Carrot and Harissa Soup

I’m always on the hunt for easy soup recipes, especially ones that are hearty and can last through the week as a side or main when in a rush for weekday dinner. I stumbled across this one recently and was reminded how much I love harissa. Adding a dollop to this soup really kicked up the flavor and an otherwise basic soup ended up bursting with flavor!



  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, finely sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 (2-inch) knob of ginger, peeled and finely chopped (or if you’re like me and lazy you can buy pre-chopped ginger in a little jar that ends up saving so much time!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 quarts low-sodium homemade or store bought vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken stock)
  • kosher salt
  • lemon juice and lemon zest


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Add leeks, onions, garlic, and ginger, and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add cumin, coriander, and harissa paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots and stir to coat in spice mixture.
  4. Add broth, season with a pinch of salt, bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are completely tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Let cool for a few moments, then stir in parsley, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt.
  6. Using an immersion blender, blend it all together, serve with parsley and a little harissa (careful, it’s spicy!)

From Epicurious Carrot and Ginger Harissa Soup

Parsley Soup

Parsley soup

As I mentioned in my previous post, I made Parsley Soup as part of our Passover Shabbat dinner. Obviously, this can be made anytime, but the lovely bright green color and fresh vegetal taste just say “spring” to me. The fact that no part of the parsley is wasted is a plus for those who care about creating as little waste as possible. The first step is admittedly a bit tedious if you are making enough for a crowd, but if you have someone to help you and you get busy chatting, the effort passes quickly. It’s something that is also fun to do with children since no knives are needed – nor is perfection. Please use real butter and milk for this dish. It simply won’t taste the same with anything else. Since I was serving fish as my main course, there was no problem in meeting the laws of Kashrut. If you have an immersion blender (EVERYONE should have an immersion blender – greatest gift ever!) preparing the rest of the soup is a snap.

I found this soup on the internet years ago and did not take down the attribution so my apologies to the original author. I did make several changes in the proportions, so here is my version.

Parsley Soup for a Crowd

Yield: About 20 cups


6 large bunches of flat-leaf parsley

2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) of unsalted butter

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

7 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into large cubes

8 cups of chicken stock (Whether you use stock with salt will depend on how much additional salt you use.)

Kosher salt and white pepper to taste

1 cup of whole milk


  1. Separate the leaves from the stems. Place the leaves in a large colander and pour boiling water over them and then run cold water over them. This will blanch the leaves, while retaining the lovely bright green color. Gently squeeze any water out of the leaves and wrap them in a kitchen towel and squeeze out any excess water.
  2. Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and parsley stems and cook uncovered over low heat until the stems have begun to soften – about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes, stock, salt and pepper and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes more. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until it is simply warm. Once the soup has cooled some, add the parsley leaves and with an immersion blender, puree the soup. This can also be done in batches in a food processor, but aside from creating more clean-up, it’s much more time consuming. Get an immersion blender! You will thank me later.
  4. Once the soup has been pureed, add the milk and adjust your seasoning. Reheat the soup gently over a low heat when you are ready to serve. If it is not Passover, you can garnish this with some croutons. Otherwise, a sprig of parsley is all you need. The soup can be served chilled as well, but I prefer it hot.

Kalguksu (or Korean chicken noodle soup)

Growing up, this was one of the best meals to have when feeling sick and under the weather. As I got older, it finally occurred to me that this was basically just chicken noodle soup, but how the Koreans made it.


I almost never make my own noodles for this, though I was feeling inspired last weekend and finally gave it a shot.


In general though, if I can’t find a Korean grocery store or if I’m just feeling lazy I’ll just use udon or ramen noodles.  Kal-guk-su literally translates into “knife cut noodles” so to get the authentic flavor of these, it really is worth either making the noodles or finding them at a Korean grocery store.

