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Sunday, February 7, 2010

tomato soup

tomato soup

All right, all of you with canned tomato soup in the pantry. You know who I’m talking to and if it’s you, step forward. Don’t be afraid; we’re just going to have a little chat. I promise I won’t single you out, but I want to show you something that might just change your tomato-soup-eating ways. It’ll take just a few more minutes than reheating that sad, thinned-down, canned version, and instead, you will luxuriate in quite possibly the most tomatoey tomato soup ever. And I don’t throw such superlatives lightly.

tomato soup

I owe this soup to my friends Jane and Geoff, mainly Geoff, for the soup is his creation. I tried this soup first when Jane and I were getting ready for a girls’ movie night, and soup was a nice, warm meal to carry us into the chilly evening. We had just had our first snowfall of the season, and it left behind tall snow banks as well as a few icy patches here and there. Soup was the prudent, practical dinner choice before heading out into the cold. But, you know, tomato soup isn’t exactly a dish one loses his mind over. It’s well-loved and is comforting, but doesn’t exactly command a mad legion of obsessed fans, unlike, say a good New England clam chowder does. So I was happy to eat this soup, but I had no idea what was in store for me.

tomato soup

Let’s just say my taste buds did a serious double-take. The clean, intense, undiluted taste of tomato was not what I was expecting. With the first spoon, I was hooked. And by hooked, I mean obsessed. And when I say “obsessed”, I mean I’ve been craving this soup nearly daily for a few months now, but kept forgetting to ask for the recipe. It took getting sick last week and being miserable and grumpy to ask Jane and Geoff for the recipe – I had to have this soup, or else. Grumpiness would ensue for days. Because I don’t get sick often, I turn into a total baby when it actually happens. All I want to do is like on the couch with a blanket and reruns of Law & Order on the television, pout and eat tomato soup. In that order. Normally, I settle for take-out because when I’m sick, I don’t exactly miss cooking. But this time was different. This time, my craving was stronger than my laziness. Besides, this so easy to make, I had no excuses, even with my Rudolph-red nose.

tomato soup

I know – we are busy bunch, especially during the weekdays. Work, family, social events – our lives are planned weeks in advance; we are hungry, run-down, and desperate for more daylight. We want to be warm, we want to be comforted, and some of us (ahem) are still trying to whittle away that tart we indulged in not-so-long ago that has mysteriously glued itself to our thighs and just plain refuses to leave (the nerve!). This is, and I can’t believe I’m actually writing this because this is so not what this site is about, also quite healthy. And delicious. And simple. And comes together in a pinch (a half-hour pinch, to be exact!) with the ingredients that are most likely already stocked in your pantry. While the soup is simmering, you’ve plenty of time to change into your favorite fleece pants (what, no one else besides me has a love affair with those?), pour yourself a glass of wine and settle into your evening.

tomato soup

Once the soup cooks a bit, quick whir of the immersion blender (seriously folks, far be it for me to tell you what a must-have item is, but really, if there is such one thing in the kitchen, the immersion blender it the it-gadget to have, promise!) and you have a velvety smooth, hearty, filling soup, perfect on its own. But, since I’m a girl who loves her accessories, I like to dress mine up with some good ricotta and swirl (or as the picture shows, a lump) of pesto. It look so festive and wintry and pretty in your bowl – kind of like Christmas all over again. But in February. So much the better.

tomato soup

Continue reading tomato soup.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

thai-spiced tomato soup

spicy tomato soup

A few weeks ago, a funny thing happened: my wallet was stolen. It didn’t feel quite so funny at the time as calling and canceling your credit cards is a painstakingly long process, but in looking back, this incident wasn’t without a silver lining: it prompted me to make this tomato soup.

I could have made this soup any day, week or month. Nothing was preventing me from making it as soon as I dog-eared the recipe in my October Gourmet. But I’m often easily distracted and October was giving us such gloriously sunny days I dared not think soup. And in the following weeks, I kind of forgot about it. It wasn’t until I was sitting in my apartment, sans cash, credit cards or even a metro card to my name, and quite hungry, that I remembered this soup and, more importantly, realized I had all the ingredients on hand!

spicy tomato soup

This whole stolen-wallet-and-no-cash-at-home incident is one big cautionary tale. Don’t be like me and have an emergency cash and credit card stashed somewhere. Keep both of these on hand and you won’t find yourself under involuntary “house arrest”. The loss of my wallet not only rendered me cashless and credit-card less, but also landlocked in Brooklyn, unable to even take the subway into the city, since my metro card also lived in my wallet. Thank goodness it was Sunday and I didn’t have to go in to work. And thanks to lovely Jane who saved the day by showing up with cash and a metro card in tow. With such lovely friends, I’m one lucky girl.

spicy tomato soup

However, there are silver linings when you have nary a nickle to your name. There are fewer decisions to make and that can feel liberating. You can take yourself on a walk, accompanied by coffee you made at home. You can take your camera and your keys (no wallet since it’s gone!) and just wander around snapping pictures without a care in the world. No temptation to buy anything because can’t even have that budgetary dialogue in your head! And after the walk, you come home and rummage around in your pantry, find your needed ingredients and get to work.

