stew

Winter Veggie Stew

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Apologies for the absence- a couple things have happened in the past month or so, including a wedding (yes, ours) and a honeymoon (also ours!). We are back to cooking and today we are pining for the long, lost seasons! In California everyone raves about the weather, but we miss having actual weather- and four, distinct seasons!

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Because the rest of the country is still sort of experiencing what some might call “winter,” we decided to make a stew with a few seasonal, winter veggies. To be fair, calling this a stew is a bit generous. It’s a fairly thin soup that isn’t chunky. However, it has all of the super comforting and cozy makings of a good stew, so we’re going with it!

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This recipe was inspired by a NYT recipe, you can find that here. I do love the NYT cooking section, however I often find their vagueness disconcerting. They leave much of the decision-making up to the reader, which is fine for experienced cooks who know all of their favorite flavors and combos, but not really useful for your average person who just wants to follow a recipe and get a tasty meal out of it.

We developed our own version that changes up the ratios to make this soup not only heartier and healthier, but also less wasteful. One notable thing we southerners tend to do is try to use every part of the veggies we are cooking with. That’s what we did here. No discarding of vitamin-rich greens, and very little peeling. (It also happens to be less work- yay!)

One caveat for this recipe- you will need a blender or food processor. You will also want some string for your bouquet garni. (Don’t be offput by the fanciful French. It’s just a bunch of yummy herbs for a “broth” base).

Winter Veggie Stew

8 servings (2 cups, 120 calories each!)

Ingredients

for the bouquet garni
3 bay leaves
2 tarragon stalks
4 sage stalks
3 thyme stalks
3 rosemary stalks
2 parsley bunches

4 carrots
2 celery stalks
3 leeks
3 garlic cloves
2 turnips
1 lb russet potatoes [yes, it’s possible you’ll only need one, giant potato for this!]

salt and pepper
1/4 cup crème fraîche + more to top [if you want to keep it vegan, skip the crème fraîche!]

optional to top
french bread
parmesan cheese

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Begin by creating your bouquet garni. Wash all the herbs and stack them in a giant pile. I recommend placing the bay leaves in the center to keep them from falling out. Tie them together with string like this:

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Place your bouquet garni in about 6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) of water. You will want the largest pot you have for this!

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Next, prepare your veggies. This is the most time intensive process of the entire meal, and it’s a great opportunity to get your family in the kitchen to help out! You need to: wash, peel, and dice the carrots; wash and dice the celery (please include the leaves, no need to waste them!); wash and clean the leeks, slicing all but the yellow portions on the innermost layers; mince the garlic; clean, peel, and dice the turnips; clean and dice the potatoes (or potato).

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After your veggies are prepped, you’re ready to begin the super easy cooking process!

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Throw all of the veggies into the pot of water along with 4 teaspoons salt and 4 teaspoons pepper. You’re making about 16 cups of soup, so don’t worry if this sounds like a ton of spice. Simmer all of this for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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After your soup is done with its initial cooking, carefully remove and discard your bouquet, I recommend even counting the bay leaves to ensure none of them escaped during cooking!

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In batches, blend your soup to a thick, but creamy consistency.

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Place it all back into the pot, and add in 1/4 cup of crème fraîche. If you are vegan, you can skip this part!

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Serve topped with parmesan, additional crème fraîche, or even some french bread!

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Enjoy!

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P.S. You can freeze this soup and it gets even better when you reheat it! Great for meal-preppers, who like to have go-to healthy meals in the freezer for a quick dinner on a busy weeknight!

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Smashed Potato Soup

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Whenever I want a hearty, vegetarian-friendly soup I go to this potato soup. Recently, I spruced it up a bit to make it more flavorful and easier to actually make.

Many potato soup recipes call for a blender or food processor. I have several issues with this. First, on a really basic level it concerns me to put boiling liquids into any machine that will spin them around at high speeds. It just doesn’t seem super safe. Second, I will be honest with y’all, it’s just too much effort. I have to get the cuisine art out of the top shelf, which requires William’s help because I can’t even reach it, I have to put the thing together, then I have to take the soup in batches and process it, probably burning myself in the process and accruing double the dishwashing duty I had originally planned for. Just…no. Finally, I really like preserving the natural texture of mashed potatoes. I think they are delicious, and in soup form with cheese, fake bacon, and all sorts of other things on top– I mean, it’s amazing.

Really, that’s why I’m calling this “smashed potato soup”. It’s probably the weirdest thing about the recipe, but you do have to spend some time smashing the potatoes against the side of the pot. However, it gives you complete control over the texture of your soup and it means no messy/dangerous boiling-liquids-in-the-food-processor situations! 🙂

smashed potato soup

Smashed Potato Soup
makes about 6 servings (assuming 2 cups per person)

Ingredients
3 tablespoons salted butter
2 large shallots, minced
1 head of garlic (peeled, whole)*

3 lbs yellow potatoes, diced
2 large leeks cleaned and cut

5 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon herbs d’Provence
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, rinsed and chopped
1/3 cup sour cream

optional toppings
cheddar cheese
fake bacon
sour cream
chives

*You can slice off the end and it makes the entire clove much easier to peel.

