Category Archives: Soup

BEEF NOODLE SOUP SUCKAZ!

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There really is nothing more comforting and delicious than a big bowl of hot broth with noodles and meat. Bonus points if there is a layer of fat on top of the broth, waiting to coat the noodles with flavorful stickiness as you lift them out and up to your mouth. Gawd I love noodle soup. Except for udon.

Beef noodle soup is a popular Chinese dish with many different iterations, depending on where you get it. You can have it with dark broth, with light broth, with ox tail, with shank, with hand drawn noodles, with shaved noodles, or with store-bought ghetto noodles. My personal favorite is the dark, soy sauce based broth, with stewed beef shank and tendon. If you order it from a restaurant it’s called hóngshāo niúròu miàn (I copied and pasted that from eatingchina.com so I think it’s right). Literally translated, it means red braised beef noodle. It gets its name from the red color the beef gets after being braised in soy blah blah blah who cares. It’s effing delicious is all you need to know.

I hardly took any pictures during the cooking process this time around… I was cooking for a group of people and just didn’t have time. It’s pretty straight forward though, and you can cook it all in one pot (the best kind of cooking).

I DID however take a couple pictures of the special/hard to find ingredients. Here are the noodles I used:

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You can use Wei Chuan noods too, they are fantastic.

Here is the hot bean paste I used:

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And here is how to assemble:

Noodles.

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Top with bok choy and beef chunks. Also, I added pork belly to the recipe because I’m an American, dammit.

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Top with broth, garnish with cilantro and sliced green onion.

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Have at it!

INGREDIENTS:

Soup:

2 lbs beef chuck or beef shank, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
1 lb pork belly, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes (the piece I got was still on the bone, so I threw the bone in as well. That was a good choice)
1 cup soy sauce (I used a combo of about 80% low sodium and 20% dark soy sauce)
1/2 cup dry red wine
2-3 tbsp turbinado sugar (sorry, wasn’t measuring.. start with 2, then add more to taste later on)
2 star anise
2 tsp of ground schezuan pepper
1 knob of ginger, peeled and sliced thin (about 2″ long, 1″ diameter)
10 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, quartered
6 cups of water

Noodles:

Wei Chuan Noodles, cooked per package

Garnish:

Bok Choy, leaves peeled off individually and blanched for 1 minute
Cilantro, chopped
Green onion, thinly sliced
Hot bean paste

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a large, heavy-bottomed pot of water to a boil. Add your beef and pork belly and blanch the meat for about 1 minute. The water should look a little cloudy and the meat cooked on the outside. Remove the blanched meat and reserve for later. Dump the blanching water.

Fill the pot back up with all the soup ingredients except the meat and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Return the meat to the pot and bring the heat down to low. Cover and simmer for about 3 hours.

Add the tomatoes to the pot, cover and simmer for another 30 minutes. If you want your broth spicy you can add a tablespoon of the hot bean paste at this point as well.

When the soup is done cooking, bring a smaller pot of water to boil. Blanch the bok choy leaves for 1 minute and remove. Cook your noodles according to the package (usually about 5 minutes), and place in bowl.

ASSEMBLY:

Place your bok choy on top of the noodles, fish out a few chunks of beef and pork belly, then ladle a good amount of stock over the whole thing.

Garnish with sliced scallions and cilantro and dig in, you animals.

 

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Italian Sausage and Orzo Soup

So this happened today:

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Yes, #Juno was going on all day today outside my window. What’s a home cook to do? Cook I guess.

Lucky for us, I just happened to have all the ingredients for this delicious, soul-warming soup:

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This soup is so easy and so good. It’s one of my favorite things to whip up in the winter, and the great thing about it is that it’s made up mostly of things I usually already have on hand, and you should too.

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Start with the sausage. I actually don’t usually have this on hand, but it’s not a bad idea to have a couple packs in your freezer handy for pizzas, pasta sauces, etc. Remove the sausage from its casings. For me, it’s easiest to do this with a serrated steak knife.

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Once you’ve browned the sausage, add your onion and garlic. Those are two things you should always have on hand, BTDubs. Those are staples that you can throw into almost anything and it’ll be good.

