Cooking with Shannon: Soups and Salads
When It's Cold Outside, and you just want a little comfort food, there's nothing better than eating a bowl of hot home-made soup. This January I taught a dozen women how to make perfect home-made chicken stock and use it in three different soups. I rarely use beef stock, and when I do, I buy it from a local restaurant that sells it in their market, or I cheat and use the boxed variety from the market. Really, chicken broth is so versatile, and can often be used as the base for soups that have beef in them.
I Also Taught How To Make Easy Blender Soups using fresh vegetables, aromatics, and extra seasonings. The blender is a wonderful tool for whizzing up smooth soups full of nutrients, flavor and body. I've included a page of tips for creating your own blender soup, and also my recipe for a simple Potato Leek Soup with Cheddar Cheese.
Black Beans Are One Of My Favorite Foods, and I make them a lot for side dishes, additions to soup and rice, and particularly in my black bean soup recipe with chorizo and bacon. My Black Bean Soup recipe calls for dried beans, but you can substitute with 4 cans of black beans. Be sure to include the juice that comes in the can, as it adds more flavor to the soup. I use Mexican chorizo that is made at a local butcher shop. The packaged chorizo from the grocer is often too greasy. If you reduce the amount of chicken stock in the recipe, it can be a perfect side dish to pair with rice or grilled meat.
Chicken And Dumplings Can Be Tricky to make because the dumplings are often doughy or they crumble into the broth. After reading J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's The Food Lab, I learned that reducing the fat in the dumpling dough, and adding an egg solves all your problems, and produces perfect light and fluffy dumplings. His recipe is really delicious and worth the effort.
We Made Three Salads That Made Great Accompaniments With Our Soups, but they can certainly be made for any occasion year-round. My Kale Salad With Sesame Dressing is a favorite, even for those who think they don't like kale. The secret is to chop it finely. If you let it sit for a while in the dressing, it will relax a bit, and not be quite so tough.
The Wedge Salad Requires A Bit Of Time And Effort, but the results are wonderful! It was the favorite of the three salads we made in class, and is perfect to serve at a dinner party where you want to wow your guests. The apple cider-soaked pecans make a really nice addition to the already complex flavors in this salad.
Lastly, We Made Roasted Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad, which can be served warm or cold. I teach that it is a "clean the fridge" salad because you can really add anything you want. Just roast the vegetables, toast some nuts, and make a simple vinaigrette to blend into orzo pasta. The feta cheese gives it a salty addition, but you can use goat cheese or parmesan, if you like.