Posts Tagged 'soup'

Mulligatawny Soup

It rained yesterday – the kind of straight down, all day soaking rain under grey cloudy skies that chills you to the bone even if you are in the house. Cooking soup is a wonderful activity for cold, rainy days.  There is something comforting about sitting at the kitchen table with the gentle bubbling sounds of soup simmering on the stove, and the smells of cooking onions and spices filling the warm kitchen air.  And of course, a bowl of hot soup on a blustery day feeds the soul as well as the stomach.  I’ve already made a big pot of bean soup, freezing most of it for future meals.  I decided to try Mulligatawny soup, which I have eaten, but never made.

Mulligatawny is a mildly curry-flavored soup of Anglo-Indian origin. Translated literally from Tamil, “Mulligatawny” means “pepper water”. Despite the name, however, pepper itself is not a vital ingredient. I never actually had anything like Mulligatawny soup in India. I expect it is actually a British interpretation of some Indian dish, made milder for the Western palate.  Mulligatawny soup found its way into American cookery well before the Civil War. It appeared in the original Fannie Farmer cookbook of 1896.

There are many variations of the recipe for Mulligatawny soup.  Sometimes, the soup has a turmeric-like yellow color and is rather thick and creamy. That is the way I have experienced it in restaurants. I decided to modify the rather simple recipe in my Fannie Farmer Cookbook, which makes what I would call a thick, mildly curried, chicken vegetable soup.

Mulligatawny Soup

2 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 green pepper, deveined and diced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup (about 1 pound) raw chicken breast, diced
1/3 cup flour
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
5 cups non-fat chicken broth
2 sprigs parley, chopped (I used dried parsley)
1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes, lightly drained
2 cups cooked rice
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, green pepper, apple, and chicken.  Cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix flour with curry powder and nutmeg, add to the pot, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broth, parsley, and tomatoes.  Partially cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Stir once in a while to make sure it doesn’t stick.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon some cooked rice into the bowl when serving the soup. (I did this the first time, and then mixed the remaining rice into the soup for later servings.)  This makes 6 servings of soup at about 5 grams of fat/serving.


Variation: There are many recipes for Mulligatawny Soup that have more ingredients and elaborate preparation. I chose the Fannie Farmer version because her recipes tend to be simple and doable. Most recipes seem to add cubed potatoes, which I think would be an admirable addition. I think you could easily add a few other vegetables as well (peas come to mind, although I’m not terribly fond of them). Other recipes add turmeric for a pronounced yellow color. I ate a bowl of the soup with a dollop of yogurt in it, which was quite good. This soup is not particularly spicy-hot, so those who want heat can add more black pepper, or a splash or two of hot sauce.


Matzo Balls

Lest you think that Passover cooking was over after my big at-home feast, don’t be silly.  I volunteered, again, to make matzo balls to put in the soup for the community seder for our congregation.  That’s about 210 matzo balls.  So I spent Saturday morning with two giant pots boiling away, instead of sleeping in.


My mother and her sisters used to argue about whose matzo balls were the most feathery and light (there are some people who like them firm and chewy – a shondana as mother would have said. Aren’t you ashamed to have made such leaden matzo balls!)  So I learned the secret of fluffy matzo balls – seltzer.  But I wanted matzo balls that were not only light, as in fluffy, but light as in low fat.  So a few years ago, I began tinkering with the family recipe.  First I switched the melted chicken fat to canola oil. This also made them vegetarian, which was a handy improvement.  Then I reduced the amount of oil to 1 tablespoon.  Next, I replaced 3 of the eggs with egg substitute.   Now the matzo balls are light nutritionally as well as in the sense my mother demanded.

One of the reasons to lighten up the matzo balls was that, although the traditional way of serving them is in soup, I like leftover matzo balls for breakfast, cut in half and heated in a frying pan coated with cooking spray. Drenched with maple syrup, they’re so good.  And they’re not too shabby if you cut them in half and sprinkle them with some garlic power and/or other seasonings before you reheat them.  They make a good side dish.  They are, after all, a form of dumplings.

