Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category


It is blazing hot here in D.C. and a cold bowl of gazpacho soup is the perfect thing to eat. Especially when you have a new Cuisinart Food Processor!  This recipe is my mother-in-law’s and it is the best gazpacho recipe- ever. It’s flavorful, chunky and so thick that you can stand a piece of bread up in it. Just the way I like it! As soon as I got the food processor home and unpacked, this is one of the first things I wanted to make! MUCH easier than chopping all the ingredients by hand and less messy than making it in a blender.  

6 tomatoes
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium red onion
1 medium green pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp vinegar (red wine or sherry)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
pinch of sugar
2 slices day old bread (country white or Italian chopped in cubes) (optional)
1 cup water or 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
Hot sauce (to taste) 
Plunge tomatoes into a big pot of boiling water for 30 seconds (this makes it easier to peel). Remove from water, peel and chop. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Serve with fresh basil leaves.  Simple as that! This soup tastes even better the next day, after being refrigerated for awhile. It may become too thick, and if so, you can add more water or the tomato juice to reach your desired consistency (we like ours pretty chunky).

And a picture of Tony in our Garden for good measure!


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Mixed Mushroom Soup

Trick or Treat! 

To kick off the start of Fall (a.k.a. soup season!) I made this amazing and hearty mushroom soup this past Halloween weekend.  I will treat you to the recipe at the end. But first, in the spirit of Halloween, a few tricks and treats from this past weekend: 

Friday night we went to an event at the National Zoo.

…where we enjoyed treats provided by Magic Hat Brewing Co.


… and Tony tried to trick some of the residents of the gorilla house.


On Saturday, I was reminded what a treat it is to live in D.C. where the National Mall is only a short metro, cab, bus, car ride away. Apparently everyone in D.C. had the same idea, so after considerable effort getting there, we reached the Mall to attend this:  

The Mall was packed with people dressed up in costumes and carrying all types of signs. 

It was so crowded, we couldn’t see or hear anything. The trick was to remember to record the event before we left the house and then watch it later from the warm comfort of our couch! 

Sunday was Halloween and while some of us wanted to go out and get some treats with the other kids….    

We told him he wasn’t going to trick anyone with that tail sticking out!

So we stayed in and enjoyed this delicious treat instead:  

Mixed Mushroom Soup

adapted from Whole Living

Serves 4 (about 7 cups)


  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced and rinsed
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms (white button, cremini, oyster, and shiitake), rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (we didn’t have any, so I omitted)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained (I used two cans)
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine (optional) (I omitted)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth


Soak porcini in 1 cup warm water until softened, about 20 minutes. Lift porcini from liquid and coarsely chop; strain liquid through a colander or cheesecloth-lined sieve and reserve.

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium. Add leeks; season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, porcini, and chopped mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 7 minutes or until mushrooms just begin to brown. Add fennel seeds, bay leaves, tomato paste, and tomatoes, and cook for 3 minutes. Add marsala (if using), porcini liquid, and broth. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Discard bay leaves before serving. Serve with a grating of pecorino or parmesan cheese.  We had this with grilled swiss cheese sandwiches on rye bread. Perfect combo!

Taking a picture of a steaming bowl of soup is quite tricky!

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Italian Wedding Soup

I hosted our book club meeting this month for which we read Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert. We previously read Eat, Pray, Love by the same author, which (most) of us really liked. So we were all excited to read her new book. It was a very different book, but I liked it all the same. It wasn’t as entertaining as Eat, Pray, Love, but it was just as thought provoking.  Definitely a hot topic of conversation for a group of 30 year old women!

What better dish to accompany our discussion than Italian WEDDING Soup!?!  I made it vegetarian-style, of course (I don’t think anyone missed those little meatballs anyway : )  I was  surprised to learn that the term “wedding soup” is actually a mistranslation of the Italian phrase, minestra maritata (“married soup”), which is a reference to the combination of green vegetables and meat.  I was also surprised to see how many variations there were to what I thought was a classic, straight-forward recipe.  I suppose all the same could be said about marriage itself. Marriage is simple word with deep meaning. It’s a word in everyone’s vocabulary,  whether married or not.  However once you begin to look closely at individual marriages you realize that what goes into them-  everyone’s own “recipe,” if you will-  is different and unique, for better or for worse. One woman’s ditalini pasta is another woman’s orzo, or so it goes.  I suppose I could go a step further and make a comparison between the right to make a vegetarian version of the soup and the right to gay marriage- but I think I’ve already stretched my analogies in this post beyond the scope of a food blog for one day… What we were talking about? Oh, soup…

Italian Wedding Soup (Vegetarian)


  • 4 carrots (peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 Tb. oregano (dried)
  • 1 Tb. basil (dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups Kale and/or Spinach (trimmed and chopped)
  • 1.5 cups pasta (ditalini or other small shape)
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tb. lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic and onion and saute  for 4 minutes. Stir in carrots, celery and herbs. Saute for another 5 minutes, until soft. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 5 minutes, until pasta is a dente. Add kale and/or spinach and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and stir. Next, in a small bowl, lightly beat the egg and then mix in the parmesan cheese. Finally, slowing stirring the soup in a circular motion, add the egg/cheese mixture to the pot, continuing to stir until egg is cooked, about 2 minutes [while the addition of the egg can definitely be omitted, I found it added a really interesting flavor to the soup].

