Radish and Radish Green Soup with Turmeric Root

This is a ‘fresh from the market’ soup. Beautiful radish greens with lots of fresh green onions, combined with sweet potato for texture and turmeric for a distinct flavor.

Only four ingredients:

  • One bunch radish
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 fresh turmeric root

Plus a bit of olive oil for cooking and sea salt for seasoning. 

Start by cutting off the greens from the radishes. Wash and scrub the radishes. Wash the greens in a bowl of water or salad spinner and drain. 

Peel the sweet potato. Scrub the turmeric and wash the green onions. 

Slice and chop the sweet potato. 

Heat a bit of olive oil in a heavy cast iron pot. Add the sweet potatoes and reduce the heat to low. 


Slice the whitish part of the green onions and chop the turmeric. 


Add the sliced onions and turmeric to the pot of sweet potatoes and combine well. 


Slice two or three radishes to use as garnish. Cut the remaining radishes in halves or quarters. Slice the green part of the green onions. 


Add the radishes (pieces only, not slices) and mix well. 


Add water, about 4 cups. Add sea salt to taste and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. 


Add the green onions and continue to simmer another 5 minutes. 


Grossly chop the radish greens. 


Add them to the soup and mix well for one minute until wilted. 


Process with an immersion blender until smooth. 


Serve at once and garnish with radish slices. Enjoy!

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Piperade

One summer, our parents took us to Les Landes for a month, in the southwestern part of France, by the Atlantic Ocean. It was a summer of smelling the tall and dense pine forests, admiring the grounds covered with ferns, climbing the huge dunes of fine white sand and playing with the forceful rolling waves, most famous for surfing. All unfamiliar topography and vegetation compared to our Provençal surroundings. Our eyes were wide-open with curiosity and our taste buds were delighting in exciting new dishes.  In the evening we would wander by the colorful and fragrant freshly picked peppers and tomatoes at the outdoor markets and prepare the local specialty of Piperade. It was such a delicious combination of flavors as the vegetables were in their prime, we wanted to savor it every night!

 Yesterday morning, as I discovered what our weekly CSA delivery held from Tomato Mountain, these memories instantly permeated at the sight of onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes. I couldn’t wait to recreate those scents and tastes reminiscent of a joyful childhood discovery. 

  The variety of vegetables grown in the Midwest is different from my original introduction to Piperade in Les Landes, nevertheless just as delectable. So feel free to adjust ingredients based on what’s available from your local market.

Ingredients:

  • 3 yellow Aura peppers 
  • 2 Carmen sweet peppers 
  • 5 Capperino mildly hot peppers 
  • 5 medium size tomatoes
  • 1 extra large white onion (about 500 g/ 1 lb)
  • 1 extra large garlic clove
  • 5 Tbps extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh thyme and bay leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  Wash the yellow Aura peppers, cut in half, remove the core, seeds and white flesh, and thinly slice each half. Reserve. 
  Wash the Carmen sweet peppers, cut in half, remove the core, seeds and white flesh, and thinly slice each half. Reserve.   Wash the Capperino peppers, cut in half, remove the core, seeds and white flesh, and thinly slice each half. Reserve. 
  Wash the herbs and garlic clove without peeling it.   Peel the large white onion and cut in half. Thinly slice each half by hold down the root end. Discard the roots. 
  Heat the olive oil in a cast iron French oven. Add the onions and reduce the heat.   Place the herbs and garlic on top. 
  Arrange the sliced peppers as the top layer and cover with a lid. Cook on low heat for about 10-15 minutes.   Meanwhile wash and cut the tomatoes in quarters. Remove the hard green part attached to the stem and discard. Slice each quarter into smaller pieces. 
  After the onion and peppers have cooked for about 15 minutes, add the tomatoes as the last layer. Seasson with salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Cook over low heat for another 20-25 minutes.   Then remove the lid, and the vegetables will have shrunk. 
  Take the herbs and garlic out with a fork. Discard the herbs. You may keep the garlic for spreading on bread or crackers with a little butter as it will have become creamy inside.   Mix the vegetables with a wooden spoon to combine the flavors. 
  Serve hot or cold, either immediately or let sit to further infuse the flavors. Delicious on its own or with some eggs scrambled with red pepper flakes. 

