Tag Archives: Soups

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

The perfect soup for the sick. The chicken broth (go homemade for maximum restorative powers) literally makes this taste an Asian spin on the traditional chicken noodle soup. For something a bit more “authentic,” go with vegetable broth instead.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 4

2 1/1 tablespoons canola oil, vegetable oil, or mild-flavored olive oil
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3/4 lb.), butterflied (slice almost all the way through lengthwise and spread open)
fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, outer layers peeled off, halved lengthwise, and smashed
1 tablespoon ginger, grated/minced
2 tsp light brown sugar
5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3-4 oz shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed, and quartered
6 oz whole grain dried udon noodles
1 small serrano pepper or Thai bird chile, thinly sliced crosswise
a large handful of fresh basil, torn into pieces, plus more for garnish
juice of one lime, plus wedges for serving
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more for serving
2 scallions, trimmed and sliced for garnish
1 medium carrot, cut into small sticks or grated on a box grater, for garnish
a large handful of fresh cilantro, for garnish

1.) Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grab your big ol’ dutch oven and heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until swirling and hot. Add chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes on one side without moving it until it is nicely browned and detaches from the bottom of the pan with minimal prodding. Flip and cook 1-2 minutes more. Set aside. When cooled, break apart chicken into chunks with a fork.

2.) Heat remaining oil in dutch oven over medium heat. All shallots, sprinkle with salt, and cook 3 minutes; until soft. Add lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes; until very fragrant. Add broth and use your wooden spoon to scrape up any delicious little browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

3.) Bring to a boil. Add mushrooms, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until soft; 5-8 minutes. Add chicken an cook for 2 minutes more; making sure that both mushrooms and chicken are cooked through.

4.) While mushrooms are cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add udon noodles and cook until al dented according to package directions; 8-11 minutes. Drain.

5.) Discard the lemongrass. Stir in chile, basil, lime juice, and soy sauce.

6.) To serve, divide noodles amongst four serving bowls. Ladle soup over the noodles and garnish with generous amounts of basil, scallions, carrots, and cilantro. Pass a plate of lime wedges and soy sauce around the table.

Veggie-Heavy Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale


Chicago’s fleeting spring weather took a turn for the worse earlier this week, and I found myself craving a pot of warming chili after a particularly violent battle with the wind on my way home. Hence, I go from Spring Soba Noodles to this hearty meal. The generous amounts of vegetables do make for a somewhat lighter chili. Make sure to really go for it with the garnishes of cilantro, lime juice, and queso fresco – they truly make the dish. I also served this with my favorite cornbread – 101 Cookbook’s Firecracker Cornbread.

Veggie-Heavy Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale
Serves 4

The Beans
1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight (or two 14 oz cans)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
few pinches of dried Mexican oregano (if using dried black beans)

The Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into a 1/4″ dice
7 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 large red bell pepper, diced
12 oz dark ale
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
juice of half a lime

The Garnishes
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
crumbled queso fresco
lime wedges

1.) If using dried beans – Drain from soaking liquid, place in a large saucepan, and cover with an ample amount of cold water. Add a few pinches of Mexican oregano, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until beans are tender, but still quite firm to the bite, as you will finish cooking them alongside the rest of the ingredients; about 30-50 minutes, depending on how old your beans are. Season with the salt after the first 30 minutes. When beans are nearly cooked through, drain, and set aside.

2.) Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, chiles, cumin, and a few pinches of salt, and saute for 5 minutes more. Add bell pepper and saute for 5 more minutes; until your ingredients have taken on a delicious golden hue and your kitchen is aromatic.

3.) Stir in beans, ale, tomatoes, and corn. Bring chili to a boil, and reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about 45 minutes; until thickened slightly. It is important that you are, indeed, simmering the beans (a few bubbles gently rising to the surface), and not boiling them, as this will cause your beans to split open. When finished cooking, taste for salt and season with more, if necessary. If the beans taste flat, don’t fret – they just need more salt. Stir in the lime juice.

4.) To serve, garnish with generous amounts of cilantro, queso fresco, and pass additional lime wedges around the table.