For the soup

  • 2 lb of chicken
  • 1/2 cup of “gook-gang-jang” or soup soy sauce (if you can’t find it, I’ve heard you can substitute with fish sauce found in Asian aisles at grocery stores)
  • 1 zucchini, diced finely in matchstick pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • scallions (1 bunch)
  • sesame seeds
  • Korean red chili pepper flakes (go-chu-garu) optional for garnish

For the noodles

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

To make the soup:

  1. Bring a 5 qt pot of water (where the pot is about 70% full of water) to boil.  Add the chicken and cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
  2. Skim the surface of the broth, and take out the chicken and move to a cutting board.
  3. Shred the chicken using 2 forks and put into a medium sized glass mixing bowl.  Add the soy sauce, scallions, sesame seed oil, and sesame seeds and mix thoroughly.  Feel free to add some more soy sauce if it’s not enough to coat all the shredded chicken.
  4. Add the soup soy sauce and the zucchini to the broth on the stove and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

To make the noodles:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and vegetable oil, and slowly add the cold water mixing to make a dough as you go.
  2. Mix and knead the dough until it hold shape in a ball.  Knead for another 5 minutes or so and then let rest for about 30 minutes in a covered bowl.
  3. After the 30 minutes, knead the dough again for about 5 minutes, and then roll it out like a large pancake until it is rather thin.  Add flour to the top of this “dough pancake,” flip over and add flour to the other side as well.  Then fold the pancake a few times over.  Cut the folded panckae in about 1/8″ increments to make the noodles.

Putting it all together

  1. Once the broth is back up to a boil, add the noodles and cook for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Put some noodles in a bowl, add some liquid broth, and then garnish with a clump of the marinated chicken. Sprinkle some kochugaru if you have it, and enjoy!

(I personally love to add a lot of kimchi to this hearty dish – plus I think it helps with clearing out the sinuses!)


Chickpea and Spinach Soup (Potaje de Garbanzos y Espinacas)

img_2820For my father’s 60th birthday back in 1973, I made this incredible Turkish Moussaka that was cooked in a Charlotte mold, with a lamb stew stuffing and served with a tomato coulis. It was unmolded for serving and was both stunning and delicious and I swore NEVER to make it again because it was soooooooo much work! For some reason I was thinking about that dish on a nasty day when I was stuck inside and decided to search for the recipe. I thought that I recalled it coming from one of the 12 years of bound Gourmet Magazines that I had inherited from my mother. I started looking through 1973 and did not find the recipe for Turkish Moussaka; however, I did find an article with recipes for soups from Spain. Several looked delicious and I plan on working my way through them, but this Chickpea and Spinach soup from Catalonia also sounded easy so I decided to start with this one. Catalonian cuisine borrows a little from the French across the Pyrenees, Valencia to the south, Aragon and the Mediterranean. I mostly followed the recipe but I did make a few tweaks of my own. I will garnish this with the traditional hard-boiled egg and parsley and will serve it with a good toasted farm bread and an aged Manchego cheese. There is so much spinach in this dish that you don’t even really need a salad, but having one never goes amiss. Of course, you should also serve this with one of the many hearty Spanish red wines that are both affordable and delicious.

Potaje de Garbanzos y Espinacas adapted slightly from Gourmet Magazine, February 1973, p.28-29

Yield: 8 to 12 servings, depending on if this is a first course or dinner


1 pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water to cover (Do not use canned beans here. There really is a difference in the final texture of the soup.) IMG_2813.JPG

1 quart of stock (chicken or vegetable)

2 quarts of water

2 dried or fresh bay leaves

2 small dried red peppers (I used Arbol. Choose a pepper according to your tolerance and preference for heat. Ours is minimal.) img_2815

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons EVOO

2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped

28 ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)

1 pound of fresh spinach, well washed and coarsely chopped unless you are using Baby Spinach

For the Garnish

1 hard-boiled egg per person if serving as dinner, chopped or sliced

2 to 3 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

EVOO to drizzle


  1. Drain the chickpeas. In a large stockpot, bring the stock, water, hot peppers, thyme, salt and drained chickpeas to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
  2. In a skillet, saute the chopped onion in the EVOO until it is soft. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon or by hand. Cook the mixture for 3 more minutes.
  3. Add the tomato mixture to the chickpea mixture and simmer the soup for 30 minutes more until the chickpeas are tender but not mushy.
  4. The soup can be made ahead up to this point. When you are ready to serve the soup, return the mixture to a boil and plunge in the spinach. Cook the soup, covered, for 6 to 8 minutes, just until the spinach is cooked. Adjust your salt. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and the hard-boiled egg. img_2819


