Sunday, May 30, 2010

Maui Onion and Ginger Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I have had this simple Maui Onion and Ginger Soup tagged to make for a little while now. This recipe is from a local cookbook I was given, "Hawaiian Country Tables: Vintage Recipes for Today's Cooks" by Kaui Philpotts. It's a fun book with recipes adapted from community cookbooks and local restaurants and chefs. Maui onions, if you are not familiar, are a smaller, juicy and very sweet onion. If you can't find them, any small, sweet onion will work.

Philpotts says, "Shep Gordon is a Hollywood-producer-turned-avid-gourmet. He now makes Hawai'i his home. His friends and houseguests love this soup. You will too."

Maui Onion and Ginger Soup
Adapted from Shep Gordon, "Hawaiian Country Tables" by Kaui Philpotts
(Serves 4)

4 large Maui onions, sliced
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 pint half and half (I used lite coconut milk)

In a saucepan, saute the onions in the butter over medium heat. Add the ginger and continue to cook until the onions are clear, but not browned. Add the thyme, wine, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Continue to cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Add the half and half and return to the heat. This soup can be served hot or cold with a dollop of sour cream.

Notes/Results: Very good--sweet, creamy with a nice kick of ginger. The only change I made was to replace the half and half with coconut milk to keep it non-dairy. The coconut milk added some extra flavor and I think it kept it just as creamy as the half and half would have. I topped the soup with some crispy onions for a bit of texture and served it with some savory biscuit bites from a cookbook I am testing. Although the recipe says it can be enjoyed both hot or cold, I preferred it hot. This is a simple to make, rich and flavorful soup that I would make again.

Now let's see who is in the Souper Sunday kitchen this week.

First let's welcome a new face to Souper Sundays, Janet from The Taste Space, coming to us from Toronto with this Roasted Red Pepper and Squash Soup. Janet says, "This is a very simple soup, with only 4 ingredients, but the results are beyond simple. Freshly roasted peppers are combines with sweet squash (butternut, buttercup, etc) with a flavourful stock and an onion, and you have a powerful soup. Season well with salt and pepper. The hardest part is roasting the red peppers, which I recommend over the jarred variety as they taste a lot better and it isn’t that difficult. You can roast more peppers to save for other dishes, as I do as well." Welcome Janet!

The talented Graziana from Erbe in Cucina is back this week with a hearty Thai Green Curry with Potatoes served with jasmine rice, and made with the always fresh and wonderful herbs from her incredible garden. Graziana says, "I prepared again the Thai Chicken Soup before it was too hot to enjoy it. With the fresh harvested lemon grass I also cooked this Thai-inspired green curry."

Here with two entries, a soup and some burgers (more about the burgers below) is my friend Foodycat. Her soup is a Minestra di Verdura or Green Minestrone. Foodycat says, "This is a lighter, quicker, green-er version of a classic minestrone. I topped it with crisp prosciutto because Paul was a bit unimpressed at being given a vegetarian meal when it wasn't even Monday. Still - it was delicious and healthy!"

Lori from Fake Food Free is here with a beautiful and exotic Black Trumpet Mushrooms Over Ho Fan. Lori says, "What resulted were thin, delicate ribbons of mushroom and a dark, rich broth some of which I used in this recipe and the rest I froze to add to soups later. I combined the mushrooms, broth and homemade chicken stock and served it over Ho Fan, a flat Asian noodle. The Ho Fan was a nice match for the rich mushroom broth. This ended up being a very easy, simple meal, and with the Black Trumpets, the flavor is outstanding!"

Another new face to welcome this week is Michelle from Ms. EnPlace from Lousiana, who found us through Kim at Stirring the Pot, and brings a hearty Meatball Stew. The desire for meatball stew was triggered by the special sign in front of a local cafe. Michelle says, "I have wanted different lately. I’ve been uninspired/in a rut as far as meal planning goes. And The Boy does love his meatballs—almost as much as bread (which is a lot, btw). So when I saw Ronnie’s Meatball Stew sign, I knew that’s what I had to make!" Happy to have you join us Michelle!

