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Archive for the ‘Soup / Stew’ Category

Tortilla Soup

I have been making this soup for years and have shared my recipe with so many people, I was shocked that I hadn’t yet posted in on here. It is one of my favorite soups, it is so simple to make and it’s loaded with so many of my favorite flavors. You could probably easily make it with vegetable broth and just double up on the vegetables and it would still be delicious. I always find this is a great way to use one of the whole chickens we get from the farm since it really makes the soup the best and the more chicken in the soup, the better it is, in my opinion.

Also, if you don’t feel like making the broth from scratch, you can use a good quality organic low sodium chicken broth or stock and pick up a quality simply spiced rotisserie chicken from the market. Just remove any fat and skin from the chicken, take the meat off the bones and shred or dice it, adding it to the soup near the end. It’s that simple.

You could certainly make your own corn tortillas from scratch for the tortilla strips, which I do most times and it is super simple, or you could just buy a package of good quality corn tortillas from the grocery store or a local Mexican market.

The fun thing about this soup, as with many, is the measurements of your ingredients can be really loose and to taste to your preferences. I almost NEVER measure when making a soup like this, I just taste it along the way and add more of things as I see fit, so definitely keep that in mind when making this for yourself. Use my measurements as a guide, but please taste along the way. If you don’t like super spicy, you can leave out the jalapeños, but I would really suggest keeping in the chipotles when making the stock and definitely in the soup, that smokey flavor really makes this soup what it is, in my opinion. If you can’t find dried chipotles, you can use the canned ones in adobo sauce and if you are worried about the spiciness, just skip adding a chipotle pepper all together and simply add a tablespoon of the adobo sauce.

You can also have fun with the toppings on this soup, besides the necessary tortilla strips, I usually like a good squeeze of lime juice, a little cubed avocado, some fresh cilantro and green onions. It’s also good with a little sprinkle of shredded sharp cheddar and if you like sour cream, it is good with a little dollop of that, too.

As usual, when I make this for the two of us, I make the full amount and we just live off of it for a week, it’s great for lunches or on those nights when I am too busy to cook. This time of year, I almost always have some type of soup or stew in the fridge that I made a couple of days prior, it is a must for me in the cooler weather.

Tortilla Soup
Serves 8-10

Chicken Stock
(this soup tastes the best with homemade stock, but if you are in a rush, you can still make it delicious by using boxed organic low sodium chicken broth and adding in the meat from an already cooked rotisserie chicken you bought from the store)

2-3 quarts water
1 whole organic chicken, about 4lbs (rinsed and giblets removed for the dog)
1 whole red onion, peeled and quartered
2 dried chipotles, halved
2 garlic cloves
1 bell pepper, seeded and quartered

In a large stockpot, (use the strainer that fits in your stock pot if you have one) combine all of the ingredients making sure to use enough water to cover your chicken and bring to a gentle boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 2 1/2 hours, adding more water if necessary to keep the chicken and vegetables covered. Skim the surface occasionally to remove any foam or impurities that forms on the surface. The longer you cook the stock, the stronger the flavor will be, but 2 1/2 hours was more than adequate and the stock had a fantastic flavor to it.

Remove the meat and bones and reserve any meat on the bones that can be separated and added back to the soup. If you didn’t use the strainer in the pot when making the stock, strain the stock to remove all the vegetables and other bits and add the broth back to the pot. Throw out the bones and vegetables. Use the stock immediately or let the stock cool completely, and refrigerate overnight. Skim any fat that forms on the surface. Keep refrigerated in airtight containers until ready to use, up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months. Since I was using the stock immediately, I skimmed any visible fat off the top, made sure that it was strained of everything, and kept it on a low heat while I prepped everything for the soup. You will probably end up with about 48-64 ounces of stock when making it homemade (give or take). Use all of it for the tortilla soup.

