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soups

Gazpacho andaluz/gazpaxo andalus

Gazpacho andaluz/gazpaxo andalús

One of the things that was challenging during our trip to Barcelona last year was trying to stay well-hydrated. We’d be the obnoxious Americans carrying around the giant 1.5 liter bottles of mineral water (sin gas) while we walked and went sightseeing, but the weather was warm, even for the first day of fall. Even then, nothing ever felt like it was properly slaking our thirst; that is, until I realized that the key to hydration, at least for me, was eating (drinking?) lots and lots of gazpacho.

It seemed odd at first–given its Andalusian provenance, I wasn’t expecting to find it as readily as I did in Barcelona–but I’m pretty sure the restaurateurs knew that few other foods are as fully restorative during hot weather as even a small serving of this soup. Thanks to unseasonably cool weather once we came home, though, my craving for gazpacho completely vanished and I didn’t think of making it again until a few weeks ago when we were in the middle of the first of a series of unpleasant heatwaves. Loosely following a recipe from José Andrés, I immediately remembered the appeal of this dish: an abundance of water-logged vegetables that help you stay hydrated, but do so while also helping you feel full. (Thanks, fiber!) That it requires minimal prep work and that a blender does all the work is icing on the cake.

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Ajo blanco de malagueño (or, white gazpacho)

Ajo blanco de malagueño (or, white gazpacho)

Yes, that’s a whole mess of Spanish and Català up there in the post title.  No, I make no apologies.

This meal was a bit ambitious for us, even for a Sunday night: in the mood for some delicious José Andrés-style tapas after hearing about Michael’s visit to Zaytinya during his recent trip to DC. Picking four dishes (the three listed here, along with a variation of this salad), I made a plan to get some of the work done early in the afternoon, after my workout but before I went down the street to see the Chilean movie No at the local non-profit movie theater. I really thought that I had it all in hand: I made the sofrito for the rossejat after we got back from the store, and everything else was pretty much self-explanatory. Or so I thought. Read More

Basque-style mussels and white bean stew.

Basque-style mussels and white bean stew.

I know the first post in this series was for an agua fresca, but I should make it clear that juicing is not something we do at all, but every once in a while I’ll crave something sweet and light and that fresh drink mix does the trick nicely. But then I see things like this interview and I’m kind of boggled by anyone being satiated by only drinking a few juices during the day and waiting until the evening to eat a meal of solid food. Then again, there’s no way I could do what I want to do powered simply by juice, because you can’t lift heavy or lift in volume on what appears to be a very limited amount of calories, particularly in the protein realm.

Because that’s the thing about doing things like barbell deadlifts and squats: for me, I need to feel like I have some serious fuel in the tank to get over the mental hurdle that is pulling a series of heavy triples in a row, or doing a circuit that calls for ten to twelve rounds of pressing sixty pounds over my head and squatting it on my back, all the while feeling confident that every time I do so I’m completely in control of the barbell in my hands. Fueling those pre-workout dinners with something that’s both filling but not stuffing can prove to be a challenge, but I find a nice balance with seafood, especially when I pair it with beans or quinoa. Read More

 

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Oh January, we meet again.

 

Now that the holidays are over, New York has a tendency to descend into its winter-long hibernation. No one wants to do anything because it’s either snowing, has snowed or is just too damn cold outside, so you can either pull on the Hunter boots and see what’s shaking at the local watering holes a block or two away, or you only venture out to collect provisions from Fairway and the local wine shop and cocoon in your apartment. It’s the perfect excuse to spend the morning flipping through cookbooks, particularly new ones acquired during the holidays, looking for that perfect project to warm up the apartment…but there is also the temptation to want to indulge in comfort foods because it is so cold outside.

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Stracciatella of Tarragon, Semolina Flour and Pecorino Cheese

I have to say that I kind of love the habit of coming home after a weekend trip to Pennsylvania and indulging in a soup and an eggy dish. We did it back in August with gazpacho and our ugly-but-delicious tortilla, and after Thanksgiving we toasted to our uneventful Amtrak ride with lovely stracciatella and a simple fritatta. As we worked together to make the meal, both Michael and I started to channel Nigella Lawson a bit because both of these dishes seemed like ones you might see on one of her many BBC programs: fast, loaded with vegetables but all with a heavy does of indulgence. There may have been some bad British-accented commentary going on as we cooked, but I won’t say for certain. All I will confirm is that dinner came together in very short order that night–and that’s something, I think, we could all use in this otherwise hectic time of year. Read More