Joanne from Eats Well With Others "advises" to protect yourself and identify potential vampires by making a lot of Mark Bittman's Roasted Garlic Soup. She says, "The FDA and NIH have worked together to come up with a set of guidelines and protocols. That enumerates the ways in which you can protect yourself from the potentially imminent vampire invasion.
The first of which is to make this roasted garlic soup. And serve it to just about anyone who enters your home. Your husband. Your children. Your best friend. Definitely your hermit of a next door neighbor who lives alone with her ten cats. And who you're pretty sure you've never seen in broad daylight. No one is above suspicion."

I am happy to have my friend Christine from Fresh Local and Best making her first (but hopefully not last!) appearance at Souper Sundays with a Zested Lime Cilantro Quinoa Salad. Christine says, "I was hesitant about this recipe, concerned that the lime zest would be bitter. I'm pleased to report that I was wrong. The dressing in this recipe is bright but tame, I'm sure that the two tablespoons of butter didn't hurt. When combined with a variety of herbs and a vegetables, the salad strikes a well-rounded balance that celebrates the flavors of summer." Welcome Christine!

Yenta Mary from Food Floozie is here with a Ham 'n' Cheese Pasta Salad to share. She says, "But oh, man, was it good! Whole wheat pasta shells, chopped ham, shredded Parmesan, some peas and carrots and a little salt and pepper. For myself, rather than for Jeremy, I also added grape tomatoes and shredded spinach and red onion, finishing it off with a Dijon-Balsamic vinaigrette. And I made enough that there will be leftovers for tomorrow ... to paraphrase Bob Vila, "Cook Once, Eat Twice."

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies also got her garlic on this week with Mark Bittman's Garlic Mushroom Flans with Caesar Salad topped with Garlic Shrimp. She says, "In honour of the stinking rose, I have made a garlicky dinner which, when eaten on the deck in this beautiful summer weather, also seems to act as a natural bug repellent. See, good all around. For your garlicky pleasure I have Garlic-Mushroom Flans, delicate and quivering in their deliciousness, Caesar Salad, with extra garlic of course, topped with Garlic Shrimp - because one can never have too much of a good thing."

Kim from Stirring the Pot has been cooking from Emeril's new cookbook and made both a salad and a sandwich this week. She says, "Emeril's Cucumber Ribbon Salad looked so beautifully presented in the book that I had to give it a try. I was a little intimidated to try my hand at cucumber ribbons, but it was actually very easy with a vegetable peeler. The cucumber ribbons were mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, mint, and dill. Twirling the cucumber ribbon around on a fork like spaghetti was really fun and the salad was a total hit."

For her sandwich, Kim says, "I had also been craving a delicious and wonderfully messy steak and cheese sandwich. Emeril's Steak and Cheese Sandwich fit the bill very nicely. This was a delightfully messy sandwich with tons of flavor from both the blue cheese and the Worcestershire sauce. The steak was especially tender and cooked to perfection. A definite repeat for any future steak and cheese cravings."

For her sandwich entry, Foodycat is starting a quest this summer to make the perfect burger She says, "I read, I researched, and I came to the conclusion that the best burgers are nothing but seasoned beef - no fillers, no binders. For a first attempt, I was very happy with them! The 10% fat was about right, the burgers were moist but not fatty, and the seasoning was good."

