Tag Archives: soup


I have a hidden talent that you may not know about me.

If a football game is on TV, I can actually APPEAR to be looking at the screen, but can be THINKING about something totally different in my head; completely detached from what is happening in the game. Some  refer to this as the “football glaze over effect”, but I like to think of it as a gift; “productive thought management”, a little like meditation, where I get to plan and organize my thoughts. I use this time for things like figuring out what my menus for upcoming cooking classes will be, where I want to go on vacation next, and contemplating whether I should join a CSA or just continue to shop the farmer’s market and pick out what I like.

Occasionally, my husband will shout ” Oh my god, did you see that hit?!”

At this point, I snap out of it briefly to reply “~No~”

“But you were looking right at the TV” (my husband will say).

Like I said, it’s a gift.

Though I may not be a football fan, I am all about camaraderie. Whether its sitting on the couch with my husband while he cheers on his Broncos, or with a room full of super bowl party friends, I will be there, and I will help you eat the game day  food!

When we lived in San Francisco, we would get together with friends and make a big pot of Cioppino for super bowl Sunday. This Italian seafood soup gets its amazing flavor by adding the freshest seafood you can find. I am using a combination of halibut, clams, mussels, and crab in this recipe, but remember, you have a lot of flexibility with this tomato based soup. The origin of this dish is taking the “catch of the day” and adding it to your simmering broth. So if grouper is fresh that day, go for it. If you want to add squid, great.

Cioppino is gratifying any day of the week, but especially enjoyable on super bowl Sunday. There are so many chips, dips, and other temptations, it’s kind of nice to finish with a bowl of soup, brimming with seafood. You have to save room for dessert, right? Check out these cute cupcake ideas from Jeanne Benedict !

So how about you…are you ready for some football?

What will you be eating?


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 onion, chopped

3 large shallots, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice

2 cups red wine

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup clam juice

1 bay leaf

1 pound lump crab meat

1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded

1 pound clams, scrubbed clean, grit removed

1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/2 pounds firm-fleshed fish such as halibut or grouper, cut into 2-inch pieces

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, chicken broth, clam juice, and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

Add the  mussels and clams to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the  mussels and clams  begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, crab,  and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any  mussels that do not open).

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

6-8 servings


Chase Away the Winter Blahs –Throw a sushi dinner party!

Last week, the weather was cold, dreary, and rainy. La Fuji Mama’s timing for her series ” Miso Soup Week” couldn’t have been better. I followed her daily posts, as they progressed from the origin of Miso Soup, to the making of homemade Dashi. By the time the third day in her series arrived, I was already craving Miso Soup. Like Pavlov’s dog, when I saw her photo of the finished soup, steaming with miso goodness, I knew I would be making it right away. And so, a sushi dinner party it was this past weekend, including of course, La Fuji Mama’s Miso Soup.  What better way to chase away the winter blahs!

As La Fuji Mama said, making your own restaurant style miso soup couldn’t be easier. I followed her recipe, using as combination of shiro miso and aka miso as she recommended. The results: this is indeed a fantastic combination of flavors, and if you are looking for a “go-to” recipe for miso soup, this is it.

Miso Soup

Click here for the recipe

Whenever we go out for sushi with a group of friends, the evening is always on the lively side. The  upbeat atmosphere of the restaurant, with cool lighting and edgy music set the tone. Myself, living in a not- so -large city, an evening like this can make you feel like you are in a big city place…at least for the night.

You can capture this same sort of feel at home by turning down the lights,  setting your table with candles and chopsticks, cuing up your i-pod, and yes…making your own sushi. Enjoy an evening at home, as though you were in a trendy sushi house at half the price of going out. Here’s how to do it.

There are a lot of resources out there for help on the subject of sushi making, and all will tell you fantastic sushi begins with the art of making rice.

