Chicken · Soups and Stews

Mexican-style Corn & Chicken Soup

In Alberta, corn from Taber  has hit the markets!   A sure sign that fall is on its way.

The heat of the summer has already given way to cooler days and chilly nights.  As much as we hate to see summer go (yes, even down here, I mourn the passing of the Alberta summer), the upside is all that great corn that is now available.

This recipe lets you take advantage of that golden goodness while you warm yourself up with a hot bowl of soup.

After you have cut the kernels off of their cobs, don’t forget to scrape the back of a knife over the cob to extract as much juice (and flavour) as possible from it.   Be sure to hold it over the same bowl that your corn is in while you do this.

This will serve 4 and even with all the dicing, you will have dinner on the table in under an hour.  Win-Win!!

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Chicken Corn Soup

4 ears corn (or 3 cups frozen, thawed)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1′ pieces (about 12 oz)

1 poblano chile, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1/4″ dice

1/2 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1/4″ dice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 Tablespoon Chile in Adobo, minced and mashed into a paste (optional)

1 white onion, diced

salt and pepper

4 cups chicken stock , homemade or purchased

14 oz can diced tomatoes

1 fresh tomato, finely diced for garnish

2 scallions, thinly sliced for garnish

crushed tortilla chips for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot (4 litres) over medium high heat.  Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to oil in pot.  Cook. stirring just until chicken is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.  Add the poblano, red pepper, Chile in adobo, onion, cumin and coriander and cook, stirring until onion is soft and starting to brown – about 6 minutes.

Add the corn, and any milk you scraped from the cobs, the tomatoes and the chicken stock to the pot.  Stir well and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 5 minutes.   Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls.  Top each bowl with crushed tortilla chips, diced tomatoes and sliced scallions.

 

 

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Appetizers and Snacks · Soups and Stews

Gazpacho

If you want to bring Summer to your table, make Gazpacho.

Aside from being stupid simple to prepare, it’s a great way to bring the freshness of your garden (or Farmers Market) to the table.   I like to serve this with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for a perfect (and fast) summer meal.

My photo doesn’t do the dish justice, you will just have to take my word, that it does taste better than the photo would lead you to believe.

Serves 4

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Gazpacho with Grilled Ham and  Cheese on Dark Rye

Gazpacho

1 lb fresh, ripe tomatoes

1/2 English cucumber, or use a regular cucumber, just scoop the seeds out

1/2 red bell pepper

1 clove garlic

3 Tablespoons olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)

1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper

capers, for garnish

Roughly chop the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper and garlic.  Toss into a blender, along with the vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Puree until there are no more large chunks of of veggies, but mixture still has some texture.  Refrigerate while you grill the sandwiches.  Divide between 4 bowls, drizzle each with olive oil and add a few capers for garnish and serve.

 

Main Courses · Pork · Soups and Stews

Thai Noodle Bowl with Ground Pork

What can I say, flavours from this part of the world fascinate us!

Considering how quickly this dish comes together, we were surprised at how much flavour it has.  It is a great weeknight dish.

If you have pickled ginger on hand, be sure to include it.  It adds a nice spark of flavour to the finished dish.

Thai Noodle Bowl with Ground Pork

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger (be sure to peel it before mincing)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 red onion, finely diced, divided

1 lb lean ground pork

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon Sambal Olek** (or to taste)

salt & pepper

1 cup water

4 cups chicken stock or broth

1 bunch fresh spinach, tough stems removed and leaves chopped or torn

6 oz rice noodles

Toppings

1/4 cup finely chopped pickled ginger (optional)

chopped salted peanuts

fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped

 

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add the fresh ginger, garlic and all but 2 Tablespoons red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the ground pork, turmeric, chili-garlic sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper.  Cook the meat, breaking up most of the lumps, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup water, the chicken broth and spinach (the pot will be very full, but the spinach will wilt quickly). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the broth has reduced slightly and the spinach is tender, about  minutes. Taste and season with more salt & pepper if needed.

Meanwhile, in separate pot, cook rice noodles according to package directions, stirring to separate the noodles.   Drain noodles well, shake dry and divide among 4 bowls.

Ladle pork-broth mixture over noodles.  Top with peanuts, cilantro, pickled ginger and the reserved red onion.