Lots of wonderful dishes, plus both old friends and new at Souper Sundays this week. Mahalo to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cucumber-Lime-Mint (& Rum) Ice Pops: A Frozen Cocktail and Simple Saturday Sipper

This week my Simple Saturday Sipper is a bit more solid than the usual drink I feature. These Cucumber-Lime-Mint (& Rum) Ice Pops are a fun way to enjoy a delicious cocktail. They are from my new cookbook, "Ice Pops: Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Frozen Treats" by Shelly Kaldunski, from the wonderful Kim at Stirring the Pot. I made and enjoyed the Mexican Chocolate Pops earlier in the week and this recipe also caught my eye. My first thought after reading the recipe title "Cucumber-Lime-Mint" pops, was that it sounded like the base for a great mojito. Then I got down to the bottom of the recipe where it said you could make these into a frozen cocktail by adding vodka or gin and knew I was in business. In keeping with the mojito theme, I decided on rum as my alcohol of choice. Although you can't sip these--they are simple and refreshing.

Kaldunski says, "The cool and refreshing combination of cucumber, lime, and mint will surprise and delight all ice pop lovers. A perfect way to beat the heat in the summer, these ice pops are elegant enough to impress and far too delicious to resist."

Cucumber-Lime-Mint (& Rum) Ice Pops
"Ice Pops" by Shelly Kaldunski
(Makes 8-10 Ice Pops)

1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) sugar (I used 1/4 cup agave nectar)
1 English cucumber, cut crosswise into thin slices
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup (2 oz/ 7 g) fresh mint leaves
1 tsp finely grated lime zest

(I added 1/4 cup rum--see "Pop Swap" notes below)

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, half of the cucumber slices (about 20), the lime juice, and the mint leaves. Pour in 1 3/4 cups (14 fl oz / 430 ml) water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Strain the cucumber mixture into a 4-cup (32 fl oz/1-l) measure with a pour spout. Add the lime zest and stir to combine.

If using conventional ice pop molds. divide the cucumber mixture among the molds. Then, divide the remaining cucumber slices among the molds, using a stick to push the slices down into the molds. Cover and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. If using sticks, insert them into the molds when the pops are partially frozen, after about 1 hour, then freeze until solid, at least 3 more hours. If using an instant ice pop maker, follow the manufacturer's instructions to fill the molds, adding the cucumber slices as above, and freeze the pops.

Pop Swap: To turn this pop into a frozen cocktail, add 1/4 cup (2 fl oz / 60 ml) vodka or gin to the strained cucumber mixture. Increase the freezing time to 5 hours.

Notes/Results: Like a mojito on a stick--with cucumber of course! This is a great, refreshing combination of flavors. I was surprised and pleased with how well the cucumber flavor comes out--in fact none of the flavors overpower each other--they just work well together. Rather than using the 1/2 cup sugar, I substituted 1/4 cup of agave nectar instead. Of course if you want to give these to the kiddies or don't want the alcohol, they would be perfectly delicious without it too. These pops are really good and perfect warm weather party fare. I will be making them again, and probably often throughout the season.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Grilled Zucchini with Caprese Salad and Rocket (Arugula) Salsa: A Fresh & Tasty Side Dish, Ready for Summer

This is another simple, quick and very tasty Jill Dupleix recipe from her new column in Delicious magazine. (I made her "Curried Egg" Garden Salad from the same column last week). This Grilled Zucchini with Caprese Salad and Rocket (Arugula) Salsa is a great side dish and a perfect way to ring in summer and liven up plain zucchini. I used some bocconcini cut in half, along with some very sweet local grape tomatoes and basil from my CSA box. The small zucchini (pretty much a year-round veggie here), baby arugula and parsley were also all local--which makes me happy.

Dupleix says, "The flavours of zucchini and tomato with fresh cheese and a zippy herb sauce make it feel as though summer is never going to end. Make this a main meal with a platter of prosciutto or grilled fish."

Grilled Zucchini with Caprese Salad and Rocket (Arugula) Salsa
by Jill Dupleix, Delicious Magazine Volume 7 / Issue 3
(Serves 4)

4 zucchini, very thinly sliced lengthways
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped
2 x 120g (about 4 ounces) buffalo mozzarella balls, drained, chopped
1/2 cup basil leaves

Rocket (Arugula) Salsa
1 cup rocket (arugula) leaves, stems removed
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Tbsp tiny salted capers, rinsed, drained
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil

For the rocket salsa, place ingredients in a food processor, season with sea salt and pepper, then process until smooth. Loosen with a little water. Set aside.

