Sunday, August 23, 2015

North Woods Bean Soup

















Ingredients

1 Cup Carrots, Chopped
1 Cup Onion, Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
7 Ounces Turkey Sausage
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
14 Oz Small White Beans
4 Oz Fresh Spinach Leaves


I found this soup in an old Cooking Light magazine and have been enjoying it lately.  It's light enough for summer, but hearty and warming enough for autumn and winter.  Now normally I don't go in for "lite" cooking, as you can tell from reading this blog, but this is one case where a relatively light recipe actually has some flavor.  So, I guess even the Eat'n Man can eat light once in a while.

Now, I don't know what is particularly 'North Woods' about North Woods Bean Soup, but I like the name.  It brings to mind many pleasant excursions I've made into the North Woods of Maine and New England, and there's something ever so pleasant when your food has you thinking pleasant thoughts before you've even tasted it.


The North Woods of Maine.  Inviting?  Yes!


North Woods Bean Soup

This dish uses Turkey Kielbasa as its protein.



You can replace it with a nice, hearty, smoked beef sausage, but the soup won't be as light.  I like it both ways, but the smoke flavor is definitely a plus.  And remember, you could smoke that turkey kielbasa yourself and keep it light but flavorful.

Dice your carrots,



And your onion and mince the garlic.  Add them all to a good sized stock pot.

Slice the kielbasa in half length-wise, then cut these into half inch pieces.



Add them to the pot.

Sauté over medium heat for a few minutes.



Add the Italian seasoning and black pepper.



Now, normally I don't go in for premixed seasonings, preferring instead to mix my own on the spot, but this dish is simple, and premixed seasonings were made for stuff like this.  They don't get used much in my kitchen, but this is one instance where they do.

Sauté this for a minute or two, then add your chicken stock.



Now, this is one place I departed from the Cooking Light Recipe.  They call for fat free, low sodium chicken broth.  Now, regular chicken broth is pretty low fat anyway, but I like the salt, and I'd end up adding it to the soup anyway, so I just get regular chicken stock.  One advantage of the salt free broth, though, is that you can control the amount of salt, so if you want to go that route, knockyaselfout!

Add the great northern beans.



What makes these beans northern?  I don't know.  Same as with the soup recipe (North Woods, remember?)  Maybe it's the great northern beans that make this soup northern?  In any case, they are lovely beans.



Let this simmer for 20 minutes for so, then remove two cupfuls, making sure to get plenty of the beans.  Process these two cups of soup in a food processor until a thick pasty liquid forms.  Add this back to the soup.  Stir until it is nice and thickened.  Add the spinach and cook just long enough for the spinach to wilt.

Serve immediately, maybe with some crusty bread or similar.



Until Next Time,

See you in the Woods...

Chris






Thursday, August 6, 2015

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup




















For the past few years, August has been soup month here at An Eat'n Man.  Why?  Who knows?  Perhaps it's because come August, we're so hot here in Texas that a big honkin' Five-Dollar-Fill-Up of a meal just puts us off, and something light is in order.  Or perhaps it's that Augustus Caesar, founder of Rome and namesake for the month of August, was a big lover of soup.  (actually, I can't back that up with paperwork)  Maybe it just happened.  I got nothin.'  Perhaps, just as they say at the end of crappy 1950s Sci-Fi movies, there are some things man just was not meant to know.

Well, one thing I do know is that this Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup is light and tasty and perfect for a hot August night.  Give it a go.



Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Large Onion, Diced
2-3 Stalks Fresh Lemongrass, Sliced Thin
3 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Tumeric
1/4 Cup Fresh Lime Juice
12 Cups (96 oz) Chicken Stock
1 Fresh Green Chile, Chopped, (or 1 can (4 oz) mild green chiles)
2 Tablespoons Thai Fish Sauce
2 Bone-in, Skin-on Chicken Breasts
2 Cups Unsweetened Coconut Milk
2 Tablespoons (Plus More for Garnish) Fresh Cilantro, Chopped


Dice the onion,



Then the lemongrass.



Sauté both in the oil until they are soft and beginning to turn golden.



Add the crushed garlic cloves and simmer for another two minutes.  Add the cumin, tumeric and lime juice and simmer another minute.  Add the chicken stock.



Bring to a boil, then reduce to a good simmer.  Add the chiles.



Note, use a chopped fresh chile if you have it.  I didn't, so I fell back on my pantry goods and used some canned green chiles.



Add the fish sauce at this point as well.

Add the chicken breasts.



Note--astute readers of this blog may note that in the previous post I sort of ragged on the idea of boiling chicken.  Well, that hols true, except when you are making soup.  See, boiling the bird leeches flavor from it--when you're done you've got a bland bird and all the flavor is left in your boiling medium.  Of course if you are making soup, that's not an issue, because your boiling medium is staying with the bird.  Also, the way we are doing things here, not only is the chicken's flavor preserved in the boiling stock, but the flavors of all the things we are boiling the chicken with are sort of imbued into the chicken by reverse-osmosis or magic or whatnot.  It's a double barrel win-win for flavor, folks.  Oh, one thing more.  Make sure to use bone in, skin on chicken breasts.  Lots of flavor in dem bones and skin that you will extract.  You can discard the bones and skin later on.

Boil the whole concoction until the chicken is cooked and tender, 35 minutes or so.

Remove the chicken breasts.



Let cool slightly (or wear food prep gloves) and then shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.



Add the shredded chicken back to the soup, then chop the cilantro



and add it to the soup.



Finally add your coconut milk.  Simmer 10 minutes for, stirring frequently until the coconut milk is combined through and the soup has returned to a simmer.

Serve immediately with a little extra cilantro for those that wish it.



Until next time,


Chris