Gazpacho

Summertime is sun…..

Unless you were on the West Coast this year!

And summertime is Tomatoes.  Nice big, red, juicy tomatoes.  And what to do with them?  Why Gazpacho of course.

Gazpacho comes from the Andalucia region of Spain.  And it is a typical summer soup in most homes.  As such, you can imagine that there are numerous variations.  Some have bread, as a thickener, some don’t.  They almost all have the basics that are tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers.  But there is even a white Gazpacho that is made with bread and almonds.

I prefer the traditional red gazpacho.

Gazpacho

5 large ripe tomatoes, or 10 ripe plum tomatoes

1 1/2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded (reserve the other half for the garnish)

1/2 green bell pepper (save the other half for the garnish)

1 clove of garlic

2 tablespoons of lemon juice or light vinegar, your preference

a drizzle of really good olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.  Check for seasoning.  Pour through a strainer to catch the tomato skins and seeds.  Serve very cold with a garnish of the peppers and cucumbers diced very small.

It is a really easy way to celebrate the bounty of a summer garden.

Sadly, I lost the picture I took of the final product….alas, I will just have to make it again.

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Sweet Pea Soup with Mint

When I went to the market yesterday, I was looking for a vegetable to make a nice soup.  To my surprise, I found some fresh English peas.  It almost seemed a shame to put them in soup, but…I had a hankering for some soup.

Sweet Pea Soup with Mint

1 shallot chopped

2 cups fresh English peas preferred but frozen can work as well

1 small bunch of mint

1/4 cup of orange juice

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Saute the shallots in the olive oil until translucent.   Add peas and water to cover the peas.  Add a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until the peas are just tender, about 5 minutes.  Frozen peas only take 3 minutes.  Place the peas and the mint in a blender, add the orange juice and enough of the cooking water to create the consistency needed.  Add salt and pepper as needed.  This can be served either hot or cold.

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Chicken Vegetable Soup

Celery for chicken veg soup

Nothing soothes the soul like a warm bowl of homemade Chicken vegetable soup.  You can use any combination of vegetables that you like.

Chicken veg soup

1  large onion chopped

3 ribs of celery chopped

1 clove of garlic

4 medium zucchini cut in cubes

3 potatoes, any kind

1 large handful of green bean cut into bite size pieces

3 carrots cut into bite size pieces

2 quarts of chicken stock (or vegetarian if you prefer)

2 cups of cooked chicken meat chopped

salt and pepper

Parsley to finish the dish.

potatoes for chicken veg soup

Saute the onions, garlic, celery and carrots  in 1 tablespoon of oil for a few minutes until the onions are translucent.  Add the potatoes and saute for a few more minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients except for the green beans and parsley.  Simmer until all the vegetables are soft.  Add the green beans and simmer for about 5 minutes.  I like my green beans “al dente”.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Serve in bowls with the parsley sprinkled on top.

Variations:

If you want to make it Mexican, add a chipotle.

If you want to make it French, add a pistou (French pesto sauce).

If you want to make it Italian, add some Parmesan cheese to the top of it.

Chicken soup

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Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup

Nothing can be easier and more satisfying than a supper of soup and sandwiches.  And if the soup is made from scratch…even better.tomato soup

Peel and seed 6 tomatoes and then chop.  Chop one onion  and 2 garlic cloves.  Saute in a bit of oil and then place in a blender.  Blend until the consistency of a nice creamy soup.  Add enough milk to achieve this.  Taste for salt and pepper, sprinkle a few parsley leaves over the top and serve with toasty grilled cheese sandwiches.

butter

I like to make my sandwich with thin slices of good cheese.  I don’t think the bread needs any mayonaise , but others may disagree.  I then fry it in butter.grilled cheese sandwich

The key is to do it with low heat and lots of patience.  My children can attest to how hard this can be, since they have had to endure many a burnt sandwich.Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Soup

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Tia Edwina’s Senegalese Soup

Green Apple

My Aunt was a wonderful cook and a marvelous hostess.  She sure loved to have a party.  This was one of her favorite soups.  It has a very interesting flavor.  You can serve it hot or cold, but it is most commonly served cold.