Preheat chargrill or barbecue to medium-high. Brush zucchini with oil and grill, turning once, for 5 minutes until lightly charred. Arrange zucchini on plates and top with tomato and mozzarella. Season, then drizzle with rocket salsa. Top with basil leaves.

Per serving: 1672 kj (400 cal), Fat 34.9g (sat fat 12.2g), protein 13.5g, carb 5.8g, fiber 4.9g, chol 30mg, sodium 275mg.

Notes/Results: Really good! What's not to like? The zucchini gets new life topped with the caprese-style salad and the peppery (from the arugula) and tangy (from the red wine vinegar and capers) salsa. (Although I do think it is actually more of a pesto than a salsa). It's a fresh-tasting and easy side dish that pairs well with grilled meat, poultry or fish. I served it with some simple lamb patties (ground lamb mixed with grated onion, garlic, chopped cilantro, mint and parsley, cumin, salt and pepper), and it made a great light dinner for a warm night. I will make this again.

I am sending this one to Side Dish Showdown, the monthly event hosted by my friend Reeni at Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice. Reeni will be rounding up all of this month's fabulous sides at her blog after the end of the month (which is in just a few days--yikes! Where does the time go?!), so stop by and check them all out.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mark Bittman's Osso Buco with Gremolata--A Delicious Way to Get Garlic Breath!

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are all about "The Stinking Rose"--yep, the theme is "Garlic Breath!" Any Mark Bittman recipe that features garlic is up for grabs, so I picked one of my very favorite dishes, the Italian classic Osso Buco. With plenty of garlic in the slow cooked veal shanks, as well as garlic in the gremolata topping, it is a delicious way to get your garlic breath on. Since my usual recipe and also the one I order most often at my neighborhood Italian restaurant both have a tomato-based sauce, I was intrigued with Bittman's sauce which features anchovies, garlic and all the flavor from the marrow of those shanks. Served over some fresh egg tagliatelle from the deli case, it is an easy and oh-so-good dinner--the hardest part is waiting for the shanks to cook while smelling that incredible savory aroma.

This recipe can be found in "Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes From The New York Times" or online at The NYT's website here.

Bittman says, "There is no promise of speed here: osso buco takes time. But this classic Italian dish of glorious, marrow-filled veal shanks (the name means bone with a hole"), braised until they are fork-tender is dead easy to makes and requires a total of no more than fifteen or twenty minutes of attention during it's two hours or so of cooking."

Osso Buco
"Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from The New York Times"
(Makes 4 Servings)
Time: At least 2 hours, largely unattended

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 center-cut slices veal shank (2 pounds or more)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 or 4 cloves garlic, lightly mashed and peeled
4 anchovy fillets
1 cup dry white wine, chicken or beef stock, or water
2 teaspoons butter, optional

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes. Add the oil, swirl it around, and pour out any excess. Add the veal slices and cook until nicely browned on the first side, about 5 minutes. (For even browning, you can rotate the slices, but try not to disturb them too much.) Turn and brown the other side.

When the second side is just about completely browned, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and add the garlic and anchovies to the pan. Cook, stirring a little, until the anchovies dissolve and the garlic browns, about 2 minutes. Add the liquid and let it bubble away for about a minute.

Turn the heat to low and cover the skillet. Five minutes later, check to see that the mixture is simmering -- just a few bubbles appearing at once -- and adjust the heat accordingly. Cook until the meat is very tender and pulling away from the bone, at least 90 minutes and probably somewhat more; turn the slices every half-hour or so. (When the meat is tender, you may turn off the heat and refrigerate the dish for up to 24 hours; reheat gently before proceeding.)

Remove the meat to a warm platter and turn the heat to high. Boil the sauce until it becomes thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter if you like, and serve the meat with the sauce spooned over it and the gremolata.

