Category Archives: Soups

Potato Leek Soup

The weather has been so warm this winter that you might want to serve this soup cold! Super simple to make, and rich and satisfying, this is one of my winter favorites.

12 oz. leeks, white and very light part only, risned well to remove any sand, and coarsely chooped
2 1/2 oz. celery, rinsed and coarsely chooped
4 oz. yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 lbs. russet potato, peeled and sliced intoi 1/2″ slices
1 oz. butter
6 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
2 t. kosher salt
20 turns black pepper
2 cups heavy cream (optional, but make the texture better)

Carefully measure and prepare all ingredients.

Heat a suitable pot over medium heat, and melt the butter. Add the leek, celery, and onion,

and sweat until softened.

Add the liquid and potatoes, and increase the heat to high.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook 40 minutes.

Remove from the heat, and puree using an imersion blender or blender.

Add cream, and puree to incorporate,

then correct seasoning to taste. Serve hot of cold.

Happy Winter!!



Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup

It’s a rainy (finally) winter in Napa, so here is a good way to get warm…

2 oz. butter
1/2 oz garlic, sliced thinly
4 oz. celery, sliced thinly
8 oz. onion, sliced thinly
1-1/2 lb. broccoli – cut 2 cups of the florets off for garnish, then sliced the rest 1/4″ thick
1-1/2 oz. AP flour
6 cups chicken broth
1 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
2 c. cream or half and half
2 c. grated cheddar cheese (I use Tillamoksharp)

Measure and prepare all ingredients as specified.

Heat a suitable pot over medium-high heat, then add the butter and garlic. Cook just until you get the aroma.

Add the onions and celery, and stir to combine evenly.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften and begin to brown.

Add the flour, and stir to incorporate evenly.

Cook the flour, stirring, for 1 minute, then add 2 cups of the broth, and stir.

The mixture will become very thick very quickly. Continue stirring until smooth.

Add the remaining broth, and stir to combine evenly.

Add the salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.

Add the chopped broccoli and stir.

Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, simmering, for 25 minutes, or until the broccoli is completly soft.

Remove from the heat, and puree in a blender or Vita-mix. Place the top on the canister, then COVER THE CANISTER WITH A DRY TOWEL. When the air in the canister gets hot, it will expand. The top can blow off! Hold the top tightly for the first few seconds of processing.

Pour the pureed soup into a sieve, and press through with the back of a ladle. At this point, the soup is done.

Prepare the broccoli garnish. Heat a suitable pot of salted water over high heat, then add the florettes.

Cook until soft, about three minutes, then drain. Add to the soup base. Correct seasoning to taste. Either serve right away, or cool and refrigerate.

RIght before serving, grate the cheese coarsely. Then stir into the soup, off of the heat.

Serve with sturdy bread and a little grated cheese on top for garnish.



Cream of Mushroom Soup

If you’re making a batch of duxelles, why not make a double batch?! This mushroom soup is as easy as a recipe gets if you have the duxelles.

2 c. duxelles
4 c. chicken broth or stock
4 T. cornstarch
2 c. heavy cream

Combine the duxelles and broth in a suitable pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.

Combine the cornstarch with about 1/2 c. of the cream,

and whisk together until smooth. With the soup still simmering, pour the cream and cornstarch mixture in, and whisk until combined. The soup should immediately thicken. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Add the remaining cream, and shisk to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve right away, or refrigerate until needed.


Ramen an easier way

The long-cooked pork bone and mushroom broth is amazingly rich, but there are many other styles of broth in Japan. Here is one that is much more simple to make, lighter and less filling.


makes broth for four large bowls

4 cups Chicken Broth
4 cups Dashi
3 oz. Japanese Dark Soy
3 oz. Mirin
1/2 t. Kosher Salt



Combine all ingredients, and stir to dissolve salt. Bring to a simmer, then ladle over cooked noodles and garnish.


The noodles I’ve been using are from Tokyo Fish in Berkeley. They are fresh and locally made. At $0.99 each, they are a good deal! Cook them in salted boiling water for three minutes, stirring occasionally.


Drain but don’t rinse.


Portion in hot bowls with the rendered chicken fat in the bottom and arrange garnish over the top. Today I’m using slow-cooked pork shoulder in place of chasu, along with simmered bamboo shoots, soft egg, and green onions like the tonkatsu ramen. I’ll add a tablespoon of rendered chicken fat to this one, as well, but no tare. This broth has enough salt.



Happy cooking!