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Once the onions become shiny and translucent at the edges, add your chicken stock. I always have boxed chicken stock on hand because it can add a lot of flavor to simple dishes like mashed potatoes, stir fry vegetables, pasta, and soups (case in point). In a pinch you could also just pop open box and boil up some wonton soup with it. It’s a must have.

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Throw in a parmesan rind. I usually have whole parmesan on hand because it’s just so much better to have fresh grated parmesan than the dry, powdery, pre-grated stuff. Parmesan is great too because it lasts forever in the fridge and once you’re through you can save the rinds in the freezer. Add the rinds to soups, tomato sauces, whatever you want to give it an extra savory, funky hit.

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Add your can of diced tomatoes and orzo pasta. Canned diced tomatoes are always in my pantry for a quick tomato sauce or chili or for this particular soup. I also usually have orzo… not really as versatile but it goes great in this soup and I do love a good orzo pasta salad.

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After the tomatoes and pasta have been cooking for 5 minutes, add your escarole and canned white beans. Canned white beans make a great bean dip (think hummus but with white beans), and are great just stir fried with kale or thrown into a bean salad.

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Let it bowl down and that’s it! It’s even better after it’s been sitting a while and the starch from the pasta thickens it all up. Serve with fresh grated parmesan and dig in.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb Italian Sausage (hot or mild, up to you), casings removed
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced small
1 10-oz bag of chopped kale or escarole
1 15-oz can of diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 15-oz can of white beans (low sodium), drained
1 32-oz box of chicken stock
1/3 cup of orzo
1 parmesan rind
1 tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil and heat, then add the sausage. Saute the italian sausage, breaking it up into small pieces. When the sausage is browned, add the garlic and onion and saute until the onion starts to glisten and turns translucent at the edges. If there is excess oil, remove some of it so there is about a tablespoon remaining. Add the entire box of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Throw in the parmesan rind. Bring back to a boil.

Add the can of diced tomatoes and bring back to a boil. Add the orzo and boil for another 5 minutes.  Add the kale/escarole and the white beans and boil for another 10 minutes, or until the greens are tender.

Remove the parmesan rind, ladle into bowls, serve with fresh grated parmesan and grilled crusty bread.

Enjoy. Winter has come.

Beer Pairing Recommendation: BEER WITH SOUP? WHY NOT? Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale

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100% All-Beef Stew

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Does anyone else think it’s funny that McDonald’s still advertises it’s burgers to be made with 100% all-beef patties? Like they should get a prize? Well done Mickey-D’s! You could have just stopped at 95%, which we all know is well within A-range, but instead you went above and beyond and went for the FULL 100% of what really should be the only ingredient in any burger. Just wondering, what percentage of your burger patty would you, the American consumer, be okay with not being beef? 2%? 0.05%? What would that 0.05% even be if not beef? If it’s rat feces then no thank you.

Let’s be real though, I’m pretty sure 0.05% of everything we ingest is probably rat feces. Just saying. Also, I like McDonald’s. Really. Give me a Big Mac and I’m a happy man. Also also, should we be worried about the fast food chains that DON’T advertise their burgers to be 100% all beef?

Anyway, here’s a recipe for beef stew:

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I splurged and bought a beautiful grass-fed chuck roast the other day and decided I was going to make one of my favorite winter foods: stew. Nothing is better on a freezing day then a bowl of beef, potatoes, and carrots, in a savory gravy with crusty bread on the side. NOTHING.

Couple things: This is the first time I’ve tried making beef stew starting with a full chuck roast, rather than buying already cut up stew meat. This is also the first time using grass fed for beef stew. I am being honest here: IT TOTALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Buying the chuck whole and cutting it myself not only let me control how big I wanted the chunks to be (they’re usually too big for my taste when you buy stew meat already cut up), but it allowed me to keep as much or as little of the fat on the meat as I wanted, and it also let me cook the meat as soon as it was cut, instead of letting it sit out for who knows how long, with tons more surface area to dry out and collect microbes. Also grass fed really does taste better and is better for you. Check it out.

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It’s so beautiful.

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This is all you need to start. Don’t forget that bacon. You have been warned.

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Brown the bacon, leave the fat. If there’s too much fat leftover, spoon some out but leave about 2 tablespoons. Yes there’s one full piece of bacon in there that was just for me. Get off my back. Oh and I hope this goes without saying, but don’t throw away those bacon bits. Reserve for later.