Gremolata: Traditionally, osso buco is served with a condiment known as gremolata. To make it mix together 1 tablespoon minced lemon zest, 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, and 1/4 to 1 teaspoon minced garlic (remember this will not be cooked, so go easy on the garlic).

Notes/Results: Oh my--this is a good one! Savory, garlicky sauce over tender, falling apart veal, with the spark of bright flavor from the gremolata. I made four smallish shanks and wished I had double, as it only got better as leftovers. Although I love my usual tomato-based sauce, this was just as good in it's own way--the sauce was very flavorful and rich. I used a good beef stock for my sauce, and basically doubled the sauce recipe since I was serving it over the egg pasta. Not a quick dish, but a perfectly simple one--rich and satisfying. I will definitely be making this again--actually I may have to make it again this weekend--I am already craving it. ;-)

You can see how the other IHCC peeps got their garlic breath this week by heading to the IHCC site (here) and following the links.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week

It's time again for the Things I Am Loving This Week--those (mostly) food-related things I am enjoying and want to share.

First up, I love my blogging friend Kim from Stirring the Pot who I have gotten to know pretty well since the Tyler Florence Fridays days, and she is now one of my lovely co-hosts for I Heart Cooking Clubs. Kim has a fun new feature on her blog called Popsicle of the Week, where she features different ice pops, and to celebrate she gave away a copy of "Ice Pops: Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Frozen Treats" by Shelly Kaldunski. Guess who won?! Yep, that would be me--love that random number generator!

On Friday I received a package from Kim with the cookbook as well as some samples and treats from one of my favorite places--LUSH. I was so excited as soon as I smelled the box, I knew it had to have LUSH goodies in it and it did--a couple of bath bombs, a bath melt (a little too melted to be in the picture, but it worked just fine), some sample soaps and a lip scrub). ;-) A very fun box to open and enjoy--mahalo Kim!

Of course I had to try out an ice pop right away and since I had some vanilla rice milk in the fridge, I tried the recipe for the Mexican Chocolate pops.

Kaldunski says, "Mexican chocolate has a good dose of cinnamon to lend a spicy flavor. Here it is used in two forms, both ground and whole, for layers of cinnamon flavor. Rice milk, instead of cow's milk, imparts a frosty, refreshing quality."

Mexican Chocolate Ice Pops
"Ice Pops" by Shelly Kaldunski
(Makes 6-9 Ice Pops)

2 cups (16 fl oz / 500 ml) vanilla-flavored rice milk
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 oz (60g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the rice milk, cocoa powder, brown and granulated sugars, cinnamon stick, ground cinnamon, and salt, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar is completely melted. Remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate, and stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. After the mixture has cooled, remove the cinnamon stick.

If using conventional ice pop molds. divide the mixture among the molds. Cover and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. If using sticks, insert them into the molds when the pops are partially frozen, after about 1 hour, then freeze until solid, at least 3 hours. If using an instant ice pop maker, follow the manufacturer's instructions to fill the molds and freeze the pops.

Notes/Results: Very chocolaty and the nice kick of cinnamon gives these pops a lot of flavor. Texture-wise, they are definitely thin and frosty rather than thick and creamy, and I think I prefer my chocolate pops at least a bit creamy. (Maybe I will add coconut milk instead next time). They are still quite tasty and would be fun with a little hot chili kick too. I can't wait to try some of the many other ice pops in the book. Again, big thanks to Kim for such a special treat.

Lately I am loving culinary programs and the students in them. I recently had the opportunity to attend a cooking demonstration, tasting, and scholarship fundraiser for the UH Culinary Institute of the Pacific at the Sub-Zero / Wolf Showroom. My friend Yuri's son, Tate was one of three chef students leading the demos and cooking their own recipes.