Tortilla Soup

6 to 8 cups of low sodium organic chicken broth or stock (I make my stock from scratch with one of our whole chickens from the farm, see above)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 dry chipotles, roughly chopped
2 to 3 bell peppers (you can use any combo you like, red, yellow, green, whatever), diced
1 (or 2) jalapeños, minced (optional, depending on how much spice you like, you’ll get a little from the chipotle)
2 teaspoons sea salt plus more to taste
2 teaspoons ground chili powder or to taste (you can add more as it cooks)
1 teaspoon ground cumin or to taste (you can add more as it cooks)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander or to taste (you can add more as it cooks)
1 large can of organic diced tomatoes
The meat from the chicken you made your stock from or the meat from 1 small pre-cooked rotisserie chicken or 2 chicken breasts, already cooked – skin and fat removed, shredded or diced
1 or 2 limes

For Topping:
8 or more corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
lime wedges
fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
fresh green onions, thinly sliced
avocado
sour cream
shredded cheddar

Saute onion, garlic and all your peppers with the olive oil. Cook till slightly soft, but I like to leave a little bit of the crunch there. Add chili powder, cumin and salt, stir. Add broth and canned tomatoes and bring to boil. If you made your stock from scratch and its already in a large pot, just cook up the vegetables in a pan and add to the broth. Bring to a simmer and continue to add seasonings to taste, depending on how spicy you like it. Cook for about 20-30 mins or so to really allow all of the flavors to come together.

Meanwhile, slice 8 or more corn tortillas into thin strips, put on a cookie sheet, drizzle with 1 teaspoon or so of olive oil and lightly salt. Bake at 375 degrees until desired crispiness. (about 10-15 mins) Put aside.

Dice and shred the chicken and add to the soup, simmer until chicken is heated through. Add a few bunches of cilantro and the juice of one to two limes stir and serve.

Serve soup topped with tortilla strips, diced avocado, fresh cilantro, green onions and a few squeezes of lime. You can also top with shredded cheddar, hot sauce, sour cream or whatever else you might like.

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Butternut Squash & Chickpea Coconut Curry (Crock Pot Recipe)

 

I absolutely adore my slow cooker. It is so perfect for those days where you kinda feel like cooking, but you don’t really have the time or desire to stand around stir this pot so it doesn’t stick, toss that thing in this dressing, cut up this and that. I always love eating at home and cooking my own meals, but sometimes after a long day of work, I just don’t have the energy to head to the kitchen and start on another 1-2 hour adventure. Though it hardly feels like work, sometimes it’s just hard to muster up the energy after a long and busy day. With a crock pot there is no preheating, no keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t over cook, no stirring. It’s just simple, easy home-cooking. When you are ready to eat, just head to the kitchen and serve yourself. I always tell Mark that my crock pot is the closest I will ever come to having a personal chef, it really feels like that.

This recipe is exceptionally easy, just toss all (well, almost all) of the ingredients in to your crock pot in the morning and check back later. I decided to keep out the peas until the end and wished I had done the same with the spinach, so I altered the recipe to reflect that. That’s it. You could certainly fuss with sautéing the onions and garlic ahead of time if you wish, but I really don’t see why you should bother. I tossed it all in and it was ready to go 6 hours later. I had some beautiful spinach and peas from the market so I decided to toss those in for some extra greeny goodness and that was our meal.

I truly think this was the best curry I have made yet. I personally have a wonderful yellow curry powder that I love, though I know many people swear by making your own mix, toasting the spices yourself, etc. I have yet to try that as I really love the powder I buy. If you prefer to take that route, please do. Beyond being extremely easy to make, this curry is loaded with flavor and is so satisfying. I served it over a small serving of brown basmati rice and topped it with fresh cilantro and a bit of unsweetened shredded coconut. The perfect cleanse-friendly, fall meal.