I served the soup with Grilled Cheddar Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches pressed on the Cuisinart Griddler and a simple green salad. Perfect combination for a cold winter night and good conversation!

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I love St. Patrick’s Day! It marks the beginning of spring and is really just a silly holiday centered around food, beer and the color green! What’s not to love? We celebrated early this year and had St. Patrick’s Day family dinner on Sunday. I am not a traditional corned beef-and-cabbage kind of girl, so dinner was another test of my culinary comprising skills! We had Irish Soda Bread, Irish Potato Soup (with corned beef) and Spring GREEN Risotto. An enjoyable feast for the meat lovers and non-meat lovers alike (I spooned out some soup before adding the corned beef)!


Irish Soda Bread

Bon Appétit, October 2002



  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups raisins
  • 3 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an ovenproof 10- to 12-inch-diameter skillet with 2- to 2 1/2-inch-high sides (or cake pan, which is what I used). Whisk the first five ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the butter, using your fingertips, rubbing in until it forms coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds. Whisk the buttermilk and egg in a medium bowl to blend. Then add the wet mixture to dough. Using a wooden spoon, stir just until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky!).

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Smooth the top, mounding slightly in the center. Use a small sharp knife dipped into flour to cut a 1-inch-deep X in the top center of dough. Bake until the bread is cooked through and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Irish Potato Soup
adapted from The Daily Green


  • 4 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup corned beef, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
  • 112-ounce bottle Pale Ale


In a large saucepan sauté onion, leeks and celery in butter, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add flour and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Then slowly add milk, and the mixture will start to thicken. Add the potatoes and half of the beer and bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir regularly to avoid scorching, and add milk as needed if soup is too thick. Add caraway, sour cream and ¾ cup of the cheddar cheese. Wisk until cheese melts and sour cream is incorporated. Add corned beef. Top with chopped parsley and remaining shredded cheddar. Serves 4-6.

Spring Green Risotto

adapted from 2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
  • 1 cup chopped fennel
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups simmering chicken broth
  • 1 pound thin asparagus
  • 10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving


Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken broth, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water (this step is easier if done right before you begin).

When the risotto has been cooking for about 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding broth, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.

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Kale and White Bean Stew

adapted from Bon Appétit, February 2009


I discovered another great way to use Kale! This soup/stew was very good- even though the preparation of the Kale was a bit involved. However, given the simplicity of the rest of the recipe it is worth it! A great alternative to a tomato-based soup (which is what I usually make!). It is even better the next day!


1 1/2 pounds kale leaves, center ribs and stems removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
1 cup chopped celery (I omitted)
1 cup chopped shallots (about 4)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth (I used about 6 cups)
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon Sherry wine vinegar
2 tablespoons assorted chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme, rosemary and sage)
1 rind of Parmesan cheese (I added this for flavor!)


Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain. Squeeze out excess water. Coarsely chop kale.

Heat olive oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add chopped carrots, celery, shallots, and garlic; cook until soft, stirring, about 15 minutes (do not brown vegetables). Add white wine and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, about 7 minutes. Add white beans, 4 cups broth, thyme sprigs and parm rind and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes. Add kale and simmer 5 minutes longer. Remove thyme sprigs. Add more broth by 1/2 cupfuls to thin stew, if desired. Mix in Sherry wine vinegar and chopped fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

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This is definitely my favorite soup to make in the winter. It’s the ultimate warm-you-up-on-a-cold-night soup. I’ve made it a number of times, originally following Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe from her Family Dinners cookbook to the letter. However, after a few times, I’ve since added my own variations (mostly for time saving purposes). I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same way twice. That being said, it is my go-to soup for a cold winter night when I have the time to invest in all the chopping and simmering. Definitely worth the effort, but probably best made as a Sunday night dinner. And that means you get to eat leftovers for lunch all week!


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 small zucchini, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound swiss chard (I used kale), coarsely chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 14.5 oz. can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary and/or thyme leaves
6 cups chicken stock
1 piece of parmesan cheese rind (as Giada says, never throw away a parmesan cheese rind! We always stash ours in the freezer for this very reason)
Salt and Pepper



Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and carrots. Saute until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add swiss chard (or kale), zucchini and potato and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and chopped herbs and simmer about 10 minutes, until greens are wilted and tomatoes break down. Add broth and parmesan rind and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add grated parm to each bowl and serve with warm crusty bread.

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Pasta Fagioli

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, Giada’s Family Dinners


4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup small pasta (I used Ditalini “little thimbles”)
Fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure closed with kitchen twine, or coarsely chop the herbs and add directly to soup. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, and herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. If used, discard the sachet of herbs. Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture using an immersion blender until smooth. Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Return the puree to the remaining soup in the saucepan and stir well. Season the soup with ground black pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.

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