Friday, August 17, 2018

Spanish Romesco Sauce Becomes Soup! #SoupSwappers

Romesco sauce is a popular topping in Spain.  It hails from the Catalonia area of Spain and appears with roasted vegetables, fish or slathered on a crostini.  While in Spain I grew to love crostini with yummy, especially with a nice glass of wine!  This Romesco soup is a variation of the sauce.  It has all of the great ingredients: roasted red peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and almonds with some vegetable broth and a few surprises tossed in.

One of the surprises is harissa paste.  I usually have powdered harissa on hand but paste has more complex and depth of flavor than the powder.  (Thank you, saved me miles of driving.)  So when it was suggested that harissa paste be used, I was willing.

The other surprise is chickpeas.  This soup has smashed chickpeas in it.  These, along with the almonds, give a nice texture to the soup.  It is called Spanish Romesco Soup with Smashed Chickpeas!

Today is Saturday Soup Swappers and I was challenged to make a soup using almonds.  I usually associate almonds with baking so I had a little thinking and working to do.  Today's theme was selected by Sneha at Sneha's Recipes.  Thank you, Sneha, for reminding me that there many ways to use an almond!

Spanish Romesco Soup with Chickpeas
adapted from Minimalist Baker

Yield:  8 servings

2 red peppers (with skin and stem)
4-5 cloves of garlic (skin on)
1 cup raw almonds
1 28-oz can roasted diced tomatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp spicy smoked paprika
1/2 tsp each salt and fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 to 2 tsp harissa paste (taste and add more as desired)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 15-oz can chickpeas (drained, rinsed, smashed)

Garnish:  Chopped cilantro, shaved parmesan cheese

Preheat oven:  350° F.

Line a baking sheet with foil.  Arrange peppers on one side.  On the other side spread the almonds and garlic.  Place in oven.  Roast almonds for 12 minutes.  They will be golden brown and slightly cracked.  Remove the almonds from the baking sheet and set aside.
Continue roasting the garlic for 7-8 minutes.  Remove and set aside.  Return the baking sheet to the oven and increase the temperature to 475° F.

Roast the peppers until they have blackened, about 12 minutes.  Turn the peppers midway to char the other side.  Once charred, remove the peppers and place in a paper bag or wrap in foil to allow them to steam for about 3-4 minutes.  After steaming the peppers, peel away the skin, remove the core and the seeds.  Remove the skin from the garlic.

Put the peppers, garlic, almonds, tomatoes, vinegar, harissa, paprika, salt, pepper, and maple syrup into the blender.  On high speed, puree the ingredients until smooth.  Scrap down the sides of the container as needed.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired for additional heat, sweetness, acidity or salt.

Pour the mixture into a large pot.  Add the vegetable broth and the smashed chickpeas.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce and simmer on low for approximately 15 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish as desired with chopped cilantro and parmesan.


This was an enjoyable soup.  I loved the spiciness and depth of flavor from the harrisa paste.  And I am so thankful to have the air conditioning unit up and running!  Ten days without air conditioning is a very long time.  Once the house had cooled down....on came the oven to roast those gorgeous peppers, garlic cloves and almonds!!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Spicy Veggie Chili with Summer Squash #soupswappers

Today I was challenged to prepare a soup or chili that required me to use a slow cooker.  That means the dish had to be one that would stand up to our summer...for me, that is a chili and one that features veggies.  Using a slow cooker during the summer is so much better than using an oven! And, it is a garden veggie time of the year! 

Slow Cooker/Crock Pot Soup is hosted by Karen at Karen's Kitchen StoriesThank you for reminding me that the slow cooker is a great summer appliance.

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

This chili is a winner!  It lives by its name, it is spicy and the flavor is wonderful!  We loved it and neither of us can wait for lunch tomorrow!

