soup

roasted chicken and wild rice soup

So I mentioned this last week, but I recently came down with a nasty case of the flu.

roasted chicken and wild rice soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Work has been really crazy lately with all kinds of things in transition and I’ve been feeling a little run down. We just hired two new people, and on their first day I woke up feeling pretty terrible. I thought it was just my allergies so I took a Zyrtec and went about my day, but few hours in I knew that it was worse than that. Being in the midst of training new staff I didn’t have any other option than to stick it out and hope things would turn around, so I just tried to power through. I ended up leaving work early anyway though, and I didn’t return for several days.

roasted chicken and wild rice soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

As soon as I got home I knew I was in real trouble. Up until that point I assumed I’d just caught a cold and that all I needed was to take it easy and get a good night’s sleep. When I got home though, I hit the couch like a ton of bricks, and didn’t move for hours. When I tried to pull myself up to get some water, I could barely walk. Every muscle in my body felt sore, painful and weak, and I felt as if my legs might give out on my way to the kitchen. I went back to the couch and pretty much remained there for the next few days.

When I say pretty much though, I mean that I did get up a few times to cook myself some food and maybe do some cleaning.

roasted chicken and wild rice soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Even with my head in a total fog, I make a terrible sick person. I’m very easily distracted and can’t sit still for very long. I find it virtually impossible to nap, sick or not, and even though I was well aware that rest and sleep were the best things for me, I spent most of my time watching old movies and finding things to keep my mind off of being sick. You already know about the brownies, but there was also some seriously tasty chicken soup.

roasted chicken and wild rice soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Part of me thinks that there’s something kind of depressing about making your own chicken soup when you’re sick, but Russell was at work, and I was bored out of my mind. A man can only watch Steel Magnolias on Netflix so many times before he needs to get up and do something, drippy nose and jelly muscles or not. Having something to do helped me take my mind off of how horrible I felt, and when I was done I had something to eat that made me feel a little bit better.

roasted chicken and wild rice soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Being sick, I instantly craved chicken soup. There’s a lot of debate on whether chicken soup is actually good for you when you’re sick, or if it’s just an old wive’s tale. If you really look into the research though, it appears that chicken soup is called Jewish Penicillin for good reason.

Any hot liquid will help open up nasal passages and soothe a sore throat, while also hydrating people in need of plenty of fluids, but there are other benefits specific to chicken soup that you can’t get from tea or hot water. Homemade chicken stock is packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are great for the immune system. It’s also packed with gelatin which does wonders for your body, and lots of schmaltz (chicken fat) that has great immune boosting powers and is packed with much needed energy to help fight illness. There are even studies that say eating chicken soup helps encourage white blood cells to stay where they need to be to fight infection.

roasted chicken and wild rice soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Whether my soup actually helped me get over the flu or not, it certainly hit the spot. Roasting the chicken and the vegetables before making the stock gives the soup a really rich and concentrated flavor. Once the chicken is roasted, the bones and skin can be used to make the stock, and the meat can be refrigerated and added back in once the stock is finished simmering. This ensures that the meat has a great texture, and that it’s super tasty since the flavor isn’t pulled out in the stock making process. Add in tender fresh vegetables, wild rice with a just a hint of bite, and freshly torn dill for some bright summery freshness, and you’ve got a soup that will make anyone feel great, whether they’re sick or not!

roasted chicken and wild rice soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Roasted Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

3 to 4 pounds of chicken, bone-in & skin-on *see note
3 medium onions
4 carrots
2 parsnips, optional (I just like the earthy flavor it gives the stock)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt & pepper, to taste
4 stalks of celery
2 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon celery seeds (optional)
generous fist-full of parsley
1 cup wild rice or wild rice & brown rice medley
2 or 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment. Generously season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and arrange on the baking sheet, leaving some room for vegetables. Chop two whole onions (skin on) into quarters and place in a medium bowl. Roughly chop 2 parsnips and 2 carrots and add to the bowl with the onions, along with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread evenly on baking sheet with chicken pieces.
Roast chicken and vegetables until well browned and crispy looking, about 40 minutes, being careful nothing burns. Let cool, at least until you can handle the chicken without burning yourself.

