Tag Archives: soup

Sunday Supper: Healthy & Hearty Borscht

29 Jan

Low Sodium Borscht

Borscht is a traditional Ukranian soup/stew and makes a great hearty winter meal.  My father is part Ukranian and would have my mom make this for us a few times every winter and always on Valentine’s Day (because of the soup’s deep red color).  My mother used a recipe from the Joy of Cooking that I adapted to include meat and make the borscht more of a soup-consistency.  The main ingredients are beets and cabbage, two of the NY Times 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating, so while this is another recipe that doesn’t necessarily photograph well, it is an easy, savory winter meal that is also very healthy.  And delicious!

Healthy & Hearty Borscht
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking (75th Anniversary Edition)
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups very finely chopped beets (I used pre-packaged peeled beets so I didn’t have to worry about roasting/peeling beets)
1/2 cup very finely chopped carrots
1 cup very finely chopped yellow onion
1 pound beef chuck, 1/2″ cubes (optional)
Flour (optional)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups beef stock (low sodium) (Note: For a vegetarian option, use vegetable stock)
1 cup water
1 cup very finely shredded green cabbage
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste
Sour cream (or 0% Greek yogurt), for a garnish
Dill, for a garnish (optional)

Directions
1. Chop the beets, carrots, onion and cabbage in advance.  Set aside.
2. Lightly dredge the cubes of meat in a bowl of flour.
3. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan.  Add meat and cook until lightly browned.
4. Heat butter in soup pot over medium-low heat.  Once melted, add beets, carrots and onions.  Stirring continuously, cook until softened.  About 8 minutes.
5. Add beef stock, water, cabbage, red wine vinegar and meat to pot.  Bring to a bubbling simmer.  Once simmering, lower heat, partially cover soup with lid, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
6. Serve hot.  Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream (or 0% Greek yogurt) and dill.

Note: This soup also tastes great cold.  I like it even better reheated as leftovers the next day though because the flavor intensifies and the broth thickens.

Low Sodium Borscht

Christmas Dinner: Dad’s Cream of Chestnut Soup

30 Dec

Cream of Chestnut Soup

Since I can remember, my dad has been making cream of chestnut soup for Christmas (and sometimes Thanksgiving!) dinner.  This recipe comes from the Blueberry Hill Menu Cookbook, which was written by Elise Masterson who used to own the Blueberry Hill Inn in Vermont with her family.  Unfortunately, the Blueberry Hill cookbooks are out of print, but you can buy them used on Amazon here.  This recipe calls for fresh chestnuts.  However, shelling and preparing fresh chestnuts is a huge undertaking so if you are short on time, you can easily substitute bottled chestnuts instead.  My dad has made the recipe both ways and you seriously can’t taste the difference.  I will admit that this soup isn’t the prettiest of to bunch, but it is SO delicious that its taste makes up for its appearance in spades.

Dad’s Chestnut Soup
Adapted from Blueberry Hill Menu Cookbook

Ingredients
2 pounds chestnuts (or 1 large 1 lb. jar of bottled chestnuts – we use Minerve Whole Roasted French Chestnuts)
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 large carrots, diced
1 quart chicken or turkey broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup pale dry sherry
Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions
1.  If you are using fresh chestnuts: Slit each chestnut with a sharp knife – two slits each, crossed.  Cover them with boiling water and boil for 15 minutes.  They will NOT be completely tender when you pull them out and that’s OK.  Remove them one at a time from the water (this is the trick here – they must stay in hot water, each one, until you’re ready for it) and let cold water run on each chestnut in turn.  The skins will come off very quickly, and the membrane as well.  Set aside.  Repeat until you have removed the skins/membrane for each chestnut.
2. In a heavy 3- or 4-quart saucepan, saute onion and butter until the onions are lightly browned.  Add the whole peeled chestnuts, carrots and chicken broth to the saucepan.
3. Simmer until the chestnuts are quite soft, about 15 more minutes, then pour liquid through a colander into a pot.  Put the chestnuts, onions and carrots that didn’t drain through the colander in a food processor of Foley food mill to blend.  Blend to desired consistency – I prefer to blend until just small pieces and no lumps remain.  If you blend to a puree, you will lose the extra “oomph” of color that the carrot pieces provide and be left with a light brown soup.
4.  Return chestnut mixture to broth and bring it all back to a boil.  Then remove it from heat, add cream, sugar, sherry, salt and pepper.
5. Serve without boiling again.  If you cool it and reheat it, don’t boil it when warming up.  (Note: We always prepare this the day before serving since it does so well reheated.)

