Reubenesque Soup

This soup is a clever riff on the classic Reuben sandwich. The recipe contains cream (or milk if you prefer) which at first you might think weird with the sauerkraut but actually works. If the pairing of cream and sauerkraut is beyond your palate threshold, use all broth or stock. If you’re going to use raw sauerkraut, such as the one offered in the share, be sure to add it near the end, just to heat through. Don’t let the soup come to the boil at that point, or the enzymes and probiotics in the sauerkraut will be destroyed. Sub turkey or chicken for the beef, though keep the cheese in, for Reuben’s sake. To make rye croutons, cube rye bread, toss with some oil, salt, and pepper, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 -15 minutes at 350ºF. They’ll crisp up as they cool.

2 T butter or vegetable oil
1 c chopped onion
1 c total chopped roots, one type (such as celeriac) or a combination
2 T arrowroot, corn starch or flour
3 c beef or other broth, or vegetable stock
2 c milk or half-and-half, or use all broth or stock
1/2 lb sliced or chopped pastrami or corned beef
1 1/2 c sauerkraut, drained if you like
pepper, to taste
1 1/2 c shredded Swiss cheese or other good melting cheese
rye croutons, for garnish, optional (but keeps the Reuben tradition)

1. Melt butter or heat oil in a soup pot. Add onion and chopped roots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the arrowroot until the vegetables are coated. Gradually add the 3 c broth (or 5 c total if not using milk or cream). Bring to the boil, reduce heat some and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until the broth has thickened some.

2. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Add the milk or cream, the beef, sauerkraut, and pepper. Heat through without boiling. Stir in cheese until melted. Taste for seasonings. It may need salt, though pastrami, sauerkraut and cheese all contain salt, as well as store-bought broth.

3. Serve with rye croutons scattered over the soup, if you like.

Potato and Parsnip Dumplings

My new favorite food. I could eat these everyday. (In fact, I am so doing.) These are really easy to make, way easier and less finicky than gnocchi. There are many ways to serve them: with pesto, in a tomato sauce, with butter, or in a simple broth. Get some broth, throw in some vegetables and/or cooked beans or chicken or beef, simmer until the vegetables are tender, then put some dumplings in a bowl and pour the soup over and around them. Awesome! The potato is fairy key here, the starch helps keep the dumplings together as they cook. The semolina flour adds chew, but you could use more flour if you like. Besides parsnips I think most roots would work well here, certainly celeriac, turnip, winter squash, carrots.

1 1/2 c peeled, diced (russet) potatoes
1 1/2 c peeled, diced parsnips (remove woody core if it’s large)
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 T butter or oil
1/2 c flour
1/3 c semolina flour
3/4 t baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh chopped parsley or other herb(s), for garnish, optional, depending on use

1. Combine potatoes, parsnips, and garlic in a large pot. Cover by a good couple of inches with (salted) water and boil until very tender. Drain. Put the pot back on the hot element and allow the heat to dry the inside of the pot. Melt the butter in the pot and add back the vegetables. Sauté for a minute or two to get rid of excess moisture, then remove from heat and mash.

2. Stir in flours, baking powder, egg, salt, and pepper until well combined. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

3. Rinse out the pot and dry. Half fill with (salted) water and bring to a gentle simmer.

4. Bring out dumpling dough. Dip a teaspoon into the simmering water and spoon out some of the dough. Gently plop into water. Make and add more dumplings but don’t overcrowd. They need room to move. When the dumplings rise to the surface, cook for a minute longer, then remove with a slotted spoon. Keep warm. Bring the water back to the simmer, then make more dumplings until you’ve used all the dough up.

5. Serve as above, or however you wish.

Turnip and Ham Hock Soup

You can make this soup quickly or slowly. The quick method is accomplished by simmering everything together for about half an hour. The slow method requires simmering the hocks in broth or water for a couple of hours, removing the hocks, then cooling the liquid, refrigerating it, skimming off the fat, then adding in the vegetables and hock meat and proceeding with the soup. Both methods make good eating soup. I prefer the second method, I feel the broth acquires a richer flavor and if you don’t have the full amount of broth, or none at all, the hocks make the broth. If you don’t have hocks, you can use chopped, smoked ham; smoked sausage; smoked turkey drumsticks; smoked bacon; a ham bone. These subs are best in the quick version. If your subs aren’t smoked, you can also add in a few drops of liquid smoke (follow the instructions on the bottle).

6 medium turnips, peeled and chopped or cubed
6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped or diced; or other roots, alone or in combination
1 1/2 c peeled, chopped onion
1 bay leaf
2 ham hocks or 1 large ham hock
7 c pork or chicken broth; or broth/water combination
salt and ground black pepper, to taste (remember smoked meat can be salty)
crushed red pepper flakes
fresh, chopped herb, for garnish, optional

1. For the quick version, combine the turnips, carrots, onion, bay leaf, hocks, and broth in a soup pot. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, skimming any scum from the surface of the broth, until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the hocks from the broth and allow to cool enough to handle. Remove meat from the bones, trim fat, and shred. Add the shredded meat back to the soup. Taste for seasonings and serve, sprinkled with red pepper flakes and garnished with fresh, chopped herb.

