Pasta Soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Mushrooms ~ ElephantEats.com

The other day got a little chilly out (FINALLY!!!) and on top of that, my office was freezing. All I could think about all day long was making soup for dinner.

I scrolled through my Pinterest soup board, which sadly doesn’t have very many options yet, and settled upon a pasta soup. I added some white beans to give it protein and mushrooms…just because I can’t NOT add mushrooms to a recipe :)

Pasta Soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Mushrooms ~ ElephantEats.com

I recommend with any pasta soup that you only add the pasta to the amount you know you’re going to eat. Otherwise, when you go to get your leftovers, the pasta will have absorbed pretty much all of the remaining liquid. You can just add water usually, but it’s easy enough to just bring your leftover soup to a boil and cook up some new pasta in it.

I didn’t heed my own advice, so the next day when we went to eat leftovers, I added water to my portion but for Nate’s I just heated it up as-is. It was more of a pasta dish that way, which he much prefers to soup. 

Pasta Soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Mushrooms ~ ElephantEats.com

I’m sorry for all you vegetarians (or non pork-eaters) out there, but the pancetta absolutely makes this soup. It adds so much flavor and makes it smell amazing. You could leave it out but it definitely will be a different soup altogether. 

I also highly advise you to use alphabet noodles :)

I recommend that the next day that there’s a chill in the air, you whip up a batch of this delicious soup! Serve it alongside some crusty buttered bread and you have yourself a perfect cold-weather dinner.

Pasta Soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Mushrooms ~ ElephantEats.com

Pasta soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Mushrooms
Serves 6
A chunky, broth-based soup perfect for a cold night!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 large leek, washed and finely chopped
  3. 9 oz. pancetta, diced
  4. 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  5. 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  6. 4 medium red-skinned potatoes, chopped into 1/2" pieces
  7. 2 quarts (8 cups) vegetable stock (or substitute chicken, beef, or duck stock)
  8. 10 oz. can diced tomatoes
  9. 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  10. 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  11. Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  12. 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) farfalline or another soup pasta (or even spaghetti, broken into bits)
  13. 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Sauté the leek and pancetta for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot, potato and mushroom and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the stock, tomatoes, and rosemary, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat, and simmer gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta and beans and continue to cook over low heat, uncovered, stirring every 2 minutes, until the pasta is al dente, about 7 minutes.
  5. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Immediately ladle the soup into bowls. Or, ladle into bowls and sprinkle parmesan on top.
Notes
  1. If you plan to eat this again the next day, only add noodles to the portion you are going to eat immediately. Otherwise, they will absorb all the liquid by the next day.
Adapted from Leite's Culinaria
Adapted from Leite's Culinaria
http://www.elephanteats.com/

Black Bean Soup ~ ElephantEats.com

It’s been nice having Nate home, because I can finally cook for more than one. Oh who am I kidding, I didn’t cook for one when Nate was gone, I just ate crap.

Oh, and Nate got a job!!!!! and in New York, thank goodness! So no moving to Cali for us. I’m so so happy and relieved, both that he found a job and that we get to stay on the East coast. While visiting California was nice, I’d really hate to live in LA where there are no seasons. I just love autumn and snow too much!

And now we get to house hunt…YAY!!!

Black Bean Soup ~ ElephantEats.com

Oh and also somehow Recipe.com got a hold of my Carrot Dill Sauce recipe and has led a ton of new people to my blog, so welcome to any new folks :)

Ok back to the recipe. So, I guess I got used to not doing much cooking while Nate was gone…because I haven’t been in the mood to cook too much lately even with him back. I’ve also been short on time.

It’s days like these that I need some recipes that have few ingredients, require little to no prep, and can be pulled together in 30 minutes or less.

Black Bean Soup ~ ElephantEats.com

Since spring hasn’t quite sprung here in New York yet, it’s nice to have a steaming bowl of soup to warm up when we get home. Cold rain is just the worst.

I’m not a fan of pureed soups. I’m also not a fan of thick soups. My favorites are of the broth based variety, or semi-pureed. This tastes like your traditional black bean soup but isn’t gloppy, which makes it a winner in my book.

Black Bean Soup ~ ElephantEats.com

Quick Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Slightly adapted from Epicurious

Print this recipe!

Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
8 oz sliced mushrooms
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
2 15-ounce cans black beans plus juices
1 14 1/2-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
2 14 1/2-ounce cans Hunts diced tomatoes with zesty mild green chiles
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 lime
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
salt to taste
Sour cream and avocado to garnish

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, sauteeing until soft. Add garlic and mushrooms; sauté until mushrooms soften, about 5-8 minutes.

Add beans+juices, broth, tomatoes with juices, cumin and hot pepper sauce. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors blend and soup thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Stir in cilantro, salt and lime juice to taste.

If you have an immersion blender, puree part of the soup, leaving it mostly chunky, or to the consistency you like. If you don’t have an immersion blender, working in 2 batches, purée 2 1/2 cups soup in blender until smooth. Mix purée back into soup in pot.