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Coconut Curry (Crock Pot Recipe)
serves 8

2 1/2 cups diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups dried organic chick peas
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can organic coconut milk (you can use light here, I didn’t)
1 bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped (you could also use kale here)
1 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas (you can use frozen here, if you wish)
1-2 large tomatoes, diced
3 cups vegetable broth or water
3 tablespoons yellow curry powder (you can use your own blend of spices here, I just happen to have a premixed curry powder from a local indian grocery store that I love)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (save some for serving)

Rinse and sort through the dry chickpeas. Cut the skin off the squash, remove seeds and cut into 1 inch square cubes. Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker besides the peas and spinach. Cook on high for 6 hours. About 20-30 minutes before serving add in the fresh peas and spinach, and give it a stir. If your sauce seems to be a bit too thin or watery when it is done cooking, you could make a quick mix of cornstarch and hot water and pour a tablespoon or two of the mixture into the crock pot, allow it to simmer a bit longer. This will thicken it right up.

Serve over brown basmati or jasmine rice topped with fresh cilantro, mint or basil and maybe even some shredded coconut.

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Lentil Soup

Well it is official, this past Friday marked the Autumn Equinox, so that means we are officially amidst my favorite season – Fall! Besides all the beautiful weather, cooler temperatures and lovely leaves – we are also blessed with some of my favorite foods of the year. Squashes, pumpkins, apples, brussels sprouts…pies, crisps, soups, stews, roasts…the list goes on and on. As much as I want to enjoy every single one of these things, after a long summer of traveling and the indulgences that goes along with it, I decided to once again mark the shift of the seasons with a cleanse. We were in NYC this past weekend, so rather than starting my cleanse on the equinox as I would have liked, I started on Monday. That was our driving home day, so it was definitely a bit tricky, but I was able to pack some snacks ahead of time for the car rides, like kale chips, roasted chickpeas and unsalted cashews. Plus our gracious hostess in Brooklyn, Karen, made me a delicious glass of fresh kale, apple, celery and cucumber juice before we hit the road. I made a delicious batch of kitchari (recipe coming soon) as soon as I got home and was able to make it through day 1, without a hitch.

I am doing a minimum of 2-weeks this time around, but definitely shooting for a full 28-days if my schedule allows. As with the cleanses I have done in the past, I am loosely following the Ayurvedic traditions, along with the items I tend to have issues with, personally. I am very excited to have a group of 25+ friends on Facebook that are all following along and participating in their own matter. It’s so amazing to have other people to motivate me and as a support system, it makes it even easier. Since I have had quite a few people ask me about how I cleanse, I thought I would put a very loose description of what I personally do in this post. If you have any additional questions about what I am doing, please contact me and I will do my best to help.

I am avoiding the following things:
Dairy*
Eggs
Sugar
Excess Salt (I will use a very small amount when cooking)
Caffeine
Alcohol
Meat (chicken, beef, pork, etc)
Fish and Shellfish (shrimp, scallops, mussels, etc)
Gluten (wheat, barley, oats, rye, etc)**
Soy
Corn
Foods with preservatives, additives or chemicals, and foods grown in an environment laced with chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and canned, frozen or processed foods.**

*Ayurveda doesn’t restrict dairy, but I personally seem to have issues with it, so besides ghee, I am avoiding all dairy during my cleanse.
** these are both things that I avoid on a regular basis, but are very important to a cleanse

So you are probably wondering what exactly I am eating, then…

What I am eating:
Fresh organic fruit. I am going light on the fruit because of the sugar and I am focusing on suggested fruits that are best for digestion such as apples, pears, figs, prunes, papaya, etc.
Fresh organic veggies. Some of the best for digestion are leafy greens, cabbage, celery, brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc
Whole organic grains such as brown rice, quinoa, amarynth, buckwheat, millet
Beans like lentil, mung beans, etc
Vegetable juice and broth
Soups and stews made with vegetables, legumes and grains.
I am cooking with a small amount of olive oil and/or ghee (indian clarified butter that is GREAT for detox)
Raw honey (sparingly)
lots of luke warm water with lemon and/or ginger
detox tea (I like Yogi brand Detox tea)
I am also taking probiotics in the morning after breakfast

I plan to get as many recipes on this blog throughout the cleanse, so you can see a good example of how I eat when I am cleansing.

