Rosh Hashanah Cabbage Soup

This Rosh Hashanah soup comes from The Scent of Orange Blossoms. It’s a hearty and comforting soup traditionally served during Rosh Hashanah, but I think it’s probably okay to eat it other days of the year.

If I’m wrong, by all means speak your peace.

What you need

  • 1 small to medium green cabbage
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 10 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped, for garnish

The first step is to slice your cabbage. To do so, cut it in half, remove the core and slice into thin strips.

Cut all of your other ingredients now and then combine everything on the list, minus the cilantro. It’s garnish, people, not an ingredient.

Bring this concoction to a boil. When foam begins to appear, skim this off.

Have you ever wondered why recipes constantly ask to skim off foam. I mean, what did foam ever do to a soup. A lot, apparently. I looked it up.

The foam causes a greenhouse effect on your soup, which is a no-no to the cooking process because simmering is important in soup cooking. Otherwise you get overcooked soup and then people start debating about whether or not global warming is a real thing.

It’s just bad, so get rid of it.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the foam, minimize the heat to medium so the soup can simmer. Cover and cook for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Basically, we want to cook until the meat is tender.

When the meat is tender, you are ready to serve and garnish with cilantro.

As you might have observed, this soup is effortless and straightforward to make. It’s also delicious. This dish ranks high on my list of meals to make again for those reasons. Sure, I like gourmet food, but if it’s labor intensive, I don’t want to make it all the time. What American who works over 8 hours a day and never gets month off vacations in August has time for that?

I’m jealous. I should move to Europe.

 

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Skimming that foam!

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Mediterranean Beef Stew

Isa’s Babushka Borscht

I enjoy Isa from Isa Does It. She throws in little slices of humor and tips for lazy cooks. Plus, she has a deep connection with her heritage, which I appreciate and relate to.

This particular recipe is a vegan alternative to borscht and I’m guessing it comes from her grandmother since babushka means grandmother or elderly woman in Russian. I do know at the very least that her ancestors are Russian and that she loves imagining them eating and preparing this dish. As I like to do with my own ancestors whenever I make pasta.

What you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of red beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 chunks
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • several pinches of ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • cashew cream (optional)
  • fresh dill, for garnish

Before I lay down the cooking steps, let me side track into how to make the cashew cream.

It’s simple, but it takes some planning ahead. All you do is take one cup of cashews and soak them in water for two hours. Drain the water and place the nuts in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of water. Blend until it’s smooth and creamy. Isa also notes you can spice it up with salt and lemon juice if you desire.

If you are not vegan, however, a friend of mine who spent some time in Russia likes to make his borscht with sour cream. I have yet to try his borscht recipe, but I have to admit that I wasn’t feeling the cashew cream. If you are a corrupted animal product dairy lover like myself, you also might find it preferable.

The first step, beyond the cream, is to pre-heat the oil in your largest soup pot. Saute the onion with some salt for about 5-7 minutes. The onions should be slightly soft and translucent in color. Add the garlic next, and cook for only 30 seconds.

Now we will add just about all the remaining ingredients. The lemon juice, dill, and cream are the only ingredients left out at this time.

Cover the pot and allow it to boil. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat, leave the lid slightly ajar, and simmer for about 35 minutes or until the beets are tender.

Once the beets have been tendered, add the lemon juice and then serve individually with garnished cream and dill.

My final results turned out ok. Like I said earlier, I wasn’t too happy with the cashew cream. I think I would have preferred a dairy product of some sort. I made her cashew cream for another recipe, however, and thought it was delicious. It’s possible I didn’t blend well enough this time or maybe the cashews were fresher the first time I made it.

Other than that, I found this soup to not only be healthy, but full-filling. Beets aren’t magical fruits, but they are magical vegetables with numerous health benefits.

Which is probably why I want to corrupt this soup with sour cream. Without sour cream, it’s just too good for me and I don’t deserve it unless I knock it down a peg.

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The Scent of Harira

Déjà vu, synchronicity, or coincidence? I’m not sure what word would best describe this situation. All I can tell you is that I did not plan nor did I realize that my next recipe was going to be another Harira soup.

This version doesn’t have lamb meat, but it does come from The Scent of Orange Blossoms which is a traditional cookbook of Jewish-Moroccan recipes. So, we can gather that this version is more traditional than Isa’s.

The authors of this cookbook say that this dish “typifies the cross-cultural exchanges between Morocco’s Arab and Jewish communities.”

Both cultures have a tradition where they break each day’s fast with this soup. Muslims in the month of Ramadan and Jews at the end of Yom Kippur.

The lesson I get from this is that food is the answer for peace! I declare open borders for food!

Getting back to tradition. Isa, in the last entry seemed surprised one would use angel hair pasta in this soup, but the two ladies who wrote this cookbook mention that angel hair is one of many variations. Should I let Isa know?