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Melt the butter in the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat. Add in the minced shallots and the garlic head. The garlic should be peeled, but does not need to be chopped as it will naturally dissolve into the soup! Let this simmer for a few minutes, until the onions and garlic become browned and fragrant.

Add in the diced potatoes, leeks (chopped and cleaned), and vegetable broth. Simmer for twenty minutes.

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Add in the bay leaves, salt, pepper, and other herbs. Let simmer for another twenty to thirty minutes. Continually stir the mixture, checking on the doneness of the potatoes. Depending on what type of soup you want (brothier vs creamier), you can let the soup simmer for less time or more! The longer it simmers the more smashed the potatoes will be, and the creamier the soup will be.

Once they become soft enough to smash, use a large spoon to slowly smash them against the side of the pot. The soup will slowly become thicker. The thickness is totally up to you! If you would like to completely process the soup in a food processor, you can, but I prefer the hand method so I can get the exact thickness and potato chunks that I want!

Peel the carrots. Chop the carrots and celery. Add these into the soup and cook for another 10 minutes. Continue stirring and smashing the potatoes.

Add in the sour cream and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

After this, your soup is ready to serve with any and all desired toppings!

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Enjoy!

Cinco De Mayo Vegetarian Black Bean Stew

black bean stewIt’s the 5th of May! It’s time to celebrate the fight for freedom and democracy, and all things Latin American!

Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t be teaching a history lesson on Cinco de Mayo, but I definitely have a few great recipes that are cucina Mexicana inspired for this week! This one, for black bean stew, uses adobo sauce, which you may not have ever used before but you can usually find it in the ethnic foods aisle of the grocery store. It is a traditional Mexican sauce that can be used as a marinade or condiment. You can make your own if you’d like (all the ingredients are fairly basic: garlic, vinegar, chiles), but I always just purchase it.

This stew is similar to a chili, and even though it is meatless I promise it is super filling! Also, this recipe is very low in fat and cholesterol. If you can’t handle that though, I recommend chorizo or andouille sausage as a topping.

That’s the other thing about this dish: the toppings!

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There are so many options, this is such a great dish for groups because everyone can personalize it. A few of the toppings we used were: sour cream, Mexican cheeses, sausage, fritos, avocado, lime, and cilantro. Obviously, all of these things aren’t necessary, but I include them as optional on the ingredient list and I definitely recommend all of them if you’re making this for a dinner party or for kids! Also, this is a one-pot dish, so it is easy to clean up!

Cinco De Mayo Vegetarian Black Bean Stew
Adapted from Healthy Eating magazine
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 cup of diced carrot
1 cup of salsa
1 15oz can of black beans
1 15oz can of refried beans (this will make the stew really thick and yummy)
2 cups of chicken stock (as always, I substitute vegetable stock and would actually recommend it)
2 tbs adobo sauce
kosher salt to taste

Optional Topping Ideas: fritos, Mexican cheese blend, sour cream, andouille sausage, chorizo, avocado, lime, cilantro

black bean stewIn a large pot sauté the garlic, onion, and carrot until they are almost tender (about 6 minutes). Add in the salsa, black beans, refried beans, and stock. Season with the adobo sauce and salt to taste.

black bean stewCover the pot halfway with a lid and simmer the soup over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Everything will begin to break down and thicken, and once all of the vegetables become tender the soup is ready to eat! This should really only take about 10 or 15 minutes!

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Add toppings of your choice and enjoy!

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Shakshuka: Tunisian Tomato Stew

 

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Adapted from the amazing, Smitten Kitchen, this recipe is one of the staples of my diet these days. It is hearty, vegetarian, and features poached eggs in tomato sauce. Growing up, I never once ate spaghetti without a boiled egg in tomato sauce. As my Granddaddy always says, “these boiled eggs are a Sicilian tradition.” Believe me, they’re the best thing that ever happened to pasta. But we’ll save that recipe for later!

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As for shakshuka, I’ve read that the dish is traditionally Tunisian, but it’s eaten in many parts of the world now. It’s best with fresh pita bread. This recipe can be easily frozen and saved for later, which makes it great to have in the wintertime. I like my food pretty spicy, so if you don’t love some heat on your palate, just decrease the jalapeño count!

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Shakshuka

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

4 Servings (though I recommend doubling up and freezing as much as you can!)

1/4 cup olive oil
5 jalapeños, seeded and minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika (this is a great place to break out the nice Hungarian variety)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained (I recommend San Marzano)
Kosher salt, to taste
4-6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

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Heat oil in a large skillet or saucier (make sure you have a lid for this pan!) over medium-high heat. Add jalapeños and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes.

Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

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Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 7 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk.

Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

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Enjoy!