Tortilla soup has got to be one of the Accidental Locavore’s favorites – probably because you can add so many goodies to it and take it from good to great in no time. I use this recipe from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday as a jumping-off point. Serves 6.
For the soup:
- 1 large dried pasilla chile, stemmed and seeded
- One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted if you can find them)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, cut in half and sliced 1/4” thick
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 quarts chicken broth
- Salt to taste
- 1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut into ½” cubes (I use thighs)
- 1 teaspoon epazote (optional, use fresh if you have it)
- 1-2 chipotles in adobo, chopped (optional)
For the garnishes:
- 1 bag regular tortilla chips
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted, cut into 1/4” cubes
- 1 ½ cups shredded/grated Monterey Jack, or cheddar cheese
- 1 lime cut into quarters for serving
- ½ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Mexican crema or sour cream
Toast the chile in a small frying pan on medium heat for a minute on each side. Break it into pieces and put in a blender jar or the work bowl of a food processor along with the tomatoes.
Heat the oil in a large 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Scoop out the onions with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the oil behind in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the onions to the tomatoes and process until smooth.
Return the pan to the heat. Add the mixture from the blender and cook, stirring until thick, like tomato paste, about 6 minutes. Add the broth, epazote, chicken, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with the salt, add the chipotles if you want some additional heat.
To serve: In each bowl, crunch up a handful of tortilla chips, add the soup and garnish with anything (or everything) on the garnish list. Serve and enjoy!
Notes: This is a pretty flexible recipe. I used chicken thighs because I think they’re more flavorful. You can use breasts or even a left-over rotisserie chicken. Same for the pasilla chile –substitute any dried chile you have. I like to add a couple more tortilla chips halfway through my bowl, so there’s a mix of textures. Usually we leave out the crema or sour cream, but for some reason (another recipe I was playing with?) there was crema in the fridge, so this time it was one of the garnishes.
When faced recently with the promise of a long day without food, what was the Accidental Locavore to do? Why, cook, of course! Come on, you know it beats staring longingly at the Food Network. Before checking into the hospital (to have work done on my hand) I decided to put a batch of split pea soup in the slow cooker, that way it would be there waiting for me. Added bonus, my apartment would smell wonderful! There were some beautiful smoked ham hocks I had brought back from Maine, so they went in with the usual carrot, celery and split pea suspects. The other benefit of using the slow cooker for this was that you could just dump everything in and leave it to work its magic. This made a lot of soup, and like a lot of things slowly cooked, was better the next day.
- 1 pound dried split peas
- 1 good sized carrot, diced (if you’re a carrot & celery fan, feel free to add a couple more)
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- ½ cup onion, chopped
- 2 smoked ham hocks
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock (you can use any kind of stock, or even just water or a combo)
- Salt (go easy, the ham may be plenty salty) and pepper, to taste
Put all ingredients in a large slow cooker, in the order listed. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours, until the peas are tender and the ham falls off the bone. When the soup has cooked, remove the ham hocks, shred the meat and add it back to the pot (toss the bones). Stir to mix well, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: What I forgot, was that I wouldn’t have the use of my left hand so when the Locavore got home, although the soup was smelling delicious, there was no way of one-handedly shredding steamy ham hocks! I let the soup cool overnight and very awkwardly worked on it the next morning. The soup was very good. I’m not a big fan of celery and carrots, so I only used one of each (for concept). Although the recipe said you didn’t have to soak the peas the night before, it would probably have been a good idea. What I might do the next time, would be to toss the split peas and the chicken stock in the slow cooker the night before, just to let them soak, then add everything else the next morning and cook. Having really good ham hocks made it taste the way I like split pea soup, smoky and meaty.
The Accidental Locavore can’t think of a cozier place to be on a snowy January day, then in the kitchen. Rather than shovel snow, or worse, get stuck watching football, the Locavore thought it was time for corn soup. This recipe, adapted from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain cookbook, has intrigued me since this summer, and because of it, there were a dozen corn cobs and a large bag of frozen kernels in my freezer. It would serve about 4 big bowls and took about 1 1/2 hours, mostly unattended.
For the stock:
- 12 ears of corn, shucked
- 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
For the chowder:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2-3 slices, bacon (optional), sliced into 1/4″ strips
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
- Salt, pepper and sugar, to taste
Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the corn. Cut the cobs in half and put in a large stock pot. Put the kernels on a baking sheet. Add to the stockpot: the bay leaf, onion and 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the cobs and cook until it’s reduced to about 5 cups of liquid.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Toss the corn kernels, garlic and bacon on the baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven, stirring once or twice until slightly golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Remove the garlic from the corn and bacon mix. Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook while stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the alcohol is evaporated. Add the corn kernels and bacon and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 30 minutes.
If you like your soup really smooth, purée it in a blender (and if you like it really smooth, strain it after blending it). If, like the Locavore, you prefer it a little chunky, remove about 1/4 cup of the kernels and some of the bacon and set aside. Purée the remaining soup in a blender, food processor, or use a stick blender until you reach the desired texture.
