Turkey Chili with Avocado

Turkey Chili with Avocado

I know I’ve posted my fair share of soups and stews over the past few years, but it’s for a good reason – I love cooking these types of foods! Along with sauces, soups are fun. You can change the flavors as you go – add a bit more of this, a dash of that. It’s the type of cooking that allows you to be truly creative and experimental. It’s just fun. Well, that and delicious.

My latest is a new turkey chili recipe that I made a few times this winter. It’s really simple – I mean, half the ingredients come from cans – but has tremendous flavor that you can make as strong or as mild as you like. The main spices in this version are garlic, cumin, curry powder and smoked Paprika, but the overall flavor is actually a little on the sweeter side which comes from the vegetables – onion, carrot and red pepper. Oh, and did I mention that I top it with avocado? Seriously this is a keeper.

If you like your chili to be spicier, definitely kick up the paprika or use a spicier chili powder (I personally like the smoked flavor of the Hungarian smoked paprika). Here’s the recipe.

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Mushroom Sherry Soup

Despite the recent heat wave, I’ve been craving nothing but mushroom soup. I can’t really explain why – maybe it’s a throwback to my French culinary training that I’ve somewhat abandoned in recent months, or it could just something I need to make every other summer, or it could even be a weird umami craving? Stranger things have happened – just sayin’!

I used a variety of mushrooms from River Valley Ranch for this delicious soup including oyster, shitake and crimini and – get this – a half stick of butter! For those of you still working in professional kitchens, please don’t laugh at me! I NEVER use that much fat in anything other than pastries these days. Although I do fondly remember dumping pounds of butter and quarts of cream in soups in the past. Those are happy memories…

Either way, the butter splurge was worth it in this soup, although I did restrain myself and not use any cream. The other highlight was the dry sherry added at the end for a little extra flavor along with a bit of fresh lemon juice. The soup was so delicious that the other half stick of butter and pint of cream weren’t missed at all!

Here’s the recipe:

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Eggplant Lentil Soup

Eggplant Lentil Soup

Eggplant Lentil Soup

When I was in Florida a few weeks ago, I came across a classic flavor combination that I hadn’t experienced much: eggplant lentil soup. I was intrigued and ordered a cup, but found the soup to be bland and basically nothing special. I then proceeded to spend the rest of the meal thinking about how to turn those flavors into an incredible soup.

The answer came this week when I recreated it in my kitchen. The first key is to roast the eggplant to lessen its natural bitterness and enhance its other flavors. This requires almost no work and takes just 25 minutes in the oven.

At the same time, simmer the lentils with onions, garlic and broth, then bring out the secret weapon: the blender or food processor! Use it to puree the whole mess into a luscious, thick soup.

And finally, enhance the natural and fairly neutral flavors of the eggplant and lentils with spices. I used curry powder, which offered the perfect level of aromatic spice.

Originally I’d planned on eating the soup on its own, and even did one day this week when I brought the leftovers for lunch. But the night I made it, I had some leftover baked cod in the refrigerator and added it to the soup for a complete meal. It was AMAZING!

Cod is a healthy, flaky, neutral-flavored fish that added just the right level of texture to the soup without changing the flavor. In the end, I had a healthy, nutritious and filling meal, with plenty of leftovers to last throughout the week.

Here’s the recipe for Eggplant Lentil Soup:

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Lobsta Fest Part II: Thai Lobster Bisque

Thai Lobster Bisque

Thai Lobster Bisque

A great thing to remember when cooking is to use every part of every ingredient. Just like a roast chicken can turn into a rich chicken stock, which then can be used to make an amazing soup, lobster shells also make a flavorful stock. This recipe for Thai Lobster Bisque is all about getting your money’s worth in the most delightful way.

To make the soup, I took the shells from two cooked lobsters and used a small amount of the meat as a garnish (the rest was eaten with butter or used in this marvelous Champagne lobster salad). The shells were simmered with water and a lot of aromatics including garlic, ginger and lemongrass, and eventually finished with coconut milk.

Lobster Claw (photo requested by my mom)

Lobster Claw (photo requested by my mom)

While this isn’t exactly authentic Thai food, the flavors and aromas reminded me of Tom Kha soup, one of my favorites.

Try this soup for yourself the next time you find yourself with leftover lobster shells.

Here’s the recipe:

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Curried Cauliflower Coconut Soup

Curried Cauliflower Coconut Soup

Curried Cauliflower Coconut Soup

A year ago I would’ve told you I hated cauliflower, but the truth was I didn’t understand it. But that changed last winter when I challenged myself to find the brighter side of cauliflower, a side different from the mushy cauliflower mess served in elementary school lunches mixed with overcooked and tasteless carrots and broccoli. And it turned out cauliflower that I did like cauliflower with it fairly neutral astringent taste that works in many cooking methods, although my favorites are roasted and pureed.

Cauliflower Soup: Sweat aromatics Cauliflower Soup: puree Cauliflower Soup: add spices

This soup takes the pureed route. The cauliflower is simmered with onions, garlic and ginger in a chicken broth-coconut milk liquid. Once soft, the mixture is pureed into to a silky smooth texture and seasoned with spices. And voila, a beautiful, smooth, subtly spicy soup with a hint of sweetness from the coconut milk.

Curried Cauliflower Coconut Soup

Curried Cauliflower Coconut Soup

Oh, and did I mention it’s healthy and nutritious?

Here’s the recipe:

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