Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Opa! Leaping Into the February Food 'n Flix Roundup of My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Gus Portokalos says, "There are two kinds of people - Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek." Or I bet at the very least those people wish that they had some of the wonderful Greek food and desserts that were inspired by this month's Food 'n Flix selection My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I won't go through the plot for the third time on the blog (read about it on my post here if you have not watched the movie, or better yet just go watch the movie already!), but ever since I played hooky from work one afternoon with a co-worker and we caught a matinee of MBFGW, it's been a favorite and an often-watched part of my DVD collection. I am so happy to get to host this sweet and funny romantic comedy for February and to do a leap day roundup of all of the fabulous dishes that it inspired.

Glennis of Can't Believe We Ate says that she "got captured by the traditions and history of this ancient cuisine." Glennis "selected Lahanodolmathes, or Stuffed Cabbage Leaves. A quick and easy casserole dish that goes together fast, and then simmers quietly in the oven or stove top for an hour and a half or so. I imagine these would also work pretty well if they were cooked in a crock pot, and the sauce then made from the pot liquor on the stove." Glennis is also the proud owner of two new Greek cookbooks so we can expect more great Greek dishes from her blog in the future!

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla made an entire greek feast including Melitzanosalata (Greek Eggplant Dip), Bouyourdi (Baked Feta Appetizer--pictured), Pita Bread, Fish with Skordalia (Potato-Garlic Sauce) and Root Vegetables. She says, "Though I really don't need to watch the movie again - I think I have it completely memorized - I will pop it in the DVD and sip on some ouzo. And what a great excuse to cook some Greek food. There seems to be endless versions of these recipes; I adapted and used what I had in my cupboards."

Danielle of All Things Yummy was an enthusiastic first time viewer of the movie and made a very appropriate and very luscious Mocha Bundt Cake. She says, "My favorite scene is Toula's mother trying to pronounce and understand what a bundt cake is. Hilarious and even funnier when she sticks a flower in the middle. I resisted the urge to do that with my cake but now that I think about it, it would have been another good laugh."

Elizabeth from The Law Student's Cookbook made a hearty Lamb Moussaka and says, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding is actually one of the few movies I’ve seen more than once. When I was rewatching the movie to decide what to make for this month’s Food n Flix submission my boyfriend was confused at why I would laugh before anything funny would happen. But that was because I kept hearing the funny lines in my head right before they were said. So I would preemptively laugh. I had a long list of inspirations by the time the movie was over. I decided to be traditional though and make a moussaka."

Here at Kahakai Kitchen I love my Greek food as much as I love this movie. My dish was a sunny Potato-Leek Soup with Lemon and Dill, a blend of a classic soup recipe with some bright and zingy Greek-ish flavors that for me captures the pairing of Ian and Toula. It's meat-free, so vegetarian Ian could eat it, it is recognizable enough that it could satisfy both sides of the family, and it is delicious. I really enjoyed this soup and have been craving it ever since I ate the last bites of it.

Another movie fan, Tina of Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor says, "There are many great lines and scenes from this movie. The bridge scene is amusing. She finally tells Ian about her family, you know…the scene when they are on the bridge and he’s trying to get her to talk about herself? She has 32 first cousins and everyone is in everyone else’s business (with total love, of course) and the women are expected to get married, have Greek babies and fed the family. Then there is the party where Toula's family meets Ian. Aunt Voula finds out Ian doesn't eat meat and brings the party to a halt by loudly exclaiming, “Whatcha mean you don’t eat no meat?” Followed by, “I make you lamb.” Ok, so guess what I was inspired to make? Grecian Lamb Roast."

Kristina of Spabettie made Decadent Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake saying, "In the movie, when the two sets of parents are meeting for the first time, the groom’s mother brings a bundt to dinner. Mama Portokalos didn’t know what it was “What is it?” “Buuunnnn… dt?” “There’s a hole in this cake.” Later when serving it, she presented it with a pot of flowers in the middle. Come on, you cannot be surprised I did that. I am having fun participating in food ‘n flix for my second month, and this is a fun movie so I was happy to watch it again!"

