Monday, October 7, 2013

Mmmmm, Soup!

Fall is here and so is my desire to simmer up some soup. The best soup starts with a great broth and then you just add the stuff you crave most. These are some of our favorites. Clicking on the caption will bring you to the recipe I used. For those without a link, I've included the recipe below.

*D = Dairy Free
*S = Sugar Free
*G = Grain Free
Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp (D,S,G)
Gai Choy Chicken (D,S,G)
Sausage and Kale Soup (D,S,G)
Creamy Tomato Basil (D,S,G)
Turkey Vegetable w/Rice Noodle (D,S)
Classic French Onion
Pork Dumpling (D,S,G)
Italian "Wedding" Soup (D,S,G)
Sausage Tomato Bean (D,S,G)
Thai Coconut Chicken (D,S,G)

Sausage and Kale Soup

1lb sausage (your favorite, italian works nicely)
1 large onion, chopped
3-6 cloves of garlic (to your garlic taste)
8 cups water (or mild chicken stock if your sausage was bland)
4-5 parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 bunch of kale, ribs removed, roughly chopped
1/2 c heavy cream (opt)
2 tbsp butter (opt)

Cook up your favorite sausage, we often use ground pork and add the anise, chili paste, garlic, and other italian-style seasonings, but one could easily use the store bought, removed from casings.

Add onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add water (or broth) and the parsnips. At this point we have also added white beans if you like or have on hand, but it's not critical. Once parsnips are softened you can add in the kale. It only takes 5-10 minutes to soften up the kale, but like many other soups, the longer you leave it to simmer the tastier it gets. We like to finish it off with a bit of cream and butter, especially if the sausage is spicy. Add parmesan for a real yummy finish.

The base for the Italian "Wedding" Soup is much the same really, only instead you make pork meatballs, cook those and add the onions, garlic (you can skip the parsnip but we like it). Instead of orzo pasta, we often ad a handful of quinoa. If you can't find kale, try using the greens from swiss chard. It is a bit more sour n flavor, but oh so good for you.

Sausage, Tomato, Bean soup is another quick throw in everything soup. We start with the basics you see above and then add a can of tomato paste (canned tomatoes or whatever you have on hand). We've added zucchini and fresh herbs when they are in season.

Now, Thai and Curry Soups are often based very similar. Staring with your chicken stock, onions, garlic. You layer in the other flavors, tasting to your preference as you go. So many people (myself included) can get intimidated by the varieties of spices out there. Thai, uses green curry paste, but a nice spicy red is just as popular; the key, I find, is the addition of coconut milk and an acid like lime or lemon (or lemon grass). I recently purchased some lemongrass powder at the asian food market on our last trip south and I've been enjoying playing with it's tart, yet sweet, woody flavor for marinades, dips and yes, even soup.

I am NOT a fan of cooked peppers in my soup so I often julienne them and add to my bowl right before serving, along with bean sprouts and fresh thai basil (it does have a distinct flavor, but regular basil or cilantro will also work in a pinch). Best thing you can do is visit those small thai restaurants in your area. Most of the time they are more than willing to throw together some great dishes for you. Just tell them what you like (or don't) and your heat tollerance and maybe go out during the week to make sure they aren't super busy. We loved going to Magic Thailand, Baie D'Ha Long Bay and most of all we had the best prices and greatest meal (custom made for our no sugar or grains diet) at Lao Thai! They put together an awesome selection and we only paid $40 for the two of us. We love this place and we're super sad we only discovered it a few months before moving up north. I think that would have been our regular date spot for sure.

Hope this encourages you to whip out the soup pot and throw in some different flavors. Please feel free to share with me your favorite blends because I'm ALWAYS looking for more ideas in the kitchen. Enjoy!