Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week

It's been a few weeks since my last Things I Am Loving This Week post, (those mostly food-related things I am enjoying and want to share), so I thought I better get busy and find some.

First up...I love hummus and after making my own homemade tahini the other day, I decided to use some in some hummus. Now I'll admit that I make a good hummus, but it usually involves opening a few cans of garbanzo beans and a jar of tahini. For this one I cooked dried chickpeas and along with the homemade tahini and some yummy roasted garlic, made a big old batch of delicious hummus. I have been enjoying it all week with warm flat bread, cut veggies and tortilla chips. It is amazing that with a little extra effort, how much better it tastes than my normal hummus and especially better than store-bought.

Hummus with Homemade Tahini
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 2 cups) (I doubled the recipe)

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid)
1/4 cup tahini (recipe here)
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
olive oil as needed
salt and black pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients except the olive oil and reserved cooking liquid from beans in food processor. Add a combination of bean cooking liquid and olive oil until the desired consistency is achieved. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

I am linking this hummus to Two For Tuesdays hosted by girlichef and some other wonderful bloggers and featuring real, wholesome and homemade food.

I also love cookbooks, libraries, and library sales that sell used cookbooks. Although I vowed not to attend the giant Friends of the Library book sale because I really do not need more cookbooks for obvious reasons, I found myself nearby with 30 minutes to kill so of course I went. I set myself a budget of no more than $20.00 and ended up with a small stack of books for $11.52--not too shabby! ;-)

What did I buy? A book on Indonesian Cookery published in 1963 ($3), a book on dessert sweetened with fruit juice purees ($1), a pressure cooking book ($2), the cookbook from a favorite Bainbridge Island WA diner ($2), Better Homes and Gardens "Best Buffets Cookbook" from 1974 ($1)--had to buy that one because of the cover picture--loving the guy in the turtleneck and leisure suit. ;-) Last but not least, two books from famous British cook, Delia Smith: Summer and Winter ($1 each). Not bad huh? I already have multiple recipes tagged, and it is for the local libraries--always a good cause.

Finally who doesn't love house guests that come bearing chocolate?! My friends Jonathan and Dale came for a too-brief visit recently and brought me a stack of Theo chocolate bars. Love that! The Madagascar 74% dark chocolate ended up in my Frozen Hot Chocolate (delicious!) but I have been enjoying the other ones bit by bit. The Spicy Chili is especially good--just the right amount of heat. Ahh chocolate... the quickest way to my heart.

So those are the Things I Am Loving This Week.

How about you? What things are you enjoying?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Greek Manestra (Tomato & Orzo Soup) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

For this week's soup, we travel to Greece for a hearty bowl of Manestra--a simple tomato soup or Greek comfort food, often made when money was tight and something nourishing was needed. This recipe comes from one of my favorite Greek cookbooks, "The Olive and the Caper" by Susanna Hoffman. If you are interested at all in Greek cooking, this collection of delicious recipes, the history behind the food, pictures, and side notes on all things Greek, will make you want to plan an immediate trip. If you can't do that, enjoying a bowl of this simple, yet full-of-flavor soup will at least make sure your taste buds get there.

Hoffman says, "On the Cycladic islands, manestra is the name of their version of tomato soup, which in other parts of Greece might be called "domatosoupa." Manestra is the prime example of Greece's remarkably flavorful soups made purely from a vegetable base. The ingredients are ridiculously few. The liquid is plain water. The depth is derived simply from sauteing onions, garlic and crimson tomatoes in lush olive oil. Yet the soup sings with startling character and requires little preparation time. In Greece manestra is sometimes served with cheese sprinkled over the top, which gives the very tomatoey mixture a pleasant milky, contrasting bite."

"The Olive and the Caper" by Susanna Hoffman
(Serves 6)

1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1 tsp dried
2 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 quarts water
1/3 cup orzo or other small pasta
1/3 cup grated kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large heavy nonreactive pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and oregano and saute until the onion wilts, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and saute until they collapse, about 10 minutes.

Add the salt and water, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer until the tomatoes are very soft and the liquid is deep brownish red, about 40 minutes. Add the orzo and simmer until it is tender, about 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Sprinkle on a generous spoonful of cheese and serve right away.

