Last month, my aunt told me about a beet soup my grandma had made a long time ago, but had lost the recipe. Of course I went and asked grandma about it, but all she could remember was that the recipe was “from Russia or something like that”. It had to be borscht! I found several recipes, and I decided to combine Ana’s and Chef John’s recipes to make my own! 🙂
Those who know me know that I have very strong opinions regarding vinegar (AKA: it’s not food, it’s a cleaning product!). This recipe has made me change my mind, at least temporarily! I try the soup with and without vinegar – it was much better with it! 😮
You will need:
3 cups beets, diced
2 medium-size carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
½ white cabbage, sliced – I used ½ cabbage, because mine was a big one. If yours is small, use it all!
2 L meat stock – or vegetable stock, if you want a vegetarian/vegan recipe
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 bay leaf
Salt, pepper, paprika
Optional, but advisable:
Dill, chopped thinly – for the photo, I used parsley, because I had run out of dill!
This is a very easy recipe: start by chopping the beets, carrots, onion, celery, and cabbage. I julienned the beets, just because I thought it would look good – no fancy scientific explantation here! 😀
In the pan that you will use to cook the soup, place the onion, celery, and carrots with a little bit of butter (use olive oil to make it vegan!). Season with salt, pepper, and paprika and cook for about 5 minutes. When the onion has turned translucent, add the stock, the beets, and the cabbage.
Cover the pan. Cook over high heat just until it comes to a boil – then, cook over low heat for approximately 50 minutes, or until the beets are soft. Check the seasoning, add the vinegar and… THAT’S IT.
Serve with a generous Tbsp of sour cream (your vegan friend doesn’t get any, though!) and garnish with a little bit of chopped dill!
As it is almost tradition, the cold July weather calls for Soup Tertulias!
I love peas. LOVE. The ones that come in a can! (Pause for the “ewww!” faces). I’ll eat fresh peas, but I never find them to be as good as the canned ones… #freakalert But I had never tried split peas. Coming to think of it, I don’t think I had even seen split peas at the supermarket, but that is probably because Sky is the one who does the shopping, I only write the list! 😀
When I saw this recipe by Rita Lobo, which also called for bacon, I was sold! If you’re vegan/vegetarian, there’s no need to stop reading: follow Chef John’s tip and use shiitake mushrooms instead! If you’re omnivore, stop making that face, it’s a legitimate suggestion! 😀
The most entertaining part of the recipe was the side – instead of croutons or dinner rolls, popcorn! I was a bit skeptical, but it was pretty tasty!
For a relatively small soup, you’ll need:
250 g bacon, in cubes – the recipe called for only 100 g, hahahaha! As I said before, to veganize this recipe, you can use shiitake mushrooms!
1 medium-size onion, chopped
500 g split peas, soaked for 4 hours
1 bay leaf
2 L meat stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade!
salt, pepper, and paprika
There is a very basic rule in cooking, which is to read the entire recipe before starting to cook. Everyone knows that. BASIC thing. Of course I didn’t do that and that sucked, because the peas had to soak! I was going to make the soup for lunch, but it had to be left for dinner… 😦
Rinse the peas, place them in a bowl and cover with 1.5 liters of water. Let it soak for at least 4 hours.
After the peas are soaked, drain the water and set aside. In the pan that you’ll cook the soup, cook the bacon, making sure the fat is nice and rendered. If you are using shiitake mushrooms instead, sear them with some olive oil! When the bacon/shiitake is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside.
In the bacon great/olive oil, cook the onion on low heat. When the onion has turned gold and transparent, add the peas and cook them for one minute, just to coat them with the onions. Add the stock, season with one tsp of salt, as well as with some pepper and paprika. Cover the pan and let the stock boil. Cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring every now and then until the peas are soft.
Meanwhile, make the popcorn. Try not to eat it all before the soup is ready (it’s harder than it looks #truestory)
Transfer the soup into the blender. Rita Lobo advices holding the lid of the blender with a dishcloth, to prevent the vapor from opening the lid. Blend well. Another option is to do what I did, and use the immersion blender directly in the pan! 😀
Place the soup back in the pan (if you’re using an immersion blender, just smile and do nothing). Add the bacon/shiitake mushrooms and heat the soup back to boiling point – make sure you taste for salt!
