Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pappa al Pomodoro

This was my first attempt at tomato soup. I have said this before and I will say it again: My life has never been the same since I made this. Why would I have made tomato soup before when there were always cans of Campbell’s in the pantry? Once I accepted the fact that I probably wouldn't find any more sales and coupons for canned soup I started paying attention to tomato soup recipes. One day while watching television, I saw Claire Robinson make her version of tomato soup on 5 Ingredient Fix. Aha! I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no idea making tomato soup was so simple.

Such simple ingredients to create a luxurious soup.

Yes, it is another picture of onions. I am very proud of my onion-cooking abilities.

Almost everyone is in the pot.

Don't be afraid. It's just bread simmering in a pot of soup.

What drew me to Claire’s recipe? She used both fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes. I can’t always get decent tasting fresh tomatoes so the canned tomatoes would add help with the tomato flavor. I also liked the idea of roasting the fresh tomatoes. Anything that’s been roasted and has some char is always a good idea in my book. I also took this as an opportunity to try making another bread soup.

I took Claire’s recipe and made it mine. Z.’s red sauce is one of my favorite foods on this planet. I think one of his secrets is how low and slow he cooks the onions. So I did the same thing with the onions for my tomato soup. Since I didn't need to stick to 5 ingredients, I added chopped fresh garlic (she used garlic-infused olive oil). I also added a red bell pepper (roasted, of course) and I still had some gorgeous red chilies. I liked the sweetness of the bell pepper with the floral heat of the chili. I made one last small change. I made croutons with some of the leftover bread to garnish the soup. I discovered what makes amazing homemade croutons, which I will share my secret another time. I wonder what other variations of this soup I could make? Enjoy!

Tomato Bread Soup

by Ace Nation
Keywords: soup/stew vegan tomatoes bread

    For soup
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting
    • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly into half-moons
    • 6 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 pound Roma tomatoes, cut in half, seeds removed
    • 2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes (or 1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes)
    • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into large wedges
    • 1 red chili, such as a Fresno chili
    • 1/3 loaf of Italian bread (or whatever you have), torn into small pieces, about 3 cups
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • Kosher salt, to taste
    • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    To roast the vegetables
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, toss the Roma tomatoes with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Then repeat with the red bell pepper but spread on a separate pan. Roast the tomatoes until soft and just beginning to brown, about 15-20 minutes. Roast the red bell pepper until charred and browned on one side, about 20 minutes. To peel, place immediately from the oven in a bowl and cover with a tight fitting lid or plastic wrap. Allow to steam until cool enough to handle. Then, carefully remove the skin from the pepper. Chop into smaller chunks.
    For the soup
    In a soup pot or large sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over low to medium-low heat. Add the onions, stirring occasionally, cook until golden, about 25 minutes. Add the garlic and chili, cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened, 5-7 minutes.
    Add diced tomatoes and any juices, roasted tomatoes, roasted pepper, and water. Turn up the heat slightly, bring to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Add the bread and simmer for about 5 minutes.
    Carefully blend soup with an immersion blender or in a stand-up blender until smooth. Return to a pot and keep warm. If the soup is too thick, add a little water at a time, about 1/8 cup, until you reach the desired consistency.
    Serve garnished with the leftover croutons.
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    Sunday, February 24, 2013

    Dinner for One: Acorn Squash with Chickpeas and Adobo

    I inherited an acorn squash and wanted to try something interesting with it. Acorn Squash with Chickpeas and Adobo was created. When researching adobo I kept reading about using adobo as a marinade. I knew the squash wouldn't absorb the flavor of the adobo; I thought a nice crust might form when I sauteed the squash. While the squash didn't develop a crust (maybe I should try grilling or baking), the flavor was tasty.

    Turns out, not only did I create a delicious meal (with leftovers) but it was also an educational experience that I thought I would share with you. Every other time I have used an acorn squash, I would just chop it in half, remove the seeds, and roast the squash. The squash was tasty but only worked when I was going to puree the squash. I never had squash I could use in a recipe like this. Instead of roasting, I took the time to break the squash into smaller pieces that I was able to peel (hack is a more apt description). I then chopped those pieces of squash into the amount of bite-sized pieces I required for this recipe. The rest of the peeled squash went into a storage container for later meals, using just as much as I wanted. This turned out to be well worth the time. I used squash in more recipes than I otherwise would have.

    Don’t get me wrong, this took a long time, at least 40 minutes just to peel the squash, plus the amount of time I needed to dice the squash for this meal. I have to give my warning to those who are impatient or not comfortable with a knife, this project is not for you.