Serves 4

 

** COOKS NOTES :   Sambal Olek- a chili garlic paste found in most supermarkets

 

 

Beef · Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Beef Chili

Yes, I know, I have already posted a chili recipe, but I like this version too.   The dried chilies in this recipe add a nice depth of flavour that will help chase away those winter blues.    They are easily found here in Mexico, but depending on where you live, you may have to do a bit of searching.  If your local grocery doesn’t carry them, look around for a Mexican or East Indian market.  They often carry spices that the big name stores do not.   I realize it could be a bit of a treasure hunt for some of you, but I’m pretty one bite will convince you that finding the chiles was worth the effort.

This serves 8.

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Beef Chili

4 large ancho chiles

2 dried guajillo chiles

2 dried pasilla chiles

3 cups boiling water

3 Tablespoons canola oil

2 kilos boneless beef chuck, cut into 1/2″ slices

Salt & pepper

2 large onions

8 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 bottle Corona beer (or any other kind you like)

1    14 oz can diced tomatoes

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoon molasses

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

sour cream and grated cheese for serving

Wipe chiles with a damp paper towel to remove any dust or sediment.  Remove stems and seeds from all of them.  Tear into large pieces and place in large heat-proof bowl.  Pour boiling water over, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes to soften chiles.

Meanwhile, season beef with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, brown beef on both sides – about 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to plate.

Reduce heat to medium add onions and cook, stirring often until onions are translucent and very soft.  About 6 – 10 minutes.  Add garlic, cook one minute more.  Add cumin and oregano and cook, stirring one minute more.  Add tomatoes and brown sugar and scrape bottom of pot to loosen any spices stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Add the beer, increase heat to high and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the beer has evaporated.  10 – 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put chiles and their soaking liquid into blender and blend on high until smooth.  About 1 minute.  Cut beef into 1/2 inch pieces.

Add beef, chile puree and 2 cups of water to pot.  Bring to boil, reduce and let simmer, uncovered, until meat is very tender and liquid has thickened slightly.  About 2 hours.

Stir in beans and cook just until they are heated thru, another 5 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.

Serve with sour cream, grated cheese and /or whatever else floats your boat on the table so guests can help themselves to toppings.  Round the meal out with a  salad, baked potatoes or rice and garlic bread.

 

Soups and Stews

Onion Soup

Yeah, it was going to be French Onion Soup, but we ended up eating the cheese earlier this week in Quesadillas and sandwiches.

It turned out to be a happy accident,  because this is still very tasty, and much lower in calories than if I had remembered not to use all the cheese.   Of course, you can still top this with a handful of Gruyere or Swiss cheese to make it authentic,  if you wish.

Caramelizing the onions will take you 45 minutes to an hour.  You cannot rush this process so be patient.  The flavour you get by caramelizing the onions is the key to the success of this soup.

Of course, I did not take a photo, so had to borrow one from the internet, but this is a reasonable facsimile of how the soup turned out.

This will serve 2 for a light dinner or 6 as an appetizer.

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Onion Soup

2 Tablespoons butter

3 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 lbs)

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine (basically, something you like the taste of, but not too sweet)

2 cups chicken stock (canned or homemade)

4 cups beef broth (canned or homemade)

1 cup leftover cooked beef, cut into small cubes (optional)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Toasted slices of French Bread for topping

Parmesan curls for garnish

salt

pepper

Over low heat in large saucepan, melt butter.  Add onions and garlic and a pinch of salt.  Cover & cook, checking & stirring occasionally, until onions are very tender and have a nice even brown colour. About 45 minutes – 1 hour.  Be patient.

Add wine to pan, increase heat to medium and simmer, stirring until wine is evaporated – about 3 minutes.

Stir in mustard and chicken and beef broth.  Add cooked beef, if using.  Stir well and let simmer 20 minutes.   Taste for seasoning and add salt & pepper to taste if needed.  (This can be prepared 1 day ahead, just let soup cool to room temp before refrigerating overnight.  Reheat before continuing. )

Spoon hot soup into bowls and top each with a toast slice and some parmesan curls.

 

Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Coconut-Curry Turkey Soup

As always, once our Christmas Turkey was picked pretty much down to the bones for turkey sandwiches, after the Big Day, I bagged the carcass and tossed it along with any leftover meat into the freezer, already looking forward to the soup I would eventually make with it.

