Homemade Vegetable Stock

Anytime friends of ours have a baby, the first thing we do is offer to bring them a meal.  Back when we had Tyler, our friends and neighbors did the same.  So, when some friends of our recently had a baby, the first thing I asked (after finding out her name) was, “would you like us to bring over some food?”

Our friends are vegetarians, and after the birth, the mom was really into soups.  I have never been fond of commercial brands of vegetable stock.  They’re either too orange (overdose of carrots?), or too bland.  So, I decided to come up with my own version.  It’s very non-fussy, and the recipe makes enough to store and use as needed.

original recipe

Homemade Vegetable Stock

Yield: 4 quarts, or 16 cups

Homemade Vegetable Stock

Use as a 1:1 substitute for chicken stock in soup recipes.

Ingredients

1 large white onion, cut into large chunks
5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
5 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch chunks
4 celery stalks, chopped into 2-inch chunks
2 leeks, green stems only, rinsed well and roughly chopped
3 dried bay leaves
2 tsp dried parsley flakes
17 cups water
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Cover pot and let the stock simmer for 60 minutes. Turn off heat and keep pot covered. Let cool for an hour.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove solids from the stock. Season with a little more salt if necessary. Store in freezer-safe containers or bags.
http://kokocooks.com/2014/03/homemade-vegetable-stock/

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Green Minestrone

Ah, time to get back into the swing of things.  Crazy weather has hit my area.  Eighty degrees one day, followed by forty degrees the next.  It’s no wonder that half the people I know are sick.  In anticipation of another such dip in the temperature, I made one of my favorite soups to stave off the chill.

One thing I love about this soup is its versatility.  For example, even though the recipe calls for chopped bacon, the soup in the photos has a ham steak that I found in the fridge.  I’ve also subbed in pancetta for the meat.  A lot of times, I’ll throw in whatever vegetables are hanging around the bottom of the bin, and the soup still tastes delicious.  A dollop of premade pesto also works well as a garnish if fresh basil leaves are not on hand.

adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe

Green Minestrone

Green Minestrone

Ingredients

3 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, diced
1 whole bay leaf
1 can white beans (I like Great Northern)
8 c chicken stock
1 c dried ditalini pasta
6 oz frozen cut green beans
2 large handfuls of broccoli rabe (or spinach), chopped
Garnish
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Heat a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy.
  2. Add onions, celery, and garlic to the pot. Cook until onions start to soften, about 4 minutes. Add zucchini, and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add bay leaf, white beans, and chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Add pasta and green beans and lower heat to medium. Cook until pasta is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in broccoli rabe. Let it wilt, about 2 minutes.
  4. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with cheese and basil.

Notes

Have 1-2 c extra chicken stock for heating up with any leftover soup.

http://kokocooks.com/2014/01/green-minestrone/

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Homemade Tonkotsu Ramen

My husband got it in his head to make tonkotsu broth for ramen.  Ramen is one of our new obsessions.  For all the wonderful Asian restaurants in this area, there are only a few that make ramen.  Not the curly stuff in packaged squares.  Not the stuff in styrofoam cups.  The real deal.

 

Tonkotsu broth for ramen is arguably the most difficult, because of all the work involved in making it.  Joey started one evening, and let the broth simmer all night.  While he waited for it to cook down, he decided to make the chasu –  cooked pork belly that goes on top of the soup. The house smelled like pork for days.  The broth didn’t turn as milky as what I’m used to seeing, but it tasted amazing. After eating the magical homemade broth, the commercial noodles did not match.  So now I’m working on making ramen noodles.  This is very typical of how things go around here – one cooking endeavor leads down a rabbit hole to deeper and more intricate recipes.  The broth is way too extensive for me to post as a recipe, especially since I’m trying to post more user-friendly fare.  So why the reason for this post?

 

Really, I just wanted to brag.

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Brazilian Fish Stew

Over Memorial Day weekend, I attempted to grill a whole fish.  For the first time. Did I go with something little and manageable like a  red snapper?  Or orange roughy? Or even tilapia?  No, I decided it would be best to start with a two-pound grouper.  That thing barely fit onto our grill.  While the end result looked beautiful, the fish didn’t quite cook all the way through, and I had to finish it in the oven.

Joey had the brilliant idea of making fish stock out of the head and bones.  So we now had a ton of stock and a good amount of fish to use up.  I remembered this fish stew that I had made many years ago, and that I could use both leftover items for the dish.  I also loved that basically the soup was fish and vegetables, with very little fat.  Joey loved the flavors, and threatened to eat all the rest.

adapted from Cooking Light, September 2001

Brazilian Fish Stew

Brazilian Fish Stew

Ingredients

Marinade
⅓ c fresh lime juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ½ lbs white fish, cut into chunks
Soup base
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
3 large tomatoes, chopped
½ c chopped cilantro, divided
2 c fish stock or bottled clam juice
14.5 oz can of chicken stock
½ c light coconut milk
Few dashes of cayenne pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine the first six ingredients on a bowl (lime juice through fish). Refrigerate for 20 minutes. If using already cooked fish, marinate just the shrimp.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, both bell peppers, and garlic. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add bay leaf and tomatoes, cooking another two minutes. Add cilantro, fish stock, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, and blend until almost smooth (mixture should still be a little chunky. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender. Add coconut milk and cayenne pepper. Turn heat back up to medium-high and bring soup to a boil. Add fish/shrimp mixture to the soup, and cook until fish and shrimp are cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Remove soup from heat and serve. Garnish with remaining cilantro.
http://kokocooks.com/2013/05/brazilian-fish-stew/

