Friday, January 11, 2008

I am not a domestic goddess

no, really, I'm not. I know, I've probably been fooling you all along. I do cook most of my own food, but I make a few very simple things over and over and over again -- probably a lot like most of you, right?

so, this year (like every year in the past 7 or 8 or 9 years), I decided to start cooking more. I want to control what I put into my body. I have some pretty inspiring friends, like Flandria! and I'm not as courageous as she is, but I do want to start cooking soup. yup! soup -- the food of gods.

years ago I'd bought a couple of soup cookbooks. and a couple of weeks ago, I actually opened them up and thought about making soup. so, with a sick friend and a sick client in mind, I embarked on my first foray into the world of soup making. you got it -- good old fashioned chicken soup.

rather than trust a good old fashioned cookbook, I got a recipe (and I use that term loosely) from my buddy, Dana. here's what she sent me via email:

  • I usually get a chicken breast or two with the bones in
  • 1 leek
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
  • carrots
  • celery
  • fresh herbs of your choice (my favorite is tarragon, but rosemary and thyme work well too)
  • chop the leek, onion and garlic and saute in a little olive oil until the onions are getting clear, then pull the skin off the chicken breasts, throw them in the pot, and cover the whole shebang with H20
  • add the herbs--I pull the tarragon leaves off the stems. If I'm using rosemary and thyme usually just throw in a couple of rosemary stalks whole and pull them out at the end. I usually pull the thyme buds off the stems first and let them stay.
  • Throw in the carrots and celery and bring to a boil, then turn down the flame and let it simmer and simmer and simmer until the chicken is falling off the bone. You may need to add water.
  • Taste it along the way and add salt and pepper as needed. voila! easy homemade chicken soup.

so, I went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. I realized I didn't really know what a leek is, but I figured it was some type of onion. I found a leek but I wasn't sure which part you used to cook.

home again, I started chopping. once I'd begun, I realized there really wasn't much detail about quantities in Dana's recipe. I'm a very literal person, so quantities are important in my life.

of course, I had a million questions! how does the chicken get cut into little pieces? how much water so I use? how much celery? how many carrots? my friend was working and couldn't access a phone, so I nervously tried to figure it out on my own.

in addition to the above, I added scallions with the onion mixture. I also added baby dutch potatoes with the veggies. and the nice butcher convinced me to use chicken thighs instead of breasts. I also added some whole wheat noodles.

it took a little longer than 15 minutes to prep, but not much, really. I set the soup to simmer, headed to the gym to run and lift, and when I returned the aroma in my condo was incredible! yum!

all in all it was pretty darn good. a bit strong in the celery taste, but I added some fresh pepper and a tiny touch of salt and it balanced out a bit.

so, I'm already thinking about my next creation. since this method of finding a recipe was so successful, why don't you share your favorite soup recipe with me? post your recipes in the comments section of the blog if you'd like to contribute to my culinary goddess training, okay?

bon appetite!


Anonymous said...

that looks delish! soup is so versatile because it can be whatever you want! measuring is not an issue because it's a personal taste thing - just be careful and put less than more (lesson learned for me)

Here is one raw living soup recipe that's a favorite: (you will need a high speed blender)

1 1/2 cups Thai coconut water (not milk)
2 cups of fresh sweet corn, cut from the cob
1/2 cup raw pine nuts
1/2 cup raw walnuts
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Nama Shoyu (raw organic soy sauce)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Blend it all up and transfer to a cooking pot. Heat the over warm only! Let it sit in the over until it is warm to the finger dip to taste. Serve warm. Raw foodist believe that heating food over 105 degrees kill the enzymes in the veggies to help digestion but to me, it's nice to have something warm to devour specially when it's cold.

velogirl said...

yay! thank you, Flandria. this looks a little intimidating to me but I'm going to try -- what the heck! I bet it's yummy.

crockoozi said...

I'm also not a domestic goddess, but I make a lot of soups, and my two favorite recipes are from Cooking Light. In fact, I have to put a plug in for CL--it's an inspiring magazine with easy, well-tested recipes.

Here's one:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
4 (2-ounce) smoked turkey and duck sausages with fennel, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (such as Gerhard's)
1 cup water
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (19-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups bagged chopped kale
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) shredded provolone cheese
6 (1-ounce) slices French bread baguette
Preheat broiler.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and sausage; sauté 1 minute. Add water, broth, and beans; bring to a boil. Stir in kale, black pepper, red pepper, and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice.

While soup simmers, sprinkle 1 tablespoon cheese over each bread slice; broil 1 minute or until cheese melts. Serve toasts with soup.

6 servings (serving size: 1 cup stew and 1 toast)
Nutritional Information

CALORIES 349(26% from fat); FAT 10.2g (sat 3.6g,mono 1.7g,poly 2.7g); PROTEIN 19.3g; CHOLESTEROL 39mg; CALCIUM 214mg; SODIUM 981mg; FIBER 8.5g; IRON 4.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45.3g

velogirl said...

ooh, Katie! thank you so much. you know, one of the things that is missing from most recipes is nutrient/caloric information. since I'm back in weight-loss mode and journalling everything that goes into my mouth I really need that, so thank you for including the caloric information as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to try all of these.

