OT: Cooking stuff - Some soups

My wife had a bit of dental work and had to eat “soft” food for a while. I did a bit of modification on a recipe which, with the rather redundant/opulent use of packaged chicken stock to make chicken soup turned out to be one of the best I can remember tasting (I am sort of forbidden to say it was better than my wife’s which she has worked decades on perfecting, but…). And just so the veggie guys/gals aren’t left out, I’ve included a couple of tomato based soups as well which worked I’ve whipped up this summer. The gazpacho is served cold and the velvet tomato can be eaten as a hot winter brew as well as served cold. While plum tomatoes are fine for the second soup (fresh are on sale right now, but in a pinch, canned ones can be used), the gazpacho is best served with beefsteak or other local fresh tomatoes (but canned tomatoes can be substituted for the tomato juice).


Chicken Meatballs and Soup

3 scallions, finely chopped
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1½" piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lime or lime
1 lb. ground chicken (I used skinless organic chicken breast with all fat removed)

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 3" piece ginger, peeled, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. coriander (optional)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
Kosher salt
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot or handful of “baby carrots”
1 small onion
10 oz. thinly sliced snow peas or sugar snap peas (I used Kirkland frozen “Stir Fry” Vegetable Mix)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
4 cups low sodium chicken broth (like Kirkland Organic Sipping Broth) + 2 cups water (or simply 6 cups water)

Mix scallions, egg, egg yolk, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Finely grate zest from lime into bowl. Add chicken and gently mix with your hands until evenly distributed.

Gently roll chicken mixture into 1½"-diameter balls (about the size of a golf ball; you should have about 20) and place on a baking sheet. Chill until ready to use.

Do Ahead: Meatballs can be formed 2 months ahead; freeze on tray until firm, about 2 hours, then transfer to a resealable plastic freezer bag and keep frozen.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Sauté onion, carrot and celery until onions are transparent.

Add ginger, garlic, and pepper and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add 6 cups chicken broth and/or cold water, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer.

Working with 1 meatball at a time, reroll to ensure it’s round and gently add to broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and add soy sauce; season with salt. Cook meatballs until cooked through, 10–12 minutes. Add snow peas/mixed veggies and cook until peas are bright green and tender, about 3 minutes.

Divide soup among bowls. Top with scallions and cilantro.

(4 servings)

Jeff’s Real Spanish Gazpacho

3 medium tomatoes (1 ¾ lb.)
1 large cucumber, pared
1 large onion, peeled
1 large green pepper (8 oz.)
1 canned pimento, drained (or a 4 oz. jar of roasted red pepper)
2 cans (12 oz. size) tomato juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon tabasco sauce
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Ground black pepper
2 slices white bread or croutons)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 Hardboiled egg, chopped (optional)
Handful of black olives, sliced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chives
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise (or Optional: 1 raw organic, free range egg)

Dip each tomato into boiling water for 1 minute. Lift out with slotted utensil. Cut out stem end; peel off skin with paring knife. (Or hold tomato on end of fork over flame until skin splits and peel with knife).

Cut cucumber into cubes. Cut onion in half. Wash green pepper, cut into quarters and remove seeds. In large bowl, combine two of the tomatoes, sliced and half the cucumber, onion and green pepper. Add pimento, 2 cloves garlic and ½ cup tomato juice. Toss to combine.

Put half the mixture at a time into a food processor or blender and blend (covered) at high seed for one minute to puree. You can also use an emersion blender and a large bowl. Repeat with the other half.

Chop, separately, remaining tomato, cucumber (de-seeded), onion, and green pepper (and optional egg, olives).

Refrigerate, covered, each in a separate small dish.

In a large bowl, with a wire whisk, mix pureed vegetables, remaining tomato juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, the vinegar, Tabasco, the mayonnaise (or optionally a raw egg) to help emulsification, salt and black pepper. Refrigerate covered until very well chilled – 3 hours or longer.

Refrigerate six serving bowls and a tureen. Cut bread into ¼”-inch cubes. Rub inside of a small skillet with garlic, reserve garlic.

Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil; heat over medium heat. Sauté bread cubes or croutons in hot oil until crisp and golden. Drain well on paper towels and turn into a small dish).

To serve, crush reserved garlic into chilled soup mixing well with a wire whisk. Ladle into chilled soup tureen, sprinkle with chives. On a tray, arrange reserved chopped vegetables and croutons to sprinkle over the top of each serving. Makes 6 servings.

Tomato Velvet Soup
By Jacque Pepin
Serves 4, 5-6 cups

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into 1" dice (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons chopped chervil or tiny basil leaves or shredded regular basil leaves

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute then add the garlic and tomato paste and sauté a minute or so more (to remove the metallic taste in the tomato paste), mixing well. Stir in the flour and then cook for a minute or two, stirring. Then add all the tomatoes, the water, salt, pepper and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir well and boil gently, covered for 10 minutes.

Push the soup through a food mill or sieve to remove the tomato seeds and skin. Alternatively, you can emulsify the soup in a food processor. (The recipe can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 2 days).

At serving time, reheat the soup. Add the butter and emulsify with an immersion blender or in a standard blender so the soup is creamy and smooth. Garnish with chervil or basil.


Jeff - your recipes always look wonderful (although the ingredient list and prep can be occasionally daunting).

One thing stood out:

Do Ahead: Meatballs can be formed 2 months ahead

It’s great that the prep can be extended so far out, but I might forget the recipe after 2 months!


1 Like

Print it out and keep it with the meatballs :slight_smile:

You’ll find it hard to believe, but most of the recipes are actually simple to make. The reason for all the words is to remind me of the tricks which help things out (like rather than say “all the rest of the ingredients”, specify that the tomato past be sautéed a bit before adding the rest in order to remove the metallic taste it sometimes has. Read them first and highlight the important steps and they usually turn out to be simpler than you originally thought.

A big help is to lay out all the ingredients before you start. Then measure each into a small dish (combining those that get added at the same time minimizes the number of dishes), putting them in the order you will be using them. It takes a few minutes to do this, but saves a load of time while cooking and makes sure nothing is forgotten in the heat of battle.

I find that I use a surprisingly few kitchen items to prepare a large number of dishes. (Not much choice if they are all going to fit in a typical NYC kitchen about the size of a small boat galley)

I use a food processor and a wand-style immersion blender and a hand-held mixer and a stand mixer for baking.

My pots are from a variety of manufacturers and were accumulated based on the materials they were made from and the price I could find each at. Most of the ones I use on the stove top today are anodized heavy-wall aluminum and a enameled cast iron Dutch oven for use in the oven (picked up at outlet stores, T.J. Max, etc. I also have two full-sized baking sheets (picked up at a commercial bakery supply house 22"x16", I think) with matching sized silicone baking sheets. I also use a bunch of various sized heat-resistant bowls.

Other than my bread knife, all my cooking knives are Japanese (of various manufacturers and shapes). I find they hold a finer edge, far longer, than any other alternative.

Some of the above pile of stuff has held up for as long as 50 years, so there is an economy to using good quality equipment. In addition, the manufacturers tend to stand behind their product when things go amiss and I have had a number of pots and one knife replaced over the years when something happened to them (by Henkel, Le Creuset, Analon and Circulon)

(All my fancy French copper pots now decorate my wall and my “famous brand” German knives decorate a drawer)

While good tools don’t make a good cook, just like in any other trade, they make it faster and easier to turn out a good product.


1 Like