Tag Archives: soup

Lost in Translation – Italy

Well, with my last post on bread, I pretty much exhausted my foreign language capacities.

But the way I see it, a romance language is a romance language, and it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out an Italian recipe, even if the only Italian I know is mamma mia. When I started looking up recipes though, I realized just how difficult it could be.  With the weather getting colder, I settled on a classic recipe for pasta e fagioli, reasoning that it would be hard to mess up too badly with a bean soup.

Ingredients for Pasta e Fagioli
All (or most) of the ingredients

Half of the ingredients seemed pretty simple.  Fagioli borlotti had to be borlotti beans, carota was an easy one, and brodo vegetale didn’t take too long to interpret.  I also figured out that sedano was celery because I had seen other recipes that called for a gambo of it, which I took to mean leg.

Other ingredients gave me pause.  Scalogno?  Salvia?  Prezzemolo?  I just hoped they weren’t too important and moved on.  My proudest moment was figuring out what a spicchi di aglio was; the website I was using was actually called Lo spicchio d’aglio, and after a few moments of puzzling, I realized that the icon was actually a stylized picture of a clove of garlic!  Of course!  How could I embark on an italian recipe without garlic?!

Am I doing this right?

What I hadn’t anticipated, in the glow of my triumphant interpretations of the ingredienti, was the difficulty in translating the actual instructions.  I was lost after step four, so while I managed to drain my beans, chop my vegetables, boil my broth, and brown my garlic, I was left to guess on what exactly “Aggiungere un mestolo di brodo” meant, and ended up adding ingredients incrementally, spooning broth back and fourth between two pans, and then cooking the pasta separately before tossing everything together at the last minute to boil.

In one particularly lost moment, I glanced over my recipe with chopped vegetables in hand, and realized there was not a single mention of carota or sedano after the second step.  I threw them in after the beans but before the pasta, hoping for the best and reasoning, for the hundredth time, that it’s pretty hard to mess up soup.

Less of a dish, more of a collection of ingredients

It turns out I was right.  The soup came out just fine.  It was just very, very bland, like drinking broth.  I couldn’t help feeling helpless the entire time, entirely lost and wondering if I was doing anything right.  It was not my finest hour.


  • 250 g di fagioli borlotti già cotti (peso sgocciolato)
  • Mezzo costa di sedano
  • Mezzo carota
  • 1 scalogno
  • 1 l di Brodo vegetale
  • 2 cucchiai di olio extravergine di oliva
  • 2 spicchi di aglio
  • Timo
  • Origano
  • Maggiorana
  • 4 foglie di salvia
  • Sale
  • 120 g di pasta
  • 4 rametti di prezzemolo
  • Pepe nero macinato al momento


  • Sgocciolare i fagioli e passarne la metà al passaverdure.
  • Tritare molto finemente sedano, carota e scalogno.
  • Scaldare il brodo vegetale.
  • In una pentola da minestra far soffriggere il trito e l’aglio spellato nell’olio per qualche minuto, a fiamma media, fintanto che non assume un aspetto dorato. Unire un cucchiaio di brodo e proseguire la cottura per 4-5 minuti.
  • Aggiungere un mestolo di brodo, mescolare, unire i fagioli interi, un pizzico di timo, origano e maggiorana, la salvia e lasciare insaporire qualche minuto a fiamma vivace.
  • Stemperare i fagioli frullati con mezzo mestolo di brodo e versare il composto nella pentola. Girare e lasciare insaporire qualche minuto.
  • Versare quasi tutto il brodo e portare ad ebollizione. Regolare di sale.
  • Buttare la pasta e cuocere mescolando spesso con un cucchiaio di legno, secondo il tempo di cottura del formato scelto. Aggiungere qualche mestolo di brodo se la minestra tende ad asciugarsi troppo. Tenerla piuttosto liquida perchè a fine cottura tenderà ad addensarsi.
  • Nel frattempo lavare il prezzemolo, selezionarne le foglie e tritarle con la mezzaluna su un tagliere.
  • Spegnere il fuoco, regolare di sale, profumare con  una grattugiata di pepe ed il prezzemolo tritato.
  • Lasciare intiepidire 5 minuti con il coperchio e servire con un filo d’olio a crudo.




$13 of Happy; Extra Noodle!

There’s no better way to introduce a blog about cheap eats than with a celebration of ramen, the foundation of any proper poor-college student diet!  And so, my first venture into culinary criticism takes me and my buddy to Terakawa Ramen, a small noodle bar on 57th street and 9th avenue, just two blocks away from the Union Square subway stop.
We, of course, refused to use this subway stop, convinced that the $4.50 it would cost for the round trip would be better spent on more noodles.  It turns out we were right, too, because these noodles were pretty good.