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Thai Wonton Soup

Ah, I have finally emerged from my turkey coma.  I think I gained 5 pounds in the past week.  And now, all the holiday baking starts.  Heaven help me!  There are going to be so many enticing sweets hanging around the house.  Not only will I be busy with baking, but our busiest gigging season also starts up.  Now more than ever, I try to make quick and healthy dinners to get us through these busy times.

I’m a sucker for the Thai wonton soup at Pei Wei.  It’s a perfect example of a fusion dish – a traditional Chinese soup with a Thai inspired broth.  Any time I get takeout from the place, I always make sure to order this.  The wontons don’t take too long to make, and the wrappers are easy to work with.

original recipe

Thai Wonton Soup

Thai Wonton Soup

Note: I usually make a double batch of wontons and freeze half for a later use. To freeze, place freshly wrapped wontons on a lined baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer-safe container and keep frozen until ready to use.

Ingredients

Wontons
½ lb ground pork or beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green onion, white and light green parts finely chopped
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 ½ Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
¼ tsp black pepper
15-20 wonton wrappers (I used square)
Broth
2 Tbs olive oil
½ c lemongrass, sliced into rounds (3 small stalks or one large stalk)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbs ginger, roughly chopped
8 c chicken stock
1 c baby spinach, tightly packed
Garnish
Lime wedges
Thai basil

Instructions

  1. To make the wontons: In a mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, garlic, green onion, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and black pepper. Fill a small bowl with water. Place a wonton wrapper on a clean surface. Place about 2 tsp of meat mixture towards one corner of the wonton. Dip your fingertip in the bowl of water and lightly wet the edges of the square. Fold wrapper diagonally over the meat and press edges together to seal. Place wontons on a plate in a single layer.
  2. To make the soup: Heat olive oil over medium-high in a large pot. Add lemongrass, garlic, and ginger; sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Using a mesh strainer, remove the solids from the stock. Gently drop the wontons into the stock and simmer another 10 minutes. Stir occasionally (and gently). Add the spinach and simmer another 5 minutes.
  3. Carefully spoon soup into bowls. Garnish with lime and Thai basil.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/11/thai-wonton-soup/

 

 

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Chicken Soup with Rice

 

The world lost a beautiful soul in Maurice Sendak.  Terry Gross and Stephen Colbert – gave moving tributes to him.  Along with millions of people, I love Where the Wild Things Are.  I also love the sets he designed for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.

Recently, I looked up his list of works, and discovered that he wrote another favorite childhood book, Chicken Soup with Rice.  Little seven-year-old me loved reading this book countless times in the library.  They had a carpeted, claw-foot tub that I would climb into to hide away and read.  This book is simple in concept – a child recounts all the ways he enjoys chicken soup with rice throughout each month.  The rhymes and illustrations are simple.  And perfect.

original recipe

Chicken Soup with Rice

Chicken Soup with Rice

Ingredients

2 Tbs olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
8 c chicken stock
2 bone-in, skinless chicken breasts
3 c cooked rice
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring occasionally (about 1 minute.)
  2. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add chicken stock, turn heat to high, and bring to a gentle boil. Gently add the chicken breasts, meat side down. Turn heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken to a cutting board. Separate meat from the bone and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add meat back into the soup, along with the rice and parsley. Let simmer another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chopped cilantro.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/05/chicken-soup-with-rice/

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Salmon Pho


Whenever I feel a little run down, I crave pho. There’s something about the combination of noodles and that magical broth that is so comforting. There was this one time when I had a performance on a Saturday night (typical.) I had been feeling run down all day, and went to grab dinner before the concert. After eating a bowl of beef pho, I felt instantly better. Well enough to get through a playing a two hour concert.

I was happy to find a recipe that duplicates pho broth and cooks in less than an hour. I had never thought to use salmon in Vietnamese noodle soup, but I really liked the combination. If you want an extra kick, add a few squirts of sriracha to the soup.


adapted from Cuisine At Home, June 2011

Salmon Pho

Salmon Pho

Ingredients

Broth
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 c water
4 c low sodium chicken broth
3 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs plus 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
10 whole cloves
1 bunch fresh cilantro stems
2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
Soup
2 6-oz. salmon fillets
Salt and pepper
1 c sliced shitake mushroom caps
1 c matchstick carrots
¼ c thinly sliced white onion
12 oz. rice-stick noodles, cooked
Garnish
Bean sprouts
Chopped green onion, white and light green parts
Fresh mint leaves
Fresh basil leaves (Thai basil if available)
Fresh cilantro leaves
Sliced jalapeno
Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Saute onion, ginger, and garlic in the stockpot until softened, about 3 minutes. Add water, broth, fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce, cloves, cilantro stems, and five spice powder. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Using a large slotted spoon, pull solids out of the broth; discard. Turn heat back up to medium-high and bring broth back to a boil.
  2. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Thinly slice crosswise (against the grain.) Set aside.
  3. Add shitake mushroom caps, carrots, and the ¼ c of sliced onions to the broth. Divide salmon and noodles evenly into four large soup bowls. Pour into the bowl, making sure to cover the salmon. The fish will cook in the hot broth. Garnish with bean sprouts, green onion, mint, basil, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime wedges.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/05/salmon-pho/

