Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

I had been really craving tomato soup and grilled cheese. So I searched Pinterest and found a recipe I could make with ingredients I already had at the house. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) I had also seen in other Pinterest posts that people have made grilled cheese croutons. We also happened to have half a loaf of French bread from the day before, so I sliced it and made some grilled cheese croutons, as well as a couple of mini grilled cheese and prosciutto croutons for some extra dunking action.

I first cut up and cooked the bacon.

Once browned a bit, I added the onion and carrot. I was feeling lazy, so I only used about half of a carrot.

Once those were tender, I added in the tomato paste. I let that cook for a few minutes and then added the flour. I didn’t bother measuring – just eyeballed it.

From reading past recipes and experiences, I know that if you don’t cook the flour down, you can sometimes taste it in the final dish. So, I let the flour cook for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes. When I added the tomatoes, I didn’t crush them separately as the recipe indicates. I just poured the can into the pot and crushed a bit with the back of a cooking spoon. The canned San Marzano tomatoes are tender enough that they break up easily. Plus, I knew I was going to be blending it all later. I added the chicken broth and seasonings and let it all simmer for 30 minutes.

After the simmer, I used my immersion blender and blended the soup right in the pot. This was so much easier than trying blend in the food processor in batches!

The grilled cheese was air fried, only because that’s what’s convenient for me. Cook these on the stove or in an oven if that’s what works for you. I used a combination of a vegan cheddar cheese and regular american cheese. I then cut into bite sized pieces. I made two more grilled cheese sandwiches for us to eat and dunk in the soup, with the same cheeses and the addition of a slice of prosciutto. Yum!

All in all, this satisfied the craving. Although, I just have to say, there is still nothing that compared to childhood Campbell’s canned tomato soup. ūüėČ I would make this again!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

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Spicy Asian Soup

Usually during the day, I think about what I’m going to make for dinner that night. Yesterday, I kept thinking about how I was going to make a shepherds pie with the vegetarian ground beef we had bought the previous week. Last minute, Jake texted me before heading home from work asking if we could have soup. Argh! He wanted to have a spicy asian broth with fish, shrimp, and bok choy. I gave in and so he stopped by the grocery store on the way home to get the ingredients. Turns out Jake thinks that this particular soup was one of the best things I’ve ever made!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the soup base:

  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1.5″ Fresh Ginger Root (sliced)
  • 1 Green Onion (sliced)
  • 1 Small Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 1/3 cup Hot Bean Paste
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 7 cups Beef Broth
  • Dash of Chinese 5 Spice (optional)

Here’s what I used for the fixings, but feel free to mix it up and experiment with whatever you like.

  • 1 lb. Haddock
  • 10 Extra Jumbo Frozen Shrimp (remove the skin and chunk)
  • 1 Small Head/Bundle of Bok Choy (Baby bok choy is better. Otherwise, cut into smaller pieces.)
  • 1 Big Handful of Bean Sprouts
  • A couple of handfuls of Kale (torn into pieces)
  • 6 oz. Shiitaki Mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1/4 lb. Angel Hair Pasta (Any noodle should be fine. Udon would be great.)

To make the broth, start with oil in a large pot. (I used a 5 quart pot.) Add in the garlic, ginger, onion, green onion, and star anise. Cook on medium until fragrant and the onions start to become translucent.

Then, add in the hot bean sauce. I happened to find this particular one at the Asian market, but I think any sort of hot bean sauce will work. Start with approximately 1/4 cup. Reserve the rest in case you want to add more later based on the taste. Mix and cook with the aromatics for a few minutes. Because I have the copper pan, I don’t get a lot of stuck bits at the bottom, but if you do, don’t worry. That will add some extra flavor and you’ll have an opportunity to scrape it all up in the next step when adding the broth.

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Then, add the beef broth, a splash of the soy sauce, and squirt of the sriracha. This is when you should add the optional dash of the Chinese 5-piece powder. Taste test and increase the amounts of soy sauce and sriracha based on your liking.¬†20180924_191908.jpgBring the broth to a boil. When boiling, add the angel hair pasta.¬† Bring the boil down to a dull roar. I suggest letting that cook for about five minutes. Then, add the bok choy, bean sprouts, kale, and shiitake mushrooms. Let that cook for another five minutes or so.As a last step, I add the haddock chunks and shrimp. I cooked that for five more minutes. At this point, the soup is ready to serve, but feel free to continue simmering it for a bit longer to let all the flavors meld together.¬†Finally, serve and garnish with more green onion if you’d like!20180925_173522.jpgYou’ll find a million Asian soup recipes out there. I’ve made a few of them and that’s where I’ve gotten some of these ideas. This is the easiest that I’ve tried so far, yet the most flavorful. I hope you give it a try!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

 

 

 

Black Bean Soup With a Fishy Twist

We typically reserve Monday’s for some sort of fish dish. We had skipped these the past couple of weeks for various reasons, but we are back on track! Tonight was inspired by three things:

  1. Our recent lack of fish
  2. The chillier, rainy day we had here in New England
  3. Seeing some black bean soup recipes while perusing the internet

It was perfect. We had some leftover vegetables from last week that I wanted to use up. Plus, we still had some haddock frozen from Jake’s fishing trip a few weeks ago and fresh garden tomatoes his parent’s gave us a week ago. Additionally, we always carry black beans in our pantry and extra jumbo frozen shrimp in our freezer.

