Split Pea Soup with Bengali Spices.

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for a while now (pretty sure I’ve been making it for almost a year!). One of my best friends, who is an amazingly creative cook, gifted me a batch of her Bengali spice mix, called panch phoron. I started using it in split pea soup, and it is SO GOOD. The spices get toasted and give a really interesting and savory flavor to the already-wonderful classic split pea. This stuff is great fresh or as leftovers, and it freezes well, too, so you can definitely make a big batch and pop half in the freezer. Pair it with almost any garnish you can think of–my favorites include fresh herbs, grated cheese, toasty buttery croutons, or a poached egg. So without further ado, one of my favorite soups…Split Pea with Bengali Spices!

Bengali Spice Split Pea Soup| KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: bacon fat or butter, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, Bengali Spice Mix (fenugreek seed, fennel seed, cumin seed, nigella seed), split peas, cooked ham, chicken stock, thyme, fresh parsley

INGREDIENTS
bacon fat (butter or olive oil will work also, of course)
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp Bengali spice mix (see below)
2 cups cooked ham, chopped
1 lb split peas 5-7 cups stock or water
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

for panch phoron spice mix (equal parts of all spices):
fenugreek seed
nigella seed
mustard seed
cumin seed
fennel seed

DIRECTIONS

Add bacon fat to a Dutch oven or other large soup pot over medium low heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and stir. Cook until softened and just starting to brown. Use a large spoon to move all the vegetables to the side of the pan. Put a bit more fat in the pan and add the spice mix. Stir into the oil and cook until fragrant–just a few minutes–and be careful not to burn.

Bengali Spice Split Pea Soup| KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: bacon fat or butter, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, Bengali Spice Mix (fenugreek seed, fennel seed, cumin seed, nigella seed), split peas, cooked ham, chicken stock, thyme, fresh parsley

When the spices are cooked, stir them into the vegetables. Pour in the stock or water, ham, thyme, and split peas. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the split peas are softened. When the soup is done cooking, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the fresh parsley and serve hot!

Bengali Spice Split Pea Soup| KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: bacon fat or butter, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, Bengali Spice Mix (fenugreek seed, fennel seed, cumin seed, nigella seed), split peas, cooked ham, chicken stock, thyme, fresh parsley

Though you may be tempted to eat it all up right away, this soup is PERFECTION as a leftover. The flavors get even better when they have a few days to develop.

Bengali Spice Split Pea Soup| KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: bacon fat or butter, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, Bengali Spice Mix (fenugreek seed, fennel seed, cumin seed, nigella seed), split peas, cooked ham, chicken stock, thyme, fresh parsley

Spinach and Green Garlic Soup.

Green garlic is everywhere right now. It’s just young garlic, with a softer, edible skin and a milder flavor. It’s delicious in scrambled eggs, soups, and sauces (especially pesto). Since I haven’t been feeling well lately, from a combination of allergies and a sore throat from screaming my head off when the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings in a Game 7 of the NHL playoffs, I figured a nice spring soup might perk me up a bit. It’s also a great way to get a good healthy helping of spinach! Adapted from Orangette, this light and easy green garlic and spinach soup is a breeze to make and delicious to boot. Dig in.

IMG_8350

INGREDIENTS

butter and olive oil
3 stalks green garlic, sliced (use the white and the light green parts)
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken stock
2 1/2 cups water
5 oz baby spinach
a spoonful of Greek yogurt
pepper

Just the Recipe link: Spinach and Green Garlic Soup

DIRECTIONS

In a Dutch oven or other large pot, heat a bit of butter and olive oil over medium low. The butter is for flavor, and the olive oil will keep the butter from burning. Once it’s hot, add the green garlic, salt, and cayenne.

IMG_8304

Cook gently, careful to avoid burning or browning, until the garlic is soft and smells sweet, and has lost its raw smell. Add the chicken stock and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the spinach and turn off the heat. Stir it in and let stand just 5 min, so it cooks but keeps its bright green color.

