Viva Italia!

Viva Italia

Well, so far we’ve gone Latino and New England, I thought, why not Italian? I love a hearty Minestrone soup, and it tends to fall into that category of Stew-oups that I mentioned before. Soups so chunky that they are almost stews! I love that Minestrone soup in particular tends to turn into a “kitchen-sink” recipe. What ever is left in your vegetable drawer in the fridge, add it in! Got cans of different veggies in the pantry? add them in! It really makes it easy for substitutions as well, as the recipe is not set in stone. You don’t HAVE to use both zucchini and yellow squash, one or the other will do. Don’t have kidney beans? Use navy beans, or chick peas. You’re really only limited by your imagination. To me, Minestrone soup is a tomato based broth with tons of chunky veggies and some pasta thrown in. Who’s to say which veggies they have to be, or which pasta? The good thing though is that it is so easy to make and so filling, that all you need is some nice crusty bread and a glass of vino and you’re set! Ciao Bella!

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New England Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder

This is a rendition of Leah Adler’s delicious fish chowder served at The Milky Way. The key is use lots and lots of white pepper.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups onions, diced
½ cup celery, diced
1 cup corn, canned or frozen
4 tablespoons butter
4 cups potatoes, diced
Salt and white pepper, to taste
4 cups boiling water or vegetable stock
2 pounds fresh halibut, or other firm fish, cut into large chunks
4 cups whole milk
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

Sauté onions and celery in butter until soft, but not brown. Add potatoes, corn, seasonings and water/broth, simmering until the potatoes are tender. Add the fish to the soup. Cook another 5 – 10 minutes. Do not stir (you’ll break up the fish). Add the milk and bring back up to temperature. Do not boil. If the consistency of the soup is too thin for your liking, you can add the cornstarch, to thicken it. First temper the starch in a small bowl with some of the hot liquid from the soup. Stir until the starch has dissolved and then add this to the main soup pot. This will thicken the broth. Serve this with some crusty buttered bread and it’s a meal in itself. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
8 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups frozen corn kernels
1 15oz. can black beans, drained, but not rinsed
2 cups onion, diced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 cups chunky salsa
8 corn tortillas cut into 1-inch strips
1 cup shredded non-dairy (parve) cheese, to serve (optional)
Non-dairy (parve) sour cream, to serve (optional)
Lime wedges, to serve (optional)

Directions:

In a large pot over medium heat, poach the chicken in the chicken broth. Once cooked through, remove the chicken from the broth, and set aside to allow it to become cool enough to handle. Strain the chicken broth to remove any impurities that may have accumulated while poaching the chicken.

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven (can be the same one you poached the chicken in), add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they become translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin and mix well, allowing the spices to become fragrant. Then add the broth, corn, beans, lime juice, and salsa. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. While the broth simmers, take the chicken that you have set aside, and using two forks, or your hands, shred the chicken. Add the chicken to the soup and let it simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.

While the broth mixture simmers, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet. Fry the tortilla strips in the hot oil until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Place half of the tortilla strips in the bottom of each bowl, and then serve the soup hot with the remaining tortilla strips on top, along with the options of the cheese and sour cream. Serves 8.

Curry-Scented Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, 2 ½ lbs or about 6 cups, peeled and cubed in 1” pieces
2 large sweet apples such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, peeled and cubed in 1” pieces
3 medium onions, diced
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
6 cups vegetable stock
1 container (8 oz/250 g) mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons salt
Sour cream and snipped fresh chives (optional)

Directions:

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, melt butter in over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for 5-6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add squash, apples, brown sugar and curry powder. Cook and stir for 1 minute or until curry powder is fragrant. Add stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook 25-30 minutes or until squash is very soft. Remove from heat. Carefully ladle about one-third of the squash mixture into blender container. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour blended soup into a stand-by bowl for holding while you blend the rest of the soup. Repeat two times with remaining squash mixture. Alternatively, if you have an immersion blender, you can use this rather than transferring the soup. Return soup to stock pot and whisk in mascarpone and salt until mascarpone is completely incorporated. If the soup is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out with additional stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and remove from heat. Garnish each serving with sour cream and chives, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Bonus – When scooping out the seeds from your squash, do NOT throw them away! Clean them under running water to remove any residue, and then toss them with a little oil and spices of your liking. With this soup, since it has a curry flavour, you can toss a little curry powder or even cinnamon or nutmeg on the seeds, along with some salt and pepper. Then spread the seeds out on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. You should just keep an eye on them, as seeds tend to burn quickly! Once done, remove from them oven and toss a few on top of each soup serving as a nice crunchy garnish.

Pre-Fast Meal – First Course

Brocoli Soup

Broccoli Soup

A nice vegetable soup like this will stick to the ribs, without being overly filling. You can substitute other vegetables for the broccoli if you like, such as cauliflower, carrots or squash.

Ingredients:

1 package frozen broccoli florets (equal to 1 head of broccoli)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots
4 cups hot water
4 teaspoons chicken soup powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon dill
2 tablespoons margarine
1 ½ cups soy milk or water

Directions:

In a large soup pot, sauté the onions in the margarine, until golden and translucent. Rough chop the remaining ingredients and add them to the pot, along with the water and the spices. Cook on high/medium-high for 30 to 45 minutes. Once cooked through, pour mixture into a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender, and puree the mixture until smooth. Add the soy milk/water, and serve warm.