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Archive for the ‘Soups and Chowders’ Category

It’s a cool, rainy day here in Vermont, which makes it perfect for a soup dinner. Although autumn is right around the corner, my tomato plants are still giving me a good supply, so a roasted tomato soup will be a great way to use them.

Not only do I roast the tomatoes, but I also roast the onions, carrots, celery, and a head of garlic. Roasting brings out the sweetness and richness of the tomatoes and vegetables and gives a depth to the soup you can’t get otherwise. If you’ve never tried it this way, give it a shot. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Side note: if you’re not a huge fan of garlic, try roasting it. It makes the garlic a little more sweet. Also, if you can’t use fresh tomatoes, I give an alternative at the end of the recipe.

It sounds like it would be a lot of extra work for a simple soup dish, but honestly, it’s easy. Let me show you.

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Rough chop onions, celery, and carrots– cut them on the thicker side. They’ll be going in a blender after they’re roasted, so they don’t need to be pretty. Put them in a medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Then add salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and toss.

Take most of the outer peel off a whole head of garlic and cut off the top.

Make a little garlic house out of aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil over the top of the head of garlic, close the top of the aluminum foil, and then place it on a baking sheet. Put the onions, celery, and carrots around it. Like this:

Roast at 375 degrees for one hour. Once they’re done, take out of the oven, and open up the garlic house to let the steam out. Put it aside, along with the other vegetables.

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Slice tomatoes in half (I’m using San Marzanos today, but any red tomato will work). Put them on baking sheet and drizzle olive oil on top, also sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for 30-45 minutes. (If you have a double oven or want to roast on a rack under the veggies, that works. Just take them out a little sooner.)

Once the garlic is cooled, squeeze out all the cloves, and add to the roasted veggies. Like this:

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After the tomatoes are roasted, put them, and the vegetables in a blender, and add a little vegetable stock (enough to help the blender to blend). Also put in any liquids released while roasting the tomatoes. Blend until super smooth– I mean purée the heck out of it. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do it several batches.

Once blended, put the soup in a large pot, and heat it up on medium heat. If you want the soup a little thinner, add more vegetable stock. Once the soup is hot, add cream, and stir.

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Turn the heat down to low and let it hang out while you grill the cheese sandwich(es).

I use three types of cheeses… cheddar, havarti, and mozzarella. You don’t have to use that many or those kinds. You can use one type or five. It’s your grilled cheese. Go for whatever you want. Also, use whatever type of bread you want. Below, I show what kind I use. It’s delicious and hearty enough to hold all the cheese.

Heat a skillet (I use a cast iron) on medium heat. You don’t want your bread to burn before the cheeses melt, so grilling it slowly is key.

Butter one side of your bread and place the buttered side down on the skillet. (It’s best to use room temperature butter, because it makes it easier to spread.)

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Now alternate your cheese onto the bread– one slice of havarti and cheddar on the bottom, mozzarella in the middle, slice of havarti and cheddar on top (or whatever cheeses you choose).

Then place the other slice of bread on top and butter it.

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Once you see the cheeses on the bottom are melted, flip the sandwich. Remember not to rush the grilling. Let those cheeses melt slowly.

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Do the same on the other side. Then, take it off, and slice in half. Look at that cheese!

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Stir the soup and taste it. Add more seasoning if you think it needs it. I usually add a little more salt and pepper. I also like a little heat, so I add red pepper flakes. Ladle it into a bowl, and if you’d like, top with a dollop of sour cream and/or chopped fresh basil.

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Doesn’t this look comforting and delicious? I hope you enjoy it!

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What you’ll need for the soup:

10-20 tomatoes (Depends on how much soup you need to make. I did enough to fill up a baking sheet)

3 large carrots, roughly chopped, on the thicker side

1 large onion, roughly chopped, on the thicker side

8-10 ribs of celery, roughly chopped, on the thicker side

Olive oil– no set amount. Enough to coat the veggies and tomatoes for roasting.

1-2 cups of vegetable broth (amount will depend on how thick or thin you want your soup)

1/4 cup of light cream (optional)

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning

Red Pepper flakes (optional)

Dollop of sour cream (optional)

Chopped, fresh basil (optional)

What you’ll need for the sandwiches:

(I’m not going to put amounts, because it all depends on how much cheese you want and how many sandwiches you’re making)

Bread of your choice

Cheeses of your choice

Butter (room temperature)

Directions for soup:

Rough chop onions, celery, and carrots. They’ll be going in a blender after they’re roasted, so they don’t need to be pretty. Put them in a medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Then add salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and toss.