Bread Soup

Bread is one of  my most favorite things in the world. The only two things I truly miss about Hawthorne Land are the smoked salmon and the fresh bread. No substitute found yet for the salmon, but there is lots of good bread in the Bay Area nowadays…

One of my favorites is the huge levain loaf at Model Bakery in Napa. At 4 lbs. you only need to buy half to end up with leftovers. Here is one recipe to “use up” that leftover bread. The firm crumb and crust almost turn into little dumplings in the soup!

3 T. extra virgin olive oil (decent but don’t break the bank. I use Sagra. You can find it lots of places locally)
2″ nice ripe dried cayenne, or to taste – torn into pieces
1 oz. garlic, stem end removed, sliced thin
8 oz. yellow onions, peeled, small dice
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 pints crushed tomatoes, I grow San Marzano
4 cups chicken broth
roughly 1 lb. of stale country-style bread, cut into 3/4″ cubes
1 nice branch of basil if you have it in the garden


Measure and prepare the ingredients as shown, then heat the olive oil in a suitable pot over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the chili and stir.


If your chili is fresh, it will start to sizzle and then turn the oil orange. Add the garlic and onion along with the salt.


Continue to cook, stirring to heat evenly, until the onions have softened and become translucent.


Now add the tomato and broth, and season to taste with more salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for fifteen minutes.


Add the bread cubes, and allow to return to a simmer. Cook for an additional half hour, then remove from the heat.


Rinse the basil branch under cold water, then place into the soup and stir. Allow to sit in the soup until it cools, then remove and discard.


I usually serve my bread soup in a soup plate with a poached egg and a little Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top!

Wonton Noodle Soup

Another chapter in the noodle study, these wontons are great, and they freeze well for easy snacks or dinners on the fly.



Continue on to make broth, garnish, and a hearty dinner. Perfume some chicken broth ginger, cilantro, and scallions.

Wonton Broth
6 c. chicken broth
1 oz. ginger, sliced 1/8″ thick and crushed
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped coarsely1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped coarsely
1/2 oz. yellow rock sugar or cane sugar


Chop everything up (toss in the stems from the mushrooms, bottoms from the scallions, etc. , then bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes,


then drain, prepping all liquid from the vegetables. Keep warm while you prepare everything else.

Finish the Soup
2 bundles fresh mein
4 heads baby bok choy
1 package brown beech mushrooms
12 raw shrimp, peeled


Cut the bok choy in half, and rinse away any dirt. Prepare a pot of salted boiling water, then add eight or ten slices of fresh ginger. Allow to simmer for about ten minutes, then add the bok choy. Return to a boil, and cook for about 30 seconds.


Drain and allow to cool.


Prepare a large pot of boiling, salted water, and bring the broth back to a simmer. Prepare your wontons and noodles to cook.


Simmer the shrimp and mushrooms in the broth until cooked, then remove and keep warm.


Add the wontons to the boiling water, and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for four minutes.


They will begin to float as the become cooked.


Add the noodles, and return to a boil. Cook for just one minute, stirring to prevent clumping,


the drain.


Immediately transfer to warm bowls, noodles the bottom, and wontons on top.


Arrange the vegetables and shrimp over the wontons,


then pour the hot broth over the top.


Garnish with chopped scallions, and serve with chili oil.

wonton noodle soup



Charsiu Ramen

Tare (tare –a)
This is a flavoring agent, used sparingly, to add both salt and umami to the broth.

tare4 tare1

3 chicken backs
1 cup sake (use the cheap stuff, drink the good stuff
1 cup mirin
2 cups light Japanese soy sauce (usukuchi)


Chop the chicken backs into 2” chunks, then pace into a sauté pan, and roast at 450 F. Roast until deeply colored, turning several times to brown all surfaces. This should take roughly an hour.


Transfer the pan with the bones to the stovetop over medium heat. Add the sake, and deglaze the pan, taking care to scrape all brown deposits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a deeper pot, and add the miring and sake. Be sure to scrape all of the browned goodness from the sauté pan to the pot!


Bring to a boil, then reduce to a very slow simmer. Cook for about an hour, then strain. Season lightly with pepper, and allow to cool completely. Transfer to a tightly covered storage container, and freeze until needed. The mixture will not solidify because of the high salt content.


