soups Archive

Guest Post on Slow Cooker Tomato-Basil Soup

Hi everyone!

I’m super pleased to announce that my recipe for Slow Cooker Tomato-Basil Soup is the featured guest post over at today!

I’m honored to be a guest on Dennis’ blog, and I encourage you all to stop by his site to check out the recipe…

Rainy Day Remedy: Duck Pho

Pho: (Pronounced: Fuh) A Vietnamese noodle soup, typically made with beef broth and thin rice noodles, usually garnished with basil, bean sprouts, and lime.

I was dithering back and forth about posting this recipe, as I was worried that it might sound fancy, complicated or inaccessible. And while I like to cook fancy food from time to time, ultimately I want my recipes to be accessible. I want to post things that you want to cook.

The thing I want to stress about this recipe is that it only sounds complicated. It really isn’t! The whole idea to make duck pho came about when I saw a recipe for Turkey Pho (made with Thanksgiving leftovers! Genius!). As I mentioned in my last post, since I didn’t roast a turkey this year, I decided to roast a duck. In all actuality, my wonderful husband roasted the duck while I was at the gym. Let me tell you, coming home to roast duck (prepared by the person you love) is a really great thing.

So, we ate the roast duck (and holy smokes, it was good) and when we were finished, we had a whole duck carcass on our hands. We had no choice but to make duck stock! And since we made duck stock, making duck pho seemed to be the next logical step. So that’s just what we did.

For the record, this recipe could easily be made with chicken or turkey. I happened to roast a duck, hence why I made this pho with duck. I don’t often roast ducks (read: this was the first time), but I do roast chickens relatively frequently, so I see a lot of chicken pho in my future. I’ve always thought of chicken pho as a better version of chicken noodle soup. In fact, whenever I’m not feeling well, all I really want to eat is pho. I’m not sure why I’ve never attempted to make it until now, I think I always assumed it was really complicated. All it requires is a bit of time to make the stock (which can simmer away while you do other things, like decorate your Christmas tree! Which is exactly what I did.), and a few key Asian pantry ingredients.

Making pho a great way to use up leftovers (whether it be duck, turkey, chicken, etc), and it’s the perfect rainy day meal. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but we get a lot of rainy days in Portland. ;) But pho is the perfect remedy for rain: it fills the belly, warms the insides, and clears your head.

Duck Pho
(Adapted from Serious Eats)

Leftovers from 1 roast duck (i.e., 1 duck carcass, wings and legs included)
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise pods
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
6 sprigs fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 dried shittake mushrooms
Salt, to taste
Thin rice noodles

Bean sprouts
Hoisin sauce
Lime wedges
Green onion, sliced thinly
1-2 jalapenos, sliced thinly (seeds included)
Cilantro (and/or Thai basil)

Remove any leftover meat from the duck, set aside for use in the pho.

To make duck stock (pho soup base): Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large stock pot. Cook the onion, until starting to brown, 5 minutes or so. Add in duck bones, and fill the pot with cold water. Add in star anise, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, cilantro sprigs, garlic, and shitaake. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and allow the stock to simmer for 1-2 hours.

Strain the stock into another pot. Add in fish sauce, salt, and ground pepper to taste. Start with the addition of fish sauce, and add salt afterwards if needed (fish sauce is very salty). If serving pho immediately after making stock, allow stock to simmer over low heat on the stove. Add in duck meat and sliced green onions, and allow to cook in the broth for a few minutes before serving.

To assemble pho: Cook rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain, and place an equal amount of rice noodles in each bowl (I made 4 servings) and pour the hot broth (with duck meat and green onions) over the noodles. Garnish with bean sprouts, lime wedges, jalapeno slices, cilantro, Thai basil, and a hefty dose of Sriracha.

Note: I had about a quart of duck stock leftover after 4 large servings of pho were consumed.

Curried Carrot Soup with Orange and Lemongrass

I’m going off the grid for a few days.

However, I’m not actually going anywhere. I’m staying put for the holidays. My holiday plans include a lot of eating, enjoying a few glasses of good Oregon wine (namely, my favorite Oregon wine: Remy), sleeping in, spending time with family, watching ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ (it’s tradition!), and working on crafty Christmas things.

