Rosemary White Bean Soup with Smoked Bacon

Bacon makes everything better…

white bean

Rosemary White Bean Soup with Smoked Bacon

 

Yield: 4 servings

 

1 bunch curly kale

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

3 slices smoked bacon, halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices (3/4 cup)

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

5 large garlic cloves, peeled andminced (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)

3 (5-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary, bruised with your fingers

5 sprigs fresh thyme

2 dried bay leaves

2 (16-ounce) cans white kidney beans (cannellini beans), rinsed and drained

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus more to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano 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 the bacon and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a small pot. Place over medium-low heat and cook for approximately 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until much of the fat has rendered off, and the bacon is just beginning to get nice and crispy.

Add the onions, stir occasionally, and continue to cook until soft and translucent, 6 to 7 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Using a piece of butcher’s twine, tie together the rosemary, thyme sprigs and bay leaves; toss the herbs in the pot.

Stir in the beans, kale, and stock.

Cover and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the beans are soft and the kale is cooked through.

Remove the tied herbs and discard. Add the vinegar and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional vinegar.

Serve in bowls. Shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the soup with a vegetable peeler, then top with a drizzle of olive oil and some pepper.

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Halibut Ceviche with Tomato Gazpacho

Halibut Ceviche

Photo by Andrew Grinton

Strike this recipe while the tomatoes are overflowing at your local farmers market or in your very own backyard garden! (P.S. This recipe was recently featured in Clean Eating Magazine!)

 

Yield: 4 servings

Gazpacho

½ pound small cucumbers (Persian or Japanese) (approximately 2 cucumbers) peeled and chopped roughly

½ large red bell pepper (¼ pound), seeded and chopped roughly (reserve other half for ceviche)

2 pounds red tomatoes (approximately 7 medium tomatoes), cored and chopped roughly

1-ounce shallot (1 medium shallot), peeled and quartered

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

 

Add all the above ingredients to a blender, except the olive oil.

Blend until smooth. With blender on low, stream in the olive oil until combined.

Taste and adjust salt as needed.

Refrigerate until ceviche is ready to be served. Stir or re-blend briefly before serving.

 

Ceviche

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 small jalapeno (.75-ounces), seeded, deveined and diced small (1½ tablespoons)

1 pound skinless halibut, diced into ¼-inch cubes (Use Seafood Watch to select halibut)

½ large red bell pepper (¼ pound), seeded and diced small (½ cup) (reserved from gazpacho)

1 scallion, thinly sliced (¼ cup)

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

Combine lemon juice, lime juice, salt and jalapeno in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Add halibut and mix thoroughly.

Using the back of a spoon, level the halibut off so it is pressed down in the liquid. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly atop the fish in the bowl.

Refrigerate for 8 minutes.

Remove plastic wrap and stir. Using the back of a spoon, re-level the halibut off so it is pressed down in the liquid. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly atop the fish in the bowl.

Refrigerate for an additional 8 minutes. The halibut should be opaque and white in color.

Drain the mixture in a colander and return it to the original small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.

To serve, pour 1¼ cups of the gazpacho in a shallow bowl. Then, mound ¾ cup of the halibut ceviche in the center of the bowl.

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!

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.