Spicy Veggie Chili with Summer Squash

adapted from Dina Cheney, Fine Cooking

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup scallions, white, light green and some dark green parts (4 onions)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced jalapeno (1/2 medium)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp kosher salt, divided, 
5 grinds fresh black pepper
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp oregano flakes
2 cups frozen corn
2 yellow squash, quarter lengthwise, then cut into thick slices
1 zucchini squash, quarter lengthwise, then cut into thick slices
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 Tbsp minced chipotle chiles or use just the adobo sauce
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 28-oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with juice
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Garnish:  Tortilla chips, sour cream, chopped avocado

In a 10-inch skillet, heat half of the oil on medium-high.  Add the bell peppers, scallions, garlic, jalapeno, half of the salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder and oregano.  Saute about six minutes, just until the vegetables soften.  Add the squash and the corn and saute an additional three minutes.  Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.  Add the beans and mix well.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining oil, tomato paste, chipotle chiles or adobo sauce, and flour.  Cook until the mixture is thickened and the flour disappears.  Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes with their juices, vegetable stock, lime juice, and the remaining salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring well for about 3 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.  Mix well.  Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.  Stir in the cilantro.  Serve with chips, sour cream and avocado.


I wasn't really certain how the squash would do in a slow cooker so upon thought, I decided that they should be cut into thick slices and quartered.  They stood up to the heat really well.  This was truly a tasty recipe.  If you aren't a fan of really spicy chili, I would suggest cutting back to one Tablespoon of adobo sauce.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Don't Throw Out the Pickle Juice!

There is a first time for everything, for me, it is using pickle juice.  I know that it is a regular thing for many cooks to use pickle juice in their potato salad.  Until recently, I had always made my own oil and vinegar mixture for marinating the potatoes and seemed to be stuck in my ways.  That is why when I was presented with this recipe, I just had to "follow directions".  Just what has cooks singing pickle juice praises was something I wanted to know.

I tossed my fresh cooked potatoes with the pickle juice, just as directed.  What I learned is that pickle juice offers up a smooth tangy flavor with just a hint of sweet.  This was a flavor that makes potato salad dance!  It was delicious....

All-American Potato Salad
adapted from The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook

Yield: 8-10 servings

3 large eggs
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 Tbsp dill pickle juice, plus 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped dill pickles
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
1/4 tsp paprika, for garnish

Bring the eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and one quart of water to a boil in a saucepan.  When it reaches a boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.  Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water and let cool for about five minutes, then peel and coarsely chop the eggs.  Set aside.

Place potatoes in a large pot.  Add enough cold water to cover them by an inch.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add one teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low.  Allow the potatoes to simmer until they are tender, 10-15 minutes.  Drain and spread the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet.

Mix two Tablespoons pickle juice and mustard together in a small bowl,drizzle the mixture over the hot potatoes and toss until coated evenly.  Refrigerate until cooled, about half an hour.

Mix the remaining Tablespoon of pickle juice, chopped pickles, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, sour cream, red onion, and celery in a large bowl.  Add the cooled potatoes and toss.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.  Just before serving fold in the chopped eggs.  Sprinkle the mixture with the paprika and the chopped parsley prior to serving.


This met the taste test.  I will definitely make it again.  Will I give up the usual way that I marinate warm potatoes?  No.  I have just added another choice to the repertoire!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Mac and Cheese Salad with Chipotle

We eat our fill of macaroni salad and potato salad during the warm months.  There is just something about it that says tasty!  I love the tanginess of the two salads and since they are a cold dish, I can think "cool"!

I recently prepared a Macaroni Salad with Cheese and Chipotle for a gathering of friends.  It was a new recipe but friends do not mind being guinea pigs!  The only thing I was nervous about was that the recipe called for three tablespoons of know that was destined to be a super spicy hot side dish!  Since I didn't want to run my friends off, I decided to add the chipotle a tablespoon at a time and taste test in between.  It seemed the prudent thing to do.

There was one little thing that least, I thought it had happened....I was squeezing my lemon juice into the salad when I heard a pop.  Thought about it and kept on mixing.  It kept niggling at me.  Upon investigation I noticed that one screw on the lemon juicer was missing...hmmmm....had it already been missing and I hadn't noticed, or, did it just then pop into the macaroni salad?

I poked around in the salad with a fork and didn't find anything...but, this was a ton of salad and the screw was tiny.  Since I really didn't want anybody to break a tooth, an additional search was necessary.  So, a spoonful at a time was removed from the bowl and checked for a screw!  While one was not found, I did give fair warning to friends, just in case!

This wasn't a king cake, nobody got the prize for finding something strange in the salad!

