Tag Archives: soup

Vietnamese Penicillin?

I got a vicious sore throat last weekend. I haven’t had one in about three years, so I guess I was due.  Apparently this cold/sore throat/bronchitis is going around, and it has a tendency to linger. Now some people lose their appetite when they get sick, but this rarely happens to me :-). A rich chicken soup sounded really good, and I recalled a Vietnamese chicken curry Kate cooked for me a couple of months ago, wonderfully fragrant with lemongrass. If you do a web search for Vietnamese chicken curry (ca ri ga) you’ll get dozens of variations, but essentially it is a chicken soup/stew with coconut milk, madras curry powder, and lemongrass.  Onions, garlic, ginger, potatoes and/or sweet potatoes (and sometimes carrots) are involved. I like a high vegetable-to-meat ratio in my soups, so I added a few extras: mushrooms and celery. Kate and Tuan always have this with a baguette. I didn’t feel like going to the store (duh…) so we had ours with whole wheat rolls (bolillos).

  1. 2 Tbsp oil
  2. 1 cup chopped onion
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  4. 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  5. 3 Tbsp grated/minced lemongrass (see Kate’s previous post – I buy a bag of it frozen at the Asian market)
  6. 2 Tbsp mild madras (yellow) curry powder
  7. chicken legs or thighs
  8. 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  9. 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  10. 1 tsp salt
  11. 2 – 3 cups water
  12. 1 can (15 oz) coconut milk
  13. 1 cup chopped mushroom
  14. 1 cup sliced carrot
  15. 8 -12 small new potatoes (or 3 – 4 cups? of cubed potatoes or sweet potatoes)
  16. 1 cup chopped celery
  17. chopped garlic chives, cilantro, or Thai basil for garnish
  18. a fresh, crusty French baguette, if you’ve got it

Saute the first six ingredients for a few minutes in a large pot, then add the chicken and let it cook a little. Add ingredients 8 – 11 and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add ingredients 12 – 16 and cook gently until the potatoes are done and the chicken is about to fall off the bone. Serve with garlic chives, cilantro, or Thai basil and French bread.

Late spring garden update: Poppies, dianthus, and larkspur are just about done. Hollyhocks, Shasta daisies, alyssum, coneflower, daylily, rose-of-sharon, chrysanthemum, sedum, salvia greggii, and cosmos (!!) are blooming. So far I’ve harvested one bell pepper, several jalepenos, a couple of cherry tomatoes, and some garlic (about 1.5 months early this year). Still getting green onions, Swiss chard and kale. I’ve got tons of saved seed to process, and some of the pak choi I didn’t get to soon enough, so now it’s coming up thick as hair in one area (hmm… microgreens?).

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Lentil Curry Soup

We like beans at our house – a lot! And we aren’t picky, either, we love all types of legumes. I’ve made this soup twice in the last month and though it deserved a post. As much as I like lentils and all things beany, I think that it might just be the sweet potato that makes this soup soooo good. Remember that lentils cook quickly and don’t need a pre-soak, so you can sort of do this soup at short notice (and it’s vegan!).

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb red or yellow lentils (or yellow mung beans, or a mix of yellow and red lentils)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable bullion or 2 tsp salt
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp good curry and/or Tandoori spice mix
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chilis or jalepenos (Mexican or “chili-ready”)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (depending upon how hot your curry spices are)
  • 6 cups water
  1. Saute the garlic and onion briefly in the oil, until soft, but not brown.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn the fire down and simmer slowly until the lentils and sweet potatoes are soft (about 45 minutes). Watch and stir occasionally to make sure it isn’t sticking or scorching on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove 2  cups of the mixture and process in a blender, then return to the pot.
  5. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with some minced fresh cilantro if you’ve got it. It’s great with a crusty sourdough, of course!

Here are a some additional recipes for a red lentil curry soup that I found on other blogs:

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Golden gaspacho & seviche

Mike and I are in Tahoe right now, relaxing (at least I am relaxing, Mike is running, biking, and hiking at a frantic pace). Tomorrow we head to Monterey, one of my favorite places. A friend is housesitting, taking care of the garden and our pets. Most importantly, she is picking the tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant so that they’ll keep producing.

Last weekbefore we left on vacation it was hellishly hot, and when it’s 103 Fahrenheit at 6:00 p.m. you don’t feel much like cooking. Fortunately we had lots of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers coming out of the garden – perfect for a cold, refreshing, and slightly tangy gaspacho cold soup (also spelled gazpacho). Since I had all these yellow tomatoes, this is the summer of the golden gaspacho (also gold salsa, gold seviche, etc.).  I didn’t take a photo of this, so you’ll just have use your imagination. Yes, it was beautiful.

Most recipes call for you to blend your ingredient into a chunky puree. Although I’ve done this before, I really prefer my gaspacho more like a soupy salsa fresca – where each fresh vegetable is identifiable. Gaspacho demands good, ripe, flavorful tomatoes. If all you have is hard “plastic” supermarket tomatoes don’t even bother!

Chop finely:

  • 4 cups tomatoes
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion

Mince finely:

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 large clove garlic

Add to vegetables and herbs:

  • 1.5 cups vegetable bullion
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine and let flavors develop in the refrigerator for several hours (overnight is best). Check out these other recipes here and here. Of course, Epicurious has a plethora of gazpacho recipes, most of them of the blended/smooth variety.

If you have any leftover gaspacho, re-purpose it the next day as seviche, also spelled ceviche. To the gaspacho add:

  • chopped avocado
  • corn kernels
  • jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced
  • prepared salsa and/or sirachi sauce
  • precooked, peeled, and chilled shrimp (or scallops, mussels, etc.)
  • minced cilantro
  • a squeeze of fresh lime

Oh yeah, right before we left I picked a Black Krim tomato from the garden and we ate it somewhere in Utah. OMG it was good! Never be afraid of an strange-looking ugly tomato.

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