bean broth soup

December 16, 2011

I have been wanting to make some bean soup for a while. This soup was made using what I could scrounge up in my mom’s fridge…I found a carrot, a few stalks of celery, some chard stems, and a bunch of parsley. If you have these things, you can make a soup.

There was an onion sitting on my counter, along with a butternut squash from the farmer’s market. I cut up a bit of the onion with the squash and a few cloves of garlic and put them in the oven with a little olive oil to roast.

Meanwhile, I covered a cup of borlotti beans with boiling water and set them aside. I chopped and sauteed the found vegetables in a mixture of olive oil and butter for about 20 minutes. To the one carrot, remaining onion, two stalks of celery, and a handful of chopped parsley, I added several bay leaves, a few dried peppers and a parmesan cheese rind. And a pinch or two of herbs de provence.

I then added a lot of water, the soaked beans, and a bit of salt.

Then pressure cooked the whole collection for 40 minutes. And then another 20 minutes, until the beans were nicely tender.

After the beans were cooked I added the chopped chard stems and roasted squash for a little extra color.

This is a good soup if you have been on your feet all day. Brothy and hearty at the same time. Perfect to serve with good olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper, and a slice of fresh bread.


I have been into tomato soup recently. I like to roast the tomatoes with things like onions and peppers, and then blend them. Or even easier, just open a few jars of tomato sauce, add some water, harissa, salt and olive oil, and serve with broiled cheese toasts.


There are too many options for exactly how to make this soup, but here is a very general guideline that I like to follow.


For roasting tomatoes:

Place cut tomatoes (I slice them in half), butternut squash chunks, hot peppers, onion slices, apples, and anything else you would like to add, onto a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, add a sprig of fresh basil if you have it, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at about 350-400 degrees until the vegetables are cooked and caramelized. It might be advisable to stir a few times during the cooking process.

Remove the vegetables from the pan, making sure to collect the juices from cooking. I will often pour in a little hot water to capture as much as I can.

Mix cooked vegetables with water (or vegetable broth for a richer soup), some harissa, and any other flavors that you would like to add here. Blend with a stick blender or put through a food mill. If it is too thick, you can add water. If it is too thin, you can cook it down, or add a handful of cooked couscous or pasta and let it simmer for a few more minutes.  I like this soup to be on the thin side because the cheese toasts end up soaking up extra liquid.

Heat the soup up, and serve with broiled cheese toasts with mustard, and extra pepper, salt, and olive oil for garnish. And some chopped parsley, basil or cilantro.

To make cheese toasts:

Slice 1-2 pieces of stale bread per serving and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and place a slice or some gratings of cheese on top. Broil in the oven, watching like a HAWK! I am really good at burning the cheese toasts.  Serve soup with cheese toasts on top.


two very large pots of soup

September 26, 2011

I picked up a huge hubbard squash a few weeks ago at Kathy’s Pumpkin patch because I can’t help buying pumpkins. The weather has been cold and rainy, and I am waiting for my chimney to be inspected before I light a fire in my wood stove. Any excuse to turn the oven on is welcome. I have been baking bread, and roasting things.

Winter squash soup is easy if the vegetables are roasted in the oven first. Place cut and seeded squash pieces, tomatoes, apples and hot peppers on a cookie sheet with edges. Onions, garlic, and other aromatics are really nice here as well! Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt.

Pour some water over them so that they don’t dry out too much. Leave them in the oven (350 or 400 degrees) until they are well done, and a bit toasty.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and allow them to cool. This can be done in stages (roast one night, and then prepare the soup the next day). Scrape the meat out of the squash pieces leaving the peels, and combine with peppers, tomatoes, apples, etc.

Meanwhile, sautee some onions in a generous amount of olive oil until translucent, and then add cooked squash mixture. Add water or broth to thin mixture to desired consistency and puree or simply stir for a more rustic look. Sometimes I will add a spoonful of harissa for more flavor, and a little spice! Let simmer on the stove top over low heat for about 30 minutes.

Serve with parmesan cheese, olive oil and freshly ground pepper, and a slice of fresh bread (another reason to turn on the oven..).

The lone hubbard squash made two very large pots of soup for the very small price of $5.00.

It is a little bit grim what happens to pumpkins. The seeds are planted, they spend all summer collecting energy from the sun, and nutrients from the soil and water, and then we eat them. Scrub, de-stem, seed, and bake in the oven in a tray of boiling water. Jay took the picture above in the oven with his camera that can capture lovely dark images!

I love my pumpkins. Jay came over today to see the harvest (which was rather small…) and we decided to make a pot of pumpkin soup. With a Long Island Cheese variety.

We cut the pumpkin in half, seeded it and saved the seeds. (I do figure that the purpose of the plant is to continue to create offspring, so my meticulously saving and planting the seeds does count for something after I cut open and eat the squash…)

We baked the pumpkin in a 400 degree oven until it was tender, and the top had browned.

(I is important to wait until the pumpkin is well done. The skin just peels off if you do!)