Stir in the creme fraiche or sour cream, the kernels and bacon you set aside. Taste and add salt, pepper and sugar as needed. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: this was really good, maybe not as good as the corn and potato chowder I usually make, but a good variation. Bobby Flay’s original recipe has you add sugar in before blending and that made it too sweet. The Locavore likes using the cobs to make stock and next summer, will just collect them and toss them in the freezer for future soups. Since I was using frozen cobs and kernels, everything took longer, but the end result was delicious! I also tossed in a little jalapeño Tabasco sauce to give it a little kick.
Frank’s verdict: really good. He would have liked a little more texture, which was easily remedied by adding in some more kernels.
Hate to waste the turkey carcass? Save all the bones and toss in a pot with some veggies. In an hour you’ll have delicious turkey broth. Use it for soups, gravy, etc. One turkey carcass will make about 4 quarts of stock. You can do the same with leftover chicken, just use 2 quarts of water.
- Turkey carcass and all leftover bones
- 4 quarts water
- Salt & pepper
- 3-4 stalks of celery, cut in ½” pieces
- 3-4 carrots, cut in ½’ pieces
- Herbs (fresh thyme, or a little fresh sage, tarragon)
If there’s a lot of meat still on the turkey, remove it and save it. Put the carcass and any bones in a big pot with the water, the celery, carrots, herbs, salt and pepper, over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Pour through a colander or sieve. Once the broth has cooled, you can freeze it, or refrigerate it for up to a week.
The Accidental Locavore was standing over a pot of onions for French onion soup when something Dorie Greenspan said last week struck me. She said that when you’re writing a recipe, it’s important to give instructions as to what the dish should look like, as well as the time involved. For the onion soup, Julia Child says the onions should cook for 25-30 minutes and be “a dark walnut color”. So I’m stirring my onions, watching as they go from off-white to light brown and then to walnut, a process that does end up taking 30 minutes. Here’s the recipe for 4 servings:
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2-1/2 pounds, I used 2 large white ones, two medium yellow and a large red one, just for variety)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar (this will help caramelize the onions)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 8 cups homemade beef stock, or good quality store bought stock (check the label, a lot of them are “beef flavored stock”) 2 cups of it need to be heated (3 minutes in the microwave)
- 1/4 cup Cognac
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 sprig fresh thyme (optional)
- 8 (1/2-inch) thick slices of French bread, toasted
- 3/4 pound coarsely grated Gruyere
Heat a heavy saucepan over moderate heat with the butter and oil. When the butter has melted, stir in the onions, cover and cook slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Blend in the salt and sugar, increase the heat to medium-high and let the onions brown, stirring frequently (so they don’t burn) until they are a dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour and cook slowly, stirring, for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool a moment, then whisk in 2 cups of hot stock. When well blended, bring to the simmer, adding the rest of the stock, Cognac and wine. Cover loosely and simmer very slowly 1 1/2 hours, adding a little water if the liquid reduces too much. Taste for seasoning
Divide the soup among 4 ovenproof bowls. Arrange toast on top of soup and sprinkle generously with grated cheese. Place bowls on a cookie sheet and place under a preheated broiler until cheese melts and forms a crust over the tops of the bowls. If you don’t have ovenproof bowls you could layer a cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat, put the toasted bread topped with the cheese on it and place it under the broiler until browned and bubbly. Then remove and top the bowls of soup with the bread and cheese. Serve immediately and enjoy!
My verdict: Great! Exactly what I was craving. Rich stock, good onion flavor, will definitely take the time to make this again (but maybe double the recipe and freeze half). I would have liked a better baguette, better Gruyere and a hotter broiler, but those can easily be fixed. Having the proper bowls helped (thanks Mom!). And fresh greens from Farmer Paul made a great simple side salad with a classic vinaigrette.
The Accidental Locavore likes this recipe for vichyssoise. It makes a nice thick vichyssoise with not too much cream. The potato “croutons” are optional, but add a nice crunch. Serves 6
- 3 leeks, white and light green part, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 small fingerling potatoes, peeled and sliced fairly thin
- 2 small russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (use a mix of russets and fingerlings or Yukon Gold, or whatever you’ve got)
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- Snipped chives (for garnish)
In a large pot, over medium-high heat, add the cooked leeks, potatoes, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and blend the soup until smooth. You can use an immersion/stick blender in the pot, or put the soup in a blender or food processor. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. When the soup is cold, add the heavy cream and stir well to mix.
Serve topped with chopped chives and enjoy!
If you want to do the potato chip croutons as mentioned in the blog, thinly slice 4 fingerling potatoes (unpeeled). In a small sauté pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is hot, add the potato slices. Cook until golden brown, turn over and cook until golden. Drain on a paper towel, then add to the soup as a garnish.
Greek lemon-egg soup or avgolemono is one of the go-to recipes when the Accidental Locavore has a cold. The other great cold remedy is any form of albondigas. This week’s cook-along recipe was taken from a recipe from Food & Wine magazine for Tangy Lemon-Egg Soup with Tiny Meatballs, but after making it, a better bet would be the meatballs from the Food & Wine recipe, combined with the version I’ve always made, Greek lemon soup from the . The Silver Palette recipe is easier, and I think better tasting. You can do it with or without the meatballs.