Finally Food 'n Flix's fun founder (try and say that five times fast!), Heather of girlichef, made a gooey, drool-worthy pan of classic Baklava. She says, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding is one of those fun flicks I like to sit down with every couple of years. It has a forbidden love story line. It makes me laugh. It has a relatable lead actress. Plenty of eye candy (hellooooo John Corbett, Louis Mandylor, and Joey Fatone!). And if you actually stop to think about it...lots of awesome food references, scenes, and moments. The only hard part? Actually narrowing down what I wanted to head into the kitchen to make. "

It seems that this little movie inspired a big fat Greek feast! Many thanks to everyone who joined in. (Follow the links and pop by the participant blogs to check out the full details and recipes for their dishes.) If you missed the deadline for this month's Food 'n Flix, March's movie is Last Holiday, hosted at La Cocina de Leslie, come join in the fun!

And, if you are a foodie reader, I am hosting the Feb/March round of the best virtual foodie book club ever, Cook the Books and we are stepping back into childhood with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. You still have plenty of time to read (or reread) this classic book, make a dish inspired by it and join the party before the March 26th deadline. All of the scrumdillicious details can be found at Cook the Books.

Happy Leap Day!

What are you doing with this extra day of 2012?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tahinosoupa (Tahini Soup), Creamy Noodles for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I have made a few different soups with tahini in them and love the creaminess and flavor that it adds. I wanted to try this simple Tahinosoupa or Tahini Soup from Food From Many Greek Kitchens. Author Tessa Kiros says, "This is a very simple soup that can be made in minutes. Traditionally it's from the Cycladic islands and is eaten in the week leading up to Easter, or on Good Friday, when simple meat-free foods are eaten." This makes it a great choice for our I Heart Cooking Clubs theme this week of Lighten Up!

Since I didn't have time (or want to hassle with) to make the egg-free noodles or go out looking for them, I used some yolk-free egg noodles I had in the pantry. I did whip up a batch of my own tahini for the soup and to make some hummus later in the week--using the recipe I previously posted about here. I also added a can of chickpeas to the soup because I thought they would add a fun texture to the bowl of noodles.

Tahinosoupa (Tahini Soup)
From Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros
(Serves 4)

2 tsps sesame seeds
1/2 tsp paprika
sprinkling of ground chile, optional
1 tsp grated lemon zest
about 5 1/2 oz fresh egg-free noodles or 2 3/4 oz dried (I used No Yolks Egg Noodles)
1/2 cup tahini (I used a homemade tahini and used about 2/3 cup)
juice of 1 1/2 lemons (I used 2 lemons)
olive oil for serving
freshly ground black pepper
(I added 1 (15 oz) can of no-salt chickpeas, rinsed and drained)

Toast the sesame seeds lightly in a small dry skillet. Add the paprika and the chile, if using, and cook briefly, taking care not to burn it. Stir in the lemon zest and transfer to a small bowl.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot with some salt. Add the hilopites (noodles) and boil until just tender, about 2 minutes, or according to the package instructions if dried.

Meanwhile, put the tahini and lemon juice into a bowl, add a ladleful of the boiling hilopites water and whisk until smooth. When the hilopites are ready, pour the tahini mixture in (and the chickpeas) and stir gently over the heat for a couple of minutes. Taste for salt. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, a scattering of the sesame-paprika mixture and a grind of pepper.

Notes/Results: Creamy with the subtle, toasty and nutty flavor of the tahini and bright notes from the lemon. This is a very simple soup that goes together quickly and is warm and filling. I added a bit more lemon and tahini to mine as I wanted more flavor and brightness but you can adjust it for your own tastes. The topping is a good textural contrast and the slight kick of pepper and the smokiness of the paprika are a nice addition. A very satisfying meat and dairy-free soup that doesn't feel heavy, I would make this again.

You can see how the other IHCC participants lightened up by going to the post here and following the links.

Now let's check out what delicious dishes are waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen made this week.