Here are some additional tips that I have learned along the way:

Some of the differences with an Ayurvedic cleanse vs a regular cleanse is that it teaches you to avoid or focus on foods specific to you and your body-mind type (or your dosha) and it’s needs. Also, although you should be eating TONS of fresh fruits and veggies, you shouldn’t eat them raw during this cleanse. Raw foods are harder on your digestive tract, so you should be heating and/or boiling your veggies and eating them warm.

Eat whole, fresh, natural foods, organic if you can get it. Buy your produce fresh, and consume it quickly.

Also avoid ICE cold water and beverages, it can disrupt the “fire” needed in your digestive tract.

Cook with digestion-enhancing, detoxifying spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, clove, ajwain, fenugreek, dried ginger, Chinese cinnamon and fennel. Add the turmeric to foods as they are cooking, and sauté other spices in ghee or olive oil and pour over prepared dishes for the best therapeutic benefit.

According to Ayurveda, each meal should be a feast for all of your senses. When your plate reflects an appealing variety of colors, textures, flavors and aromas, your digestive juices start freely flowing in anticipation and your body, mind and heart are all fulfilled by the eating experience.

As I mention above, normally I avoid raw vegetables and fruit since it can disrupt your digestive tract and it is harder to digest, however this time around, I am including juices that I am making from fresh, organic vegetables and fruit. I decided to include this, as most mornings I go to yoga from 9:30 – 11:00am, I do not eat before I practice yoga and by the time I get home around 11:30, I am not quite ready for lunch but I am slightly hungry. The juices have been a great and fast way for me to get much-needed nutrients without having to prepare an involved breakfast, plus it is light enough that I am ready for lunch a couple of hours later.

I made this lentil soup for dinner last night and served it with some roasted butternut squash with rosemary, on the side. It was so delicious and perfectly satisfying. I love lentil soup because it can be quite versatile, every time I make it, it is a bit different from the last. You can experiment with different spices and flavors, you can add many different types of vegetables, including leafy greens like spinach or kale and if you aren’t on a cleanse, you could even top it with a delicious homemade yogurt sauce.

When I made this particular pot, I wanted to make sure to include some cleansing spices and I also wanted to get some smokey spice from a couple of dried chipotles. If you don’t like the spices I used, experiment with your own, there are so many possibilities, you could use smoked paprika, yellow curry powder, chile powder, dill, etc – the flavor combinations are endless. For a real hearty pot of lentil soup, you could add some brown rice or other grains to this soup, which I have done in the past and it is delicious. Just add the uncooked rice with the lentils, and skip the pureeing at the end. You could also roast the butternut squash (recipe coming soon) with spices to match your soup and just add it to the pot just before serving. Honestly, I debated this for quite sometime, but ultimately I really wanted to savor and enjoy the crispy browned bites of squash on their own, it felt like such a treat.

Sometimes I like my lentil soup smooth with just a few whole lentils, which is how I made it this time. If you wish to have a chunkier, heartier soup, simply skip the pureeing step and serve the soup, as is.

Lentil Soup
serves 6-8

2 tablespoons of ghee or olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1-2 dried chipotle(s)
1 medium organic red onion, diced
2 cloves of organic garlic, minced
1 organic celery stalk, diced
1 organic carrot, peeled and diced
1 organic green bell pepper, diced
a dash of sea salt (I used very little since I am cleansing)
3 cups of lentils (you don’t have to presoak lentils, but I do as it is supposed to lessen the gassy after-affects)
8 cups of low-sodium organic vegetable broth or water (you may need to add more if your soup gets too thick)
1 large organic tomato, diced (you can just use a can of organic diced tomatoes here, if you wish)

For serving:
1 small tomato, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced

If you wish to soak your lentils, rinse them well, sort through to pick out any small stones and place in a large glass bowl. Cover the lentils in water and allow to soak a few hours. Once you are ready to make your soup, drain the lentils and rinse again. If you aren’t soaking your lentils, just rinse well, pick through to remove any small stones and allow to drain.

