Tomato Soup with Arugula, Croutons and Parmesan

I couldn’t be happier about the delay in cooler temperatures during this New England fall. One of the things it means is that we get to enjoy summer fruits and vegetables for much longer than usual – this tomato soup uses some ripe, juicy, beefsteak tomatoes from Connecticut. I also got to pick  juicy yellow peaches from Lyman Orchards this week, which I have never spotted any of these past years when I have gone apple picking. While I’m excited to try and use the bounty of apples and peaches that we picked for some desserts during the coming weeks, in this post I want to concentrate on the last (and yet, pretty good) summer tomatoes that are still around.

This soup does not use any cream or much fat, so it’s great for a light lunch or as an appetizer. The sharpness of the arugula compliments the sweet, acidic, juicy, ripe tomatoes and the croutons provide great texture. This dish is also great for using bruised or over-ripe tomatoes.

Tomato Soup with Arugula, Croutons and Parmesan

 

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit – August 2015 issue

Ingredients

  • 2 thick slices country-style bread, torn into bite-sized pieces (I used ciabatta)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp thyme leaves (or 2 tsp dried thyme)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs beefsteak tomatoes, cut into large wedges
  • Hot sauce (though I used my favorite Pirate Blend seasoning – highly recommended for adding heat to any dish!)
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 1 oz Parmesan, shaved

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Toss bread with 2 tbsp olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt. Toss after 3-4 minutes and bake for 4-5 minutes more, until golden brown and crunchy (total time of 8-10 minutes). Set croutons aside.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onions are brown, around 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until they release their juices – about a minute or 2.
  5. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil.
  6. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture. Or alternatively, transfer mixture to a blender and blend until soup.
  7. Taste and add hot sauce or other spicy seasoning. Season with salt and pepper as needed
  8. Serve soup topped with arugula, shaved Parmesan and croutons.

Slow Cooker Chicken Lentil Stew

The only silver lining in using up all your kitchen utensils, pots, pans and gadgets to whip up a Thanksgiving meal is discovering kitchen things that you forgot you owned. While putting away some of the bakeware that we used, I came across our slow cooker, not being able to remember the last time we used it. Not wanting to cook again for a few days after Thanksgiving also meant that this slow cooker would provide us an easy, flavorful meal. But looking for inspiration at other food blogs didn’t seem to do the trick – Thanksgiving leftover recipes seem to be the most predominant topic across food blogs for the last week. But for those of who neither have any more leftovers, or are just looking to eat something leaner between Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, this is a flavorful and healthy recipe that does the trick. It can work both with white and brown rice, or with your bread preparation of choice, and takes cares of your lunch for the week. The prep takes around 15 minutes, and then around 8 hours later, you’re all set! I use brown lentils in this recipe, which are little firmer than other kinds of lentils and can thus, withstand 8 hours in the slow cookers without getting mushy. Adjust the time accordingly depending on the kind of lentils you decide to use.

Slow Cooker Chicken Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken, cut into small cubes
  • 1 pound brown lentils
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
  • 1/2 tsp chana masala
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Lemon juice (of 1/2 a lemon)

Directions

  1. Add all of the ingredients, minus the lemon juice and cilantro to your slow cooker. Mix well, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (If your slow cooker runs hot, you will not need to cook for the full 8-10 hours. If your slow cooker does not run hot, you will probably need to cook for the full 8-10 hours)
  2. Once the soup is done cooking, mix in the fresh lemon juice. Ladle into bowls or serve over rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Slow Cooker Chicken Lentil Soup

 

Now that I’ve rediscovered our slow cooker, I can’t wait to try cooking more things in it! What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes?

Senegalese Peanut Tofu Soup

One of my favorite lunch places in Charlottesville is Revolutionary Soup – located both at the Corner and in the Downtown Mall, this little place offers some of my favorite soups that are absolutely irresistible during the winter. My favorite one  is their Spicy Senegalese Peanut Tofu Soup – as someone who does not even like tofu, I was amazed by how much the tofu had taken on the taste of the tomato and peanut broth in which it had been cooked. So a few weeks ago, we decided to try replicating it, thanks to the recipe I found at It’s Not About the Recipe. We were away for a mini-vacation and this soup, along with some guacamole grilled cheese seemed like the perfect dinner for a chilly evening in a cabin. Though the final version was not spicy like that in Rev.Soup, the rest of the flavor profile was the same and the next time I’ll definitely add jalapenos to the soup as well. This recipe gives enough servings for 5-6 people.