My friend and fellow Cook the Books host Rachel, The Crispy Cook has a Creamy Black Bean Soup with Roasted Fennel to share and says, "The home run ingredient was roasted fennel.We ate some of that as a side dish for our supper and then the next day was dedicated to a liquid diet, so I decided to add the leftovers in with some sauteed carrots and celery to a simple vegetarian black bean soup and the fennel joined with the fresh taste of its celery cousin and the whole thing was really sublime."

Janet of The Taste Space tried a hearty Roasted Garlic and White Bean Soup with Greens and says, "I always have high expectations when people say this was the “best dish ever”. I don’t think I seasoned it properly but it was still good. Just not GREAT. I liked the chunky yet creamy roasted garlic and white beans (I used marrow beans from Whole Foods). I omitted the nutritional yeast since my go-to vegetable broth powder includes nutritional yeast I think kale would be better, but I substituted collard greens since they needed to be used."

Margo of made a colorful Winter Borscht and says, "For those of you who aren’t familiar with Borscht, even if it sounds like a luxury car, it’s not. The origins of this beet-based delight are Ukrainian and there are many versions. Some include meat and any vegetable you can find in your root cellar (hopefully most of us have graduated to refrigerators at this point), others don’t. Every version I’ve seen includes that little reddish purple jewel known as the beet. I love this little tuber because it’s ugly…until you peel it! Once it’s peeled it not only glows with deep, ruby tones, it also shows off gorgeous patterns that you might only find on the dash of a very expensive car."

Tina of Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor joins us this week with a nourishing and warming Black Bean Soup and says, "Ok, who is tired of this gloomy weather? It’s still cold. My place of employment doesn’t exactly turn up the heat and I am always in need of a sweater or jacket during the winter. So, hot lunches are a necessity to warm the body and energize. I need soup for lunch. Black bean soup is easy, full of protein and heats in a flash."

Judee from Gluten Free A-Z made this brightly-hued Moroccan Spiced Carrot Soup and says, "This rich Moroccan spiced carrot soup calls for a hot Moroccan spice blend called "harissa" which is a pasty combination of hot chili, cumin, coriander, garlic and other spices typically used in North African cooking in countries like Morocco, Algeria,and Tunisia. You might really like it, but it's too hot for me. I toned my recipe down and just used the cumin, coriander, and garlic, but I left out the hot peppers and added some white wine( Chardonnay) for flavor."

It's nice to have Torwen of Torwen's Blog back at Souper Sundays back and with a healthy Couscous Salad with Lukewarm Balsamic-Wilted Spinach Salad. Torwen says, "Couscous itself is a very good source for B-vitamins and some added veggies and lemon make it perfectly healthy and on top very tasty dish. I added some spinach which I wilted in the pan with some aceto balsamico and although it maybe doesn't look all that nice (wilted things never do, right?) it sure tasted delicious :).

And one sandwich from Joanne at Eats Well With Others, this Roasted Red Pepper Pesto and White Bean Dip Sandwich. She says, "With the sweet and almost buttery flavor of roasted red peppers combined with a fresh hit of basil, this dip will certainly leave you feeling refreshed and completely satisfied. And when you have trouble stopping at just five spoonfuls? Well. Don't say I didn't warn you... I made the white bean dip variation on what was originally a pesto recipe. The only changes I made were to omit ALL the oil and to use pecans instead of walnuts (I just used what I had on hand). I served it on a sandwich with roasted eggplant and baby spinach."

Delectable dishes this week--thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mini Chamomile Cakes with Honey Frosting for the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cookoff

The most difficult thing about baking these delicate Mini Chamomile Cakes with Honey Frosting, one of the Week 2 recipe choices for the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cookoff, is that much like last weeks brownies, they are not on my Engine 2 Challenge. (Vegan, no oil for 28 days--just four days left to go!) I did savor one mini cake in the name of both science and of honest cookbook reviewing, and they are lovely. The rest of the batch went into a container to give away ASAP tomorrow to some cupcake-loving friends.

