Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Moroccan Carrot Soup February 1, 2011

Filed under: lunch,soup — freerangenurse @ 4:38 pm

Moroccan Carrot Soup

This morning I woke up to the sound of rain and wind pounding my house.  The cold front that was promised has definitely moved in!  The temperature had dropped from a very spring-like 78 yesterday to a wintery (for central Texas) 35 and falling.  Tonight we are supposed to be in the teens!  I had a feeling this pseudo spring was going to be short lived.  I don’t know about you, but when Jack Frost is nipping at my nose, all I want is a warm bowl of comfort called soup.  In a happy little bit of serendipity, I came across this recipe for carrot soup and decided to try it.  I ran the recipe through the old points program and it is VERY points friendly!  You can eat half the recipe for a mere 7 points!!!  That would be about 2 cups of soup.  Best of all, it has such a wonderful sweet, smokey, subtly spicy flavor.  I’m wishing I had made a double batch!  The addition of a little plain non-fat yogurt really ups the richness factor, too and it is included in the points value!  I hope you’ll like it as much as I do!

Moroccan Carrot Soup

adapted from Epicurious
Moroccan Carrot Soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used veggie)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt, stirred to loosen (you could also use greek yogurt for a little extra punch)
  • kosher salt and white pepper to taste (you could use black, but I used white, so it wouldn’t show)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until browned.  Add onion; sauté 2 minutes.  Stir in carrots and sauté another minute or two.  Add broth; bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and let simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20-25 minutes.

In a small skillet, heat cumin seeds over medium-high heat until fragrant and toasted, about 4 minutes; cool.  Finely grind in a spice mill or a molcajete (see photo).

Remove the soup from heat and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.  You could also use a blender or a Ninja (I love my Ninja).  Whisk in honey, lemon juice, and allspice.  Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into soup bowl and spoon a dollop of yogurt over (about 1/8 cup per cup of soup).  Sprinkle generously with cumin.  Feel warm and fuzzy inside!!
Moroccan Carrot Soup


Chicken Tortilla Soup February 8, 2010

Filed under: chicken,dinner,lunch,soup — freerangenurse @ 8:31 am
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Okay folks, you asked for it and I delivered.  As my facebook friends know, I asked what Mexican food recipes you wanted to learn how to make and you answered….boy, did you answer!  Unfortunately, few of you answered with the same suggestion.  I decided to go with one I know like the back of my hand (although, truth be told, I don’t really spend much time getting to know the back of my hand).  Tortilla soup is one of Sydney’s favorite meals.  She asks for it all the time.  She doesn’t care if it’s 100 degrees outside, she wants her tortilla soup.   I usually don’t want soup until it gets cold outside.  Thankfully for Sydney, we have had a lot of cold days this winter. (more…)


Italian Wedding Soup December 5, 2009

Filed under: chicken,lunch,soup — freerangenurse @ 2:22 pm

Well, as some of you may know, Eileen recently proposed (see comment section of the last post), and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.  The recipe today is for wedding soup.  I first saw this recipe featured on The Barefoot Contessa.  Ina was making a special anniversary dinner for her husband and while soup would not be on my top ten list of things I want to eat on my anniversary, it looked delicious and on a cold fall/winter day, it seemed perfect.

The problem is I had several perfect recipes to choose from, for example abondigas soup (mexican meatball soup), meatball and tomato soup from Rao’s Recipes From the Neighborhood cookbook, and Ina’s wedding soup recipe with chicken meatballs.  Are you sensing a theme?  I decided to go with Ina because, well, she’s never steered me wrong (well there was that one time I tried her butternut squash/apple soup which ended up tasting like baby food).

I made a couple of changes, but stayed pretty true to the original recipe.  I would like to make the chicken meatballs again in some other meal, maybe a tomato based soup?  I’ll let you know.

Italian Wedding Soup

(adapted slightly from Ina Garten)

For the meatballs:

  • 3/4 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed (I used one mild and one hot)
  • 2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs (I used store bought – don’t tell)
  • 4-5 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten (I used a large egg)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 up minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup small pasta (I use ditali)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 12 ounces (1 head) escarole

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork.  With a teaspoon (I use an extra-small ice cream scoop), drop 1 to 1/4 inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  (You should have about 40 meatballs.  They don’t have to be perfectly round.)  Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned.  Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6-8 minutes, until the pasta is tender.  Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the fresh escarole and cook for 1 minute until just wilted.  Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.