Variation: Occasionally the Greek cook will stir in one or two favorite "myrodies"--a double-pronged word meaning both "flavor" and "perfume." When simmering the soup, add 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon. And if desired, just before serving, swirl in 1 Tbsp shredded fresh mint leaves.

Notes/Results: Really good--simple ingredients but amazingly lots of flavor. I pretty much followed the recipe as written (I did sub in whole wheat orzo), and I also added the variation of cinnamon and stirring in the mint leaves at the end, which added a nice complexity. I used fresh, ripe, local tomatoes, sweet Maui onions and fresh oregano. This soup smelled really good while simmering. My broth, even after 45 minutes, never looked what I would call deep brownish red, (more of a bright, golden red-orange color), but it tasted great. The grated cheese on top is a must, as is serving it with some warm pita bread. I would make this again.

I'm sending this to the wonderful Joanne from Eats Well With Others host of Regional Recipes, featuring Greece this month. Joanne will be rounding up all the recipes (including my Greek Parsley Salad with Tahini Dressing (and homemade tahini) from earlier in the week) at the end of the month, so you can check out all the delicious dishes then.

Speaking of delicious dishes, let's take a look in the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here this week and what they made.

First up is Carla from Recipe Addict with a summertime Zucchini and Dill Soup. Carla says, "I used the white wine and herb stock and I added some fresh dill to the soup while simmering for an enhanced flavor. I also saved a 2 inch piece of zucchini and cubed it, then sauteed it in a little oil. I used this to 'set' the sour cream dollop on and then poured in some of the pureed soup around it. I find this soup best served at room temperature, and I think it might even be a good chilled soup."

A big welcome to Jennifer from Cook, eat, play, repeat. who joins us for the first time this week with a gorgeous Corn and Lobster Bisque. She says, "Remember the Losterfest I posted about a while ago? Well we had another Lobsterfest at a friends house :) And we ended up with a left over lobster. We also had left over corn on the cob as well. So I decided it was time to make a bisque! I wanted something simple and also a little on the healthier side. The bisque turned out very creamy, a bit spicy and overall very tasty. I really loved soaking it up with some crusty bread :)" Nice to have you at Souper Sundays Jennifer!

Joanne from Eats Well With Others is here with a hearty Sweet Corn and Wild Mushroom Soup. She says, "This soup is a Michael Symon recipe (surprise surprise). And what is interesting about it is that he has you first cut the kernels off the corn and then make a stock with the stalks. Then, once you have your corn stock, you simmer that with the corn kernels for almost an hour. Puree it, mix it up with some sauteed mushrooms (LOCALLY GROWN). And CRUSH some bacon over the top. Maybe I just got some especially good ears of corn (also LOCAL), but their sweetness mixed with the saltiness of the bacon. Was really good."

Welcome to Yasmeen from Health Nut, joining us a Souper Sundays with this economical Broccoli Stalks Cold Soup. She says, "Its either ignorance or abundance that leads to good food go waste. Out of my sheer inexperience,just the florets were utilized and the nutritious broccoli stalks trashed. Fresh broccoli is not cheap,a head of broccoli costs about $2.25 per lb.And to let more than half of it go waste,is not just careless loss at nutrition but also to the wallet. Thanks to a this brilliant recipe,the stalks are now devoured in entirety. The broccoli stalks can be sliced or shred ,cooked or used raw in salad,in any recipe were broccoli is used."

Here with a fun and filling Chili Mac Soup is Reeni from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice. Reeni says, "A main dish recipe for a thick and hearty Chili Macaroni Soup that combines not two but three of my favorites: chili, soup and pasta! And yes, I know it’s summer (for most of my readers). But I for one can’t imagine going the entire summer without eating soup or chili. This is the type of food I love and crave. I always find me way back to it after eating my fill of the foods we associate with summer like salads and burgers. Anytime is a good time for comfort food like this. So crank up your air conditioner and make it!"

Spencer from Live2EatEat2Live says, "Our menu is often dictated by what I find at the market. This week, at our Japanese wholesale market, they had beef shanks that were marked down (the expiration date was the next day). If at all possible, we try to use meat as soon as possible (especially if we purchase it marked down). I decided to make what The Cat calls Russian” Soup. The basics for The Cat’s “Russian” soup is beef stock and tomatoes. Optional additions include carrots, onions, potatoes, and head cabbage. The Cat rated the soup as four paws (excellent!)."