Lorri Lee, what about the milk frother review?!

chatterbox said...

fun, fun! I sometimes like to make my chicken soup more zippy with some curry powder. Select whatever level of spiciness you prefer!

velogirl said...

great suggestion, chatty! I like zippy -- the spicier the better -- probably because I dulled my tastebuds from all those years of smoking.

chatterbox said...

If you like extra-zippy, go with vindaloo curry. If you only want zippy, go with rogan josh. We buy curries and lots of other stuff from Penzey's spices. Yum!

marscat said...

okay looks prob with noodles in soup is they get mushy and i don't like mushy..

Lentil soup with an Indian twist

Red Lentil (about 3/4 cup)
Brown Lentils (about 3/4 cup)
3 celery
3 carots
1/2 head cauliflower broken up
1 spinach bunch
chopped onion
capers (usually half a cup)(w/o salty liquid)
1/4 cup olive oil
I carton of veggie stock (or chicken)

Seasoning: ( i get from Berkeley Bowl in the bulk section)

Tumeric: not a lot maybe a teaspoon
coriander: about two-three tablespoons
madras curry powder -- enuff to make it hot 3-4

(spices are by taste -- i like a lot)

rinse lentils, put them in a large soup pot, pour in stock, put in all chopped veggies, except for spinach (put in last on top), add olive oil, capers and seasoning.

If there's not enuf liquid to cover and for simmering top off with water.

add spinach on top and let wilt.

cook till veggies and lentils are soft...

velogirl said...

marscat, that looks yummy. well, except for the cauliflauer (sp?) which I hate because it tastes like farts. but I could always leave that out.

my noodles didn't get smooshy. I cooked them separately and left them pretty al dente, then put them in with the soup for another 5 minutes or so. I just had leftovers for lunch and they were still pretty firm.

thank you so much for the recipe!

Jackie said...

O.K., I am about to tackle buying ingredients at a health food store in Paris. Bouillon de poulet (I do not start from scratch), - the vegetables I can just pick up - and the French bread, too. Salad. Maybe I will document this undertaking on my blog. Stay tuned.

velogirl said...

Jackie, you know what's fun about using chicken (from scratch) instead of bullion? because you cook it just a bit longer, your entire house will smell sooooo good!

marscat said...

forgot to add brocoli...

Velo Bella said...

Here is how i make soup, you can call it Pantry soup if you want:

Open up pantry and pull out all items in danger of spoiling (usually this means potatoes, onions, etc), pull out a few cans of beans or maybe some pasta or whatever's been sorta sitting in the pantry for awhile, open refrigerator and pull out all veggies in danger of spoiling. Look at whats assembled and figure out the herbs you want to add. Put in pot with stock of your choice and cook. Yummy!

I also cheat and buy those soups that come in those soymilk like packages. They are excellent and low calories (usually about 90/serving). And I will add just a few items. Like with the Tomato and Roasted Pepper soup, I grill up and chop up some chicken sausage (only 160 calories each!)Totally satisfying and super easy.

lauren said...


they all sound good.

am i breaking the rules for posting a comment without posting a recipe?

i don't think i've made homemade sopu ever, in my entire life.

velogirl said...

VB, pantry soup would imply I actually have food stored somewhere in my house!!! seriously though, I'm learning that soup can be whatever you want it to be......yum!

Lauren, someday I'll come over and we can go for a ride and make soup together -- wouldn't that be fun?

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Butternut squash or pumpkin! Roast some butternut squash (2 small or 1 large) or 1 medium pumpkin (I'm sure you could use puree but I never have) and 3 apples (pretty much any kind but red delicious).

While they cook, cook some leeks in butter to caramelize them. When the pumpkins/apples are done, core/seed/peel them and blend (I like a stick blender but a food processor is fine, too) with the leeks, some chicken or veggie stock, salt to taste and a little sweetish white wine. I like to leave a few chunks in mine & reserve a few leeks to add after it's all blended so that there's some texture.

This is a good one to play around with, especially as you get to know your spices. I like nutmeg & chile flakes or chili powder. I'm sure a pinch of curry would go great, too. As you can tell, it is a very "to taste" recipe, so just play around & get your feet under you. It's really hard to screw this one up.

(If you can't tell, I'm one of those people who works by feel in the kitchen...)

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Oh, and FYI since it's really simple and there's very little fat I find that the "vegetable soup from recipe" entry on fitday matches my approximations pretty well.

velogirl said...

Panda, thank you! I've been very interested in a squash or pumpkin soup but was worried a creamy soup would be too "fat."

I'm making a new one today -- green bean & tomato. we'll see how it turns out. I made the chicken veggie soup again on Tuesday and I've got a ton of leftovers in the freezer for a rainy day.

I love soup!