You can also use leavened bread as well as various types of grains.

What you’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 cup of brown lentils, cleaned and picked over
  • 7 1/2 cups of beef stock
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 20 sprigs of cilantro
  • 15 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of raw long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup of garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • Wedges of lemon

The first step is to heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. By the way, when in doubt, use medium heat. Moderation is a friend of the doubtful.

Add the onions to the pot and stir in a moderate intervals of time for 4 to 5 minutes. Then add the celery, lentils, and 6 1/2 cups of stock. Cover your pot and bring this to the max boil, aka rolling boil. Cook this under the max boil for 10-15 minutes and then decrease to moderate medium.

While this is happening, you can prepare your tomatoes via the scoring method. Scoring involves marking your tomatoes with the x of death on the stem and then boiling in max heat boil for 30 seconds. Drain and cool the tomatoes after that and by then you can skin them alive and chop them to bits.

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Cooking is brutal

When you have brutally murdered and dismembered your tomatoes, you will add them into a blender with 1/2 cup of stock, cilantro, parsley, turmeric, and ginger. Your goal is to have a fairly smooth consistency. When you’ve reached that goal, add it to your pot along with rice and garbanzo beans. Cook this for 30-35 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

5 minutes before your soup is ready, bring it to a simmer. While it is simmering, in a bowl, mix flour with the remaining stock to create a paste. Add this to the soup and stir until it thickens.

You are now ready to serve your soup with a fresh slice of lemon!

I liked this version of Harira better than Isa’s. It wasn’t as hearty, but I preferred that. The lemon slices are a nice touch that I enjoyed as well. It gave the soup a refreshing citrus taste that wasn’t present in Isa’s version.

I can see why both are popular to end a fasting period too. They are hearty, comforting, and relatively healthy at the same time.

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Isa Harira Soup

Here is another hearty vegan soup from Isa Does it

I was starting to worry about Isa. Her cookbook started out strong in my favorable opinion, but I’ve been a little disappointed with the last few recipes.

This soup brings my favors back on track!

I call it a soup, but it’s almost hearty enough to be classified as a stew. Isa even claimed to have an “existential crisis” in trying to figure out how to label it.

This is also not a traditional recipe for harira, but her variation of it. Traditional harira is made with lamb meat and rice instead of pasta. If you are a vegan or are wanting to cut down on meat consumption, this is an excellent alternative.

What you’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt, plus a pinch
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of minced fresh ginger (I used ginger paste, nothing died)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup of brown or green lentils
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of saffron threads, crushed (This is optional and recommended for those of you who are rich)
  • 1 24 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted recommended
  • 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • 4 ounces of angel hair pasta

The first step is to pre-heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat for the oil. When oil is hot, add onion with a bit of salt. Cook this until the onions are translucent then add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Saute this for about a minute.

The next step is to deglaze the pot with some broth. This is a fancy way of saying, pour some liquid in there to scoop up any crap that might be sticking on the bottom of your pan. I don’t know why they have to call it deglazing though. This is cooking, not pottery making.

When you’ve rid yourself of your pot clingers, you will add the eggplant, lentils, paprika, cinnamon, one teaspoon of salt, the saffron, and 4 cups of broth. The saffron is only for the privileged, spoiled elite. I didn’t make the cut. This is an ingredient for the Ivy League not the Big Ten.

If you’re observant, you might notice we only put in half of our vegetable broth. This is due to speeding up boiling time for the lentils and eggplant. Don’t fret! We will add the remaining broth later!

Cover the pot and allow it to rise to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat a hair, so that’s it still boiling, but not erupting like a volcano. Leave the lid ajar as well. Do this for about 20 minutes.

Deglaze without adding in liquid once in awhile as well.

When the 20 minutes are up, add the tomatoes, chickpeas, mint, cilantro, and about 2 cups worth of broth or as much as it would take to ensure a soup consistency. Bring this to a boil and then add the pasta. Stir and cook until the pasta thins and softens. Then add the remaining broth and serve with your extra garnish!

The best part about this soup is the pasta. Isa and I agree about this issue, so I feel like most people will too. The other star of the harira show is the garbanzo beans. The eggplant is a close third. My eggplant turned out a little mushier than I would have liked, but overall this was a nice, hearty stew. I recommend consuming it on a harsh, cold winter night. If you are from California that translate to a rainy night or anything below 60 degrees.

 

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It’s kind of like spaghetti as a soup

Dodie’s Bean Soup with Preserved Lemons

My next recipe comes from The Scent of Orange Blossoms. I acquired this cookbook from a college class about women from the Middle East and it’s  specifically about Jewish-Moroccans cooking. It is also has sprinkles of history written in-between the recipes which is why my professor added it to her curriculum.