Pam from Sidewalk Shoes is back with a beautiful version of a classic, this Caprese Salad. She says, "There are as many versions of Caprese salad as there are grains of sand. Actually, I have no idea if that is true, but I was feeling all zen like after my yoga practice and tend to use phrases like “grains of sand” when I’m in the zen zone. So, anyway, my Caprese salad is just fresh from the garden tomatoes (a must), fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. That’s it. I slice the tomatoes, layer them all fancy with the cheese and the basil. Drizzle with a good quality extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper."

Janet from The Taste Space was ambitious and made two salads to share this week. The first is an Avocado Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing. Janet says, "Whiz together a couple of ingredients in your food processor or blender and you have a silky, spicy, creamy, zesty and salty dressing in one. Use it to top lettuce and avocado for a wholesome, delicious, complex veggie treat prior to your main meal."

Next she has a Raw Rhubarb, Cucumber and Mint Salad and says that, "A bit of salt is added to temper the rhubarb and within ten minutes, you have a savoury salad ingredient – not at all tart! The rhubarb is mixed with thinly sliced cucumber, baby arugula and spinach, squirted with lemon juice and topped with shredded mint leaves. It is a wonderfully delicious, simply refreshing salad."

Kim from Stirring the Pot made a Green Bean Salad with Charred Onions from her Mom's garden this week. She says, "Every summer, my Mom plants green beans and we eat them like crazy all through the month of June. Last week was the third picking and we were looking for a new way to serve them up. I decided to get out Mario Batali's new book, Molto Gusto, and quickly found a great recipe for a green bean salad that can be served either warm or at room temperature. The green beans grew even more flavorful as they were allowed to soak up some of the tangy, orange-flavored dressing."

Here with a flavorful pasta salad is Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. She says, "One of my favourite summer veggies is the red pepper. Green peppers have their place but the sweetness of the ripe red pepper brings summery happiness to my heart. Between the baskets of fresh summer peppers and the giant jars of roasted red peppers, I am never without. This Pasta with Red Pepper Hummus, which can be served warm but is also perfect for a summer meal on the patio, at room temperature."

Graziana from Erbe in Cucina has a Sandwich Omelette with Aromatic Herbs that her mother harvested herbs for and made to share this week. She says, "The other garlic-like herb that she harvested was the weird garlic: it was chives garlic (nira), an aromatic herb similar to chives, but that can be harvested throughout the year. She used it with parsley in this peculiar recipe: a sandwich with two omelettes instead of bread slices." Who needs bread?!

girlichef is ready for a picnic with these Turkey and Pear Wraps with Curried Aioli from Mark Bittman. She says, "OH! And fair warning...you'll have some major breath after eating these. But they're soooo worth it! Especially if you use really good turkey. The pungeant heat of the aioli is cooled by the slices of pear and lettuce. The onion adds more punch and the turkey rounds it out perfectly. I definitely hope you take one of these wraps at the picnic."

Wow--what a great turnout this week--so many different and fantastic dishes! Thanks to all who joined in. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich recipe that you would like to share, click on the Souper Sunday logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a great week!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mark Bittman's Frozen Hot Chocolate--A Frosty, Chocolaty Simple Saturday Sipper

It's all about Summer Lovin' at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week, and although I already posted Bittman's Shredded Chicken & Veggie Wraps, I was craving something sweet and decided to make his Frozen Hot Chocolate too. I just made a half batch of this rich, frosty treat and I think I got a bit carried away with the blending--getting it a little smoother than intended, but it was thick, cold and delicious, and perfect for a summertime Simple Saturday Sipper.

Frozen Hot Chocolate

"Serve this with biscotti or other not-too-sweet cookies."

Melt six ounces of good dark chocolate with a quarter cup of cream or half-and-half, being careful not to boil. Once the chocolate is melted, taste and add a little sugar if you like, Put it in the blender with three cups of ice and pulse until an even consistency is reached. Serve in small bowls or cups.