IMG_8313

Now puree the soup in batches, until it’s smooth. Add it back to the pot to reheat. I wanted to reduce my soup and get it to a little bit thicker consistency, so I simmered it a few minutes more.

IMG_8316

Once it’s where you want it, turn off the heat and stir in a scoop of greek yogurt. Serve immediately, with lots of pepper on top. Delish!

IMG_8345

Cabernet Beef Stew.

Because life is a cabernet.

Chicago has had a very chilly start to May, especially over the past few days, and this weekend I found myself with a crazy craving for beef stew. On Saturday, I built our beautiful new kitchen island, so I decided that Sunday would be the day I put it to good use and make a glorious pot of stew. Having just drooled over a DVR-ed episode of Barefoot Contessa where Ina Garten makes a food-porn-o-rific batch of Parker’s Beef Stew, I used her recipe as inspiration for this one. And of course, I added paprika to my recipe, because I can never make a beef stew without paying at least a little homage to goulash (the absolute king of stews, in my humble opinion). I give you, cabernet beef stew.

IMG_8039

INGREDIENTS

1 – 1/2 lbs stew beef, cubed (I like mine cut into small, bite-sized pieces)
1/2 cup potato starch flour (all-purpose flour is fine here, too, but you’ll need a bit more of it)
salt and pepper
olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 stalks celery, washed and sliced
1 small sweet potato, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bottle of cabernet sauvignon*
2 cups stock (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 canned whole tomatoes, chopped, plus a tbsp or two of canning liquid
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or about 1 tsp dried rosemary)
1 tsp paprika
1 cup frozen peas
marjoram, for garnish
*Note: the flavor of the cabernet sauvignon is quite strong here. If that doesn’t sound good to you, I recommend cutting back to about a quarter bottle of wine.

Just the Recipe link: Cabernet Beef Stew

DIRECTIONS

In a mixing bowl, stir together potato starch flour, salt, and pepper. Drop a few pieces of meat in at a time and toss to coat. Shake off the excess and set aside, until all the meat is coated in flour.

Heat a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium high heat and add olive oil. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides. Remove the browned meat from the pan and set aside.

IMG_8017

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Add carrot, celery, sweet potato, and onion to the Dutch oven, along with bay leaves. Cook about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

IMG_8014

Add garlic and cook two more minutes. Remove vegetables from the pan and set aside.

IMG_8019

Pour red wine into the pan, along with the rosemary and paprika, and stir to deglaze, making sure to loosen all the brown bits from the bottom.

IMG_8021

Add stock, Worcestershire sauce, and tomatoes. Then add the meat back to the pot, followed by the vegetables.

IMG_8024

Give it a stir, cover the pot, and bring to a low boil. Then place it in the oven and cook for 2-3 hours, until the meat is fall-apart tender or until you can’t wait any longer. I ended up turning the heat down to 275 F about 20 minutes in, to keep the stew at a low bubble instead of a more active simmer.

IMG_8028

Once the stew is done cooking, remove from the oven. Turn off the oven at this point – we’re done cooking.

IMG_8030

Stir in frozen peas and re-cover the pot. They’ll defrost and cook in the heat of the stew.

IMG_8034

Serve with warm, crusty bread, and if you like, sprinkle a bit of marjoram on top.

IMG_8043

Loaded Chili.

Garnishes. Goodies. Fixins’. At least half the reason I love chili is the toppings you get to put on it. Oh, my, the toppings. This recipe is about making an amazing chili that will eventually become an Ode to Toppings, and I want you to use them all: avocado, cheese, cilantro, tomato—whatever your heart desires. And you know what? You are a great cook and a wonderful person, and you deserve a beautiful meal. So thank yourself for making this by plating it up like a work of art and garnishing the heck out of it. Heidi at 101 Cookbooks is the master at this. Here are some of her most gorgeously garnished soups: Split Pea, Broccoli Cheddar, Yellow Split Pea, and Posole in broth. Let life imitate art and load up this chili!