Take most of the outer peel off a whole head of garlic and cut off the top. Make a little garlic house out of aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil over the top of the head of garlic, close the top of the aluminum foil, and then place it on a baking sheet. Put the onions, celery, and carrots around it. Roast at 375 degrees for one hour. Once they’re done, take out of the oven, and open up the garlic house to let the steam out. Put it aside, along with the other vegetables. Once the garlic is cooled, squeeze out all the cloves, and add to the roasted veggies.

Slice tomatoes in half (I’m using San Marzanos today, but any red tomato will work). Put them on baking sheet and drizzle olive oil on top, also sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for 30-45 minutes. (If you have a double oven or want to roast on a rack under the veggies, that works. Just take them out a little sooner.)

After the tomatoes are roasted, put them, and the vegetables in a blender, and add a little vegetable stock (enough to help the blender to blend). Also put in any liquids released while roasting the tomatoes. Blend until super smooth– I mean puree the heck out of it. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do it several batches.

Once blended, put the soup in a large pot and heat it up on medium heat. If you want the soup a little thinner, add more vegetable stock. Once the soup is hot, add cream, and stir. Turn the heat down to low and let it hang out while you grill the cheese sandwich(es).

Directions for sandwiches:

Heat a skillet (I use a cast iron) on medium heat. You don’t want your bread to burn before the cheeses melt, so grilling it slowly is key.

Butter one side of your bread and place the buttered side down on the skillet. (It’s best to use room temperature butter, because it makes it easier to spread.)

Alternate your cheese onto the bread– one slice of havarti and cheddar on the bottom, mozzarella in the middle, slice of havarti and cheddar on top (or whatever cheeses you choose). Then place the other slice of bread on top and butter it. Once you see the cheeses on the bottom are melted, flip the sandwich. Do the same on the other side. Then, take it off, and slice in half.

Back to the soup:

Stir the soup and taste it. Add more seasoning if you think it needs it. I usually add a little more salt and pepper. I also like a little heat, so I add red pepper flakes. Ladle it into a bowl, and if you’d like, top with a dollop of sour cream and/or chopped fresh basil.

Alternatives:

If fresh tomatoes are not an option, use two large cans of diced tomatoes. Sometimes, you can find canned roasted tomatoes. Roast the other vegetables according to the directions above and then add the canned tomatoes to the blender with the veggies.

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Salmon Chowder

In the kitchen with my mom was where I gained my cooking wings. It’s where my love of mixing, stirring, cutting, baking, cooking, and creating was born. I’m so thankful for all the kitchen memories I have with her. The recipe I’m sharing today (and many more in the future) was inspired by her and I know she’s looking down, smiling, proud that I’ve started this blog.

Mom, this is for you! I love you and miss you.

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Growing up, when Mom said it was salmon stew night, I got so excited. I can still remember the amber glass Pyrex pot on the stove—milk simmering with a nice layer of butter on top and lots and lots of pepper.

It was my job to open the cans of salmon (we never, ever used fresh salmon) and get all the bones out. Who knew there was so much joy in such a tedious task, but I absolutely loved doing it.

After the milk, butter, salt, and pepper simmered for a while, Mom would put the salmon in and let it continue to simmer away. That was it… that was  the extent of her recipe. Mom always had a way of making the most simple ingredients taste amazingly delicious. I swear the whole “it’s a mom’s loving touch that makes everything good” is true. It’s the only way to explain how canned salmon in hot, buttered milk could taste so yummy.

Fast forward many years, to my own kitchen… I’ve turned Mom’s recipe from a stew to a chowder. Just like hers, it’s a go-to comfort food, it’s just a little more hearty. Mine is full of potatoes, onions, corn, and salmon.

As far as the salmon is concerned, sometimes I use canned, and when I do, I use wild salmon. Also, I always reserve the liquid and put it in the chowder for more flavor. Here’s the kind I use:

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Most of the time (like this past weekend), I use a fresh salmon filet from our local seafood market, Stowe Seafood. Look at this beauty!

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I’m not one to wait for fall or winter to enjoy soups and chowders. I love them too much to only make them in the cold months. Some people ask, “How can you enjoy hot soup in the middle of the summer?” Well… I guess I could ask the same about someone standing in front of a grill, then eating a hot steak and baked potato. Hot food is hot food, right? (Besides, fall is right around the corner. YAY!)

That being said, let’s make some chowdah on this beautiful first day of August!

First, if you’re using fresh corn, take the kernels off the corn. When there’s not fresh corn around, frozen corn works fine and dandy. I love Green Giant’s new roasted frozen corn.

