October 11 is the official launch date for my new book!
Satisfying Soups and Sides for Delicious Meals All Year
In the pages of my new book, Soup Nights, you’ll find all sorts of soup adventures! Some soups are perfect for vegetarians, others focus on fish (think bouillabaisse and gumbo), and many highlight those nutrient-rich beans and grains (barley, quinoa, lentils to name a few) so popular today. You’ll also discover hearty, richly flavored dishes, such as classic onion soup gratiné to counter winter’s chill, as well as cooler choices, like an icy cucumber Vichyssoise, for sweltering days.
But, though we might wish to, one cannot live by soup alone. So, I’ve included recipes for fresh seasonal salads and inventive sandwiches—natural partners for soups—as well as for never-to-be-forgotten desserts. Alll were created to pair with the soups in this collection. These side dishes will help round out your meal’s soup star. You’ll find suggestions for delicious “soup night” menus after each soup recipe in this book.
I’ve spent the last year and a half working on this collection, and have been blessed each step of the way by help from many talented individuals. Rizzoli editor, Caitlin Leffel, gave me free rein to create recipes with extra tips and details so that home cooks everywhere will be able to make them successfully. Photographer Harry Zernike is responsible for the gorgeous photos, and food stylist, Joy Howard, for the creative food styling. And, Peter Alberg designed the book of my dreams. My tireless assistants spent hours in my kitchen helping to make the recipes fool-proof; a group of volunteer testers cooked, critiqued, and helped fine-tune them. There are never too many cooks in the kitchen!
In honor of its launch I’d like to share some recipes from Soup Nights with my readers!
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Three Recipes from Soup Nights
Broccoli Soup with Curried Crème Fraîche
Here’s a soup that you can serve any season of the year. Its quick to assemble, takes only 15 minutes to simmer atop the stove, and is light yet totally satisfying. (Buying packaged broccoli florets rather than slicing them from broccoli crowns saves even more time.) A hint of cayenne pepper adds a bit of heat, but it is the crème fraîche scented with curry powder that is the secret to this dish’s vibrant flavor. Some of the cream is swirled into the puréed soup, while the rest is used as a garnish.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups (2 medium) chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
1 russet potato (about 12 oz), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb broccoli florets
6 cups chicken broth or stock
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper plus more if needed
2/3 cup crème fraîche
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish
1. In a large heavy pot (with a lid), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the potato and broccoli florets and sauté, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes and broccoli are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Purée the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, then return the soup to the pot. (Or, use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.)
2. In a medium bowl, mix together crème fraîche and curry powder. Whisk half of the mixture into the soup until well blended. Taste the soup and season with more salt, and additional cayenne pepper if needed. (Soup can be prepared one day ahead to this stage; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally.)
3. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of the remaining crème fraîche and a sprinkle of parsley. Serves 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Start-to-finish: 45 minutes
Make Ahead: Yes
Oak Leaf and Apple Salad with Honey Cider Dressing
For an interesting fall or winter salad try this combination of tender red oak leaf lettuce and tart frisée, paired with thinly sliced apple, fennel and red onion. A simple dressing prepared with honey, cider vinegar, mustard, and oil adds both sweet and tart notes. Because it has plenty of assertive flavors, I always pair this salad with big, bold soups such as New Orleans Red Beans and Rice Soup or the “Midnight in Paris” Onion Soup Gratiné.
Honey Cider Vinaigrette
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup canola oil
1 firm, crisp unpeeled apple (such as Granny Smith), halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 medium fennel bulb, tough center core removed and discarded, thinly sliced
4 cups oak leaf or red leaf lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
4 cups curly endive (frisée) or other tart greens (see market note)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp walnuts toasted and coarsely chopped (see cooking tip)
1. For the vinaigrette, in a medium nonreactive bowl whisk together honey, vinegar, mustard, and scant 1/2 teaspoon salt until blended. Whisk in oil. (Vinaigrette can be made one day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature, and whisk well before using.)
2. For the salad, add sliced apple, fennel, and onion to a salad bowl and toss with half of the dressing. Marinate 10 minutes. Add the oak leaf and frisée; toss with just enough of the remaining dressing to coat lightly. (You may have some dressing left over.) Season salad with more salt and with a few grinds of black pepper to taste. Sprinkle walnuts over the top. Serves 4
Market Note: Curly endive is a variety of chicory, which is also sold under the French name "frisée." Frisée has small, pale green lacy leaves and a slightly tart taste. It is milder than other chicories.
Cooking tip: To toast walnuts, spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a preheated 350 degree F oven. Bake until slightly browned and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Cool, then coarsely chop the nuts.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Start-to-finish: 35 minutes
Make Ahead: Partially
Crisp Oatmeal Thins Scented with Orange
These oatmeal cookies are thin and crisp, closely resembling those ethereally light French cookies known as tuiles. Sliced almonds and grated orange zest add extra layers of flavor to the oatmeal batter. A recipe yields about five dozen, but be forewarned—these cookies are addictive. I’ve seen a handful of guests polish off an entire batch at one sitting!
1 cup old fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see cooking tip)
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp grated orange zest
1. Arrange a rack in the center position and preheat oven to 325 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, almonds, sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk the egg, vanilla, and almond extract until blended. Add the egg mixture to the oatmeal mixture, and stir until mixed well. Add the butter and orange zest, stirring until combined.
3. Using a teaspoon, drop the batter onto a baking sheet, spacing the cookies 2 1/2 inches apart. Have ready two cooling racks. Bake one sheet at a time, until the cookies have spread and are golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully as they can burn quickly. (If you have two ovens, you can bake two sheets at a time.)
4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and slide the parchment with the cookies onto a kitchen counter. Let cool about 3 to 4 minutes until you can use a spatula to lift them (or peel them) from the parchment. Transfer the cookies to a rack to firm and cool completely, about 5 minutes.
5. Continue in this way with the rest of the batter, reusing the parchment paper. (The cookies can be made four days ahead; store them in an airtight container at room temperature.) Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies
Cooking tip: Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a preheated 350 degree oven until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully so nuts do not burn. Remove and cool.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Start-to-finish: 45 minutes
Make Ahead: Yes