Somehow, being in a sort of a lock-down mode makes life seem a bit simpler and the simple act of chopping an onion in your kitchen becomes more comforting than rudimentary. You become aware of every cut, every little morsel that falls onto the cutting board as I diced away. You then slowly sauté your onion until pale and translucent before adding cumin and curry paste. All this stirring and sautéing creates a lovely paste of softened onions and spices that smell, well, sublime. And when you add the remaining ingredients and let the whole thing cook for 15 minutes or so. In that time you are free to go about as you like. In my case, it was calling various credit card companies and asking for replacements, but I can think of time better spent like reading a book perhaps, or watching the news. Either of these things is exponentially more exciting than calling credit card companies. But such is life and sometimes we do what we must and not what we’d prefer.

spicy tomato soup

But mere 15 minutes later, after a quick whir of your immersion blender and a drizzle of fresh lime juice, you have your soup ready for you. And while your wallet is still at large and your friend is en route with some cash to carry you over, somehow this is a soup that makes you feel better. You taste it and think, it is all going to be okay. The power of one’s pantry can be measured in these moments – when you can rummage around, find a few ingredients and whip up not just any meal, but one that is truly outstanding. You not only have a winning recipe on your hands; you’ve just demonstrated to yourself that you can be resourceful with the ingredients you have on hand. Somehow resourcefulness in the face of desperation is more appreciated. When you have no other choice, but to cook only with what you have at home, this accomplishment seems so much grander.

spicy tomato soup

And so in looking back, I’m glad I hadn’t made the soup the second I saw it in the magazine; I don’t don’t think I would have appreciated it, or my well-stocked pantry, even half as much were I not hungry and without any cash to my name. The ingredients, coupled with the time it takes to make this soup, make for a simple and comforting weeknight meal, an impromptu lunch friends, or a soothing supper if you’re stuck at home with a cold. And while the amount of effort it takes to make this soup is minimal, the results are anything but. I would even dare say – they are glamorous. Plus, and this is a bonus, the ingredients can be easily found hanging out in your pantry. Which is perfect for those days when your wallet goes missing and you haven’t got a penny to your name and, inevitably, hunger strikes. And what’s a girl to do?

Continue reading thai-spiced tomato soup.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

chestnut-apple soup

chestnut apple soup

While winter is quickly receding and signs of spring are beginning to emerge (or so I hope), I still want you to go and make this soup. As soon as possible. Tonight even perhaps. I’m sure you had a nice dinner planned, but it’ll have to wait – this soup is worth it. I promise you, you’ll thank me later. After you lick the bowl clean.

chestnut apple soup

To say I build my entire dinner around it on Oscar night, would be an understatement. This soup alone made me want to throw a smallish dinner party for a few close friends and since I couldn’t invite people over just to serve them soup and call it a day, I had to come up with the rest of the menu. But this is the soup that started it all. Oh, and we ate this for dessert. It’s a tough existence, I know.

chestnut apple soup

Some people are huge fans of sweeter soups and if you are, you will love this. But I know those who like their soups savory, won’t be able to resist the earthiness of the chestnut perfectly complemented by the apple. A few thyme leaves add some color and contrast to the flavors. The soup comes together in little time and with a few whirrs of a hand blender, you are left with a smooth, velvety texture that sparkles on your palate with a dollop of crème fraîche. If you want to keep this soup vegan, you can omit the dairy.

chestnut apple soup

For nights when you have to entertain and come away looking like a fancy-pants chef, this soup is a must. Of course, you’ll be secretly pleased that instead of slaving for hours in the kitchen you spent a mere half an hour putting this together. Let this be our little secret then.

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Continue reading chestnut-apple soup.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

curried carrot ginger soup with pepitas, cilantro oil and a homemade spicy marshmallow

curried carrot ginger soup

One of the best things about eating at a great restaurant is that in addition to eating a well-prepared meal, you sort of become inspired. You go home with the flavors still lingering on your palate and you wonder for days on end how to recreated it in your kitchen. There’s the kabocha squash with leek ravioli with my name on it brewing in the depths of my mind. And I will make it before the season is out, mark my words. Not a day goes by that I haven’t thought about those ravioli with the fried ricotta and pine nuts in brown butter. [At this point, I slide of my office chair and fall to the floor. THUD.]