Ramen Noodles
I buy my ramen noodles from Tokyo Fish Company in Berkeley. The brand they carry is wonderful, and making them is a pain. I have made them, though. The one nice thing about making your own dough is that you can freeze it then defrost and roll whenever you feel moved to have ramen. Here is the recipe I used from the Momofuku cookbook:


800 gr. Bread flour
300 gr. Cold water
7 gr. sodium carbonate
.75 gr. Potassium carbonate


Combine all dry ingredients in the work bowl of a stand mixer, and mix with the hook to distribute evenly. Add the water and mix until the dough begins to come together. In my case, I needed to add almost an extra 100 grams of cold water to make a dough that could be kneaded. Maybe a typo in the book…


After that, it was just like rolling any pasta. After making the dough into a ball, wrapping in plastic wrap, and refrigerating for an hour, you cut a thin slice from the dough ball.


Start rolling on the thickest setting, and fold in half and start over when you get to half of the max thickness to make the dough smooth out and fill the width of the rollers.


The other thing that I did differently than the cookbook was the thickness. My pasta roller can roll the dough almost paper thin, so I stopped when I got to about 1/16” – like the noodles that I buy.


Remember to dust the dough with flour as you are rolling, and dust the noodles well after they come out of the cutter. You might not need the dusting as much if you can somehow make the dough with the amount of water called for, but for me, adding the water was the way to go.


You can probably cut the noodles to length, then make little 5 oz. bunches and store them overnight, but I roll and cook them right away.

Onsen Tamago
The last thing I make is the slow-cooked eggs, or onsen tamago. Onsen is the name for hot springs, and tamago for egg. Using an immersion circulator in a water bath set to 63 C.


I process eggs from the girls out back for one hour. This is the last thing that I add to the ramen. At last, it’s time to serve forth.


Unpack the charsiu from its cryovac package, and combine with the broth in a suitable pot.


Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer long enough for the charsiu to become completely through.


Open a can of sliced bamboo shoots, and drain the liquid. Rinse well, then drain and transfer to a small pot. I add a splash of toasted sesame oil and a little light soy sauce. Cover and place over low heat. Heat through completely.


Slice your onions; I usually grab a bunch of Tokyo green onions when I’m buying the noodles. They have thicker green tops than scallion and, well they just feel more authentic. Slice thinly.

Tokyo negi

Unpack and fluff the noodles. I always shake off as much of the loose flour as I can to avoid thickening the cooking water.


Drop into a rapidly boiling pot of salted water, and cook until there is just a little snap left.


Meanwhile, untie and slice the pork belly.


Drain well, then divide into warm bowls.


Add 1 Tablespoon of tare and 1 teaspoon of the reserved pork fat to each bowl, then ladle 12 oz. of hot broth over the noodles.


Garnish with the negi (Tokyo green onions,) seasoned bamboo shoots, sliced pork belly, and crack the slow-cooked egg.


Serve to those that you LOVE!!!












Every year, toward the end of the summer, I find myself getting bored with tomatoes and burrata long before the tomatoes are finished. This is a simple recipe that makes for great leftovers for the next lunch.

5 assorted tomatoes, coarsely chopped, about 2 lbs.
1 cucumber, coarsely chopped, I usually use hothouse
1 red medium onion, small dice, about 4 oz.
2 red peppers, coarsely chopped, any color will be fine
1 large or 2 small zucchini, coarsely chopped, about 8 oz.
2 cayenne peppers, coarsely chopped, I use cayenne because I grow them, jalapenos are fine
1 fat clove garlic, minced
1 bunch basil, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil, decent stuff, I use the Italian EVOO from Costco
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Carefully measure and prepare all ingredients.


Coarse chop everything, just small enough that it will fit through the meat grinder.


Toss it all together in a bowl with some salt and pepper,


then cover and allow to sit in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight if you have time.


The flavors will meld, and some liquid will be released.


Set up a meat grinder with the medium size die, then grind everything through.




Transfer to a mixing bowl or pot, then. correct the seasoning and spike with a little more sherry vinegar if needed.


I like to garnish with a little pile of fresh Oregon bay shrimp or Dungeness crab depending on season. A drizzle of EVOO around is also nice.


Happy Cooking!

Leftover Roast Chicken Soup

Whenever we roast a chicken for dinner, and that means at least once a week, we have half a roasted chicken left over. We’ve learned lots of ways to use them up, but this one was so simple and so good.

I had cooked the small amount of scarlet runner beans that I picked early, and there was about 1 1/2 cups left. So I rinsed the liquid off and that was ingredient #1. There was also a singe carrot and leek that was left from the chicken dinner. I shredded the roast chicken, and I chopped up a few carrots and leeks that I had picked a couple of days before. Some basil tops from the garden, and about six cups of chicken broth…


I simmered the raw carrots and leeks for about five minutes, 065

Then added the beans, chicken, and basil. Five minutes and some salt and pepper later, and lunch was ready.

