Sunday, January 20, 2019

Creamy Tomato & Gnocchi Soup with Spinach: Easy Comfort for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I have house guests and wanted a soup that was tasty without a lot of time and effort. Gnocchi was on sale this week in the import section of my local grocery store and since I made a gnocchi soup a while back with beans and vegetables and love it, I thought I'd try another version.  I decided to keep this one simple and use tomatoes and spinach. A jar of vodka pasta sauce and a bit of sour cream help keep it rich and creamy.  


This soup was just tossed together from my head and what I had in my pantry so you can adapt it to your preferences--add more sour cream, use vegan dairy products, add more liquid/broth, etc.-it's all good.


Creamy Tomato & Gnocchi Soup with Spinach
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 6 to 8 Servings)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile pepper or chile of choice (if desired)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 (14 oz) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes and their juices
1 jar good pasta sauce (I used creamy vodka sauce)
4 cups vegetable broth
pinch of sugar
1/2 cup sour cream if desired 
sea salt and pepper to taste
5 oz baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 (16 oz packages) potato gnocchi
shaved Parmesan and basil leaves for garnish

In a large heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 7-8 minutes, until onion is softened and golden. Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add dried basil, dried oregano, Aleppo chile, and cinnamon and saute another minute, until fragrant. 

Add the tomatoes and their juices, pasta sauce, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and puree the soup in batches in the blender. (I pureed about 3/4 of it.) Taste and add a pinch of sugar if desired. Stir in sour cream until completely blended. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. 

Bring soup to a simmer and add the baby spinach and gnocchi and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until greens are wilted and gnocchi rise to the top. 

Serve hot, topped with shaved Parmesan and fresh basil. Enjoy!


Notes/Results: Creamy and satisfying this is an easy and tasty soup to throw together when you don't want to do a lot of chopping or fuss. The gnocchi pillows and spinach are delicious in the creamy soup. Great comfort food, I am looking forward to taking it for lunches this week. I would happily make it again.


Let's look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here:


A big welcome (or welcome back?) to Elizabeth, now blogging at Literature and Limes and here with a healthy Kale and Pine Nut Salad she paired with a recently read novel. She says, "I have been on a keto journey for half a year now. I have made considerable changes in my health by cutting out the vast majority of carbs. I decided I needed something very green for my dish. They would make me something stuffed with vitamins, packed with flavor despite the lack of carbs, but something light so I could go do some yoga after lunch."

Debra of Eliot's Eats paired her Turning Over a New Leaf Salad with recently read non-fiction, What To Eat When. She says, "There is a bit of playfulness throughout the book. Again, the information here wasn’t revolutionary but it did cause me to re-plan menus. Besides just exercising our brains by jump-starting our neurons, the best food to eat is salmon, ocean trout, leafy greens, walnuts, coffee, olive oil, and blueberries. CUT OUT THE SUGAR!" This salad has several of those healthy ingredients.


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared a hearty Shepherd's Pie Stew and we are twins with the gnocchi. She says, "This gnocchi was found in the refrigerated section of the market.  Chop and measure your ingredients ahead of time and it's a quick meal to prepare.  This is the first time we have had a soupy/stew version of Shepherd's Pie. Usually we have beef or lamb or chicken with the massive amount of veggies and cover it all with mashed potatoes.

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen brought Spelt Beetroot Salad with Spinach and said, "Other than it being a dish to eat mindfully, by that I mean slowly because of the chewy nature of the grains, I actually quite enjoyed it. In fact I decided to make another recipe with grains the following week."  

Thank you to all who joined this week! 
 
About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...


To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

 
Have a happy, healthy week!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Pinto Bean Soup with Fresh Salsa (Simple Brothy Beans) for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

My friend sent me a care package several weeks ago and included a small book of soups since she knows I cook them weekly and figured I'd use the cookbook more than she does. I flipped through it and tagged several recipes to make, and when a description of "soupy pinto beans" in the last book I read caught my eye, I knew I wanted to make the Pinto Bean Soup with Fresh Salsa.


Although the recipe included a recipe for fresh salsa (just tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and lime), tomatoes were not looking great in the grocery store I went too and the red onions were big and tough looking. Because of the lack of good ingredients (and because I am lazy sometimes) I bought a container of good fresh salsa from the deli case.


Pinto Bean Soup with Fresh Salsa
Slightly Adapted from The Little Guides: Soups
(Serves 6)

1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
7 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
(I added abut 1/2 tsp Aleppo chili)
6 cups stock or broth of choice 
salsa and sour cream to serve

Sort through the beans and discard any misshapen beans or stones. Rinse well. Place the beans and water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until all the beans are cooked through and creamy inside, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onions, salt and pepper and saute until the onions are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add the beans, their cooking liquid, and the stock. 