So where were we? Oh that’s right restaurants, inspiration, recreating the food at home. Of course. Let’s get back to the matter at hand, shall we?

curried carrot ginger soup

A few weeks ago a friend of mine and I went to check out this relatively new, well-reviewed restaurant in the East Village/Nolita area, whose focus was on Colonial influenced food. While our meal was nothing short of excellent, the highlight of the meal was this cardamom carrot soup we ordered as an appetizer. The carrot soup arrived, garnished with toasted pepitas (swoon), drizzled with cilantro oil (double swoon) and (takes deep breath) topped with a homemade chili marshmallow a little oozy and melty around its perimeter. [THUD] That’s me falling out of my chair again.

curried carrot ginger soup

Ok, so. The soup. By now, most of you reading this site, know that I possess a love for soup that runs so deep you’d be hard-pressed to find a comparison for it. I know soup is a little bit grandmotherly, like strained peas or oatmeal, but I love it unabashedly. Soup is warmth. Soup is comfort. Soup is a glorious thing that you spoon and taste and feel like you’ve a warm blanket on your lap. And since I so over winter at this point, soup makes me feel one day closer to spring.

curried carrot ginger soup

What can I say to you about this soup? Well, you must know I love it because I recreated it at home mere weeks after trying it at a restaurant. But I also added a few things – gave it a little bit more mystery and caché if you will, but adding ginger, orange juice and curry. The original soup was heavily focused on cardamom, which I loved, but I wanted a little more depth. I wanted cardamom and that secondary aftertaste you feel with a slight curry flavor. I liked it even better than the original soup and will definitely make it again before the season is out – it is unbelievably comforting and is a cinch to make. You can puree it in a blender, but I must tell you that my new immersion blender is a thing of beauty. That little gadget is SO powerful and easy to use, that you’d want to get this if only because you will be looking at fewer pots to clean afterwards. A sink that has fewer dirty dishes – to me, that’s the ultimate inspiration!

Continue reading curried carrot ginger soup with pepitas, cilantro oil and a homemade spicy marshmallow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

roasted pumpkin soup

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

My goodness where did the week go? I feel as if long weekends make for hectic weeks, which are short, but so packed with activities, I wind up being more exhausted. I know I shouldn’t complain about getting Monday off. Who complains about that? Surely, my mind is not in the right place. Having Monday off allowed me to have a lovely morning, coffee with a friend and I was able to cook dinner for two wonderful friends, Paul and Sharon, who recently got engaged. But more on that later. That’s a whole separate post right there.

i heart pumpkin!

Paul happens to be one of those poor souls who had to work on Monday and so were he to read my lamentations above, would not take too kindly to such sentiment. I’m sure he would have traded my day for his, culinary adventures and all.

golden brown

This dinner was really a way to rescue some of my produce that started to look droopy and sad. This happens a lot in Sassy Radish kitchen. I get very excited about the beautiful fruits and vegetables I see at my neighborhood grocer, stock up, and then… life sort of happens and before you know it, it’s been five whole days and my turnips are looking mushy, herbs are turning that brownish green and carrots going limp. In this case, it was a pumpkin I had bought a few weeks before, excited that fresh pumpkin was still lying around, even though Halloween was long gone and forgotten.

scoop out the flesh with a spoonfleshy pumpkin - it's AIN'T pretty

I brought this pumpkin home, and even named him Stanley (a perfectly respectable name for a pumpkin, no?), but I failed to have a plan for it. For awhile it served as a lovely fall-nostalgic centerpiece, but then I put it in the refrigerator fearing it might go rancid. And so, the time to make this pumpkin had come. And while I entertained many a recipe for Stanley to shine in, nothing truly stuck out.

mire poix

That is until I saw this recipe just browsing and immediately everything clicked in its place. And let me tell you, this soup is both comforting and sexy. It’s fuzzy slippers and sleek stilettos wrapped in one, and I’m not trying to tell you that this soup looks like a shoe and feels like a sneaker. It simply has qualities of both. The cooked down pumpkin is soft, comforting and nourishing. The kind of thing you’d want after a long day in the office. But the spices give it the kind of sophistication that elevate this soup from every day to something special. And look, with only half a cup of cream used in the whole batch, it’s still a healthy meal. See how good I am to you? Now, go ahead, get that dessert you know you really want – the soup more than makes up for it.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

russian cabbage soup

Cabbage Soup

You probably want me to write about cookies and such, it being the holiday season. And trust me, I would much rather tell you about cookies, and I will. This month will be very much about cookies. I can’t even wait to begin, but first, I have to just share this recipe for Russian cabbage soup with you because even though this is the official cookie season (aka Christmas), man (or woman) cannot live by cookies alone. It’s cold outside and I bet you would just love something that will warm you up. Why not cabbage soup?

Continue reading russian cabbage soup.

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