Transfer vegetables to a large (at least 6 quarts) heavy bottom stockpot. Remove skin from chicken and add to pot (resist the urge to eat it all). Pull meat from bones and chop or tear into bite-size pieces; place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Add chicken bones to stockpot along with parsley, bay leaves, & celery seed. Roughly chop 2 celery stalks (with leaves on), add to the pot, and cover everything with 12 cups of water. Place over high heat, bring to a low boil, and turn heat down to a simmer. Cover pot and let simmer low and slow for at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, dice remaining onion and celery stalks, and slice carrots into small bite-sized disks. Strain finished stock into a large bowl with a fine mesh strainer or a colander layered with cheesecloth, discarding boiled chicken bones and vegetables. Wipe out stockpot, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and heat over medium high heat. Add chopped onion, celery, & carrot, and sautée until translucent and beginning to brown, stirring regularly, about 5 minutes. Add wild rice or rice medley, stir, and cook for 2 minutes more. Add strained stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until rice is about 10 minutes from being cooked, about 30 minutes. See your rice’s cooking instructions for how long this should take. Add chicken meat to pot along with half of the chopped dill and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir in remaining dill and serve immediately.

*cooks note: I find that dark meat pieces will give your stock the best flavor, but white meat is the nicest meat for the soup, so I like to use a whole chicken cut up into pieces. If you can’t find a broken down whole chicken and don’t want to do it yourself, you can use a mix of thighs and breasts, legs and breasts, or whatever you like.

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vegan sweet corn chowder

Sad sad sadness. Summer is nearing the end.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

It’s still hanging on, but not for long. One good thing about this time of year though, is…

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

CORN!

I seriously love fresh sweet corn at the end of summer. Something about that sweet earthy bursting crunch.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

While grilling the whole ear and just rubbing it in salted butter might be the very best way to enjoy corn, there are so many things you can do with corn when it’s in season. One of my ultimate favorite things to do with corn in the late summer is take a whole mess of fresh vegetables and make up a sweet, thick, creamy, earthy chowder.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

I think my love of corn chowder really took root a few years ago when I was unemployed for a short time. I used to work for a fundraising walkathon called AIDS Walk New York, and while I absolutely loved being involved with them, they could only offer me work for about six months out of the year. This left me scrambling to find work waiting tables or slinging lattes for the other six months, over and over until I was finally able to find a full time permanent position somewhere else.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

One year, a great friend of mine found herself unemployed at the same time that I was laid off from the walkathon. We spent a lot of time together helping each other look for work and prepare for interviews, and trying to keep our spirits up with plenty of food. We actually spent so much time cooking and eating together that we started referring to ourselves as the unemployment supper club.

We would regularly try to find recipes that seemed rich and filling while being relatively affordable. One of my favorite recipes we ever made was a corn chowder that was super thick and rich and decadent with tons of cream and butter and bacon. One of my favorite things about the recipe though, was the unexpected number of vegetables the recipe called for, including sweet potato and red bell pepper. Every year since, I’ve made a variation of this recipe at least once every summer, but this year I thought it might be interesting to see if it would be possible to lighten it up, lose the cream and butter and bacon, but keep it every bit as thick and creamy and decadent.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

The only problem with trying to make a chowder without cream or butter is the issue of thickening it. A while back i made a soup with roasted cauliflower and tomatoes, and when I decided to puree it I was shocked at how thick it got, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to try that trick again. Its amazing what a roasted and pureed head of cauliflower can do for a soup. It thickens it up like a dream, but it also imparts a velvety smooth creaminess that you’d expect had come from a boatload of butter and flour. Roasting the cauliflower helps release some of it’s moisture ensuring maximum thickening potential, but also concentrates it’s earthiness, adds toasty brown depth, and curbs it’s cabbagey flavor in a way that changes it from utilitarian thickening agent to “secret ingredient” that no one would suspect if they weren’t told.