Enjoy!

English Pea and Carrot Soup with Mint and Coriander

This silky smooth soup announces springtime and can be served hot or cold. Finished in an olive oil emulsion instead of cream, it gains a creamy texture while maintaining a lightness of taste and texture. The subtlety of its seasoning, carrot-coriander and English pea-mint, adds a complex yet delicate flavor.Preparing the two soups in separate batches and pouring them together just at serving time not only adds a colorful touch, it also preserves the integrity of the distinct flavors.Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 500g/1.2lbs organic carrots
  • 1 kg/2.4lbs fresh English peas in their pods (or about 500g/1.2lbs shelled)
  • 1 tsp coriander grains
  • 20g/0.7oz fresh mint (a few sprigs)
  • 12 Tbsp olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt for cooking
  • Fleur de sel

Start by grinding the coriander with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.  Wash the mint and remove the stems. Set the leaves aside.Shell the fresh English peas by pressing each pod between your fingers to release the peas.You should have about half the weight in peas and can discard the shells.Peel and slice the carrots thinly so they cook quickly and evenly preserving most nutrients.Bring two pots of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. One for  the carrots and one for the peas.Plunge the carrots in one of the pots. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and cook on medium for about 10-12 minutes.Meanwhile plunge the peas in the other pot of boiling water.When all the peas float up to the surface, about 5 minutes, they are cooked.Remove the peas from the pot with  a skimmer into a bowl, preserving the cooking liquids for adding to the soup. When the carrots are tender remove them from the pot with a skimmer in the same way as for the peas, reserving the cooking liquid. Place the peas in a tall beaker with 6 tbsp of olive oil and some of the pea cooking liquid. Process with an immersion blender, adding more liquid as needed, up to 2-2 1/4 cups of cooking liquid total.  Place back into the pot, after discarding the excess liquid, add the mint leaves and process until fully blended. You will obtain a somewhat grainy texture.Pour the pea soup in a chinois or fine mesh strainer.Over a bowl to recuperate a smooth textured soup. Press as much of the liquid as possible. You can reserve the pulp for another use (let me know if you’d like some suggestions).  Scrape the outer pulp into the soup.   Whisk until homogenous.  Adjust seasoning with some Fleur de sel. Set aside.Place the carrots in a tall beaker.   Process with an immersion blender adding 6 Tbps of olive oil and some of the cooking liquid from the carrots.   Continue processing until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl. Add the freshly ground coriander and adjust the consistency with more cooking liquid until it reaches the same texture as the pea soup. Again, about 2-2 1/4 cup of added liquid total.  Pour both soups into each serving bowl simultaneously.   This way both soups retain their separateness. Using a spoon, gently mix the two on the surface.  To make a design.  And finish with a touch of herbs, chives or mint. Enjoy!

English Pea Soup

Quick. Simple. Fresh.
One of my favorite soups to make in no time and enjoy healthy nourishment.
The compliment of herbs, parsley and mint, brings fresh flavors, which can also be achieved with basil, chives, or dill depending on your preference and what grows in your garden.
20140725-151726-55046798.jpg
Here presented with a lemon rind and some peas sprouts for an elegant serving.
20140725-151840-55120962.jpgIngredients:
2 lbs fresh English peas
1/2 lb white onion
1 oz mint leaves
1 oz parsley leaves
1 Tbsp grape seed oil
5 cups water
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
20140725-151841-55121292.jpgFirst peel and cut the onion in half, leaving the roots at the end. Finely chop the onion by slicing it horizontally and vertically almost to the roots. This technique allows the onion to still hold together.  Then slice from the tip to the root to have a perfectly sized chopped onion.
20140725-151841-55121637.jpgHeat a little grape seed oil in the bottom of a large pot. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onion at once and reduce the heat to low. Cook for a few minutes until the onion becomes translucent and softens.
20140725-151841-55121986.jpgAdd the water, season with salt and bring to a simmer.  Cook a few minutes (5 to 8) until the peas are tender.
20140725-151842-55122354.jpgUsing an immersion blender, process the soup until smooth.
20140725-151843-55123223.jpgWash and remove the stems from the herbs.
20140725-151843-55123659.jpgAdd the herbs to the soup. Continue processing with the immersion blender until you obtain a velvety texture.
20140725-151842-55122770.jpgAdjust seasoning with freshly ground pepper and a little salt if needed. Refrigerate to cool.

