Easy Tom Kha Soup

Don’t you hate it when you’re on the verge of being sick, so you take it easy, but then you keep on feeling like you’re coming down with something? I’ve been fighting off some kind of bug for nearly a week now. I’m glad it hasn’t turned into a full blown cold, but I’m ready to kick this thing! So today I made a shortcut version of my favorite Thai chicken soup- tom kha. My version is considerably “Westernized,” considering that I was missing a few key ingredients. The soup traditionally calls for kaffir lime leaves, stalks of lemongrass, and Thai chilis. I replaced kaffir lime leaves with a combination of lime zest and lime juice, bought Gourmet Garden fresh lemongrass, and replaced the Thai chilis with Gourmet Garden fresh chili.

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I hadn’t used these fresh herbs in a tube before, but I like them a lot! They stay fresh in the fridge for weeks. I think these will serve me well in making other Thai dishes in the upcoming weeks. I might pick up the garlic paste, too!

The fresh taste of ginger, lemongrass, and lime in this soup are well matched by the umami of fish sauce and spicy, salty broth. All the bold flavors are melded together with creamy coconut milk. Perfection.

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Tom Kha Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A bold and vibrant Thai soup with lemongrass and coconut milk.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups low sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemongrass paste
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper paste
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cups diced vegetables, such as carrot, zucchini, onion, bok choy, etc. (optional)
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • one 13 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro and green onion for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Bring the broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chili, lime juice, and lime zest to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. If using, add the vegetables and boil for another 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add the mushrooms and chicken breast. Bring back to a simmer for 5 more minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, whisk until combined and melted. Season with salt & pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro and green onion.

Use this recipe as a general guideline rather than the ultimate, correct formula! If you really love some of the aromatic ingredients, feel free to add more and simmer a little longer to infuse the broth. Thai chilis and kaffir lime leaves are on my list of ingredients to buy soon! I can’t wait to make a more authentic version of this soup later this fall. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite Thai dish? 

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Ukrainian Beet Soup (Borscht)

My grandmother is an excellent cook. She lives in Poland, but whenever I talk to her on the phone or Skype, she tells me about her latest recipe creations. She would be an excellent healthy food blogger because she has a knack for transforming typically high calorie dishes into light yet flavorful meals. I only lived in Poland for about 7 years of my life, but my sister and I traveled back to visit almost every summer through middle school and high school. She made us countless delicious meals, including Polish classics like pierogi, hunter’s stew, leniwe kopytka (potato and cheese dumplings), surowki (vinaigrette dressed coleslaws), kotlety schabowe (thinly pounded and breaded pork tenderloin), and kotlety mielone (a cross between hamburger and meatloaf), tomato soup, and Ukranian borscht. One summer, when I was 12, I decided to write down her recipes for my favorite classics. It was very challenging since she never measures anything! I’d ask how much flour she was using, for example, and she would say “a glassful.” Whenever she seasoned something it was with “a good amount” or a “heaping spoonful.” Back then I was all about precision, so it was frustrating to guesstimate how much of everything she was using. Now that I’m older and cook more often, I can relate to her way of doing things. It’s actually pretty tricky to blog recipes for me because my inclination is to eyeball measurements rather than busting out the measuring cups and spoons.

In spite of this tendency, here is a precisely measured recipe for one of my childhood favorites, Ukrainian Beet Soup! It’s packed full of veggies and so incredibly flavorful. The rye-bread taste of caraway seeds really stands out in this soup.

Ukranian Borsht

Ukrainian Beet Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

A hearty vegetarian soup bursting with delicious caraway seed flavor

Adapted from my grandmother’s recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 large potato, thinly sliced
  • 1 large beet, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (can sub beef or chicken stock)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill weed, chopped
  • black pepper, to taste
  • sour cream and fresh dill for topping

Directions

    1. Cook sliced potatoes and beets in stock in a 2 gallon stockpot until vegetables are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Strain the stock into a large bowl by pouring everything through a strainer. Set the potatoes and beets aside and keep the stock.
  1. Melt the butter and olive oil in the stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions, celery, carrots, caraway seeds, and salt. Cook down for 3-5 minutes, or until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the cabbage and pour in the reserved stock. Covered, reduce heat to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes until all vegetables are tender.
  2. Add the potatoes and beets back into the stockpot. Stir in vinegar, tomato sauce, and dill. Season with black pepper to adjust the taste to your liking. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream and fresh dill.