After skimming the short menu, which included various meat-over-rice dishes, gyoza, about six flavors of ramen, and ‘Tokyo Fried Chicken’ (which I’m getting next time), I ordered a $9.00 bowl of Terakawa Ramen, as seemed most appropriate.  This dish, the restaurant’s implicit, perpetual special, is described accurately on the menu as “pork bone based noodle soup and bamboo shoot, red ginger roast pork, boiled egg, scallion, kikurage.”  While the toppings made for a pretty presentation, the real star was the rich, thick, almost creamy broth, which overpowered the other flavors somewhat.  Surprisingly though, the noodles failed to absorb much of this flavor and, when eaten on without any other ingredients, lacked appeal.  However, my experience  was dramatically improved when I happened upon this eating strategy, which I now recommend: use the soup spoon to ladle out some broth, use the chopsticks to put noodles and other toppings in said spoon, then eat!  Problem solved.  The pork was tender and tasty, while the hard boiled egg had a pleasantly complex, almost sweet flavor, but neither was much of a factor in the dish as a whole. This is because the portions of these protein elements were small, as is usually the case; I ate the two thin slices and half-egg right away, almost as an appetizer.  Ordering an extra 2 pieces of pork for $2.00 might have helped, but I opted to spend that money, or $1.50 of it, on an extra portion of noodles.  (In the photo, you can see these to the right of my bowl).
These extra noodles made my night and make Terakawa Ramen stand apart from its comparably priced competitors.  While the option to pay for extra ramen is not itself a novelty, the massiveness of this extra portion is surely unprecedented.  With the leftover broth from my first bowl, I used these extra noodles to get two bowls for a little more than the price of one.  My friend and I, had we been less ravenously hungry, might have shared a single bowl, but we wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing so after taking up two of the eleven seats in this tiny restaurant.
Terakawa Ramen looks and feels more like a bar than a restaurant; its eleven seats wrap around a u-shaped, wooden counter top, behind which stands the single waitress. This friendly waitress took our orders quickly, topped off our water promptly (which we needed, considering the richness of the broth,) and had us in and out within 30 minutes. Still, I wouldn’t suggest bringing a group of more than three people here unless you really don’t mind a wait.  Otherwise, if you’re hungry for thick brothiness or looking to carboload for a marathon without breaking the bank, Terakawa Ramen is your place!


My happy friend


Vegan Superhero Soup

The person sitting next to you in class is coughing up a lung and your suitemates are sniffling through the hall. It’s that time of year again–cold and flu season. While most people grow up with their mother’s chicken noodle soup as the cure-all for any runny nose or fever, vegetable broth was the staple in my vegetarian childhood. As Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food.”

Driven by my fear of getting sick, I whipped up this veg-tastic soup on a blustery afternoon. Full of healing herbs and super foods, it provided a much needed boost to my immune system. Quinoa replaces the noodles you may traditionally eat in chicken noodle soup, giving an added (gluten free!) punch of protein. This recipe makes 4-6 servings, depending on how big your appetite is. Try it out to combat any seasonal sickness!

4 cups organic vegetable stock
6 leaves curly kale
4 carrots
1 can white beans
1 cup quinoa
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp rosemary
pepper, to taste

1. Combine 2 cups water with 1 cup dry quinoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until water is fully absorbed.
2. In the meantime, bring vegetable stock to a gentle simmer. Chop carrots and kale and add to the simmering stock. Drain and rinse the beans and add to the mixture. Add herbs.
3. Simmer for at least 15 minutes, allowing the carrots to become tender and the kale to soften. Add quinoa once it is finished and simmer for at least 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Serve hot!

This soup is simple to make but is bursting with flavor, so be sure to try it out! Your immune system will thank you.

Summer Strawberry Soup

When I was twelve I attended a weeklong summer cooking camp at Chef Central. Each day revolved around a different meal: Sunday brunch, 4th of July barbeque, and such. My favorite was the “light summer lunch” day. It was the first time I got to experiment with cold soups. The only cold soup I’d ever had was gazpacho, and as I’ve always detested peppers in any form, it was never a big hit with me. But at cooking camp we focused on cold fruit soups.

The great thing about cold fruit soups is that they’re really versatile. They’re pretty much great for any meal. I like to use them as desserts, because they go great with some biscotti or a simple cookie and are light enough to complement the season but heavy and sweet enough to satisfy a dessert craving.