In a large stock pot, heat the ghee (or olive oil) over a medium-high heat, add the cumin seeds, turmeric and dried chipotles, stir until fragrant and the cumin seeds begin dancing around the pot. Add in the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, bell pepper and a dash of salt, saute for approximately 7 minutes until the vegetables are translucent and soft.

Add in the lentils, vegetable broth (or water) and diced tomato, turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a medium-high, cover and allow to simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring often. Cook until the lentils are tender. This may take less time, it may take more time, it depends on the lentils you are using and it depends if you soaked them first. You also may need to add more broth or water if the soup becomes too thick. Salt and pepper the soup to taste. You can leave the soup chunky as it is, or if you wish for it to be smooth and creamy, remove the dried chipotle pepper(s) and puree 2/3 of the finished soup in batches, in a blender, adding it to a large bowl as you go and then adding it all back to the pot when you are finished. Stir to combine. Serve the soup topped with freshly diced tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro and green onions, or whatever your toppings of choice may be.

 

NOTE: the above information about my cleanse is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Every individual is different, this is just what I have found works for me. There are obviously different ways of thinking and a gazillion different types of cleanses. I have done this particular style of cleanse many times over the last two years and have always had great results. Please acknowledge what is right for you, your own body and health and take this all into consideration when embarking on a journey like this.

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Cold Avocado Corn Soup with Cilantro Oil

 

I don’t always love cold soups, sometimes I find them to be weird or odd. I almost hate the word soup being used at all since once chilled, it is hardly anything close to a classic soup recipe. I had a puree similar to this a couple of years ago at a local restaurant that has since closed, Juniper, and it was super delicious, light and full of flavor. I am obsessed with avocados, so short of sticking a straw directly into an avocado, it really doesn’t get much better than this. I had wanted to recreate that soup for so long, but kept forgetting about it, but I ended up running across the recipe that I pulled to work from, while moving our studio home a few weeks back. I couldn’t wait to try it out.

I knew I would be on my own with this one though, Mark refuses to try cold soups, he thinks they are “stupid”, haha. So on a work day a week or so ago, I prepped the soup and oil during my lunch time break and allowed everything to cool the rest of the day, while I worked. It was such a nice treat on a hot day where I didn’t feel like cooking. I have also been getting to a ton of yoga classes every week, so this was perfect the following day after a hot and sweaty yoga class. This soup has all the flavorings of a great guacamole recipe in each spoonful. It’s refreshing but adequately filling. The cilantro oil drizzled on top is loaded with a beautiful, fresh, clean finishing flavor and I especially love the subtle heat from the poblano pepper. I went pretty light on the sour cream, as it really didn’t need much, but a small drizzle was nice, especially in contrast to the heat from the pepper. If you love avocado as much as I do, I know you will love this soup. I served it with a handful of organic corn tortilla chips on the side, which ended up being delicious dipped right into the soup. Obviously if you are vegan, simply skip the sour cream or crema at the end and you have a beautiful, tasty vegan dish.

Chilled Avocado & Corn Soup with Cilantro Oil
serves 4-6
adapted from Gourmet Magazine, May 2005

2 fresh or frozen ears of corn, shucked
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups chopped white onion
1 fresh poblano pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped (including seeds)
3 firm-ripe California avocados
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup crema or sour cream

For cilantro oil
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Make soup:
Roast ears of corn on rack of gas burner over high heat, turning occasionally with tongs, until kernels are charred in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. (Alternatively, heat a dry well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and roast corn over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.) Transfer the ears of corn to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs with a sharp knife, then cut cobs into thirds.
Bring kernels, cob pieces, 4 cups water, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup onion to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan and boil until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, uncovered. Discard cob pieces.
Purée corn mixture along with the poblano pepper and remaining 3/4 cup onion in a blender, then pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids. Return broth to cleaned blender.
Quarter, pit, and peel 2 avocados, then add to blender with 2 tablespoons lime juice and purée until smooth. Transfer soup to a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill soup at least 1 hour.

