Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

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Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

1 (16-ounce) bag chopped frozen spinach
8 ounces fresh watercress
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon)
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
8 medium fresh mint leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Crème fraîche, for serving

Fill a small pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Add the spinach and cook until spinach is thawed, approximately 2 minutes. Add the watercress and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain into a strainer over the sink, and cool quickly with cold running water. Continue to drain in strainer and squeeze out as much of the water from the spinach and watercress as possible.

Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon of salt to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to color.

Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock to the saucepan, raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer.

Remove from heat. Add the spinach, watercress and mint to the blender.  Pour the chicken stock mixture into the blender as well. Blend until smooth.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, lemon juice, and butter; continue to blend until fully incorporated.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and a few cheesy thyme crisp. (recipe below)

Cheesy Thyme Crisp

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated on a microplane
1/2 cup grated Gruyere, grated on a microplane
1/2 tablespoon white whole wheat flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Toss to combine in a large bowl, the cheeses, flour, thyme and pepper.

Place 6 1-tablespoon mounds of the cheesy mixture, evenly spaced apart, on a parchment lined sheet tray. Pat the mounds of mixture, using your fingers, into 3½ to 4-inch rounds.

Bake for 8 minutes until crisps are light brown in color. Remove from the oven and allow cheesy crisps to cool on the sheet tray for 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer crisps to a cookie rack and let cool completely.

Using a cool sheet pan, repeat the process until all crisps are cooked off.

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine and my new online cooking course with Clean Eating Magazine, “Clean Cooking & Nutrition: The World’s Healthiest Proteins & Advanced Vegetable Prep” will be starting on April 3! It’s gonna be so. much. fun! Check out the course trailer/preview to see for yourself!

Braised Spiced Chickpeas 
with Swiss Chard & Sweet Potatoes

Try my delicious veg & fruit packed stew recently featured in Clean Eating Magazine!

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photo by Ronald Tsang

Braised Spiced Chickpeas 
with Swiss Chard & Sweet Potatoes

 

Yield: 6 servings

 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

2 small fennel bulbs, stems and bottoms removed, diced small (2½ cups)

¼ kosher salt, plus more to taste

7 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon orange zest, grated on a Microplane

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (3 cups)

3-ounces dried figs, tough stems removed and quartered (9 figs)

3-ounces dried apricots, chopped roughly (11 apricots)

3-ounces dried plums, chopped roughly (12 plums)

1 tablespoon honey

2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 pound rainbow chard (leaves and stems), chopped roughly

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

 

Add the olive oil, onions, fennel and ¼ teaspoon salt to a 5.5 quart dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and orange zest. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the sweet potatoes, dried fruit, honey, chickpeas and chicken stock. Cover and increase the heat to medium high to bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are barely tender.

Stir in the chard. Cook, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the greens are tender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls and top with fresh cilantro for a delicious garnish. (Pairs well with brown rice, quinoa, chicken, etc.) Tip: make this dish vegetarian by swapping out the chicken stock for veg stock.

Braised Spiced Chickpeas 
with Swiss Chard & Sweet Potatoes

Check out my 1 pot wonder dinner, Braised Spiced Chickpeas with Swiss Chard and Sweet Potatoes, in the latest issue of Clean Eating magazine – hey it’s the cover photo – and it’s available online!

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If you like this recipe, you’ll love what we’ll be cooking up in my new online course, “Mastering Sustainable Seafood, Poultry and Meat!”

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Check out the course trailer and syllabus and enter NLYON75 when you register for $75 off!

Sweet Summer Corn Soup

What is summer without corn?! Grilled, sauteed, boiled – it’s all delicious, but one of my all time favorite ways to enjoy corn is corn soup.

This recipe is packed with that sweet corn flavor because everything comes to a boil, including the otherwise discarded cobs. Even when you take all the kernels off, they still hold so much flavor! So, why not use that flavor to your advantage? This recipe is also drought friendly: not only because we use every last inch of that corn on the cob, but also because it’s creamy without using any butter or dairy. The trick? Throwing a potato into the mix to give it extra richness. Oh, and there’s also that dollop of avocado. Mmmm.

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Creamed Summer Corn Soup with Chopped Cilantro and Avocado Puree

Yield: 6 cups

 

¼ cup grapeseed oil

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh thyme

teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

4 ears corn, kernels sliced off the cob (2 cups), reserving cobs

1 medium yellow potato, peeled and diced medium (1 cup)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1 large lime)

1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder (or more to taste!)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Avocado puree (recipe below)

 

Heat the grapeseed oil in a small pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the corn (and their cobs), the diced potato and the stock, then cover. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.

Remove from the heat, then remove and discard the corn cobs.

Using an immersion blender, blend continuously until smooth. Add the lime juice, chipotle powder and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve warm and garnish each bowl with a dollop of avocado puree, a good sprinkle of chopped cilantro and a light grind of pepper.

 

Avocado Puree

1 large avocado (9 ounces), flesh scooped out, seed and skin discarded

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1/2 large lime)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

A few good grinds of black pepper

 

In a small food processor combine the ingredients and puree until smooth.

Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

It’s summer which means tomatoes and strawberries are starting to overflow farmers market stands (among other delicious fruits). Summer also means plenty of potlucks, parties and, of course, delicious July 4th celebrations.

