Parsnip Soup

PARSNIPS1
Parsnips2

I’m an anomaly among Winnipeggers – I love winter. And now that it’s started snowing (regardless how superficially) my little icy heart has started jumping for joy!

Every year around this time I begin giddily preparing for the cold months ahead. First, I do a major clean sweep – my allergies don’t like hibernating with dust bunnies. Second, my urge to knit is reinvigorated and I continue working on the scarf I started two years ago. And third, I make soup, pot upon pot of warm, hearty soup.

This soup recipe is the first of the season, and one of the first times I’ve made a pureed soup (only because I previously lacked a blender). I’ve never really known what to do with parsnips, other than mash them and soup them, so I decided on the latter.

I got the recipe from here and I was surprised how simple and delicious it was. I decided to add a little ginger to make things interesting and I garnished it with pumpkin seeds and hot sauce – that combo with clear you up and warm you up at the same time!

Parsnip & Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs Butter
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil
  • 2 whole Parsnips, 2 should be about 1.5 lbs, peeled and chopped
  • 2 whole Potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 whole Carrots, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 whole Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs chopped Fresh Basil, or 1 tbs Dried Basil
  • 1 whole Bay Leaf
  • 3-½ cups Vegetable Broth, or enough to cover the vegetables
  • 1 tsp Fresh Ginger, minced
  • ½ cups Heavy Cream or Milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat then pour in the olive oil. Add the chopped parsnips, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, basil, and bay leaf. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vegetable broth.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf.
  3. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until creamy. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a blender and blend until smooth. If you do use a standard blender, this should be done in several batches. Make sure to leave space in the blender and crack the top opening, to allow some steam to escape as you blend.
  4. Return soup to pot and add heavy cream or milk; stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Canning Salsa

Tomatoes Blackened Simmering cans Jars

 

A week ago I had too many tomatoes, and now I have a years worth of salsa! Last week I had dinner with my parents, who sent me home with a giant bundle of tomatoes from my aunt’s garden. I had already been planning on canning something this fall so this plethora of t’maters was the perfect excuse.

I should let you know that this was my first attempt at canning. And after reading stacks of articles about proper canning techniques I was very careful to follow all the directions I found, as closely as I could. I bought canning tongs and new cans but didn’t purchase a canning rack for processing the cans. Instead I placed a dishtowel underneath the jars to prevent them from getting too hot while they were boiling. Not all of my cans sealed properly (I found some simple tests for seals here), so I reprocessed them the next day for another 15 minutes.

This recipe is fairly mild but really flavourful, and the process is pretty quick once you have your workspace prepped. I didn’t have any anaheim peppers as the recipe called for so I substituted yellow bell peppers and broiled their skins off in the oven.

Canned Tomato Salsa

I used this recipe

Ingredients

5 lbs tomatoes (about 10 cups)
1 lb peppers (about 2 cups)
3 Jalapeño chilies, seeded & stems removed (or keep seeds for lots o’ spice)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp sugar or more (depending on taste)

Canning Equipment Needed

5-6 pint sized canning jars (I used 12 1/2 pint jars), with rings and new lids
1 very large stockpot (not aluminum because acidity will corrode pot)
1 steamer rack (or dish towel like I described above)
Canning tongs to lift jars out of hot water

Instructions

1. Place jars in canning pot and fill with water until the lip of the jars are covered. Bring water to a simmer for 10 minutes, and keep jars in the warm water until you’re ready to fill them. Have a kettle filled with water ready to boil so you can sterilize the lids right before canning.

2. If you have a gas range you can roast your peppers over the flame, but if not you can broil the peppers in the oven until their skin is black. Once they have cooled gently rub off the outer skin and discard.

3. Prepare the tomatoes. You can do this on a grill or you can broil the tomatoes as well by halving them and placing them skin-side up on a baking sheet. You can also blanch them to remove the skins but this is the least flavourful way of getting the skins off. To blanch anything means to place it in boiling water for a short amount of time and then moving them to an ice bath, the skins will come off easily.

4. Put all of the ingredients into a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes.

5. While salsa is cooking, place the jar lids in a bowl of boiled water and cover to sterilize them.

6. Adjust seasonings. If too acidic add more sugar, if too sweet add more vinegar. You can also use an immersion blender if you prefer your salsa smooth instead of chunky.

7. Ladle salsa into jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of room on the top. Wipe the mouths with a clean paper towel to get rid of any salsa bits. Place the lids on and screw on the rings but make sure you don’t over-tighten since air needs to escape during the next step.

8. Place the jars back into the large pot that was keeping them warm. Cover the jars with at least 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Process for 15 minutes and turn off the heat, let the jars sit in the water for another 5 minutes. Remove the jars using the canning tongs and let them sit on the counter until completely cool. You should hear lots of popping sounds as the jars create vacuum seals. Check your cans before storing them in a cool dry place, if any aren’t sealed properly you can reprocess them. Canned salsa should be eaten within a year so remember to write dates on your jars somewhere.

 

 

Soup Du Semaine

P1010328 Peeled Real Kale Oil

Bowl

I’m sorry to say that this will be the last soup of the week post for a while. For one, I’m having a hard time finding creative soup recipes every week, and honestly I’m getting really sick of eating soup all the time! But that doesn’t mean I’m quitting cooking all together. In fact I’m hoping to try some fun new recipes in the next few weeks and test them out on friends and family at several Christmas potlucks. I know your mouths are watering in anticipation, but alas today is just soup.

