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don’t we all have mixed feelings about Java House / chick pea + kale soup with cinnamon

22 Aug

If you’re from Toronto and are / have been at one point young and poor you’ve probably had the… not “pleasure”… the, experience of going to Java House.  I’ve been there a lot (not recently but that’s beside the point) and I have a tumultuous relationship with the place, as I believe many do.

There are some undeniably great features – it has a huge patio just off Queen West that’s always bursting at the seams yet always has room for you somewhere, even on the most patio friendly days of summer.  The beer is cheap, like 11$ for a pitcher of half decent beer cheap, and so is the food.  One must, however, consider that the place just feels like there are cockroaches running around the kitchen and under the kegs – I’ve never had a bad experience with that but I’ve heard enough stories to be wary – it’s fairly dingy.  The service is ok-ish but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you try to get separate bills for your table.  Don’t. Do it.  Oh, and I mentioned that the food is cheap… it is, really really cheap.  It is not “good”.

With one exception!  There was (as I said, I haven’t been there recently so maybe it’s gone?) a tomato chick-pea soup that I believe cost about $3 a bowl.  It was not spectacular but it was really tasty.  It was especially good when, half way through an after-work session of “beer instead of dinner will be just fine”, I realize that no I need to eat at least once a day.  Probably more.

So I feel that an homage to that fine, fine soup is in order.  My soup is better.  In fact it’s unreasonably f***ing delicious, especially considering how simple it is.

makes 6 servings

chick pea + kale soup with cinnamon

ingredients

  • 6 c vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 400 ml can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of kale
  • 1 500ml can chick peas, drained
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • olive oil
  • salt

preparation

Cut the spine out of each kale leaf.  Rinse the leaves, bunch them together and roughly chop them; you should have about 2 generous cups of chopped kale.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sautee until they just begin to soften.  Add garlic, turmeric and oregano along with the chick peas.  Cook, stirring constantly, until onions are translucent.  Add kale one handful at a time, stirring until it wilts.  Add tomato, broth and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Remove cinnamon stick, add salt to taste and serve.

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asparagus soup + lemon creme

30 May

Hey everybody.  Hi.  I haven’t posted in a long time… I’ve been busy…

Lazy, I’ve been lazy.

But also a bit busy.

But mostly lazy.

Anyway, I have for you here my most favourite spring soup.  It’s super simple – just asparagus, shallots, cilantro and a bit of butter – and it’s good warm or cold.  Also, it takes about 15 minutes to make, including prep.

The original recipe from Bon Appetit calls for the soup to be strained but I prefer not to do that, I like the chunks.  The key is to choose the thinnest asparagus stalks you can find so the soup won’t get that stringy, woody texture.  If you must use thick stalks and you’re not planning to strain the soup, just peel them before cutting them up.

Makes 6 appetizer servings

asparagus soup + lemon creme

from Bon Appetit, March 2006

ingredients

soup

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 cup shallots, chopped
  • 2 pounds asparagus (thin stalks), trimmed + cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 3/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

lemon creme

  • 1/4 cup sour cream (or creme fraiche if you can find it)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

preparation

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sautee until soft – about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and cilantro – stir 1 minute. Add vegetable broth and simmer until asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes.

Puree and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir sour cream, lemon juice, and lemon peel together in small bowl. Divide soup among bowls. Top with a dollop of lemon creme and serve.

potato + leek + swiss chard soup with bacon wrapped seed onions

1 May

Because it’s raining and I have a hangover and this will fix all that…

ps. For anyone who came here via the ‘vegetarian’ tag and is all “wtf bacon”, it’s a perfectly good meat-free soup without the bacon wrapped onions.  That is why.

Makes 6 servings

potato + leek + swiss chard soup with bacon wrapped seed onions

ingredients

soup

  • 8 medium red potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 6 c vegetable broth

onions

  • 6 skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 24 seed onions

preparation

soup

Set a large pot with butter over medium heat.  At the same time, heat broth in a separate pot over high heat.  Once the butter has melted, add leeks, pepper and garlic and sautee until leeks are soft – about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and hot broth.  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender – about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, cut stalks out of the swiss chard and coarsely chop the leaves.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add chard.  Sautee for 1 minute, until leaves are wilted, then add 1 tbsp water and cover the pot for another minute.