Senegalese Peanut Tofu Soup with a Guacamole Grilled Cheese

Senegalese Peanut Tofu Soup with a Guacamole Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 tsp, chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or red pepper flakes
  • 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 5 cups chicken stock or water
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 lb tofu, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat oil over high heat in a large heavy pot.  Add onions, ginger, and sweet potato and saute about 8 minutes until the onion starts to brown.
  2. Add garlic after five minutes.  Add 1 tsp of salt, some ground pepper, and the cayenne pepper.  Cook for two more minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and use the juice to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add the vegetable stock or water, bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Add the peanut butter and stir until dissolved.
  5. Puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender (since we did not have a blender at that point, we ended up just mashing the mix, and it turned out pretty delicious even when it was a little chunky!).
  6. Add the tofu and cook until tofu is heated through.  Serve hot. Top with scallions and cilantro.

Gazpacho

It’s been a pretty hot week here on the East Coast (dashing my hopes of cooling off after a hot summer in Delhi!) and I’ve been looking for some appropriate recipes for this weather. Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, is a light and nutritious soup and gives you the perfect excuse to use some of those ripe, juicy tomatoes that are in this season. The healthiest of this soup was definitely appealing to me after pigging out at the Charlottesville Restaurant Week last week (details to follow!), where I discovered another great restaurant, Horse and Hound.

Raw vegetables are blended together in this soup with some bread, using sherry vinegar, which exaggerates the tomatoes’ acidity, giving the soup its characteristically zesty flavor. It is a raw soup in the sense that none of the vegetables used are first cooked, which is why the fresher your ingredients, the better the soup is going to taste.

Recipe adapted from Monika Kotus of Crumpets and Cakes posted at The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 2 thick slices of day-old country bread, crusts removed and cut into small pieces (I used French bread)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds ripest, sweetest most flavorful tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fragrant extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt
  • 1 firm medium-sized cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped

Directions

  1. Place the bread in a large bowl, drizzle with some olive oil and squeeze out juice from one tomato over it. Add 1 teaspoon of sherry vinegar and mix it well with your fingers. Set aside, for at least 10 minutes gazpacho1_opt
  2.  Transfer the bread mixture to a food processor and add minced garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt. Process until very smooth.
  3.  Add half of the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, generous pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of olive oil; process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Repeat with another batch of vegetables, remaining tomatoes and olive oil.
  5. Add some of the remaining sherry vinegar and salt. If, after adding these, your gazpacho is still too thick, you can add the bare minimum of water needed to thin it out. Taste and adjust amounts of each to your liking.
  6.  Mix the two batches together. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving and serve with some toasted bread if you want to add that extra crunch.

gazpacho2_opt

Baked Potato and Leek Soup with Cheddar and Bacon

This one is one of my favorite soup recipes – it’s warm, filling and a very hearty winter soup, which continues to be apt even in March, when it’s still quite cold here in the North-East. I wasn’t too excited about this recipe when I first saw it because it wasn’t too colorful and I like having food that have a lot of colors, so my friend decided to spice things up a little by adding some sriracha sauce. I was very skeptical about the addition, but it definitely gave the soup that extra kick that it needed (at least for me, but then again, I love spicy food!). The sauce definitely made it more colorful and inviting than just a cream soup. I would suggest doing the same, perhaps adding a few drops of sriracha to try it out first. For those who want to make it more healthy, I would suggest cutting down on the bacon – I usually add a little less because I like the crunch that it provides, but not all the fat that comes with it.

potatoleeksoup2

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Comfort Food. Gives 4-5 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 lb. each)
  • 4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced leeks (about 2 medium leeks; white and light green parts), rinsed well
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-5 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens or fresh chives
  • 2 cups homemade or lower-salt chicken broth
  • sriracha sauce, optional

Directions

  • Scrub the potatoes in water, pat dry, and pierce in several places with a fork. Warm them in a microwave until very tender when pierced with a fork, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, put the bacon in a skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon bits with a slotted spoon to a saucer lined with paper towels to drain and cool.
  • When the potatoes are cool, cut one of them in half lengthwise. Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh in one piece from each half. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and add to the pot with the leeks. Purée the contents of the pot until very smooth. A hand blender would work really well here, because it can be a pain to transfer the mixture to an ordinary blender.
  • After pureeing, heat the soup over medium low. In a small bowl, whisk the milk and sour cream until smooth and then whisk this into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the Cheddar. The soup should be fairly thick, but if it seems too thick, thin it with a little water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the remaining Cheddar, the bacon bits, and the scallions or chives.