I realize this is too late for Passover this year, but save the recipe for next year.  Or just make them for the heck of it – they’re good any time of year.  Why restrict them to a holiday.

Matzo Balls

1Tablespoon canola oil
1 large egg
¾ cup egg substitute
1 cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup seltzer

Mix oil, egg, egg substitute and salt together in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended.  Add the matzo meal and beat with the mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently fold in the seltzer until everything is well incorporated. Be sure your seltzer is reasonably fresh and has some bubble to it.  Flat seltzer makes for lead matzo balls.  The batter will foam up as you mix it.  Cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Bring a large pot of water to a full boil. Reduce to a medium boil. Form matzo batter into balls a bit smaller than golf balls. I do this by scooping up a bit of the batter with the tips of my fingers and rolling it in my palms so there won’t be raggedy edges.  This often requires occasional hand washing to keep your hands from getting too gooey.  But homemade matzo balls don’t need to be perfectly shaped, so don’t over roll them.  Your matzo balls may look a bit small, but here is where the fluffy happens. Drop the matzo balls in boiling water as you make them. They will sink to the bottom of the pot and in a few moments they will rise to the surface of the water, doubled in size. Fluffy! Cover the pot and cook for 40 minutes.  Remove the matzo balls from the pot with a slotted spoon.   This makes about 16 matzo balls with one gram of fat each.

See, they’re a little rough around the edges, but they’re fluffy.


I almost always make a double recipe so I have leftovers – Even when I’m making a large quantity, I never make more than a double recipe.  I’m not sure the seltzer would work well in a bigger batch and, besides, 32 is about the maximum my big pot can hold at any one time.  So I just make repeated batches.

If you are going to store them for a day or so, drain them on the counter and let them cool:

Matzo Ball Production Zone


They actually keep well for a day or two in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.  I also have been told that you can freeze them, but I’ve never tried it.  The traditional way to serve matzo balls in chicken soup (or vegetarian broth).  To serve, bring your soup to a boil, reduce the heat, and put the matzo balls into the soup to reheat for about 20 minutes.  Serve in bowls with one or two matzo balls in each bowl of soup.


Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Soup

This is soup for two people. It is quite garlicky, so if there are two of you, both of you should eat it.  It is not a soup I would take to the office to reheat, lest my co-workers keel over either from the smell of reheating or my breath. That being said, it’s actually a pretty good and warming soup

I confess that when I first tasted it, I didn’t really like it.  But I added some ground sea salt, and that perked up the flavor.  The original recipe came from Cooking Light. If I make it again, I might put in more pepper and vinegar.  I ate this for dinner with a side of sliced tomatoes and a couple of slices of olive bread and a Laughing Cow cheese wedge.

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Soup

1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
Cooking spray
10 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 teaspoon  coriander seeds
½ teaspoon  cumin seeds
2 teaspoons  olive oil
1 cup  chopped onion
¼ teaspoon  black pepper (or to taste
1½  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
¼ cup  water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon  balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
Salt to taste
2  Tablespoons  plain non-fat yogurt or sour cream

Preheat oven to 450°.

Place eggplant, cut sides down, in a baking pan coated with cooking spray; add garlic. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until eggplant is tender; cool. Scrape pulp from eggplant skins; discard skins. Squeeze cloves to extract garlic pulp; discard skins.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add coriander, cumin, onion, and pepper; cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add water and vegetable broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cool 5 minutes.

Combine eggplant pulp, garlic pulp, and broth mixture in a blender, and process until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in balsamic vinegar and salt. Ladle soup into  2 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt or sour cream.  Makes 2 servings with about 6 grams of fat/serving.


Buffalo Bone Soup

I have been having some odd experiences.  On at least 4 occasions, people I have known for a long time, but perhaps not seen for a while have stared at me with a puzzled expression, not seeming to recognize me.  One person came up to me after a committee meeting and told me that she didn’t know who I was until I said my name in the introductions.  Now this seems strange to me, because when I look in the mirror, particularly when I am in the buff, I feel like I look exactly like I always have – pale, pink and flabby.  My face looks the same, although I have more neck, and I am still a short, somewhat plump redhead.  I know empirically that I must be different – the scale says so and my pants are too big – but unrecognizable?  It’s disquieting.

