Spicy Peanut Soup

All the kiddos are heading back to school soon.  Which means lots of lunches, coffees and dinner with these amazing students; telling me of summer adventures, schedules of the upcoming school year, joy, heartbreak, talking for hours and hours.  It blesses me and feeds my heart.

This recipe is from The Complete Book of 400 Soups.

Substitution made, noted below.

spicy peanut soup 1

Spicy Peanut Soup

2 tblsp oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp chili powder
2 red bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
8oz carrots, finely chopped
8oz potatoes, finely chopped
3 celery sticks, sliced
3 3/4 c vegetable stock
6 tblsp crunchy peanut butter – I used smooth
2/3 c corn
salt & black pepper
peanuts for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes.  Add the chili powder and cook for an additional minute

Add the red peppers, carrots, potatoes and celery.  Stir well, then cook for another 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the vegetable stock, followed by the peanut butter and corn.  Stir until thoroughly combined.

Season well.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.  Serve garnished with chopped peanuts.

spicy peanut soup 2

cartoon-strawberry-9This soup has a great flavor, but not so spicy.  I need to remember this cook book tends to under-spice the recipes.  Next time I’ll add in some cumin, ginger and maybe some Chinese 5 spice powder.  I served the soup over white rice with some shredded chicken thrown in.

Chicken Minestrone

Who makes soup on a day when it hits 80 degrees?  That’d be me.

This recipe is from 400 Soups.

Substitutions made, noted below.

chix minestrone 1

Chicken Minestrone

1 tblsp olive oil
2 chicken thighs – I used 3 boneless
3 rindless streaky (fatty) bacon rashers (strips), chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
a few fresh basil leaves, shredded – I used dried
a few fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped – I used dried
1 tblsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsely – I used dried
2 potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes – I used red potatoes
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 or 2 celery sticks, cut into 1/2 cubes
4 c chicken stock
1 c small soup pasta
salt and ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese shavings, for serving – I used the Trader Joes Parm/Reggiano blend

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, (I used my 5 quart dutch oven for all soup preparation) add the chicken thighs and fry for about 5 minutes on each side.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the bacon, onion and herbs to the pan and cook gently, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes, carrot, zucchini and celery and cook for 5-7 minutes more.

Return the chicken thighs to the pan, add the stock and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook over a low heat for 35-40 minutes, stirring the soup occasionally to prevent sticking.

chix minestrone 2

Remove the chicken thighs with a slotted spoon and place them on a board.  Stir the peas and pasta into the soup and bring back to a boil.  Simmer, stirring, for 7-8 minutes or according to the instructions on the packet, until the pasta is just al dente.

Meanwhile, remove and discard the chicken skin, then remove the meat from the chicken bones and cut it into small pieces.  Since I used boneless, I only had to cut these into pieces.

Return the chicken meat to the soup, stir well and heat through.  Taste and add additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Ladle into warmed soup plates or bowls, top with cheese and serve pipping hot.

chix minestrone 3

cartoon-strawberry-9So this soup was good, but a little bland the first night.  But the second day?  Wowzers!  All the flavors had bloomed and deepened.  When I make this soup again, I will prepare it the day before, skim the fat and reheat for serving.  I would also add a fourth chicken thigh, just to add a little more meat.

Meatballs in Pasta Soup with Basil

I could make soup every night of the week, and husband would be a happy man.

This recipe is from ‘The Complete Book of 400 Soups’.

I altered slightly, all noted below.

Meatballs in Pasta Soup with Basil

14 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
3 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped ** for the onion, celery and carrot – I used the Trader Joes mirepoix mix.
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small red chili, seeded and chopped ** I couldn’t find a red chili, so I subbed a small jalapeno
1 tblsp tomato paste
11 oz small pasta shapes
large handfull of fresh basil, torn
salt and black pepper
basil leaves to garnish
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

For the meatballs:
1 thick slice white bread, crust removed  ** I used wheat bread
3 tblsp milk
12oz lean ground beef or veal  ** I used ground turkey
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, crushed
grated rind of 1 orange
1 egg, beaten
2 tblsp olive oil

First prepare the meatballs.  Break the bread into small pieces and place them in a bowl.  Add the mile and leave to soak for about 10 minutes.  Add the beef, parsley, orange rind and garlic, and season well.  Mix well with your hands.

When the bread is thoroughly incorporated with the meat, add enough beaten egg to bind the mixture. Shape small spoonfuls of the mixture into balls about the size of a large olive.
** I used a little too much egg (approx half), the mixture would be fine without adding the egg.

Heat the oil (from meatball ingredients) in a frying pan and fry the meatballs in batches for 6 to 8 minutes, until browned all over. Use tongs or a draining spoon to removed them from the pan and set aside.
** Do this in a separate pan than the one you’ll be making soup in. I didn’t and had quite a mess on my hands…

Puree the cannellini beans with a little of the stock in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Set aside.

Heat the oil (from the soup ingredients) in a large pan. Add the chopped onion, garlic, chili, celery and carrot; cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Cover and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.
** Cook gently? This was a new phrase for me. So I covered and turned the heat to low.

Stir in the tomato paste, the bean puree and the remaining vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
** I also added 2 cups of water. The stock alone wasn’t enough liquid.

Stir in the pasta shapes and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, but not soft. Add the meatballs and basil and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season the soup well before ladling it into warmed bowls. Garnish each bowl with a basil leaf, and serve freshly grated Parmesan cheese with the soup.
** As you can see in the picture below, I skipped more basil. I used a Parm/Asiago blend from Trader Joes.
** 11 oz of pasta is A LOT, I would cut this to 7 or 8 oz max.

 We had a friend over for dinner when I served this soup, and we all liked it.  Husband and friend did not like the orange rind in the meatballs.  And as I said above, 11 oz of pasta is a lot, I would definitely cut this down.  I’ll be making this one again, with a few slight tweaks.

P.S. – By the time this soup got to leftovers the next day, it had turned into a pasta dish instead of a soup.  The 11 oz. of pasta had soaked up all the liquid.  So less pasta, and adding 3 or 4 cups of water will keep this a soup until leftovers.