I mashed the pumpkin flesh with a fork, and added it to a mixture of sauteed onions and garlic, parsley, and a little bit of parmesan cheese rind ready on the stove.

After we mixed everything together the soup was pretty much finished. It was bubbling on the stove for five or ten minutes, and then we served it up. We garnished it with fresh parsley, grated parmesan, and toasted pumpkin seed oil (a real treat!).

We managed to find little spots on the table to eat. I was definitely knocking elbows with pumpkins throughout the meal, but it was fun anyways!

Pumpkin Soup (more like guidelines than a recipe!)


a smallish long island cheese pumpkin (or any pumpkin or winter squash) cut in half and seeded

a small onion

a few cloves of garlic

olive oil

a few sprigs (or more) of parsley

a bit of parmesan cheese rind

some more parsley, cheese, and pumpkin seed oil for garnish

salt and pepper


Bake pumpkin cut side down in an inch or so of water in a 400 degree oven.

Meanwhile, chop and sautee onions, and whole clove or two of garlic in olive oil over medium low heat. Add some salt, and then after a few minutes the chopped parsley and parmesan rind. Stir for about a minute or so, then add a tiny bit water and let simmer for a few minutes and then set aside.

The pumpkin should be about done here, and you can scrape it right from the shell and add directly to the soup. I used the water from baking pumpkin for the soup instead of broth or fresh water.

Stir everything well, and blend or put through a food mill if you like. Let the soup simmer for ten or fifteen minutes before serving.

Garnish with extra chopped parsley, freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and toasted pumpkin seed oil (all optional).

roast soup

October 13, 2010

I am finally getting pumpkins from the patch, and since it is fall, I feel like turning my oven on, and roasting things.

The other day, when I finished work, I was in the mood for some pumpkin soup, and had a few fresh chestnuts on the counter, some of the last tomatoes of the season (they were green and ripened on my counter), and home-grown garlic. I picked up some shallots and parsnips from the store, and roasted everything!

I sliced the pumpkin in half, saved the seeds, and cooked it cut side down in a pan of water.

I slit the chestnuts, peeled the shallots, and cut the top off of a head of garlic, and put them in my chestnut roasting pan. I drizzled olive oil over the garlic and shallots, and sprinkled some salt on the top. They roasted with the lid on!

In the third pan I mixed sliced parsnips, more shallots, also sliced, and the tomatoes. More olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt.

Everything roasted in the oven all evening. When I arrived home at the end of the night, I took everything out, scraped the pumpkin out of the shells, peeled the chestnuts, and put everything in a pot.

The vegetables cooked down, and many sugars carmalized!

In the morning, I added water and pureed the mixture with my stick blender.

I served the soup with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. And a drizzle of toasted pumpkin seed oil, a real treat!

a very simple soup

May 1, 2010

This soup was inspired partly by the very seasonal delicious veggies available, and also by a soup that I had in Japan a few years ago while visiting my brother, who was living there at the time. The noodles and broth were served at a temple that traditionally made the dish every spring when a specific green was available. I think that the noodles were actually made out of the plant, and I really can’t remember what it was. The soup that I made was mostly inspired by the idea of the Japanese soup.

I gathered a bag of nettles, and picked a batch of asparagus from the patch. Remembering the Japanese noodle soup, and wanting to make something simple and nutritious, I steamed the nettles, and set the broth and greens aside. Meanwhile, I boiled some buckwheat soba noodles, and on the other burner, I sauteed the sliced asparagus.

For the simple soup, I cooked the nettle broth down a little, finely chopped the nettle greens, and arranged the soba noodles in a bowl. I set the greens on top, and then poured the boiling hot broth over the whole thing. I seasoned the soup with a little soy sauce, and that was it. Very very simple, but delicious.

I was on my way home today, thinking of what I could make that would be cozy, hearty, and filling. And could make a dent in my refrigerator full of broth. Mushroom barley soup came to mind. I hadn’t ever made it, but since I still had some left over mushroom broth in the fridge, I thought I would give it a try.

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and picked up some mushrooms, barley, and a few other ingredients.

To make the soup.

First add a little olive oil and butter to a pan on medium low heat, about 1-2 tablespoons each. Add about 1/2 an onion, finely chopped, and saute. Meanwhile, finely chop one stalk of celery, and add, as the onions are cooking.

Then add several handfuls of mushrooms (I used a combination of shiitake and crimini, roughly chopped). My mom once told me that sauteing mushrooms in butter brings out their flavor, so I usually try to do this for soups, etc.

Next, add a carrot, diced. And a thyme sprig or two, the leaves pulled of and rubbed before tossing into the soup. I like to space out my vegetables. Take care to make sure nothing burns!

After the vegetables have cooked for a few minutes, add one cup uncooked barley, and about 1 quart broth. I used a mixture of Hearty Mushroom Broth, and Winter Broth (from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Soups, and Greens and cookbooks respectively). Broth is very important here! It is what gives the soup its flavor. Home made broth is a lot of work, but worth it.