For this particular recipe, the author included a letter from a mother to her two daughters about how life has changed in the city of Fez. She tells them about how when she was young all the generations of the family lived together and worked as a community.

It was not uncommon for multiple generations to live together for many cultures in the past. I know that in my own family history, I had relatives that lived and worked on family farms.

I find pleasure in discovering similarities between vastly different cultures.

Another similarity between my culture and Jewish-Moroccan culture is family comfort food. Dodie’s Bean Soup with Preserved Lemons is such a meal, according to Dodie that is and I’m not gonna dispute her on it.

Here’s what you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cups of dried baby lima beans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 12 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 lamb or chicken sausages (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 of preserved lemon rind
  • 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of salt

Before we begin, this recipe requires some early preparation. Most notably, the preserved lemons. I haven’t been in the mood to ever go and try to buy preserved lemons, mostly because I’ve never seen it off hand and it’s easy to do on your own. I’m sure you can buy it somewhere though. Despite it being easy to do, it is kind of pain and it makes making this recipe hard to do if you just want to make it on the fly one night.

If you are okay with waiting in anticipation to make this soup and want to preserve your own lemons give yourself three weeks. As I said, it’s not hard, but it takes time. What you do is cut a cross into the nub of a lemon and then slice half way down. Pull the lemon apart a bit and then sprinkle as much salt as possible inside. Place the lemon in a mason jar and repeat the process until you have compressed as many lemons as the jar will hold. Leave that jar on the counter overnight and add another lemon. Continue to do this for a few days and be sure to flip the jar each time to evenly disperse the salt. Eventually the rind will soften and that’s when it’s ready to be consumed and preserved even longer by refrigeration.

Again, this process takes about three weeks.

The other preparation for this soup involves the beans and tomatoes. The tomatoes are real easy. You do the cross stitch cut and boil method for that. You only have to boil them for 30 seconds. If you wait until they are completely cool, the skin will just slide off.

The beans are a pain but also easy to do. Ideally you’ll want to soak those puppies in cold water overnight. You should then be able to rub off the skin easily. The quick method is to boil them with salt for three minutes and then let it soak in the salt water for an hour. Both methods work and the skin will come off easily, but it’s difficult keeping track of what is skin and what is bean. It’s kind of tedious and I do recommend asking for help.

Now that I’ve got those disclaimers out of the way, let’s move on to the cooking.

The first step is to mix the paprika with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until a paste forms. Once the paste forms heat it in a large soup pot over medium heat until it darkens. Once the paste is dark enough, add the beans, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir and then cover the pot to let it boil for 2-3 minutes. Once those three minutes are up, lower the heat to a low setting and allow the beans to cook for an hour or an hour and 1/4.

When the beans have softened you can discard the bay leaves and add garlic, cumin, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes.

While this is happening, get your lamb or chicken sausage out and slice them. You will cook your sliced meat in a small skillet with olive oil for about 4-5 minutes.

As soon as the meat is ready, I say it’s ok to add it to the soup, but if you’re nervous about it you can go ahead and dice your lemon rind, wait until those initial 30 minutes are up and add everything together. After you add the meat and lemon the final step is to pepper and salt the thing.

The final result is comforting and tasty. The lemon and cumin are the strongest flavors. I think if I made this again, I’d dial back on the cumin. I also recommend letting the lemon soak into the soup. I actually liked my leftovers of this soup better than my fresh version because the lemon flavor had blended into the soup by then as opposed to overpowering it.

The best part about this soup for me was the garlic though! By the time this soup is ready for consumption, the garlic has softened and becomes this nice ball of mushy goodness. I’m not describing it well at all, but trust me when I say it’s delicious.

So, yeah, this soup was a success and I’d make it again if I had some help. It doesn’t top French Onion Soup, but it’s a contender for sure.

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Awwwwww, it matches my placemat!

 

*Some time after this blog was published, I discovered that Trader Joe’s sells preserved lemons. You always find the thing you need after you don’t need it.

Miso Chunky and Vegan Soup

I know the title is lame guys. I know it is. My sparks of creativity are just not flowing right now. Maybe they never have? Why can’t I be the mad genius I dreamed of being as a little girl? The kind people whisper about and say, “That girl is crazier than a nest of bat excrement, but damn is she a talented genius!”

I could be like Christian Bale, Marlon Brando, Tesla, or even the log lady from Twin Peaks! I mean she’s not crazy, but she can talk to a log! That log knows all and that’s impressive.

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Sadly, I am not a log lady nor a genius. I might be a little crazy, but every time I try to get a psychiatrist to diagnose me they’re just like, “Eh…you’re an emotional person, but you’re a little too self aware”

I’m just not reaching any of my major goals.

Maybe I’m a manipulative genius who is so talented I manipulate myself? If that’s true, that’s just not rewarding and kind of useless.