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LISTEN TO ME. BROWN YOUR BEEF IN BATCHES, IN A SINGLE LAYER. In this 5 qt dutch oven I was able to brown them all in 2 batches. If you don’t do this, it won’t brown, and if it doesn’t brown, then you might as well just give it to your dog. This is serious, folks. Once all the meat is browned, set aside with your bacon.

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Here’s where it starts to get a little tricky. Saute your onions and garlic in all the leftover fat (again remove some of it’s excessive, leaving about 3-4 tbsp).

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Once the onions are shiny and starting to turn translucent, add your tomato paste. Let that brown for about 5 minutes, mixing with the onions.

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Add your flour. I know, there’s a lot, but we’re also adding a lot of liquid, so it’ll thicken it all up. If you like a runnier stew, you can use less flour, but I wouldn’t go less than 3 tbsp. Let the flour mix with the fat and tomato paste, letting it continue to brown. There will probably be some burned bits at the bottom of your pot but it’s okay. Just keep everything moving.

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Add your wine. I just used a red table wine. You can use any dry red wine you like, but the rule of thumb is use a wine you would actually drink. Mix it all together and try to dissolve as much of the flour as you can. FYI: It’ll get pretty sludgy.

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Add your beef broth and mix to dilute the sludgy red wine, then return the beef and bacon back to the pot.

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Add a few dashes of this.

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Add a tablespoon of that (this is my secret guys, you’re welcome).

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And last but not least, your bouquet. I also threw in 2 bay leaves but I forgot to take a picture of it. Cover it with a tight-fitting lid, then throw it into your oven for 1 hour 15 minutes at 300 degrees.

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It’s gonna come out looking reduced and smelling like delicious. This is when you add your carrots and potatoes, so they don’t overcook and dissolve into your stew. Add a little water if needed to make sure everything’s submerged. Cover, and throw back into the oven for another 45 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. When it’s done, remove your thyme sprigs and bay leaves, and serve it up!

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INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs beef chuck roast, cut into 1″ cubes
4 slices of good quality bacon, sliced
1 medium onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
32 oz beef stock
1/3 cup flour
1/2 bottle of good dry red wine (about 2 cups), I used a malbec
3 medium potatoes, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 medium carrots, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tbsp tomato paste
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
5 sprigs thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season beef liberally with salt and pepper. Let sit.

Heat a large dutch oven (5 qt) with the olive oil over medium-high heat, brown the bacon, rendering the fat out. When the bacon is browned, remove it from the heat and reserve in a large bowl for later. Remove some of the fat but leave about 2 tbsp in the dutch oven.

Brown the seasoned beef in the remaining fat IN BATCHES (keeping beef in a single layer each batch). Remove the beef and set aside with the bacon.

Again, if there is a lot of fat left in the pot, remove some of the fat so about 4 tbsp remain, then add your onion and garlic and sautee until the onion starts to become translucent, about 7 minutes.

Add tomato paste and brown for another 5 minutes.

Add the flour and brown that for yet another 5 minutes.

Add the wine and stir, letting it incorporate with the flour and tomato paste, until it reduces slightly and thickens up to a sludgy consistency.

Add all of the beef stock and stir so the whole mixture dilutes.

Return the beef and bacon back to the pot along with any juices that collected in the bowl. Add worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, throw in your thyme and bay leaves, give it a stir, and cover the dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Put the entire thing in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

After 1 hour 15 min, throw in your potatoes and carrots, adding some water if necessary so everything is covered with liquid. then throw back into the oven for another 45 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and thyme. Serve with crusty bread. Enjoy your 100% beef stew!

Beer Pairing Recommendation: Anchor Steam Christmas Ale. Not sure what style this year’s beer is, but I think the flavors they tend to put into their seasonal will match the deep, earthy flavors of this stew.

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Wonton Soup

So… this happened yesterday:

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This winter is turning into that awkward friend who just won’t leave your house long after the party has ended. It just won’t take a hint! Look man, THE BEER IS GONE, THE HOUSE IS A MESS, JUST GO HOME SO I CAN SLEEP!  This is the LAST time I invite that guy.

