Sunday, November 30, 2014
Soup. I could live on the stuff. Connie, not so much. In his book it's right up there with fruit. Or, down there, I should say. My stack of soup recipes rarely gets used because I get tired of the griping. But, this weekend is an exception to the rule. I'm making three soups.
You see, I'm getting to meet one of my food blogging friends in person. How much fun is that? I'll head over to another food blogging friend's house and we'll all have lunch. Liz will make the dessert since she's the baking pro. Her blog is That Skinny Chick Can Bake. Not only does she have tons of wonderful baked goods there, she also has a boatload of wonderful entrees, side dishes etc. The other blogger is our friend, Christiane. She has a blog called Taking on Magazines. You can find her as The Mom Chef. Just like Liz's blog, Christiane's is loaded with fabulous recipes. I've never made anything from either blog that I've not liked. In fact as I type this I'm thinking about Liz's Mounds Bars and Christiane's cucumber salad...
After going through every sandwich on my blog and in my recipe box, I settled on crabmeat melts for our sandwiches. They're a favorite from my childhood. What better way to say hello to a friend than share a childhood memory?
For those who'd prefer an entrée salad, I'm making Meridian Hills Special Salad. Another childhood memory. It's romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, turkey and ham topped with Caesar dressing and a bit of pickle relish.
Last but not least, soups. Pat King's chunky tomato soup sounded good. But, Liz and I weren't sure if everyone in Christiane's family liked tomatoes. So, a fallback was in order: Cauliflower Cheese Soup. It's from one of the first community cookbooks I ever got, Park Tudor Treasures. My cookbook is marked "Excellent, 3/83" on that one. It's proven to be the best cauliflower cheese soup ever. In fact, I've given up making any other cauliflower cheese soups. They just aren't as good so why mess with perfection? Ok, that'd do it for this party.
And, what a party it was! It was fabulous to meet Christiane and Doug and Sophie in person.
Ok, I have to put this in... Liz has a great sun room that she uses for her photography studio. Ergo, the wonderful photo of the tomato soup... But, here's how Liz takes her overhead shots:
Looks fine, doesn't it? Here's the rest of the story... Now, I'm thinking Bill needs to get her a more stable set up for Christmas!
Then, there was Thanksgiving. My brother John and sister-in-law, Pam host it every year. John always does a turkey breast early so those who like cold turkey can have cold turkey. He also does a turkey on the grill for those of us who want the regular Thanksgiving meal. This year I took Mom's stuffing, Liz's spinach soufflé and persimmon pudding.
Connie tells the story of his taking seconds of the cornbread stuffing his first mother-in-law prepared. Later, his first wife asked him if he wished she could make it as well. He confessed that he was just being polite but that, no, he really doesn't care for cornbread. Needless to say, Mom's stuffing with cornbread and Pepperidge Farm white bread doesn't thrill him. We're of the light and kind of moist but not soggy stuffing clan. Pam's family is of the soggy white bread stuffing clan. I do believe that's the Thanksgiving dish with the most variations nationwide.
Of course, Thanksgiving is always better with babies. There's my Mom with her great-granddaughter, the paparazzi trying to get Charlotte to smile, Charlotte smiling with anticipation... Yeah, I took mostly Charlotte pics. I mean, who could resist? She's SO cute!
Last but not least, our friend Kathy had back surgery. I thought I'd take Kathy and her hubby Dan some soup. So, I doubled the tomato soup recipe and made minestrone too. There are funny stories about both. The tomato soup recipe as written calls for "chicken broth." Some have read it to mean a 46 oz can and some a 14 oz can. As you might guess, it's a very different soup when prepared with that much broth. I prefer the smaller can so it's more tomatoey. Is that a word? Well, it is for these purposes! As for the minestrone, the recipe card says from MOM. A few years ago I commented to her that her minestrone soup is my favorite of all time. She didn't remember making it... Isn't it funny how something that becomes a favorite in one household is a one and done in another?
Pat King's Tomato Soup
2 T extra virgin olive oil
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 T Italian seasoning
glob of garlic (that's what the recipe says, I think it's funny so left it in!)
You're probably wondering how much of the vegetables??? Me too. I always start with a medium onion or two and toss them in the food processor. Then, once they're finely chopped, I toss them in a large saucepan with the olive oil and let them cook down a bit to release some moisture. Then, I finely chop a couple of handfuls of the baby carrots and a few ribs of celery, using the food processor. All of those plus the garlic and Italian seasoning go in with the onions. Once everything is softened, I pour the tomatoes and a 14 oz can of chicken broth in. Actually, we've switched to using Better than Bouillon so I make a couple of cups of chicken broth and pour that in. Simmer, uncovered, for a couple of hours. This is best served the next day.
Cauliflower Cheese Soup
1 small head fresh cauliflower
2 c water
1/2 c onion, chopped (I just use a medium onion)
1/4 c butter
1/2 c flour
1- 2 T chicken flavored instant bouillon (we use Better than Bouillon)
2 - 3 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 c milk
1/4 t ground nutmeg
Core the cauliflower. Tear it into florets. Cook them in the water until they're softened. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Set the cauliflower and the cooking liquid aside. In the same saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until it's translucent. Stir in the flour. Cook it for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. While that's cooking, reserve a cup of the cauliflower florets. Take a cup of the cooking liquid plus the bouillon (we use better than bouillon and you may find you only need a tablespoon rather than the full two...) plus the rest of the cauliflower and process it in your food processor. Slowly pour the rest of the reserved cooking liquid into the onion/flour mixture. Stir constantly until it thickens. Then, add the cauliflower puree followed by the milk. Once it's a bit thickened, add the cheddar cheese and the nutmeg. Heat through and serve.
9 c beef stock
1 1/2 c dried white beans (Great Northern or baby limas are best)
1/2 c olive oil
3 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 c fresh green beans, cut into 1" lengths (a little north of a pound)
3 c diced zucchini (about 3 med)
3 c coarsely chopped cabbage (I use a bag of cole slaw mix)
1 1/2 c coarsely chopped carrots
1 1/2 c coarsely chopped celery
1 1/2 c coarsely chopped potato
28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, include juice
1 T crushed rosemary
Soak the beans overnight. Drain. Pour the olive oil into a very large stock pot. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for about 10 minutes. Then, add the green beans, zucchini, cabbage, carrots and celery. Saute for another 10 minutes stirring every couple of minutes. Lastly, add the potato, tomato, rosemary, beans and beef stock. Put a lid on and cook on medium heat for several hours. Here's the deal... I always refer to the ingredients as collapsing to describe when they're done. The soup can technically be done but not be right. You literally need for everything to totally cook. Taste along the way and you'll see what I mean. This may take eight hours of cooking to get it right. As I type this, mine has been going for three hours and is nowhere near done...