Sopa Gairebé Fredolic

You may have noticed a dearth of anything Thanksgiving-related (save for our annual pre-Thanksgiving duck, of course) here on the blog. That, my friends, was intentional: I’m not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving food to begin with (a little roast turkey goes a long way for me) and depending on the year and whose house we’re staying at, we tend to not do a lot of cooking. That probably sounds a little strange given that we cook so much on our own, but Thanksgiving is a day so steeped in food traditions that we’ll defer to them–well, at least until we get to take over the reigns of hosting the meal down the road. As for this year, Michael did an excellent job in roasting a 19-pound bird and I brought un poco de España into the mix with a few early-afternoon tapas that were well-received by my in-laws. Read More

Pasta e Fagioli, a la minuto di New York (or, Pasta and Beans, New York Minute Style)

A few days ago, over lunch with some of my colleagues, the conversation took a turn to cooking at home (and I swear I didn’t bring it up) and it was generally acknowledged by the group that while cooking at home is fantastic, it’s very difficult to keep up with during the week after a long day at work. Given that I have the fortunate situation of being able to come home to dinner most nights thanks to Michael having a non-commute (a walk the length of one iPod song does not a real commute make), I kept my mouth shut lest I come across as braggy at all.

Besides–this would then lead me to explain that I spend three hours each day on public transportation, and really, there’s no need to start moaning on who has the worst commute, right? Read More

Chorizo-Garbanzo-Leek Soup

As I sit and ponder these notes, the current temperature outside (per weather.com) is 62 degrees.  It’s the third of December!  To quote Andy Bernard from The Office:

Global warming, right?  I bet it was supposed to be really cold today.

It seems odd, then, to be posting on a nice pot of soup, but with the weather fluctuating so…violently lately, it’s a given on my part that my sinuses will get congested and I will be immediately craving something I can curl up with and hopefully open up some of my passages to boot.  The 19th was one of the few seasonably cold days in November, and in an effort to try to think of something to have for dinner, I decided that some chorizo-chickpea soup would be heavenly.

Based off of a Gordan Ramsay recipe for chorizo-fava bean soup in Gordan Ramsay’s Fast Food, we’ve been playing with this recipe from the get-go by substituting chickpeas for fava beans, and have gone from there.  The leeks were a last-minute addition in the hopes of using them up from earlier in the week this time around, but now we can’t imagine this soup without them for their flavor and texture contributions.

The other great thing about making soup for dinner is that usually leftovers are involved, and believe me:  when you nuke this in your office microwave the next day, your coworkers will be drooling.

Chorizo-Garbanzo-Leek Soup

Serves 6 as an appetizer, 2 for an entree with leftovers

  • 1 Vidalia onion, finely diced
  • 2 leeks, washed, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb chorizo, cubed
  • 4 cups chicken stock, warmed (either microwaved for 2-3 minutes on high or simmered on the stove)
  • 8 sprigs of thyme, plus a few more for garnish
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat, and then add onions, garlic, thyme and leeks, season with salt and sautee until soft (no more than 5 minutes).

Add the chorizo and cook until some of the orange fat starts rendering out, again, no more than five minutes.  Add the warmed chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, and serve with crusty bread and goat cheese if desired.

Pourtugese Garlic Soup with Manchego Cheese

Pourtugese Garlic Soup with Manchego Cheese

My first post-collegiate job was analyzing the soup category (specifically eating soups) for a well-known soup company (which you can probably guess at, but I’m still not going to confirm), and for the year and a half I was on the account, my personal love of soups blossomed into a full-blown obsession.  The category was in a period of serious transition, as competitors all over the place were aiming to tempt shoppers with higher-end products with more exotic ingredients, and reading the plethora of varieties all day would make me invariably hungry.  Unsurprisingly, when I spotted a discount soup cookbook at Borders one Black Friday a few years ago I snatched it up, grabbed a pad of Post-Its and started marking off recipes that particularly intrigued me, but it had been so long since either of us had cracked it open that the recipes for the most part had gone unmade.

When Michael told me this night that he was making garlic soup that night, I was expecting a bowl of broth packed with whole cloves and lots of paprika, a poached egg or two floating on top, and some bread to sop it all up.  While most of those ingredients were being put to use when I got home, the end result was decidedly different:  the absence of paprika and the addition of cilantro made this soup delicate and light, but still packed more than enough garlic and runny-yolk goodness to satisfy my craving for both.  It was a good reminder to revisit that book–especially this week considering how wet and rainy it is outside–because few meals can pack so much flavor yet remain light enough that you’re not lethargic after dinner like a satisfying bowl of soup.

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