Archived entries for soup/stew

Easy Posh: Shrimp Bisque

I’ve had a few requests from friends for the recipe for the Shrimp Bisque I made for my family’s Christmas Eve dinner. Delicious and decadent, this soup can be made for not too much money or skill.

A great soup for a dinner party, you can impress your guests with little to no fuss. This website is all about trying to help our readers appear more fancy then they can afford so this one is for you. Just mention the “Champagne Reduction” you made for the soup base, and all your guests will think you’re the shit, ahem, I mean, a true epicurean.

Shrimp Bisque
serves 8 as a starter, 4 as a main dish
Continue reading…

Basic Butternut Squash Soup

Now that we have our delicious chicken stock, lets use it. This time of year with Thanksgiving approaching, nothing can be better then a delicious butternut squash soup. This is one of the very first things I learned to cook. I used to be one of those people who couldn’t make instant brownies, so that will tell you just how easy this recipe is!


Butternut Squash Soup. Originally uploaded Flickr user ImeldaNZ

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash or 2 small ones
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-4 Tbs cut maple syrup
  • 2-4 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 onions
  • 4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into 2″ cubes (approx. you don’t need to pull out the ruler)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1-2 Tbs minced ginger depending on your preference
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

I begin my soup with roasting the squash. This caramelizes the sugars in the squash and helps heighten the flavor. To roast:


Squash with seeds removed ready for butter, sugar and syrup. Found on Flickr.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds in both sides. Place squash on a cookie tray flesh side up. Using a fork, pierce the squash multiple times throughout flesh. Place a Tbs of butter in the scooped out area of each squash along with 1-2 Tbs of maple syrup and brown sugar. Place in oven and let roast for about an 30 minutes to an hour or until flesh is tender and is easily pierced with a fork. The time will depend on how big your squash is. When the squash is done, take out of oven and allow to cool.

In a large soup pot, saute onions until clear. Add ginger, curry, and paprika and saute for a couple more minutes to infuse flavors. Add potatoes and chicken stock, bring to a boil and then bring down to a simmer. The amount of stock depends on the amount of squash you have as well as how thick you want your soup. If you want it thicker add less, if you want it to be more soupy add more.

Allow to cook for 15 minutes or so until the potatoes are soft. Using a spoon, scoop butternut squash out of skin and slop into the soup and add the coconut milk. Cook for 10 more minutes. Using an immersion blender, a food processor or even a regular blender puree soup until smooth.


Look at this amazingly decorative garnish made by adding a thick cream in a spiral. Using a knife drag outward from
the center in different directions. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup uploaded by Flickr user Bigbabe715.

Taste your soup and season with salt and pepper accordingly. Taste again and feel free to add more brown sugar and maple syrup to flavor. You can also add more paprika or curry to spice it up. Garnish with sour cream or heavy cream as pictured above and something green like parsley or chives.

A Forkable Kitchen Staple: Chicken Stock


Jars of Chicken Stock ready for freezer.

Chicken stock is on the top of my must have kitchen staples list. Its so useful to have on hand when I want to whip up a quick delicious soup, need a base for a sauce or gravy, or just want to give some extra flavor to rice. Although making stock is easy, and doesn’t require a lot of work, it does take a bit of time. Because of this, I always make it in huge batches I can freeze for future use. I love making stock because it always makes me feel so old-timey to have a huge pot of stuff cooking on the stove. OK, lets get to the meat of the situation and make our stock.


Chicken carcasses saved from previous dinners and frozen until I was ready to use them for my stock.

For each pound of chicken parts, add:

  • 2 or 3 large onions cut in half
  • 2 or 3 carrots sliced into large chunks
  • a couple of stalks of celery sliced in large chunks
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  • a hand full of peppercorn
  • parsley or any other herbs you have on hand


Onions and carrots chopped and ready to go, with parsley from the freezer.

Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot and add water until all the ingredients are just covered. Place on burner set to high. Bring to a boil and then turn burner down to low. Allow to simmer for a couple hours until the liquid is is a nice broth color.

Some only cook their stocks for an hour or two, but I like to let it go for about 4 or 5. I usually make this on a day I want to laze around the house.

If you taste the broth and it tastes bland, you can strengthen the flavor by reducing the liquid by bringing it to a rapid boil to concentrate the flavor. I don’t worry about having too strong a flavor because this is just a base. I don’t add salt to my stock, but wait until I am seasoning whatever I use the stock for be it soup or gravy.


Water simmering with stock ingredients on left, stock ready to be drained on right. Notice the nice dark color of the completed stock.

When you feel your stock is done, remove from stove top and using a strainer, drain all the veggies and bones out. Make sure you drain into another pot. I forgot this once! I guess maybe I thought I was straining pasta or something and I stupidly poured all my stock down the drain and was left with a strainer full of garbage. ARG! Anyway, make sure you strain it into a pot big enough so you don’t loose any of your precious stock broth.

The stock is ready to be put into the freezer. I like using glass jars which I can quickly microwave to defrost whenever I need them. I just save old mayonnaise and pickle jars just for this use.Pour the stock into jars leaving about an inch or so at the top. As the stock freezes it will expand a bit so you want to leave some room in the jar and screw the lids on loose so the jar doesn’t break in the freezer. Check the stock in the freezer the next day and when its totally frozen, screw the lid on tightly and you’re ready to go. Don’t forget to label and date the jar so you don’t forget what it is. You’re ready to go!