2. For the slow version, put the hocks into a soup pot with the broth, broth/water, or all water. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 2 hours, skimming off any surface scum. Remove hocks from liquid. Allow broth to cool, then refrigerate, covered, for at least 4 hours, preferably 8. Shred meat from hocks, then refrigerate meat as well. Remove broth and meat from fridge. Skim off any fat. Gently reheat. Put meat, along with turnips, carrots, onion, bay leaf, salt, and pepper into pot. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Serve, sprinkled with red pepper flakes and garnished with fresh, chopped herb.

Apple and Leftover Turkey Soup

This is one of the better leftovers soups that I’ve had in many a year. There are a lot of flavor interactions and the method is somewhat, at least for me, unusual. You bring the broth to a simmer on one heating element and sauté many of the soup ingredients in a skillet on another burner, adding them in stages. Some of the ingredients are put into the simmering broth raw. It works, and really, it doesn’t take all that long–while the various vegetables were being sautéed, I was able to put together a salad and make other preparations for dinner. Besides turkey, you could use cooked chicken, duck, pork, or make it vegetarian with beans or tempeh.

4 c turkey broth, divided
2 c white wine or vermouth
6 T butter or coconut oil, or a combination
2 large onions, peeled, sliced into half-moons
1 c peeled, chopped celeriac, carrot, or parsnip
2 – 3 cloves peeled garlic, sliced or coarsely chopped
4 c peeled, cored, coarsely chopped apples
2 c stemmed, chopped mushrooms, optional
4 c chopped leftover turkey
4 T flour, white or whole grain
2 t ground cardamom, or ground coriander, or fennel, caraway, cumin
1 1/2 c milk, cream, coconut milk, or other dairy substitute
1/2 c chopped parsley, optional, or chives, or other fresh herb, optional
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Put 3 c of the broth and the white wine into a soup pot and bring to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer.

2. Melt 2 T of the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions along with some salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 -12 minutes, until the onions are softened and a little golden. Add a splash of water if the onions are sticking to the pan.

3. Meanwhile add the chopped celeriac and garlic to the simmering broth.

4. When the onions are done, carefully scrape them into the broth. Return the skillet to the burner and add another 2 T of butter. Add the apples and cook, gently stirring, for about 10 minutes, until the apples are tender and coloring some. Don’t let them get saucy. At the five minute mark, stir in the mushrooms. Add the apples and mushrooms to the broth.

5. Add the turkey to the broth. Stir to combine. You may want to increase the heat a bit to keep the simmer.

6. Heat the last 2 T of butter in the skillet. Stir in the flour and cook the flour, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Slowly add the remaining cup of broth and stir to combine, squashing out any lumps. When the flour mixture, or roux, reaches a simmer, scrape into broth.

7. Stir in the cream and herb, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently simmer for a couple of minutes, then serve.

Winter Squash and Pear Soup

There are unusual flavors at play here. Pears, squash, vanilla, apple cider vinegar. Yet it comes together deliciously.

3 T butter or vegetable oil
6 c peeled, chopped Butternut or other winter squash
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 c chopped onion
1/2 c apple cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar
4 – 5 c stock or broth
salt and pepper, to taste
1 T vanilla extract
1 c yogurt or sour cream
roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, for garnish, optional

1. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the squash, pears, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 – 15 minutes, until the onion is very soft and the pears are falling apart.

2. Add the vinegar and bring to the boil, stirring to loosen any bits of vegetable on the bottom of the pot. Add the stock or broth and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

4. Purée the soup, either with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender or food processor, transferring purée to another pot as you do so. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the vanilla extract. Cook over low heat for another 10 minutes or so.

5. Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt. Taste for seasonings and serve, garnished with toasted seeds if you like.

Daikon and Sea Vegetable Stew

Seaweed seems, to me, to be such a derogatory term for this nutritional powerhouse that I switched long ago to using sea vegetable. Then I discovered edible weeds out here in the country and no longer think the term is so bad. A dandelion, though delicious and nutritious, is still a weed. Or, as a horticulturist once told me, “Anything you don’t want in your garden is a weed.” You can sub pretty much any sea vegetable here, though wakame’s delicate flavor is better suited to the simplicity of ingredients in this stew. You could use the wakame soaking liquid as part of the liquid measure. Strain it first if there’s sediment in the soaking liquid.

5 c stock or broth–fish or vegetable or a combination is best here
1/2 c wakame
2 c (peeled) thinly sliced daikon or other winter radish, or a combination
1 c (peeled) thinly sliced carrot
3/4 c sliced (shiitake) mushrooms
2 T soy sauce, or to taste
cooked short grain rice, kept warm

1. Heat the stock or broth in a large saucepan.

2. Soak the wakame or other sea vegetable as per package instructions. Drain, then coarsely chop.

3. Meanwhile, slice the radish and carrot into thin rounds, half moons or with a vegetable peeler, long strands.

4. When the stock or broth has come just to the simmer, add the radish and carrot. Return to simmer, then reduce heat and cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

5. Add the wakame and mushrooms. Increase heat to return the liquid to a simmer. Allow the ingredients to simmer a few minutes longer. Stir in soy sauce.

6. Put servings of rice into bowls. Ladle the stew over the rice.