Tag Archives: spinach

Kielbasa and White Bean Soup

Looking back to 2011, I can’t say I would necessarily do anything differently. Still, a new year brings the opportunity to make changes or improvements and start new routines. I’ve never been one to make drastic moves when it comes to resolutions, especially since mine never stick – you won’t ever hear me declare I’m starting a new fad diet. In fact, my plan for 2012 is to do the exact opposite.

Over the holidays I came to the realization that my life revolves around food; what I’m planning to make for dinner, where I’m spending my lunch break or which restaurant I choose for Sunday brunch, for example, are all decisions that I treat with great importance. Simply put, creating and eating great food makes me happy as a clam. In the New Year, my goal is to make the most of every meal whether it’s making an elaborate dinner for friends or eating my favorite dishes at some of Philadelphia’s best restaurants. Everything I make will be Clean Plate-worthy, and anything I eat this year will be worthwhile.

2012’s first dish in the East Berks kitchen was a filling kielbasa stew, thickened with white beans and laced with tomatoes and spinach. Every spoonful was purely perfect. Read More…

Roast Pork

Weeks ago, pork tenderloin was on sale at the Port Richmond Thrift Way for $1.99 a pound. Inspired by saving money and the prospect of receiving another ticket towards a free turkey from the supermarket, we came home with a ten-pound hunk of pork. Cutting the meat into four parts had me considerably close to vegetarianism, but after wrapping the pieces of meat and storing them in our freezer my mind began to race at the endless possibilities for warm, succulent, pork tenderloin recipes, four times over.

My taste for pork seems to wander to recipes that incorporate fruit or a sweet, sticky sauce but Joe was interested in transforming one of the slabs into a roast pork sandwich reminiscent of the local favorite from DiNic’s. From the get-go, I accepted the fact that any attempt to replicate their timeless, perfect recipe would be nowhere near close to the original, so I did my best to create one that would produce a similar tender, juicy meat to envelop in a soft roll and top with spinach, roasted red peppers and provolone. Sounds delicious, right? What’s even better is I didn’t even have to lift a finger!  Read More…

Tortellini Soup

Last week, summer poked its steamy little head back into our lives with a few days of heat. Thankfully, they were nothing compared to the high temperatures and humidity that we experienced over the sweaty summer of 2010. Still, it was enough to make the handful of comfortably crisp days from the week prior seem like a tease for those of us yearning for autumn.

When the seasons change, we tend to enact our yearly rituals to adapt. For example, when winter is looming we search for the box of heavy clothes, warm coats and snow boots hiding in the basement or attic, and cross our fingers for a blizzard-less season. As spring approaches we find an available weekend to clean the house, top to bottom, and open the windows for the first time in months. Several months later, some of us begin gearing up for swimsuit season with a strict diet that soon becomes a distant memory with the first taste of a hotdog from the grill. When autumn is around the corner, we pack away our beach clothes and exchange them for wool, denim and flannel. Just as I store my wardrobe from last season to make room for something more practical, I collect my summer recipes and place them at the bottom of the pile until next year.

When Mother Nature graced us with a few cooler days a few weeks ago, I took it as an opportunity to welcome fall foods back into my life. My brain is officially in harvest season, and the last week of warm weather couldn’t shake my craving for stews, ciders and warm casseroles. This recipe for Tortellini Soup was a compromise for the weather; the sweet, light taste of onions, tomatoes and spinach combined with a warm, meat-filled tortellini, bathed in broth.  Read More…

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

My favorite food blog of all time, without a doubt, hands down, is Smitten Kitchen, created by Deb Perelman. Her collection of recipes is admirable, and it’s my “go to” when I want to impress whoever it is I’m cooking for (even if it’s just myself). In fact, my list of “Recipes to Conquer” consists mostly of Smitten Kitchen discoveries. Her arsenal is neatly organized and easy to navigate, and her site even includes a fun “Surprise Me” feature if you want to take a gamble on whatever pops up. Each of Deb’s recipes include the most insanely salivating, step-by-step photographs to match. Truthfully, I’ve tortured myself during “that time of the month” with pictures of her Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake.

Another plus is Deb updates Smitten Kitchen about twice a week, so you never have to wait long for the latest addition to her collection. Best of all, her writing style is descriptive and hilarious, and you could imagine the way she writes is probably the way she talks. Deb’s stories and reviews leave you feeling as if you talked to an old friend, so much so that my good friend Allison and I talk about her as if she’s one of the girls.

Allison “introduced” me to Deb about a year and a half ago, and many of our conversations revolve around Smitten Kitchen updates. For example, Allison tried the Tomato and Sausage Risotto (which has become one of my staples) last weekend and raved about it. In turn, she recommended to me the Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup, which I’ve been eyeing for so long. Once I reviewed the recipe again and realized I had many of the ingredients, or substitutions, I figured it was meant to be.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
Bon Appetit, October 2007

Makes 8 servings

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 10- to 11-ounce fully cooked smoked Portuguese linguica sausage or chorizo sausage,
cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (Spanish chorizo can be substituted)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about 2 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise,
cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound white-skinned potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook until brown,
stirring often, about 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain.
Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
Add all potatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes.
Add broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until
potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot.
Add browned sausage to soup. Stir in spinach and simmer just until wilted, about 5 minutes.
Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.

The “substitute” ingredients I had available were kielbasa (un-smoked) and collard greens, which took the place of the sausage and spinach. Additionally, I cubed the sweet potatoes because I found them to be a lot harder than the white potatoes, which helped even out their cooking time.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup is perfect for a quick and easy dinner without sacrificing flavor, and it’s a wonderful twist on a typical “meat and potatoes” meal. Initially, I wondered why the recipe called for two types of potatoes, and the end result proved to me that the sweet potatoes needed to mellow out with the white potatoes. Additionally, the two together give the soup a thick, stew-like texture. I have no doubt that this would have been just as perfect with spinach, however I was pleased that the collard greens held up well in the hot broth and maintained a little crunch.

My only recommendation is to stick with chorizo, like the recipe calls for. Though I enjoy kielbasa, I never before tried the un-smoked variety and did not realize it had a rather pungent taste – much different from what I’m used to: grilled, on a perfect roll with some hot mustard. Thankfully, cooking the meat separately and adding it to the broth mixture at the end avoided the strong taste from being absorbed into the liquid too much, and it was easy to eat around.

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