February 2009 COTM Schneider: Soups & Salads
February 2009 COTM: A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider
Please post your full-length reviews of soup and salad recipes here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the book and page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.
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Garlic Soup w/Pasta and Ham, p. 388
This was pretty good - not fabulous, but good.
I made it w/boxed chicken broth - I think it really needs homemade. Used 4 heads of garlic and the pasta I used is ditalilni. It was a little salty for me (between the low-salt broth and the prosciutto) but my husband didn't seem to think it was too salty.
I think I will try the variation of using poached eggs. And homemade broth.
Red Lentil Stew with Caramelized Onions, p. 104
Saute 1 thinly sliced onion, 2 bay leaves, cayenne and a cinammon stick for a few minutes, then add minced ginger and garlic, then 2 cups red lentils. Add 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon, then toss in the used lemon halves and 1 more cup broth. Simmer for 40 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Meanwhile, caramelize 2 sliced onions to be used as topping later.
This was ok, but I probably wouldn't make it again as written. First of all, it had a slightly bitter taste, which I think was due to the lemon halves being thrown in, pith and all. Next time I'd slice off the zest and only include that. Next time I'd also up the spices, maybe using garam masala, or cumin and coriander...? As is, it was slightly spicy from the cayenne, with a hint of exotic cinammon, but still wanting for more. The caramelized onions were the best part, but once those were gone, it was kind of blah. I served it with yogurt dill sauce and pita.
That sounds a bit like an Iraqi red lentil soup that I make and that is delicious - however, the ingredients are chopped onions, red lentils, water/stock and lots of cumin, with lemon juice added at the end. I think some onions are carmelized and added at the end as well. If you want the recipe, I'll dig it up for you - it's a recipe from the mother of an Iraqi friend of mine.
We really enjoyed this soup. I especially liked the effect of the cinnamon & bay leaves simmering with the lentils. However, I did make several changes to the recipe as written.
1. I didn't have very many red lentils so I used black lentils (from TJs) as well, and I think they add a little more flavor.
2. The amount of lemon juice that recipes call for is often too much for us, so I only used half a lemon. (I was REALLY tempted to use a kaffir lime since I have a bowl of them sitting on my counter, but I knew that would really skew the taste).
3. I only used water instead of part chicken broth because I wanted it to be vegetarian.
4. After reading this review and tasting mine, I agreed that the flavor needed bumping up, so I added about a tablespoon of Penzey's garam masala, which worked well even being added towards the end.
5. I was too tired at this point to make the caramelized onions, so I chopped up some preserved lemon instead, which went nicely. It gave a lemony burst of flavor (salty too, I admit) but without the sourness of lemon juice. I'll summon up the energy to make the caramelized onions to go with the leftovers.
DH, who is always leery of lentil soups (must have been served some bad ones back in the 70s) really liked it. "It has flavor!" he said approvingly.
Beans and Wild Mushrooms in Fennel Broth (p. 400)
A recipe that is based on one of the broths she suggests in her book, in this case the Fennel Broth on p. 568, but you can use strong flavoured broths others. I had made the broth last week, and saved some for this recipe.
The recipe calls for 2 cups of cooked white beans; I went for a can of D’Aucy flageolets, because we find them quite tasty. They are pricy but worthwhile, I think.
So, essentially, sauté about an ounce of pancetta, with onion and parsnips (I used half carrots for colour, and also added minced garlic). The recipe also calls for fresh wild mushrooms, but hey, dried is what I had so I reconstituted them in the fennel broth. Don’t want to lose any of that shroomy flavour! Finish your sauté, add your pancetta mix and your beans to the broth, simmer and adjust flavours. I added some fresh rosemary from the living room plant and some dried thyme, but she suggests a quarter cup of fresh herbs stirred in at the end.
I think my pancetta was rather weakly flavoured, so I’d say if you can, use a slice or two of bacon instead, unless you can get your hands on the good stuff.
Personally, I’m not sure I like the combination of mushrooms and beans, so I next time, I’ll add a few more veggies and skip the ‘shrooms – but let me stress my husband does not share that opinion! He scarfed down two helpings.
It was fast and made for a hearty weeknight supper, served with some toasted baguette rubbed with garlic. A good base for lots of possible improvisations from the home cook.
Chopped Salad from the '21' Club, p. 427
The author mentions that this is the low-fat version of a salad her mother used to make. Chopped tomatoes, carrots, celery, bell pepper, cucumber, and sweet onion, and cheese (I used Tillamook cheddar) is tossed in a creamy, but low-fat dressing. I used regular sour cream, buttermilk, Heinz chili sauce (2 Tb instead of 3), and horseradish.
This was a colorful, fresh and healthy salad to serve with grilled steaks tonight. I'll be making this all summer to serve with dinners on the grill - I think it will be especially nice with summer corn and tomatoes. E liked his just as it was, but I thought it needed a little acid and liked it better with a splash of champagne vinegar.
Farro Salad with Green Apples, Toasted Spices, and Pine Nuts, p. 445
This book makes it so easy to lose a few pounds after the holidays. Today's healthy but tasty lunch was this farro (an Italian grain) salad seasoned with freshly toasted ground fennel and coriander seed. I halved the ingredients except for the Granny Smith apple, and left the pine nuts whole. The rest of the ingredients included sauteed onions, sherry vinegar, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, and s&p.