Thursday, October 25, 2012

Soup, it's whats for dinner

I am not a fan of cold weather. I wish I could just hibernate in the winter and emerge when the grass is green again. But I do love soup! And the only time I have a hankerin' for a hot, steamy bowl of soup is when the temperature drops below 70. I know, 70 degrees isn't a big deal for some but anything less than that has me searching for a sweater.

I just made my first pot of soup this season and it is so yummy and easy, I thought I would share the recipe. I've made it a couple of times before and it always turns out great. I cut this recipe out of the local paper about 3 years ago. It is originally from "Sunday Soups" and includes some of my favorite things. I'll copy it the way it's written and leave my notes at the end. Here it is:

Chickpea and Pasta Soup with Rosemary
serves 4

3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup small, short dried pasta, such as tubetti, ditalini or mini penne
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
Salt to taste
3 ounces (about 3 cups) fresh baby spinach or turnip green leaves
One 3 to 4 ounce piece of parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano

Pour the stock into the pan and add tomatoes. Add 1/2 cup of chickpeas. With an immersion blender, puree the soup mixture. Add the remaining chickpeas, bring to a boil, add the pasta, chopped rosemary, and salt to taste. Return to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes. If the soup cooks down too much, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups additional stock or water and return to a simmer. Add the spinach or greens and cook until wilted. Taste and season with salt if needed.
May be made several days ahead and frozen up to three months. To serve, ladle hot soup into 4 bowls and peel thin strips of parmesan over each serving.

Now my notes:
*Since I don't have an immersion blender, I dump the can of tomatoes and 1/2 cup of chickpeas into my blender and puree them. I then add that to the vegetable stock. And I don't make my own stock, I use canned. And I don't chop my rosemary either. I just add 5 or 6 sprigs to the pot and discard them when the soup is done. I'm not a fan of chopping, besides I just like the flavor it gives.  I almost always have grated parmesan cheese on hand, so that's what I use in place of slicing a whole piece. I try to keep things as simple and quick as possible!

And that's all there is to it. Quick and easy, no fancy ingredients and it tastes fabulous. Add some crusty garlic bread and dinner is served. I hope you try it because you're gonna love it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Is it Fall yet......

Here it is the start of the second week of October. But just because the calendar says it's Fall doesn't mean it feels like Fall. My AC is still on full time and I'm still wearing shorts.  But, the good news is that the weather forecast is calling for cooler temperatures this week.  And I'm so glad.  Fall is my favorite season. I love the cool mornings and warm afternoons. And of course there's the colors! Orange pumpkins, the bold purples and bronze of chrysanthemums and of course the yellows and reds of the changing leaves. And I love walking outside in the mornings with a warm beverage, taking in the Autumn smells.

I came across a recipe a couple years ago that is perfect for cooler weather. It's for Chai tea.  Now usually the only way I drink tea is on ice.  But this recipe is a must have for me now. So I thought I would share it with you.  It has quite a bit of sugar in it, but I like my tea sweet, I'm from the South you know!  But I'm sure you could tweak this recipe to suit your taste. This is the original recipe as I found it on and I love it! 

Chai Tea Mix

1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powered nondairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla powered creamer
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweet instant tea
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
optional: 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
              1 teaspoon ground allspice
               1/4  teaspoon white pepper

Combine all ingredients.  

Blend in a food processor until it's a fine powder.  

To serve: Stir 2 heaping Tablespoons into a mug of hot water.

I think this would make a great gift, wrapped up in a cellophane bag with a pretty ribbon, tucked into a mug. Or put some in a canister with the recipe written on a handmade tag. I'm sure the recipient will love it!

So even though my thermometer says it's close to 90 degrees, I could not resist making myself a cup. I think I'll enjoy this one sitting under the air conditioner vent!