Anyway it’s a good thing I have some of these handy:

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Those are frozen homemade wontons my friends. Mrs. Willtasting and I made a batch of them earlier this winter and I think they’re just what I need to forget this bizarro winter-in-April.

First, you’ll need some ground pork:

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Next some peeled, deveined shrimp. I got lazy and bought mine already peeled, but chances are you’ll find fresher and cheaper shrimp if it hasn’t been peeled. Your call, boss.

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Chop up the scrimps (or however you want to pronounce them) and add to the pork. Green onions come next.

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This is important, folks: the rice wine. This is also important: do not drink this.

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Sesame oil, egg, mix.

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Your wonton filling should look like the above picture… YUMMYYYYY. Everything should stick together, not crumble apart, almost like a dough. If it doesn’t look like that, slowly add more sesame oil and rice wine until it does.

Now, check it. This is how you fold your wontons:

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Wet one corner of the wonton skin, place about a half tablespoon of meat filling off center towards that corner, then fold over and pinch the edges together to make a triangle. Bring one of the smaller corners up to the larger corner and pinch together, then do the same with the other corner. That’s it! If you want to freeze some (which you most likely will, since this recipe makes A LOT of wontons), wipe a little oil over the surface of a large dish, place the wontons on the dish, and freeze in the freezer.  Once they are frozen you can keep them in zip lock bags and they will keep for 6 months.

To cook, just boil them in some chicken broth for about 10 minutes, or until the skin is tender and the wontons float to the surface.

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Serve with some green onions and thinly sliced fried egg, and quit beating around the bush and tell winter to go home already.

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WONTONS:

1 1/2 lbs ground pork
1/2 lbs shrimp
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (about 6 green onions, both white and green parts)
1/4 cup Shaoxing cooking rice wine
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 egg
1 tsp white pepper
2 packages of wonton skins

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well until the filling sticks together like a dough. To assemble wontons, place skin in one hand, wet the edges of one corner, place a half tablespoon of filling off-center towards that corner.  Fold skin in half, pinching edges together to form a triangle. Bring one side of the triangle up to the top corner, pinch together, then do the same with the other side. Or just look at the pictures up top because this is getting really hard to explain in writing.

SOUP:

2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup baby spinach, loosely packed
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten and fried into a thin crepe, then sliced thin.

To cook, boil 2 cups of chicken broth to boil, then add 12 wontons and boil for 10 minutes or until they float to the top. Put spinach in bowl and pour hot soup on top. Garnish with sliced green onions and egg.

Eat your winter blues away.

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Tomato Parmesan Soup – Grilled Cheese Crouton

Ah, the after school special. Was there anything better than coming home after a long day of physics tutoring, marching band practice, and hours of working on your friend’s failed cable access television show than a hot bowl of tomato soup and grilled cheese? Okay, maybe your high school experience was different from mine, but I’m sure your feelings are the same for the soup and sandwich.

Well, we’re not in high school anymore, so it’s time to put away those Campbell’s condensed tomato cans and make yourself some big boy soup. Lucky for you, it’s a pretty easy recipe it will make enough soup for days. DAYS!

So I usually don’t spring for the San Marzano’s because, well, I’m cheap. But since the tomatoes are really the star of this soup those extra 3 bucks per can are gonna be worth it. Plus these were on sale so it was actually only an extra buck per can. Totally worth it.

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Start with the butter onion, garlic, and thyme. Tie the thyme sprigs together with some butchers twine or just string without any dyes. You’re gonna need to fish that out later on and tying them together will make your life a whole lot easier. Don’t worry about how big or small you chop everything, since that’s gonna be all blended up later on.

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Once the onion is translucent, add your tomato paste. Brown that junks and it’s gonna give you flavor for days. DAYS!

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Add your tomatoes, some broth, some water, and let the magic begin.

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Oh yeah, don’t forget the secret ingredient: Parmesan rinds! Sounds weird but those things are totally edible.  I mean, I wouldn’t eat them straight up, but it’s great to add some body to soup or… stews. I don’t really know what else. If I think of anything I’ll let you know. So they sell these now at Whole Foods for like $50 or something ridiculous because it’s Whole Foods and they think they can sell you essentially kitchen scraps for top dollar.  They make me so mad sometimes!