The other day I was feeling in a very summery mood and decided to whip out one of those old soup recipes. I decided on strawberry because that just screams summer to me. It only takes about fifteen minutes to make, although you do have to let it sit in the fridge for a while after preparing it. After two excruciating hours I packed the soup up and brought it to my friend’s house for one of our “Sherlock and food” parties.

The soup was a hit. My friends loved it. I had some with a black and white cookie, some people just drank it like a smoothie, and one of my friends even used it as a sauce for her brownie (extremely advisable if you were wondering). Every way it proved delicious.

Recipe for Strawberry Soup

Makes 12 servings
• 3 pt. fresh strawberries
• 12 oz. sour cream
• 1 pt. cream
• ½ cup sugar
• juice of ½ lemon

Remove the stems from the strawberries and cut into quarters. Reserve on large strawberry for each serving for garnish. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender, adding the lemon, sugar and sour cream. Add the heavy cream and whip until slightly thick. Chill the soup in the refrigerator for 2-72 hours. Serve as a dessert or starter course in chilled bowls, garnished with a large strawberry cut almost in half, secured to the rim of the bowl. Garnish with mint if desired.

Roasted Tomato Soup

Lately it has been soup weather. When I am frozen to the bone all I want is a big bowl of tomato soup. The thing is, I really don’t like canned soup. Campbell’s tomato smoothie in a can just doesn’t do it for me. Sadly, prime tomato season is early august to late september. We are far out of prime tomato season. This did not stop me from running to Whole Foods to buy a big bag of tomatoes. The recipe below is insanely yummy and there are a few quick tricks to make it more winter friendly.

  1. Collect amazing tomatoes in summer and do all of the steps below up until cream is added. Pour the mixture into strong plastic bags and freeze. When you want tomato soup in the dead of winter thaw it, warm it up, and add the cream.
  2. Drain whole canned tomatoes (I suggest San Marzano) of as much liquid as possible and proceed with the recipe.
I suggest serving this with a good piece of crusty bread with butter or a spread (peppadew pepper spread). 
Roasted Tomato Soup (Serves 6)
16 beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into 2 inch slices (or 3 cans of whole tomatoes)
4 cloves of garlic, un-peeled
1/2 cup +2 tbsp  olive oil
Coarse Kosher Salt
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F and lay tomatoes and garlic in baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt.
  2. Roast tomatoes for 1 hour or until they are soft, caramelized, and the skin comes off easily.
  3. Remove from oven and let cool until you can handle them. 
  4. Peel tomatoes and transfer into pot/soup pan. Squeeze garlic from its skin, add it to the pan, and pour in any pulp or juices remaining. Place pan over medium heat and crush tomatoes against the side of the pan with the back of a metal spoon until there are only small chunks. If you like smoother soup use a immersion blender or food processor to smooth it out. 
  5. When the mixture is hot but not yet boiling slowly pour in the cream. Season to taste and serve. 
  6. Heat 1/2 cup olive oil, rosemary, and thyme in  a small saucepan over low heat until fragrant. Spoon over soup and serve immediately. 

Post-Thanksgiving Chicken Noodle Soup, or Some Version of It

Although I am slowly getting more and more excited about the palatable wonders of pureed or otherwise non-solid foods, soup has not always been my go-to choice of comestibles. The only time we’d ever have it at home was upon arrival back home in France after a 12 hour-long flight from California when my grandma would have a fresh batch of her “Soupe de Mamie” ready for us to heat up. It was the perfect, warm welcome back that for me, marked the official start of summer or winter. For my parents, it enabled them to eat something delicious without having to go grocery shopping and muster the motivation to throw something together in the kitchen for the first meal back. That soup was a surprisingly delicious combination of simple farm produce (potatoes, leeks, and carrots) harvested from my grandma’s perfectly groomed vegetable garden, but as a young girl I would only be able to enjoy it with a little cube of partly-melted gruyère in each spoonful. I’m pretty sure that the only reason I’d ever ask for more was to get more cheese, because I doubt that any child would ever like the taste (or appearance) of unblended vegetables in a watery-looking soup. Whenever my mom makes that “Soupe de Mamie” now though, I promise you that I do actually love it without the cheese. But of course, a little gruyère never hurts anyone…

Besides that “Soupe de Mamie,” I only ever had my mom’s version of chicken noodle, which is actually unlike the traditional kind most are familiar with. Instead of serving vegetables and bits of chicken in broth, my mom adds angel hair noodles or rice to a clear poultry broth. Sometimes there’ll be a few pieces of chicken taken off the carcass and added to the broth. Either way, my mom wouldn’t make it when I was sick since I’d be put on a strict lemon-juice-and-no-dairy diet on those occasions. Unconventionally so, we had chicken noodle, or our chicken broth version of it, for dinner on winter days when we’d had fondue (or some other heavy dish) for lunch and wanted to eat something light but warm. Continue reading Post-Thanksgiving Chicken Noodle Soup, or Some Version of It

Comfort Food: Egg Drop Soup


Another new blogger (so many! I love them all), Sarah D. is going to be bringing you great recipes and ideas for Comfort Food every couple of weeks.  Today, she’s introducing a way to make your very own egg drop soup.  Full directions (as well as a gallery showing you step-by-step) after the jump!