For the lemon-egg soup (adapted from Silver Palette):
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup long grain rice
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
Pour the broth into a pot, and bring it to a boil. Pour in the rice, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 25 minutes until the rice is just tender. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks and the lemon juice together in a small bowl until well combined. When the rice is done, remove soup from the heat, and ladle 2 cups of hot broth into the lemon/egg mixture. Whisk to combine, and whisk this back into the remaining soup. Return the soup to medium heat, and cook until soup is just steaming. If you’re adding the meatballs, they go in here, cook for 8-10 minutes to cook the meatballs. Do not let it reach a boil. Season to taste. Serve and enjoy.
For the meatballs:
- 3/4 pound ground lamb
- 1/3 cup onion, minced
- 2 teaspoons mint, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- Flour for dusting
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, mix the lamb with the onion, mint, dill, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Form into 1″ meatballs. Lightly dust with flour, shake off the excess and drop into the soup. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve and enjoy.
Black bean or any other kind of soup, there’s nothing better in the winter than a big bowl of soup, right? The Accidental Locavore loves soup, thick and chunky, however almost anything hot will do when the temperature drops. And while there are soups like French onion, that take a long time, there are a lot of great quick soups like this black bean soup, that will really hit the spot in no time. The corn and bacon chowder on the site is quick, I just made a batch for a friend that doesn’t eat pork, using a small chipotle and some sauce for that smoky flavor (and an little heat), so it was vegetarian, if not vegan (milk and some butter but you could use olive oil) and really delicious.
Today I did a super easy black bean soup that is vegan, but don’t hold that against it! It’s from John Hagianis, who had a local restaurant and relocated to the midwest. He left us the recipe to remember them by. This will make 4 generous servings. It’s a pretty free-form recipe, so feel free to add or subtract according to taste.
- Olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Use good but not great oil.
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 red pepper seeded and finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno or serrano chile, minced and seeded if you don’t want too much heat
- 4 15 ounce cans black beans
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped, plus more for garnish
- Red wine vinegar
- Cumin, oregano, salt and pepper
Heat the oil in the bottom of a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and let it cook for a minute or two to flavor the oil. Add the red pepper, the jalapeno, the beans and the liquid from the cans, the cilantro, and a splash of red wine vinegar. Add the cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, stir, taste for seasonings and adjust to suit your taste. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
I stuck an immersion blender in the soup for about 30 seconds to puree it a bit to thicken it, but you certainly don’t need to. You can serve it with a dollop of sour cream, some cilantro, and croutons for embellishments.
Looking for a warm and comforting bowl of soup for a cold day? Here’s a recipe for a great creamy corn chowder put together without cream and with corn I froze from the overload this summer, potatoes from Farmer Paul, and local bacon from Dickson’s at Chelsea Market (my new favorite amazing bacon). It’s from Saveur with tweaks. Serves 4.
- 4 strips bacon cut into 1/2″ lardons (strips)
- 2 cups corn kernels (from 4 ears of corn if you have fresh)
- 2 tablespoons butter (could be less if your bacon renders a lot of fat)
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups milk
- 2-3 medium new potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small jalapeno pepper (optional), seeded and finely diced
Heat the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until crisp. Reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish, leaving the rest of it (and the rendered fat) in the pot. Add the butter, thyme, garlic, onions, and bay leaf. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 6 minutes. Add the corn, milk (jalapenos, if using) and potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to low. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf. Partially puree the chowder either with an immersion (stick) blender, or by taking about a cup of the chowder and pureeing it in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add it back to the rest of the soup, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the bacon garnish, and enjoy.
If you got some of our chipotle salt for the holidays, using it to finish the soup gives it a nice kick.
As an accidental locavore living in New York, we have to learn to embrace local vegetables while we’ve got them. Here is a great way to use winter squash in an easy soup, that’s not too sweet (my big issue with most butternut squash soup) adapted from bon appétit magazine. While I’m not ready to embrace fall, I can start making soup, a great comfort food in any season.
Winter Squash Soup serves 8
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 14 1/2 ounce cans low salt chicken broth (5 1/2 cups)
- 4 cups butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
- 4 cups acorn squash(about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1″ pieces (feel free to mix and match your squash, and/or substitute pumpkin)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh sage
- 1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- 24 1/4″ thick slices from a baguette (French bread)
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, squash, thyme and sage, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
Puree soup in blender, food processor or with a stick blender (use a deep pot) in batches. Return soup to pot. Stir in cream and sugar, bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
For the garnish: Preheat broiler. Butter 1 side of each slice of bread. Arrange bread, buttered side up on a baking sheet. Broil until golden, about 1 minute. Turn over. Sprinkle with cheese, thyme and sage, salt and pepper. Broil until cheese melts, about 1 minute.
Ladle soup into bowls, top with croutons and serve. The croutons are really good and you can also do a couple at a time in a toaster oven. What I usually end up doing, is just garnishing the soup with store bought croutons, and sprinkle the grated Gruyere cheese. Try it both ways, and in the comments, let me know which you prefer.