Zucchini Zoup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Zucchini Zoup! Here’s a delicious way to warm your tummy as the days turn cooler and leaves begin to fall. Try this savory thick and hearty soup made with zucchini. It’s a one-pot meal filled with nutrition. But that’s not all. It can be made from scratch in a matter of minutes. You have the option of a smooth flavorful finish, or allowing chunks of vegetables here and there. I puréed about 3/4 of it so I could still spoon bits of zucchini, onions, and garlic in my mouth to savor. If you like to crumble crackers in the soup, be my guest. From time to time, that’s the only way that’ll do.

ZUCCHINI ZOUP

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 sweet onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, stem removed and roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large zucchini squash, ends cut but skin on, then chopped

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1/4-1/2 cup light cream

Colby Jack cheese, grated for garnish

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, warm olive oil. Sauté sweet onion, jalapeño pepper, garlic cloves, and zucchini squash over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Cover and allow vegetables to cook down until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Using a mini chopper, purée mixture in batches, returning soup to the pan. Over low heat, add chopped cilantro and light cream, stirring constantly until heated through. For a thinner soup, add more light cream. Ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle with grated Colby Jack cheese. Serve immediately.

Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup. Here we go again with another cold soup option. It may sound like an oxymoron, but actually if I called it a Cucumber Smoothie, would you drink it? Perhaps. Tell me this, how many times have you been served ice water with a cucumber slice in it? Or grabbed a hydrating plant-based juice beverage at the corner convenience store? Get the picture. It’s all about the perspective. If you find it challenging to eat cold soup, or just plain WRONG…by all means, pour it into a glass and slurp away. To quote William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Carry on.

YESTERDAY’S CUCUMBER SOUP

Ingredients:

4 mini seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 green onion, chopped

2-3 basil leaves

1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon lime juice

Diced apple, tomato bits, chive snips, and basil leaf for garnish

Instructions:

Reserving garnish to taste, place all remaining I ngredients in a blender. Alternate between Pulse and Liquify settings to purée until smooth. Transfer cucumber mixture into a covered container. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight until chilled. Divide into shallow bowls. Serve garnished with apple chunks, diced tomatoes, chopped chives, and basil.

Vichyssoise Cold Creamier Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Vichyssoise Cold Creamier Soup! Just hearing the word “soup” during the summer months can make someone rolls their eyes enough to make people pay no attention to what is being said. But hear me out. Let me remind you that the silky consistency of melted ice cream actually brings out the flavor more than its frozen counterpart. Right? Well, “vichyssoise” is a French word for velvety smooth potato and leek soup, usually served chilled. When eaten slightly cold, the sheer creaminess is truly divine. Leeks are mild fancy onions, so if you prefer to use yellow sweet onions, permission granted. Personally, for this recipe, I went all out and used both. I also chose Yukon potatoes for their sweet flavor and moist flesh making them fluffy in texture. Make sense? Obviously you can make modifications to suit your palate. Be creative and send me your thoughts.

VICHYSSOISE COLD CREAMIER SOUP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 sweet onion, chopped

3 leeks, thoroughly rinsed and sliced; green and white parts only

2 Yukon potatoes, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

14 ounces chicken broth

1/2 cup light cream

Fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté the yellow onion for 2 minutes until translucent. Add the leeks and sauté 5 minutes longer until soft. Add the diced potatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes longer. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to Simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Carefully transfer small batches of soup to a blender. Purée until smooth. Repeat process until no lumps remain. Pour the smooth texture back into the saucepan. Heat to medium. Add light cream and stir. Soup will thicken within 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature and then chill for one hour before serving. Pour into bowls and garnish with chopped chives. Serve.

Yogurt Tomato Bisque

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Yogurt Tomato Bisque! Before you turn up your nose at the sound of yogurt, hear me out. Here’s a couple of facts you may not have heard about yogurt. Number One, it’s healthy. Number Two, it makes the soup creamier, which is always a plus in my opinion. Number Three, Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt. And, Number Four, it has about half as many carbs, if that’s something that is important to you. All together, that makes it a Superfood. Yada-yada-yada. In the end, what it all comes down to is flavor. Tomatoes can be sweet, so the yogurt adds a little tang, which goes well with a dab of butter. Add herbs and cheese with a slice of garlic toast and you have the “pièce de résistance”. Nicely done.

YOGURT TOMATO BISQUE

Ingredients:

10-12 plum tomatoes, cut in half

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup Greek yogurt

Dab of butter

Colby cheese, finely shredded

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Place plum tomatoes and chopped onions in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with black pepper, sea salt, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Spread onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Roast 30 minutes until browned. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Transfer roasted vegetables to a food processor to purée. In a stock pot, combine vegetable broth and puréed tomatoes. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Gently fold in Greek yogurt. Divide into soup bowls. Garnish with a dab of butter and finely shredded Colby cheese. Sprinkle with marjoram. Serve with garlic toast.