A friend of mine recently showed me her egg drop soup family recipe. Unlike most restaurant egg drop soups, she makes hers with the egg intact, so that there is a poached egg floating in the soup. It’s delicious! I made some adjustments to her recipe. It’s very easy to make, takes little time, and is perfect late-night study food. The recipe is for one person. Please note that the measurements for the ingredients are estimations. If you want more or less of an ingredient it’s fine to make adjustments.


Continue reading Comfort Food: Egg Drop Soup

Live from the Culinary House: Survival Guide for Snow

Every week, the Culinary Society blog brings you the latest from our headquarters, the Culinary House. This week, Matt whipped up a savory butternut squash soup to stave off the early cold.

This may be a bit excessive.

In the childhood cartoons, I always remember watching the characters waking up and looking out the window during the winter. Low and behold, a fluffy blanket of white had fallen overnight. The characters were always overjoyed, ecstatic, and they ran for their winter gear and a sled.

Last Saturday, I was thoroughly exhausted from our catering event for the Latino Heritage Showcase. I went to sleep collapsed in bed at 2 in the morning. I woke up around 11:30 to the sound of Claire audibly freaking out right outside my door, “It’s snowing, it’s snowing.”

Yes, I had heard the weather rumors throughout the week, but I didn’t pay attention. My boots stayed stored away in my closet and my winter coat was in the far reaches of our coat closet. I looked out my window and discovered that Claire was right. It was indeed snowing, and this was no slight flurry–the snow fell in chunks! In response to the extreme weather, we wrote our guideline to surviving the early winter snowfalls:

1. Proper Attire: The only clothing that should be worn during these freak storms is pyjamas, preferably warm flannel ones with comfy socks. This should probably be accompanied with a blanket and a hot cup of chocolate.

2. BYOB: The only time that Claire and I ventured out of the Culinary House was to run (and I mean literally run) to the corner liquor shop. When we were safe inside the warm store, we picked out som hearty bourbon and dark rum. Bourbon naturally pairs with hot cider, giving it a bit of extra spice. Plus, bourbon and whiskey, above all alcoholic drinks in my book, have the ability to warm up the whole body. Dark rum is perfect for making hot buttered rum. What else? Buttered Rum is a delicious dessert drink, combining spices, brown sugar, and (yep, you guessed it) butter.

3. Make Soup!

Soup is my favorite of all comfort foods. Butternut Squash Soup is a traditional fall staple, but this version takes a new twist, adding bacon and bleu cheese for a savory kick. You can also try a variation on the main ingredient: sub out the butternut squash and use acorn squash or pumpkin. Continue reading Live from the Culinary House: Survival Guide for Snow

Recipes: Pork Noodle Soup with Cinnamon and Anise, Spiked Coffee

The Recipe of the Week: Pork Noodle Soup with Cinnamon and Anise

Serves 4-6

Due to the cold weather shift, it was only fitting to feature a soup. This soup is one of my favorites!


2 ½ lb. country-style ribs

6 C water

2/3 C soy sauce

2/3 C sherry

¼ C brown sugar

1 head of garlic, halved crosswise

3 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise

5 ½ oz. bean thread noodles

Garnish: Cilantro and green onions


1. Simmer all ingredients (except noodles) in a large pot, covered, skimming the fat off the top as needed. Cook until pork is very tender (90 minutes-2 hours).

2. Transfer pork to a bowl. Discard bones, garlic, and spices. Shred meat by hand. Skim the fat from the broth. Then return meat to the broth and bring to a simmer. Rinse noodles then stir into the broth. Simmer until noodles are tender (6 minutes). Serve with the garnish.

The Dessert of the Week: Kahlua-spiked coffee

Serves 1

Going along with the rain idea, try this the next time you feel tired…


1 C of fresh-brewed coffee

1 shot of Kahlua, or other coffee liqueur

1 tbsp of sweetened condensed milk


1. After brewing the coffee, combine all ingredients in a cup and stir. If so desired, you can make it a coffee float with a scoop of mocha or vanilla ice cream.