    If you don’t have acorn squash, it’s out of season or you just can't handle the time commitment involved with a squash, yam would make a great substitute. Enjoy!

    *** I enjoyed my acorn squash over a bed of millet (it's not just bird food, I promise!). If you can see any little red flecks that is raw chopped radish mixed into the millet.

    Acorn Squash with Chickpeas and Adobo

    by Ace Nation
    Keywords: entree vegan adobo sauce winter squash

    Ingredients (serves 3-4)
    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced
    • 1 potato, peeled and diced
    • 2 cups acorn squash, chopped into bite-sized pieces
    • 1/2 15 ounce can of chickpeas (about 3/4 cup of beans)
    • 1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or Mexican oregano
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    • 2 tablespoons adobo (more less depending on your taste)
    • Kosher salt, to taste
    In a mixing bowl, coat acorn squash with adobo sauce. Set aside.
    Heat canola oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat.
    Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
    Add garlic, jalapeno, potato, and acorn squash. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.
    Add turmeric, Italian seasoning (or oregano), cumin, and smoked paprika. Toast about 1 minute.
    Add can of diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are tender, and sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes if potatoes and squash have been cut into bite-size pieces. Cook for about 15 minutes if vegetables are larger.
    Season to taste with kosher salt.
    Serve with rice or any other whole grain like millet or quinoa.
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    Sunday, February 10, 2013

    Recipe Review: Basic Adobo Sauce

    Source: Basic Adobo Sauce Recipe

    I enjoy my Cauliflower and Bacon Chowder but have been wondering what would it be like with a little kick. I thought of adobo. It's something I could get in a can right off the shelf and just scoop some into my soup. I started investigating what was available at the grocery store. I looked at 3 different stores and they cost too much for me, especially after I started looking at the ingredients list. The adobo sauce in all the cans was only seasoned tomato sauce. I could definitely handle making that myself. Besides, I wanted something with chilies.

    I've been wanting to become more familiar with the multitude of dried chilies that are available to me (even the regular grocery store has quite the selection) so I went with the simplest recipe with dried chilies I could find. I have used Roberto SantibaƱez's recipe that I found on Food Republic. I know nothing about adobo and will not even pretend. Take a look at the website and try this recipe!

    Pasilla-ancho chilies

    California chilies
    I couldn't find guajillo chilies so I used dried pasilla-ancho chilies and dried California chilies. I don't know what the original recipe was supposed to taste like but I really enjoyed what I ended up with. My adobo was very thick and yielded about 1 cup. I think the variations were due to the differences in my chilies. I know if I wanted something with a thinner consistency, I could have added a splash more water. Since I knew that part of this was going into soup, I didn't bother. Enjoy!

    Ingredients: Water, dried chilies, vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin, garlic
    Corn Chowder with Adobo

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Corn Chowder with Adobo

    What you should know about this recipe:
    • I made adobo sauce (which I will share post-chowder obsession) and my Corn Chowder with Adobo was the the second recipe I made with the adobo.
    • This is a great example of making a delicious meal with what you have on hand. I wandered around the grocery store's produce section looking like a sad, lost puppy because everything was too expensive. 
    • Besides the adobo flavor, the edamame was my favorite part of the soup. I know corn and edamame go well together (here's my Chayote and Edamame Salad) so I thought I'd give the combination a try in a soup.
    • I went for a chipotle flavor by using a fresh jalapeno with plenty of smoked paprika. Not quite the same as a chipotle but did the trick.
    • Enjoy!

    Corn Chowder with Adobo

    by Ace Nation

    Ingredients (serves 3)
    • 1-2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced
    • 1 large, or 2 small potatoes, such as Russet, peeled and diced
    • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
    • 1 cup canned or frozen corn (about 1/2 15 ounce can), rinsed and drained
    • 3/4 cup cooked black or kidney beans (or about 1/2 15 ounce can, rinsed and drained)
    • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 2 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 rounded teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 2 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 cups stock
    • Kosher salt, to taste
    • Cilantro, radish slices, or lime wedges for garnish
    Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low to medium heat. Cook onion and jalapeno until onion is soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook until soft, 4-5 minutes.
    Add potatoes and carrot to the pan, cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Do not leave the stove for this step and have liquids ready to add to the pot. Add the flour, coating all the vegetables with the flour. The flour will soak up all moisture and the pan will probably look dry. Cook about 30 seconds. Add turmeric, cumin, and smoked paprika, and cook another 30 seconds, any longer and the mixture will burn.
    Add milk, stock, beans, corn, and edamame.
    Stirring occasionally, bring to a gentle boil, turn heat down to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
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