Tag Archives: Soup

Mmm Noodle Soup

Ohh you know that feeling when you are full? Like really, full. Make that really, really full.  But you know it’s all worth it because your belly is happy.  Truly happy.  Like I just won the lotto, never need to work again, going to travel the world and have a million puppies happy.  Yea, that’s what I feel right now.  And it’s all because of Udon West.

Food is a priority, but on a rainy day, convenience can often trump deliciousness.  Sad but true.  But, today, I found my favorite rainy day spot for lunch, and not because it’s convenient, but because it is convenient and delicious.  Udon West is a Japanese Noodle Shop in Midtown.  It’s not hidden, but it’s certainly not a standout either.  Unless you know the awesomeness that awaits you, you are probably going to pass it by.  I know I have a million times.  But today, I changed what a rainy day work lunch means to me forever.

Udon West is all about the udon, a thick flour based noodle.  The noodles take on a form of noodle unknown to the Italians.  Udon noodles are thick and doughy and so silky they are almost sexy.   These sexy noodles are not so sexy to eat though, as they are usually served as a hot noodle soup.  But this is no ordinary soup; it’s a sea of complex flavors that is a salty and satisfying expression of comfort.  Topped with scallions and a thin slice of egg, this soup is a meal in itself.  But, you know there’s more right? Of course there is.  Udon is usually topped with tempura, vegetables or meat.  When it comes to soup, this Bite-Sized Blonde is all about the veggies.

The Vegetable Tempura Udon was everything I wanted it to be and more.  The hot soup was the perfect counterpoint to this dreary day.  One sip of the warm broth and I was an Udon lover.  The noodles were velvety and slurp-tastic and the crispy tempura was music to my ears and tastebuds.  Can you think of anything better on a cool, rainy afternoon? I can’t.   This namesake restaurant brought the heat on a cold day.  There’s really nothing left to say, so I’ll leave you with an all-important quote.  In the wise words of Joey Tribiani…”mmm noodle soup…”

Udon West
150 E 46th St
New York NY
(212) 922-9677

It’s Crunch Time…

So, its crunch time, and I’m not referring to the Captain, although I wish I was.   I mean it’s almost V-Day.  4 Days and counting.  Whether you have a new love, old love, or last minute love, you need to plan something.   Unless of course you are unattached this holiday, and in that case, you can stop reading now.

If you are looking to impress your Valentine, or at least not piss them off, I have a few suggestions for you.  Nothing says “I want to spend time with you like dinner.”  Hey, there’s a reason most people go for drinks on a first date.  But dinner isn’t just dinner on Valentine’s Day. So make sure to pick a restaurant that shows you put a little thought into this.

Here are a couple Bite- Sized Valentine’s Day picks…

Bobo.  This French restaurant in the West Village is the perfect quaint and quiet backdrop for a romantic night.  The food will impress.  Just make sure you will too.

In Vino.  This Italian restaurant in the East Village is warm and cozy.  A nice bottle of vino at In Vino is sure to set the mood.

Marc Forgione.  This rustic American bistro in Tribecca is known for their exceptional food and killer cocktails.  What more could you ask for?

Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day can be uber-annoying, especially if there is a pre-fixe involved.  Pre-fixe has me predisposed to think overrated.  Pre-fixe? More like please fix this ASAP, and get me a real menu.   So, if the kitchen is more your scene than Kittichai, then you know what you have to do.  Love is in the air, literally, if you cook at home.  You’re entire apartment can smell like love, or short ribs, which is the same thing really.

Valentine’s day is a Tuesday this year, and it’s hard to prepare a whole meal after work.  So, my suggestion, start early.  Make things this weekend you can refrigerate, or freeze, until you are ready to serve them.  Like soup, click here, here and here to see a few soup recipes.  Another recipe you can make in advance? Gnocchi!  Make the dough this weekend, precut the gnocchi and freeze them.  On Tuesday, take them out of the freezer right before you want to cook them. They will just need a few minutes in the boiling water, and voila! You will have a meal sure to impress!!

Craving a little more spontaneity? How about breakfast? This oh so important meal can be a totally unexpected Valentine’s surprise.  Start your morning with pancake hearts or a heart shaped egg in a hole.