To serve, place the soup in the bowls and only then add the popcorn!
On the early days of Tertúlias de Forno e Fogão (the Portuguese version of this blog), I posted on Facebook a recipe for vegetable stock – it’s funny to think of the time when this wasn’t even a blog! Veggie stock is a very easy recipe, any makes all the difference when making a soup, a risotto… much better than bouillon cubes!
Although I still make vegetable stock, the truth is I’ve been using meat stock for most of my soups lately. When I started photographing for the Soup Tertulias, Sky asked me if I had already translated the stock recipe − and was shocked to learn that I hadn’t even posted it! “But the stock is the star of your soups”. I took the hint and finally photographed the process. 🙂
There are several ways of making meat stock. I usually follow Chef John’s recipe (with some of the hints by Pat Feldman). It’s not a difficult process, but it takes a while: the stock needs to cook for at least 12 hours! I generally cook it for 24 hours, though. Then, I reduce it significantly, so I can freeze in single-use portions.
You will need:
Approximately 2.5 kg of meaty bones − Pat Feldman and Chef John List the kind of bones you should use, but to be honest I simply ask for meaty bones at the butcher’s and that’s it!
Celery leaves − you can use the stalks if you prefer, but it’d just be a waste of a perfect peanut butter dispenser!
One big onion, cutting into fours
Two carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks − when I was taking the pictures, there were no carrots in the house, so I didn’t use it this time! 😀
Two big (and thick) pots, with lids − mine can hold up to six liters, but if you have a bigger pot, double the recipe and make more stock! 🙂
Containers for freezing the stock − I prefer glass ones, with hermetic lids, as they are way easier to clean, but feel free to use plastic containers.
Stock starts with a step that generally marks the end of a recipe: place all the bones on a baking sheet, and bake them in a preheated oven for 60 minutes, turning them every now and then, so they brown evenly. Be careful not to let them burn!
When the bones are browned, transfer them to a big, thick pot − if there’s anything stuck to the baking sheet, scrape and place it in the pot as well! Cover with COLD water, then add the celery, onion, and carrots. Cover the pan and bring it to a boil over high heat. I prefer to put the vegetables on top, so it’s easy to remove them later!
Once the water has started boiling, remove the foam with a spoon and place the pan over the lowest possible temperature in your stovetop. As the stock will cook all night, it should simmer, not boil, so that it doesn’t evaporate. Here, I put the pan on the smallest burner, at the lowest setting.
One or two hours after the stock has started simmering, I remove the vegetables. Chef John doesn’t do that, but since I use celery leaves rather than stalks, I think it’s better to remove it.
Throughout the entire cooking process, the bones should always be covered by water. If you using the thick pan, covered, and in the lowest possible heat, that shouldn’t be a problem. However, if it is, just add more water!
When the bones are clean (with no meat attached to them, and with the little holes where the marrow has leaked from), which usually takes about 12 to 15 hours of cooking, you can remove them from the pan. If you want to cook for longer, there’s no problem − and the flavor will be more intense! I generally cook for 24 hours.
Remove the bones from the pan − I always let them drain over the sieve, so I don’t waste any stock. After removing all the bones, strain the stock into the second pan – you want to make sure that there are no mini-chunks of meat, or anything other than pure stock! 🙂
Take the second pan back to the stove, to reduce the stock over high heat − “reduce” sounds like a fancy process, but it just means “make the water evaporate” 😛 I generally have about 3.5 L of stock at this point, which I reduced to 1.5 L − the more concentrated the stock, the less room it will take in my freezer! 😀
Let the stock cool in the pan. Then, transfer them to the containers. I usually divide into five containers of 300 mL each, which is the base for five big soups, as this is really concentrated!
When it’s fully cooled, you’ll notice a layer of grease over the surface of the stock. I usually freeze with this layer on, and I only remove it when it’s time to cook – it’s much easier that way!
The stock will last in the freezer for up to six months. For soups, I simply thaw it a little bit, remove the grease layer, and dump it in the pot, adding more water as necessary. For risottos, you need to dilute the stock first, as it needs to be heated first. A 300-mL container will yield about 2 L of stock!