Ladle soup into bowls.

cauliflower soup

Sorry for my absence. I was sick with some stomach virus and then a cold, and then I was in California for the long weekend. Being sick totally sucked, especially since I lost my appetite. I had poor Nate ordering pizza for dinner while I slept.

California, on the other hand, was so much fun. I got to spend time with my family and one of my closest friends, all of whom live in L.A. The weather was totally gorgeous. We went on a beautiful hike (and I realized how out of shape I truly am), and just spent a lot of time relaxing and eating yummy food. Thank goodness my appetite fully returned.

IMG_7220sm

I came back on Monday, while Nate is staying there for a month or so doing some job-searching. Since Nate’s gone, this is my perfect opportunity to cook all the foods I love that Nate doesn’t…starting with cauliflower!

The inspiration for this soup is another one of our honeymoon meals. Everyone told us we had to get a meal from one of the many food trucks while we were in Portland. Nate is kind of a picky eater, despite his claims otherwise, so the only food truck that seemed ok was a soup truck called Savor Soup House. Plus, it was a cold, rainy day and i love soup. We decided to get a 3 soup sampler- we ended up going with a basic tomato soup, a chicken tortilla and I think black bean with ham. They were all pretty awesome.

cauliflower soup

It was hard to decide between all the yummy choices, but I knew the cauliflower soup on their menu wasn’t an option since Nate says he detests caulflower. I guess the truck owner heard my lament about the fact that I couldn’t order the cauliflower soup, and so he gave me a little taste. It was seriously amazing.

The soup was so simple but so flavorful. I asked what was in it, and he told me it was just cauliflower, vegetable broth, salt, pepper and a little olive oil. I knew immediately that I’d have to find a way to make it myself.

cauliflower soup

In addition, I’ve been dying to use one of our wedding presents- an immersion blender! I made sure to keep my fingers away from the blade after this horrific article Nate sent me last week. Although, those people sound like idiots.

The soup came out great, but I honestly can’t remember if it was as good as the one in Portland. I wasn’t in the mood for plain cauliflower soup, so I added a drizzle of buffalo sauce and a sprinkle of blue cheese to take it up a notch. Seriously yummy.

cauliflower soup

Simple Cauliflower Soup

Print this recipe!

Serves 5-7

1 head cauliflower
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Cut end and core out of cauliflower. Cut into chunks and put in large pot. Add the stock, cover and bring to a boil.

Simmer covered for 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

Using an immersion blender, puree cauliflower and broth until smooth.* Alternatively, add soup and cauliflower in batches to a blender. Make sure not to fill blender more than half full because hot liquids expand.

Add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of pepper. (or for something different, do what I did and drizzle with buffalo sauce and sprinkle with blue cheese- so good!)

*Warning- photo overload in this post!

Squash Chickpea Raisin Stew with Couscous

Well, our honeymoon was a blast! Due to hurricane Sandy, we actually got an extra day since our original flight was cancelled. I don’t think I actually told you guys where we were headed, but we spent 10 days in the Pacific Northwest. My first time, but not Nate’s.

We spent our first 2 days in Seattle, staying downtown at the Edgewater. It was a really cute room.

Seattle Edgewater

We managed to eat as much as we walked…stopping for some donuts in Pike’s Market plus a cookie later in the day. We had an amazing meal at The Pink Door for dinner one night, which I highly recommend for anyone visiting the area. We also took a tour of Theo Chocolate factory and ate a ton of samples- including a freshly roasted coffee bean.

Theo chocolates

But the highlight of the tour was the fact that Nate had to wear a facial hair net. There actually was another bearded guy on the tour so he wasn’t the only one.

beard net

We then headed NE of Seattle to a small town called Woodinville that’s known for its wineries. My parents’ friend’s sister owns a Winery there called Columbia Winery, and she VERY generously pulled a few strings and we got a free upgrade to the biggest, nicest suite we’d both every seen at Willows Lodge…complete with fireplace, 4 poster bed, huge bathtub…and some chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us!

She also sent over a bottle of champage and wine from her winery plus a coupon for a free tasting. We took her up on it the next morning. Unfortunately the well-known restaurant at Willows Lodge, the Barking Frog, was all booked due to restaurant week, so we headed into town to a place they recommended called Purple. They also had restaurant week so we lucked out and had huge portions of delicious food for a reasonable price!

There are some big leaves way over in Washington…

dino leaf

Unfortunately we only spent one night at Willows Lodge. Before we left though, we did happen to stumble upon the home of their truffle sniffing pig…what a cutie!

truffle sniffing pig

The next day we headed to a little resort NE of Mt Rainier called Suncadia. We thought we’d be close enough to Mt Rainier to hike there, but unfortunately the closest entrance was closed for the season, so instead we enjoyed the hikes near the resort.

Cooper River Trailhead

When we got to our room there, there was a bottle of champagne and chocolates waiting for us…and by mistake they brought us another bottle and more chocolates a few minutes after we got into our room!