Such incredible food! We had aloe vera three ways--in an Aloe Cucumber Lemonade, Fried Marinated Aloe, and a Peppercorn Crusted Seared Ahi with an Avocado Mousse and an Aloe Vera Ponzu sauce cooked by Meng-Ling Erik Kuo. Next we had slices of Baby Rack of Lamb with a Heart of Palm, Asparagus, and Mizuna Green Salad with an incredible Lilikoi Mint Vinaigrette and Crusted Big Island Goat Cheese by Tate Nakano-Edwards. Tate was followed by Rena Suzuki with a Beef Tongue and Hamakua Mushroom Stew, Stuffed Cabbage Roll, Two-Colored Potato Gratin, and Orange-Fennel with French Beans. Although everything was very good, Tate's lamb and salad combo was my favorite (and not because he is part of my Hawaii ohana (family)! The lamb was perfect, the passion fruit dressing was amazing, and of course crusted goat cheese---need I say more!?!). The event was hosted by local chef and restaurant icon, Roy Yamaguchi, and the three different settings throughout the day helped raise tuition for the participating student-chefs. There was even dessert--a Chocolate Eclair Cake from the showroom, and I had a great time hanging out with my friends and we were all very well-fed, especially for a "tasting."

Also all about culinary programs and students--I watched "Pressure Cooker" this weekend, a movie about a year with three inner-city high school seniors in Philadelphia, entered in a culinary scholarship competition, and their instructor Ms. Stephenson, who has a definite tough-love style as she yells, gets involved in the lives of her students and pushes them to succeed. It's a fun foodie documentary to watch--compelling story, humor and the suspense and excitement of the culinary competition itself. (My man Iron Chef Morimoto is a judge--although just a small cameo). Finally I just finished "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School" by Kathleen Flinn. Flinn, a journalist and tech executive is down-sized and loses her job and decides with the encouragement of her boyfriend, to live out her dream of going to Le Cordon Bleu. A fun foodie read that makes one want to pack up, move to Paris and enroll in cooking school. A good follow your passion and bliss story, and an inside view of life at Le Cordon Bleu.

And of course, I wouldn't be me if I wasn't loving some chocolate--two different bars this week in fact. The first: a Chocri chocolate bar was personally designed for me by my best pal Natashya at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies for the Chocri Blog Relay Race. Since the "girls" won, we are all supposed to get the bars that were designed for us and I got mine on Friday. Natashya made me a "Middle Eastern" bar with dark chocolate topped with candied rose petals, fig bites, cashews, fennel seeds, and pistachios. This was my first time to try Chocri and the dark chocolate was rich and creamy. The toppings worked very well together, nothing overpowered and it was quite unique. The thick bar was beautiful with all of Natashya's toppings and some small flecks of gold leaf that you can't really see in the pictures. Very fun--Natashya knows me well! ;-) I can't wait to see how my bars for Kat & Rebecca turned out--hope they get them soon.

You may remember the Salty Dog chocolate bar (here) that I tried from B.T. McElrath. Well I decided to try another of their bars, the Passion Fruit & Tangerine Bar. A mix of white and dark chocolate infused with the flavors of the fruit. It's a pretty bar--with the swirls of the chocolate. I liked the fact that the dark chocolate kept the white chocolate from being too sweet--and I enjoyed the strong passion fruit taste. (I tasted passion fruit more than the tangerine flavor). A great fruit-flavored bar but the Salty Dog with it's dark chocolate, salt and butter toffee pieces, still has my heart--at least when it comes to the B.T. McElrath chocolate bars.

Well my friends--these are the many Things I Am Loving This Week. I feel a little spoiled. ;-)

How about you--what things are you loving?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup with Avocado-Mango Salad: A Healthy, Tasty Duo for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Although I have had Ellie Krieger's newest cookbook "So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week" for several months, I hadn't gotten around to cooking from it yet and was just living vicariously through all of the delicious recipes my friends Kim and Kat were making. Finally, I cracked it open and started tabbing recipes, starting with this pairing of Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup with Avocado-Mango Salad. A colorful duo that makes a great light but filling vegetarian lunch.