Notes/Results: Very cold, rich, chocolaty and very good. I used a 74% dark chocolate bar from Theo, which made it very decadent and I think a quality dark chocolate is essential here. I didn't end up adding any sugar, which the recipe said was optional, and I used heavy cream (it calls for just a small amount). I did over-blend it slightly--being too impatient to pulse the blender, but it was still very thick and frosty and a small cup was the perfect amount. You could fancy it up with whipped cream and chocolate shavings to make it pretty, but I couldn't be bothered to whip some cream ;-) and I found it sweet enough on its own, especially when paired with a dark chocolate Lu cookie. This is a fun little treat and it would make an easy dessert for a summer's evening. (It would be fun to add some Bailey's or Kahlua to the mix for an adult version too). I would make this again.

You can check out the Summer Lovin' treats the other IHCC participants made by going to the site (here) and following the links.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shredded Chicken & Veggie Lettuce Wraps: A Healthy Mark Bittman Recipe to Love for Summer

The theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Summer Lovin'--recipes to ring in the official start of summer. Actually summer in Hawaii is pretty darn close to the rest of the year. (Don't hate me, I paid my dues living in the rainy Pacific Northwest most of my life.) Even in paradise, summer does get a little warmer, a little more humid and it still inspires lighter, low effort dishes that don't require a lot of cooking time in a hot kitchen. "Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express" is the perfect cookbook for that with its 20 minutes or less recipe sketches, divided seasonally. Having a busy week and unable to get to the store, I selected his recipe for Lettuce Wraps, deciding to use what I had in my fridge. For my protein, I went with shredded chicken using up the leftovers from a rotisserie chicken. In addition to the red onion, Thai chile and cilantro called for in the recipe, I added julienne carrots and zucchini and some chopped green onions, (always good to work in those veggies in for color, crunch and nutrients), and I used a small head of butter lettuce for the wrap. I also punched up the dressing a bit by adding lime juice, rice wine vinegar and a little chili paste along with some toasted sesame seeds. The wraps make a great light dinner or a starter, and would be an excellent "build your own" pupu (appetizer) for a summer party.

Shredded Chicken & Veggie Lettuce Wraps

adapted from "Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express"

Toss good-quality shredded cooked chicken, cooked ground meat, or lump crabmeat with minced shallot or red onion, chopped cilantro, sesame oil, minced Thai chile, salt, and pepper. Take the large outer leaves from heads of Bibbor Boston lettuce, put a couple of tablespoons of the filling mixture in the middle of each leaf, then roll up like a burrito to eat.

Notes/Results: What's not to like? Quick, easy, tasty, and adaptable to whatever you have in the fridge, this is a good basic dish and a great starting point to adapt as you wish. I make a lot of lettuce wraps of various types but I usually end up with ground meat or fish in them so using shredded chicken was a nice change. If I had them available, I would also have added some red pepper and cucumber to the veggie mix--the more color the better. Easy-peasy and a good go-dish to get you out of the kitchen and enjoying summer in no time.

Since this was such an easy recipe (and shockingly I am craving chocolate), I am doing double-duty and will be posting Bittman's Frozen Hot Chocolate recipe (from the same book), as my Simple Saturday Sipper this week. So come back for some more Summer Lovin'.

You can check the summer dishes the other IHCC participants picked by going to the site here and following the links.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Greek Parsley Salad with Tahini Dressing (& Homemade Tahini!)

Sure this Greek Parsley Salad with Tahini Dressing is delicious, and healthy, and reportedly Greek so it is going to Regional Recipes: Greece, hosted by my blogging buddy Joanne at Eats Well With Others but the really important thing is…I MADE Tahini! And by “made” I don’t mean I opened the jar, I actually toasted and ground up sesame seeds and made some pretty tasty tahini and it was easy, and economical too.

I go through a fair amount of tahini here at Kahakai Kitchen—it’s how I get through much of the unending kale and other dark leafy greens in my CSA box—sautéed leafy greens with tahini sauce = yum. Here, depending on the brand and type, it is around $9-$11 a jar—unless I can find it on sale. My trial batch of tahini used 2 cups of organic, hulled sesame seeds which came to $2.64 at my local co-op and netted me about 1 1/2 cups of tahini. I’d say that for a minimum amount of effort (cleaning the food processor is the hardest part), and with bulk sesame seeds, homemade tahini is quite a bargain and it tastes great--even better than most of the store-bought brands I have tried. I can't believe I never attempted to make my own before now.