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally until the beans start to break apart, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly.

In small batches, blend or process the bean mixture until smooth. Return the puree to the pan. Reheat over low heat, stirring often. 

Ladle the soup into warmed shallow bowls and top each serving with a spoonful of salsa and a dollop of sour cream.


Notes/Results:This one hit the spot--simple but good savory flavor. Wanting brothy beans, I just blended about a third of the beans and stirred them back into the soup. I also added some chili powder (Aleppo) for a bit of subtle heat and used low-sodium non-chicken bouillon paste in both  cooking the beans and in the soup itself which also added to the flavor. I used Tofutti Vegan Sour Cream but you could use yogurt or regular sour cream based on your preferences. One quick cooking note, I soaked my beans overnight from force of habit and so they only needed to be cooked for about an hour and then another 15 minutes or so with the onions. Hearty, satisfying and good, I'd happily make this soup again.


 Let's look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here:


Judee from Gluten Free A-Z Blog brought Instant Pot Red Lentil Vegetable Soup and said, "Red lentils make a hearty soup that can be cooked in the Instant Pot in just 10 minutes ( plus warm up time). Since red lentils do not require pre-soaking, it's a great last minute soup for a cold evening. ... It's a nice thick soup that warms for the inside out. If there are any leftovers, beware that the soup will become thicker overnight. Just add some additional vegetable broth before reheating!"

 
Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared a healthy side dish she recently enjoyed, Zoe's Fruit Salad. and said, "When we dined there last week we both ordered kabobs and falafel.  I added the fruit salad because I knew it would be fresh fruit instead of the sort some restaurants give you, you know what I mean - crunchy under ripe cantaloupe?  Not this place.  Freshly cut orange segments and sweet cantaloupe, crisp green apple slices and sweet grapes. ... When we eat out, or grab takeaway, there are times I want to recreate the recipes or dishes at home. Sure, fruit salad isn't exactly rocket science but for some reason I don't bother at home. We buy the pre-cut, well we used to buy the pre-cut fruit salads from Publix but they were disappointing."

 
Thank you Judee & Tina for joining in this week! 
 
About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...


To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).


Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Widows" by Jess Montgomery, Served with a Recipe for Spicy Cinnamon Fried Apples on Toast {and a Book Giveaway!}

Happy Thursday! It's been a few weeks since I did a book review and so I am very happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Widows, a historical mystery novel by Jess Montgomery. Paired with my review are some tasty Spicy Cinnamon Fried Apples on Toast inspired by my reading, and there is a chance to win a copy of The Widows at the bottom of the post.



Publisher's Blurb:

Kinship, Ohio, 1924: When Lily Ross learns that her husband, Daniel Ross, the town’s widely respected sheriff, is killed while transporting a prisoner, she is devastated and vows to avenge his death.

Hours after his funeral, a stranger appears at her door. Marvena Whitcomb, a coal miner’s widow, is unaware that Daniel has died, and begs to speak with him about her missing daughter.

From miles away but worlds apart, Lily and Marvena’s lives collide as they realize that Daniel was not the man that either of them believed him to be–and that his murder is far more complex than either of them could have imagined.

Inspired by the true story of Ohio’s first female sheriff, this is a powerful debut about two women’s search for justice as they take on the corruption at the heart of their community.

Hardcover: 336 Pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (January 8, 2019)


My Review:

As you can probably tell by the number of historical novels I review on this blog, historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine, especially when it takes me into the past and to aspects of history that I am not familiar with. In the case of The Widows, I was transported to the Appalachians and rural Ohio coal mines in 1925 where I learned about the attempts to unionize the mines and provide the workers with fair employment practices and safer working conditions, all why trying to solve a murder and a disappearance in a book with two strong female leads, based on real-life women. The character of Lily Ross is loosely based on Ohio’s first female sheriff, Maude Collins, appointed after her husband was killed during a traffic stop. Jess Montgomery had her character face a similar circumstance but made the question of who killed Lily’s husband Daniel the main mystery the book is centered around. As she investigates his death, Lily discovers aspects of Daniel’s life hidden from her including Marvena Whitcomb, also a widow, with a past that intersects with Daniel’s. Marvena is leading the local miners and their families in battling Daniel’s half-brother and his mining company against their unsafe work practices, all too real to both woman as Lily’s father and  Marvena’s husband died in the mines while trying to rescue miners after a cave-in. Marvena’s character is also loosely based a real person, Mary Harris (Mother) Jones, the labor activist who co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World. Both lead characters are strong and doing what they need to do to take care of their families and communities. Lily steps into Daniel’s role of Sheriff while Marvena sells moonshine to support her daughter, Frankie. Marvena also spent time as a ‘working girl’ at the local boarding house, something her older daughter, Eula was doing when she turned up missing and Daniel was looking into her disappearance when he was killed, purportedly by Marvena’s brother Tom. Despite their dissimilar backgrounds, both women loved Daniel and find themselves working together and forging a relationship despite their differing backgrounds and economic levels.