If you are missing any of the above, don’t worry. Onions are the only truly integral ingredient in my opinion. Even if you only have chicken and onions, you’ll get something good. You don’t need to fuss too much on the recipe. Just go for it. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

5 Forkable Stock TIPS

  • Look for good sales on chicken legs and thighs (generally the cheapest cuts of meat). I can find them for less then $1 a pound. I’ll pick up a couple pounds to freeze until I am ready to make my stock.


Bags of frozen chicken carcasses and vegetables collected for stock.

  • Save the chicken bones left over from your Sunday dinner, or vegetable cuttings which would otherwise get thrown away to use in your stock. Using plastic bags, place bones, unused meat or vegetable cuttings in the freezer until you’ve collected enough for a big batch of stock. I love being thrifty and making stock always makes me feel like I’m getting something for nothing.


  • Save the giblets which come with whole chicken for your stock.
  • If have left over parsley or other herbs from a recipe, stick them in the freezer. For stock, it doesn’t matter if the herbs are fresh.


Why is the wine in a whiskey bottle you ask? Here’s your answer.

  • White wine is a delicious addition.

Have fun!

Stock Up. But What’s Stock?

If soup is the sum of all its parts, no part is more integral to a good soup equation then the base, or stock. Stock, is made by a process of boiling ingredients, fusing their flavors into water and then, by draining all the ingredients out, creating a broth. Nothing could be easier to do, and anyone who’s made their own stock can attest that once you’ve tried your own, you can never go back to the watered down versions available at the store.



Elements of Stock

Stocks can be made from a variety of ingredients in variety of ways but the main components are generally a meat product, a mixture of vegetables, and/or herbs and spices.

  • Meat. Any meat product can be used for stock. You can use actual cuts of meat, but after being boiled for long periods of time, the meat is relatively useless which I find a waste. Using bones and discarded cuts of meat works great and also fits our frugal mindset. The meat products give the stock broth flavor as well as body.
  • Vegetables. Typical vegetables used in stock are onions, carrots and celery, which all are packed with flavor. However, again, you can use anything with strong flavor. You wouldn’t want to use things like potatoes or cucumbers which have relatively weak flavors, however, its not too important what you put in because as you drain everything out, you’re not out much if one of your ingredients doesn’t pack a huge punch as long as you’ve used other strong vegetables as well.
  • Herbs and Spices. At the risk of being repetitive, herbs and spices help spice up your stock. General herbs and spices used in stock include bay leaf, whole peppercorn, parsley, sage and thyme, among many others.

Whatever ingredients you choose to use, the great thing about stock is it is hard to get wrong. You don’t have to follow any particular recipe unless you need to be very specific about a particular flavoring needed for a recipe. You literally just throw some stuff in a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for a couple hours. It couldn’t be easier.

For more instructions, stay tunned for my next post, where I give a detailed how-to on Chicken Stock.

Left Over Remix Recipe: Lentil Soup



Lentil Soup with Hummus Leftovers

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs aniseed
  • 2 large onions sliced
  • 1/4 lb bacon
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 pears sliced
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ~1 cup hummus or 1 can garbanzo beans and 2 Tbs tahini
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley

Optional:

  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 Tbl pomegranate syrup or brown sugar for sweetener.

Heat oil over medium high heat until slightly smoking. Turn down burner to low and add aniseed to toast. When seeds begin to turn brownish color, add onions. Stir occasionally to keep from burning but allow onions to caramelize into a nice brown color.


Caramelized onion with bacon and toasted aniseed.

In a separate fry pan, saute up bacon until crispy and drain grease. In a soup pot, add to onions: bacon, chicken stock, pears, lentils, coriander, cumin and salt. Allow to cook over low for 30-45 minutes until lentils are falling apart and pear has disintegrated. If pear still is slightly whole, take a fork and break apart.

Once lentils are cooked and dd hummus, stirring to mix. If you don’t have any hummus, you can add a can of garbanzo beans and tahini. Add orange juice and lemon juice to add a tart citrus flavor. Add salt to taste and fresh chopped parsley right before serving. For optional taste you can add milk which will give the soup a creamier flavor and/or Pomegranate syrup or other sweetener according to taste. Garnish with yogurt, preferably labna and parsley

This recipe is based off the premise of a simple lentil soup recipe which is just lentils, onions, stock, and lemon. A lot of the ingredients I used in this recipe because I had them around the house, such as the orange juice and the pomegranate syrup. I added milk because I added too much salt and needed to tone down the taste.

I always say my ingredients are approximations, but I don’t want this to scare anyone off from trying my recipes. I add this disclaimer as an attempt to empower you to understand if you don’t have one or two of these ingredients its OK. Experimenting with substitutions is a great way to explore food and make a recipe your own by changing it slightly to match your taste. Keep tasting your food as you go along and augment it to whatever you may need: if its bland, add some spice, if its flat, add some body like more stock of bullion, if you accidentally added too much salt, add a bit of cream to tone it down. Just have fun and trust your own tastes.



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