There were several recipes for homemade tahini but I went with this one and then adjusted it a bit. The instructions said to pulse the toasted seeds in the food processor for 3-5 minutes, I just left it running, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides until it became smooth. I also added a bit of sesame oil at the end for a little extra flavor. Great taste and the texture ended up much smoother than some of the ones I saw online. I don’t know if that is due to keeping the processor running, the fact I toasted the sesame seeds pretty lightly, or I was busy and impatient and didn’t wait for the seeds to cool…so I think much more tahini experimentation is in order to figure it out.

Homemade Tahini
Adapted from D.I.Y. Tahini from Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups white sesame seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp sesame seed oil

Heat a heavy wide-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast lightly - about 2 minutes, shaking the pan so they toast evenly. Let cool completely.

Put sesame seeds into a food processor and drizzle in the olive oil. Process for 3-5 minutes, or until it's as smooth as you can get it, stopping to scrape down the sides periodically. When mostly smooth, drizzle sesame oil in and pulse a few times to blend. Refrigerate.

I promptly used 1/2 cup of my tahini in this fresh-tasting parsley salad. The tahini is mixed with lemon juice, garlic, and other seasonings into a delicious dressing that is then mixed with chopped parsley, green onion and toasted pine nuts to make a meze-style salad. The salad is from “Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings” by Joyce Goldstein, a book that should have been pulled off my cookbook shelves and used long ago. I served it with some homemade pita chips, seasoned with cumin.

Goldstein says, “While called a salad, this is really a meze spread to be served with pita bread. I sometimes add toasted pine nuts to the parsley and tahini mixture, as I think they add texture and sweetness. If you don’t have green onions on hand, you can use 4 tablespoons chopped chives instead.

Greek Parsley Salad with Tahini Dressing (Tahini Salata)
Mediterranean Fresh” by Joyce Goldstein
(Serves 4-6)

1/2 cup tahini dressing (see recipe below), plus more if needed
sea salt, if needed
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 green onions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
pita bread, cut into triangles and warmed

Put the tahini dressing in a blender or small food processor and beat in a bit of water to make it thin enough to coat the leaves. Salt is crucial for the balance of flavor, so dip a leaf of parsley into the dressing and add salt if needed.

In a salad bowl, toss the parley, green onions, and toasted pine nuts with the dressing. Serve with the pita bread for scooping.

Tahini Dressing
(Makes 2 1/2 cups)

1 cup sesame tahini
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup cold water, plus more if needed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp toasted cumin seed, ground (optional)
pinch of cayenne (optional)
chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

Combine the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor or blender and puree. Add water as needed to thin to a spreadable consistency for a dip and even thinner for salad dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and with cumin and cayenne if you like.

To serve as a dip, spoon into a shallow bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley. (Some cooks stir the parsley into the dressing.)

Variation: Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro and ½ tsp cayenne to the tahini mixture when pureeing.

Notes/Results: Really good! I wasn’t too sure I would like all of that parsley but the tahini dressing softens it and the toasted pine nuts add nice texture. I think it would make an awesome sandwich spread too. The dressing is better than my usual tahini dressing (is it the recipe or my HOMEMADE tahini? Hmmm…), so I think it may become a staple. I will make all three recipes—tahini, the salad and the dressing again. The rest of my tahini is destined for some yummy hummus. ;-)

In addition to Regional Recipes Greece (which Joanne will be rounding up at the end of the month), this post is being linked to Two for Tuesdays co-hosted by my good friend girlichef. Two for Tuesdays focuses on “real” and hand prepared foods and this homemade tahini and salad definitely qualify. girlichef and the other Two for Tuesday hosts will have the links of all the recipes submitted this week on their blogs, so go check them out.