This hot pot came to be thanks to me having too much kale, too many sweet potatoes and an untouched bag of green lentils in my kitchen. The next step was finding a recipe that accommodated all of these ingredients, and even thought there are recipes out there for damn near every kind of soup ever made with every combination of ingredients I ended up altering two recipes to get the desired effect. I really liked the way this soup turned out, it’s really hearty and is great for dipping bread.

Rustic Green Lentil Soup with Kale and Sweet Potato

Adapted from here & here.

2 cups kale, finely chopped leafy bits (tear away center stalk before you start chopping)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 med onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small sweet potatoes, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups green lentils
6 cups water (for the lentils)
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Pinch of cinnamon
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs olive oil

1) Bring 6 cups of water to a steady boil and add 2 cups of lentils. Lower temperature and boil for 25 minutes or until lentils are tender (mine where cooked by 15 minutes so keep an eye on your lentils).

2) While the lentils are boiling, get another saucepan for the soup (it will need to hold about 6 cups of liquid, and add olive oil, onions and garlic, saute for a few minutes on medium heat.

3) Add the diced sweet potato, celery and carrot and sauté until tender.

4) Drain the lentils from the water and then add them to the onions, along with the tomatoes, and Kale.

5) Season with salt, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, paprika, and anything else you would like.

6) Add 2 cups of water to the soup mixture, and bring it all to a medium simmer. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes. You may want more water depending on how much water the roasted tomatoes contributed to the mix.

7) Top with some plain greek yogurt and enjoy!

Soup du Semaine

20121108-141623.jpg

This week I made a big pot of mushroom soup, an absolute favourite of mine. I often feel guilty for eating creamy mushroom soup out of a can because of all the added salt and heavy cream. This recipe relinquishes all that guilt because it’s free of cream and thickened with flour instead, the addition of potatoes also makes this soup relatively hearty. Another bonus? It’s super simple and quick to whip up! I wrote down this recipe a few years ago and unfortunately haven’t been able to find the original source since.

20121108-141644.jpg

20121108-141716.jpg

Cream Free Mushroom Soup 

1 Tbsp butter
1 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp S & P
4 cups mushrooms (I used a mix of white and brown cremini mushrooms)
1 potato
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup sour cream
1 green onion

1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook garlic, onion, thyme, s & p until veggies are softened and herbs are aromatic, about 5 minutes.

2. Add mushrooms and potato and cook until mushrooms begin to sweat and the potato is softened, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the soup is thickened, about 10 minutes.

4. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and green onions.

Enjoy!

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

Cauliflower and brussels sprouts (or alien brains as they where called throughout my childhood) are pretty boring on their own but this mustard-caper butter is a really nice accompaniment to this dish. I steamed both the cauliflower and brussels sprouts separately in the microwave to save time and if you don’t have a mortar and pestle I’m sure a garlic press would do just fine.

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts with Mustard-Caper Butter

From Smitten Kitchen

2 garlic cloves
Sea salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup drained small capers, rinsed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped marjoram
Black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 head white cauliflower

1. To make the mustard-caper butter, pound the garlic with a half-teaspoon salt in a mortar until smooth. Stir the garlic into the butter with the mustard, capers, lemon zest and marjoram. Season to taste with pepper. (The butter can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

2. Trim the base off the Brussels sprouts, then slice them in half or, if large, into quarters. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the other vegetables and continue to cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, shake off any excess water, then toss with the mustard-caper butter. Taste for salt, season with pepper and toss again.

Mediterranean Eggplant & Barley Salad

This thanksgiving my Mama put me in charge of making some vegetarian sides for our dinner. My mind automatically jumped to a hearty salad I had made once before that was greeted with rave reviews. The preparation of each individual part of this salad takes a bit of time, as well as cooling the barely after you’ve cooked it. Make sure you leave yourself enough time, or even make the salad a day ahead (I did this but left the tomatoes out overnight so nothing got soggy). Enjoy!

 

The pictures from this and my next post are a nice treat because I got to play around with my dad’s Panasonic Lumix camera. I’m in the market for a new camera because currently my Canon Powershot SD980 is not cutting it anymore. I’ve been perusing Ebay and some local stores but so far I haven’t found the right camera for the right price.

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

From Smitten Kitchen (This blog is a source of unending cooking inspiration for me so I wouldn’t be surprised if many more of my recipes come from here)

1 1/2 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 lb zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/4 cups pearl barley (8 oz)
1 (14-oz) can reduced-sodium vegetable broth (1 3/4 cups)
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss eggplant and zucchini with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.

To cook barley, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

To make dressing, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. To assemble salad add barley, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.

Soup Du Semaine.

Soup of the week! I love making soup from scratch, it’s such an easy process that leaves room for improvisation and cuts out a lot of the salt that comes with most store bought soups. Not to mention soup is freezable, allowing for longer lasting, inexpensive meals for months.

This week’s soup is a recipe that I’ve wanted to try for a long time and since I’m in full-on soup making mode its the perfect time!

Also, I wanted to try making my own pesto so I’ve also included a really straight-forward recipe for that as well.

Minestrone with Pesto

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 1/4 cups hot vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 spring of fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • 2-3 zucchini, finely chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked or canned beans, such as cannellini
  • 3 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Stir in the onion, leek, and cook 5-6 minutes. Add carrots, celery and garlic and cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
  2. Pour in the hot stock and stir well. Add the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  3. Stir in the peas if fresh and the zucchini, simmer for 5 minutes. Add the frozen peas, if using, and the tomatoes. Cover the pan and simmer for 5-8 minutes.
  4. About 10 minutes before serving, uncover the pan and stir in the beans. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the pesto sauce, simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Pesto Sauce

from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 4 gloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in bowl of a food process and blend until it becomes a smooth paste.

Enjoy!