Looking for a recipe to end the Soup Tertulias, I found one that I had pinned long ago. As it was from Chef John, it was sure to be good, right? So there I went to the grocery store to buy an ingredient I hardly ever use – leeks. There’s no special reason for not using them much, other than pure lack of habit!
But given that I don’t usually cook with leeks, I never have great expectations for the results. So you can imagine my shock when I realized how good this soup was! It was simply the best soup I’ve ever made – and one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten! It immediately gained comfort food status! ❤
To make this soup, you’ll need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
150 g bacon – Chef John used prosciutto, and a lot less than that, but we don’t do “just a little bit of bacon” around here. To veganize this recipe, he suggests using shiitake instead of bacon!
6 leeks – without the leaves
1.5 liters of beef stock – I used the homemade version, concentrated. To veganize the recipe, use homemade veggie stock − or the store bought one…
4 medium-sized potatoes
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
250 mL heavy cream – to veganize, use soy/rice cream
Chop the leeks into medium-sized bits and rinse them well to remove any little specks of dirt, which is really something we don’t want to taste in our soup…
Heat the olive oil in a thick pot and fry the bacon. When the bacon is halfway cooked, place the leeks and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and let them soak in water, so they don’t turn brown. After the 30 minutes, add the potatoes to the pot and cook until they are soft – if you think you need more liquid, just add water!
When the potatoes are soft, use the blender (I used the immersion blender) to … blend the soup! Put the soup back in the pot, add the cream and heat it until it starts to boil. Serve immediately, thinking “omg did I just cook that? I’m so amazing, I should be on Masterchef, etc.” 😀 😀 😀
FREEZER: Like most soups, this recipe freezes pretty well. I just placed the cold leftovers in a Ziploc bag! When re-heating, I just used the immersion blender to pulse it a little bit, so it would regain the original texture.
The carrots were very pretty at the grocery store – they had that “buy me” look. It was time to make a recipe I had pinned centuries ago. You know one of those recipes that you think it’s going to work great, but you are kinda lazy and simply don’t do it? Yep.
Well, it was silly of me to be lazy about this recipe, as it is very easy – and wonderful! This is without a doubt one of the most interesting soups I’ve ever made, proving once again that Patricia Scarpin is a genius. ❤ As usual, I’ve adapted it a little bit, because that’s just how it goes.
The recipe is vegetarian, but to veganize it all you have to do is replace the cream for a soy/rice version.
1 kg carrots – peel and chop into big chunks
350 g onions – same deal
Roughly 3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper – I added paprika too
About 5 cloves of garlic, peel and all – from the famous series “things I decided to add while taking the ingredients shot”
1 tsp cumin
1.5 liters veggie stock – I used the homemade version , concentrated, and completed with water
250 mL heavy cream, or a vegan substitute
Place the carrots, onions, and garlic on a baking sheet. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin. Mix everything very well and bake in a pre-heated oven for 40 minutes, or until the carrot is tender.
Then, remove the garlic peels – it should be very easy! – and place the ingredients from the baking sheet into a blender, adding the stock to help the process. As my blender died #RIPblender, I placed everything in the pot and used my immersion blender.
When everything is nice and blended, add the cream and heat the soup until it starts to boil. Serve immediately.
FREEZER: As most soups, this recipe freezes pretty well. I just placed the cold leftovers in a Ziploc bag! When re-heating, I used the immersion blender to pulse it a little bit, so it would regain the original texture.
I LOVE lentils. Before, they were a synonym of New Year’s Eve: Grandma would always make lentil rice (with plenty of bacon), saying “Eat it, it’ll bring prosperity in the new year.” Not only were they delicious, but they also brought money?? BRING’EM!
Try as I might, I didn’t become a millionaire by eating lentils – but this is no reason not to make this delicious soup! 🙂
The original recipe called for mushrooms, but I didn’t add them, because I hate them! #truestory #sorrynotsorry BUT they are a great idea to veganize the soup! 🙂
400 g lentils
2 medium onions, thinly chopped
1 large carrots, thinly chopped
150-200 g bacon − the original recipe called for only 50 g, because it also had mushrooms. If you want to veganize the recipe, use them instead of bacon!
1 L water
Salt and pepper – skip the salt if you’re using a bouillon cube!
