Ancho Lentil Soup.

so…we’re back from the gluttony-filled holidays and vacations, and trying to settle back into eating habits that are a bit more moderate. and to me, nothing says moderation like lentils.

Ancho lentil soup, from theppk

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 dried ancho chilies, seeds removed and ripped into bite sized pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Seranno pepper, seeded and chopped (we omitted this, but I would add it next time)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt

2 cups green lentils, washed
7 to 8 cups broth

3 tablespoons of lime juice (we used juice from one half a lime)
6 to 8 pineapple rings

slices of lime to serve
hot sauce to serve


Preheat a small frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and ancho chili pieces and toast, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer to a spice grinder (I use a clean coffee grinder) or small food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Some bigger pieces of chili are okay. Add the coriander seeds to the cumin and anchos and pulse a few times to crush them.

Preheat a big stock pot over medium heat. Saute the onions in the olive oil until transparent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the serrano and garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spices and stir. Add the bay leaves, salt, lentils and 7 cups of broth. Mix well. Bring up the heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling lower heat to low-medium and let simmer for 1/2 an hour, stirring every now and again.

Meanwhile, preheat a broiler. Cook on one side for 3 minutes and the other for about 2, until pineapple begins to brown and slightly carmelize.

Once the lentils are tender, add an extra cup of water/stock if you think it needs thinning. Add the lime juice and stir.

Remove the bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to puree about half the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a potato masher to mash it up a bit, until desired thickness is achieved. Taste for salt.

To serve: ladle into bowls and top with a pineapple ring, a slice of lime and dot with hot sauce.

This turned out pretty nicely for us. I did a couple things askew of the recipe – I didn’t mash the lentils up much, leaving the soup brothy. Also, the pineapple garnish, while fine, didn’t really blow me away. Still, a rather simple soup that was pretty enjoyable.


Pork and Poblano Stew.

this most recent one came from simply recipes; carla picked it out, and it looked fine to me. we made it last night, and i was pretty happy – lots of great flavor. i think it helped that i got a particularly nice bit of pork shoulder from our butcher.

  • 4 to 5 poblano chile peppers (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo, minced
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 quart chicken stock (use gluten-free stock for gluten-free option)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn (no need to defrost if frozen)
  • 1 large (about 1/2 pound) sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes)
  • Sour cream for garnish
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Toasted shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for garnish

1) Char / broil the chiles; skin, stem, and seed them, then chop into 1-2 inch pieces. One main switch – neither of the two grocers I visited had poblanos! So I made an audible and toasted and rehydrated some anchos instead. I chopped them much more finely, as they are a bit less pleasant to eat big pieces of.

2) Heat oil in a dutch oven, then brown the pork, salting liberally.

3) Remove the pork – add onion and cumin to the dutch oven, cooking until translucent (~5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook another minute.

4) Add the chopped chipotle (I used 2 rather than 1, and was very happy with the spicyness level), along with the pork and the poblanos. Then add the stock and oregano, and simmer covered for about an hour.

5) Add the sweet potato and corn, then cook for 45 more minutes, until sweet potato is cooked through.

You can garnish with sour cream, cilantro, and or pepitos, though we did none of those last night. I thought this was a very savory, delicious stew. It took a chunk of time for sure, but the end result made me pretty happy.

Carrot Miso Soup.

this is a really nice soup from the people at smitten kitchen. it goes like this:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger (i totally use more than this)
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup white miso paste, or more to taste (i used a touch more)
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, very thinly sliced (didn’t use these)

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and garlic sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth and ginger. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in blender. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso an a half-cup of the soup. Stir the mixture back into the pot of soup. Taste the soup and season with salt, pepper or additional miso to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish each with a drizzle of sesame oil and small mound of scallions.

Miso is still pretty new to me, but I’ve really wanted to try something with it, and this worked great. It adds a depth and richness to the carrot soup that makes the whole thing very satisfying. And I’ll be honest, the touch of sesame oil at the very end is pretty special. A relatively straightforward, but satisfying, soup.

Portuguese Cream of Shrimp Soup.

we pulled this one from a “food of portugal” cookbook by jean anderson. i liked the look of it, but in the midst of making it, i became quite skeptical – the broth seemed a bit bland, and i feared it would be a failure. the end result surprised me by being a tasty, slightly tangy soup that i would certainly make again.


1 pound raw shrimp, in the shell
1.5 quarts water
2/3 cup white wine
2 med. yellow onions, peeled and chopped (i used very big ones)
2 med. garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (we always use more garlic than needed)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 large tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped (i used 5 romas)
2 tbsp parsley
1 bay leaf
5 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cream

1) place shrimp, water and wine in large saucepan, and bring to a simmer. remove from heat and remove the shrimp.
2) in another large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in butter and oil. when softened, mix in tomatoes, parsley, bay leaf, tomato paste, pepper, and cayenne. turn heat to low, cover and simmer 25 minutes.
3) add shrimp cooking liquid (through a strainer) to tomato mixture, then simmer uncovered for an hour. at this point, shell and devein the shrimp.
4) remove the bay leaf, and puree the mixture in batches using a blender or food processor. add 8 shrimp to the last batch to be pureed.
5) add the remaining shrimp to the pureed mixture, along with salt and cream. bring slowly to serving temperature. add salt to taste, serve garnished with parsley.