This recipe is really a variation on my mother’s soup with flanken.  Flanken are very fatty little bits of short ribs which are too fatty to use in most dishes.  I haven’t seen buffalo bones, except for T-bone and other steaks.  But this week there were buffalo ribs in the meat case along with the usual cuts.  The butcher and I agreed that these might not make good barbecue, so I decided on soup.  Really, you need bones to make a rich meat soup.

This is an imprecise recipe, because you can add a bit of whatever you want. My mother always used this soup mix as the base of her soup.  This makes a thick, porridge-like soup.


Buffalo Bone Soup

2 pounds of buffalo bones
7 cups of water
soup mix
¼ cup barley
½ of a large onion, chopped
other things to add if you like
1 cup of dried shitake mushroom (small pieces)
a carrot, chopped
a stalk of celery, chopped
chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim as much fat as you can off the meat – really, if they are ribs you are not going to be able to get most of the fat off.  Place in a large pot and cover with 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove meat from pot and set aside, pour liquid into a large container and chill overnight.  Remove from refrigerator. Great gobs of fat will have solidified on the surface of the soup. Remove them all, using a strainer if necessary.  Measure the soup liquid into a pot and add water or broth until you again have 7 cups of liquid. Add contents of the soup mix plus ¼ cup of barley, and shitake mushrooms if you are using them.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add onion and other vegetables if you are using them and cook for another ½ hour.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I had intended to chop up the rib meat and add it to the soup, but even after long cooking they were too fatty. This makes about 5 servings of soup, at about 4 grams of fat/serving.  This soup went right into the freezer to take for lunches.


Mushroom Bisque

While reorganizing all the containers of frozen goodies in my freezer, I came across two boxes labeled “Mushroom Bisque.”  I remember that as being one of my favorite soups, warm and comforting.  It almost always makes me want to curl up for a nap. (Hmmm, maybe it’s the sherry in the soup.) So when I came in from some frigid outdoor chores, I microwaved a bowl, and immediately after eating curled up under the down comforter for a nap.  That being said, it is also an elegant dish to serve for company.  Then I remembered that I had photographed the soup, garnished with mushroom slices, when I first made it for a small dinner party – and before it became a delightful frozen leftover.

I can’t remember where the original recipe for the soup came from.  I know it was called “Mushroom-Cauliflower Soup”, which did not make it sound very appealing.  This was one of the soups I made because of aging mushrooms and cauliflower that I needed to use.  And was I ever surprised!  Don’t let the old name put you off, though.  You don’t even know the cauliflower is in there – it just tastes like a cream soup.

Mushroom Bisque

1 pound mushrooms (mixed or just plain old button mushrooms), tough stems removed
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
Cooking Spray
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cans reduced fat beef broth or 6 cups mushroom broth if you want to make it vegetarian (this batch was vegetarian)
1 cup dry sherry
2 cups chopped cauliflower
Mushroom slices for garnish (optional)

Coarsely chop mushroom.  Spray a large pan with cooking spray and melt butter over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and onion and stirring often until mushrooms begin to brown, 12-15 minutes.  Add flour and mix well. Remove from heat and stir in beef (or mushroom) broth, sherry, and 1 cup of water.  Add cauliflower. Return to high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender when pierced – about 5 minutes.

Put 1/3 of the soup in a blender and puree, taking the center lid off and putting a kitchen towel over the hole to prevent splashing.  Repeat until all the soup is pureed.  Return to the pan and stir over medium heat until steaming.  Makes 6 soul-warming servings at 2 grams of fat/serving.


Bean Soup

Well, if it’s going to snow, it must be time for soup – bean soup to be precise.  It’s hearty, filling, tasty, and has very little fat.  It doesn’t make the snow stop but it makes it slightly more bearable.  I use the recipe from HamBeens 15 Bean Soup, but there are bean mixes sold in bulk at the grocery, or just mix your own bean blend, with 20 ounces of dried pinto, lima, garbanzo, split pea, red, etc., beans to your liking.