This is a mystery-free recipe: in a large pan, fry the bacon, the onions, and the carrots. When the bacon is fried, add the lentils, the stock, and the water. Season with salt and pepper (I used a pepper mix).
Cook for approximately one hour, until everything is nice and soft. Then, all you have to do is put the soup on the blender! I bought an immersion blender and I’m in love! MUCH easier to clean than a traditional blender! 😀
When everything is blended, it’s ready to serve!
FREEZER: As most soups, this recipe freezes pretty well. I just placed the cold leftovers in a Ziploc bag! When re-heating, I just used the immersion blender to pulse it a little bit, so it would regain the original texture.
Is it cold where you are? It’s FREEZING here! Now that winter has officially arrived, it’s time for a soup season! 🙂
I had planned to post this recipe for a while now. We photographed it when Tia Leo came to visit us LAST YEAR! It was still cold here, but as it was already super hot in Brazil, I decided against ostentation 😀
Tia Leo was the person who actually cooked this. My role in the making of this soup was to take pictures, talk a lot, and drink wine! I always had a bit of an issue with pumpkins, because I thought they were hard to prep, but Tia Leo taught me the EASY way to deal with them: cook with skin and all, THEN remove it! Duh! So easy!
1 medium-sized pumpkin, cut in chunks – leave the skin on for an easier time
2 veggie stock cubes, or the homemade veggie stock − I didn’t have any ready, #shameonme
50 mL heavy cream
60 g gorgonzola
Parsley/chives, to garnish
Cut the pumpkin into big chunks – Tia Leo warns that you are supposed to wash it beforehand, ok? 😀
Place the pumpkin in the pressure cooker and cover it with the veggie stock. Close the lid and wait until it pressurizes. When that happens, mark 8 minutes, then turn it off and wait for it to de-pressurize.
While you wait, you can crumb the gorgonzola and chop the parsley.
Open the pressure cooker and remove the pumpkin chunks – do not toss the cooking liquid, because we’ll still use a good amount of it! Now that the pumpkin is cooked, it’s easy to remove the skin, so do that! 😀
Place the pumpkin little by little in the blender, using some of the water to blend – you should get a texture like a runny purée. Place the purée in a big pan and continue the process until you finish all the pumpkin.
Add the cream and gorgonzola. Mix it and heat the soup until it simmers.
Dish, garnish with the parsley/chives and serve with some toasted bread – here, we had with the whole-wheat version of Bread in a Hurry!
FREEZER: I haven’t frozen this particular soup, but it would freeze just fine! I would recommend you blend it again after it’s thawed, though, for better texture.
Calories: zero. Do you see the words “vegetables” there? Everybody knows that vegetables = no calories. 😀
Collecting the ingredients: infinite.
Cooking: 2 ½ hours, on average
“Can’t I just use a bouillon cube?”
Of course you can. But it’s not good for you, too much sodium, MSG, etc. The homemade stock is very easy to make, and it’s practically free! The flavor is much better, and it also gives you a #hipster #grandma status, which is always cool.
We make this stock with SCRAPS. You know, the spinach stem? Potato peels? Broccoli stems? Instead of throwing them away, wash and dry them! Place them in a Ziploc bag, which will live in your freezer. Every time you make a salad, a soup, or a vegetable side dish, think about the things he would throw away. The stem of most herbs, the peel from that pumpkin you ate last night, almost everything can be used to make a nice stock!
The only things that you can’t use are onion and carrots peels, bitter scraps (such as cucumber peels), and, obviously, nothing that looks old and gross!
I never really follow a recipe for this – my stock is always “whatever I cooked this month”. The only thing that I always add is celery leaves, which make all the difference for me.
When your Ziplock bag is full, it’s time to make the stock. Get the biggest pan you own, place the frozen scraps, and cover with water. Simmer for 1 hour, then remove the scraps so your stock doesn’t get bitter
At this moment, it’s ready. What I usually do to save space in the freezer is to boil for another hour and half, to reduce. Let it cool in the pan, then divide them into your containers – make sure the lids fit! 😀
They will last in the freezer for up to six months. Every time you want to make a soup, just take a container, remove the frozen stock, and thaw it directly in the pan!