Hearty vegetable soup
By Zester Daily Staff
On dark, cold nights, nothing is more comforting than a warm kitchen filled with the wonderful aromas of food being prepared. Garlic and mushrooms sautéing in olive oil. Pear tarts coming out of the oven, their sweetness bubbling and reaching out to us to have a slice after dinner. And there are the soups.
As the temperature drops outdoors, we hunger to raise our internal temperature.
Staring out the window at blustery, darkening skies and steady downpours, we feel we are well protected with a hot bowl of soup in hand. Matzo ball soup, split pea with ham, French onion soup with a fat topping of toasted bread and melted cheese, mushroom-barley soup, lentil soup with browned disks of Italian sausage, oxtail soup with crispy croutons -- everyone has a favorite soup they long for when they feel tired, cold and moody.
From Zester Daily contributor David Latt
To prepare an easy-to-make vegetarian soup, just sauté carrots, onions, garlic and parsley in olive oil and then simmer them in a vegetable stock. Add whatever favorites are seasonally available -- corn, potatoes, broccoli, beans, zucchini, kale, turnips, mushrooms -- and the result is a soup that is warm, comforting and deeply satisfying.
A cook's tip: The soup freezes well for up to a month. That way if you come home tired and hungry, you are only a microwave moment away from a nutritious bowl of soup.
2 large carrots, washed, ends trimmed, peeled, peels reserved
1 medium onion, ends and outer skin removed, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
2 cups Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped, stems reserved
2 ears corn, husks and silks discarded, washed, kernels removed
6 cups spinach, root ends removed, thoroughly washed, stems removed and reserved, leaves roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet butter
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1. Roughly chop the reserved carrot peelings and parsley and spinach stems. Add to a large pot with 8 cups water. Boil on a high flame 30 minutes. Pass the liquid and vegetables through a food mill. Extract as much pulp as possible and add to the broth. Should make 5 to 6 cups.
2. While the vegetable stock simmers, sauté the chopped carrots, onion, garlic, parsley and corn kernels in olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the vegetable stock and simmer on a medium-high flame for 20-25 minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach and butter and simmer another 5 minutes.
4. Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper. Serve hot. Can be topped with croutons.
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From Zester Daily contributor Elaine Corn
Cold nights just call out for a hot pozole. There are as many versions of this soup-that's-almost-a-stew as there are places that make it their own and the people who love it.
Some recipes are convoluted, some grossly inauthentic, others blah. A good red pozole as opposed to a green version popular along Mexico's Chihuahuan border, has pork cooked to a shreddable state, a background soup that's medium-spicy and not too thick, and hominy.
Pozole is so ancient it uses the Aztec chemistry that figured out slaked lime freed up B vitamins in corn while puffing it into nixtamal -- hominy. The soup probably originated in and around the Mexican states of Jalisco and/or Guerrero. But pozole might as well be the state soup of New Mexico, too, where it's typically super-spicy.
Serves 6 with leftovers
For the red chile base:
8-ounce package dried New Mexico chile pods
8-ounce package dried guajillo chile pods
1 tablespoon pure dried chile powder
1 white onion, coarsely chopped
8 whole, peeled cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1. De-stem chile pods and shake out as many seeds as you can. Place pods in a pot. Add water just to cover. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking water.
2. Place chiles, chile powder, onion, garlic and salt in a blender. Add about 1 cup cooking water. Puree to a paste the consistency of bean dip, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen mixture.
Makes about 3½ cups. Leftover chile base can be turned into enchilada sauce by adding water.
For the soup base:
2½ pounds pork shoulder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pork neck bones, about ¾-pound
1 white onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups prepared red chile base
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
1 whole jalapeño
16-ounce container chicken stock
Black pepper plus 1 teaspoon additional salt
2 29-ounce cans Mexican-style hominy
1. Cut the pork into 3-inch cubes, trimming some, but not all, of the fat.
2. Heat oil in a heavy large pot. Add neck bones and pork pieces, salting lightly, and continuing to brown on all sides, keeping heat medium-high, about 10 to 15 minutes. With tongs, remove bones and pork to a bowl.
3. In the pot's drippings, saute onion and garlic over medium-high heat until lightly browned and the pot goes nearly dry. Return meat, bones and collected juices back to the pot. Add water just to cover meat by 1 inch. With heat medium-high, bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, about 40 minutes, skimming well of all scum that comes to the surface.
4. Add red chile paste, cumin, oregano (rubbing it through the palms of your hands), whole jalapeño, chicken stock and a few twists of black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 1½ to 2 hours, stirring now and then.
5. Remove meat; cool, shred coarsely and return to the pot. Add additional salt.
6. About an hour before serving, pour contents of hominy cans into a strainer. Rinse several times with running water. Add hominy to pozole, stirring well. If soup seems too thick, thin with a cup, or so, of water. Reheat to a simmer.
7. Ladle pozole into big bowls for each guest. At the table, pass the garnishes.
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Japanese Ozoni Soup
From Zester Daily contributor Mackie Jimbo
In Kyushu province, ozoni is very hearty and filled with lots of Japanese vegetables. Big chunks of daikon, Japanese radishes, and sato imo, small starchy Japanese potatoes, add rusticity to the soup. Gobo, a long, twig-like root vegetable, gives a pleasantly earthy and nutty flavor, despite its unappetizing appearance.
One of the best components of the soup is the broth itself, which is traditionally made with Dashi no moto, a soup stock base of dried bonito fish flakes and kelp. Soothing, soulful and satisfying, the broth tastes like New Year's Day and gives the diner the strength and serenity to face another year.
5 cups dashi no moto stock
1 bone-in skinless chicken breast
1 2-inch daikon radish, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 or 3 small sato imo, washed, peeled and sliced into quarters
5 to 8 dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced, stems removed
1 2-inch gobo, washed and shaved (use a small knife to whittle off small, thin shavings)
4 or 5 medium Napa cabbage leaves, washed and coarsely chopped (divide into leafy parts and white stem parts)
4 fresh mochi rice cakes
All of these ingredients can be found at a Japanese or Asian supermarket.
1. Prepare 5 cups of dashi no moto stock according to package instructions. My mom uses Hime brand dashi no moto, which uses 3 cups of water and 1 bag of dashi.
2. Bring the stock to a boil. Add the chicken breast and cook until the meat falls off the bone. Remove the chicken breast and let it cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken and set aside.
3. Keep stock at a rapid simmer. Skim froth from the top of the broth.
4. Add the daikon, carrots, shitake mushrooms and sato imo to the broth. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the daikon looks opaque, about 4 to 5 minutes.
5. Add the gobo, mochi, and the napa stems (white parts) to the broth. When the mochi float to the top, they are ready. Add the napa leaves at last minute and cook until wilted.
6. Add shoyu and salt to taste.
7. Serve the soup, along with one mochi, in each bowl.
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