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Fresh & Creamy Pea Soup

In Soups and Stews On January 9, 2017 0 Comments

I hope you weren’t thinking of using canned or frozen peas to make a great-tasting pea soup.
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With fresh peas and a few more ingredients, you’ll enjoy a great meal in no time. Complement this gourmet soup with rustic French or Italian bread and your favorite wine. Bon appetit!

Prep time:10 minutes
Cook time:15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 2 to 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup finely chopped white or brown onion
2 to 3 cups cold water
3 cups fresh, shelled green peas
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Dash grated nutmeg
1 cube vegetable or chicken bouillon
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (optional)
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 to 4 fresh mint leaf sprigs

Prepare the Soup:
1. In a 4-quart sauce pot, heat the oil (it should not smoke).

2. When oil is hot, add the chopped onion; stir-fry onion with wooden spoon until it is translucent – about 2 minutes.

3. When onion is translucent, pour in 2 cups of the water and stir in the peas.

4. Bring the soup to a boil.

5. When the soup comes to a boil, add salt, black pepper and nutmeg.

6. Cook the soup on medium-high, making sure it boils, for about 5 minutes.

7. After 5 minutes, add 1 cube vegetable or chicken bouillon; set heat on medium to medium-low and simmer the soup for about 10 minutes or until peas are tender.

8. When peas are tender, taste the soup. If another bouillon cube is needed, you may add it at this point.

9. Set the sauce pot with soup aside on a cold burner.

Puree/Blend the Soup:
1. When soup is lukewarm, transfer one-third of it to a blender.

2. Add cream to soup in blender; blend soup until smooth or slightly lumpy-smooth, per taste.

3. Transfer this first batch of soup to a large glass or porcelain bowl; repeat blending the remaining soup in two more batches.

4. Transfer the last two batches to bowl.

5. Return the blended soup to the sauce pot; bring to a boil.

6. When soup boils, stir in the sliced carrots and cook for 2 minutes.

7. Serve soup immediately; garnish with fresh mint leaf sprig.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Turkey Meatball & Spinach Soup

In Soups and Stews On January 25, 2016 0 Comments

Here’s a delicious soup that’ll keep you warm in the next few months. This meatball and spinach soup is made with ground turkey but you can use beef, lamb or pork. Fresh spinach and some carrots are added to the broth – this makes it low-cal and healthy.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pound ground dark turkey meat, beef, lamb or pork
1/2 cup grated onion (brown or white)
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 large carrot, peeled and minced
1/3 cup finely chopped flatleaf, Italian parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash grated nutmeg (optional)
8 to 10 cups chicken broth
6 cups chopped, fresh spinach or chard (or a combination of both)
Salt, to taste

Directions:
1. In a large, glass or porcelain bowl, combine the ground meat, onion, egg, 3 tablespoons of the minced carrots, parsley, salt and nutmeg.

2. Mix with a fork or with your hands (you can use plastic cooks’ gloves to mix with hands) until mixture is uniform.

3. Shape and form meatballs to measure 1-1/2-inches in diameter; set the meatballs aside on a large platter.

4. Meanwhile, in an 8-quart sauce pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil.

5. When the broth boils, gently drop the meatballs into the broth, taking care to avoid hot splatters.

6. Bring the meatballs to a boil and cook them on medium-high heat for approximately 20 minutes.

7. After 20 minutes, cut into one meatball to check doneness. If meat is still pink, cook the meatballs for an additional 5 to 7 minutes.

8. When meatballs are cooked through, add the spinach and carrot pieces to the soup.

9. Cook the soup for an additional 4 to 5 minutes or until the carrots are crunchy-tender.

10. Taste the broth. If needed, add salt, to taste.

11. Serve the soup with your favorite bread.
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Eggplant-Turkey Moussaka

In Holidays, Meats, Soups and Stews, Vegetables On November 23, 2014 0 Comments

Moussaka is an eggplant dish from Greece and Turkey. In Greece, it is layered with ground lamb and served hot. In Turkey, the eggplant is stewed with lamb and served warm or at room temperature.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I’m making eggplant moussaka from Turkey. It contains ground meat of the same name – lol! For those of you who are vegetarian, simply omit the ground turkey. Bon appetit!

Prep time: 1 hour
Serves: 4 to 6 (as a side dish)

Ingredients:
1 medium eggplant
1 large tomato
extra virgin olive oil (to brush eggplant and tomato)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for sautéing the moussaka)
1/2 pound dark ground, organic turkey meat (or lamb)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium brown or white onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes® (canned)
1 cup tomato purée
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Dash freshly-ground nutmeg

Grill the Eggplant & Tomato:
1. Line a 12 X 18-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil; brush foil with olive oil and set aside.

2. Cut off and discard top and bottom of eggplant.

3. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick slices and place the on foil-lined baking sheet (previously oiled).

4. Cut the tomato in half and place it (cut-side up) alongside eggplant slices on baking sheet.

5. Brush the eggplant and tomato with olive oil; lightly sprinkle each with salt.

6. Place the baking sheet on a rack positioned 6 to 7 inches away from top broiler element inside oven.

7. Grill the tomato and eggplant for approximately 8 minutes or until eggplant has turned golden brown.

8. When eggplant has turned golden brown, wearing oven mitts, transfer the baking sheet to a counter.

9. Transfer the tomato pieces to a bowl to cool.

10. Turn the eggplant slices over; brush them with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.

11. Grill the eggplant slices (on other side) for 6 to 8 minutes or until they have turned golden brown.

12. After eggplant is done, set the baking sheet to a counter; transfer eggplant slices to a plate to cool. Set aside.

Prepare the Moussaka:
1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch skillet.

