Tag Archives: healthy soup

Menudo Rojo

This is the kind of dish that evokes strong opinions, at least where I live. There are devoted lovers of menudo, and there are avid haters. (Obviously, I’m of the former group, or I wouldn’t be posting a recipe.) Rarely do I meet someone who is on the fence. When faced with a steaming, spicy, filling, healing stew (some say it’s a hangover cure), with a mountain of tortillas to enjoy alongside, why would anyone despise this dish? Most of the time, it has to do with tripe. Tripe is scary, gross, or otherwise unthinkable to some. It’s not a “normal” cut of meat in my part of the world, so it’s frowned upon and shunned in favor of the fancier cuts. My opinion? That we should cozy up to tripe – give tripe a chance!

What is tripe? Tripe is made from the first three chambers of an animal’s stomach (usually beef). The type most commonly found in Latin markets and most commonly used in menudo is honeycomb tripe, which comes from the third chamber. You will most likely find it already thoroughly cleaned, so it will look white, have a honeycomb texture, and should have very little odor to it, if any at all. (Sometimes you might find a grayish version – this type needs to be rinsed well and boiled for a while to remove any grittiness.) The advantages to tripe? If you’re into nose-to-tail eating, tripe will definitely need to be considered. (I’m in favor of sustainable eating. Shouldn’t be throwing away perfectly good parts just because they’re not steaks or roasts. Sometimes, the offal is the true delicacy.) It’s a good, inexpensive source of animal protein – it sells for a fraction of the price of other cuts of beef. Most of the time, all that cleaning is done for you at the butcher, so it is not extremely difficult to prepare. It also adds a lovely textural contrast to soups – simmered long enough, it becomes slightly chewy, but also giving and soft. It is not strongly flavored, and is more apt to take on the flavors added in a recipe than imparting its own. It is a key component in menudo, one of the more popular Mexican soups available.

Menudo is traditionally enjoyed for breakfast, often on New Years’ Day, but can be enjoyed on just about any weekend morning. Imagine a large bowl, filled with chili-spiced pork broth, bits of pork and tripe, hominy, laced with lime juice, and garnished with onion, cilantro, and fresh chiles. You pick up a fresh corn tortilla, roll it up, and dip a bit in the soup, and enjoy. Spoonful after spoonful opens your weary eyes with a spicy kick, and your whole body warms and is awakened. If you’re like me, that heat, complimented by the fresh lime and cilantro, is an addictive, delicious combination.  It’s an amazing thing when salty, fiery, meaty, and piquant flavors combine – it’s almost an explosion that knocks you back, but keeps you coming back for more. You might decide that this should become a regular meal in your rotation, especially in chilly months. (Of course, I could enjoy menudo any time of year!) For me, this is a comfort food – the warmth that the soup gives my body brings a sense of calm and happiness. Why that is, I’m not sure. I just know this is good stuff.

If you’ve been shy about tripe before, give it a try in menudo. Cut it into small, manageable bits, so that you can enjoy bite-sized morsels without feeling overwhelmed. You might find that you enjoy this new nose-to-tail eating thing, and feel better for it. Menudo will cure what ails you!

Menudo Rojo, adapted from Diana Kennedy’s The Art of Mexican Cooking

1 ½ lbs honeycomb tripe, rinsed well and cut into 1-inch squares

2 pigs feet (trotters), halved

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled

8 peppercorns

2 t kosher salt, or to taste

2 t Mexican oregano

4 quarts water

4 dried ancho chiles

3 dried guajillo chiles

1 large Hatch chile (or Anaheim or poblano), roasted, peeled, and chopped (can substitute canned green chiles)

1 15-oz can white hominy, drained

1 t ground cumin

To serve:

Dried oregano

Limes

Chopped onions

Chopped cilantro

Corn tortillas

Place the tripe, pigs feet, onion, garlic, peppercorns, salt, oregano, and water in a large stockpot or soup pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the tripe and foot are tender but not too soft.

Meanwhile, remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and toast on a dry skillet for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Pour enough water to cover, and allow to simmer at a low heat, soaking the chiles.

Remove the pigs feet from the pot and set aside. When cool enough to touch, remove the fleshy parts and either tear into small pieces or chop, and return to pot. Add the hominy and Hatch chile to the pot.

Remove the soaking chiles from the water and place in a blender along with the cumin. Ladle about a cup of the simmering broth from the pot into the blender, and puree until very smooth. (Add additional broth if necessary) Pour chile puree into the simmering pot and stir in. Allow to cook for about 2 hours (or more) a low simmer. Season with additional salt as necessary.

