Caramelized Onion and Parmesan Cheese Soup with Parmesan Cheese Toasts

Caramelized Onion and Parmesan Cheese Soup with Parmesan Cheese Toasts

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The past 2 months have been so busy, suddenly it was Christmas and then it was over and I was cleaning up glitter. One more holiday before the bleak month of January. This would make a wonderful start to New Year’s Eve dinner. I served this as a soup course for 9 as part of Christmas Eve dinner. I made it the night before, then heated up and added the cheese and cream right before serving. It also reheated well the next day. This is adapted from a EMERIL LAGASSE recipe. I did not take a lot of photos as I was in full on dinner party mode but trust me this soup is worth making!

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INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onions
8 to 12 garlic cloves, smashed, plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 quarts Chicken Stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 cups 1-inch cubes crusty French or Italian bread
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Parmesan Cheese Toasts

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onions, the smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened and golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Add the bread cubes. Cook, whisking often, until the bread disintegrates and thickens the soup, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Purée the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor or blender. Return to the pot and whisk in the cream, cheese, and parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Ladle into bowls. Serve with the hot cheese toasts.

Parmesan Cheese Toasts

Twelve 1/4-inch-thick baguette slices (cut on the diagonal to make large slices)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/3 cup Mayonnaise (I used Black Truffle Aioli)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Spread the bread on a baking sheet. Mix the cheese, mayonnaise, parsley, garlic, and cayenne in a small bowl. Spread a heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture onto each slice of bread.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve hot.

Cucumber and Avocado Bisque

Cucumber and Avocado Bisque

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This is the perfect creamy, cold soup to serve on a hot day. Super simple to make with just a few ingredients. My husband hates cucumbers and he loved this. I topped with blue cheese and a drizzle of lemon balsamic vinegar. This came from a cookbook I just finished, “Big East Forkful” with recipes from Jim Leeson’s kitchen. This recipe may have originally come from Maude’s Courtyard – a favorite Nashville restaurant when I first arrived here in 1981. The original recipe calls for European seedless cucumbers but I used seedless Persian cucumbers and it tasted perfect.  I tweaked the recipe to my own tastes- added more avocado and I did not salt and leave the cucumbers sit.. The KEY is seedless cucumbers. I have included the original recipe card. This is a great cookbook filled with simple, country recipes.

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Ingredients

1 Medium seedless European (or Persian) cucumber, chopped
1 Medium ripe avocado, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 Cup Chicken stock
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
1/2 tsp Salt

Blend all ingredients and chill. Serve garnished with blue cheese and drizzle with lemon balsamic vinegar.

Creamy Artichoke Soup

Creamy Artichoke Soup

This taste-of-spring soup is made creamy with silken tofu instead of  heavy cream—I adapted this from a cooking light recipe. It was a bit bland so I added some lemon balsamic vinegar since I did not have any lemon juice on hand. I also want to try this with greek yogurt replacing the tofu.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 (12-oz.) pkg. frozen artichoke hearts
  • 1 (16-oz.) pkg. silken tofu, drained
  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon Juice or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add shallots and garlic to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add stock and artichokes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until artichokes are very tender, about 5 minutes.

Place artichoke mixture, tofu, and peas in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender, and place a clean towel over opening in lid. Process until smooth, about 45 seconds. Return mixture to saucepan; stir in milk lemon and salt, and pepper. Heat over medium until warmed through.

Shrimp Pho (faux) Noodle Soup

Shrimp Pho (faux) Noodle Soup

This is “Faux” Pho – a faster, easier weeknight version that doesn’t require hours in the kitchen! Perfect for cold and rainy nights. This turns out different every time I make it, depending on the ingredients.

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Ingredients

8 oz rice noodles
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns or 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons ginger root minced
1/2 tablespoon chili garlic paste
1 onion, sliced thin
8 cups seafood stock or chicken broth
2 strips lemon peel (use carrot peeler)
2 tablespoons soy sauce low sodium
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 cups bok choy stem thinly sliced & leaves roughly chopped
1 lb shrimp raw

It is not traditional but a can of light coconut milk tastes really good in this!

Optional Garnishes
thinly sliced onion, slices jalapeno, cilantro, lime wedges, sriracha sauce, bean sprouts, Thai basil

Instructions

  1. Prepare rice noodles according to package directions and set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot, warm sesame oil over medium heat for 30-60 seconds until it starts to shimmer. Add ginger and chili garlic paste then stir for 30 seconds to release flavors.
  3. Add onion and cook until tender and translucent
  4. Stir in broth, lemon peel, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, hoisin, cinnamon and spices. Bring mixture to a boil then add shrimp and bok choy.
  5. Continue to simmer until shrimp turns bright pink and bok choy wilts – about 3-4 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt/pepper/soy if necessary.
  6. Add noodles (and coconut milk if using) to soup and serve immediately.
  7. Serve with optional garnishes.
Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

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There is nothing like a good pot of soup at the end of a cold and rainy day. This is perfect. You can add sour cream, avocado or tortilla chips.

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INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 ⁄ 2 medium red pepper
5 small boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 cups frozen corn
1 ⁄ 2 cup dry white wine or 1⁄2 cup water
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce

DIRECTIONS

Sauté onion, garlic, pepper and red pepper with olive oil in a large pot until soft.
Add all the rest of the ingredients to the large pot and bring to a boil.
After about 15 minutes, remove the chicken breasts and shred.
Return shredded chicken to the pot and simmer an additional 45 minutes.
Serve, topped with avocado and shredded cheese.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Creamy Broccoli Soup

I am on a soup roll, obviously. My husband likes his vegetables disguised and this did a great job. Broccoli is not his favorite but he loved this. I used an immersion blender but it is smoother if you use a food processor. Just depends on what texture you want. The cheese is optional.

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Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme and parsley
8 cups chopped broccoli (stems and florets)
4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
½ cup whole or fat free milk (optional)
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until the butter melts. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add carrot and herbs; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds.

Stir in broccoli. Add broth; bring to a low boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook until very tender, about 15 minutes.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Stir in milk or half-and-half (if using), cheese (if using) and salt and pepper.

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

This is a wonderful, fairly guilt free soup with tons of flavor that gets the creamy taste by using an immersion blender or food processor. I have made this with and without the cheese and either way is great. This makes about 4 servings.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp unbleached or all purpose flour
  • 1 medium head cauliflower – chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
  • 4 cups fat free chicken broth (vegetarians can use vegetable broth)
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium saucepan, make a roux by melting the butter on low heat.
  2. Add the flour and stir about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth, onions and cauliflower and set heat to medium.
  4. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes.)
  5. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Add cheese if using. Season with salt and pepper.