Prepare cilantro oil while soup chills:
Purée cilantro, oil, and salt in cleaned blender, scraping down sides of blender several times. Pour oil into cleaned fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and let drain 15-20 minutes (do not press on solids). Discard solids.

Assemble soup:
Halve and pit remaining avocado and cut into 1-inch cubes, toss gently with remaining tablespoon lime juice in a bowl.
Whisk together crema or sour cream and remaining 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl until smooth.
Season soup with salt and ladle into 4-6 soup bowls. Divide avocado chunks among bowls, then drizzle with crema and cilantro oil.

Notes:
Soup can be chilled up to 1 day ahead.
Cilantro oil can be made 3 hours ahead and chilled, covered.

Grilled Corn for Cold Avocado Corn Soup with Cilantro Oil

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Gluten-Free Pea and Goat Cheese Tart with Fresh Herbs

I actually made this recipe more than 2 weeks ago but life has been so very hectic and I am super behind on posting recipes. We were in NYC last weekend for the Renegade Craft Fair so I made this the weekend before we left, since I knew life would be crazy and it would make for some very lovely leftovers. For some reason I have been dreaming of making a gluten-free spring tart for some time now. I literally could see how I wanted it to look and taste all the flavors I had envisioned. I really wanted it to incorporate all things spring. I recalled a tart shell recipe in Gluten Free Girl and The Chef’s newest book, so I decided for my first attempt at a tart I couldn’t go wrong with one of Shauna’s recipes, they are always so wonderfully created, with each measurement precise and every ingredient well thought-out. It’s so impressive. I once again weighed my flours instead of measuring, which has always yielded such perfect results for me. One of the things I love the most about this tart recipe is how few ingredients there are, it is so simple.

The flavors from the fresh herbs in the tart were incredible,so refreshing and light, so spring. The fresh peas burst with flavor in each bite and the crust was absolutely to die for. NOT KIDDING. It was flaky, light, crusty and browned, if I hadn’t made it myself I would have sworn some one was fooling me and I was eating a gluten-laced crust. Besides being delicious this tart was quite easy to put together and was great for leftovers. We had it for both dinners and breakfasts. This would actually be quite perfect for a brunch where you really want to impress people, but don’t wish to spend all morning in the kitchen. You could actually prepare the tart dough the night before and pull it out of the refrigerator that morning. Simple!

Now that I experimented with and LOVE this tart recipe, I plan to have all kinds of fun with it. I cannot wait to play with both sweet and savory tart recipes now.

Gluten-Free Pea and Goat Cheese Tart with Fresh Herbs

Gluten-Free Pea and Goat Cheese Tart with Fresh Herbs
serves 8-10

Tart Shell
via Gluten Free Girl and The Chef – A Love Story

1/2 cup (63.5g) sorghum flour
1/2 cup (60g) tapioca flour
1/2 cup (96g) potato starch
1/2 cup (102g) sweet rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) frozen organic butter
1 large local farm fresh brown egg
1/4 cup of ice cold water

(if making a sweet tart, instead of savory, include 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon)

Sift the sorghum flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, and sweet rice flour into a large bowl. Stir in the salt (sugar and cinnamon if making a sweet tart). Sift into another bowl.

Grate the frozen butter directly into the dry ingredients. The butter will fall into the flours in soft swirls and start to melt in as soon as you stir. Work with your hands to mix everything, until the dough feels like cornmeal or large pieces of sand.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water together with a fork. Make a well in the center of the flours. Stir in the liquid, working from the inside out. Feeling the dough for soft suppleness, instead of stiffness or sogginess. Feel free to use your hands at the end.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter and flour an 11-inch tart shell, I used sweet rice flour as the original recipe suggested. Pull the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper, to the approximate shape of the tart pan. (this way you don’t have to flour your countertop and add more flour to the dough).If the dough falls apart or breaks a bit, don’t worry – there is no danger of the crust becoming tough by overworking it, which can happen with gluten dough. Press the dough into the pie pan and repair it that way.