I will admit that the flavor of this chowder is quite different from the one I used to make years ago. While the flavors of bacon and butter are definitely not present, they don’t at all feel like they’re missing. If you’re a regular reader you know I’m not afraid of butter or bacon, but I promise you won’t miss them. This soup is bursting with fresh late summer flavors. It’s sweet and earthy and rich and hearty and unbelievably thick and creamy. This is a soup to satisfy carnivores and vegans alike.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

Vegan Sweet Corn Chowder

1 large head of cauliflower, cleaned and roughly chopped
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt, divided
1 tsp ground pepper, divided
3 or 4 ears of sweet corn, stripped *see note (or 1 lb frozen sweet corn)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 lb (2 medium) yellow waxy potatoes,  peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 lb (2 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
6 cups vegetable stock, divided
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400. Toss cauliflower with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, & 1/2 tsp of pepper. Spread cauliflower evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottom stockpot over high heat, and sautee corn for 5 to 8 minutes or until it’s just beginning to brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
Turn pot down to medium-high and heat last tbsp of olive oil. Add onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper, 1 1/2 tsp salt, & 1/2 tsp pepper. Sautee for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, and sautee 5 minutes more. Add 4 cups of stock, thyme sprigs, & browned corn kernel. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
While soup simmers, puree roasted cauliflower in a strong blender with remaining 2 cups of stock. After soup has simmered for 30 minutes, stir in pureed cauliflower. Simmer for 10 minutes more. Scoop out 2 cups of soup, cool slightly, and puree in blender with 1 tsp cider vinegar. Stir back into soup, taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. (If you want soup thicker, puree another cup of finished soup.)

*cooks note: To remove corn kernels from a fresh ear, I hold the ear upright against a cutting board and shave down with a sharp knife, rotating the ear until it’s shaved clean. For this recipe I also scraped off the remaining starchy corn milk with the butt end of the knife and added it after sauteing the kernels.

zucchini & mint soup

So we have some dirt, soil you might call it, in the back behind our apartment.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Many people who are lucky enough to have soil behind their homes like to grow things in said soil. Some people even try to grow edible things. I myself would love to grow edible things, but my soil has the unlucky fortune of residing beneath a big horrible mulberry tree that shades it and prevents much of anything green from ever seeing the bright rays of the sun. Hostas and Ivy do okay, but nothing edible wants to have anything to do with my crumby dirt. I have a few measly herbs in pots, but they do more in the way of surviving rather than thriving. A few years ago I put in some strawberry plants. I think that in the two summers that they were alive they produced exactly 3 berries between them. They’ve since given up and made way for weedy clumps of clover and moss.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

It seems that the rest of you don’t have such problems. In the past few weeks I feel like everyone in the world (but me) has been whining about having too much zucchini. It would appear that your soil, and the edibles sustained within, are getting all the sunshine a patch of dirt could ask for.

“Oh look at all this zucchini!”, you say. “Whatever shall I do with all of it? Woe is me!” Oh you poor things! What a burden. I weep for you.

I should be so lucky. My soil wouldn’t spew forth a bounty of zucchini if its existence depended on it. If I want zucchini, I have to buy it at the market like a common chump. Can you even imagine?

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

My zucchini deficit doesn’t mean though, that I’m immune to the wiles of all the drool-inducing photos and recipes that have been popping up all over the internet lately. Even though I’m not actively trying to rid myself of any zucchini surplus, I’m still forced to watch as you struggle and strive to use up all of yours.  I don’t have the ill fortune of all this bounty, but thanks to all of your efforts, I now crave zucchini just the same. Thanks a lot guys.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I thought a nice light soup would be a great way to satiate my appetite for those big green beauties. When I started looking for inspiration though, most of the recipes I found paired the zucchini with basil. I do have a small basil plant in the back, but as if the paltry sunlight wasn’t enough, a little green caterpillar decided to add insult to injury and make swiss cheese of my poor little plant. I was a little worried that basil would be too strong a flavor to pair with mild zucchini anyway, so I tried to think of something else. It didn’t take me long to remember the mint I was given as a birthday gift, which somehow seems to be leading a happyish and healthyish existence.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

So, zucchini and mint soup it was, and boy did it deliver. The mint and zucchini pair perfectly together, and the resulting soup is subtle, delicate, and delicious. It’s an ideal light supper for summer nights and hot weather. It’s just hearty enough to be filling, but isn’t at all heavy and definitely won’t weigh you down.