Christmas Dinner

26 Dec

Christmas Hearth

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you had a happy holiday and Santa was good to you and your families!  My family decided to do something different from turkey this Christmas and make a standing rib roast instead.  Serving red meat versus poultry required a total overhaul of our menu from Thanksgiving.  Listed below are the dishes that we made today for Christmas dinner.  Over the course of the next two weeks, I will post each of these recipes.

Hot Toddies
Christmas Crostini
Dad’s Cream of Chestnut Soup
Mom’s Standing Rib Roast
Asparagus Wrapped in Bacon
Potato & Celery Root Mash
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

To round out our meal, we served Sister Shubert’s Wheat Dinner Yeast Rolls and a bottle of Illumination Sauvignon Blanc from Quintessa Winery (see Napa Travelogue post for more info on CA wineries!).  Red wine probably would have gone better with this meal, but my mom generally only drinks white and I had just given my parents a case of this wine for Christmas so we had to try it!

Christmas Dinner Plate

Sunday Supper: Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup

11 Dec

Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla SoupThis past summer, my friend Sarah told me about a blog called Sodium Girl that specializes in low sodium/salt free recipes that still taste great.  As someone who is health conscious and also trying to watch my sodium intake, I was immediately hooked on this site!  Last month, SG posted a recipe for Salt Free Chicken Tortilla Soup which you can find here.  I was waiting for the perfect lazy Sunday evening to test it out.  This recipe was so easy to make after a long weekend and really hit the spot now that it’s chilly in NYC.  My adapted recipe is listed below.  I found all of the ingredients no problem at the neighborhood Whole Foods.

Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup
(Adapted from Sodium Girl)
Serves 4

Ingredients
For Soup:
1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 ripe hot house tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp no-salt added tomato paste
3 cups water
1 Whole Foods rotisserie chicken (Note: SG’s recipe provides directions if you want to cook the chicken from scratch.  I was too hungry/tired/lazy to go through this process.)

For Toppings:
4 green onions, sliced
1 small red onion, diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 lime, quartered
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced (Note: For less heat, remove the seeds.)
Greek yogurt (0%) or sour cream (Note: Use Greek yogurt if you’re watching calories/fat intake.  You seriously can’t taste the difference)
Tortilla chips, broken into pieces

Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup Toppings

Directions 
1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped garlic and corn, stir continuously for five minutes.  Don’t stop stirring or you will burn the garlic.  This happened to me on my first try and I had to start over…
2.  Next add the four spices, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and water to the pot.  Stir occasionally and bring to a boil.  Then cover with a lid, lower heat and let simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
3.  While the soup is simmering, shred the rotisserie chicken into pieces and set aside.  Be sure to remove the skin.
4. Add the shredded chicken to the pot and increase heat to medium-high again.  Bring to a rolling boil then lower heat a bit until it is just bubbling and continue to reduce without a lid for 15 to 20 minutes.  (Note: Don’t skip this step!  If you do, the soup will be watery and not as flavorful.  Letting the soup bubble during this time helps intensify the flavor and thicken the broth.)
5. While the soup is cooking, prep your green onions, red onions, avocado, lime, jalapeno peppers, Greek yogurt/sour cream and tortilla chips that you will have as a garnish.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with garnishes as desired.

Here’s what the soup looked like before I added the garnishes:
Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup

This meal was met with raving reviews by D.  He didn’t even notice the lack of salt which really speaks to the flavor of the soup!  He likes extra spicy food and suggested using Habanero peppers next time and adding them to the pot during the reducing period to add extra spice to the dish.  Since my mouth is still burning from the few jalapenos I added to my bowl, I probably won’t try that,  but it’s a great suggestion for those who do like it extra hot!