The recipes can be found in "So Easy" or online here.

Krieger says, "This robust, satisfying soup is a savory meal in a bowl layered with flavor from roasted tomatoes, onion, and garlic. A quick puree at the end takes it from rustic to refined."

Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup
"So Easy" by Ellie Krieger
(Makes 4 Servings)
7 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 large onion, cut into large pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 (15.5 ounce) cans black beans (preferably low sodium), drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Toss the tomatoes, onion and garlic with the oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then transfer to baking sheet. Roast until the garlic cloves have softened, the edges of the onions are browned, and the tomatoes have collapsed, 35-40 minutes, stirring once after the first 20 minutes.

Transfer the roasted vegetable mixture to a 4-quart saucepan. Add the broth, beans, cumin, chili powder and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. Stir in the hot sauce. Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Kreiger says, "This tropical salad is the cool, creamy, fruity counterpart to the warm, hearty, spicy soup. The contrast makes each dish taste even more delightful."

Avocado-Mango Salad

"So Easy" by Ellie Krieger
(Makes 4 Servings)

4 large Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves
1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium mango, pitted, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced into rounds
4 lime wedges
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Place a lettuce leaf on each serving plate. Arrange 4-5 slices each of avocado and mango, alternating them in a row, into each lettuce cup. Top each with a few onion rounds, and then squeeze lime wedge over each salad. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Per Serving: 2 cups soup and salad w/ 8-10 mango & avocado slices: 510 cal, Total Fat: 19g, Sat Fat: 4g, Mono Fat: 11g, Poly Fat: 2g, Protein: 22g, Carb: 66g, Fiber: 17g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Sodium: 877 mg
Notes/Results: An excellent couple of recipes--full of good flavor, nice texture and bright colors. The soup has good layers of flavors from the roasted tomatoes, garlic and onions (which BTW makes the house smell incredible as it is roasting). I was going to leave some of the soup in chunks but ended up pureeing the whole batch, but I found it still thick and satisfying. I did up the amounts of the garlic, cumin, chili because I like big flavors. Once the veggies are roasted, the soup goes together quickly. I didn't have sour cream so I topped my soup with a scoop of non-fat Greek yogurt, but for the bowl I had the next day, I threw some crumbled cotija cheese on top and it was delicious that way too

The salad was my favorite of the two recipes--the combo of the creamy avocado, sweet mango and slightly-sharp red onion with the tangy lime worked really well. I used some small Manoa lettuce leaves instead of large leaves and they added a nice sweetness too. The small leaves would make great mini salad cups to serve this recipe as an appetizer (or pupu) for a party too. The whole meal--two cups of the soup with topping and a serving of the salad with 8-10 slices of mango and avocado comes in at about 510 calories--and it is filling and delicious. Ellie Krieger knows how to make healthy food taste good--I would make both recipes again.

It's nice and full in the Souper Sunday kitchen this week--let's see who is here:

My friend girlichef is a Tortilla Soup lover and is on a quest to try all the variations she can find so we can expect to see a lot of tortilla soup from her, like this quick version from Everyday Food. She says, "Slurp. Monch. I was seriously pleased with this one! It was simple. It was full of flavor. And if made with DOUBLE the is one hell of a hangover cure! Seriously, a bowl of this with double the chipotle and a bottle of cold cerveza the morning after would have you kickin' in no time! I added the extra cuz we like it hot around here."

Debbi from Debbi Does Dinner...Healthy and Low Calorie made a unique slow-cooker White Bean and Apple Chili this week and says, "This was a different chili for me. It almost didn't even seem like chili. But it was. The apple really does disappear, I wouldn't know it was apple if I hadn't put it in there myself. It was quite thick, which is how I like chili or soup to be. It was also pretty mild, so if you like a kick, add some more spices or hot sauce. I thought it was very good just the way it was."