Cooking is useful and rewarding though! Hopefully I’m getting better at it, but it’s hard to say because unfortunately I have to give another meh review.

This Chunky Miso Vegetable Soup comes from Isa Does It. Isa has not been doing it for me lately, which is sad, because I like her first few recipes. Isa and I come from different worlds, though. She’s vegan and lives on the east coast. I love cheese and live in LA. She’s Jewish, I went to catholic school. She’s a brunette and I’m a fake blonde. Despite these differences we’ve come so far and I’m not about to give up on her now.

Anyway, here are the ingredients,

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of peeled carrots in 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 ribs of celery, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 4 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup of green beans trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 15 ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup of mellow white miso
  • 1 cup of thinly sliced scallions

The first step is to preheat your oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil has heated up, add the onion with a pinch of salt. Saute this for about three minutes or until the onion has softened. The next set is the carrots and celery. You will saute them for three minutes as well. Then you add the cauliflower, green beans, broth, and the pepper.

Cover your pot and allow it to boil. Once boiled, reduce the heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes. While your soup is simmering, leave the lid on, but propped open ajar.

The goal for now is to allow the cauliflower to tender and once it has tendered you can add the beans and miso. I have a note about the miso. I got mine at Trader Joes, but it was a miso soup mix. I was sure to pick the most basic one I could find, however, the next day I was in Lassen’s and found the type of miso Isa wants you to use. I decided that from now, when I’m making one of Isa recipes I should shop at Lassen’s.

It is a health food store after all.

Whatever miso you pick up, you’ll want to stir it in your pot until it dissolves. Once it has dissolved, pepper and salt to your liking, add some scallions, and serve.

As I said, for me this soup came out ok. I think my problem is that I’ve lost my enjoyment for miso soup. Meaning, I used to love miso, but lately my feelings have been lukewarm.

It’s not fair to miso. Miso deserves better. If you love miso, though, than I imagine you’ll love this recipe. So try it out and enjoy!

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Miso pretty?

 

 

Minestrone Soup

My next recipe is a minestrone soup from Sandra Lee’s Semi Homemade Meals.

This is a great cookbook for the lazy novice cook. In other words, it’s perfect for me.

Ok, so I know I’m being a dick to myself. I’m not that bad of a cook. I’m definitely impatient which can come across as lazy at times. I think we all can agree on that, based on my past entries and all.

The  only downside to Sandra is that she breaks things down so easily that some of her breakdowns don’t exist anymore. What I mean by that is that certain brands and compilations of vegetables are un-obtainable in present day.

I got this cookbook when I was in High School and that was more then ten years ago.

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How I feel about that fact

I think change is ultimately a good thing, but why can’t I find a frozen vegetable medley of sugar snap peas, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower? That seems like a standard vegetable mix in the Americas.

Anyhoo, I ended up getting some Asian stir fry mix. Not so American but  it had all of the above plus water chestnuts. I like water chestnuts, but not so much in soup. It’s kinda abrasive. That’s the best way I can put it.

The other ingredients you’ll need are 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 of a chopped onion, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1/2 cup of port wine, 1 32oz container of reduced sodium chicken broth, 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, 7 ounces of frozen mixed vegetables, 1/2 cup of rd kidney beans, and one teaspoon of Italian seasoning.

The first step to making this soup is to heat your olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once it’s heated you cook the onion for about a minute and then the garlic for 30 seconds. Next, add the port wine and bring that to a boil. When it has boiled, reduce the heat and let it simmer for another minute.

Once the minute is up, you add the chicken broth, tomatoes, vegetables, beans, and seasoning. I have to make a note here, that you can use a whole can of beans. A half cup is not that much and I don’t see the point in not using the whole can. Sorry Sandra, you’ve been good to me, but I disagree with you on this.

Whatever you decide to do, you will bring this to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

After all of that, your soup will be ready with the exception of one little tid bit. That tid bit is to add some shredded parm on top. Unless you have some kind of dairy allergy, do not forget this!!! It is the best part of this soup, trust me!

In the end I was a little disappointed in this soup, but the cheese saved it by being the heavenly angel of food passion and desire that it is. It melts in your mouth and gets all gooey. I love cheese so much. Screw being an eccentric cat lady. I’ll be an eccentric cheese lady.

The rest of the soup was just meh. I think using Sandra’s shortcuts via the vegetables was what kept it from being good. I had to force myself to eat the frozen veggies, but when ever I got a taste of onion I was in euphoria.

Halfway through eating this soup I started to fantasize about French Onion Soup. It’s so simple and yet delicious as all heaven.

So sorry, Sandra. This soup is on my no list for making again. I’ll stick to my Italian cookbooks for minestrone.

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‘Meh’nestrone Soup