074 075Roast Chicken Soup with Scarlet Runner Beans and Basil


Leftover Bread Soup

This recipe can be a base for using leftovers, or it can be a tomato and bread soup all on its own. The key is having good canned tomatoes and rock hard old bread. It helps if the bread was good before it got stale, too.

For the Soup Base
2 oz. EVOO
1/2 dry cayenne, torn up, or 1 t. chili flakes, more if you like spicy
3/4 oz. garlic, crushed
12 oz. yellow onions, medium dice
4 c. canned crushed tomatoes, home-canned if you have them
6 c. chicken broth, homemade if you have it
1 very stale baguette, broken into small pieces


In this photo you see leftover roast chicken, a little leftover squash ragout, and a zucchini. These will be added at the end to use them up and turn the soup – which is tasty on its own – into a full meal.


Heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add the garlic, chili, and onion. Cook until the onion begins to take color. 012

Add the tomato and broth, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes and broth become one and the onions begin to break down. 016

Add the bread, and continue to simmer until the bread breaks down and becomes almost like little dumplings.


You can either serve at this point with a little drizzle of EVOO, or add a bunch of leftovers to make a stewish dish.

021 026 024 023

Happy dining!

Spring Onion Soup

Like potato and leek soup, this one is good hot or cold. When the spring onions are ready to harvest, I end up with a pile, so this is a good way to move through them. For this dinner, I served it cold with a dollop of creme fraiche.


Spring Onion Potato Soup
9              oz.         Russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
.2            oz.          Garlic, peeled and sliced
1              oz.          Butter
3              oz.          Celery, chopped
3              c.             Chicken broth

6              oz.          Spring onions, roots off, coarsely chopped


Measure the ingredients roughly; this isn’t a finicky recipe. Peel the potato, and chop everything else up. Nothing fancy with the knife. This is going to be pureed.


Sweat the garlic and celery in butter until softened. Then add the broth.


Add the potato and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are completely soft, about 30 minutes.


Add the spring onions, return to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for an additional 10 minutes.


Then puree in a blender at high speed until completely smooth, then strain through a fine sieve.


Season to taste, then chill or serve hot.

Chili con Carne

I often keep a pound of spicy Italian sausage from Safeway in the refer for last minute dinners. A spicy bowl of chili topped with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and scallions is only  90 minutes away.


1 lb. spicy Italian sausage
1 oz. EVOO
1/2 oz. garlic, sliced
8 oz. onion, medium dice
4 oz. celery, medium dice
3 oz. carrots, peeled, medium dice

1 T. chipotle chili, ground1 T. ancho chili, ground
1 T. cumin, ground
1/4 t. oregano, ground

16 oz. chopped tomatoes in juice
16 oz. chicken broth

16 oz. cooked kidney beans


Measure all ingredients.


Heat the oil over high heat, then break the sausage into small chunks and arrange over the  surface of the pan. Continue to cook over high heat until the sausage is well browned on all sides, stirring from time to time.


Add the garlic and onions, and cook until nicely wilted.


Add the spices, and stir as they get hot.


Add the carrots and celery, and cook until they begin to soften.


Then add the broth and tomatoes, and bring to a boil.


Reduce to a simmer, and skim the fat from the sausage as it comes to the surface. It is easier if you keep the pot off center with the flame. The boiling on one side will naturally push the fat to one side. Add some salt, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until all of the flavors have come together. Add the cooked beans, correct the seasoning, and serve.


I grow lots of beans for drying in the summer, and kidney beans are on the list. To use them, I soak them overnight in water, then drain and cover with just enough chicken broth to cover. I add a little salt and ground black pepper, and simmer them, covered over very low heat until cooked, about 45 minutes. They have a much nicer flavor than the ones that come in cans.



Seafood Nabe

After the gut-busting roast beef hash lunch, I needed to make something a little lighter for dinner. Inspired by the leftover dashi and ponzu from last night, I decided to defrost some shrimp and squid, get some glass noodles out of the cupboard, and make another favorite Japanese dish. A couple of scallops and clams, and some spinach and mushrooms from WF, and dinner was on the way.


Spinach quickly nuked and cabbage blanched to soften the leaves, and I had the vegetable rolls.


I cut the usual X on the top of the shiitake mushrooms, boiled the glass noodles to soften, and juice the dashi up with some mirin and soy.


Chicken, clams, and noodles in the bottom of the pot. Seafood and veggies on the top, and onto the stove. The best thing about one-pot dishes is so little clean-up to do!


Fifteen minutes later, we were slurping noodles, and dipping mushrooms in ponzu!