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I didn’t follow a specific recipe for this one – just played on the seasonings that I knew were in some other black bean/taco type dishes I had made before. Here’s what you’ll need:

Produce

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 can of low sodium black beans
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • haddock (A pound or less is fine)
  • shrimp (I used 10 extra jumbo)

Seasonings (approximate)

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon jalape√Īo pepper powder (optional)

I small chopped one red bell pepper, one green bell pepper, and half a sweet onion. I sauteed that in a pot with a drizzle of olive oil until soft.

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I then chopped up two tomatoes and put them in the pot. I let the tomato juices render out for about 5 minutes.

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I added kernels from 2 ears of corn, a can of rinsed and drained black beans, and approximately 3 cups of chicken broth. Ok, you caught me. I added a splash of red wine, too. ūüôā

I added all the seasonings that I mentioned in the list above. Everything simmered for about 10 minutes while I filleted the skin off the haddock.

I actually had decided to use my immersion blender to blend some of the vegetables to give a slightly thicker consistency. Finally, I added the chunks of haddock and added some frozen shrimp. I let it cook for another 5-10 minutes (since the fish and shrimp cook quickly). I finished it off with a squirt of lime juice. Then, it was ready to serve.

I didn’t have any ripe avocados or cilantro on hand, but those would be wonderful additions. In that case, you might even want to add extra lime or serve with lime wedges.

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Overall, I was actually surprised that the fish flavors melded with the black bean soup flavors. I think because the haddock is so mild, it takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it in. Although not the most attractive looking soup, I would make this again! I would love to hear if you try this with some adaptations!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Pears, Pears, Pears

A Trio of Pear Dishes –

My in-laws live in a town outside of Boston. Believe it or not, they have been in the same house for 40 years! In their side yard, they have¬†a single pear tree. Most years it produces an abundance of pears and this year was no exception. Jake’s dad knows that we like to cook and decided to bring us a bag full of those delicious pears.

These pears were so juicy and sweet; they made for the perfect afternoon snack. If it’s at all possible, they were almost too juicy. I needed to lay out at least three napkins at my desk at work – still a small price to pay for the ripe goodness.

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After about a week, it was time to figure out what to do with the rest of the pears. We weren’t going to finish them all just by eating them as snacks. This was the perfect opportunity to find some new pear recipes and go to town. I had a mini cooking day to myself and whipped up three dishes:

I mentioned in The Fu Behind the Fu’d page that I get almost all of my recipe inspiration from Pinterest, so I linked each to the recipe I used. Because I also made multiple dishes on this occasion, I won’t provide step-by-step instructions on what I did. (It should all be in the recipes.) I will add a little commentary on my experiences making each dish and a judgment on the final products.


Raspberry Pear Pecan Bread

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

I originally chose this recipe because I had just bought my very first KitchenAid stand mixer and wanted to make bread. I don’t have a lot of experience making bread. From what I gather now, this was much less of a traditional bread recipe and much more like a banana bread recipe. I probably didn’t need my stand mixer at all. Oh well!

This bread was good. I¬†loved the tangy and tart flavor that the raspberry left throughout each bite. I also went light on the brown sugar, so it wasn’t overly sweet. The recipe called for grating the pears. Because of how juicy the pears were, there was a lot of liquid, which I think caused the bread to fall apart a bit. I think counteracting it with more flour may have helped. The pear flavor was also barely there. For a sensitive palate, it might be the perfect hint, but I was craving more. We enjoyed the bread for a few days and ate most of it. But because I used fresh fruit, it was best to toss the rest after that. Regardless, this would make a beautiful gift during the holidays or to bring to a lunch/dinner party.


Creamy Sweet Potato and Pear Soup

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

I enjoyed this soup. I was surprised that Jake liked it, too. He is usually much more of a hearty stew type person, but he thought this had a unique flavor. I followed the recipe closely. Although, I did mistakenly sprinkle thyme leaves throughout the soup, which left a small chunk every few slurps. I should have left the thyme sprigs whole to flavor the soup and then removed them.

I don’t frequently use my immersion blender, so I get excited at any opportunity. The photo below reveals¬†how infrequently I use it because I still have the label on it! It worked like a charm and left the soup with a great consistency.

I gave half the batch to my in-laws, but I wish had doubled the recipe and saved even more for ourselves! This soup seems like it would freeze very well, since you don’t have to worry about any chunks of vegetables or starches getting too soggy when re-heating.


Pear Vinaigrette

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

The vinaigrette was a bit of trial and error. In general, I love homemade dressings that have olive oil, fresh garlic, and lemon. I was able to use the extra juices when grating the pears for the bread recipe. However, again, the pear flavor was almost non-existent and I decided to scrounge up some extra grated pear to throw in.

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I used it a few times as a salad dressing and as a slaw dressing. I still have not figured out the best way to store something like this. I feel that the pear needs to be refrigerated, but after a couple of days, the olive oil begins to solidify at the top. This means that when I want to use the dressing, I need to let it sit out for a bit and then shake it up. I will be sure to report back if I ever figure out the right technique or perhaps you can help me out and let me know how you make it work!


Pears seem to be a great alternative to other fruits. They have a much more subtle flavor. I think that it can complement savory dishes well, but could be too mild for sweeter dishes. Overall, another successful mini cooking adventure with some lessons learned!

Sincerely,
Fu’d