Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

Beets/parsnip soup

Posted: March 29, 2012 in Main course, Soups, Vegetables

In my daughter’s school the parents association often prepare something for the teachers, as a way to thank them for taking good care of our children. It’s a nice gesture, and whenever we can we try to participate. Last week they decided to prepare a “soup lunch”, where many parents would bring soups and we offered to prepare something. Since I imagined most people would bring “traditional” soups, I decided to try something different, and when I saw some beets on the supermarket, it looked like a good idea.


Having never prepared a beet soup before, I didn’t know whether the beets would stand on its own or it needed something to thicken the soup. Potatoes were an option, but since I was trying something new, I decided to go with parsnips, which I had tried in a soup a while back and gave a nice aroma to the dish.

It turned out to be quite good (and, indeed, very different). The bright burgundy color was really enticing, and offered a good contrast for the decoration. The only problem I had was that I think I used too much salt, to balance the sweetness of the beets; next time I’ll just less salt and embrace the “beetness” of the soup instead.

Ingredients (for 8-10 people):

  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 5 beets (~2” diameter), peeled, chopped in small pieces
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, chopped in small pieces
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • parsley and cream for decoration

In a large pan, heat the oil, then add the onions and season them with salt and pepper. Fry them until they’re golden brown. Add the beets then add the stock and water, and bring it to a boil. The beets take a long time to cook, so chopping them in small pieces helps making the process faster.

When the beets look almost fork-tender, add the parsnips and cook for another 10-20 minutes, until the parsnips themselves are fork-tender. Using a blender (or an immersion blender, which I did), purée the soup until it’s clear of any lumps. Adjust the salt (careful on this step), and serve with a sprig of parsley and a touch of cream. The soup can be prepared a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator, just reheat it (adding some water if necessary) prior to serving.



Beer-onion soup – take 1

Posted: February 2, 2012 in Food, Soups, Vegetarian

This is an attempt in a variation of the traditional French onion soup which came out tasty, but with a few things which need improvement – so I’ll have to try it again later. I’ve been with a cold lately, and my doctor said that soups would be a good thing to have. Mostly I wanted to have something light for dinner after a heavy lunch, so an onion soup seemed like a good idea.

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Getting home I realized that it wouldn’t be a smooth ride. I only had one (medium) onion, and I’d need at least two of them – next time I’ll definitely use more. I also didn’t have any wine leftovers, and since I’m taking some medication for the cold and can’t drink alcohol, I didn’t want to open a full bottle to use only 1/2 cup, so I decided to use beer instead (as I had already tried, and liked, a Guiness stout onion soup in one of my favorite pubs), so I used a local lager, with good results. I also tried to cut corners and use a simple toasted sliced bread, but it wasn’t dry enough and ended up quite soggy, but next time I’ll try to get some hard bread or day-old baguette. Finally, I only had some Colby-Jack cheese so that’s what I used, but some harder cheese will probably be better. In the end, the soup itself was good, but we ended up scooping the bread out of the bowl and discarding it.

Ingredients (for 2 people):

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (the best amount would be 1 small / medium onion per person
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 12-oz. bottle of beer (I used a lager; a darker one would work too – lighter beers probably won’t work as well)
  • 2 toasted slices of bread (as I mentioned, it didn’t work well – I’ll try it again with either store-bought croutons or a harder bread)
  • 2 slices of Colby-jack cheese
  • Parsley for decoration

Melt the butter in a medium pan and add the onion, salt and pepper, cooking for about 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions are browned. Add the stock and the beer and scrape off the pan, and mix it well again, cooking for another 10 minutes over medium heat.

Transfer the soup to oven-safe bowls, top it with the bread, then the cheese, and add them to an oven pre-heated to 400ºF (200ºC). I find that placing the bowls in an oven tray helps getting them out easier. Bake it for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted; if you have a broiler you can also use it to speed up the baking (in ~3-5 minutes the cheese should be good).

Top with a small parsley sprig and enjoy!

Onion squash soup

Posted: November 24, 2011 in Soups, Vegetarian

Source: Things from the pantry / fridge. This one didn’t come from any cookbook.


History: Nothing special, we just had an acorn squash and some onions, and it was cold so a soup would go well that day.

Ingredients from specialty stores: None


  • 1 medium acorn squash
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • water
  • salt & pepper
  • green onions, diced, for decoration
  • grated parmesan cheese

Cut and seed the squash, then cook it until tender. Then remove from the water and peel it (a lot easier to do after cooking). Sauté the onions with the oil, salt and pepper until they start browning. Deglaze with the wine, then add the squash, broth and 1.5 cups of water. Using a hand mixer, purée the soup until creamy – add more water if you want to thin it. Adjust the salt and pepper, then cook for another 10 minutes.

For the parmesan cheese “circles”: grate it in a parchment paper covered oven tray, then bake it until it melts the edges start getting golden. Remove from the oven, and after it cools you’ll be able to easily remove it from the paper.


Sprinkle with the green onions and serve warm.



Source: Modified from the series “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine,, book 4 (São Paulo)


History: “Canja de galinha” is a very common supper dish in the Northeastern states in Brazil, but in this series it’s in the book for São Paulo (from the Southeast), so I believe it’s common in other parts of Brazil as well – which makes sense, since it’s easy to make, quite cheap (chicken has always been among the cheapest sources of meat in Brazil), and it has that “we’ve always had it” quality that passes between generations. It’s also the supper of choice when one is under the weather, which sometimes gives this quite nice dish a bad rep.

Variation from the original: I don’t think there is any “original” recipe for chicken soup – everyone has it’s own – but since I started from the book, here’s what I did differently (besides the quantities): only used chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken (that’s what I had), used cooked rice instead of cooking it in the soup (I had leftovers), and cut the chicken in cubes instead of making “pulled chicken”.

Ingredients from specialty stores: None


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut in small (1/2” cubes)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped in small cubes
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • water
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • chopped parsley or cilantro

Trim the fat off the chicken, cut it in small cubes, then season it with salt and pepper, then reserve. In a pan, heat the oil then add the onion, garlic and carrots, sautéing them until the onion starts becoming soft. Add the chicken and toss it for 3-5 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the bay leaves, then enough water to cover the chicken, plus 1/2”. Cook it for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is done.

When the chicken is done, add the rice, and cook for another 2-3 minutes (to heat up the rice). Serve it hot with chopped parsley or cilantro