Macaroni Salad with Cheddar and Chiptole
adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Yield:  12-15 servings

1 1/2 pounds large elbow macaroni
1/2 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
3 Tbsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/2 cup minced red onion
3 ribs celery, minced
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
3 Tbsp lemon juice
5 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 1/4 cups mayonnaise

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta plus 1 1/2 Tbsp salt and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.  Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water until cool.  Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the cheddar, onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic powder and cayenne.  Add the chipotle a tablespoon at a time, taste testing in between.  Or, if you are brave, add all three tablespoons at once.  Let the mixture sit until the flavors are absorbed.

Stir in the mayonnaise and allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes while the may is absorbed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The Test Kitchen says that the salad may be refrigerated for up to a day.  They recommend mixing in 1 Tablespoon of hot water at a time to refresh the salad prior to serving.


We decided that we would definitely make this again.  There was something about the sharp cheddar and the tang of the chipotle.  Delicious!

You will be happy to know that I am the proud owner of a new lemon juicer!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Slow Cooker Salmon Chowder #soupswappers

I gave Terry a choice today.  Should I make a Salmon Chowder or a Thai Crab and Corn Chowder?  I was leaning toward the crab.  He was leaning toward the salmon.  I leaned toward the slow cooker.  Salmon Chowder was the choice for Saturday Soup Swappers.

Today's chowder doesn't have a heavy cream base.  It is predominately clam juice with just a bit of cream and a dab of butter.  It was really perfect and I must admit that I was trepidatious. I am really used to making chowders of the creamy variety!  This isn't a brothy soup and only partially submerging the salmon allows it to poach in the herby broth.  Yummy!

Slow Cooker Salmon Chowder
adapted from the Food Network Kitchen

Yield:  4 servings

3 cups bottled clam juice
1 pound potato medley (red, yellow and purple), diced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
12 sprigs dill
12 sprigs parsley
8 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 wide strip of lemon zest
1 pound fillet, skin removed, cut into four pieces
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter

Chopped fresh chives
Chopped dill

In a large measuring cup, heat the clam juice until very hot.

Scatter the potatoes, celery, carrots, onion and garlic in a 6-quart slow cooker.  Tie the dill, parsley, thyme, lemon strip together with twine.  Lay the herb bundle on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker.  Add the bay leaves.  Pour in the hot clam juice.  Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper.  Stir the heavy cream into the vegetable mixture.  Lay the salmon pieces on top, partially submerging them.   Cover and cook an additional 30-40 minutes.

Discard the herb bundle, remove the bay leaves.  Stir in the butter.  Season the chowder with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the broth and vegetables into a soup bowl and top with a piece of salmon.  Garnish the chowder with chopped chives and a sprinkle of dill and serve.


Chowder is the theme for this month's Saturday Soup Swappers.  The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!  This Saturday is hosted by the chef who began the group, Wendy!  Thank you for all of your work!

I mentioned earlier I was trepidatious about making a chowder like this but I did get encouragement from quote, "Everything you make is delicious, unless it's not...but that only happens every five of six years."  Ha!  This was not one of those years!

Friday, May 18, 2018

White Bean and Barley Soup #soupswappers

"Some days are like that...Even in Australia."  
(Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst)

We all can count upon having a bad day now and then, it is what happens.  What I try to remember is that there are those whose day is probably worse than mine, so, be strong, push through. The quotation from Judith Viorst's children's book has long been a quotation that I think of when things get tough. question is, does this also apply to months?  I think it must.  What a month it has been.  

In a span of five days my ninety-one year old mother had a big setback:  five falls, a trip to urgent care, two trips by ambulance to the emergency room, a three day stay in the hospital for observation and as a result, a need to change her living situation which entailed a move to a dementia care facility.  With that decision, the dominoes begin to fall in regard to moving. What to do with furniture, household items, etc.  I must say that I appreciate my niece.  She and her husband came to the rescue.  (I love it when needs match up!)

Meshed in among all of the above we was hosting a family dinner for visiting out of state family, a trip to Seattle to help my daughter as her hubby had to go to....wait for it....Australia.... I got sick so I wasn't really much help.....came home and began the laundry that had been piling up for a long while.  It was either do the laundry or go to the store and buy new necessities!  Watching the washing machine could be therapeutic.  Ha!   

Thankfully, I had made this easy, soothing, flavorful, and delicious Bean and Barley Soup before the dominoes began falling!  It is Saturday!  It is the third Saturday of May!  I am to make a soup with the theme that Paula at The Saucy Southerner selected for the Soup Saturday Swappers: Let's Go Meatless!