Joy says, "What's not included in the directions to this recipe is this stellar "pro" tip. Wash your face with fancy-smelling soap and put on a fancy smelling face mask. Prepare cupcakes according to the directions. Bake cupcakes. Put on lip gloss. Feel utterly pretty. These tender little lady-cakes were inspired by The hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and are delicate and beautifully scented. Serve to lady friends with tea."

Mini Chamomile Cakes with Honey Frosting
From Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson
(Makes 12 Mini Cakes or Cupcakes)

For the cakes:
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp dried chamomile (from tea bags)
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp honey
6 Tbsp heavy cream
pinch of salt

Cakes: Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with paper or foil liners and set aside. You can also grease and flour the cupcake pans and not use any liners.

Cream together butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chamomile leaves. The mixture will be slightly coarse and sandy when mixed for several minutes. Whisk together milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour half of the milk mixture into the flour mixture with the mixer on medium-low speed. Beat until just incorporated. Pour in the remaining milk mixture, and turn mixer up to medium. Beat for 1 minute, until well blended.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake cups. There isn't a lot of batter, so you'll only fill the liners up about halfway. You'll also need a spatula to scrape the bowl for remaining batter. This recipe doesn't waste a drop of cake batter.

Bake cupcakes for 17 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and allow cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove cakes to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Frosting: Whisk together sifted powdered sugar, honey, cream, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth. Use a butter knife to generously spread the frosting atop the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with just a bit of chamomile leaves and arrange on a pretty plate. Cakes will last, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Notes/Results: These are such delicious cupcakes--tender and moist with the herbal and grassy chamomile flavor highlighted by the sweet creamy honey frosting. I happen to enjoy a cup of chamomile tea now and then and I like how these cupcakes capture that flavor without being overpowering or cloying. My frosting was perhaps a bit soft, but very good. I feel a little bad about the cupcake liners--these seem to call for a more delicate floral pattern or a plain white liner but alas--it was either these colorful ones, foil baking cups, or holiday patterned liners in my stash. Someone needs to stock up. ;-)

It was hard to only eat one of these little cakes, but I really enjoyed it with a cup of tea. The recipe is quick and easy and makes me want to experiment with some of the other teas in my collection. I will make these again. Joy the Baker is 2 for 2 the the recipes so far--both were fabulous. I am still trying to decide what to make for "blogger's choice" next week--everything in the book sounds delicious.

*This post is part of the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*

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Happy Aloha Friday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Book Review & Recipe: Hard Target by Howard Gordon with Apricot Coconut Energy Bars

Howard Gordon was the producer of 24, one of my all-time favorite shows (I loves me some Jack Bauer), as well as a producer of The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel, even more great television. He's also the co-creator of a new favorite show, Homeland on Showtime. If all that isn't enough, he writes thrillers now too. Last year I read his debut Gideon's War, and loved the thrill-a-minute pace, reminiscent of the best seasons of 24. His second thriller, again featuring global peacemaker (until he gets pissed off) Gideon Davis, is Hard Target (Touchstone, January 2012 Hardcover, 288 pages) which I recently had the opportunity to read and review.

Gideon's War was set in the jungles of Southeast Asia and on an oil rig facing a typhoon. Hard Target brings the action much closer with homegrown terrorists planning to launch a stunning mass-casualty attack in the nation's capital and eliminate the entire top tier of the U.S. government. Gideon Davis is no longer in favor with the new presidential administration and was forced to resign from his State Department position and settle into academia. He gets a tip from a very sketchy meth-head source about an upcoming terrorist attack on U.S. soil, just credible enough for him to take seriously. He enlists the help of his friend and former lover, FBI agent Nancy Clement, but her superiors don't believe them. That leaves Gideon, Nancy and his brother Tillman (stripped of his military ranking and pension and isolating himself in a wilderness cabin) to try and stop the attack.