In case you are a regular reader of my blog and were wondering…next week it’s back to my normal semi-regular Tuesday “Things I Am Loving This Week” post.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thai-Inspired Chicken Noodle Bowl for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Earlier in the week, it was gray and cloudy, I had a bad case of allergy snuffles and needed some chicken soup STAT! Craving Thai flavors and lots of noodles, I threw together a Thai-Inspired Chicken Noodle Bowl. With a broth of chicken stock simmered with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilies, and kaffir limes, thickened with lite coconut milk and made hearty with chopped spinach, local corn, mushrooms, shredded carrot and chunks of chicken breast, this noodle-filled soup really hit the spot.

Thai-Inspired Chicken Noodle Bowl

by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 8 cups of broth or 5-6 servings)

6 cups chicken stock, homemade or low sodium
4 stalks lemongrass, peeled and chopped or crushed
1/2 cup fresh ginger, sliced into rounds
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 whole Thai or Serrano chilies, stemmed not seeded
5-6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 can coconut milk, (I used lite coconut milk)
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
1 cup chopped frozen spinach
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup mushrooms, small or sliced to bite size
1 medium carrot, shredded
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp (or more) of sambal oelek or other chili paste
juice of 2 limes
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 package noodles of choice, cooked as directed (I used fresh Japanese udon)
2 Tbsp each of cilantro and Thai basil, chopped for garnish

Place chicken stock, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilies and kaffir lime leaves in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 25 minutes, until broth is well flavored. Remove from heat, strain broth through a strainer, discard the solids and return the broth to the saucepan.

Add the coconut milk, cooked chicken, spinach, corn, mushrooms and carrot and simmer for 5 minutes over low heat. Add fish sauce, chili paste, lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place a serving of cooked noodles in a bowl, top with soup and top with chopped cilantro. and Thai basil. Serve with extra lime slices or wedges.

Notes/Results: Delicious--with lots of wonderful flavor and texture. I used homemade slow cooker chicken stock but went easy with the chicken breast, picking up a rotisserie chicken and shredding the meat. I used some chopped spinach and some leftover local corn I had in the freezer, mushrooms from the pantry and used my julienne peeler to shred the carrots. If you don't have access to lemongrass or kaffir lime, using the juice and peel of a lemon and an additional lime will give similar flavor--you can also sub a bit of soy sauce for the fish sauce and hot sauce for the sambal oelek if you need to. I would have normally used thick rice noodles, but only had thin ones, and since I really wanted a hearty noodle fix, I used some fresh Japanese udon noodles I had in the fridge. They worked fine and the texture was perfect for slurping. Topped with some fresh Thai basil, cilantro, and extra lime for squeezing, it was a healthy, hearty but not heavy bowl of goodness that I will make again.

Now let's see who is here in the Souper Sunday kitchen:

First up, Lee Ann from Mangos Chili and Z made a Ranch Style Tortilla Soup and says, "I know, it’s Summer, but I don’t need to be sitting around in front of the fireplace wrapped up in my hot pink Snuggie with two feet of snow on the ground to enjoy a delicious bowl of soup. Especially when it’s one of my favorites like Tortilla Soup. About the photo…I promise there’s a big bowl of wonderfully seasoned brothy goodness underneath all those hearty chunky toppings…and lots of it."

Not satisfied with just one Tortilla Soup, Kim at Stirring the Pot had one of her famous "throwdowns" and has two this week. The first is Ellie Krieger's Tomato-Tortilla Soup. Kim says, "A very well-balanced soup which was very well-received by everyone. The lime juice really stands out and the jalapeno gives the soup the perfect amount of heat. I topped the soup with the baked corn tortillas, cheese, and cilantro BUT you could literally top it with all kinds of things: avocado, chicken, maybe some more jalapeno?"

Kim's second soup is Eating Well's Tortilla Soup. She says, "A completely different take on tortilla soup, this one packed quite a bit more heat than Ellie's version. I usually find poblano peppers to be pretty mild, but the ones I used in this recipe were really packing some heat. This recipe was filled with all kinds of texture and was very satisfying, filling and comforting. Everyone liked the addition of the chicken and thought it was more of a meal-based recipe."

So which soup won the throwdown? You'll just have to go visit Kim to see the winner!