Oh, and I’m also going to roast a duck.

Why? Because I bought a duck. I bought a duck because I was depressed about the fact that I wasn’t going to have any turkey leftovers (my mom is cooking the turkey this year). But then I saw fresh, whole ducks at the Montavilla Farmer’s Market and they were beautiful and surprisingly affordable. And then it dawned on me: duck leftovers > turkey leftovers. Duck breast and cranberry sandwiches? Yes, please.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about four days off.

But, this week can’t be all turkey (or duck!) and cranberries and mashed potatoes. In fact, after days of eating such things I usually feel pretty gross. And when I feel gross, I want to eat something healthy. Something that isn’t heavy, something that is bright and refreshing. This soup is all of that and more.

I must admit, however, that this is not a new post. In fact, Curried Carrot Soup was one of my very first posts. I posted this recipe back in the dark ages of my blog, when I didn’t know how to take a good food photograph to save my life. I’ve grown a bit as a writer and photographer since those early days, and thought this soup deserved a second chance. I make this recipe often, and since I don’t have every recipe committed to memory (shocking, I know!), I have to refer to my own recipe whenever I make this soup. And every time I pull up the recipe, I get annoyed at the photo and how it doesn’t do this soup any justice. So, I decided to take new photos. And I decided to re-post the recipe. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and I highly recommend it.

To the two people who actually remembered that I’ve already posted this recipe, I apologize for the repeat. :)

Curried Carrot Soup with Lemongrass

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 red Thai chili, deseeded and chopped in half
1 tablespoon curry powder (or more!)
8-10 organic carrots, trimmed and sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and bashed* (*Bashing the stalks brings out the most flavor. Lemongrass can be hard to find in the grocery store, but you can find frozen lemongrass in most Asian food stores.)
2 large strips of orange zest
1 can coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
A few dashes of soy sauce
Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add in onion, garlic, ginger, and red chili. Cook for 3-5 minutes over medium heat (until soft). If the grated ginger is sticking to the pan too much, add more oil and turn the heat down. Add in curry powder, making sure all ingredients are coated with it. Add in carrots, lemongrass (or lemon zest), orange zest and sautée for a couple minutes.

Next, add in the vegetable stock and coconut milk – ensuring all vegetables are covered in liquid – and cook over high heat until it comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until the carrots are soft all the way through.

Remove the zest pieces and lemongrass stalks (dont forget this part!) and then use an immersion blender or food processor to blend until the soup is smooth. Once blended, stir in soy sauce and/or salt to taste. Depending on your preferences, you can add more coconut milk or vegetable stock if you find that the soup is too thick.

On Thankfulness & Chili with Vegetables.

It’s November, and most of the world is quickly falling into a holiday frenzy. The chaos has begun and I want no part of it. I want peace, and rest, and quiet. I want to stay home and read books. I want to cook warm, cozy dinners and spend time with people I love. I want to be thankful.

The holiday season is a mixed bag of emotions for me. There is so much I love about this time of year (food, family, traditions, celebration, etc), but it is easy to get lost in the madness of it all – to get stressed out about finances, juggling family, menu planning, gift giving, and all that stuff.

And I’m guilty of it, just as much as anyone else. I’m a perfectionist who thrives on stress and it is so easy to let myself get carried away. So, I’m trying something new this year. I’m finding one new thing to be thankful for every day. Whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I take a minute to remind myself of all the good in my life.

I am happy, I am healthy, I am alive.

I’m married to my best friend and he loves me. A lot.

I have the best family (and a whole bunch of wonderful friends).

I have the best cat and bunny on the planet.

I am blessed.

And today, I’m thankful for chili. (It may sound trite, but it’s true!)

More specifially, I’m thankful for leftover chili. I made a giant pot of this chili earlier in the week, and I’ve had a bowl of it for lunch every day this week. I love having leftovers for lunch! I’m not sure why a post about chili prompted me to be thankful, but somehow I think it’s fitting. There’s nothing glamourous or exciting about a pot of chili. Quite the contrary, chili is the humblest of foods. But, sometimes the simplest foods are the best. Chili is comforting, nostalgic, and perfect for cold November evenings. It might not be pretty, but it sure is delicious.