This is seriously one of my favorite soups of all time! Even if you don’t love beets, give it a try. It’s a wonderful way to use the sweet root vegetable in a seriously savory dish.

Beet Soup

Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup

Got leftover chicken wings? Don’t throw them out! Make this soup instead. Colby makes great chicken wings for football games; he’s perfected his technique over the past year. This last time, Colby doubled his recipe.. and brought home a supreme pizza, ice cream, chips, and chocolate! Needless to say, we had plenty of leftovers!

I was making buffalo chicken salad sandwiches for him this week (pull meat off the bones, chop, add diced celery, and dress with ranch or bleu cheese dressing), but it got to be a pain to pull the tiny bits of meat off the bones.

Determined not to let his tasty wings go to waste, I made this buffalo chicken soup! It’s spicy and very savory thanks to the chicken bones. You could easily make it using chicken breast instead of leftover wings, though!

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If this is what you’re looking at the day after the Super Bowl, give this recipe a try!

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Ingredients:

(Serves 6-8)

1-2 lbs leftover buffalo wings (or 1 lb cooked shredded chicken)

2 cups chicken stock, boiling

2 cups water

15 oz can whole tomatoes, mashed

4 carrots, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

1 bay leaf

1-2 teaspoons dry ranch seasoning (or salt, according to taste)

1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or more if you like it super spicy!)

Sour cream, bleu cheese dressing, or ranch dressing for serving

Directions:

  1. Place the leftover buffalo wings in a large saucepan containing the boiling chicken stock. Boil for about 5 minutes, just long enough for the skin to come loose.
  2. Use tongs to transfer the wings, one at a time, into a large bowl of ice water. Use your hands to peel the skin off the wings. Throw out the skin and place the meat and bones back into the simmering stock. Repeat for all the wings.
  3. Add the water, tomatoes, diced vegetables, bay leaf, ranch seasoning/ salt, and hot sauce to the saucepan. Bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour, or until all vegetables are tender and chicken is falling off the bone.
  4. Lade into serving bowls and garnish with sour cream, bleu cheese dressing, or ranch dressing.

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PS- you could easily make this recipe in a slow cooker. Simply combine all ingredients in a slow cooker after skinning the chicken wings and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours. Enjoy!!

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By the way, do you like my snazzy new photography setup? I picked up the supplies at Lowe’s: piece of drywall, white subway tile, marble tile, tile adhesive, and caulk. It only took about 30 minutes to build, so I’ll probably make another setup sometime soon! I think dark wood, sandstone, or slate would look nice.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Does your slow cooker need a little attention? I was inspired to dust mine off after teaching a cooking class with the UNLV Nutrition Center this week. We showed families how to use a slow cooker to make brown rice, healthy fruit compote, and a variation of this delicious soup!

It started out as a chicken tortilla soup, but the idea of an enchilada soup had me drooling. I tweaked a few things to make this soup a healthy comfort food. To make this soup cheesy yet lower calorie, put the gooey stuff where it counts- on top! By broiling the cheese on top of the soup rather than in the broth, you get all the flavor hitting your palate right away without getting diluted. The golden cheese topping makes this dish reminiscent of french onion soup. The classic latin American flavors shine through, so I hope you’ll curl up with a bowl of it on a night that you’re craving Mexican food!

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Ingredients:
(serves 7)

1 lb cooked shredded chicken

15 oz can of crushed tomatoes

10 oz green enchilada sauce

1 medium onion, chopped

1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 oz frozen corn

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

7 oz shredded cheese (Cheddar or Mexican blend)

7 corn tortillas

Canola oil spray

chopped cilantro, lime, avocado, and/or sour cream for garnish

Directions: 

  1. Combine chicken, vegetables, chicken stock, water, and spices in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.
  2. Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 400 degrees. Cut corn tortillas into slices or strips, spritz evenly with canola oil spray, and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy.
  3. When ready to serve the soup, ladle into ceramic bowls and top each portion with one with 1 oz of shredded cheese.
  4. Broil the soup until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Top with tortilla crisps and serve with cilantro, lime, sliced avocado, and/or sour cream.