Lauren at Healthy. Delicious has an exotic Moroccan Pea Soup with Zaatar Spiced Croutons She says, "I stumbled on a Moroccan chickpea soup in an old cookbook. It looked so good that I immediately decided to go with Moroccan flavors in my soup. The result was fantastic — a richly spiced, velvety broth with just a touch of spicy heat. Crispy croutons that were so good I had difficulty not eating them all straight out of the pan. Spicy peppers that allowed each diner to customize their own dish. No, this certainly isn’t your typical pea soup."

It seems that my friend Reeni at Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice and I were of the same mind this week, combining Thai flavors with noodles, and she has a gorgeous Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup with Noodles to share. Reeni says, "A Thai inspired soup recipe with shrimp and noodles, one of my recent favorites and new go-to soup! It’s fast, healthy and completely delicious! The creamy coconut broth is laden with flavor. It’s rich and sweet with little hints of spicy heat and citrus. I customized it and turned it into a main dish soup with the addition of rice noodles. And fresh corn straight from the cob. Because I adore the flavor of corn with coconut milk."

girlichef is here with a gorgeous Grilled Eggplant, Couscous, Toasted Pine Nut & Herb Salad. girlichef says, "I prefer to just eat my couscous like a barbarian, but since Near East was generous enough to send me some for free, I figured I'd better figure out something to show it off a bit. I made two dishes using the exact same ingredients...one's a little "dressier" if you will...one's a little simpler. Both were every bit as delicious as the sum of their parts." Visit her to check out her fancy "plated" version of this tasty salad.

I am so happy to welcome my friend Pam from Sidewalk Shoes to Souper Sundays this week! The fact that she is here with her beautiful Pam's Bistro Salad makes it all the better. She says, "I have a confession. I have absolutely no idea what a bistro salad is. I imagine it is a main dish salad that you eat while sitting at a bistro. Since I have never been to a bistro, this is all just hearsay. My definition is that it is a main dish salad with an egg on top. Stick an egg on top of salad and I am immediately transported to an outdoor cafe, with a slight breeze, and a glass of perfectly chilled white wine. This is how my imagination works." Pam had me at the pork sausage on top of her salad! ;-)

Joanne from Eats Well With Others has a colorful and healthy Pesto Rice Salad this week, inspired by some late "spring cleaning." Joanne says, "So I opened up my freezer. For what I'm not quite sure anymore. And no fewer than three containers of last summer's pesto. Attacked me. And as for that pesto? I showed it. I threw it into a rice salad along with some cherry tomatoes and locally grown asparagus. A dish that satisfied my every spring craving. Good thing, because summer's coming. And I have grand designs on stealing (err...borrowing...) as much basil from my dad's soon-to-be flourishing plants as possible."

Michelle from Ms. Enplace is back with us and she made some hearty Sausage Gravy Breakfast Sandwiches. Michelle says, "It was hard putting this "recipe" into words and measurements because it started as one of those things that you (I mean I--why am I blaming you?) forgot to plan/shop for. One of those we're-starving, there's-nothing-to-eat, what-are-we-going-to-eat days. At my house this tends to happen on weekends. The Husband loves these hearty sausage-egg-biscuit thingies for breakfast...and weekend lunches...and supper. And I can make them without having to waste my evil eyes on my starving family. I'll save those for other, more deserving situations."

A new face to welcome to Souper Sundays is Daphne at Food Junkie From Texas, with a favorite sandwich revisited--Peanut Butter & Jelly--updated and healthier. Daphne says, "Instead of plain peanut butter, I decided to make some of the healthy peanut butter dip (minus the chocolate chips) I made a couple weeks ago and use that on the sandwich. It was perfect! AND instead of the "reduced sugar" jelly I just used some sliced strawberries....no sugar at ALL! I thought it turned out very yummy and so did my son. It made a quick lunch after his baseball game today." Welcome Daphne!

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies made homemade bagels and turned them into some delicious Chicken Salad Sandwiches. She says, "Chicken salad has to be up there in the top ten sammies of all times. Along with BLTs, egg salad, corned beef on rye... you get the picture. But chicken salad on an Everything Bagel? Outstanding. And a homemade everything bagel to boot? Simply divine."

A fantastic bunch of dishes! Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays link on the side bar for all of the details.

Happy Fathers Day! I hope you get to spend time with or time thinking about all of the special dads in your life. Have a great week.