I enjoyed the setting of the book and the way Montgomery wove the stories together, although The Widows isn’t a fast-moving mystery, it was absorbing and kept me engaged throughout. The mysteries—Tom’s death and Eula’s disappearance, were compelling, and while I guessed correctly about most of what happened, there were still some good twists to the story. I was interested in both Lily and Marvena’s characters and the fact it is a debut novel and is so well researched and written is impressive. I am happy to hear that The Widows is the first book in The Kinship Series and look forward to spending more time in the town of Kinship and its surrounding community. If you enjoy historical fiction, books set in rural Ohio and the surrounding area, stories with strong empowered female characters, mysteries, and learning more about American history, add The Widows to your TBR list. (You can enter a giveaway of a copy at the bottom of this post.) 
-----

Author Notes: Jess Montgomery is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She lives in her native state of Ohio.

You can connect with Jess on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

-----

Food Inspiration:

There is food to be found in The Widows, and often it helps to illustrate the difference in lifestyle for Lily and Marvena. While Lily's table is more bountiful--even what she cooks for the people in the jail's holding cells, Marvena is making due with less and its often food she gathers from the nearby woodlands--berries, greens, mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, pokeweed, black raspberries, and the vegetables she grows in her small garden. Montgomery speaks in the afterward about the research she did to capture the experience of the Appalachians in Ohio in the 1920s from the scenes in the mines, life in rural communities, and of course the food. Lily's mother's Dried Apple Stack Cake is based on her family recipe. (Looking online for examples, the cake looked delicious but far too work-intensive for me to attempt to make this week.) ;-) My list of some of the food mentioned in the book included tinned milk, cheese, chopped steak, ice cream, coffee, biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, potato and onion, bologna sandwiches, an after funeral buffet of fried chicken, deviled eggs, ham salad, corn relish, and apple and peach pies, roasted chestnuts, peppermint and butterscotch button candies, good salt ham, fresh-baked bread, green beans and corn, black raspberry jam and apple butter, corn pone with sorghum syrup, buttermilk pie, broth and foot vegetables, muffins, tea--chamomile and sassafras (a favorite character Nana says, "Life is hard. Have tea."--something I agree with), squirrel stew with root vegetables, beets and spring peas, soup beans made with dried pinto beans, onion, bacon fat and water, taffy, cornbread, buttermilk, beef stew, deer jerky, carrots and green onions, fritters, a fried apple stack cake, canned peaches, pickles, and jams.

I ended up taking my inspiration for my book-inspired dish from a mention of apples fried up with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon that Lily serves to Marvena in the jail cell: 

"Marvena snatches the plate through the food slot, carries it back to the cot, sits. She eats a bite of good salted ham. She has to keep herself from moaning with pleasure and relief. Next she takes a bite of apples, fried up with brown sugar and butter and cinnamon. Fancy, rich food. Marvena hates to admit it, but Lily's a good cook. She clears the plate quickly."


Although I kept the brown sugar, cinnamon and butter of the many recipes I looked at, I decided to add a pinch of salt and some (Aleppo) chile pepper to my apples, just to make them more interesting, and to serve them on thick slices of toast.

Spicy Cinnamon Fried Apples
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp of your favorite chile pepper or cayenne (I used Aleppo pepper), or to taste 
tiny pinch of salt
2 apples of choice (I used Gala), cored and sliced
bread and butter, if desired, to serve 
 
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it is melted and begins to bubble; stir the sugar, cinnamon, chile pepper and salt into the hot butter. Add the apples and cook until apples begin to break down and soften. (This can take anywhere from about 8 to 12 minutes depending on how thick you sliced them and how soft you want them--I like my apples to be tender but not mushy so mine took about 10 minutes.

Toast bread and butter if desired. Serve with the apples and their juices spooned on top. Enjoy!