This soup is unbelievably simple and takes no time to make, but somehow manages to taste rich and complex. I’d definitely recommend using the highest quality chicken stock you can find, and if you have some homemade stock in the freezer, now would be the time to use it. Since the other ingredients are so delicate and mild, the stock really adds something. A good vegetable stock would be great here too if you want to make this vegetarian, and leaving out the yogurt would make it vegan.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Whether you have a stockpile to use up, or you have to pay for it like me, this is the perfect way to satisfy your passion for zucchini. This soup is packed with bright, fresh, clean zucchini flavor that’s amplified and deepened with the addition of fresh mint. It literally could not be more summery. It’s smooth and creamy, and retains just a bit of texture when pureed with an immersion blender. Adding yogurt brings a nice hint of tanginess, but if you wanted to keep it dairy free you could substitute a squeeze of fresh lemon juice instead. Served with a nice crusty loaf of white bread, this soup is a summery little bowl of heaven.

zucchini & mint soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Zucchini & Mint Soup

adapted from Gourmet Traveler

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1 large zucchini (about 6 cups), diced
4 cups chicken stock
½ cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed

To serve:
greek yogurt or fresh lemon, extra-virgin olive oil, and mint leaves

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and stir occasionally until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and zucchini and stir occasionally for another 5 minutes. Add stock, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add mint, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until zucchini is just tender, about another 5 minutes. Process with a hand-held blender until smooth. Alternately, pulse in a blender until smooth with no large chunks, but not completely pureed. Check seasoning and adjust to taste if necessary.
To serve, top with a dollop of greek yogurt (or a squeeze of lemon juice), a drizzle of olive oil, and a few fresh mint leaves.

coconut curry squash soup

Have you been outside lately? No? Good. Don’t do it.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m not sure where you live, but if you live in the Northeast like me, specifically in New York City, then you know that this winter has officially been the worst. I’m no stranger to cold weather, I lived in the Adirondack mountains for several years, but New York City isn’t used to this amount of snow, especially not when it sticks around and piles up instead of melting after a day or two. The infrastructure of this great city is not designed to deal with this kind of build up and, much like the city’s inhabitants, there’s nowhere for it to go but up. The narrow strip of sidewalk between the road and the walkway carved out of the snow is the only place to put it, and in some places its reaching several feet high at this point.

To make matters worse, the weather has been pivoting back and forth between two stages lately. One day you’ll have complete white out snow coming at you from angles you didn’t know existed. Then the next day will be just warm enough for the piles of snow to start to melt, while simultaneously blocking all the storm drains, creating giant slush ponds at every cross walk in the five boroughs. Then we go back to white out conditions, the slush ponds freeze over, and we start the process all over again. When you consider that this is a city where most people who live here depend on public transportation and their own feet to get around, I’m sure you can imagine how all this snow and slush is starting to wear at people.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few days ago it was looking pretty outside so I tried to wear a pair of less-than-waterproof leather boots to work. Call it hubris. Call it naiveté. Call it idiocy. Whatever you call it, I was out the door less than three minutes before my left foot was completely soaked. By the time I made it to work both my feet were soaked through and remained so for the entire day. If you’ve never tried to wear leather boots and thick wet socks while working on your feet for an eight-hour shift, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re considering it, trust me, it’s not what you might think. It’s not nearly as thrilling or dangerous as, say, spelunking, nor is it as relaxing as sitting in the sand and dipping your toes in the ocean.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