2. When the oil is hot (do not let it smoke), add the ground turkey (or lamb).

3. On medium-high heat, stir-fry the meat, constantly breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

4. Add the garlic, onion and chopped peppers.

5. Cook the mixture on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.

6. When onion is translucent, stir in the diced tomatoes and tomato purée.

7. Cook the moussaka for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomato sauce has thickened.

8. After 4 to 5 minutes, stir in the vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

9. Cook the moussaka for 5 to 6 minutes longer. Taste and adjust seasonings.

10. Serve moussaka alongside one or more recipes from this website:
Hummus Heat with Pitas and Vegetables (see recipe index – Appetizers/Starters);
Persian Cucumber Salad (see recipe index – Salads);
Butternut Squash Risotto (see recipe index – Pastas, Rice & Legumes).

Text & Photograph © 2014 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Basic Chicken and Vegetable Soup

In Soups and Stews On January 31, 2014 0 Comments

Make this Basic Chicken and Vegetable Soup in no time. It’s so easy and also tastes better than any readymade soup from a restaurant. All you need is one chicken, carrots, zucchini, potatoes and seasonings. When the soup is done, you won’t have to cook for the next three days.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (about 2-1/2 to 3 pounds), skin removed
3 bay leaves
1 brown or white onion, peeled and halved
4 zucchini, tips discarded
4 medium carrots, peeled with tips discarded
4 medium potatoes (any variety)
1 chicken bouillon cube
Salt (to taste)

1. Place chicken, bay leaves and onion in an 8-quart saucepot. Cover chicken completely with cold water.

2. Set sauce pot with chicken and water, covered, on a stove burner and bring to boil.

3. Meanwhile, cut the zucchini into 1-inch circles and transfer them to a 6-quart bowl filled with cold water.

4. Cut the carrots into 1-inch pieces and transfer them to the bowl with zucchini.

5. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Transfer potatoes to the bowl with zucchini and carrots; set aside.

6. When chicken soup boils, remove cover and add bouillon cube.

7. Cook on medium-high for about 45 minutes to one hour or until chicken is done.

8. After 45 minutes, test doneness of chicken by cutting into the thickest part of the breast meat with a fork and knife.

9. If the meat is completely white, it is done. If it is still pink, cook chicken 10 to 15 minutes longer.

10. When chicken is done, using thongs and an extra large fork or spoon, transfer the chicken to a large glass or porcelain bowl or platter. Set aside to cool.

11. Meanwhile, strain the broth into an 8-quart bowl. Return the broth to the sauce pot.

12. Bring the broth to a boil. When broth boils, add the zucchini, carrot and potato chunks.

13. Boil for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are crunchy-tender (test by inserting a fork in potato). If needed, cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

14. Meanwhile, as soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Discard the bones.

15. Tear the chicken into bite-size pieces.

16. Add the chicken pieces to the soup and heat through.

17. Taste the soup and, if needed, adjust the salt level. Serve immediately with fresh bread.

Text and Photograph ©2014 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta with Beans)

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains), Soups and Stews On January 3, 2014 0 Comments

Now that the holidays are over, we’re still running around. Whether paying up on our credit cards or returning gifts at department stores, we need to take time to unwind and enjoy some good eats.

From my days in Italy, pasta e fagioli or pasta with beans, has always been comforting during the most stressful times. Since we Italians always have a can of beans and one of tomatoes in our pantries, it takes no time to serve this classic, peasant fare with some robust red wine.

Don’t forget that sprinkle of cheese over your pasta e fagioli. Can a last-minute meal get any better than this?

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
One 15-ounce (or 1-1/2 cups) whole, peeled tomatoes (puréed in a blender)
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash ground pepper
Dash ground nutmeg (optional)
One 15-ounce can Cannellini or Great Northern beans
1 pound (16 ounces) small pasta shells
5 to 6 fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese

1. In a 2 to 3-quart sauce pot, heat the oil.

2. When oil is hot, add the garlic cloves. Stir-fry on medium heat until the cloves are light golden.

3. Add the puréed tomatoes, salt, pepper and nutmeg to the garlic; simmer on medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook for about 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring a 4-quart sauce pot filled with water to a boil.

5. Stir in the pasta shells into the boiling water. Follow package directions for cooking time.

6. As the pasta cooks for the last 2 to 3 minutes, drain and rinse the beans.

7. Immediately add the rinsed beans to the tomato sauce and warm through.

8. In the meantime, when the pasta has cooked (preferably al dente or crunchy-tender, drain it and reserve 2 cups of the pasta water.

9. Return the cooked and drained pasta to its sauce pot. Add 2 ladles of the sauce and about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

10. Warm the pasta e fagiolithrough. Adjust sauce level and pasta water, to taste (some people like a more watery soup, while others prefer more tomato sauce).

11. Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately. Ask guests to add some grated cheese to their individual pasta e fagioli.

Red wine suggestion: Chianti or Aglianico.
Text and Photograph ©2014 Nancy DeLucia Real