What I learned in making this soup was that all vegetable broths are not created equal.  The broth that I found at Trader Joe's exceeded the other brand I had purchased...hands down!  If you haven't tried so!

White Bean and Barley Soup
adapted from Eating Well

1 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp dried basil
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
6 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup quick cooking barley
6 oz package baby spinach (about 6 cups)
1/4  cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the onion, fennel, garlic, and basil.  Stirring frequently, cook the mixture until it begins to brown, about 8 minutes.

Mash about 1 cup of the beans.  Add the mashed beans, remaining whole beans, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot and stir.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer.  Stir the mixture occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the spinach leaves cooking until wilted.  Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the cheese and pepper.

Notes:  The soup may be refrigerated for up to three days.  It freezes well for up to six months.


This would be a great soup for a girls' luncheon served with some crusty bread!  I know that I will definitely make this soup again.  In fact I have some friends coming next week....all I need is the fennel!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Red Wine Beef Stew #soupswappers

It is Saturday!  It is the third Saturday of April!  It is spring...or supposed to be!  I am supposed to make a soup with the theme that Camilla, at Culinary Adventures with Camilla selected for the Soup Saturday Swappers:  Spring Has Sprung

The only problem I have is that it is winter outside.  So, I do believe I am a failure at making a soup that has spring vegetables.  We really were craving comfort food, I mean it was going down to 38°.  I know that there are some folks out there with even colder weather....I'm sorry your spring looks like winter!  What I do know is that you would be comforted with this super, slow cooked Red Wine Beef Stew!

Red Wine Beef Stew
adapted from NY Times Recipes

Marinating Mixture
3 1/2 - 4 pounds beef stew. cut into large pieces
2 large sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
12 juniper berries
1/2 bottle red wine (red table wine or cabernet works well)

In the Pot
Salt and fresh ground pepper
4 garlic cloves  (1 smashed, 3 minced)
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 stalks celery
3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 1/2 onion, chopped
1 large Idaho potato, peeled and diced
3-4 slices bacon, cut into lardons
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp tomato paste

Bouquet garni (2 sprigs fresh thyme 2 sprigs rosemary and parsley, 2 bay leaves, 6 juniper berries, 4 whole cloves, 1 tsp dried orange peel, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied.

1/2 bottle
Chicken broth, as needed
3 Tbsp chopped parsley

In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients.  Mix well.  Place the meat and marinade into a large zip lock bag or bowl and refrigerate.  Marinate for at least two hours or up to a day.

After the meat has marinated, strain off the marinade and reserve for cooking.  Drain the meat on paper towels and pat dry.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Prepare the vegetables:  cut the celery and carrots into large chunks.  Peel and dice the onion.  Peel and dice the potato. Set aside.

Prepare a large, heavy pot with a tight fitting lid by placing it on the stove and rubbing the bottom with the smashed and peeled garlic clove coating it with the garlic's oils.  Discard the garlic.

Heat 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil in the pot until shimmering.  Add half of the meat and brown gently on both sides.  When browned, remove the meat to paper towels to drain.  Repeat with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and meat.  Then return the all the meat to the pot.

Heat the oven to 250° F.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon lardons until crisp.  Cook gently until the fat renders.  When the bacon is close to finished, add the onions, celery, carrots, and minced garlic.  Cook stirring, until softened and golden, about ten minutes.  Increase the heat, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring until sizzling and fragrant.  Add the bouquet garni, reserved marinade and potato.  Let the mixture bubble rigorously for 5 to 10 minutes until the liquid is thickened and syrupy.  Transfer the mixture to the heavy pot with the meat.

Pour the remaining half bottle of red wine to the pot.  If needed, add enough chicken broth so that the ingredients are covered.  Stir to combine.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Place the lid on the pot and bake four to five hours.  At four hours, test the meat for doneness.  It should be soft enough to eat with a spoon and the sauce should be thick.  If after four hours, the liquid appears thin, remove the lid from the pot and bake uncovered for the remaining time.

When done, let cool slightly.  Remove and discard the bouquet garni and the celery chunks.  To thicken the stew, smash some of the carrots and potatoes with a fork.  Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Garnish each serving with thyme leaves and chopped parsley.


 Copycat soup recipe is the theme for this month's Saturday Soup Swappers!  The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!