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Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category


Posted by booksncooks on May 23, 2011

A month ago, I went to a week-long class for professional development. I was shocked when I arrived on the first day, and was told that they’d be serving us lunch. That’s completely unheard of for most of the professional development courses I am encouraged to attend. What was even more shocking… the food was actually good! No tasteless, unidentifiable entrees that are usually on cafeteria buffet lines (at least where I am), but rather carving stations for ham and turkey, a beautiful salad bar with fresh veggies and berries, pitchers of water flavored by the fresh fruit sitting on top… I couldn’t believe my luck, getting into such a class. I enjoyed great lunches all week, but the star, for me, was the fresh gazpacho I had on the first day.

Ever since, I’ve been craving gazpacho but a little hesitant to make it since I’ve never done so before and didn’t have a tried and true recipe on hand. I tried to satisfy my craving with Greek Panzanella, and then the following week with an improvised Greek salad (diced tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers with a little Italian dressing over them). However, I was still craving the freshness of the Gazpacho – a light treat for the warming weather. An added bonus – a great way to get in extra veggies.

Never having made Gazpacho, I was hesitant to change Ina’s recipe too much, as I’ve loved everything that I’ve tried of hers. However, I wanted to make this a little healthier by the olive oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil) in half. I also cut the amount of white wine vinegar by half. (Both changes are reflected below) Even with these minor adjustments, the soup was wonderful and super easy to make (what’s not easy about throwing everything into a blender and then refrigerating?).


Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (p. 79) and on Food Network

Yields 10 serving (1-1/2 c. each)


  • 8 plum tomatoes
  • 2 English cucumbers, seeded but not peeled
  • 3 red peppers
  • 2 red onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 46 oz. (6 c.) tomato juice
  • 1/4 c. white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Roughly cut the tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, and red onions into chunks, about 1-inch large. Add tomatoes to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped but not pureed. (I left mine a little chunkier, but continue to pulse if you prefer a smoother consistency.) Do the same with the cucumbers, red peppers, and red onions, processing each vegetable individually.

Combine chopped veggies with remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well and cover. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, to allow the flavors to blend, before serving.

Serve cold.

Optional Garnishes: Dollop of sour cream, homemade croutons, sprinking of Parmesan or feta cheese

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Soups, Vegetarian, Veggies | Leave a Comment »

Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin

Posted by booksncooks on December 15, 2010

As the weather turns colder (we’re had snow flurries several times this week), I’ve been craving lots of soup. My freezer is stocked with Mom’s Italian Wedding Soup and Turkey Noodle Soup for lunch, but at the recommendation of Barefoot Bloggers, I recently tried my hand at making an onion soup – Ina’s Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin. I love it! It was easy, and my favorite part, it was not overly salty. I can’t wait to make another batch after the new year, perhaps served with Ina’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich on the side.

A couple of comments about this recipe. First, the recipe was supposed to serve 4-6. I have no idea where that number came from – this recipe made a huge batch, probably more like 8-12 servings as a soup course, depending on the size of the bowl you use.  The soup is freezable, so take advantage of that! Secondly, this was my first time working with and eating fennel, a vegetable that tastes like licorice when raw but loses the bitterness when cooked. I found a great link on Bon Appetit with instructions on how to chop fennel. Finally, the broth was a little flavorless. I added a couple extra bay leaves at the start of cooking, and a good teaspoon of pepper and tablespoon of kosher salt after cooking.

Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?

Serves 8-10


  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 lbs. Spanish onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 lbs. fennel, tops and cores removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 c. dry sherry
  • 1/2 c. brandy
  • 1 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 8 c. low-sodium beef broth
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small sourdough or white French boule, crusts removed and sliced 1/2 in thick, toasted (I used a baguette)
  • 4-6 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated

In a large stock-pot over medium-high heat, melt butter and olive oil. Add onions and fennel and cook until golden-brown, 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.

When browned, add sherry and brandy. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up bits from bottom of the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for another 15  minutes.

Add broth, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. At this point, the broth was fairly flavorless. I added at least 1 tsp. pepper and 1 Tbs. kosher salt.

Preheat broiler. Pour soup into oven-safe serving bowls. Top with toasted bread and grated cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Soups | Leave a Comment »

Vegetarian Chili

Posted by booksncooks on January 27, 2010

I always seem to struggle at lunch time. I’m not a sandwich person and I’m pretty picky about my leftovers. If I was home for lunch, I’d have more options… turkey burgers, stir-fries, homemade pizza…. pretty easy stuff that just tastes better when you make them on the spot.