You can toss in a Parmigiano cheese rind, for flavor. One of my favorite things in soup.

Bring soup to a low boil, turn heat down, and simmer, about 35-40 minutes, or until barley is tender.

Serve garnished with grated Parmigiano, chopped parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Great soup to eat while curled up under the covers in bed.

pot au feu (minus theo)

March 25, 2010

I have been talking with my friend Theo about making pot au feu since we made pho a few months ago. A sort of pot au feu anyway. Something vegetable and warm, and roasted, with mushrooms, etc. We even looked at the recipe the other day. And I got inspired to do it, unfortunately while he was away at a whiskey tasting convention…

It all started out with the broth. A hearty mushroom based broth that is so thick you can’t see through it. With that already made, I didn’t have much to do. Cut up and roast the vegetables, with aromatics and red wine. Turnips, carrots, portobello mushrooms, potatoes, and several sprigs of thyme.

The vegetables were easy to roast. I stuck them into my large le creuset pot, tossed them with olive oil, poured in a little red wine, put the lid on, and stirred them occasionally. After about 20 minutes I took the lid off, and cooked them until they were tender and caramelized.

Meanwhile I mixed up the batter for, and cooked the dumplings. They were rosemary dumplings, with an egg, some flour and a lot of fresh rosemary chopped very finely. For some reason the dumplings ended up too mushy, and full of water. I am going to have to look at the recipe and maybe compare it to some other ones to see what to do differently next time. Also, I salted the water as I do pasta water, and this turned out to make them a little too salty. That said, I still liked them in the soup..

The finished bowl, before adding broth. I heated the bowls in the warm oven before putting the food in. I arranged the roasted vegetables, dumplings, and a wedge of steamed cabbage.

The broth, poured on top. It was so thick and rich, that one big bowl of soup left me stuffed!

Yesterday I got on a broth kick. I went to the grocery store while hungry (always either great or a mistake, depending on how you look at it). My friend Ayni was telling me about how she loves chicken broth, and how simple it is to make. I somehow forgot how labor intensive vegetable broth is to make, and told her that it was super easy. Then, I came home with two very heavy bags of vegetables. I spent the entire afternoon washing, peeling, chopping, stirring, and straining vegetables for broth. Making broth takes a lot of work. But it is definitely worth it.

I made two batches of broth. Both were recipes from Deborah Madison, the first from the Greens Cookbook, and the second from Vegetable Soups. I love Deborah Madison’s recipes, they are simple, easy to follow, and consistently delicious. The first recipe was for Winter Broth. My favorite basic broth recipe.

The vegetables start off bright and beautiful. I am always inspired by their cheerful colors and shapes.

As they cook, the color disappears, and I think that it sinks into the broth…which ends up with a beautiful mellow color, and bright flavor.

The lentils add a nice bit of body, and depth to the flavor. The colors of the vegetables are already fading as they cook down..

Above are the left over cooked vegetables, after the broth has been strained out. They are tossed into the compost pile, with a little regret…

Meanwhile, I started the hearty mushroom broth. I realized that I wouldn’t have enough time to cook the broth (about 45 minutes), so I prepared the ingredients to be able to make the broth more quickly (cooking show style) when I came home.

This mushroom broth recipe has tomato paste, flour, and red wine to add body and flavor. The mushroom broth is currently brewing in my kitchen, and the entire house smells delicious! Strong, hearty mushroom flavor. I can’t wait to try this one!

Here are the dried shiitake mushrooms soaking in warm water. The soaking water becomes the water for the broth.

After the vegetables and herbs were lightly browned, I added tomato paste, flour, wine. The alcohol is burned off by boiling, then I added the dried, soaked mushrooms and their water, and simmered the whole pot for about 45 minutes.

The result was a single jar of mushroom broth. One quart.

soup for bait.

February 26, 2010

Sometimes it is rather tricky to get my mom over to my house. Especially in the winter, when it is cold (14 degrees), snowy (I can’t even drive down my little lane..), and dark (8 pm).

But, when I have a jar of home-made soup, and a promise to heat it up, she does somehow make it over. My dad and I made dinner for some friends of his, and I made soup from a wonderful soup cookbook, Vegetable Soups, by Deborah Madison. My mom brought the cookbook home from the store a few days ago and we have made two delicious soups from it already. (She made a black bean soup with cumin, lime, and cilantro.) I saved a jar of soup for my mom, and heated it up for her when we got home.

I started the soup with a bunch of fresh vegetables, and made a stock. I like to make home-made stock, although sometimes I just don’t have the time to do it. This particular soup calls for chickpeas, so I added the chickpea broth (made with garlic, onions, bay leaves, parsley, and peppercorns) to the soup as well.

The main ingredients were broth, chickpeas, and farro (for which I substituted soaked spelt, with a slightly chewier result).

We garnished the soup with fresh parsley, olive oil, salt pepper, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten things up.

Anyways, I got home, heated up the jar of soup, gave my mom an eider down comforter, and the hot soup.