Here’s a video that takes you step by step through the process, ensuring you will be off on the right foot:

Once you have your sushi rice prepared, you are ready to start making sushi! For my dinner party, I made two different sushi rolls, opting for varieties that are made with cooked seafood, in case someone wasn’t too up on eating raw fish.  Dreaming of warmer weather and tropical breezes, I made Lobster Hawaiian Rolls. The lobster tails were on sale at $5.99 each, making the treat even sweeter.

Here are a few photos showing the process of making them.

Prepare the lobster by  removing from the meat from the shell. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss with 2 tablespoons of spicy sauce, spread out on a foil lined baking sheet, and broil, set on middle rack of oven, for 4 minutes. Remove and set lobster aside to cool.

Lobster Hawaiian Rolls

I love the way tropical fruits and seafood work together, and here the mango and lobster are a match made in heaven.

2 sheets of nori

2 cups cooked sushi rice

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (I like a blend of white and black)

2 (6-ounce) lobster tails, removed from shells, cut into 1/2-inch-thick pieces

1 ripe mango, pitted, peeled, sliced into thin strips

1/2 of 1 English cucumber, quartered, cored, and julienned

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced into thin strips


Soy sauce

Wrap a bamboo sushi mat with plastic wrap. Place nori sheet on prepared sushi mat. Spread  sushi rice evenly over nori. Sprinkle rice with sesame seeds. Carefully invert, so that the nori is now facing up. Place lobster (see cooking directions above)down the center of the nori. Add cucumber, mango, and avocado. Starting at one long end, and using the bamboo mat as an aid, roll up tightly, giving a few gentle squeezes as you go. Cut the sushi roll into 8 rolls. Repeat process with remaining ingredients.

Makes 16 pieces

I also made Volcano Rolls, following the recipe/procedure you will find on Sushivids, a fun website written by Raymond, a sushi chef, offering his talents to all of us. Check him out~lots of great tips. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I am going to share his video with you here…get ready to drool!


Sunchoke Soup with Crispy Pancetta Crumbles, Lemon Zest, and Parsley


Sunchokes…what are they exactly?

They look a lot like ginger root, and nothing like an artichoke, though they are commonly called Jerusalem artichokes. And guess what? They are not from Jerusalem. They do have a delicate flavor that is slightly sweet and nut-like, similar to artichokes and water chestnuts, so maybe that’s how the name developed.

Sunchokes are actually a tuber of a perennial flower in the aster family. When the  plant matures, it grows flowers similar to small yellow sunflowers. Before the plant has blossomed,  the sunchokes are harvested by digging up the brown, bulbous root growths.

As a member of the tuber family, sunchokes may be eaten with or without the skin, just like a potato. But unlike a potato, sunchokes do not contain starch, making them an ideal substitute for diabetics. In addition to having a pleasing nut-like flavor, sunchokes are nutritious; they are one of the few vegetables that supply pantothenic acid, one of the B vitamins, They also contain vitamins A, B1, B2 and C, as well as calcium, phosphorus and iron.

I have to say, for me the nutritional value is an added bonus. What I am after in the sunchoke is it’s amazing flavor. With a crisp, crunch texture, they are terrific shaved into salads, or tossed in olive oil and roasted the oven. They are also a nice addition to soups.

In this case, I wanted the sunchoke to take center stage, so  I simmered them and pureed them into a smooth, velvety winter soup. A bit of crispy pancetta crumbles, lemon zest, and parsley seal the deal.


This bright and flavorful soup is a lovely beginning in a dinner party menu, or on it’s own for lunch.


Sunchoke Soup with Crispy Pancetta,  Lemon Zest, and Parsley

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided

4 thin slices pancetta, chopped

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups chicken broth

1 pound sunchokes, chopped

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium high heat. Add chopped pancetta, and cook, stirring, until browned and beginning to crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer pancetta to papaer towel lined plate to drain.

Heat remaining olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots to pan with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened. Add broth and sunchokes. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook 20 minutes. Add cream, stirring to combine, and simmer a few additional minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with crispy pancetta crumbles and lemon zest and parsley.

4 servings