Thai Carrot Soup

Simple carrot soup is elevated with the addition of Thai flavors, turning an everyday vegetable into something rather special in this Thai Carrot Soup.

Healthy Carrot Soup
I’m sweating as I shuttle food styling materials from kitchen to photo studio (AKA The backyard shed). “Soup Weather” in Southern California has morphed into sun-drenched 72 degree days. So much for those hearty soups I’ve been stirring up the past two weeks. This weather requires lighter fare for these temperate days. This mouthwatering Thai carrot soup laced with creamy coconut milk and piquant red curry is just what the Channel 7 weatherman ordered.


Thai Carrot Soup

Simple carrot soup is elevated with the addition of Thai flavors, turning an everyday vegetable into something rather special.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. carrots, sliced into coins
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 4 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • sliced green onions, cilantro sprigs, or sriracha (optional, for garnish)

Directions

  1. In a soup pot or Dutch oven, sauté carrots and onions in oil until onions have softened. Add broth, red curry paste, brown sugar and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until carrots are fully cooked.
  2. Remove from heat, add coconut milk and cilantro. Using a blender, blend soup in batches until smooth. Return to pot; season to taste with salt and white pepper. Garnish bowls with green onions, cilantro sprigs or sriracha.

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Curried Lentil and Chard Soup

Indian Lentil Soup
In a tradition dating back to Roman times, some Italians eat a bowl of lentils on January 1 to ensure their wealth, luck and prosperity throughout the New Year because the flat legumes are believed to resemble coins.

My severance pay is coming to an end in a handful of weeks, which means I need to either hope for some of that luck and prosperity or, sadly, start looking for a new job. I’m not sure I’m ready to head back to corporate life. Although on some quiet days I’ve been bored, I’ve relished these six months of keeping my own schedule (which means staying up until 4 a.m. and sleeping until noon), working on projects (with a dozen more on my ‘to do’ list), being a tourist in my own town (museums, hiking and beach time), and having ample time to play in the kitchen. A two-day weekend doesn’t provide near the same freedom (or time!).

Ugh, well, if needs must, but perhaps I’ll start the job search next week. Today, I’ll go the easier route and test the Italian method while I update my resume. And while the tradition may be Italian, I realize this recipe is decidedly not.


Curried Lentil and Chard Soup

  • Servings: 6 entrée size servings
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A hearty soup chock full of lentils, sausage and healthy chard.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. hot Italian sausage (you can also use mild if you’re not a fan of heat)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ¼ cup dried lentils
  • 5 cups chicken stock*
  • 3 big handfuls roughly chopped chard leaves, stems reserved for another use
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Greek yogurt (for garnish)

Directions

  1. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, sauté sausage in oil until just beginning to brown. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté until onions soften and become translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bay leaves, curry powder, and cumin and sauté briefly. Stir in lentils. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Add chard and continue simmering about 5 minutes until chard is bright green and tender. Add cilantro and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve bowls of soup garnished with big dollops of Greek yogurt.

* I use 4 cups of stock (1 container) and 1 cup water rather than open a second container of stock and have leftovers.

Greek Chicken and Lemon Soup with Farro

hearty avgolemono soup
January is National Soup Month and I’m in the thick of it. I’ve managed to cook (and eat!) Four pots full of soup in two weeks. In the recipe below, I’ve taken one of my favorite soup flavors, lemony Greek avgolemono, and turned it into hearty winter fare with the addition of chewy farro, healthy zucchini, and shredded chicken. The only words out of my mouth while I was enjoying a big o’ bowl were, “god, that’s good!”


Greek Chicken and Lemon Soup with Farro

  • Servings: 6 main course servings
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What a way to brighten up a gloomy winter with this satisfying version of lemony avgolemono soup.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking farro (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 T. lemon zest
  • Salt and white pepper

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven or soup pot, sauté zucchini in olive oil until softened. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add farro and sauté 1-2 minutes. Add stock, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes until farro is tender. Add chicken to pot and heat through. Remove soup from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place the eggs in a small bowl, Whisk the eggs while adding the lemon juice. Whisk in the Parmesan cheese, parsley and lemon zest. Whisking continuously, slowly pour a ladleful of the hot stock into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Then, while whisking the soup in the pot, slowly pour in the egg mixture. The soup will slightly thicken. Season with salt and white pepper.

Spanish Chorizo and Kale Soup

a bowl of Spanish Chorizo and Kale Soup
Oh yum! This zesty soup is a riff off last Monday’s Brussels sprout recipe, but with a spicy, smoky Spanish twist thanks to chorizo and smoked paprika. Loads of dark green kale pack this flavorful soup with plenty of healthy goodness. Pardon my slurping.


Spanish Chorizo and Kale Soup

  • Servings: 8 first course, or 6 main course
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A hearty and zesty main-course soup to keep you warm on chilly winter nights.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Spanish chorizo sliced 1/4″ thick (not Mexican chorizo)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz. can unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 medium potatoes (10-12 oz. total), peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lb. Tuscan (Lacinato) kale, tough stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ cup creme fraiche, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté chorizo until beginning to brown. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat.. Add onions to pot with chorizo and sauté until onions soften and begin to color. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds until just fragrant. Add tomatoes, potatoes and carrots, bay leaves, red pepper and smoked paprika. Sauté 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add broth, bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits, then lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in kale and continue simmering until kale softens and potatoes can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove bay leaves, add vinegar and season to taste with salt. Garnish with creme fraiche and parsley before serving.

Winter Wonton Soup

A bowl of Turkey Wonton Soup

I adore dumplings – making them and eating them. Especially Asian dumplings. Especially when they’re wontons floating in a big bowl of brothy soup like this recipe below. Mmm…

While making this soup, my Italian pasta training must have kicked in – rather than looking like Asian dumplings, mine were reminiscent of fat tortellini. Even so, there’s nothing so satisfying as biting into a plump, juicy dumpling.


Winter Wonton Soup

Adapted from Cooking Light. I store leftover soup in the fridge and the dumplings in the freezer. Whenever I want a bowl, I heat the soup in a small saucepan, add a handful of frozen dumplings and simmer until dumplings are wrinkly and cooked through.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 8 green onions, sliced and divided
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced and divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 Tablespoon minced jalapeno
  • 7 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems reserved, caps thinly sliced
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar, divided
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 package round wonton wrappers (or square if your store doesn’t carry round)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup diagonally cut sugar snap peas
  • 2 bok choy, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce

Directions

  1. Heat sesame oil in a soup pot or large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add three-quarters of the green onions, 1 Tablespoon ginger, 1 Tablespoon garlic, and jalapeno. Saute for about 4 minutes or until onions have wilted. Place onion mixture in a medium bowl.
  2. Add mushroom stems, stock, 2 Tablespoons of vinegar, star anise, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, remaining garlic and ginger to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain stock over a bowl. Discard solids. Return stock to pot over low heat.
  3. Add remaining salt, turkey, and egg to onion mixture, stir until well combined. Working with 4-6 wonton wrappers at a time (cover remaining to keep them from drying out), spoon about 2 teaspoons of turkey mixture into the center of each wrapper. Moisten edges with water and fold over “omelet style” ensuring edges are sealed well (If using square wrappers, you can fold over into a triangle).
  4. Add carrot to stock and simmer 4 minutes. Add mushroom caps, peas, bok choy, and dumplings and cook for another 8 minutes. Season with remaining one tablespoon of vinegar and soy sauce. Sprinkle with remaining one-quarter of green onions. [Note: if you aren’t going to enjoy all the soup the first night, please see my note above about keeping soup and wontons separate, ensuring wontons stay plump.]