IMG_7707

INGREDIENTS

for the chili:
olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb ground meat (I used pork)
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups stock (I used beef stock)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 16oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can corn, drained and rinsed

all the fixins’:
avocado, sliced
fresh cilantro, chopped
cheese, shredded
fresh tomato, chopped
onion or green onion, thinly sliced or minced
squeeze of lime

Just the Recipe link: Loaded Chili

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a pan and add onion and red pepper. Cook about 8 minutes, until softened.

IMG_7683

Add the garlic and the cayenne pepper, oregano, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook 1-2 minutes, until fragrant and yummy-smelling.

IMG_7687

Add the ground pork and use your spoon to break it up. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally.

IMG_7691

Once the meat is browned, pour in the canned tomatoes and the stock. Toss in a bay leaf for good measure. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes.

IMG_7692

After 45 minutes have gone by, add the cilantro, corn, and beans, and simmer for another 15 minutes.

IMG_7699

Taste for seasoning and your chili is good to go! Now dress it up. And make it look beautiful, for heaven’s sake! You’re worth it.

IMG_7706

Celery Root and Sweet Potato Soup.

I’ve been wanting to try this type of thing for a while. Have you ever noticed, while you wander through the grocery store, a really knobby, homely-looking reject vegetable? One that looks like something went wrong when a normal vegetable was growing and it came out all messed-up? That’s celery root, also called celeriac. It’s notorious in the culinary world as one of those foods that many home cooks tend to shy away from, never knowing its versatility and great flavor. I hope to learn a lot more about celery root and to have some more recipes up here in the near future! For now, this warming, pale orange soup is just lovely, despite celeriac’s homeliness. Thank you to Frugal Feeding for the inspiration.

IMG_7268

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp butter, divided (or skip the butter and just stick with oil)
olive oil (any oil really will work  – I used sunflower oil. Because I felt like it.)
2 small onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small celery root, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
4-5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
thyme, paprika, salt, pepper to taste (I used a small palmful of each)
bay leaf
1/2 – 1 cup half and half
fresh parsley for garnish

Just the Recipe link: Celery Root and Sweet Potato Soup

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil and, if using, 1 tbs if butter in a large soup pot, and add onion and celery. Cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. When the onions are nearly there, stir in the garlic.

IMG_7253

Add the celery root and sweet potato and cook 5 minutes.

Next, pour in the stock and add your thyme, paprika, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. If you’re using butter, add the second tbsp here and stir in to melt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato and celery root are totally soft.

IMG_7256

Remove from heat and puree in batches, either using a blender or food processor, or, if you’re lucky enough to have one (I do not!) use an immersion blender.

IMG_7260

Pour in the half and half and stir, and you’re ready to serve! Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. I had a nice little lunch of this soup with a butternut squash and green onion quesadilla.

IMG_7262

Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

File this one under “tons of flavor in less than 20 minutes.” Also file it under “food for when you’re pretending it’s snowing,” because that’s what I did yesterday. It’s been something like 300 days since Chicago has had any measurable snowfall, and despite a snow-optimistic forecast, it’s just not happening for us. I woke up Friday morning to a depressingly still-green backyard, and it’s hard to feel Christmasy with such balmy weather. Global climate change is really throwing a wrench into my Christmas spirit! So I made this tasty, toasty dish for lunch, and I’m crossing my fingers we’ll get a white Christmas in the next few days. Until then, broccoli cheddar soup is a good distraction.

IMG_6197

INGREDIENTS

olive oil
butter
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup half and half
1 1/2 cups stock (I used leftover beef stock)
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
a few handfuls of broccoli (I had some leftover cauliflower so I threw that in too)
about 1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese (don’t measure. Just add as much as you want.)

DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat a splash of olive oil and a bit of butter and add the flour, stirring constantly. Cook about a minute, then add the garlic and cook another minute.  Pour in the half and half, stock, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

IMG_6189

Bring to a low boil and add the broccoli. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is tender.

IMG_6190

Remove from heat and pour into a food processor or blender. Add the cheese and blitz to your liking.

IMG_6193

Serve with bread and butter and cross your fingers it will snow before Christmas.

IMG_6194