Serve and enjoy!

Green Cabbage and White Bean Soup with Thyme Celery Pesto

A hearty winter soup to enjoy during our freezing temperatures in Chicago.  This is a satisfying dish to savor either as an appetizer or a main dish served with a salad for supper.  White beans and green cabbage are classic winter ingredients and pair deliciously.  Health-wise, white beans are high in fiber and a good source of vitamin B1 and minerals.  Green cabbage has long been established for its digestive tract support as well as an excellent source of vitamin K.

20140207-190459.jpgThe celery pesto is made of ingredients from the soup itself, with the addition of garlic and parmesan cheese.  If you wish to make a dairy-free/vegan version, simply omit the parmesan cheese in the pesto and season it with a bit of salt, pepper, some lemon juice and a little extra olive oil. This soup is most delicious the day after preparing it.

Be sure to soak the beans the day before.  It is simpler, requires less time and effort than having to do a ‘quick boil’ just prior to cooking them.  The best is to simply soak the beans overnight the day you come back from the market.  They can then be refrigerated a few days till you are ready to cook the soup.

20140207-190627.jpgIngredients:
1/2 green cabbage
2 cups dry white beans
3 small-medium size carrots
2 celery stalks with their leaves
1/2 medium-large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 oz Parmesan cheese
A few springs of fresh thyme
A few springs of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 cloves
5-6 Tbsps Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak the beans the day before.

20140207-190719.jpgUse 1/4 of the onion as the base to hold the cloves.  Make three small incisions in the onion, deep enough to hold the stem of the cloves.  Insert the cloves.  Alternatively, you can place the cloves and bay leaves in a small linen bag.  Either way, you will discard them after cooking.

20140207-190756.jpgPlace the beans in a large pot of salted water with the onion, cloves and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and lower to simmer for about 40-45 minutes until the beans are tender.

20140207-190844.jpgPeel the carrots.  Wash the celery branches and reserve the leaves.  Chop the carrots, the other 1/4 of the onion and celery finely.

20140207-190921.jpgHeat about 2 Tbsps of olive oil in a large French oven (cast iron pot).  Add the chopped vegetables, season with salt and simmer for a few minutes until they soften.

20140207-191005.jpgSlice and cut the cabbage in medium pieces.

20140207-191053.jpgAdd the cabbage to the vegetables and toss to coat evenly.  Continue cooking on low heat with the cover on for about 30-40 minutes until the cabbage is cooked, but not over-cooked.

20140207-191203.jpgMeanwhile, remove about 1/2 cup of beans from the pot and place them in a food processor fitted with a steel blade along with the celery leaves, the two garlic cloves (cut in half and center removed), a spoonful of rosemary and thyme.  Process till grossly mixed.

20140207-191356.jpgAdd the Parmesan cheese and about 1 1/2 Tbsps of olive oil and process again until you obtain a smooth paste.

20140207-191504.jpgPlace the thyme-celery pesto in a small bowl.  You may drizzle a bit of olive foil or lemon juice on top, or cover with a plastic film to preserve freshness.  Reserve.

20140207-191614.jpgDrain the beans and reserve the cooking broth.

20140207-191710.jpgHeat about 2 Tbsps of olive oil along with about half the pesto in a large pot.

20140207-191803.jpgAdd the white beans and mix thoroughly to coat them with the pesto.

20140207-191844.jpgAdd the cabbage-vegetable mixture and mix well.

20140207-191940.jpgAdd about 4-6 cups of the bean broth.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add about 2 Tbsps of thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes till serving.

This soup can be prepared a day ahead, refrigerated, and brought back to a simmer to serve.

20140207-192026.jpgServe with a bit of extra pesto on top to taste.  Enjoy!

Acorn Squash and Kale Salad with Lavender, Walnut Caramelized Onions

Enjoyed cold or warm, this salad combines autumn colors and fragrant flavors. It is easy to prepare the ingredients individually ahead of time and assemble them at the last minute for a Thanksgiving dinner or other get together. You can also add a few dried cranberries if you wish to make it a bit more festive.