Serve in large bowls, with oregano, limes, onions, cilantro, and tortillas at the table for each guest to customize their own bowl.

Serves 8.

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Filed under breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Soups

Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup)

Months ago, Alain Braux, a chef and nutritherapist from nearby Austin, Texas, shared his newest book with me – Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food.

Alain asked me to review his book, and so I did. It was a lengthier read than a lot of “cookbooks”, so it took me a bit of time. However, Alain is thorough. He explains the aspects of celiac disease, what it is, how to manage it, and gives a lot of details on how to travel, live healthfully, and some of the topics many books don’t cover – how to cope. Many just starting out with a gluten-free or dairy-free diet feel they have few choices – either feel deprived, or live with inferior store-bought “substitute” products. Alain explains that there is a third option, and he offers up some delicious French recipes to get you started. French recipes? (Aren’t most French recipes comprised of bread and cheese – and wine? How is this accomplished on a gluten and dairy-free diet?) Alain shows that even gluten and dairy-free French dishes can be delectable.

I tried several recipes, but by far, my favorite was one of the easier ones – his tomato soup. It tasted so fresh, bright, and satisfying. I enjoyed it with a slice of Ginger Lemon Girl’s vegan crusty bread for an easy vegan meal. On a chilly evening, it can’t get any better than that.

Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup), from Alain Braux’s Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food

2 T olive oil

2 medium white onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 t sea salt

3 lbs ripe tomatoes (since it’s still winter, I opted for high-quality canned whole tomatoes)

2 t sugar

5-6 basil leaves

2 t dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 clove

1 t ground black pepper

1 qt vegetable broth

5-6 parsley sprigs

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 T olive oil

1 c rice or tapioca, optional (since I had bread, I omitted this)

In a large soup pot, saute the onions, garlic, and salt in the olive oil until golden. Clean and quarter your tomatoes. Add to the onion mix. Add sugar, basil, thyme, bay leaf, clove, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook at medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.

Process the whole soup in a food processor with a metal blade until coarse, but not pureed. Put back into the pot and add the vegetable broth to your liking, making the soup as thick or as thin as you’d like. Bring to a boil.

At this point, you can enjoy the soup as is. Great hot or cold. Or you could add the thickener of your choice – rice, tapioca, or even some mashed potatoes.

Just before serving, mix the finely chopped parsley and garlic with the olive oil. Stir into the soup and serve.

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Filed under Appetizers, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Soups, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Daring Cooks: Vegan Cassoulet

 Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

I have always wanted to make cassoulet. It’s rich, comforting, and perfect for a wintry day. However, lately I’ve been focusing on lighter fare. (In addition, I looked at the challenge for the first time this week, and didn’t think I could spend the time needed, or get the duck legs I wanted, in time.) So while I will definitely make the traditional cassoulet one day soon, this month, I opted for a lighter, quicker version of the dish. I opted to go for a vegan cassoulet, and confit some garlic cloves.

The cassoulet came together relatively quickly. (I did opt to cook my own beans from dried, rather than canned. I used Stephanie’s slow cooker instructions, so the beans were ready when I came home from work. I think they taste better than canned, and they tend to be more digestible. An added bonus – they’re much lower in sodium.) This is one relaxing dish to make. As the aromatic vegetables cooked, the aroma was so comforting – a myriad of leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic wafted through the air. The act of slowly stirring beans in a pot soothes me – it’s not stressful, high-speed cooking. This is love in a pot.

My favorite part about the dish though had to be the breadcrumbs. I will have to confess – the gluten-free bread I used was not vegan. I had frozen Udi’s to use up – so I made breadcrumbs from that bread. (Udi’s uses eggs) However, you could use Carrie’s lovely vegan gluten-free bread and make it completely vegan. These breadcrumbs were so deliciously crisp, with the inticing bite of the garlic and freshness from the parsley. I snuck spoonfuls while in the kitchen. These breadcrumbs balanced the creamy beans perfectly.

All in all, I didn’t miss the rich components of a traditional cassoulet (or what I’d imagine it would be, I have never actually eaten it). This was so satisfying (and healthier). I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

Vegetarian/Vegan Cassoulet
Vegetarian Cassoulet by Gourmet Magazine, March 2008

(Note: we didn’t actually make this recipe, but we’re sure it’s a good one!)