Bean Soup

20 ounces of dried beans
1 pound of very lean ham, cut into 1 inch dice
1 cup of onion, coarsely chopped
1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tablespoon of chili powder
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
seasoning packet from soup mix or ½ teaspoon of smoke seasoning (or to taste)

Put the beans in a large pot or bowl, cover with 2 quarts of water, and allow to soak  at least 8 hours or overnight.  Drain beans. Add 2 quarts of water and ham (you can also use low fat turkey smoked sausage, but it is about 1 gram more of fat/serving).  I recommend a high quality ham slice, such as Kirkland, which has very little fat.


Bring beans and ham to a boil and simmer uncovered for 2 ½  hours, stirring occasionally.  I find I sometimes have to add a half cup of water periodically to keep the soup from getting too thick.  After simmering, add onion, tomatoes, chili powder, lemon and garlic. Simmer for another 30 minutes.  Add contents of seasoning packer or smoke seasoning and cook for 2 more minutes.  This makes 10 servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.  I find that the soup gets really thick, and I have to add a little water when I reheat it.


PRINCIPLE: One of the reasons I made soup is to stock my freezer.  One of the basic principles I have followed to lose weight is that it is very important to have low fat food available on a moment’s notice, especially when I am ready to grab at whatever is convenient.  For example, when I get home from work and am tired, I would be perfectly happy to make dinner of cheese and crackers.  Now even if they are low fat crackers and reduced fat cheese, this is not very healthy – especially not frequently.  So my freezer looks like this:


The soup got labeled with the name of the contents, date it was made (so it doesn’t linger in the freezer forever), and the fat grams/serving.


Then the soup was packaged for freezing – after I ate a nice hot bowl.


Crock Pot Potato Soup

Winter has hit with a vengeance.  Single digit and below zero temperatures. 23 inches of snow in one day.  The snow outside of my garage door was above my shoulders!  Here is my truck after the first snow.  Yes, there is a vehicle under there.  It took me two days to shovel out – and then it started snowing again.  It’s snowing even now.


It is definitely soup weather.  There’s nothing like coming in from shoveling snow, with freezing fingers and a frozen nose, and heating up a bowl of homemade soup you made in anticipation of the worst.  This potato soup is a combination of several recipes.  I made it with most of the potatoes chopped coarsely, but I recommend cutting half of them into 1-2 inch chunks to give the soup more chunky texture.

Crock Pot Potato Soup

3 pounds of potatoes, peeled, half coarsely chopped in the food processor and half cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 leeks (optional), cleaned, white parts and a little green, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions (or one large), coarsely chopped
3 14-ounce cans of non-fat low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup chopped chives (optional)
1 can non-fat evaporated milk
½ cup fat free half and half (optional, but it makes it creamier)

Put all ingredients except the evaporated milk and fat free half and half into the crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, on high for 3-4 hours.  You may want to check it an hour or so before it is supposed to be done, so it doesn’t burn. One half hour before the soup is done, stir in the evaporated milk and fat free half and half.  You can adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper) to your taste after the soup is done.  Since I made this primarily to eat for lunches, I tend to add salt and other flavor enhancements when I reheat individual bowls of soup. This makes 10 servings at about 2.2 grams/fat/serving.


Variations As you can see, I served the soup with a dollop of non-fat sour cream (why is a lump of sour cream always called a dollop?).  I also added a sliced up low fat hot dog one day.  I expect ham would also be good.  Just remember to add the fat grams for these add-ons to your counting.

Hint: Leeks require some special handling.  Soil is mounded up around them while they grow, and you must make certain that all the sand and grit is out of them before you add them to a recipe.  Some people cut them in half lengthwise and soak them, rinsing them several times.  I cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and then into 3 inch pieces.  I put the pieces in a colander and rinse them under running water, stirring with my hand to make sure that the pieces are well-rinsed.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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