Baked Potato Soup

23 01 2011

Oh man, I love winter so much!  These past few months I’ve been making soups, stews, and everything that can keep me warm!  This recipe I discovered on one of my favorite blogs, Crepes of Wrath.

I loved the ease of this recipe and how great it was!  Potatoes are the most versatile ingredient (that I can eat, thankfully) and I try to use them as much as possible.  The recipe called for two slices of bacon, but I of course added much more to my liking.  When I made the soup at home it was great and I had it with some bread on the side.

I loved the soup so much I offered to my mom to make it for Christmas and made two batches of the recipe for Christmas Eve dinner with our close family friends for a dinner with 10 people.  It was the first time I’ve significantly contributed to a holiday dinner and everyone loved it!

When I made it for Christmas Eve, I saved some of the bacon bits and topped the soup with bacon before serving it. My parents suggested putting chives on top as well which I’ll certainly use next time.  Overall – great recipe, easy and tasty, and awesome!

Happy eating!


Italian Bean Soup

15 12 2010

I discovered this recipe in a Woman’s Day magazine and tracked down the recipe on their website.  I made it on a rainy day and it made about six servings.

I added some diced ham to the recipe and increased the pasta to 2 cups instead of 1-1/2.  The ham was great, but the increased pasta left me with more pasta than broth.  Next time I’ll probably leave the pasta at the quantity it was at in the recipe.  Other than that, the soup was really flavorful and very easy to make!  I’ll certainly make this again to stay warm during these cold months.

When my house didn’t have any heat, I had to stay home for the repair man to come, so I popped some leftover soup in the microwave and paired it with some garlic & herb flavored crackers for a nice lunchtime snack.

Happy eating!!

Garlic soup

17 11 2010

I found this recipe a very long time ago (from the NY Times, too.. an odd place to find a recipe, I think) and found it stashed within the myriad bookmarks that I have on my computer.  It seemed very simple (and it was) and a great and quick dish to make on a rainy day.  I doubled the original recipe and made three small servings that were perfect for a light lunch.

In the soup I used rotini, which worked really well, but I might consider using an even smaller pasta the next time I make this soup.  I also think I could have used more garlic for even more flavor – I was scared it would be too garlic-y but definitely could have used even more.  I used frozen zucchini and tossed it in with the soup – the pieces were sliced the perfect size for the soup and softened up just enough when it cooked in the broth.  I don’t know if I tempered the egg the correct way at the last step, but I still enjoyed the soup anyways.

A great recommendation for a flavorful, quick, and easy dish.  I’m in a soup kick lately with the cold weather (and because my house didn’t have heat for a little while).  More soups to come!

Here’s how it turned out:

Happy eating!

Food Adventures: Pho

6 08 2010

So I recently moved into a house of my own (living with four other people) and will totally admit that I have been spoiled by campus life for the past four years. Cooking has never been my strong point, mainly because I’m picky, and because I’m so limited in what I can eat because of all my food allergies. When I did cook it was probably once every two weeks, because I got used to having mediocre food from dining halls for the convenience factor.

So this summer has been about getting a little creative about what I make for myself, figuring out what I can eat AND cook, and making every dollar stretch so I can eat healthy on a tight budget. Most recently, I made pho, a popular Vietnamese noodle dish. In Viet Nam, you can find pho sold on carts on the street (so I’m told), and in Vietnamese restaurants, my family and I judge their pho very seriously, because my mom makes the best pho in the world.

So with some help from my mom, she told me the recipe (I didn’t have time to watch her make anything, so I had to try and remember watching her years ago in the kitchen) and gave me some the harder-to-find ingredients (the asian spices) so that I wouldn’t have to search too hard. All I needed was a big pot and some beef and I would be all set. So here’s what came out of it:

First I had to boil the beef … for 3 hours. Mind you, this was early July and it was about 95 degrees in my kitchen (horrible ventilation) and I had to watch beef and skim the fat off for a painstakingly long time. However, this is the short version of the recipe – other recipes you’ll find call for 6-8 hours of cooking the meat, so I was happy this didn’t take as long as my mom normally does it.

Once the beef was done, it was nice and tender, and the broth was already ready flavorful. I sliced the beef to add back to the soup later.

Then came all the other stuff – star anise, ginger root, onion, black pepper, and cinnamon. Plus chicken stock too. I let that simmer for a while, and at the same time soaked my rice noodles (vermicelli) in cold water for an hour to get it ready for the soup. I added some fish sauce to taste, and voila.. four and half hours later .. PHO!

So I brought the broth back up to boiling, boiled some water in a separate pot and boiled bunches of the noodles for about 20-30 seconds each, enough to cook but not make them too slimy. The noodles went into the bowl, along with the beef, raw beef eye rounds, and onions. I ladled the broth over the noodles and meat, added some cilantro, green onions, and lime, and I had my bowl of pho!

All in all it was a great experience and I would totally do it all over again, with the exception of the horrible heat. Now that I have the recipe down I can play around a little more with the spices, meat, and overall flavor of the broth and how I can change it. I shared the soup with two of my friends, and they both seemed to like it. I even impressed myself! I didn’t think it would be so easy. My mom bought me pre-packaged spices for the next time I make soup which is a great help, since the Asian food store around my house is about 30 minutes out of the way and it’s hard to find time to get there.

I’ll continue to blog about my food adventures as much as I can – today I used the wok my mom gave me and her recipe to make homemade fried rice – with peas, carrots, egg, onion, garlic, and chinese sausage. It came out pretty good and I can’t wait to make it again – unfortunately I forgot to take pictures so I’ll just have to share those next time I make the dish.

For someone who doesn’t think they can really cook, this summer has really been about teaching myself how to do it all. Let’s hope I can keep it up once school starts!