Celery Soup

by Laura

My roommate (now he could also be called my fiance - woohoo!) is generally very easy to please when it comes to food and complimentary of my cooking. However, there are a just a couple of foods he really doesn't like that I enjoy, so every once in a while I try to sneak it into my cooking and convince him he actually does like whatever it is. If my dad hates cheese but can love lasagna, I thought surely I could get John to like celery if combined with the right ingredients. Well, I was wrong. Because this celery soup was so good and not even all that healthy, and still...not for John. 

I thought it was delicious but second guessed myself without a second opinion. So, I took leftovers to work and got confirmation that it is, in fact, very tasty to anyone who doesn't hate celery. Also, easy to throw together and could be made much healthier by reducing both cream and butter quantities (which I already did from the original recipe).

Just one photo - sorry. Working on it!

Just one photo - sorry. Working on it!

Celery Soup

adapted from Bon Appetit

1 head of celery, chopped

1 potato (I used russet), peeled and chopped

1/2 of a large onion, chopped

1/2 stick butter

1 tbsp olive oil

3 cups low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)

1/4 cup fresh dill plus extra for garnish

1/3 cup heavy cream

Olive Oil and flaky sea salt for serving

Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add celery, potato and onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook stirring until the onion softens, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and simmer until the potato is tender, another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the dill and puree with an emersion blender (or transfer to a blender and puree).  Stir in cream and serve right away with drizzled olive oil and flaky sea salt. Garnish with fresh dill or celery leaves.

Carrot Orange Soup

By Katherine

Yesterday, I woke up with the tickle of an early-stage sore throat, and all I wanted to eat was warm, comforting things.  I became fixated on one of my ultimate comfort foods:  carrot orange soup.  The recipe comes from the Silver Palate cookbook, which was a staple in our household growing up, and I still grab it for tried-and-true recipes (Chicken Marbella, anyone?).  Anyhow, our mom made this carrot orange soup for us on a regular basis, and when Elissa, Laura, and I were all living in Washington, DC in the early 2000s, carrot orange soup was often on the menu for our weekly sister dinners.  It is dead simple to make, with ingredients that are readily available all year long.  Add some buttered toast and a green salad, and you have a lovely supper. 

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Carrot Orange Soup

Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook via Cary Hart

Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons butter

2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)

12 large carrots (or 2 cups baby carrots), chopped

4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

1 cup orange juice

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Melt the butter in a soup pot.  Add the onions, cover and cook over low heat until soft, about 25 minutes.  Add the carrots and broth; bring to a boil, then simmer until the carrots are tender, 25 to 45 minutes (the smaller you chop the carrots, the sooner it will be ready).  Puree using an immersion blender, or transfer in batches to a food processor or blender.  Add the orange juice and simmer until heated through. 

Veggie friends: this can be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken. You could even make it vegan by using olive oil instead of butter, but I think there is something magical about the base of onions slow-cooked in butter. 

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

By Katherine

Elissa has already blogged about the joys of slow-cookery, and specifically Slow Cooker Revolution from America's Test Kitchen, but I'm here to pile on.  There's something so great about arriving home from work to a great-smelling house and a dinner that's already ready.  One of my favorite recipes in the book is for tortilla soup, which I made earlier this week to stave off some of the gray fogginess we start getting in San Diego this time of year.  Here's how it goes....

Ready to get cooking

Ready to get cooking

Chicken Tortilla Soup (adapted for my taste and laziness from Slow Cooker Revolution)  

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, minced

2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and minced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

3 chipotle chiles in adobo, with sauce, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Stems from one bunch of cilantro, tied together with twine (about 25 stems) 

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes: crushed tortilla chips, crumbled Cotija cheese, avocado, minced cilantro, lime wedges

Saute tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos in oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When onion is softened, add garlic, chipotles, and tomato paste and cook briefly (1 minute will do) until everything is a melded together and smelling good. Stir in 1 cup of broth and scrape up all the tasty brown bits on the bottom of the pan, then transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. 

Add the remaining broth and cilantro stems to the slow cooker, then add the chicken thighs (gently so as not to splash the broth all over the kitchen). Set the slow cooker to low and leave it alone for the next 4-6 hours.  I set mine for five hours, but then it sat around for another 2 hours on "keep warm" until I got home from work, and it suffered no ill effects. 

Use tongs to remove the chicken from the soup and shred it using two forks. Fish out the cilantro stems and toss them, then return the chicken to the soup.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if desired.   Serve by placing crushed tortilla chips in bowls, then ladling soup over the top, and topping with cheese, avocado, cilantro, and lime. 

The garnishes

The garnishes

The finished soup

The finished soup

A few tips. . . this makes a pretty spicy soup.  If you're not a fan of the heat, reduce the amount of chipotle chiles.  While we're on the subject of chipotles in adobo, I never use a whole can at once, and I hate to waste what's leftover.  What I do is portion the remaining chipotles (with their sauce) into ziploc sandwich bags - usually about 2 chiles in each bag - then put them in the freezer.  The chipotles are pretty fragrant, so I usually put the sandwich bags into a large freezer bag to try to keep the whole freezer from smelling like chipotles. You can pull out an individual bag whenever you need a chipotle, and they defrost pretty quickly - about 30 minutes on the counter, or you can speed it up by putting them in lukewarm water.  

Since this recipe calls for sauteing the vegetables before putting them in the slow cooker, it can be a scramble to pull it all together on a weekday morning if you're trying to get out the door to work/school/whatever.  I recommend prepping everything the night before, including doing the saute, then you can put the cooked vegetables in the fridge overnight and just pop them in the slow cooker in the morning. Finally, I used some soy and flax tortilla chips for this batch, because that bag was open and I like to operate under the illusion that there's such a thing as a healthy chip, but their texture in the soup was a little strange.  I would use regular tortilla chips if you have them instead - which is what I've used for the leftover soup, with great results.