20131122-053413.jpgIf you do not have lavender leaves, you can substitute for sage. A different flavor but one that also harmonizes well with the acorn squash.

20131122-053548.jpgIngredients:
1 1/2-1 3/4 lbs acorn squash
1/2 lb kale
1.5 lbs white onions
2 oz walnuts
6 Tbsp olive oil for vinaigrette + 2 Tbsp for caramelized onions and acorn squash
3 tsps balsamic vinegar for vinaigrette
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar for caramelized onions
1/8 oz lavender
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven 400F.

20131122-053804.jpgWash and cut the acorn squash in half. Remove the seeds with a large spoon.

20131122-053950.jpgBrush a little olive oil on the cut sides.

20131122-054133.jpgPlace the acorn squash cut side down in a baking pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes. The squash is cooked when it is slightly soft to the touch, but still somewhat firm.  You do not want to fully cook the squash as if you were making soup as the flesh will not hold well for the purpose of the salad and rather it would become pureed.

20131122-054323.jpgPeel the onions, cut in half and slice thinly.

20131122-054424.jpgHeat olive oil on medium high heat in a heavy cast iron pan and pour in the onions.  Reduce the heat to low. Mix well to coat them with the olive oil thoroughly. Simmer for about an hour, tossing periodically.

20131122-054531.jpgSeparate the stems from the lavender leaves.

20131122-070232.jpgChop the lavender leaves finely. Set aside.

20131122-131132.jpgChop the walnuts medium-coarse. Set aside.

20131122-131802.jpgRinse the kale carefully.  Gather the leaves together, with the stems on one end.  Cut off and discard the hard part of the stems and chop the leaves very finely.  Set aside.

20131122-132537.jpgMake a balsamic vinaigrette in a bowl large enough to contain the chopped kale. Whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper.

20131122-150822.jpgAdd the olive oil in a stream slowly and continue whisking vigorously to transform the mixture into a well homogenized sauce. Set aside.

20131122-203927.jpgWhen the acorn squash is cooked, turn each half upside down to release the steam and let cool for handling.

20131122-204023.jpgPlacing each half of the acorn squash cut side down onto a cutting board, cut through the skin using a serrated knife into thick slices.

20131122-204158.jpgPeel each slice carefully.  Set aside.

20131122-204314.jpgBy now, the onions should have mostly caramelized. Add the walnuts to the pan and keep on low heat for a few minutes longer.

20131122-204413.jpgAdd the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and turn off the heat.

20131122-204512.jpgPlace a few slices of acorn squash on each plate and brush a little bit of the vinaigrette on the top of each slice.

20131122-204601.jpgToss the sliced kale in the large bowl with the vinaigrette and display the kale around each acorn squash slice for presentation.

20131122-204943.jpgSprinkle with the caramelized onions and walnut mixture. Add the fresh lavender.  Enjoy!

Cabbage and Mango Salad

Light and easy. Raw cabbage paired with fresh mango and dates in a citrus vinaigrette. Crisp, refreshing and sweet.

20130913-162719.jpg Perfect as an appetizer or side salad. The simplicity of the ingredients makes it simple to create and healthy to enjoy.

20130913-162839.jpgIngredients:
1/2 cabbage
1 mango
8 pitted dates
1 lemon
A few springs of basil
4-5 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground salt and cracked pepper

20130913-163138.jpgSlice the cabbage thinly.

20130913-163214.jpgThen chop it roughly.

20130913-163300.jpgCut the mango horizontally by laying it flat on a board lengthwise. Slide the knife on either side of the middle pit.

20130913-163337.jpgThen slice each half.

20130913-163432.jpgAnd remove the skin on each piece.

20130913-163609.jpgCube the slices.

20130913-194901.jpgMeanwhile in a large bowl, squeeze the lemon juice, and add salt and pepper.

20130913-194938.jpgAdd the olive oil.

20130913-195033.jpgWhisk all ingredients together until completely homogenized.

20130913-195114.jpgSlice the dates into small pieces.

20130913-195156.jpgChop the basil by laying one leave on top of another and thinly slicing.

20130913-195245.jpgAdd the cabbage to the bowl containing the citrus vinaigrette.

20130913-195327.jpgAdd all other ingredients.

20130913-195405.jpgCarefully mix well. Enjoy!