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.

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.

Lentil Stew with Spicy Sausage and Kale

Cold day. Warm Soup. Enough said.

Lentil Stew with Spicy Sausage and Kale

Lentil Stew with Spicy Sausage and Kale

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

 

1 bunch curly kale

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

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

5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped roughly (2½ cups)

4 stalks celery, chopped roughly (2 cups)

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

1 tablespoon yellow curry powder

½ pound fresh spicy Italian or fennel sausage (pork or turkey), removed from casing, approximately 2 to 3 links

1 (24-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

3 small dried bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1⅓ cups green (Puy) lentils, rinsed and picked over for small pebbles

8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

 

Strip the tender leaves from the tough stems of the kale; discard the stems. Rinse the leaves, then chop roughly. You should have approximately 6 packed cups of kale.

Add ¼ cup olive oil, the onions, carrots, and celery to a small pot set over medium-high heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the celery begins to soften.

Add the garlic, curry, and sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with the back of a spoon, until the sausage is mostly cooked through, 5 minutes. At this point your kitchen should smell insanely good.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, lentils, kale and the stock. The stock should just barely cover the kale. Stir it all together.

Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, until the lentils are just tender. The consistency should be like a thick soup, so add a bit of water to thin it out if the lentils are not quite cooked at this point.

Once the lentils are tender, remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and vinegar. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve in soup bowls, and shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top with vegetable peeler. Grab a spoon and go crazy.

Note: If your sausage is on the spicy side, add a dollop of crème fraîche to take the edge off the heat.

Spiced Roasted Eggplant Tomato Soup with Fresh Goat Cheese

Since it’s cooling down in some places (certainly not in Los Angeles!), here’s one for a crisp afternoon or cold evening – using the end of summer eggplants from  your local farmers market.

Spiced Roast Eggplant Tomato Soup

Spiced Roasted Eggplant Tomato Soup with Fresh Goat Cheese

Yield: 8 servings

1 large Italian eggplant, peeled and diced medium (approximately 7 to 8 cups)

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

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

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

¾ teaspoon garam masala

⅛ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste

1 dried bay leaf

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

Fresh Goat Cheese/Chevre, for serving

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 450ºF.

In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and season well with some salt and pepper.

Lay the eggplants in a single layer on two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Place into the oven, and roast, uncovered, until lightly colored, approximately 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and the onions to a small pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic, thyme, garam masala, chile flakes, bay leaf, and paprika, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute

Pour in the tomatoes and stock and add the salt and pepper.

Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Check the eggplants; if they are lightly colored, remove them from the oven.

Add the eggplants and the stock to the tomato mixture and stir. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer.

Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Add lemon juice, a healthy pinch of salt, and a few really good grinds of pepper. Blend once more. Taste and adjust seasoning once more with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Serve in soup bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, a little goat cheese, and a sprinkling of the chopped parsley and mint.

Mahi Mahi Curry

I mostly cook French/Mediterranean/California style cooking, but sometimes I just want something different. More flavors, more spices-a trip beyond the Mediterranean. This dish is all about something new – going a bit beyond my comfort zone as far as recipe development. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but trust me, this dish is well worth it. Warm, balanced, flavorful, delicious. It’s like a vacation for your palate – no passport necessary. (Bonus: it’s a sustainable seafood dish!)

Mahi Mahi Curry

Mahi Mahi Curry

Yield: 4 servings

 

3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

1 large yellow onion, diced small, 3 cups

1 fennel bulb, diced small, 2 cups

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 serrano pepper, seeded and deveined, diced small

1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1 ¼ teaspoon ground fennel

¾ teaspoon turmeric

1 sprig fresh curry (approximately 16 fresh curry leaves)

¾ teaspoon garam malasa

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned

1/2 pound small red potatoes, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds

1 14-ounce can light coconut milk

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 ¼ pounds US Atlantic mahi mahi filets, cut into 6 equal sized pieces

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes

½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

1 lemon, halved

 

In an oval Dutch oven over medium-high heat add 1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil. Heat the oil until it’s shimmering, approximately 1 minute.

Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and lightly caramelized, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Add garlic, Serrano pepper, ginger, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, cumin, fennel, turmeric, curry leaves and garam masala. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons water if pan feels dry after adding the spices and then add bell pepper. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to break up any brown bits. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, until bell pepper has softened.

Add the potatoes, coconut milk and stock. Stir and cover. Let simmer on medium-low for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are al dente.

In the meantime, remove fish from refrigerator. Pat dry and season (both sides) with 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper.

In large sauté pan oven over high heat add 1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil. Heat the oil until it starts to smoke, approximately 1 minute.

Add fish pieces and let cook, undisturbed, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the fish is seared nicely on one side. Remove fish from the pan and set aside.

Going back to your oval dutch oven, once potatoes are al dente, add the tomatoes, stir and then nestle fish pieces in the pan, seared side up, and continue simmering, uncovered, for 15 to 25 minutes until fish flakes apart easily. If your filets are thin, it will take a shorter amount of time, so check on your fish for doneness frequently. (My oval dutch oven had an inner ring of rapid simmering liquid in the center of the pan and I nestled my fish around that inner circle of bubbliness so it wasn’t directly in the boil, but just snuggled up to it.)

Remove from heat, squeeze half a lemon over and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lemon as needed. Garnish with cilantro and serve to hungry guests. Have lemon wedges on hand.

Burgers, Gazpacho and Honey Vanilla Whipped Ricotta

Three bonus recipes for the week. Two on the Piedmont Healthcare website and one on the Livestrong website. They can also be found in my seasonal cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh!

First, my Honey Vanilla Whipped Ricotta with Fresh Fruit:

Screen shot 2014-09-03 at 11.27.43 AM

 

Second, my Spicy Watermelon Gazpacho:

Screen shot 2014-09-03 at 11.53.01 AM

 

Finally, my Grilled Hamburger with Tomato Mostarda:

Screen shot 2014-09-03 at 11.55.23 AM

Wild Dungeness Crab Stew

It’s a one pot wonder, it’s delicious, healthy, sustainable and it’ll serve a family, dinner party or just yourself – for many meals. What more could you ask for?

Wild Dungeness Crab Stew

Wild Dungeness Crab Stew

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small

1 fennel bulb, cored and diced medium

4 celery stalks, cut into thirds lengthwise and diced small

6 carrots, peeled and chopped roughly

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

3 cups corn kernels

2 ½ cups lima beans

2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, spots or greening removed and diced medium

4 cups vegetable stock

5 sprigs thyme, tied together with the bay leaves (use butcher’s twine)

2 bay leaves, tied together with the thyme sprigs (use butcher’s twine)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 pound Dungeness crab meat

Fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, for garnish

In a 5.5 quart pot, set over medium heat, add the olive oil and the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft, translucent, and lightly caramelized.

Add the fennel and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the celery and fennel begin to soften.

Add the carrots, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 6 to 8 minutes until the carrots begin to soften.

Add the garlic and the Old Bay seasoning and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute.

Add the corn, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes, stock, and herb bundle. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just cooked through.

Turn off the heat. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.

Add the crab, gently stir to combine and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper.

Remove and discard herb bundle and serve stew in bowls garnished with some hand torn parsley.