Broccoli & Lemon Soup

Whether or not you correlate your resolutions with the start of a new calendar year, I think we all seek to make better choices regardless of the month. Even if it’s simply “I ate 7 rations of bacon for breakfast, better have a healthy lunch and dinner.” The balanced life–as those in the health and wellness community so often dub it.

Well, as much as I am part of the opposition when it comes to hip catch phrases–No, that meal you made on your instagram story is not LIT or ON POINT–the phrase balance is one I am completely behind. I frequently call in light pinch hitters for meals, in order to balance a day filled with or following indulgence. Soups made from fresh vegetables and pure stocks are perfect for this call of duty and are light on effort (most of the time, mind you.) This means that baked potato soup and New England clam chowder sadly don’t count as light, clean pinch hitters, just because they are soups–not that you didn’t realize this but I feel the need to clarify.

This beautifully green and bright soup takes 15 minutes, up and down, and keeps beautifully in the fridge for at least 3 days. I wouldn’t mind a block of cheddar cheese mixed into it but please refrain yourself. It is, after all, about balance.

Ingredients Serves 4
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, sliced
2 cups raw broccoli florets
1 tablespoon roasted garlic (about 3 cloves) or 1 teaspoon raw garlic (1 small clove)
1 1/2 cups baby spinach
4 cups vegetable stock (32 ounce box)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest, for garnish

Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
2. Add the shallot and garlic to the pan and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
4. Add the broccoli and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook broccoli until just tender, about 2-3 minutes. (If desired for garnish, set aside a few florets of cooked broccoli, at this point)
5. Remove from heat and stir in baby spinach, lemon juice, and salt & pepper. Blend the soup with a stick/immersion blender or blend in batches in a stand blender/food processor until just smooth.
6. Finish the soup with reserved broccoli florets and lemon zest.

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Hatch Chile Stew + End of Summer

Another Summer has come and is almost gone. Even though my life is approximately twelve times happier than it was at this time last year, the undeniable and unpleasant signs of the end of Summer haven’t changed a bit. My overheated body that still hasn’t managed 2 shades of a tan all summer, three cranky animals, and my sauna-like apartment. Then, there is the fact that Summer is only technically almost gone. Knowing Los Angeles, the heat is going to stick around until flash forward, I am stringing up Christmas lights on my patio wearing short shorts, a tube top, and 50 SPF. Not many things around this town resemble anything close to seasonality. There is at least one thing though, that only comes around once a year and is the best, most special thing in the world–hatch chile season.

With my Dad being from New Mexico, home of the hatch chile, I grew up understanding their importance and sheer glory. Whenever a family member made a visit to Albuquerque, large frozen containers of green chile came back to the house and were enjoyed most often simply with a bit of garlic salt and a tortilla. In New Mexico, there is a rare meal that doesn’t include it. “Red or green?” is a question you’ll be asked everywhere you go in the state–red chile is made from more mature chile pods where as the green variety is made from chiles that have been picked at an earlier stage. If you end up in town and are asked the state question, be cool like me, and get everything “Christmas style.” In my opinion, there is a distinct heat profile in the hatch chile–it’s quite spicy but always seems to come across low and slow in its flavor and finds its way into being enjoyable despite its spicy heat. 

Towards the end of the summer, many local grocery stores and markets in the Western United States, will not only carry the chiles in the produce section but also roast them at roasting events. You can definitely roast them yourself but the way they do it is just the best–they are roasted in a caged cylindrical drum that is rotated, constantly, over a propane fueled flame. This method provides an even heat and blistering on every inch of the chiles.  Every year, I pick up at least 5 pounds of these amazing things and freeze them for dishes all Fall and Winter long. 

The recipe I’m showing you guys today is easily in the top 5 on my favorite list of my own recipes (yes, I rank my own creations.) It’s my take on a New Mexican hatch chile dish that is absolutely mind numbingly good. This recipe is not about technique–just about ingredients and time. If you don’t enjoy spicy food and you must make this dish, I will begrudgingly let you use Anaheim peppers. They are in the same family as the hatch chile but are a heck of a lot more mild. But if you can please trust me on this one and the spiciness won’t cause you to hate me for writing this recipe, pretty please make this dish. Click below to read more and get one step closer to committing to making this for dinner this week.

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CREAMY KALE AND WHITE BEAN SOUP

When it rains, I soup. Yesterday it rained, so I souped. Aside from what some might say is a not-so-fetching split pea green color, I think this soup is pretty freaking good lookin’. This soup’s main bragging right is that the recipe uses no dairy at all, but beans instead, to create a creamy texture. It’s god damn delicious–it just might earn a spot on the dream menu that I’m going to serve when Christopher Plummer comes to my house for dinner.

Recipe and a video of me singing a beautiful rendition of Edelweiss with afore mentioned Hollywood legend after the jump. Just kidding, sadly. BUT, I will show you how to make this yummy green soup. I’ll now also share with you a Sound of Music sad snapple fact–Christopher Plummer didn’t even sing the songs himself in the movie. All Captain Von Trapp’s songs were voiced by Bill Lee (who also sang ‘Cruella De Vil’ in 101 Dalmatians.) God, Chris and I are going to have so much to talk about over dinner. Okay, I digress. 

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