Looking to heat things up, but not in the kitchen?  Check out Shag Brooklyn.  This unique adult store, art gallery, event space hybrid is hosting a Valentine’s event for the books.  Aphrodisiacs and Amor is a blindfolded tasting meant to tease, tantalize and tickle your taste buds.  Their words, not mine.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen sex store, and head to Nitehawk Cinemas.  This movie theater takes the idea of dinner and a movie to a whole new level.  The theater has a full restaurant that delivers your food to your seats during the show!

Great, dinner down, but one gift to go…Check out Tasting Table’s Valentine’s Shop.   Of course, this will only work if your Valentine is a foodie.  Otherwise, best of luck to you!

What are you planning this Valentine’s Day?

Souper Bowl

This Bite-Sized Blonde knows a thing or two about basketball, but football? Forget about it.  So, on the most important football day of the whole year, I’m more concerned with the snacks than the sports.   But if you ask me, the real question today isn’t Manning versus Brady, it’s Manhattan Clam Chowder versus New England Clam Chowder.  Super Bowl? More like Souper Bowl!

No matter your preference, I have a recipe for you…

Manhattan Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

So, what’s your tummy rooting for today?  Mine wants a GIANT bowl of Manhattan Clam Chowder!!!

The Juice is Worth the Squeeze

It’s no secret that I love cooking.  And researching recipes, well that’s like foreplay for me.  But not every recipe gets my attention.  What can I say? This Bite-Sized Blonde is one tough cookie, or something that sounds like it tastes better? Who came up with that saying anyway? Why would anyone want to be a tough cookie? Personally, I’d like to think I would be a soft baked cookie, preferably one that was kind of still gooey on inside.  But, I digress.  The truth is, there are a couple key characteristics I look for in a recipe, including accessible and appealing ingredients and the prep to table ratio.  The prep to table ratio is all about time management.  And a wise man once told me it’s all about time management, although I’m pretty sure he was talking about dating.  I, being a Foodie, obviously related that to what I know best.

The prep to table ratio is a tool I use to help me decide if the juice is worth the squeeze.   A time consuming recipe becomes more appealing if it can last longer.  The L word is not one I say often, believe you me, but every now and again I let it slip.   Leftover.   That’s right.  I don’t like leftovers, so my prep to table ratio really only relates to what I can freeze and make again when I’m ready.  I think the best example of this is soup.  It’s time consuming by nature because the flavors develop as the soup cooks.  But, one big pot can make about 10 servings, and with 10 plastic containers, that easily becomes 10 meals.

Have a date coming over for dinner? Heat up a soup.  Got home late from work? Heat up some soup.  Bad weather blues? You get the point.

Porcini Mushroom Soup (makes about 8 servings*)

Ingredients
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces of dried porcini mushrooms
½ ounce of dried maitake mushrooms
½ white onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ teaspoon of mushroom mélange seasoning
½ lb. small new potatoes, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
4 cups water
1 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly grated Parmesan

Directions
Soak the porcini and maitake mushrooms in 2 ½ cups of hot water for about 15 minutes, or until they are soft. Set the mushrooms and the liquid aside in two separate bowls.

Heat a splash of the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot, sauté the onions for a couple of minutes and then stir in the rosemary and potatoes. Add the remaining olive oil and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, the mushrooms and the soaking liquid, 4 cups of water, 1 cup of vegetable stock, salt and mushroom melange seasoning. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes.  Here comes the important step: taste it!  If the broth doesn’t seem flavorful enough, play around! Add salt, pepper or more of any of the ingredients listed above and let the soup continue to cook over medium to high heat for another 30 minutes.  If the broth is too intense, you may want to add more water a bit at a time.

If you are ready to serve, sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve with a piece of crunchy, toasty bread.

Make sure to freeze your leftovers.  Ladle individual servings into plastic containers.  That way, when you come home on a cold, dark night, and want some soup, you can simply grab a frozen soup out of the freezer.

*I usually double this recipe so I have lots of extra to freeze! That way, the juice is definitely worth the squeeze…

Recipe inspired by http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/porcini-mushroom-soup-recipe.html

Soup Solution of Delicious Proportions

That feeling when you know you are about to get a cold can be one of the worst feelings.   It can be so much worse than actually having a cold. When you have a cold, there are medicines you can take to make yourself better.  When you are about to get a cold, you can feel like getting sick is pretty much inevitable, no matter what you do.  But, it doesn’t have to be.

Any Jewish mom will tell you to have a bowl of matzo ball soup; it is known as the Jewish penicillin for a reason.  But this Bite-Sized Blonde has another soup solution for your sniffles.  Carrot Ginger Soup is a not so obvious remedy of delicious proportions.