**I forgot to put the tortilla strips on my soup for photographs.. dang it! I’ll get it right next time.

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Here’s what the soup looks like “naked” (without the cheese topping):

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And here it is all dressed up in its glorious cheese crust… mmmmmm….

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Easy Crockpot Chili

Hello! I hope your week is going as awesome as mine is! I slept for 12 hours Saturday night and Sunday night, so all week I’ve been bursting with energy. I’m running more now that the temperature is perfect in the mornings… Hopefully it’ll stay this way for awhile! With running before work I’ve had less time for food prep. This crockpot chili has been the perfect solution! I make it once and it lasts all week. It’s so hearty and the acidity is well balanced with a bit of sour cream and cheddar cheese. This and other lower carb lunches I’ve been packing for work have my stomach feeling flatter, which is great since it’s almost pool season. I even folded laundry in a bikini yesterday! I’ll bet that if you eat this chili your tummy will be just as happy :)

  
Easy Crockpot Chili Recipe found here. The only changes I made to the chow.com recipe were to use a combination of red kidney beans and pinto beans and lean ground turkey instead of ground beef.

  
Oh, I also usedextra sharp cheddar on this one. You get the most flavor with the fewest calories that way… Which reminds me, I’ve been experimenting with Weight Watchers for the past few months to learn more about the program and see if it’s a good diet plan for my clients. I’ve noticed that fat “costs” you a lot of Points Plus, so using low fat or fat free products seems to be a good strategy for keeping to your Points Plus limit for the day. It’s a trade off, though. When you choose fat free cheese or sour cream, you get fewer calories but a more processed product. So what’s better for weight loss? What do you think?? Would you use full fat sour cream and cheddar on this chili or go for fat free cheddar and fat free Greek yogurt/ sour cream? BTW, if you’re interested in a full review of the Weight Watchers personal coaching program, please let me know! I’m thinking about doing a post about it.

One more chili pic.. Yum!

  

Kielbasa and Bean Soup with Kale

It’s still winter, right? Maybe in the rest of the United States! Temperatures got to nearly 80 degrees here in Vegas today.  I’m glad I got to spend part of the day taking a walk with my mom and watching her feed hummingbirds and quail in her backyard. Today was hardly a soup day, but if it gets chilly again, this dish will be making a repeat appearance!

Bean and Sausage Soup

Ingredients:
(serves 6)

1 pound turkey kielbasa, sliced
Vegetable oil, as needed
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound red kidney beans, soaked at least 4 hours and up to overnight
2 quarts chicken broth
1 pound red bliss potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 bundle fresh kale, torn into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:
1. Place the kielbasa into a 7-quart Dutch oven and set over medium-low heat. Cook until the kielbasa has browned well and rendered its fat, approximately 15 minutes. If you do not have at least 2 teaspoons of fat, add enough vegetable oil to make 2 teaspoons. Remove the kielbasa from the pan and set aside.

2. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the beans and the chicken broth and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, add the potatoes, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Wash, rinse and trim the kale and tear into bite size pieces. Add the kale to the pot, cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes or just until it is tender, but not mushy.

4. Add the red wine vinegar and black pepper and stir to combine. Evenly distribute the kielbasa between 6 soup bowls. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

This soup is known as “Christmas Soup” according to Alton Brown. The original recipe is located here. The man is a culinary genius… I have yet to try a recipe of his that isn’t incredibly delicious! I bet this soup would be delicious with cornbread.
Kielbasa Soup
This soup is so well balanced! The red wine vinegar works wonders with the kale, garlic, and kielbasa. I’m pretty sure any recipe with kielbasa is a winner, actually. Enjoy!

