Tag Archives: Soups

Coconut Corn Soup

3-bowlsGetting dressed in September is tricky business. I’m longing to pull on my over-the-knee suede boots and let the sweater layering begin, but it’s still too warm to fully embrace fall. Transitioning from summer to fall requires a skilled hand in the kitchen as well as the closet.

This month, the markets are still full of fresh corn, but I’m craving something a little heartier than corn on the cob or corn salad. This soup perfectly bridges the gap between summer and fall. The recipe for this soup comes from epicurious.com. Food editor Anna Stockwell intended this to be a pureed chilled soup for the dog days of summer. I decided to transition her recipe to fall by serving it hot. I added a large diced jalapeño to give the soup a little moxie and only pureed half the soup so that it was still chunky.sauteeing-onions-and-spicesGrated ginger adds a welcome zing and turmeric makes the soup a very vibrant yellow. Save the corn cobs and add them to the simmering soup. They really bump up the corn flavour. Coconut milk makes a splendid replacement for  chicken stock in this soup. adding-cobsAvocado, lime and toasted coconut flakes are beautiful and delicious garnishes. I can’t think of a lovelier way to ease into fall.pot-of-soup


Click here to print recipe for coconut-corn-soup.


Kale, Chicken Sausage and White Bean Soup

ready to eat 2 625 sqIf you keep up on these things, you may know that one of the hottest “it” foods in 2013 was kale. I realize that we are already a month into 2014 now, so forgive me if I’m just a little late to the party.

Dubbed the “Queen of Greens”, Kale has a ton of health benefits. Low in calories, high in fibre and anti-oxidant rich, kale contains calcium, potassium and vitamins A, C and K. Research shows it helps fight age-related diseases too!

Last year I read about The Kale Effect  (TKE). Defined as an “immediate, and observable, autonomic nervous system response to the absorption of the vitamins and minerals in nutrient rich kale.  Symptoms may include uncontrollable smiling, laughing, and jumping up and down in the kitchen.”

I wanted in on “The Kale Effect” in the worst way possible. I mean who wouldn’t? I suspected the only way kale was going to make me laugh uncontrollably was if I chopped it finely, rolled it in paper and smoked it. But I was game to give kale a chance.

I spent quite a bit of time last year trying to like kale. Everyone gushed about kale chips. They said that eating these would make any craving for potato chips vanish. They said that kale chips were just as satisfying as potato chips. They were wrong! Kale chips taste like crispy seaweed that turns to dust in your mouth.

Then I moved onto raw chopped kale in a salad with apples and walnuts. Swallowing that raw kale felt like someone was trying to scratch the inside of my throat.  Then I heard that you should massage your kale first, before eating it. Apparently massaging it breaks down the cellulose structure and raw kale goes from bitter and tough to silky and sweet. I never did try the rubdown. I have my limits. I mean, good lord, what’s next, a mani and pedi for your Brussels sprouts?

I worked my way through kale and onion pie, sautéed kale with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes, stir fried kale, smoked kale and braised kale with cabbage and balsamic vinegar. None of these were terribly awful (except for the smoked kale), but I certainly did not want to make any of them for a second time.

But damn, I wanted to get in on The Kale Effect. When would I begin smiling and laughing uncontrollably? It seems that the key to kale love, for me, was to combine it with lots of other ingredients so that it became filler and not the star of the show. That way you have lots of other delicious ingredients and still get all the benefits of kale.

The two main types of kale you are likely to encounter in the grocery store are curly kale, which is quite pungent, dinosaur or black kale, (also called calvolo nero) which is sweet and delicate in flavour.
curly-kale 2Fdinosaur kaleFTry this kale soup and soon, you too, may begin smiling and laughing uncontrollably and jumping up and down in your kitchen!prepI adapted a similar recipe for Sausage and Kale Soup with Black Eyed Peas from Serious Eats. I decided to lighten mine up a bit and I used spicy chicken sausages instead of traditional pork sausages. I also opted for canned white beans instead of soaking my own black eyed peas.sauteeing chicken sausagesimmering soupThe chopped kale gets added during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Just enough time to wilt and soften it. Before the kale is added, about a quarter of the soup is pureed in the blenderblenderThe finished soup gets a final garnish of freshly grated lemon zest, chopped fresh rosemary and a shaving of Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

I loved this soup. The spicy chicken sausage packed just the right amount of heat to keep this soup from being bland. Pureeing just a quarter of the soup created an amazing thick and comforting texture. The bitter kale, added right at the end, had just enough time to mellow slightly, while still retaining some texture. Lemon zest as a garnish added just the right extra hit of freshness and brightness. I am a kale convert.cropped bowl 1 625

Click here to print recipe for Sausage White Bean and Kale Soup.