Ingredients:

3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide (25 mm) pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide (25 mm) pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (1 gm) ground cloves
3 (19-oz/540 gm) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 qt (4 cups/960 ml) water
4 cups (960 ml) (300 gm) coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (12 gm) chopped garlic
1/4 cup (60 ml) (80 gm) chopped parsley

Directions:

1. Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch (13 mm) pieces, then wash well (see cooks’ note, below) and pat dry.
2. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon (2½ mm) each of salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, then water, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with rack in middle.
4. Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated.
5. Spread in a baking pan and toast in oven, stirring once halfway through, until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
7. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth.
8. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.

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Filed under Beans, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Soups, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Curried Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

Did you know that Linda over at The Gluten-Free Homemaker has been hosting a Squash Fest? Every week, she has a guest blogger sharing a delicious recipe using various kinds of winter squash. It’s a delicious series – there are spaghetti squash casseroles, a butternut squash dessert with dates, and if you need a crash course in winter squashes and how to roast them, check out Linda’s run-down of varieties of squash or a great tutorial on roasting butternut squash. This coming Thursday, I’ll be sharing a stuffed acorn squash recipe. I can’t wait to see what else is featured!

Meanwhile, I had a mountain of acorn squash (I went a little overboard at the farmers’ market) in my kitchen. I decided to stretch it over two meals. The first night, I simply roasted all of the squash halves and served them as a side dish. The second night, I made this soup with the leftovers. While I love roasted squash, this soup was definitely the winner in terms of delicious flavor. Sweet, savory, creamy, and with just a touch of warmth from the curry powder – this soup was one of my favorite soups to date. This recipe made quite a bit of soup – enough for me to freeze leftovers for easy lunches. It’ll definitely make future appearances in my kitchen throughout the winter.

Curried Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

2 T grapeseed or olive oil

3 1/2 c mashed, roasted acorn squash (about 4 acorn squash)

1 1/2 c cooked sweet potato, mashed (about 1 large sweet potato)

1 t minced fresh ginger

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 apple (I used a Granny Smith), peeled and chopped

1 T fresh sage leaves, chopped

5 c vegetable stock (you can use chicken stock if you prefer)

1 c almond milk

1/2 t cinnamon

1 t Jamaican curry powder (recipe below) or Madras curry powder

1/2 t ground coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil, for drizzling

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the acorn squash, sweet potato, ginger, onion, garlic, and apple and saute for 5-6 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add the sage, broth, almond milk, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Remove from heat, and using a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth and creamy. (Alternatively, you can puree the soup in batches using a traditional blender or food processor.) Season with salt and pepper to taste and reutrn to heat to warm. If soup is too thick, add additional broth or water. If too thin, allow to simmer until at desired consistency. Serve with a bit of olive oil drizzled over the soup.

Serves 5-6.

Jamaican Curry Powder Blend

4 T Madras curry powder

2 t ground coriander

2 t ground cumin

1/2 t dry mustard

1/2 t turmeric

1/2 t cayenne

1/2 t cinnamon

1 T ground allspice

Mix spices together well and store in an airtight container.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Soups, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Butternut, Black Bean and Smoked Pork Stew

It’s not really time for stew. It’s late August, so for a Texan like me, that still means at least 3-4 weeks of hot temperatures to go. The stars were aligned for us last night, however, and a cold front blew in. The high temp yesterday? 80 degrees. It was 107 on Monday. That makes 80 degrees practically feel like sweater weather in comparison! Nearly every day in August has been over 100 degrees here, so we were a touch giddy.

Armed with fresh butternut squash from a local farm, and a desire to make a frugal, simple meal, I set off to make a stew. I cooked beans in the slow cooker while I was away at work, and when I came home, I was able to assemble this dish and have dinner in under 45 minutes. Not bad. If one was in a real hurry and bought frozen, cubed butternut squash, I imagine you could cut that time down to 15 minutes. For me, I prefer fresh – especially when it’s in season!

This stew is a lovely, spicy-sweet blend of flavors and textures. I forced myself to stop after a huge bowlful, but I could have easily had seconds or thirds, in spite of how filling it was. I brought a sample to a coworker for a taste; she loved it. Sounds like a win to me! 

I measured amounts in this recipe, but you can certainly alter as you see fit. Feel free to use canned beans if that’s your desire. Increase or decrease the jalapenos or chipotle chili powder to suit your heat tolerance. It was relatively spicy when I made it, so if you can’t handle a lot of heat, you might want to only use 1 jalapeno. If you don’t have smoked meat, a bit of cooked, crumbled bacon or salt pork might do nicely, or you could simply omit the meat altogether, and add a touch of smoked paprika. That’s what I love about stews – there really isn’t a “wrong” way to go!