Broccoli Cheese Soup November 30, 2009

Filed under: lunch,soup — freerangenurse @ 5:15 pm

Can I say that I *love* cheese?  I mean I have a deep, deep love for almost all things with the word cheese in the title.  Two exceptions I can think of in a pinch are head cheese (which I am pretty sure has nothing to do with dairy cheese) and cottage cheese.  It should come as no surprise, then, that I love broccoli cheese soup.  I recently decided to try my hand at it.  I decided if I was going to find a good, from scratch recipe, a good place to start would be because their sources are foodie magazines such as Gourmet and Bon Apetit.  The recipe I found was for cream of broccoli soup with cheddar, but I decided to use it anyway and just make a few changes.  It turned out pretty good.  Give it a try if you are like me and have a love affair with cheese.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

(adapted from Bon Appétit, February 2001)

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2 pounds fresh (or frozen) broccoli, stems and florets separated and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 6 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 8 ounces grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Add broccoli stems, onion; sauté until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic, shallots and tarragon; sauté 1 minute.  Add stock; bring to boil.  Simmer uncovered until broccoli is tenter, about 15 minutes.  Stir in cream.

Mix remaining 3 tablespoons butter with flour in a small bowl to make paste.  Whisk paste into soup.  Add florets.  Simmer until soup thickens and florets are tender, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.  Add shredded cheese and stir until melted.  Ladle into soup bowl, garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired and enjoy!

After thoughts:

The broccoli florets could probably be added sooner, as I found them to be a little too much like raw broccoli.  The soup was better the second and third days because the broccoli softened up by then.  In hindsight, I think frozen broccoli would have been a better texture, in my opinion.


Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup November 10, 2009

Filed under: lunch,soup — freerangenurse @ 11:35 pm

So here’s the first recipe.  I just ate two bowls of it, myself.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

I grew up hating tomato soup.  I think it was because all I ever had was the canned, condensed variety.  I always thought it was odd that I didn’t like it because I have always loved tomatoes.  I used to eat tomatoes out of my grandmother’s garden as if they were apples.  I will say that there is nothing better than a fresh, off the vine, sun ripened tomato!  Delicious!

roasted peppers

Anyway, one day I was in Nordstrom and decided to have lunch there with my sister and my daughter.  My daughter ordered the grilled cheese sandwich and it came with a side of tomato basil soup.  I decided to give it a try and what do you know, I DO love tomato soup, after all.  I started looking for recipes that mimicked the soup I stole from my daughter and once I had that down, I began improvising with the recipe.  Eventually I decided to incorporate red pepper into the soup and that led me to this recipe.  It is an amalgamation of many different recipes, but largely improvised by me.  It is a little spicy, so you can certainly dial back the kick by lessening the amount of red pepper flakes you put in, or discarding the seeds of the jalapeño.  That is the great thing about cooking.  There is always room to tailor a recipe to your exact taste.

1 large sweet onion, chopped
several cloves of garlic, minced or chopped (I use 7-10)
1 small shallot, minced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle on peppers
4-5 red bell peppers
1 jalapeño pepper
2 28oz cans San Marzano tomatoes, hand crush and remove any hard parts
1 quart chicken stock
1 tsp red pepper flakes
15-20 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips (chiffonade)
parmesan cheese (optional)

Cut red peppers in half (from stem down), remove seeds and stem. Cut jalapeño in the same way, but keep seeds intact. Place both peppers and jalapeño on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, place under the broiler and broil until skins blacken and bubble, turn and roast the undersides as well. remove from oven, cover and set aside. In a large stock pot, saute garlic and shallot in the olive oil until softened and just beginning to brown. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, pepper flakes and halved jalapeño, let simmer. Peel skins off red peppers and hand tear into pieces, add to soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about an hour, add basil and simmer 15 minutes more. Puree with an immersion blender until it is at the desired consistency. Ladle into a bowl and add freshly crumbled or sliced parmesan cheese. Enjoy.