Tigerfish from Tezcape--An Escape To Food has a healthy Fish Soup to share this week. She says, "鲜 (pronounced sian/xian) is the Chinese character/word meaning fresh; and when it comes to describing taste/flavor, often means "unami" or "savoriness". This is a yummy-unami fish soup that me and my friend made in the US. The best fish to use for this soup needs to be oily fish (drink the omega-3!) such as yellow croaker fish (黄鱼) or hairtail (带鱼, belt fish). Best to use whole fish. Not only that, the fish needs to be rather "hardy" under prolonged heat - so a more expensive fish such as salmon, cod, etc. may not work."

Spencer from Live2EatEat2Live Blog was inspired by his recent trip to China and says, "Inspired by eating all that shoyu pork in China, I made this variation of Shoyu Pork over the weekend. This version has dried bamboo shoots, dried shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and turnips. I cut back on the pork to make the dish more “healthy." The Cat said that compared to the dishes she ate in Shanghai, this one was close enough. The Mouse will keep trying."

Healthy doesn't have to be boring as Kait from Pots & Plots proves with her Tuscan Vegetable Soup. Kait says, "I'm getting back on the diet wagon…again. Consequently, I’m craving veggies. Since I’ve been under the weather, I have some fresh veggies that were on their way out, so soup was the ideal solution. Along with 3/4ths of a pound of Italian turkey sausage that was hanging out in the freezer (left over from calzones or something, I think), I made a variation of my Tuscan potato soup, swapping out the potatoes for zucchini for a nice, light, flavorful lunch that goes great with grilled cheese."

Christine from Kits Chow finally made Indonesian Oxtail Soup (Sop Buntut), her husband's favorite and says, "I don't know why I balked at making oxtail soup. After all, I could find a recipe easily in one of my cookery books or online. I think it was the fear of not meeting his expectations. Too stressful. I didn't want to watch anxiously while he tasted it and wait anxiously for his verdict. I didn't want to hear, "good, but not quite like ... I didn't ask for his verdict. After all, comparisons are so odious, aren't they? He had Sop Buntut every day until he finished the potful of soup so it must have been quite good."

Reeni from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice made a favorite restaurant soup this week. She says, "This is a recipe for a thick and creamy Potato Cream Cheese, Bacon and Chive Soup. Cubed potatoes are simmered in broth with sauteed onion and thyme until tender then milk, bacon, chives, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese are mixed in. It's another Panera knock-off and one of my favorites. Just like the Broccoli Cheddar Soup knock-off this one is thicker than Panera's but with many of the same distinguishing flavors. And it's another super quick and easy soup that's rich, hearty, filling and extremely comforting for a rainy May day."

Zibi from Fresh Slowcooking is back this week with a hearty, healthy recipe. She says that her Curried Lentil Soup is "an easy nutritious vegetarian soup that can be prepared in minutes. The carrots, green onions and spinach provide a tonne of vitamins while the lentils supply protein and iron. A little curry paste adds some zing! This soup makes a great lunch or light dinner."

Kim from Stirring the Pot made Mark Bittman's Chive Salad to accompany some Vietnamese Caramelized Grilled Pork and says, "This chive salad went perfectly with the pork and after eyeballing it in my copy of Kitchen Express, I was very happy to finally try it. Chives are probably my favorite herb and they really shine in this simple salad. A super duper light dressing is made from equal parts soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, water, a touch of sesame oil and pinch of sugar. It is a light and flavorful salad that would be a great side dish to any Asian-inspired meal."

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies made a hearty steak and fries meal courtesy of Michael Symon and accompanied it with this bright and healthy salad. She says, "Of course a gorgeous meal needs a gorgeous salad, I made a colourful Snow Pea and Roasted Grape Tomato Salad to brighten up our dinner. This is a crunchy, healthy, and simple salad that is delicious cold or room temperature."

Some incredible soups and a couple of tasty salads this week. Mahalo to everyone who participated. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich you would like to share just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a great week!