Vermont.
Chicken Soup with Roasted Vegetables and Wild Rice
1 cup wild rice, rinsed and drained
2 cups water (I use 3)
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and halved
2 medium onions, halved
2 medium carrots, cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips
3 sweet peppers (yellow and red) halved and seeded
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
8 cups chicken broth
2 -2 1/2 lb meaty chicken pieces (I use one whole cooked roaster)
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian flat leaf) parsley Continue reading
5. – The Chicago Tribune Beefing Up Milk “Those who’ve grown up on skim milk varieties may cringe at the richness of whole milk. But other skim milk drinkers secretly long for a creamier drink. At least that’s the theory behind a growing niche of the market aimed at providing a thicker skim milk experience.”
4. – The Boston Globe Spoonfuls of Yum “Good chicken broth is the essence of great soup, and most chefs insist on making their own. If they’ve been boning chickens for another dish, there are plenty of meaty bones on hand. Chefs tend to scorn the idea of making soup using commercial broth (though some allow that home cooks shouldn’t shy away from buying broth if they don’t have time to make their own). When it comes to making chicken soup, everyone has opinions – usually very, very strong ones.”
3. – The LA Times Her phyllo rolls were Elektra-fying “Nina Lamb may be partially responsible for some of the greatest rock music ever recorded. Her contribution? Cheese-and-spinach phyllo rolls.”
2. – The NY Times Snack Time Never Ends “The obligations to bring a little something to eat extend to the adult world, too — I’ve baked for PTA meetings and child-rearing seminars that I didn’t even attend. But when it comes to American boys and girls, snacks seem both mandatory and constant. Apparently, we have collectively decided as a culture that it is impossible for children to take part in any activity without simultaneously shoving something into their pie holes.”
1. – The Washington Post DIY Coffee “Why on earth would you roast your own coffee, you say? For the same reason you’d make your own pasta or ice cream, brew your own beer, make your own vinegar or tonic water, or in fact create any edible or potable product from as close to scratch as possible, I say. Maybe you think you can do better than the pros. Maybe it’s cheaper, not as hard as you might think, or somehow therapeutic. Or maybe you just think it would be a hoot to try.”
photo from The Washington Post
When you’re craving the rich indulgence of mushroom soup, but trying to watch your fat intake, give this version of mushroom soup a try. It’s hearty and full of flavor, while having only a little half and half to give it that velvety feel. I like to use a combination of oyster, button and cremini mushrooms, but porcinis and morels would be delicious too!
Healthy Mushroom Soup
1.5 – 2 cups fresh mushrooms, diced
3 tbsp butter
1.5 cups finely chopped Vidalia onion
3 cups vegetable broth (beef is good too)
.5 cup brandy
.5 cup half and half
kosher salt and pepper to taste
This creamy tomato soup is perfect with a grilled cheddar sandwich on a cool Fall day. You can make it with more or less half and half and it’s just as good.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 26 1/2-ounce boxes vacuum-packed crushed tomatoes, or 10 cups canned crushed tomatoes
5 1/4 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
3 sprigs fresh oregano, plus more for garnish
1/2 cups half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 6 minutes.
Add tomatoes, stock, and oregano, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently until thickened, about 45 minutes. Remove oregano sprigs.
Slowly add half-and-half, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with oregano, if desired. Serve hot.
Through November 2nd, join in the Day of the Dead celebration at Oyamel as Head Chef Joe Raffa invites guests to experience one of the most important holidays in Mexican culture with a special menu featuring tasty tamales, specialty handcrafted cocktails and a tamal cart on the Oyamel’s patio. When you’re there be sure to check out the custom-made altar adorned with candles and marigolds, the flower that is often used to decorate gravesites in rural Mexico – it’s pretty amazing! Click here for a coupon for a FREE Sloe Dead Fizz, one of the specialty cocktails being offered during the event.
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
The Vita Prep XL. It’s the Godzilla of blenders, and we love it in the kitchen. One of my sous chef’s hugged it the day it arrived. It makes our moles so much easier to puree. Besides that, I have my knives. I converted to Japanese knives several years ago. A knife is the most important tool a chef has. A good Japanese knife raises that tool to the level of art. It’s inspirational to work with something that an artisan has devoted substantial time and energy to create, both in terms of food and tools.
What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
My answer is more of a philosophy. Cooks are easily excited with new tools and techniques. Take sous vide for instance. It is an amazing cooking technique when used where it makes sense for the food. Unfortunately, you find people using the technique for everything just for the sake of using the machines. The important thing is the food. Whatever techniques bring the best flavor out of the food is what you should use. Not necessarily the newest fads.
If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Food from my home!!! I’d love to open a Hawaiian restaurant and introduce people on the mainland to the flavors of the islands. One of my fellow Hawaiian chefs in ThinkFoodGroup and I cooked a luau for Jose Andres a few months ago. We had so much fun and became so homesick all at the same time.
What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Bev Eggleston from Eco-Friendly Foods. I really respect the traditions of small farmers that he is trying to promote. And his meats are just SO good.
What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
That they don’t all come in to Oyamel every day!
What do you drink/eat after work?
Rum. In a good Mai Tai. Heaven.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
This is the hardest question. My favorite thing depends on my mood. When I cook food from Hawaii it just pulls on my heartstrings. My wife is from Alabama, and her grandmother, aunt and mother taught me a lot about Southern cuisine, which also makes me very happy. I just can’t bear to claim a favorite thing, because there’ll be so many other things I want to eat!
Click here for Chef Raffa’s recipe for butternut squash soup…
For dinner last night whipped up a refreshing chilled beet soup last night to cool off from the humidity and “oven-ness” of swampy DC. I pulled the beets fresh from the garden and quickly turned them into soup!
Chilled Beet Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart Living
1 1/2 pounds red beets, scrubbed and stalks trimmed to 1/2 inch
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 leek, trimmed of tough green ends and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 cup fresh dill, loosely packed
1/4 cup white wine
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and seeded
Located in the heart of Queche, Simon Pearce is one of my “must visits” every time I am in Vermont. It’s perfect for having a leisurely lunch while overlooking the falls of the Ottauquechee River and its covered bridge and pick up that wedding present you’re already 2 months late on.
Simon Pearce started his glassblowing workshop in Ireland in the early 70s and moved to Vermont in 1981 to seek independence the constraints of European businesses and rising energy costs. The town of Queche, Vermont welcomed him with open arms as he restored The Mill and started his new workshop extracting most of the needed power from hydroelectric turbine on the river.
Visitors can watch glassblowers and potters while waiting for a coveted table for lunch or dinner in the restaurant, which serves its food and libations in glasses and pottery all made by Simon Pearce artisans.
Click below for the recipe for Vermont Cheddar Soup, which is enough of a reason to make a trip to Queche to visit Simon Pearce!