Suncadia lodge

Then they gave us more special treatment with MORE champagne and chocolate covered strawberries when we got to dinner- we ate at one of their in-house restaurants since the town nearby was extremely small. On the last eve there, the chef prepared a special 5 course tasting menu. To say we left stuffed is an understatement.

outdoor fire pit Suncadia

Next it was on to Hood River. We stayed in an awesome little cabin at a place called Carson Ridge B&B on the Washington side of the river. We had our own porch :)

Carson Ridge Cabins

They had a tasty homemade breakfast daily. Aside from the rain every day until 5pm-ish, it was really nice. We hiked to a couple waterfalls- the very hidden Panther Creek Falls and the larger Tamanawa Falls- both were breathtaking. The hike to Tamanawa was very rainy and unfortunately my raincoat was sub-par, completely absorbing all the water that hit it. I wasn’t a happy camper.

Tamanawa Falls

We also managed to walk over a mile in the wrong direction due to poor signage. We arrived at the falls cold and wet (at least I was), but it was definitely worth it!

 Tamanawa Falls2

Finally, we headed over to Portland by way of Cannon Beach.

Cannon beach

Portland was the cutest little city. Our first stop was to Patagonia to buy me a new raincoat :) A very smart purchase given the weather for the rest of the trip. The fall foliage in Portland was gorgeous, and despite the rain we enjoyed ourselves. Again, we found some amazing little restaurants: Tasty ‘N Sons and The Original Diner. I highly recommend both. We made stops at Pittock mansion, The Rose Test Gardens, Voodoo Donuts…

(I have way more photos but wasn’t sure how many I could get away with posting since I haven’t given you a recipe in weeks!)

By the time we made it back to NY, I think I probably gained back the weight I lost in that last frantic week before the wedding…which is totally fine by me. But Nate and I were both sick of carbs and rich food and were craving a healthy, veggie-ful meal.

Squash Chickpea Raisin Stew with Couscous

This one hit the spot. It was warm and comforting, perfect for these chilly days we’ve been having in NY. And I changed the original recipe to include even more vegetables! A perfect end to a perfect couple of weeks!

Squash Chickpea Raisin Stew with Couscous

P.S. Check out my beautiful new everyday dishes in the photos!

Chickpea, Squash and Veggie Stew with Raisins and Couscous

Adapted from Serious Eats

Print this recipe!

Serves 4-6

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into fine half rings
1- 14oz can chopped tomatoes
1- 15.5 oz can chickpeas,  rinsed and drained
1 red or orange pepper, in 1 inch pieces
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 heaped cups peeled, seeded pumpkin or butternut squash cut into 1-inch dice
3 tablespoons raisins
3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp salt
5 oz. bagged kale (or kale with stems removed and torn in pieces)
2 cups couscous
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Combine the spices in a small cup and set aside.

Put the oil in a large saucepan and set over medium-high heat. When it is hot, put in the cinnamon stick. Stir for a few seconds and then add the onion. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes, or until the onion is medium brown and soft (about 10 min).

Stir in the cup of mixed spices; almost right away, add the tomatoes. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened.

Add the chickpeas, pumpkin or squash, peppers, mushrooms, raisins, stock, and salt and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 13 to 15 minutes, until the pumpkin is just tender when pierced with the point of a knife. Add the kale and stir in, simmering until wilted.

While the vegetables simmer, make the couscous. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. When it is about to boil, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium flame and toast the couscous in it for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the boiling water into the pot of couscous, add a teaspoon of salt, and stir once. Immediately cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and cook very gently for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit somewhere warm, still covered, for 15 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro. Fluff the couscous thoroughly with a fork. Put a mound of couscous on each plate. Make a well in the center and use a slotted spoon to fill it with solids from the stew. Dampen the couscous generously with the liquids.

While going through my grandpa’s recipe collection, I came across a recipe for a sort of Mulligatawny. At least, that’s what the recipe called it although I’m fairly certain it’s not very authentic.

In case you don’t know, a Mulligatawny is a a curry-flavoured soup of Anglo-Indian origin (as per Wikipedia).

There are many variations on the recipe for mulligatawny. In the West, the soup typically has a yellow colour and contains chicken or other meat, and it is often thickened with rice.

This recipe said to add both chicken and rice, but since I knew it was something Nate wouldn’t want to eat anyway, due to the spices, I eliminated both and kept it light for me.

This is definitely a shortcut way to make this soup, but it was way tastier than I was expecting! The apple adds a nice sweetness and the hot sauce plus spices give it a real kick and make it full of flavor.

While this soup isn’t hearty enough to be a full meal, it would make a delicious first course. It’s always nice to change it up a bit in the kitchen, so if you’re in the mood for something different, give this a try! I garnished mine with a dallop of sour cream and it was perfect :)

Quick Mulligatawny Soup

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Serves 6-8

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 package (10 oz) frozen mixed veggies, thawed
2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 quart water
1 can (10.5 oz) condensed low fat cream of chicken soup (or chicken with rice soup, if you want rice)
1 cup chopped apple
optional- 1 cup diced cooked chicken

Melt butter over med-high heat in a large soup pot.

Add onion and mixed veggies, saute just until onion is tender.

Stir in flour, curry powder, salt, hot pepper sauce and cloves. Add water, soup, apple (and chicken if using).

Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 min or until slightly thickened. Serve with additional pepper sauce if desired.