Hard Target isn't as quickly-paced as Gordon's first book, and I was a little disappointed not to have Gideon's fiancé Kate play much of a role in this book since she kicked some serious terrorist butt in Gideon's War. Still, Hard Target is a deftly-written and absorbing page turner that kept me up late until I finished it. The whole concept of the terrorist attack--when and how it will take place is creative and a little mind-boggling to consider. You don't have to have read the first book to enjoy Hard Target, but I do recommend reading both if you are looking for smartly-written thrillers with a political bent. If I can't have my Jack Bauer time anymore, I am happy to have Gideon Davis.

The thing about thrillers is that no one ever has much time to eat and enjoy their food (or even go to the bathroom...), saving the world is HARD WORK people! Fighters of crime need something healthy and good that they can eat on the run. I am a big fan of grab-and-go energy bars--all the better when you can make your own and control what goes in them. While perusing the web looking for healthy energy bars, I came across these Apricot Coconut Energy Bars at Shutterbean. I liked the apricot base, especially with a good dose of coconut. I made a few small changes, adding pistachios to the mix both for the color and because I love them, and adding chia seeds for extra nutrients. Individually wrapped, they are ready to go for a quick snack and just hearty enough to stave off hunger when battling terrorists or whatever battles you are dealing with in your day.

Apricot Coconut Energy Bars
Adapted from A Shutterbean Original at
(Makes 8 or 16--depending on how you cut them)

1/2 cup cashews (I used 1/4 cup cashews + 1/4 cup pistachios)
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp agave syrup
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 Tbsp hemp seeds (I used 2 Tbsp hemp seeds)
(I added 2 Tbsp chia seeds)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Line a 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or wax paper. Place cashews and pistachios in food processor and process until the thnuts are evenly chopped, then set aside. Put dried apricots in the food processor and process for 3-4 minutes to finely chop. Add coconut, oats, agave syrup, coconut oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, ginger and salt. Process until mixture comes together into a ball. Add the chopped cashews and pulse until well combined.

Pat the mixture into the lined baking pan and firmly press into pan. Place in a freezer for one hour. Unmold bars, trim ends and cut into even rectangles or squares--depending on the size of bars desired. Bars will last up to one month if stored in an air tight container in the fridge. I wrapped mine individually so they were easy to grab and go.

Notes/Results: Great taste and texture--these bars are chewy with a nice little crunch from the chia and hemp seed, and are almost buttery tasting from the coconut oil. For those of you following me on my Engine 2 Challenge (28 days of vegan, plant-strong and no oil eating), these don't quite make the cut as is (I made them before I started the challenge), but I think you could easily remove the coconut oil and they would still work and be E-2 compliant. I cut my bars into 16 squares instead of the 8 larger bars in the recipe because the portion size is plenty for me and the nuts, hemp and chia give them staying power. Whatever size you cut them, they are easy to wrap up and toss in your purse or bag to munch on-the-go and they are much better for you than a processed energy bar. I would make these again.

Disclosure Statement: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review but as always, my thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Greek-Inspired Potato-Leek Soup with Lemon and Dill for Food 'N Flix: My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

What do you get when you put something mild and subtle together with something that is tart, lively and a little surprising? You get a tasty Potato-Leek Soup with Lemon and Dill inspired by the food-friendly romantic comedy, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

It's my pleasure to be hosting Food 'n Flix for February, bringing together some of my favorite pastimes; cooking, eating and watching a good movie. I emailed Food 'n Flix's founder, Heather of girlichef and requested (begged?) to host this film because every time I watch it, it makes me laugh and feel good. If you have not seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding (and I insist that you must!), you can read my description of it here. It's a movie about family, culture clashes and love between Toula, a nice Greek girl with a big crazy family, and Ian, her non-Greek beau who is the only child of quiet, WASP parents. Although food is not the dominant plot line in this film, it is (along with Joey Fatone), a fun supporting character. From the Portokalos family restaurant, Dancing Zorba's, to the platters of spit-roasted lamb, to the Bundt, Mrs. Miller brings to dinner, to Ian being a vegetarian, and the constant offering of food to everyone--food is sprinkled in throughout.