P.S. Duking it out for super fruit of 2014 is the buffaloberry and the pichuberry. You heard it here first folks!!


Battle Corn Chowder vs. Corn Vichysoisse

I have been meaning to post about corn soup for a few weeks now but some tomatoes and blueberries got in my way! In a battle of epic proportions (well, epic in my mind anyways!), I pitted the legendary champion, Cook’s Illustrated against fledgling culinary newcomer Gwyneth Paltrow. Yes, that Gwyneth Paltrow. Academy Award winning actress, singer, wife of Coldplay rocker Chris Martin, mother to Apple and Moses and possessor of gorgeous hair. She recently released a cookbook called “My Father’s Daughter.”

Here’s how this battle came about.  When the July 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated came out I quickly leafed through it to see what caught my eye. I was stopped dead in my tracks by a recipe for corn chowder. You see, I love corn chowder. I used to make an incredible one, using  Imagine Organic Creamy Sweet Corn Soup as the base for the soup. But then the company went and changed the formulation of the product.  They slapped a big “New and Improved Taste” banner  right on the front of the box! Yeah right! New maybe, but improved? Only if you happen love the taste of dirty dishwater!

So imagine my joy when I found a new corn chowder recipe. I was all set to make the Cook’s Illustrated recipe when I came across a second corn soup, a cold corn vichysoisse in the July issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. This recipe was created by Gwyneth herself, from her new cookbook, “My Father’s Daughter.” Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will undoubtedly have seen Gwynnie making the rounds on all the daytime talk shows, promoting her book.

She has very sweet and touching memories of cooking together with her dad, and this book is a sort of tribute to her late father (Bruce Paltrow). It is a cookbook that celebrates family and togetherness. And try as you might to hate her, because she seems so perfect, she admits that her quest for perfection comes from self-doubt and insecurity. And who can’t relate to that?  And I must admit, I was intrigued. After spending all that time in Spain with Mario Batali and Mark Bittman, I wanted to see what she had learned.

To be honest, I fully expected to prefer the corn chowder from Cook’s Illustrated over the corn vichysoisse from Gwyneth. To level the playing field, I immediately omitted the bacon from the Cook’s version. After all, it wouldn’t really be a fair fight if only one side got to use bacon. Everything always tastes better with bacon. And besides, we keep kosher at home, so bacon would be a big no-no in my kitchen.

I made the corn chowder from Cook’s first. They used an intriguing method of stripping the corn from the cob. Fisrt. going over it lightly with a sharp knife to remove just the kernels and then going over the cob again with the back of a table knife to remove all the pulp. Then they instruct you to put all the pulp into a clean tea towel and wring it out. The liquid that comes out from the towel is referred to as the “corn liquor” and apparently it is what gives the final soup its bright fresh CORN flavour.

The corn chowder from Cook’s Illustrated was very good, although I expected a brighter corn flavour, and to be honest, I thought the  half and half cream kind of muddied the fresh corn taste I was expecting. Then I made Gwyneth’s vichysoisse. She suggests throwing the stripped corn cobs into the pot, while the soup is simmering, to add extra flavour, sort of like the vegetarian version of chicken bones I guess. The recipe calls for good quality vegetable stock. I used homemade vegetable stock, a fabulous roasted vegetable stock courtesy of Mark Bittman. I was blown away by the pure corn essence of this soup. Sweet and silky and tasting of pure late summer. Folks, we have a winner in battle Corn Soup.

You can serve it chilled with a dollop of sour cream or heat it up and just garnish it with some chopped chives. I liked it best hot.

Final score: Gwyneth 1 and Cook’s Illustrated 0.

I have adapted Gwyneth’s recipe by adding jalapeño, thyme and a bay leaf. I also added some fresh corn kernels after pureeing to give a bit of crunch.

Click here to print the recipe for Corn Vichyssoise

Click here to print the recipe for Roasted Vegetable Stock.

And, if you’re keen to create your own Battle Corn Soup at home,

Click here to print recipe for Cook’s Illustrated Corn Chowder.