Growing up, my mom made a classic chili with ground beef, tomato paste, onions, and kidney beans. I think her secret ingredient was tomato soup, but whatever it was, it worked. I love my mom’s chili. However, this is not my mother’s chili. This is more of a cross between a standard chili and a hearty vegetable stew. It has all the makings of a classic chili (ground beef, beans, tomato), but it also has Delicata squash, poblano and red peppers, carrots, celery, and fennel. This chili is rich, hearty, and filling.

I must thank Nadine from the Dundee Dirtbox Farm and CSA for giving me the idea to put all these fantastic vegetables into chili. It had never occured to me that Delicata squash (with their skins left on, no less!) would be delicious in chili. But, Nadine made this chili for a potluck birthday party for my dear friend Mari, and I loved it. I took mental notes about what all she had included in the chili, so that I could re-create it at home. And then I promptly re-created Nadine’s chili at home a few days later (I couldn’t wait, it was that good!).

Really, there’s not much else I can say about this recipe. At the end of the day, this is merely a loose set of guidelines for making a great pot of chili. It isn’t rocket science, it’s just chili. But it’s really good chili. Feel free to get creative with the recipe and add (or subtract) whatever you desire. Heck, use this chili as an excuse to clean out your fridge! It’s that kind of recipe. And it is exactly what I needed this week. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, I needed a humble bowl of chili.

And for that, I’m thankful.

Chili with Fall Vegetables

Note: This ingredient list is based on the vegetables I had on hand, but feel free to include whatever you want! I also threw in a handful of cherry tomatoes that I’d frozen, but I didn’t include this on the ingredient list as I wasn’t sure how many people would have bags of frozen cherry tomatoes! Also, you’ll notice this recipe does not use stock or liquid of any sort. The juices from the canned tomatoes & vegetables were enough for my chili, but if you feel yours is too thick you could add a bit of water or stock.

2 lbs lean ground beef
3 cups (canned) whole tomatoes in sauce (or fire-roasted tomatoes)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 small delicata squash (or 1 medium/large squash)
1 poblano pepper
1 red pepper
2-3 small carrots
2-3 stalks of celery
1 small fennel bulb (or 1/2 of a large bulb)
1 bay leaf
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1.5 Tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablesoon tomato paste
Salt & pepper, to taste

*Optional: This chili is good with a dash of cumin powder, if you happen to have some onhand.

Halve the squash and remove seeds with a spoon. Roughly chop into 1″ squares. Note: If you’re cooking the chili for a long time (1.5 hours or more), you can leave the skin on the Delicata squash (if using any other kind of squash, you must peel it). But, the Delicata skins are thin (and tasty) and can be left on if you’re cooking the chili for a while.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat a small amount of olive oil. Add in diced onion, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in ground beef and cook with onions until the beef is cooked all the way through (and browned). While the meat is cooking, stir in chili powder, cayenne, and salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, chop all vegetables. Remove seeds from the Poblano and Red Pepper.

Once the meat is browned, add in all canned tomatoes and juices. Cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Add in the rest of the vegetables (squash, celery, carrot, fennel, etc) and stir coat with tomato juices. Add in bay leaf and tomato paste.

Cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, at least an hour. Add in the kidney beans 30 minutes prior to serving (I add them later, as I don’t want them to break down and become mush). Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary before serving.

Garnish with grated cheddar cheese and avocado.

Garden Gazpacho

Oh, Oregon. You silly little state, you. Here we are, well into the month of September and it is positively roasting outside. July and August were nice, but it wasn’t until now that it actually got hot. Our summer arrived two months late. Oh well, better late than never, right?

So, while the rest of the country is gearing up for Fall and drinking pumpkin spice lattes, I’m wearing sundresses and drinking iced coffee. My garden is spewing forth tomatoes at lightning speed, and yet I simply can’t bring myself to cook them. It is far too hot to cook.

So what do I do when it’s too hot to cook? Honestly, I usually go to my favorite taco truck. But, a girl can’t live on tacos alone (Lord knows I’ve tried!). So, this weekend I decided to put my taco cravings aside and instead put all my garden tomatoes to good use. I made a big batch of fresh tomato gazpacho.