This soup was inspired by one I made several years back, but as luck would have it, while the memory of great flavours remains with me, the recipe seems to have gotten lost along the way.

Actually not a bad thing, because this version is very tasty.

As a main course it will serve 2 very hungry people or 4 for a light dinner or lunch.

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Coconut-Curry Turkey Soup

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 carrot peeled and diced

1 small sweet potato or, peeled and diced

1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

1 large clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

1/ 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (preferably Madrass)

1 teaspoon Garam Masala

1/4 teaspoon Fenugreek (optional)

2 litres home made Turkey Stock

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups chopped leftover cooked turkey – pulled from carcass after making the stock

1 cup frozen peas

3/4 teaspoon salt (more or less, to taste)

freshly ground pepper

chopped green onion for garnish

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot and sweet potato and cook, stirring until onion becomes translucent.  Do not brown.    Stir in ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add curry powder, garam masala and fenugreek (if using), and stir 1 minute, until spices become fragrant.

Add Turkey stock and bring mixture to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until carrot and potato are tender.  Stir in coconut milk, cooked turkey and frozen peas and simmer until heated through.   Add salt and pepper, taste for seasoning.  Sprinkle with chopped green onion for garnish.

Serve immediately with crusty rolls.

 

 

Beef · Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Pho at Home

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I love this soup and it is on my ‘Must Eat’ list whenever I am back in Canada.  Where we live, Pho can difficult to find.  There are 2 restaurants we know of that serve it, and strangely both only offer it on Thursday nights.  The one closest to us closes for the summer.   So we make our own.

This recipe includes instructions for making your own beef broth, from scratch, but no one will judge you if you skip that part and open a couple of boxes of store-bought low sodium beef broth (See cooks notes below).  Toss in some of last nights roast beef or leftover steak, or pork or shredded deli chicken for that matter, and your hungry family will still be awestruck by your amazing cooking abilities.

This recipe serves 4 comfortably.

Pho at Home

2  kilos beef soup bones

1/2 kilo stewing beef or beef shank (leg)

1 – 3  Tbs canola oil

1 large onion, quartered

2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed

5 scallions, white and green parts separated; white parts smashed, green part sliced and set aside

2 large cloves garlic, smashed

1 jalepeno, stem removed, halved lengthwise

5 whole star anise

1   5″ stick cinnamon, whole

2 1/2  litres water

1/4 cup soya sauce

200 gms dried rice noodles

Basil leaves, bean sprouts or shredded iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced radishes, chopped peanuts, hoisin and Sambal Olek or Sriracha sauce and those green onion tops you sliced earlier as accompaniments.

Heat oil in large stock pot over medium high heat, then, working in batches, brown the bones and beef shanks, about 5 minutes per batch.  Transfer browned meat to platter, adding additional oil if needed, as you go.

Once all the beef and bones are browned, cook onion, ginger, white parts of scallions, garlic and jalepeno in same pot over medium heat stirring once in awhile, until onions are soft and beginning to brown.  Add cinnamon, star anise and cook, stirring 1 minute longer.

Add browned beef, bones and any accumulated juices back into the pot, along with the water and soya sauce.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 1/2 hours, until meat is tender but not  quite falling off the bone.

Using tongs, remove meat and bones from broth.  Set aside to cool a bit.  Line a fine mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and strain the broth into another pot.  Discard solids, skim off fat.   (do ahead:  cool broth to room temperature, then refrigerate up to 3 days.  Fat will be easier to skim off of the chilled broth, too)

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cut meat off of bones and  into half inch slices and return to broth.  Reheat broth and taste for seasoning.  You will probably want to add a bit of salt here.   Discard bones.

Divide noodles between bowls, ladle broth and meat over top.

Serve hot, with any combination of accompaniments listed above.

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COOKS NOTES:  If you are not into making your own stock, simmer 2 litres of low sodium beef stock or broth with white parts of the scallions, ginger, garlic jalepeno, cinnamon stick, star anise and soy sauce for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, strain the scallions and spices out.  Add some leftover cooked meat, and voila!  Cook the noodles and add your accompaniments.  Dinner on the table in less than 40 minutes!!

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