Notes/Results: I love apples just about any way they can be served and this simple preparation didn't disappoint. I liked the combination of the sweet and slightly spicy sauce with a touch of tartness from the apples. The Aleppo pepper was present and give a little kick and warmth, but wasn't too spicy--just the way I like it (though the fried apples would still be perfectly delicious without it). Spooned over the toasted bread these apples made for a tasty after dinner snack. I made enough apples for another serving and will probably top my morning oatmeal with them. I will definitely make them again. 


I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


***Book Giveaway!***

The publisher is generously providing a copy of The Widows to give away to a lucky reader (U.S./Canada addresses, please) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment please (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me your favorite era(s) in history to read about and/or why you would like to win a copy of the book

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: Tweet about this giveaway or follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii), and/or author Jess Montgomery (@JessM_Author), and/or Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks) on Twitter
(Note: You can still get the extra entries even if you already follow me, Jess Montgomery, and/or Minotaur Books on Twitter.)

Deadline for entry is Monday, January 21st.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: A review copy of "The Widows" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.
 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Eggplant Soup Parmigiana: Giving an Old Recipe a New Start for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

I love going through vintage and retro magazines and cookbooks looking for recipes to try or to update which is why I love looking at RuthReichl.com. In her Ruth's Words, Reichl has posted lots of recipes from vintage cookbooks and old issues of Gourmet Magazine and it's fun to go through them.


In a post on three soups, the Eggplant Soup Parmigiana caught my eye. I liked the thought of giving a classic dish a new start as a soup and the "floating" tomato baked with Parmesan top sounded fun.

pics of Gourmet magazine clipping from RuthReichl.com

I did think that it needed a few changes, so I made them, noted in red below. Mainly I added canned fire-roasted tomatoes to add flavor and color, bumped the spices, pureed half of the soup in a blender, and thought that toasted bread crumbs would be a welcome addition to the topping. It turned out really well. (I may have to try that Basil Soup one of these days too...)  


Eggplant Soup Parmigiana 
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, September 1977 & RuthReichl.com
(Serves 4)

2 Tbsp butter (I reduced from 3 Tbsp)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic (I used 3 large cloves)
2 lbs eggplant coarsely chopped (I used Japanese eggplant)
2 cups chicken stock (I used non-chicken bouillon paste & water)
(I added 1 can diced fire roasted tomato, plus the liquid)
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/2 tsp oregano (I used 1 tsp + I tsp dried basil)
sea salt and black pepper to taste
4 slices of fresh tomato
Parmesan cheese, grated--about 1/2 cup
(I added Toasted bread crumb--about 1/4 cup)

In a large soup pot, add the butter and saute the onion and garlic over medium-high heat until softened. Add the eggplant, broth, chopped tomatoes and their juices, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, simmering the soup for about 30 minutes. Taste and add additional seasoning as needed. (I decided to blend about half of the soup in my blender to give it a thick and chunky consistency.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Ladle soup into ovenproof bowls and float a tomato slice on each. Top each with 1 Tbsp toasted breadcrumbs & 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese and bake about 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and golden.


Notes/Results: This soup smells so good cooking and has all of the flavor of Eggplant Parmigiana too--even if it may not be the prettiest soup out there. If you use the tomato, or even replace it with bread, you may want to serve it with a knife for cutting as it gets a tad messy. I liked the addition of the tomatoes--it made it more like the dish I am used to making and pureeing the soup made the texture nice and hearty. It would be good with some garlic bread to sop up the broth. I would happily make it again.


Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is A New Start.

 
Now let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen:

 
Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brought hearty Taco Chili and says, "This is my first submission for Souper Sunday in 2019. I hope to participate most Sundays and try new soups, stews, chili, salads and sandwiches. That's a good goal for the new year and will keep me on track eating healthier. ... This is a Taco Chili that was inspired from Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook.  Lucky me, I won a copy from The Book Club Cookbook. Thank you!"



Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen is back at Souper Sundays with Cream of Parsnip Soup with Lemon. She says, "Over the festive season I decided to make the Cream of Parsnip Soup with Lemon. I served it with homemade sourdough bread. ... Sarah Beattie's original recipe for this soup is made with cream, but I felt the soup once blitzed was naturally thick and creamy, so I decided to omit the addition of cream. I think this is the kind of soup you ant to be tucking into when you are feeling a bit under the weather or a little poorly. It was a very warming soup with uplifting undertones of ginger and lemon."


Thank you Tina & Shaheen for joining in this week! 
 
About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...


To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).
 


 Have a happy, healthy week!