…anyway I got these at Whole Foods.

If you buy fresh parmesan regularly (which I strongly suggest you do), you can always save the rinds yourself in the freezer and you’ll be good to go.

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After simmering for an hour or so, fish out your thyme and parmesan rinds.  The parmesan swells up, darkens in color, and kinda looks like pork belly at this point, but do not be fooled! It won’t be pleasant to bite into.

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Just got this immersion blender and I love it. Just a standard $30 Cuisinart, nothing fancy. It’s awesome.

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Add a little more parm, some S&P, let simmer a little longer, and you’re all set.

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It might be a little dumb to put up instructions on how to make a grilled cheese, but there are a few tricks I’ve picked up over my many years of grillin’ up cheeses that not all my know.

First thing: butter your bread FIRST. That way you’ll get a nice even brown on both sides with less chance of burning.

Second: I usually prefer good ol’ American cheese for my grilled cheese because it’s classic and when it’s melted it’s just so damn good. But since I’ll be cooking this a bit longer to make it crisp up, I’ll be using a sharp white cheddar that melts slower and will actually give you a nice crisp crust the longer you cook it.

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Remember: Butter side out!!

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Cut it up into crouton-sized bites, throw it on some foil, pop ’em into your oven.

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The more you know.

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TOMATO PARMESAN SOUP:

2 cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
10 sprigs thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup basil leaves loosely packed
2-3 Parmesan rinds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar
2 cups beef stock
6 cups water
Salt and Pepper

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add thyme, onion, and garlic. Cook until onion is soft and translucent, 10–12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add tomato paste. Keep cooking, stirring often, until paste browns in spots, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juices, sugar, beef stock, and water to pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a simmer. Add the parmesan rinds and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until soup thickens and reduces by 20%, about an hour. Turn off heat and let cool. Remove thyme sprigs and parmesan rinds, discard… or eat… or do whatever you want with them. Add basil leaves, then using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth, about 45-60 seconds.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, work in batches and purée soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pot. Heat and bring back to simmer for 10-15 more minutes.

 

GRILLED CHEESE CROUTON:

2 slices crusty italian bread
1-2 slices of white cheddar cheese
Butter

Pre-heat an oven to 250 degrees.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice of bread, butter-side down on the hot skillet, put cheese on top, then place the other slice of bread butter side UP on top of the cheese. Butter-side always OUT!

When the cheese is slightly melted and the bottom slice is evenly browned, flip the whole sandwich over and brown the other side.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Cut up the sandwich into crouton-sized bites, place on cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the bread is dried and crisp.

SERVING:

Ladle soup into bowls, top with 2-3 croutons, garnish with fresh chopped parsley.  Enjoy with some Lifetime Original After School Specials.

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Rotisserie Chicken Jook

There are many names for this dish. Rice porridge, congee, jook, Chinese Risotto. Okay I made that last one up, but whatever you want to call it, this stuff is comfort in a bowl. So delicious and perfect for a winter dinner. Or breakfast. Or lunch. It’s just so versatile!

Lets start with the rotisserie chicken stock we just made.

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Throw it back in  the pot, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse some rice with cold water.

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Add the rice to the pot, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and boil. The rice will puff up and the liquid will thicken. Next add some more broth to thin it out.

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When it looks like picture 4, it’s perfecto. Garnish with some thinly sliced scallions, thinly julienned ginger, and if you have leftover rotisserie chicken meat, slice it up and throw it on there, playa!

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ROTISSERIE CHICKEN JOOK/CONGEE/RICE PORRIDGE/ETC

Ingredients:

6 cups home-made rotisserie chicken stock
2 more cups store-bought chicken broth
1 cup short-grain rice, rinsed
Salt

Garnish:

ginger, thin julienne
rotisserie chicken, sliced
green onions, thinly sliced
white pepper powder

Directions:

Bring the rotisserie chicken stock to a boil, add the rice, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 40-50 minutes until the rice is puffed and liquid is thickened. Add 2 more cups of store-bought chicken broth to thin out liquid, cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add salt to taste.

Serve in bowls with garnishes

beer pairing recommendation: Hitachino Nest White Ale

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