 

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Split Pea And Ham Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons

How did February slip by so quickly? One moment I was cooking and blogging, and the next I was bombarded with gigs. I got to play two concerts with tenor Andrea Bocelli. Ever since, I slunk into a culinary funk, and hardly cooked for 3 weeks. Happily, I’ve found motivation. Maybe it was the blustery wind and rain from this weekend. The weather put me in the mood for soup, and this version of pea soup totally hit the spot. It’s not super-thick like some recipes, but hearty enough to take the chill of a cold day.

 

adapted from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen, 2012

Split Pea And Ham Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons

Split Pea And Ham Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons

Ingredients

Soup
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 lb dried, green split peas
1 ham hock
12 oz. ham steak
7 c water
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Pumpernickel Croutons
½ loaf of pumpernickel bread, cut into cubes
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Instructions

  1. For the soup: Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onion, celery and carrots, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add peas, ham hock, ham steak, water, thyme and bay leaf. Turn heat up to high and bring to a low boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 1 ½ hours. Remove ham steak from soup, and let sit for 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, dice the ham steak. Remove bay leaf and ham hock from soup and discard. Return ham to soup, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. For the croutons: Preheat oven to 400˚F. Place cubed bread in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat all pieces. Place bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and thyme. Bake until bread is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with soup.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/03/split-pea-and-ham-soup-with-pumpernickel-croutons/

 

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Tomato and Apple Soup

Mmmmm….soup. Cold weather makes me crave it, along with spicy food, freshly baked bread, and hearty stews (all of which will be posted soon.) My blogging friend Branny is holding her second Souper Bowl charity event, donating the proceeds to the ASPCA. Want to join? Make a soup, write a post about it, dedicate it to a pet, and email Branny.


I’m dedicating this post to my cat Sienna. We found out this past year that she has kidney disease. One of her kidneys doesn’t function, so we are doing what we can to keep the other one in tip-top shape. She is my couch buddy, snuggling up when I fall asleep there every night. Here she is, trying to smuggle herself to Europe in our luggage. Here’s to having her in our family another year!

by Stephani Izard
as seen in In Style, January 2012

Tomato and Apple Soup

Tomato and Apple Soup

Ingredients

2 Tbs butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
½ c tomato paste
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs sambal oelek
½ c dry white wine
28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes (with liquid)
4 c apple cider
½ c heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter over medium high heat in a large stockpot. Add onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Saute until the onions are softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Saute for another 2 minutes. Add the apples, Dijon mustard, sambal oelek, and wine. Cook until the wine is reduced by about half, 5-7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cider and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer covered for an hour. Remove pot from heat.
  4. Puree soup in batches in a blender (or in the pot with an immersion blender) until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/01/tomato-and-apple-soup/

 

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Chicken Tortilla Soup


Ah, enough of the cookies. But not to worry, there are more holiday recipes coming up. This soup is one of the dishes that got us through this busy season. I made a double batch of it at the beginning of the month, and froze it in batches. We pulled it out on the nights we didn’t have time to cook. It freezes and reheats fantastically. And it is hearty enough to keep us full on those nights we have three shows of Candlelight to get through.


adapted from An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 carrot, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp taco seasoning
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
4 cups chicken broth
1-16 oz petite diced tomatoes
1-16 oz tomato sauce
2 bone-in, skinless chicken breasts
1- 15 oz can kernel corn
6 corn tortillas, cut into pieces
Garnish
Chopped avocado
Shredded monterey jack cheese
Crispy tortilla strips

Instructions

  1. In a stock pot or large dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots and white onion, saute until onions are softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, poblano pepper, black pepper, taco seasoning, chili powder, and cumin.
  2. Stir to combine and saute another 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. Carefully slide chicken breast in, meat side down, making sure it is completely submerged. Turn heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken from the pot and set on a cutting board. Add corn and tortillas to the soup, and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. The tortillas will break down and thicken the soup. Meanwhile, remove chicken from the bone and shred. Discard bones. Return chicken to the soup. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  4. Serve with cilantro and tortilla strips.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/12/chicken-tortilla-soup/

In a stock pot or large dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots and white onion, saute until onions are softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, poblano pepper, black pepper, taco seasoning, chili powder, and cumin. Stir to combine and saute another 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. Carefully slide chicken breast in, meat side down, making sure it is completely submerged. Turn heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove chicken from the pot and set on a cutting board. Add corn and tortillas to the soup, and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. The tortillas will break down and thicken the soup. Meanwhile, remove chicken from the bone and shred. Discard bones. Return chicken to the soup. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with cilantro and tortilla strips.

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