Place the tart shell into the freezer until the crust is frozen, approximately 1 hour.

Butter a piece of aluminum foil approximately the size of the pie crust. Place it butter side down, onto the tart crust and fit snuggly against the sides. Bake pressing down any puffed up spots with a spoon until the shell has a good color, about 15 minutes. The tart should look and feel flaky, rather than sticky. Prepare the filling while the tart is blind baking.

Pea and Goat Cheese Filling

3 cups fresh (or frozen) peas
3 local farm fresh brown eggs
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1/2 cup organic half and half
1 1/2 cups organic whole fat milk
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Add the peas to a small saucepan of boiling salted water with a pinch of salt, cook for 3-4 minutes until tender, do not overcook, you don’t want mushy peas. It may take less time for frozen peas, than fresh. Drain, cool slightly, then puree half of the peas in a food processor until smooth. Transfer both the pureed and whole peas to a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, mint, chives, half and half and milk. Beat well with a spoon to combine, then stir in approximately three-quarters of the goat’s cheese. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Once the tart shell has been adequately blind-baked, pour the filling into the shell, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. My tart shell was very full, so be careful transporting, you may also find you want a cookie sheet on the oven rack below if you think it may boil over at all. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the filling is completely set. Allow the tart to cool for at least 30 minutes, top with fresh chives and/or fresh mint, serve while still warm.

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Creamy Asparagus, Potato and Leek Soup

We just got back from a week-long vacation (yes, an actual vacation, no working, just vacation) on South Padre Island in the Gulf of Mexico. We spent the week on the beach, enjoying each other’s company, celebrating our 4-year wedding anniversary and just relaxing. It was much-needed and absolutely perfect. After a long, busy and very cold winter we both needed some time to do nothing and we definitely needed the sunshine and hot temps. It was also nice to enjoy some summer-esque cocktails and meals, too. There really is nothing like eating fresh gulf shrimp at a beach bar that overlooks the beautiful, crystal blue gulf; cocktail in hand, slathered in sunscreen, wearing a sundress and sandals – all with the person you love most. I am already missing and craving that feeling. However, like many good things, the trip had to come to an end and we had to come back home to life and all of the craziness. Unfortunately, this also meant coming home to cool, almost autumn-like weather. You’d never guess it by looking out the window or feeling the cold breeze, that it is actually spring here in Buffalo.

The temperatures have been in the 40s and 50s and rainy since we got home and I am not sure the sun has shown it’s face once. Strangely, all I have wanted since we got off the plane was hot soup, but I really wanted to take advantage of the beautiful spring produce showing up at the market. I decided to make a big pot of this delicious and creamy spring soup with a gorgeous spring salad on the side. I actually doubled this recipe since I knew life would be a bit crazy (and cold and rainy) this week and it would be perfect for leftovers. This soup was exactly what my body and mind both wanted, hot and creamy, light, healthy and green! It is hard to believe this soup is naturally vegan, it is so creamy, achieved from the potatoes instead of dairy. Topped with spicy dried red pepper flakes, bright green chives from our yard and a drizzle of some really good olive oil, it was absolute nutrient-filled perfection.

We leave for NYC next week for work, hopefully before we go I will both get to the farmers market and the weather will warm up a bit so I can start posting even more spring dishes. Do you have any favorite spring recipes?

Creamy Asparagus, Potato and Leek Soup
serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, diced
1 large leek, rinsed very well, slice thinly white and light green parts only*
1 pound organic asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 pound organic russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
4-5 cups low sodium organic vegetable broth or low sodium organic chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
Bunch of fresh chives, sliced thin
Additional high quality olive oil to drizzle over top
If you wish the soup to be even creamier you can add in 1/4 cup of greek yogurt (or half and half or heavy cream) just before pureeing

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions and leeks and cook, covered, until they are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add in the asparagus and potatoes and cook another 5-8 minutes. Add the broth, herbs and crushed red pepper. Simmer until the potatoes and asparagus are soft, about 15 minutes. If you notice that there isn’t enough liquid you can add water to the broth so it doesn’t get too thick when you puree it.