I’ll admit, I’m a little embarrassed that I’m posting this so soon after my Fresh Heirloom Tomato Bloody Mary recipe. Gazpacho is, after all, not too different than a bloody mary. They are both liquid recipes with a tomato base. They both contain a ton of vegetables and have a hint of spice. But, of course, my gazpacho recipe doesn’t contain vodka. And my bloody mary recipe doesn’t call for stale bread. Really, truly, the two taste completely different. The gazpacho is surprisingly rich, complex, and smoky. The addition of bread crumbs gives the gazpacho a lovely thick texture, and the dollop of avocado on top adds just the right amount of richness. This soup was everything I wanted (and more) on a hot September day.

So, I do hope you’ll forgive me if I continue to post tomato recipes in the coming weeks. As the rest of the country transitions into Fall, the sun is still shining brightly in Portland. So I’m going to celebrate the flavors of summer for as long as I can. I’m going to wear sundresses and eat gazpacho, damn it.

In the wise words of Pedro the Lion: “God bless the Indian summer.” God bless it, indeed.

Garden Gazpacho
Makes 4 servings

Note: This recipe could be changed, morphed, & adapted in a million ways. I chose to roast the roma tomatoes as I wanted some of the richness of flavor that comes with roasting the tomatoes. The heirloom tomatoes were just so lovely that I didn’t have the heart to roast them, and I thought a balance of fresh and roasted tomatoes would be nice. If you don’t have the time or energy to roast your own tomatoes or red bell peppers, you can buy either of these items at the store. I highly recommend Muir Glen Organic fire roasted tomatoes.

3 large heirloom tomatoes, skinned & peeled
7-8 small red (Roma) tomatoes
1 piece stale bread
1 red bell pepper
1 jalapeno
1 mild pepper (such as Anaheim, poblano, etc)
1 cucumber
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 small carrots
1/2 of a red onion
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Optional: splash of tomato juice

Avocado, for garnish
Olive oil, for finishing

Prep the vegetables: Peel & seed the cucumber and large heirloom tomatoes. Halve the roma tomatoes and remove as many seeds as possible. Place halved roma tomatoes in a shallow baking dish and place under the broiler until their skins have blackened (5-7 minutes). Once the tomatoes have broiled, the skins should have loosened. Discard skins. (I left a couple of the skins on as I like having the blackened bits in my gazpacho). Using either your broiler or flame (if you have a gas stove), roast your red pepper. Place red pepper over flame (or under broiler), rotating until all sides are blackened. Once skin is blackened, place red pepper in a bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to set in bowl and steam for 10 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, peel off outer layer of blackened skin.

Gently toast stale bread (in the oven or toaster) until firm & crunchy. Remove crusts and pulse in a food processor, until the bread becomes coarse crumbs.

In a food processor or blender, blend together all vegetables (except avocado) with the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and paprika (and tomato juice, if using). Puree until smooth. Taste and season with salt (and pepper, if desired).

Chill for at least an hour (the longer, the better), to allow the flavors to meld. Prior to serving, stir in a small amount of olive oil. Garnish with cubes of avocado.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I love winter squash, I really do. But at this point in the year, I start to grow a little tired of squash. All you locavores out there know exactly what I mean. The bountiful harvests of summer are long gone, and we are left with squash, squash, and more squash. I may be exaggerating ever-so-slightly, but you get the idea.

So, it is precisely at this time of year – when I feel myself despairing at the thought of eating one more squash – that I come back to my favorite squash recipe: a simple curried butternut squash soup. All it takes is one bite of this soup and I forget my wintertime woes. It doesn’t matter how many other ways I attempt to prepare winter squash, I always come back to this recipe. There is just something so special about it. The curry powder and cayenne add a subtle (and delightful) spice, while the maple syrup brings the perfect amount of sweetness and balance to the soup. The secret to this particular soup is roasting the squash first, as the roasting really coaxes the most flavor out of the squash.

So, I’ll keep this short and leave you with this little tidbit: There is a brightness to this soup that I can’t quite explain. It makes me happy. And even though my heart is set on summer, this soup makes the winter seem not quite so dark.