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Now, chop your onions. It’s up to you how chunky or small you want them. I usually go for medium. Then, quarter the potatoes. Use golden or red potatoes. DON’T use russet; they break down too much, too fast. I like to keep the skins on. If you don’t like them, peel them. Also, I like mine in larger chunks. If you want smaller bites, go for it. It’s all about personal preference.

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Time to heat up the pot. Make sure it’s a large, heavy pot. I love my Le Creuset, but any big pot will do the job. Once it’s hot (medium high heat), add butter and oil (one tablespoon of each), and then add the potatoes.

Let them cook for ten minutes with the lid off, stirring often. Then put the lid on, lower to medium heat, and let them cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on the cut of potatoes you choose), continue to stir every once in a while. If they begin to stick (especially if you’re not using a nonstick pot) use veggie stock to deglaze the bottom of the pot. It will unstick the potatoes and help them to not stick further. Plus, the stock will help steam the potatoes as they cook.

Now, it’s time to add the onions and corn. Throw them in and let them cook with the potatoes for about 8 minutes, stirring often, and adding a little stock if they begin to stick.

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While the veggies are cooking, warm 8 cups of milk. You can do it on the stove-top or in the microwave. You don’t want it boiling, just warm. I stress this– do not let it boil.

Add the milk to the veggies (if you’re using canned salmon, add the liquid from the can at this point). Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. I use a tablespoon of each to begin with. Then, after they’ve hung out with the milk for a little bit, I taste, and then add more of what I think it needs. You do the same. Want more salt? Add it. Want it more garlicky? Do it. Want it spicy? Add some red pepper flakes or cayenne. Add as much or as little of a spice as you want. Everybody’s taste buds are different on different days. Some days, I want to kick it up, some days, not so much.

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From this point, now that the milk is added, be careful. Do not let it come to a boil. Keep it on low heat. If you scorch the milk, your dinner is ruined. Also, if your milk gets too hot it’ll break down the fats and curdle. So, don’t rush it. You just want the vegetables to finish cooking. Taste them, especially the potatoes. Once they’re done to your likeness, it’s time to add the salmon. If you’re using canned salmon, add it, and let it simmer (on a low heat) for not long at all… maybe 5 minutes. If you’re using fresh salmon, put it skin side up, like this:

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Let the salmon cook for around ten minutes (depends on thickness of the salmon you use). Once the salmon begins to cook through, the skin will pull away using tongs, like this:

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With tongs, or a fork, break up the salmon into large chunks or small pieces… it’s your choice.

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Time to serve it up!! It goes great with cornbread, saltines, or oyster crackers. I also love a few dashes of Frank’s hot sauce on mine.

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What you’ll need:

1 onion– diced

3 ears of corn– kernels off the cob or a small bag of frozen corn (thawed)

1 bag (24 oz) of golden or red potatoes– quartered (or diced to your liking)

1 Tablespoon of butter

1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil

1/2 cup to 1 cup of vegetable stock– depending if you need it to deglaze the pot.

8 cups of warmed milk (I used 2%. Feel free to use whatever you like)

1 Tablespoon of salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder (Remember, you can adjust these amounts up or down to your liking)

Cayenne or red pepper flakes… if you want it spicy

1 lb of fresh salmon or three cans of canned salmon

Directions:

Add butter and oil to a hot pot and sauté the potatoes. Let them cook for ten minutes with the lid off, stirring often. Then put the lid on, lower to medium heat, and let them cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on the cut size of the potato), stirring every so often. If they begin to stick (especially if you’re not using a nonstick pot) use veggie stock to deglaze the bottom of the pot and it will help the potatoes to not stick as much. Plus, the stock will help steam the potatoes as they cook.

Add the corn and onions. Let them cook with the potatoes for about 8 minutes, stirring often (add a little stock if they begin to stick).

Add warmed milk, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Let simmer until the potatoes are cooked through to your liking. Then, add the salmon. Once cooked through, if using fresh salmon, remove skin and break up with tongs.

Serve with cornbread, saltines, and/or oyster crackers. Hot sauce is good, too.

ALTERNATIVES AND TIPS:

If you like to cook with bacon, cook bacon in your pot, remove, and then cook your potatoes, onions, and corn in the bacon fat. Save the bacon and crumble on top of your chowder before serving.

If you’re lactose intolerant, or enjoy a Manhattan style chowder, use 2 cans (large) crushed tomatoes and 1 can (large) diced tomatoes in place of the milk.

Remember, DO NOT LET YOUR MILK GET TOO HOT OR BOIL.

Don’t add your salmon (especially if you’re using fresh) too soon. Wait until you’re  at least ten minutes away from serving.

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