I decided to try my hand at chili this week, healthified since I’m trying to eat less junk and to get back in shape. This one was inspired by a friend of mine, with lots of veggies. Its one of those meals that I think I’d throw just about any veggie or bean I had on hand into, such as my mushrooms that were left over from quesadillas and taco night.

Vegetarian Chili

By Books n’ Cooks

Ingredients for the Chili Seasoning:

  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3/4 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried minced onion

Ingredients for the Chili:

  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red or green pepper, diced
  • 1 c. diced mushrooms
  • 1-12 oz package veggie protein crumbles (I used Smart Ground Mexican Style)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

In a medium saucepan, heat a teaspoon of olive oil. When hot, add onion and sauté until soft.

Add all other ingredients and simmer for 30+ minutes, stirring occasionally, until flavors have fused.

Serve with a cheddar or Mexican cheese blend.

Posted in Soups, Vegetarian, Veggies | Leave a Comment »

Sausage, Barley & Spinach Soup

Posted by booksncooks on November 25, 2009

It’s been cold and rainy and I’ve been craving soup. I love the Sausage soup at Bertucci’s, and had hoped to find something like it.

This recipe is heavily adapted from Everyday Food magazine. I used twice the amount of sausage than the original recipe, both because I like a hearty soup and because that’s what the package came in. To balance it out next time, I would add a couple more cups of chicken broth as well as another 1/2 c. of barley.  If you have a little bit of hot Italian sausage on hand, this soup would probably be very good with that as well

Sausage, Barley & Spinach Soup

Heavily adapted from: Everyday Food Magazine


  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 16 oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. dried barley
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 10 oz. fresh spinach (add as much as you’d like!)
  • kosher salt and ground pepper
  • other spices to taste (I added 1 tsp. of fennel seeds)


In a heavy stockpot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add sausage and brown.

Add onions and celery, cooking for a few minutes until soft.

Add barley, water, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add salt, pepper, and any other spices to taste.

Reduce to a simmer and partially cover pot (I left the lid open just a crack). Allow to simmer for about 45 minutes or until barley is tender.

Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Spinach will wilt quickly.

Enjoy with a warm piece of bread on a cold and rainy day.

Posted in Soups | Leave a Comment »

Potato Leek Soup

Posted by booksncooks on October 27, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

Adapted from recipes by Food Network’s Emeril Lagasse and Robert Irvine (Oct 2009)

Let me preface this with: I have never had potato leek soup before, so have no idea what it’s supposed to taste like. A good friend and I tried this one out over the weekend and really enjoyed the light flavor. If you’d like additional flavor, add sautéed pancetta (per Emeril’s suggestion), additional thyme (per Irvine’s recipe), or another herb.


  • 1½ c. onions, diced
  • 1¾ c. leeks, sliced thinly (we used 18 home-grown leeks, which are smaller than store-bought leeks); more for garnish, if desired
  • 4 c. diced potatoes; more for garnish, if desired
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2-3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1/8 c. whole milk
  • 1½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • Sprinkle of salt


Directions: Oct 2009 Potato Leek Soup 6

Sauté onions and leeks in olive oil until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add butter. When melted, add flour and stir. Whisk in chicken stock. Add wine, whole milk, and potatoes. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper, to taste. Simmer, and cook until potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Blend with an immersion mixer to desired consistency.

Garnish with lightly fried potatoes and/or leeks, as Emeril suggested, or homemade croutons.

Serve with fresh bread.

Yields 4-5 servings.

Posted in Emeril Lagasse, Soups | Leave a Comment »

Rich & Easy Clam Chowder

Posted by booksncooks on October 15, 2009

Rich & Easy Clam Chowder

Fix It & Forget It Cookbook

Makes 4-5 servings

I made this a couple months ago for some friends. I don’t actually eat clam chowder and have no idea what it tastes, so this was an experiment for me. The entire pot was gone, so I guess it went well!


3 – 10 ¾ oz cans cream of potato soup

2 – 10 ¾ oz cans of New England clam chowder

½ c. butter

1 small onion, diced

1 pint half-and-half

2 – 6 ½ oz. cans clams, chopped

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Original instructions say to cover and cook on low for 2-4 hours.I added 1-2 tsp of black pepper to the above for a bit more flavor.  I found that it was ready in closer to 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Posted in Seafood, Soups | Leave a Comment »