1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup fennel bulb, diced (about 1/2 a bulb)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled & cubed
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup cream (*can easily be omitted to make recipe vegan or dairy-free)
2 tsps (or more) of your favorite curry powder
2 Tablespoons Maple syrup
1 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste


1. Roast the squash: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cubed squash with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread into an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast until tender (about 20 minutes).

2. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add in onions & fennel and cook until tender, 5 or 6 minutes. Stir in curry powder and cayenne and cook for one minute more. Add in roasted squash cubes and stir, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add in stock, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs.

3. Bring mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. After this time, remove the bay leaf & thyme springs and blend thoroughly (with an immersion blender, food processor, etc).

4. Once blended, gently stir in cream and maple syrup. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Add a dash more curry powder, if you so desire. Let simmer on the stove on Low for a couple of minutes. Garnish with fresh ground black pepper, or a dollop of creme fraiche.

French Onion Soup

What can I possibly say about French Onion Soup that hasn’t been said before?

Such is the dilemma with making such a classic recipe. This soup has been made thousands of times by thousands of cooks in thousands of different kitchens across the world. And to think, I’m supposed to write about such a classic?! It just seems so daunting.

So, then, I won’t even attempt to write anything new or profound about French Onion Soup. It is what it is: a delightful bowl of rich broth and caramelized onions, topped with crusty bread and melted cheese. In my opinion, this soup is perfection in a bowl.

With this recipe, I am not improving upon anyone else’s recipe, nor am I trying to re-invent the classic. I just make french onion soup the way I make it. I’ve tried a number of different of recipes and variations over the years, and have finally figured out the way I like to make this classic soup. And while there may not be one singular thing that separates my recipe from the rest, I do have a couple tips and tricks to ensure that the soup is rich and full of flavor. Because, let’s face it: there is nothing worse than a bland, watery bowl of soggy onions.

Here are my tips to ensuring that your french onion soup tastes awesome:

1. Take your time. The slower the onions cook down and caramelize, the better your soup will taste. Just set your burner over Low (no higher than Medium) and walk away! Stir occasionally and ensure that the onions aren’t getting brown, but that’s all you need to do. Just wait for them to do their thing. 2. Don’t cook all of the onions at once. Cook half of the onions down first, and add the rest after the first batch has caramelized. This will add texture to your soup (as some onions will be softer than others). 3. Use good stock. Since the soup is broth-based, the better the stock/broth you use, the better your soup will be. If you have homemade beef stock, use it! If you don’t have homemade stock, spend a few extra pennies and buy a good quality organic beef stock/broth. Its worth it! 4. Toast your baguette slices. No french onion soup is complete without some crusty bread and melted cheese on top. If you toast the bread/baguette before placing them on top of the soup, this will ensure that your bread doesn’t turn to soggy mush. The bottom of the bread will soak up the soup (and get slightly soggy) but the top should remain crusty and delicious!

French Onion Soup
(Serves 4-6)
*Supplies needed: oven-safe ramekins or bowls

6 cups beef stock (organic or home-made, preferable)
3/4 cup good quality red wine (Cabernet)
4 small white onions, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons butter
Salt & pepper to taste
Baguette, sliced thinly & toasted
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

Melt butter over Med-Low heat in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add 1/2 of the sliced onions and cook slowly, over low heat until caramelized – at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more butter if needed. If the onions start to brown, turn the heat down. After the first batch of onions are mostly caramelized (after 30 minutes or more), add in a bit more butter and the rest of the onions.

After all of the onions have been added, raise the heat slightly. Every 5 minutes or so, scrape the sides of the pot and add a splash of red wine to deglaze the pan. Continue to cook over med-low heat, occasionally stirring, for 30 more minutes.

Once the onions have all cooked down, add in the stock, the rest of the red wine, bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil, then reduce down to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Taste broth, season with salt & pepper. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

When the soup has reduced down and a rich broth has formed (after 30+ minutes of simmering), remove the soup from the stove. Ladle soup into ramekins or oven-proof bowls. Top with 1-2 baguette slices. Sprinkle a generous amount of grated gruyere over the top of the baguette slices.

Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Remove from heat, and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. (*Note: even after 5 or 10 minutes the ramekins will still be really hot! I would set the ramekins on top of a plate, napkin, trivet, hot pad, etc). Garnish with fresh grated black pepper and a bit of fresh thyme.