Chicken Senegalese

2 Tablespoons Onion, minced
2 Tablespoons Butter
4 Granny Smith Apples, chopped
1 Tablespoons Flour
2 teaspoons Curry
3 ½ cups Chicken broth
1 teaspoon Chicken bullion
1/4 cup Cream
Chicken meat, diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Apples and Onions Saute onions in butter. Add apples and cook for about 5 minutes. Add flour and curry, stir well then add broth. Simmer 30 minutes. Blend at low speed in a blender then put through sieve and chill. Place chicken in the bowls and serve with cream.  There is a variation that adds 2/3 cup of good peanut butter when the soup is blended. You can also garnish it with cilantro.

These same ingredients can be turned into Chicken a la Senegalese.   You just take the Chicken pieces and brown them then add the soup and simmer for about 20 minutes.  You can serve this over rice.

Senegalese soup

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Vietnamese Soup- Pho

Pho is a wonderful Vietnamese soup that is staple of this cuisine.  Pho literally means noodle, so it is a delicious broth that has a combination of noodles and vegetables and some type of protein.  The combination is up to the individual.  The garnishes can be set up on the table for each person to add what they want.  It’s a lot of fun for a party.  Pho is pronounced like a cross between Fa and Fu, a bit like foot with out the t.   At least that is how I have heard it.Pho Broth

Broth

10 cups broth (vegetarian or chicken)

4 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

2 whole cloves

4 large slices of ginger

1 small bunch of cilantro

1 onion in slices

3 Tablespoons sugar

salt and pepper to taste

1 package of rice noodles, soaked for 30 min. in cold water.

Garnishes

Garnishes (pick what you like)

Cilantro leaves

mint leaves

basil leaves

finely chopped chiles

hot sauce (Thai or Chinese)

hoisin sauce

bean sprouts

sliced scallions

thinly sliced carrots

lemon wedges

sliced cooked chicken or beef  or shrimp

Pho

Broth

Crush all of the spices. Add all of the ingredients to a stock pot and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes.  Strain the broth to get rid of the spices.  Add the noodles and allow the guests to add what ever garnishes they would like.  Then cover with the hot broth.  Enjoy

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Sopa de Frijol- Bean Soup

Frijoles are a staple in Mexican Cuisine.  They are full of nutrients and fiber and so good for you.  They also happen to be one of my favorite foods.  As far as I’m concerned, the black bean is the most flavorful, but this works well with any kind.  Put them in a soup and that is the best!

Sopa de Frijol

2 Cups cooked beans

1 pinch cumin powder

1/2 onion chopped

Chicken stock

Sour cream for garnish

Queso fresco and avocado for garnish

Fried tortillas for garnish

Salt and Pepper

Saute onion in oil until translucent.  Add the beans and cumin.  Saute for 5 minutes. Transfer to the blender and process until smooth adding  stock until you get the consistency of a creamy soup.  Taste for seasoning.  Serve warm with a dollop of cream, avocado, cheese and the tortilla chips.

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Nonna’s Cilantro Soup

One of my favorite herbs is Cilantro (Coriander).  It is a typical Mexican flavor.  Our family really loves this soup and my Mother’s recipe is really easy.  Buen Provecho!

Cilantro Soup

2 Tablespoons butter
1 large package of cream cheese
2 Cups cilantro leaves
2 Cups chicken stock
1 chile poblano without the seeds, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon corn starch

Fry the onion in the butter with the chile until onion is translucent.  Mix the corn starch in a 1/4 cup of the stock.  Add the cilantro, cream cheese and all of the stock, including the   corn starch mixture.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Place in blender and blend until smooth.  If it is too thick, you can thin it out with more stock.  It can be served either hot or cold.

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