Curried Lentil Soup

 

Hello! This is my first month participating the the Recipe Redux! This month’s theme is “spooky spices.” This recipe for curried lentil soup fits the theme because it uses several spices that I pulled out from waaaaay back in my pantry because I’m rarely brave enough to use them. Well, this soup turned out so well, I’ll have to incorporate Turmeric and Calcutta Heat into my cooking more often!

Calcutta Heat

Sometimes I cook a dish just because I have leftovers. In this case I had a little bit of chicken stock base left after making garlic butter shrimp for my husband and client. I don’t like shrimp, so I made myself a different dish on a whim. I had almost everything on hand to make this lentil soup by The Traveler’s Lunchbox. The only thing missing was cardamom, which is a fairly expensive spice that Colby and I buy EVERY year to make his German mulled wine for Christmas. It’s called feuerzangenbowle and I’ll be sure to post his signature recipe for it as the holidays approach. It involves lighting sugar and rum on fire, so it’s lots of fun to make! Anyway, we’ve bought cardamom at least twice before, yet it’s nowhere to be found in the pantry… so I improvised with spicy curry powder! The kind I use is called Calcutta Heat, which is a spicy curry blend. I suspected that the lentil soup would be strangely sweet (with nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves), I don’t like my entrees overly sweet. Without the cardamom, the soup was missing something, so swapping in Calcutta Heat actually enhanced the soup. Try it out! It’s incredibly flavorful and warming for a chilly day.
Curried Lentil Soup

Ingredients (serves 2):

1/2 cup dry lentils
2 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Calcutta Heat or curry powder & cayenne pepper
Pinch of each: nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves
1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut milk (depending on how creamy you like your soup- I opted for 1/4 cup)
Large handful of fresh spinach, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Combine lentils, chicken stock, thyme, and turmeric in a small/ medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Discard the spring of thyme.

2. While the lentils are cooking, heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. When melted, add onions and stir around until tender and golden (about 2-3 minutes). Add fresh garlic, curry powder of choice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Stir around until fragrant.

3. Scrape the onions and seasonings into the saucepan (if you want to get every last bit, like me, add the lentils and stock to the skillet instead). Add the coconut milk and fresh spinach.

4. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 more minutes. Adjust the flavor to your liking with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Check out other Recipe ReDux recipes below!

 

Albondigas Soup (Meatball Soup)

It’s (kindof) soup weather in Vegas! It’s still really warm, but it’s been gloomy out and raining all day. All I’ve wanted to do today is come home and curl up on the couch with a blanket, soup, and my husband to watch How I Met Your Mother. Now that I’m getting home from work earlier, I actually have time to cook AND relax! It’s pretty great. Here’s what I think is one of the BEST soups I’ve ever had! It has so much flavor and it comes together quickly. Give it a try! (This recipe is my healthier adaptation of a recipe on food.com)
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Ingredients:
(for the meatballs)
– 3/4 lb lean ground turkey
– 1/4 lb raw chorizo (pork or beef)
– 1 egg
– 2 cloves of garlic, minced
– 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa
– 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
– 1 finely grated carrot
– 1 tsp ground cumin
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp black pepper

(for the soup)
– 1 tbs olive oil
– 1 cup diced celery
– 1 cup diced onion
– 6 cups low sodium beef broth
– 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
– 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
– 1/2 tsp cumin
– 1 tsp dried oregano
– 1 large zucchini, sliced

Directions:
1. Begin by making the meatballs. In a large mixing bowl, combine all meatball ingredients and combine thoroughly with your hands.

2. Wet your hands and form small meatballs out of the ground meat mixture. Place them on a baking sheet or cutting board. You should end up with 35-40 small, 3/4″ diameter meatballs.

3. Refrigerate the meatballs while completing the following steps. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium/ high heat. Add the diced celery and onion to the hot oil and stir around for about 3 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.

4. Add the beef broth, tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, and oregano to the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Carefully drop the meatballs into the boiling soup one by one. Bring the heat down to a gentle boil and continue to cook for 10 minutes.

6. Finally, add the sliced zucchini and simmer for 5-10 minutes more.

I hope you like this soup as much as Colby and I did! The above recipe makes about 8 servings.

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