Puree soup and stir in chopped swiss chard.

onions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut the top and bottom off each onion and remove skin.  Wrap about 1/4 of a slice of bacon around each onion and put it on a skewer, 4 onions on each.

Lay the skewers on something that will let the fat drip off and collect underneath (I laid them over a small cake pan) and cook until bacon is crispy and onions are soft – 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve immediately with soup.

beet + apple soup

14 Apr

My boyfriend is not so crazy about vegetables.  His favourite food is hamburgers.  He thinks that a Manwich is a meal.

Yet, he loves this soup…

and for good reason, it’s earthy and flavourful and it looks oh so pretty too.

Makes 8 servings

$1.30 per 2 servings

beet & apple soup

adapted from Gourmet, November 2000

ingredients

  • 6 medium beets
  • 2 tart red apples such as macintosh or empire
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 c vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • goat cheese (optional)

preparation

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut beets in quarters and roast on a foil lined baking sheet, skin side up, for 45 minutes to an hour.

Cool beets and peel the skin off with a paring knife (skin should come off fairly easily after roasting).  Cut beets into small chunks.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  At the same time, start heating the vegetable broth in a separate pot.  Add onion to the oil and sautee until soft – 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cayenne and sautee another minute.  Add beets and hot broth.  Bring to a boil.

While the soup is coming to a boil, peel the apples and cut them into cubes.  Add to boiling broth and reduce mixture to a simmer.

Simmer for about 35 minutes or until beets are tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.

Puree the soup.  Add cider vinegar and salt & pepper to taste.  Add water if necessary to thin to desired consistency.

Garnish with goat cheese and cracked pepper.

green soup

28 Mar

I’ve lived almost exclusively off green soup during periods of not having so much money and/or not having so much time, but it’s not just for times of desperation!  It is really tasty, and good for you too!

The version that I’ve made here includes udon noodles, which you could easily leave out or substitute with rice noodles.  Some other vegetables to consider adding include bok choy, snow peas and edamame.

Makes 2 servings.

$2.75 for 2 servings

green soup

ingredients

  • 4 c vegetable broth or miso broth
  • 1 small piece ginger
  • 1/2 head broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1/2c tofu, cubed (about 1/3 of a block)
  • 4-5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 green onions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 4 large basil leaves, cut in chiffonade (very thin strips) – do not include if using miso broth
  • 1 package udon noodles

preparation

Peel a small piece of ginger and slice 3 or 4 thin slices off.  Put broth in a pot with sliced ginger and bring to a boil.

While the broth is heating up, cut shiitakes, tofu, green onion and basil (if using vegetable broth).  Divide each of these ingredients evenly between two bowls.

Once the broth has come to a boil, add udon noodles and broccoli florets.  Continue to boil for another 1.5 to 2 minutes or until broccoli is barely tender.

Divide the noodles between the two bowls.  Pour enough broth (with broccoli) into the bowls to cover the vegetables and remove any pieces of ginger that fall in.

red lentil soup with lemon + fresh mint

25 Feb

I’ve been working at a cafe for the last few months that serves a daily soup.  The owner threw this one together a while ago just using what we had around in the kitchen and it was incredible. I’ve been meaning to try and recreate it and, finally, here it is! It’s quick and easy and cheap and filling and tasty and healthy and just an all around great soup. Eat it up!

$3 per 2 servings

Serves 6 as main course.

red lentil soup with lemon & fresh mint

ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400ml can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 c dried red lentils
  • 6 c vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint

preparation

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sautee until beginning to soften.  Add garlic and continue to sautee until onions are translucent. Add canned tomatoes, lentils, mint, lemon juice and stir.  Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are very tender.

Puree, add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve garnished with fresh mint and lemon.