Ian gives Toula his love and makes her happier than she has ever been, and Toula and her family bring a zany spark that Ian's life has been missing. For my dish inspired by the movie, I wanted to capture some of that spark and I stumbled across this soup which livens up a classic recipe with lemon and dill, giving it a Greek-ish feel. Since Ian "don't eat no meat!" and I am still on my 28-day Engine 2 Challenge--eating a plant-strong, meat, dairy and oil-free diet, It seemed like a great choice and something that could be served to either the Portokalos family or the Millers with success. The recipe comes from You Won't Believe It's Vegan!: 200 Recipes for Simple and Delicious Animal-Free Cuisine by Lacey Sher and Gail Doherty and I made a few changes in red below, to remove the oil and to bump up the lemon and dill flavor throughout the soup.

You Won't Believe It's Vegan says, "The lemon and dill we add to this traditional soup gives it a lightness and zip that's missing in the country classic."

Potato-Leek Soup with Lemon and Dill
Adapted from "You Won't Believe It's Vegan!"
(Serves 4-6)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (omitted)
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium white onion, cut into small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced (I used 5 cloves)
2 small leeks, sliced thinly (I used 3 not-so-small leeks)
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice (I used 4 Yukon gold)
6 cups mixed low-sodium vegetable-broth & water
3 sprigs fresh dill chopped or 1 tsp dried dill (I added this to the soup & chopped up extra to garnish)
(juice of 1 lemon)
1 lemon sliced thinly for garnish
salt and pepper

In a 4-to6-quart stockpot, sauté the celery, onion, garlic, and one leek in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until softened. (I omitted the olive oil and sautéed in a bit of low sodium veggie broth.) Add the potatoes and broth, and bring to a boil . Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft, approximately 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a separate pan, sauté the remaining leek over medium-low heat in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until crisp but not burned. (I omitted this step.)

Garnish each bowl of soup with some dill, the crisped leeks, and a lemon sauce.

Chef's Tip: If you want a thicker consistency, blend half the soup in a blender before garnishing.

Notes/Results: I am a big fan of the classic potato-leek soup and I like how the dill and lemon really liven it up with a sunny kick of flavor. As you can see from my notes above, I bumped up the amounts of some of the key ingredients--to make it both heartier and to give more flavor. Taking out the oil reduced the calories--a cup is only about 114 calories, made it E-2 Challenge approved, and it wasn't missed. I am sure the sautéed leeks would be fabulous on top but I was fine without them and really enjoyed this soup, with some bread, for a light but satisfying meal. I would make this again.

If you would like to join in the Food 'n Flix fun with My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you have until Monday, February 27th to watch the movie and make and post a dish inspired by it. (Details for participating are here.) You can also join us for the March pick, Last Holiday, hosted by La Cocina de Leslie, and see the film line up for the next few months here.

Now let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who we have waiting.

Margo of has The Best French Onion Soup to share and says, "What is it about French Onion Soup that has such an allure for me? When I was in high school, I sliced up some onions, boiled them in beef broth, added some bread, covered it in the first available cheese (mozzarella) and was sorely disappointed when it didn’t taste like what would be served in a French restaurant.OK, so I’ve learned a few things along the way and now know that in order to make this soup, the onions require caramelization. The broth needs to be seasoned with herbs and simmered to blend all the flavors and mozzarella is not exactly the right cheese to use."

Tigerfish of Teczcape-An Escape to Food made this Chinese Vegetables Superior Broth Soup and says, "When it comes to winter, the body usually needs better blood circulation. Consuming warm fluids to facilitate good blood circulation is essential throughout the day, and soup is one of the sources to get "warm fluids" into the body; and especially when soup can be incorporated into our daily meals, it helps to keep us hydrated and warm inside. When a soup base or I call, broth of essence, is made from ikan bilis (Dried Anchovy), onion, garlic, ginger, dried scallops (conpoy), homemade chicken stock - it speaks downright comfort flavors no matter how plain it may look. Don't underestimate this plain-looking soup, looks can be deceiving."