Restorative Sweet Potato & Greens Soup with Ginger

Sweet Potato & Greens Soup with Ginger

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 purple saluda onion (if you can’t find one, substitute more yellow onion), chopped
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped
splash of dry red wine
1 large sweet potato, finely diced
5 green onions, light green and white parts only, chopped
1 bunch of fresh spinach (about 9 oz), roughly chopped
1/2 bunch red kale (about 8 oz), roughly chopped
3 tablespoons ginger, chopped
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
freshly ground black pepper
wedge of lemon

1.) In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium low heat. Add onions and 1 teaspoon of salt, stir, and reduce heat to low. Slowly cook for 30 minutes to an hour; until fragrant and caramelized, adding garlic about halfway though.

2.) Meanwhile, heat 4 cups of water, sweet potato, spinach, kale, green onions, the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and ginger in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add vegetable broth and warm through.

3.) Once onion is caramelized and the greens are done cooking, deglaze the Dutch Oven with a splash of red wine. Then, dump the pots of greens and all of the liquid into the Dutch Oven. Heat through and season with freshly ground black pepper and more salt, if necessary. Serve with a chunk of good, crusty whole wheat bread, a sprinkling of parmesan, and a wedge of lemon.

This recipe was adapted from Love Soup by Anna Thomas. Published by W. W. Norton & Company; September 2009.

Spicy Whitefish Soup

Oh, what a soup! A sunny bowl of vibrant color and deep flavors. This recipe was adapted from an episode of my favorite Food Network chef, the lovely Giada De Laurentiis.

Spicy Whitefish Soup
Serves 4

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
5 carrots, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano is the best)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound skinned whitefish (cod, arctic char, or halibut), thoroughly rinsed, cut into 3/4-1 inch chunks, and salted
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.) Grab your trusty dutch oven and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with some sea salt, and saute for 8 minutes. Then add the carrot and garlic, and saute for 8-10 minutes more; until the onions are browning and a yummy brown film forms on the bottom of the pan.

2.) Turn the heat to high, add the wine, and scoop up all the delicious browned bits from the bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon. Simmer until most of the wine has evaporated; about 5 minutes.

3.) Reduce heat and add the red pepper flakes, water, and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

4.) Add fish to the pot, cover, and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes; until cooked through. Season with a few grinds of black pepper and more salt, if you think it needs it. Sprinkle with a bit of parsley, and enjoy with a chunk of good, crusty bread.

Smoky Ancho Chile Pork & Hominy Stew

A smoky, intoxicating stew of pork, hominy, bell pepper, chile, and loads of garlic and onions. Restorative in its hearty goodness.

Cowboy’s contribution to this dinner was throwing one of his records into the background of the photo. Pretty cool, huh? He was proud.

Smoky Ancho Chile Pork and Hominy Stew

2 tablespoons mild-flavored olive oil
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons dried New Mexican Oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
3 cups yellow onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
14 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
28 oz can hominy
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1.) Mix all spices in a ziploc bag. Add pork, twist top, and shake to coat.

2.) Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add pork and saute 4-7 minutes; until lightly browned. Remove from pan with tongs and set aside.

3.) Add a splash more of oil to the pot, add onion, and saute for 15 minutes; until soft and beginning to turn golden.

4.) Add garlic and pepper and saute for 7 more minutes.

5.) Add hominy to pan and stir to coat. Then add tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Escarole and Cannellini Bean Soup

A more humble, nourishing supper you will not find. Works wondrously alongside fettucine with homemade tomato sauce. Classic.

Escarole and Cannellini Bean Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds escarole, chopped
8 cups good-quality low sodium chicken broth, preferably homemade
5 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans, or three 15 oz cans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
A healthy chunk of parmesan rind
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 2 teaspoons of each)

1.) Heat oil in your Dutch oven over low-medium heat. Add garlic and saute for about a minute, stirring constantly throughout.

2.) Add escarole, in batches if necessary, stir to coat with the oil and fragrant garlic, and continue to cook until wilted.

3.) Add beans, broth, chunk of Parmesan rind, and the salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 20 minutes.

4.) Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve with good bread.