Su’s Garden Chinese Restaurant on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Su’s Garden Chinese Restaurant on Marco Island, Florida! Pay no attention to the golden lions guarding the serpent-wrapped columns as you enter through the glass doors, unless you want to take a photo. Dining areas are set with white tablecloths, printed placemats, and flatware. Meals are served in Old World style on blue and white designed dishes by attentive servers. Portions are generous and filling. The menu offers tasty appetizers, savory soups, and extensive house specialties with steamed or fried rice. Pay attention to the dishes that promote peppery hot, spicy ingredients for those who crave that Szechwan kick. One mustn’t forget a pot of the blended hot tea for the ultimate dining experience. When you can go no further, sit back, break open the fortune cookie, read the message, and eat the cookie. Perfect meals require perfect endings.

Green Chile Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Green Chile Soup! I was rushing through an airport recently and knew I wanted something to eat. The waitress at the Mexican restaurant recommended the full bodied taste of Green Chile Soup. It hit the spot. From the first tangy spoonful of mild green chiles to the gentle creaminess on my tongue, I knew this wasn’t your typical soup. It may have been a regional delicacy, but by making it at home, I saved myself a round trip ticket to Colorado.

GREEN CHILE SOUP

Ingredients:

20 green chiles, large

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

Monterey Jack cheese and cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

Place green chiles on a wire rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast on Broil until blistered and charred. Remove from oven. Cool. Discard stems and seeds. In a large pan, warm butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion. Sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder. Cook until soft. Add roasted chiles and chicken broth. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer mixture back to pan. Stir in cream and Greek yogurt. Gently warm mixture until soup is heated through. Serve with fresh cilantro and Monterey Jack cheese.

Orzo Chicken Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Orzo Chicken Soup! If you like thick soup, this recipe is for you. Every spoonful is filled with veggies, chicken, and pasta. If you prefer to slurp the soup or add crumbled saltines, simply increase the liquid by adding two cups of water or more broth. The soup will thicken as the orzo continues to absorb the liquid. In the event there are leftovers for another meal, feel free to add more liquid until you have the desired consistency. Whichever way you like your soup, get ready to enjoy a flavorful bowl of YUM.

ORZO CHICKEN SOUP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

1/2 cup carrots, sliced

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence

4 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup uncooked orzo

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

3 Bay leaves, dried

Instructions:

In a Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions, sliced carrots, and chopped celery. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle in Herbes de Provence. Add chicken broth and orzo pasta. Stir. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes until pasta is tender. Fold in shredded chicken. Tuck bay leaves into soup. Heat until soup is hot and bay leaves are soft, stirring gently. Ladle soup into bowls. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Xavier Dumpling Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Xavier Dumpling Soup! Everyone loves dumplings, those little flavorful puffs of dough soaked in chicken broth, surrounded by fresh vegetables. Xavier soup got its name in honor of the patron saint of missionaries and may be served on the feast day celebration in December. I like the soup so much I can’t wait all year before making it again. Taste it once and you’ll see what I mean.

XAVIER DUMPLING SOUP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1/4 cup matchstick carrots

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded

4 ounces evaporated milk

10.5-ounce can cream of chicken soup, concentrated

20 ounces chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tube buttermilk biscuits

2 tablespoons flour

Parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

In a Dutch oven, warm butter over medium-high heat. Do not scorch. Add diced onions, sliced celery, matchstick carrots, and minced garlic. Sauté until tender, 6-8 minutes. Add shredded chicken, evaporated milk, condensed cream of chicken soup, and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Cut the biscuits into quarter pieces; lightly toss in flour. Add the biscuit chunks to the pot; Cook 8-9 minutes. Once the biscuits are cooked through, ladle into bowls, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.

Zuppa Toscana

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Zuppa Toscana! The secret to great Italian soups can be found as near as your local Italian restaurant. However if you want to save a little money, now you can create a mouth-watering meal at home in your very own kitchen. Don’t believe me, check your pantry. With basic ingredients plus Italian herbs, you can get outstanding results. Pick up bakery fresh breadsticks or focaccia bread for a hearty meal. Buon Appetito!

ZUPPA TOSCANA

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian sausage, ground

1 sweet onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 potatoes, washed with peel on and cut into chunks

14-ounce can chicken broth

1 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons flour

1 cup heavy cream

2 ounces diced pimentos

2 cups kale, gently torn

4 strips of thick-sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium heat, brown Italian sausage until fully cooked and crumbled. Add onion, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir and continue cooking until onions are soft. Reduce heat to keep warm. In a 2-quart pan, add potato chunks, chicken broth, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Blend flour with enough water to make a paste. Slowly add flour mixture to potatoes, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add sausage mixture. Stir to combine. Simmer 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add heavy cream, diced pimentos, torn kale, and crumbled bacon. Heat through. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve with breadsticks or focaccia bread.