Monday, January 26, 2015

Miso Udon Soup

I am at a loss for words.  This--I'm sure--comes as a shock to many.  I always have stuff to say (whether it is worth listening to is a different story).  I really am in a conundrum...

...I cannot adequately describe to you how life-changing this soup is.  That is my issue.


A girlfriend from high school started a Facebook group months ago to encourage clean eating, exercise, and healthy habits.  I love it for the accountability, suggestions, and camaraderie.  She also posts a weekly menu.  I love her menus because they are healthy and delicious, but mostly because they take me out of my culinary comfort zone.  I get stuck in the same routines on most weeknights--chicken and veggies, turkey and veggies, fish tacos, vegetable soup, more chicken, more ground turkey, salmon when I am not sick of it, blaaaah.  (Thank you ladies in the group for being so encouraging, thoughtful, and downright awesome.)

A few weeks ago, her menu called for an Asian noodle bowl.  I took that and ran with it, and ended up with this divine work of art and taste bud temptress.  This soup will blow your mind, I guarantee it.  The tofu is perfectly soft, the miso is enhanced by garlic chili and soy sauce, the mushrooms provide a deep earthiness, the cabbage slaw adds some texture, the udon noodles are flavor vessels, and the hard boiled egg takes it over the top.  
Confession:  I made this soup five out of six nights.  It is that good.  Although I have tried, I cannot come up with an adequate analogy; it's as amazing as...... a warm bed on a cold night, rubbing your toes through the sand with a cold beer in hand, making first turns on a powder day, a three-day weekend, puppy cuddles in front of the fire.  (See, my analogies stink.)

What is even more enticing about this soup is that it literally takes 15 minutes to make!  So easy, very few ingredients, very little prep, and voile!

This is my favorite dish I have made in years.  Afterward, I know you will feel the same.






Miso Udon Soup:
Very loosely inspired by this recipe
  • 4-6 hard boiled eggs, pealed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 8ish ounces of firmly packed tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups of portabello mushrooms, diced
  • one package of udon noodles
  • 1 32-ounce carton of vegetable broth (this is important!)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of lower sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons of instant dashi granules 
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, or to taste
  • 2ish tablespoons of garlic chili sauce
  • 4 extra heaping tablespoons of fresh miso paste
  • 1 cup of broccoli slaw (I get the pre-cut kind in a bag)
  • 3 or 4 green onions, green part finely chopped
  1. In a large pot, add the stock, dashi, and soy sauce and cook over medium-high.  
  2. Add the miso and garlic chili sauce.
  3. Meanwhile, in a different pot, cook the udon noodles according to the package directions.  Do not add the seasoning packet!  Strain and set aside.
  4. To the soup, add the diced mushroom and tofu.
  5. When completely hot, taste and adjust--add more soy sauce, more garlic chili sauce, etc.
  6. Serve in a very large bowl.  Add a loose handful of the broccoli slaw and half a hard boiled egg.  Garnish with green onions.
  7. SAVOR THE GOODNESS!




Sunday, January 25, 2015

Creamy Carrot Rosemary Soup



I love soup.  My favorites are those that are thick--whether that be thick and chunky like a chili or stew, or thick with pureed veggies.  This carrot soup exemplifies the latter.  Carrots, potatoes, spices, a hint of cream, and a lot of love all blended into a thick but smooth soup.  This stuff is hearty, healthy, and extraordinarily delicious.

This soup is particularly special to me because it was one of the first dishes that I explored with in the beginning days of my culinary "career".  I've made a lot of great food in my time, but this one is a staple in my fall/winter line-up.  I love the rosemary and the hint of cream.  This soup is even more delicious when served with fresh bread or with rosemary and thyme biscuits.

The mercury is hovering just around zero up here.  There isn't a cloud in the sky and the fresh snow finally makes it look like we are actually having a winter.  What would make this day even more perfect?  You guessed it...creamy carrot rosemary soup.



Creamy Carrot Rosemary Soup:
Adapted from this recipe.

  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 5ish cups of carrots, peeled and loosely cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 3 or 4 small-medium Yukon gold potatoes, cubed (I do not peel them)
  • 1 32-ounce carton on lower sodium chicken broth (you may need to add a little more depending on your consistency preference)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 cups of skim milk (or you can go big and use heavy cream)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of dried crushed rosemary
  • salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, if you'd like
  1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high.  Once hot, add the diced onion and saute until soft.
  2. Add the broth, potatoes, carrots, and ginger.  Cover and cook over medium for 30 minutes until the veggies are tender.  Uncover and let cool slightly.  
  3. Use an immersion blender to process the soup until smooth.  
  4. Add the milk, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Mix.  Heat over low.  Taste.  Adjust if needed.
  5. Serve in large bowls.  Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
  6. ENJOY!

Chicken Veggie Casserole


It's comfort food season, my friends, which is my favorite season.  Mmmmm....creamy, cheesy, gooey, piping hot deliciousness.  I am also working hard to get back into shape, which creates a rigid dichotomy.  To meet both ends, I am searching for foods that meet both criteria.  Here, we've hit the jackpot.

This dish is packed with veggies and protein, and the thick creamy goodness comes (mostly) from Greek yogurt.  No sticks of butter.  No pints of heavy cream.  It is also versatile.  You can switch the proteins, add or substitute veggies, and the end is all the same.  Delicious!



Top it all off with a little bit of cheese.  (OK, this is where I cheated.  I added more cheese than I should have.  Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.)




You will love this recipe.  I promise.  It's great for a crowd or great for leftovers later in the week.  I am salivating. 

Chicken Veggie Casserole:
Adapted from this recipe.
  • 2ish cups of frozen sweet corn
  • 1ish cup of frozen peas
  • 1ish cup of broccoli florets, cut small
  • 3/4ish cup of portabello mushroom tops, diced
  • (substitute any veggie for the ones above)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced small
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of skim milk
  • 2 large or three medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 heaping cups of plain fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise (I always use regular if I have to use mayonnaise at all...the fat free or other kinds taste gross to me, but you are certainly free to use whatever you'd like)
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of Italian seasoning (more or less to taste)
  • a healthy dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup or so of shredded cheddar cheese (I used more....guilty)
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a medium nonstick skillet with the heat at medium high.  Once hot, add the chicken and cook until browned and completely cooked through, but not over-cooked.  Set aside.
  3. Add the other tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a large nonstick skillet also heated to medium high.  Add the onions and mushrooms.  Cook until the onions are soft and the mushrooms have absorbed most of the liquid.  
  4. Sprinkle the onion and mushroom mixture with the flour.  Cook for one minute or so stirring constantly.  Don't let the flour burn--you want it to coat the veggies and not clump.  Stir in the milk and bring it barely to a boil.  Cook for three minute or until the mixture is thick and bubbly.
  5. Reduce the heat a but and add the corn, peas, and broccoli.  Cook until hot and the broccoli is just softened.  Stir in the cooked chicken.  
  6. Remove the pan from heat.  Stir in the yogurt, mayonnaise, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Mix to evenly coat.
  7. Transfer to a 9 x 13 pan.  Top evenly with the cheeses.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and just beginning to brown on top.
  9. Enjoy!