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• Francine LaBouquét


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Creamy leek-potato Soup D

on’t fill the blender by more than two-thirds with hot soup; if necessary, process in three batches. You can also use an immersion blender to process the soup directly in the pot. Use the lowest setting on your toaster to dry out the bread without over browning it. A garnish is essential to add texture and flavor to this soup. We like Fried Leeks (recipe follows), crisp bacon bits, a dollop of sour cream, or freshly chopped chives. The soup can also be garnished with Garlic Chips or Garlic Croutons (see related recipes).

Serves 4 to 6

Instructions

 

Ingredients 4 medium leeks, white and light-green parts halvedlengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups), dark green parts halved, washed, and cut into 2-inch pieces 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 2 cups water 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter 1 medium onion, chopped medium (about 1 cup) Table salt 1 small russet potato (about 6 ounces), peeled, halved length-wise, and cut into ¼-inch slices 1 bay leaf 1 (4-inch) sprig fresh thyme or tarragon 1 large slice high-quality sandwich bread , lightly toasted and torn into ½-inch pieces Ground black pepper

 

Bring dark-green leek pieces, broth, and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; set aside. Discard solids in strainer and rinse out saucepan. Melt butter in now-empty saucepan over medium-low heat. When butter foams, stir in sliced leeks, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to high, stir in reserved broth, potato, bay leaf, and herb sprig and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add toasted bread and simmer until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf and herb sprig. Transfer half of soup to blender and process until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to saucepan and bring to simmer; season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with garnish.

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Creamy Tomato Soup I

f half of the soup fills your blender by more than twothirds, process the soup in three batches. You can also use an immersion blender to process the soup directly in the pot. For an even smoother soup, pass the pureed mixture through a fine-mesh strainer before stirring in the chicken broth in step 2. Serve this soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for a Crowd or topped with Butter Croutons.

Serves 6 to 8

Instructions

Ingredients ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 1 medium onion, chopped medium (about 1 cup) 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon) Pinch hot red pepper flakes (optional) 1 bay leaf 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice 1 tablespoon brown sugar 3 large slices good-quality sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using), and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Using potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain. Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf. Transfer half of soup to blender. Add 1 tablespoon oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and oil. Rinse out Dutch oven and return soup to pot. Stir in chicken broth and brandy (if using). Return soup to boil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup in individual bowls. Sprinkle each portion with pepper and chives and drizzle with olive oil.

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 2 tablespoons brandy (optional) Salt and ground black pepper ¼ cup chopped fresh chives

7


8


Split Pea & ham Soup F

our ounces of regular sliced bacon can be used, but the thinner slices are a little harder to remove from the soup. Depending on the age and brand of split peas, the consistency of the soup may vary slightly. If the soup is too thin at the end of step 3, increase the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the desired consistency is reached. If it is too thick, thin it with a little water. Serve the soup sprinkled with Buttery Croutons (related), fresh peas, and chopped mint and drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. The soup can be made up to 3 days in advance. If necessary, thin it with water when reheating.

Ingredients 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Serves 6 to 8

Instructions

1 large onion, chopped fine (about 1½ cups) Table salt 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons) 7 cups water 1 ham steak (1 pound), skin removed, cut into quarters 3 slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ounces) 1 pound green split peas (about 2 cups), picked through and rinsed

Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add onion and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add water, ham steak, bacon, peas, thyme, and bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer, stirring frequently to keep peas from sticking to bottom. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until peas are tender but not falling apart, about 45 minutes. Remove ham steak, cover with foil or plastic wrap to prevent drying out, and set aside. Stir in carrots and celery; continue to simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender and peas have almost completely broken down, about 30 minutes longer. When cool enough to handle, shred ham into small bitesize pieces with two forks. Remove and discard thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and bacon slices. Stir ham back into soup and return to simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper; serve.

2 sprigs fresh thyme 2 bay leaves 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces (1 cup) 1 medium celery rib, cut into ½-inch pieces (1 cup) Ground black pepper

9


10


Lentil Soup with Spinach L

entils du Puy, sometimes called French green lentils, are our first choice for this recipe, but brown, black, or regular green lentils are fine, too. Note that cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentils used. Lentils lose flavor with age, and because most packaged lentils do not have expiration dates, try to buy them from a store that specializes in natural foods and grains. Before use, rinse and then carefully sort through the lentils to remove small stones and pebbles. The soup can be made in advance. After adding the vinegar in step 2, cool the soup to room temperature and refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To serve, heat it over medium-low until hot, then stir in the parsley.

Serves 4 to 6

Instructions

Ingredients 3 slices bacon (about 3 oz.), cut into ¼-inch pieces 1 large onion, chopped fine (1½ cups) 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium (1 cup) 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon) 1 can (14½ oz.) diced tomatoes, drained 1 bay leaf

Fry bacon in large stockpot or Dutch oven over mediumhigh heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to high, add wine, and bring to simmer. Add chicken broth and water; bring to boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard bay leaf. Puree 3 cups soup in blender until smooth, then return to pot; stir in vinegar and heat soup over medium-low until hot, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and continue to heat soup, stirring frequently, until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes; serve.

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves 1 cup lentils (about 7 oz.), rinsed and picked over 1 teaspoon table salt Ground black pepper ½ cup dry white wine 4½ cups low-sodium chicken broth 1½ cups water 1½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar 5 ounces baby spinach 11


Alphabet Soups