Stone Soup


The week of Thanksgiving was filled with family and friends and entertaining, but everyone has returned to their respective cities and homes and it is just me and my husband. Everyone in my husband’s office is sick and he was not immune, so I of course made soup. We went through a pot of pea soup when I could feel that I was getting sick. Since there is no one to make me soup and I didn’t feel up to grocery shopping, I turned to my pantry to see what I could come up with. I told my husband that the result would either be wonderful or truly awful and until we sat down to eat, I honestly wasn’t sure which way it would go. Thankfully, it turned out to be wonderful.  This soup won’t win any beauty contests, but it will win in the taste category. The result is not necessarily a recipe to follow since you may have different beans on hand or may have parsnips in your veg drawer. It should be viewed as more of a guideline and inspiration. So while I have laryngitis and a cold and really, really don’t feel much like shopping or cooking, I know that I have a wonderful pot of stone soup to turn to.

Lisa’s Stone Soup

Yield: 8 portions


1 Tablespoon EVOO

1 medium onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 stalks of celery, sliced

1 smoked turkey leg (I had it in my freezer)

2 cups of dried lima beans (I ALWAYS have dried beans from Rancho Gordo in my pantry)

1 cup of dried Ayocote Morado beans

15 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup of farro (or other grain)

8 cups of beef broth (you could use chicken or vegetable if that is what you have)

4 cups of water

15 ounce can of pumpkin purée

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon each of ground ginger, ground cloves and allspice

1 bay leaf


  1. Rinse the dried beans.
  2. In a 6 quart stock pot or Dutch oven, saute the onions, carrots and celery in the EVOO until translucent and just beginning to brown.
  3. Add the dried beans, turkey leg, broth and water. Bring to a boil and skim the soup (that means removing the scum that rises to the top). Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours.
  4. After 2 hours, add the farro, cannellini beans, pumpkin puree and seasonings. Cook on a low light for another hour, stirring occasionally. I removed the lid about 30 minutes in, brought the soup to a gentle boil and cooked off a bit of the liquid. I didn’t want this to taste like pumpkin pie, so the seasonings are only enough to give the broth that certain somethin’ somethin’ without knowing exactly what it is. The pumpkin adds richness and smooths out the broth without actually tasting specifically of pumpkin.
  5. Adjust the seasonings and enjoy. This soup only gets better with time and slow cooking. It is filled with umami. It is comfort food at its best.  I actually kept it on a low light for a couple of hours until we were ready for dinner. I had some leftover corn muffins from Thanksgiving in the freezer which I thawed and served with the soup.




Chicken Tortilla Soup

img_2423The weather this week has mostly been incredible – sunny, breezy and highs in the low 60s. It’s November – and this is Chicago! My husband and I took a 9 mile walk along the lakefront yesterday and ran into the New Zealand All Blacks and the Irish rugby team fans heading for a championship game at Soldier Field. Ireland won. Rugby. Who knew?

Today is another gorgeous day and I don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking, but I do want something to top off an incredible week. After a stunning win by the Cubs and an all-out citywide party something bland just wasn’t going to cut it. I decided to make a chicken tortilla soup. I had made one last week for the first time and while it showed promise, it just was lacking. So what follows is my version.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


2 Tablespoons neutral vegetable oil like a Canola oil

2 small or 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into a small dice

2 Tablespoons minced garlic

2 large jalapenos (about 2 Tablespoons) , finely chopped

6 cups of chicken stock

14.5 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes

26.5 ounce (or two 14.5 ounce cans) black beans, drained and rinsed well

15.5 ounce can corn kernels, preferably fire roasted or about 2 cups (you can use frozen or fresh corn if you prefer)

1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 medium size breasts)

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 teaspoons chili powder (I like the one from Rancho Gordo)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon oregano leaves