Butternut, Black Bean and Smoked Pork Stew

2 T grapeseed oil

1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)

2 jalapenos, seeded and diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 c butternut squash, diced in half-inch cubes

3 c cooked black beans (about 2 15-oz cans)

2 c shredded, smoked pork or chicken

1 ½ T ground cumin

½ t ground chipotle chile powder

1 t sweet paprika

3 c chicken stock

Salt to taste

Optional accompaniments:

Chopped tomatoes

Chopped cilantro

In a large, heavy pot, heat grapeseed oil to medium heat. Add onion and jalapenos and sauté for 8-10 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add butternut squash and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add beans, pork, cumin, chipotle chili powder, and stock and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt. Allow to simmer until butternut squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve  topped with tomatoes and cilantro.

Serves 4.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Soups, Vegetables

Spicy Kale Salad with Tomatoes and Chiles

In case you haven’t visited in a while, the Food Revolution is still going strong over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang. Check it out, for today I am sharing a delicious kale salad, inspired by Noelle over at Opera Singer In The Kitchen, that requires no heating of your kitchen – a bonus during the hot days of summer! You can see the recipe here.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Salads, Vegetables, Vegetarian

One Last Hurrah – Tortilla Soup with Goat Cheese Guacamole

That’s how I felt when eating leftovers of this soup for lunch the other day. This is my last dairy hurrah. You see, a few weeks back, I embarked on a short-term dairy-free diet as a trial, to see if it was causing some lingering issues I was having. After two weeks, I didn’t notice a huge difference, but there was a difference. When I reintroduced it back into my diet, I tried to ignore the truth – that the dairy was making me sick. After all, I didn’t want to give it up – I am a huge fan of all things cheese and butter, and I was even singing the praises of raw milk just the other day. But as much as I love it, dairy doesn’t love me back. So this tortilla soup was my last dairy-containing meal, at least for a long while. You’ll see many recipes in the future that are not only gluten-free, but also dairy-free. (Of course, those of you who can eat dairy without incident are welcome to modify your recipes accordingly!)

This tortilla soup recipe is closely based off of a Quickfire Challenge I saw on Top Chef Masters a few weeks back. Chef Marcus Samuelsson prepared a chicken soup with crispy tortilla strips and goat cheese guacamole that had me drooling. I had to make it. So I visited the recipe found here and filled in the blanks, adjusting to my tastes. And even with the near-100 degree temperatures outside, this soup hit the spot – it was just a touch spicy, bursting with flavor, and the goat cheese guacamole was cooling and fresh.

If I was to make it again (and there will be an “again”), I’d have to modify it to be dairy-free, of course. I’d have to give up the goat cheese in the guacamole, and substitute either almond milk or coconut milk for the cream, but the flavors would still be there in full force. It’s a lovely tortilla soup – no wonder Chef Marcus Samuelsson did so well in Top Chef Masters!

 

Tortilla Soup with Goat Cheese Guacamole, adapted from Marcus Samuelsson

For the guacamole:

1 T olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 avocados

Juice from 1 lime

2 T goat cheese

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 T cilantro, chopped

salt and pepper

Pour the olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. Scoop the avocado flesh and add to bowl. Add goat cheese and smash the avocado, onion, garlic, and cheese together with a fork. Add in lime juice, jalapeno, bell pepper and cilantro and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the soup:

4 corn tortillas, cut into strips

Canola oil, for frying

1 red onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts chicken stock

4 tomatoes, chopped

4 c shredded, cooked chicken (I used leftover grilled chicken)

1 1/2 t ground cumin

1 t salt

4 eggs

2 T cream

juice from 2 limes

1 T chopped green onions

1/2 T cilantro, chopped

In a skillet, heat about a half-inch of canola oil over medium heat. Fry tortilla strips in batches until crisp, about 1 minute, and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cumin, salt, and chicken and stir, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream. Ladle one or two spoonfuls of the hot soup mixture into the bowl while whisking, and whisk until incorporated. Then pour the egg mixture back into the soup, whisking until incorporated. Allow to cook for another minute, and then add lime juice and half of the green onions and cilantro.

Serve soup topped with the remaining green onions, cilantro, guacamole, and tortilla strips. Serves 4.

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Filed under Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Soups