Most people know that carrots are high in vitamin a, but did you also know they are chock full of vitamin C, which is why they make such a great base for a get-well soup. Ginger is antimicrobial, which means it kills bacteria.   It also helps eliminate congestion, eases throat pain and has been known to combat chills and fever.   Sounds like a winning combo if you ask me.  This soup is even more delicious than it is beneficial, if you can believe it.  This is such a great make-ahead soup to keep in yourfreezer for a rainy day or an unexpected cold.

Carrot Ginger Soup
Ingredients
1 yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup of peeled and finely chopped ginger*
1 ½ pounds of carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
4 cups of vegetable stock
2 cups of water
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Blender (regular or handheld)

Directions
Heat 3 tbs. of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onions, ginger and garlic and sauté for approximately 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Add the stock, water and carrots.  Turn the heat up to medium high and bring the pot to a boil.  Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered over medium heat until the carrots are very tender.  This will take approximately 30 minutes.  If you have an immersion blender, as shown in the pictures above, use this to puree the soup to your desired consistency.  If you have a regular blender, puree the soup in batches by adding portions of the soup into the blender at a time.  Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

*Ginger can be tricky to peel because it is so misshapen.  An easy way to peel ginger is to actually forgo the peeler altogether! Use a spoon to peel the skin away; it helps with all the nooks and crannies!

Recipe Inspired by:
http://whippedtheblog.com/2009/12/01/simple-carrot-ginger-soup/

Post inspired by:
http://cravingsgoneclean.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/get-well-ginger-butternut-squash-soup/

The Wizard of Gaz

And August begins…Doesn’t it feel like it was just Memorial Day? I would say Happy August, but that’s like saying Happy Sunday.  August, like Sunday, is great. But the greatness is overshadowed by the lingering feeling that it’s all about to end soon.

So, while it is still sunny and hot, and the fruits and veggies are still in season, take advantage of what Mother Nature, and your corner produce stand, is offering…tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers oh my! Thinking salad? Think again.  In this heat, the best use for those oh so fresh veggies is Gazpacho.  This cold soup will fill you up and cool you down, without blowing you up.  This dish is gluten free, dairy free, vegan, low fat, high fiber and wheat free.  The only thing this soup isn’t free of is flavor!

Gazpacho

Ingredients
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 yellow pepper, chopped
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes

Directions
Place the tomatoes and garlic in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Add the puree to a bowl.  You can strain the puree if you want a smooth soup.  I personally like a little texture, so I leave the mixture as is.  Add the cucumber, onion and peppers.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a touch of heat! Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Rain, Rain Go Away!

Is it just me or did you think Spring was going to be warm and sunny this year too?  I don’t know what’s going on with this crazy weather, but I don’t like it one bit (queue the temper tantrum).  On a dreary day like this, the best thing to do is curl up on the couch with a big, fat bowl of soup.   There are few things that warm the soul quite the way soup does.  The brilliant thing about soup is that it is easy to make.  So easy, that I make 10 servings at a time.  I eat what I want immediately, put a serving or two in the refrigerator for the coming week, and pop the rest in the freezer.  That way, on a dreary day, much like today, I don’t have to do much to enjoy a nice, hot, delicious bowl of my favorite soup.

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Ingredients
32 ounces of low-sodium chicken stock
15-ounce can of low-sodium cannellini beans
15-ounce can of no salt added diced tomatoes
1 large onion
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small yellow squash, diced
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh sage leaves
1 head of escarole, roughly chopped
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. fresh black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables start to soften.  This should take about 5-7 minutes.  Then, add the zucchini, squash and sage.    Season your vegetables with the salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.  Continue to let this cook for another 5-7 minutes.  Then, add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly and then add them to the soup.  Now, you can add your escarole.  Make sure it is washed thoroughly.*  Let the escarole wilt; this will take about 3 minutes.   You can serve it immediately with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or freeze it! If you are going to freeze it, I suggest pre-portioning it.  That way, when you want a soup, you can simply grab one from the freezer!

*Escarole is really dirty; the leaves hold a lot of sand and dirt.  To wash your escarole, fill a large bowl with cold water.  Place the head of escarole into the water, upside-down.  Shake it around and make sure the water gets in between the leaves.  The sand and dirt will start to fall to the bottom of the bowl.