Juice of 2 fresh limes

1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

1 cup Pepper Jack cheese, shredded

2 flour tortillas (I used whole wheat) cut into thin strips and fried in 2 Tablespoons of oil (I used Grapeseed oil because of its neutral taste and high burning point)

Lime wedges for garnish

Jalapeno slices from a jar or can (optional)



  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium stockpot. Add the onions and cook until softened and just beginning to brown at the edges.
  2. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook for another minute
  3. Add the tomatoes, spices and salt and stir through. Then add the beans and the stock.
  4. Bring to a boil and add the chicken. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 25 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, carefully remove it from the pot. Shred it using 2 forks to pull the meat apart. This is much easier to do if the meat is hot. Once the chicken cools, it becomes more firm and shredding is more difficult.
  5. Add the lime juice and corn to the pot and add back the chicken. The soup can be prepared ahead up to this point. When ready to serve, heat everything all the way through. Garnish with the avocado, cilantro, cheese, tortilla strips and lime wedges. If you want a bit more heat, you can add some sliced jalapenos from a jar or can. img_2422

Hot and Sour Soup

img_2398This is the time of year when the question isn’t “should we have soup” but which soup should we have? I realized that I hadn’t made hot and sour soup in quite some time and since it has always been a favorite of ours, I was determined to remedy that asap. This recipe is from a very early Joyce Chen cookbook. Joyce Chen had a restaurant in Cambridge, MA back in the ’70s and she was an early example of introducing Americans to Chinese food that went beyond egg foo yung and chicken chow mein. There are a couple of ingredients that you would have to get that would not be in your standard non-Asian pantry, but they won’t break the bank and because they are dried, they will last quite some time. They really make or break the dish, in my opinion, so they are worth seeking out if you want hot and sour soup. Everything is available in a good Asian market or online. This can be thrown together pretty quickly and frankly, I have never had one from a restaurant that I have enjoyed more. The seasonings I have given below are for a well-balanced hot and sour soup. I don’t like food that set my hair on fire when I eat them. If you want it hotter, you can increase the amount of white pepper and you can use a “hot” sesame oil; however, you need to keep the balance of white pepper and cider vinegar pretty much the same so you don’t end up with a “hot” but not sour soup. Alot of this can be prepped ahead of time and the actual cooking takes only minutes.

Hot and Sour Soup by Joyce Chen and tweaked by me

Yield: 4 to 6 servings with other dishes


1/4 cup pork loin, thinly sliced and cut into strips

1 teaspoon dry sherry

3 Tablespoons corn starch

4 cups salted chicken stock (I used a lower sodium version)

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 Tablespoon lower sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup dried wood ears (black fungus)

1/4 cup dried golden needles (lily buds)

1/2 cup firm tofu, shredded

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon white ground pepper

Toasted sesame oil (hot or regular) for serving

6 scallions, minced for serving


  1. Mix the shredded pork with the sherry and 1 teaspoon of the corn starch and set aside.
  2. Snap off any woody pieces from the wood ears and hard stems from the golden needles – better quality wood ears and golden needles won’t have this problem generally. Soak the wood ears and golden needles in separate bowls of boiling water, covered for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.  Rinse, drain and squeeze out excess water. Cut golden needles in half and cut the wood ears into smaller pieces. (This can be done ahead, drained and kept aside.)
  3. Mix the remaining corn starch (2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) with 1/2 cup of cold water. If this sits, the corn starch will harden and you will need to whisk it well just when you are ready to use it.
  4. Bring to a boil the chicken broth , salt and soy sauce. Add in the pork mixture and boil for 1 minute.
  5. Add the drained wood ears and golden needles and boil for another minute. Then add the tofu. As soon as the soup returns to a boil, whisk in the well-stirred corn starch mixture until the soup thickens, which happens pretty quickly. It will continue to thicken so as soon as it starts, whisk in the beaten egg and remove from the heat. The egg will form egg shreds, which is what you want. Stir in the white pepper and vinegar. Garnish with the scallions and sesame oil. Serve hot. This is best eaten fresh.