Cold Weather Calls for Soup


We returned back to NYC on Saturday (12/28) and it was substantially colder than the 70 degree weather we had in California! So, what better way to embrace the cold weather than to make some delicious soups :) Tyler and I both love soup so much and since I was a stay-at-home wife this week, I decided to indulge in some soup making. Having the week after Christmas at home was a rare occasion since we had spent the past 7 New Years in Tahoe. I took full advantage of not working and being at home....I've done our taxes, organized our apartment, had more time to cook good meals (more recipes to come), updated and organized my recipe list, and ran lots of errands that I have been putting off. I've also had time to catch up on reading and we've both successfully gotten hooked on Orange is the New Black series on Netflix. It's been a great start to 2014!!!

Corn Chowder 
This chowder is seriously delicious! Tyler made it for me a few years ago and after I received the cookbook from his mother goose. It's one of my favorite soups in the Jasper White cookbook and it's not too time consuming.

Ingredients
  • 3 medium ears of fresh yellow corn (I used 4 since I didn't want it to go to waste)
  • 4 ounce slab (unsliced) bacon, rind removed and diced into 1/3 inches. (I couldn't get this so I used 5 pieces of bacon and just sliced the slices into 1/3 inch pieces.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion diced (best find ever is the Trader Joe's diced onion!)
  • 1/2 large pepper diced
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions
  1. Husk the corn. Carefully remove most of the silk by hand and then rub the ears with a towel to finish the job. Slice the kernels from the cobs and place them a bowl. You should have about 2 cups. Using the back of your knife, scrape downwards along the cobs and add the milky substance that oozes out to the corn kernels. Discard the cobs.
  2. Heat a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over low heat and add the diced bacon. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons fat, increase the heat to medium and cook until the bacon is crisp and golden brown. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pot.
  3. Add the butter, onion, bell pepper, thyme, cumin, and turmeric and saute, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, until the onion and pepper are tender but not browned. Add the corn kernels, potatoes, and stock, turn up the heat, cover, and boil vigorously for about 10 minutes. Some of the potatoes will fall apart, but most should retain their shape.
  4. Use the back of your spoon to smash a bit of the corn and potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the chowder. Reduce the heat to medium and season the chowder with salt and pepper. Stir the cornstarch mixture and slowly pour it into the pot, stirring constantly. As soon as the chowder has come back to a boil and thickened slightly, remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately or et it sit at room temperature for up to an hour, allowing the flavors to meld. If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to a few days. Reheat the chowder over low heat and do not let it boil.
  5. Ladle the chowder into cups or bowls and sprinkle with the chopped chives (optional).
Minestrone Soup
The second soup we made this week was minestrone soup, which was quite hearty and relatively healthy! I found this recipe online and have included it below based on a few modifications.

Ingredients
  • 4 cups chicken broth (possibly more depending on how much of the broth cooks down) 
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1.5 cups cooked ditalini pasta (the recipe called for 2 cups and this seemed like a lot, which it was. It was really good with all of the pasta, but if you would prefer an even lighter version, I would use 1-1.5 cups of pasta.)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
Directions
  1. In a pot, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on medium low for 2 to 3 hours (longer the better).
  2. Cook the ditalini noodles in a separate pot until al dente.
  3. Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add ditalini, zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Put the soup in bowls. 

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