Ladle the soup into a blender and puree until smooth (be sure not to blend too much soup at once and put a towel over the lid when you are blending so the hot soup doesn’t explode out). Add the pureed soup to a large bowl. Continue blending the whole pot of soup in batches, until it has all been blended. Add the soup back to your pot, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, serve immediately topped with a sprinkle of both red pepper flakes and freshly chopped chives. Drizzle with a high-quality olive oil.

* a quick note on cleaning leeks: leeks tend to have a lot of dirt and grit in them. If you aren’t careful when cleaning them, you may think they are totally clean, start cooking with them and find your entire dish has a nasty grittiness to it. This can ruin a dish. After trimming off the ends (called the beards) and the dark green tops (save these for stocks). You can run them under cold water at this point, or even better, you can submerge the leeks in a large pot of cold water. Swirl them around to really remove all the grit and dirt. Drain well and then cut.

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Thai Chicken Soup

I absolutely love Thai food! The layers of flavors and the spices are so amazing and there are so many naturally gluten-free options. One of my favorite things are the different soups. The flavors are always so distinct in Thai soups from the curry pastes, lemongrass, ginger, cilantro, etc. I have wanted to try making a Thai coconut milk soup at home with all the fresh herbs and spices. With the lingering chilly weather, last week was the perfect time. The original recipe I found was a bit basic, so I added in mushrooms, fresh ginger, fresh lemongrass and jarred kaffir lime leaves (which I was very excited to finally find), I also went with a light coconut milk instead of the full fat version and I used more of it, I find it is still quite creamy and it has a bit less fat and calories. I also added a bit more broth, curry paste, fish sauce and noodles so I would have more leftovers for lunches and dinners on some of the busy nights we have this week. Don’t worry if you can’t find lemongrass or the kaffir lime leaves, the soup will still be really great even without them. The curry paste really has a lot of flavor. I just find that adding those extra fresh ingredients makes this soup more authentic. I know from eating a lot of Thai food that lemongrass can be a bit annoying to eat, since they are a bit tough to chew, so I decided to cut the stalk in large pieces so that I could easily pull them out just before serving.

Since we normally buy whole chickens from the farm we get all of our meat from, I just grabbed two organic chicken breasts from Wegmans, I honestly can’t tell you the last time I bought meat from the grocery store. Thankfully Wegmans has a great selection of organic and grass-fed meats, though it just isn’t the same as getting it from a local farm. You could also roast a whole chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken and shred some of the cooked chicken and add it in to the soup at the end. This soup could also easily be made vegetarian/vegan with vegetable broth and by skipping the chicken or you could make a seafood version and add shrimp or scallops.

Serve the soup with lime wedges and maybe even a little Sriracha if you want a bit more heat. Enjoy, this soup really is incredible.

Thai Chicken Soup
serves 6
loosely adapted from Food Network Magazine

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb of sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons green curry paste (If you don’t like spicy, start with 2 and go from there. It seems some curry pastes are spicier than others)
8 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
2 15-ounce cans organic lite coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
6 ounces thin rice noodles, broken into pieces
2 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts preferably local and hormone and antibiotic free (about 1 pound), very thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon kaffir lime leaves (I used were jarred, you can also find them fresh or frozen, use about 3 or 4 leaves)
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often until they begin to soften and get a bit brown, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and set aside. Add a bit more oil if you need it and add the onion to the pot over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and curry paste, cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk and fish sauce; cover and bring to a boil.

Add the mushrooms, bell peppers and noodles and simmer, uncovered, until the noodles are al dente, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer until just cooked through, about 3-5 more minutes. Stir in the lime juice, kaffir lime leaves and cilantro. Remove the chunks of lemongrass just before serving. Add more fish sauce and lime juice, if desired.

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