Creamy Corn Soup with Roasted Poblano Chile (October 30, 2011)

rick bayless time! recipe is online here, as well as in the wonderful “mexican everyday” cookbook that features “easier” recipes than some of the other ones.

this was a pretty easy recipe, all things considered. so much so that i was honestly a little skeptical as to how it would turn out. but one should not doubt rick bayless.

# 1 large fresh poblano chile
# 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
# 1 small white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
# 2 cloves garlic, peeled
# 3 cups corn kernels, cut from about 5 cobs or frozen
# 1 tablespoon corn starch
# 1 quart milk
# 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 8 oz. cubed ham
# Salt to taste
# Cilantro for garnish

Roast the poblano directly on the open flame of a stovetop or under a broiler until charred and blackened all over, 5-10 minutes depending on method. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel until cool enough to handle.

In the meantime, heat the oil over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan and add the garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Transfer to a food processor along with the corn, cornstarch, and 1 1/2 cups of the milk. Process into a purée and transfer back to the saucepan, straining out the corn kernel skins if desired. Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently.

When the chile is cooled somewhat, rub off the blackened skins, pull out the stem and seeds, and rinse to complete the job. Cut into 1/4-inch strips or pieces, then stir into the simmering soup along with the chicken and remaining milk. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, if necessary, stirring as you go. Serve with sprinkled cilantro and avocado, if desired.

in my preparation i added more garlic (of course), used canned corn, used ham, and did not strain the corn puree. this thing is full of awesomeness. it has the warm richness of a corn chowder, but the chile really does make all the difference here. it’s not spicy in any serious way, but there is definitely a great presence there of chile.

this is a fantastic recipe, and one i will definitely make again!

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup (December 23, 2010)

carla and i are reunited for the holidays, and that means we’re doing a little cooking in between all the parties and restaurant dining. since the holidays are busy, we wanted something that would last a few days and wouldn’t take too much time and energy to make, as it was already late in the day when we planned.

after vetoing rick bayless’s soups (too much time and energy), i found this recipe for sweet potato and sausage soup on carla’s favorite food blog, smitten kitchen. it seemed quite easy, and she already had many ingredients on hand, so we went for it.

from smitten kitchen
Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
Bon Appetit, October 2007

Makes 8 servings

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 10- to 11-ounce fully cooked smoked Portuguese linguica sausage or chorizo sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (Spanish chorizo can be substituted)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about 2 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound white-skinned potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook until brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain. (I poured off some of the oil in the pot at this point, but the original recipe doesn’t think this is needed.) Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add all potatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Add broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot. Add browned sausage to soup. Stir in spinach and simmer just until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.

we followed the recipe fairly closely, using a spanish chorizo – not as spicy as its mexican counterpart, but still distinct in its flavor.

i thought it was pretty excellent. i should’ve really diced the sausage into small pieces – the slices were just a bit too large as we made it, and they stayed rather firm, making them hard to break up with a spoon. but the wonderful flavor of sweet potatoes really came through nicely, and it was pretty painless to prepare. of course, it helps having two people to do all the prep work…i give it an A-.

CARLA: i thought it was very good; agree on the sausage comment above, they needed to be smaller pieces. i don’t know what else, david. oh, probably an A. i’d probably make it again.

Tuscan Pumpkin White Bean Soup (January 7, 2010)

A recipe from Weight Watchers. And it’s actually good!

A splash of olive oil (the recipe calls for spray, but we opted for bit more)
1 medium onion
15 oz. canned pumpkin
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
15 1/2 oz. canned white beans, rinsed and drained (we used northern beans)
A few dashes of ground oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
6 tbs. Parmesan cheese

Coat a large soup pot with cooking spray and set over medium-low heat. Add onion, cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.

Stir in pumpkin, broth, beans and oregano; simmer 8 minutes.

In a blender, process soup in batches until smooth. (Note: Make sure not to overfill blender in order to avoid splattering.) Return soup to pot and reheat; season with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top each with 1 tablespoon of grated cheese. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

David: I would give it an A. It was very flavorful. It was very pumpkin-y. I was close to being too sweet, but I don’t think it was. Maybe a little more salt and pepper would help that. I would make it again, because it was easy.

Carla: I like it. I think it was very filling and flavorful. We served it with some rye bread (with rye flour from Canada) and couscous. I really liked it and I would make it again. A.