As you can imagine, these past few weeks have left me wanting warm, hearty, filling meals when I get home and wring out my socks.  That’s what led me to this soup. I love a creamy traditional squash soup in cold weather, but the way things have been going I wanted to brighten that concept up with some summery, fresh flavors and a bit of citrus and spice. I thought that something about this combination of flavors might help me forget about the frozen hellscape outside, and boy was I right. There’s something so hearty, homey and comforting about a thick, creamy winter squash soup. Rather than flavoring it with traditional autumn or winter flavors though, the tropical flavors of coconut and lime take this to a totally different place. Since these traditionally Asian flavors are usually associated with thin brothy soups, I was a bit worried that the two concepts might clash, but they actually work really really well together. When you take your first spoonful, if you close your eyes and taste the chili, coconut and lime, you can almost imagine you’re somewhere warm and tropical. So, I cranked the heat in my apartment, put on some flannel pajamas and fuzzy slippers, and did my best not to dive into the bowl face first.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Because I have to be difficult, I couldn’t just find a recipe online and leave it at that, I had to make some changes to make it my own. The original recipe called for butternut squash, but I thought it would be fun to try a mix of different squashes for a depth of flavor. Along with butternut, I also used a pretty green kabocha squash. The flavors work really nicely together, but even with small squashes, twice the squash meant twice the soup. The recipe below feeds eight people so, unless you’re feeding a crowd, feel free to cut the recipe in half and choose one type of squash or the other. Both would be great on their own, so I’ll let you be the one to decide. The good news is that this soup freezes really well so, if you’re indecisive and want to make the full recipe, you can freeze your leftovers and pull a portion or two out on especially cold and crappy days.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Another small change I decided to make was to use strips of ginger instead of grating it. Not only does this mean you save yourself the steps of peeling and grating the ginger, but it also means the finished soup has a slightly subtler ginger flavor. I love ginger but it can sometimes be a bit intense, so this way the strips steep in the soup as it cooks, and you pluck out them before you puree everything. I’d recommend that you count how many strips go into the pot so that you know how many need to come out at the end. If one or two elude you though, and make their way into the blender, it’s not really anything to worry about.

You will want to have a strong blender or immersion blender to make sure you get your finished soup completely pureed. For this soup you want the squash to add a creaminess, but don’t really want to have any chunks left since they’ll be kind of mushy. Since the finished soup is so silky, smooth, and almost drinkable, I think a garnish of fresh cilantro and chopped roasted peanuts or cashews adds a bit of texture and interest. Garnish or not, this soup is seriously delicious.

coconut curry squash soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Oh hey friends! One last thing! If you’re as big a fan of Brooklyn Homemaker as I am, please vote for me for “Best Daily Read” cooking blog on theKitchn’s “The Homies”.  If I’m still in the top five at the end of the week, I’ll make it into the finals next week! So so exciting! Even if I don’t win, the exposure brings in lots of new readers, which is essential to the health of any good blog.
You’ll need to sign up for an account, but it only takes a second, and it means a lot to me. If you havent’ already, please show your support and vote for me here. And, seriously, THANK YOU!!! I never imagined I’d be doing so well so quickly when I started this blog last year. To be nominated, and to be doing so well, is such a  honor.
Okay, without further ado, the recipe…

Thai Coconut Curry Squash Soup

adapted from How Sweet It Is

2 tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil in a pinch)
1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 four or five-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced length-wise
4 tbsp red curry paste
6 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into rough cubes
1 small kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into rough cubes
2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
juice of 3 limes, about 1/2 cup
1 tsp sriracha (less if you’re scared, more if you’re feeling spicy)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
chopped cilantro, if desired
chopped roasted peanuts or cashews, if desired

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low heat, add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, (counted) ginger slices and curry paste, stir until it is incorporated, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the stock and add the cubed squash. Cover pot and increase the heat to medium. Cook until the squash is soft, about 30 minutes.

Once the squash is fork tender, turn off the heat, cool slightly, and very carefully pour the entire mixture into a blender, in batches. Blend until the soup is smooth and pureed. You could also do this with an immersion blender but be careful not to miss any squash. Pour the soup back into the pot and turn the heat to medium low. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, and sriracha. Stir well and cover, and cook for 10 minutes until it’s completely warm. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. If you’re feeling fancy, Garnish of chopped cilantro and roasted peanuts.