Super Sous and I have come up with the perfect dish for your summer events (whether that means dinner for 2 or 20!). It’s not only easy to make, refreshing and cooling, it’s another in our series of Drought Friendly Recipes, which makes it a win-win!

It’s also quite a stunner and… no oven needed.

Strawberry Gazpacho - Strawberries

Hulled Strawberries

Strawberry Gazpacho - Tomatoes

Ripe Red and Yellow Tomatoes

Strawberry Gazpacho - Overhead

Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

Yield: 6 cups

 

2 pounds strawberries, hulled

1 pound ripe red tomatoes, quartered

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced large

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, divided

½ teaspoon red wine vinegar

6 drops chipotle Tabasco sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)

1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste

2 small shallots, peeled and diced small

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 pound yellow tomatoes, diced small

30 small fresh basil leaves, plus more to taste

18 basil flowers, optional

 

Add the strawberries, tomatoes, red bell pepper, 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, red wine vinegar, chipotle Tabasco, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper to a blender.

Beginning with the slowest speed, blend until a smooth consistency is achieved. Strain through a fine mesh colander into a bowl, pressing the liquid against the mesh with the back of a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Stir to combine the diced shallot and the balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Let rest, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, stir in the 2 remaining teaspoons grapeseed oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and the diced yellow tomato.

When ready to serve, remove the soup from the refrigerator and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon the soup into bowls, top with a spoonful of the shallot/yellow tomato vinaigrette and garnish with basil leaves and flowers.

Spring Pea Soup with Furikake

Last week, Super Sous and I participated in a phone call led by Chefs Collaborative on the California Drought to discuss the current situation, the “forecast” and how the drought affects everyone – food eaters(!) and chefs around the country. If you weren’t able to join the call, no worries because you can now listen to this conversation:

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 9.19.57 PMWhile you listen to this conversation, perhaps you would like to enjoy a Drought Friendly Recipe?! This is a Spring Pea Soup with a delicious Japanese topping called Furikake, but if you don’t have it hanging around in your pantry, you can use toasted sesame seeds. (I will make a case to grab yourself some Furikake though as it is a delicious topping on fish, soups and even popcorn.)

P.S. You can see a video of me making this soup on YouTube.

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Right before the blender!

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The more topping the better

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Spring Pea Soup with Furikake (or toasted sesame seeds)

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

3 cups water

1 (10-ounce) block frozen spinach

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small (1 ½ cups)

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon)

1 medium Yukon Gold potato (1/2 pound), peeled and diced medium

4 cups vegetable stock

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 (16-ounce) bag frozen peas

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

10 medium mint leaves

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Nori Komi Furikake, for garnish (If you don’t have this, use toasted sesame seeds)

 

In a small saucepan bring water to a simmer. Add the spinach and stir until it can be easily separated with a fork. Drain into a strainer over the sink, and cool with cold water. Once cool, squeeze out as much of the water from the spinach as possible and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion to the saucepan and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to color. Add the garlic, stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the diced potato, vegetable stock, and thyme to the saucepan, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes until the potato is cooked through.

Stir in the peas and cook for 3 minutes. Add the spinach.

Using an immersion blender or blender puree until smooth.

Add lemon juice and mint leaves. Puree until smooth, thinning with a splash of water if it looks too thick.

Season to taste with salt, pepper or additional lemon juice as needed.

Serve in bowls and sprinkle over Nori Komi Furikake (or toasted sesame seeds).

Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup with Candied Pecans

Here’s another Thanksgiving dish idea using sweet potatoes and carrots. A delicious sweet and spicy (from ginger and cayenne) soup topped with my candied spiced pecans. Great vegetarian recipe that is easy to make and easy when it comes to cleaning up as it is all prepared in one pot. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Sweet Potato Carrot Soup with Candied Pecans

Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup with Candied Pecans

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

7 medium carrots, peeled and chopped roughly (3½ cups)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped roughly (3 cups)

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped roughly (2 cups)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a Microplane

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to taste

1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon honey, preferably orange blossom

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Candied Spiced Pecans (recipe below), for serving

Fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped roughly, for serving

Combine the carrots, sweet potatoes, apple, and stock in a large saucepan over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until both the sweet potatoes fall apart and the carrots are soft and can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove from the heat.

Blend the mixture to a smooth texture carefully with an immersion blender.

Add the grated ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, honey, lemon juice and olive oil to the saucepan and continue to blend. Season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt and pepper; add more cayenne pepper for heat and more cinnamon for sweetness.

Serve in soup bowls topped with candied spiced pecans and chopped parsley.

Candied Spiced Pecans
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil

1¼ cups pecan halves

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B

Mix together the cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, salt, and a few good grinds of pepper in a small bowl.

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute or until hot.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and the nuts, and cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds to cook evenly.

Working quickly, add the spice mix to the sauté pan and stir to coat. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring once every five seconds.

Add the maple syrup very carefully, as it will bubble up, stirring to coat. Allow to cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the nuts, and if they begin to smoke, turn down the heat a little and stir more often.

Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Working quickly, using two forks, separate the individual nuts, then allow to cool completely. Seriously. They’re going to be hot.