It's famous British chef Delia Smith's hearty Bean, Bacon, & Parsley Soup filling up the soup bowl of Heather of girlichef this week. Heather says, "'I've been in the mood for lima beans when I came across a recipe in one of Smith's books that combined them with bacon and onion (sigh...heaven-scent. Yes, scent.)...I didn't turn another page. I knew what I was making. This soup has a surprising amount of flavor and is creamy, delicious, and chunky all at the same time."

It's so nice to have Carol of There's Always Thyme to Cook back with us this week. She says, "Specifically you should make this soup, Black Bean and Ancho Chile Soup with Roasted Chicken, Cilantro, and Lime. I got pretty ambitious with this one, ambitious for me anyway. Made the stock from scratch from a roasted chicken the night before. Usually I'd use a boxed stock and save homemade strictly for matzoh ball soup. And usually from raw pullets. I never thought to use the carcass from the roast chicken before, it made a great stock. I got almost a quart from one roast chicken. And the leftover meat wasn't all mushed up from being boiled for hours. This was excellent."

Joanne of Eats Well With Others is sharing a creamy Carrot and Tahini Soup this week and says, "If you have anything against all this soup. If you're getting bored of it. If you think it's kinda weird/strange/unusual that someone so against drinking calories...drinks them nightly in the form of blended carrot tahini mush heaven. Then you should probably speak now. Or forever hold your peace. ... This soup is a new favorite. Melissa Clark, whose recipe it is, gets it right just about every time, but this really is exceptional. Sweet, nutty, with just a hint of spice. It's an addiction in a bowl. No recreational drug flashbacks necessary."

Janet from The Taste Space has a soup and a salad this week. First is this Pickle Soup and Janet says, "Truly, pickle soup is a misnomer. Yes, there are pickles in it but it is not a dominant flavour. Just like vinegar and lemon juice are added to enhance the balance of a soup’s flavour, pickles do the exact same thing here. They add that salty and acidic touch.So if this isn’t a pickle soup, it is a soup filled to the brim with veggies! It has an Eastern European flavour profile with dill and cabbage but it also has a hint of thyme. The veggies are bountiful, making this a huge pot of soup – leek, delicate oyster mushrooms, celeriac, carrot, turnip, Swiss chard, cabbage, red bell pepper – as well as barley."

Janet's second dish, this colorful salad, came from the ingredients for a less successful recipe lacking flavor. Changing it up, Janet says, "I veered towards an alternative route, towards a Mango, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad with a Sesame Orange Dressing, that I ended up adapting from Eating Well. Bonus broccoli, of course. After trying the first dish, this was a much better alternative. Light and fresh. Bright with the mango with subtle flavours from the fresh orange juice, toasted sesame oil and cilantro. I added toasted sesame seeds to highlight more of the sesame flavor."

Here's a healthy Sprouted Mung Bean Salad from Judee from Gluten-Free A-Z Blog who says, "Notice the little mung beans in this salad. They are sprouted and packed with nutrition. Sprouting is a super easy way to add extra protein , nutrition, enzymes, and antioxidants to your diet. Sprouts are very low in calories and low in carbs to boot! ... Mung is a small bean that is dark green in color. It is sold in Indian food markets, Chinese food markets,health food stores, and on Amazon. It makes the typical bean sprout that you find in Chinese recipes. The mung bean salad was fresh and delicious and different than our typical nightly salad."

Please join me in welcoming Victoria of Tastes of the Sun, who joins us from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico with this Winter Salad with Roasted Beets and Citrus Reduction. She says, "This is such a straightforward and refreshing salad for winter--or anytime! When I decided to make this salad, I knew I might not find the radicchio (I rarely do here in San Miguel), but otherwise, the ingredients are readily available and easy to find. As for the citrus reduction--it is such a perfect dressing for the beets. The result? A delicious, healthy salad perfect for colder days." Welcome to Souper Sundays Victoria!

Such wonderful soups and salads this week--many thanks to everyone who joined in! If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays badge on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!