Hearty Harira Soup

28 Aug

Meaty soups are good all year round, summer included. Or in my case, I was feeling under the weather, and a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup left me incredibly disappointed – I didn’t recall supermarket chicken soup being so…bland, yet tinny. So I decided to make this harira soup and set it to cook in my slow cooker overnight, so I could awake to its hearty aroma. You can also make this soup over the stove.

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This recipe calls for boneless lamb, but I got a nice 0.86 lb hunk of lamb shoulder with a large bone in the middle. I cooked with the bone in the soup – just remember to remove it before serving!

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup dried red lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • ¾ cup celery, diced (about 3 ribs)
  • 28oz canned tomatoes, chopped, with juice
  • 5 cups chicken stock or water
  • ~ ¾ lb boneless lamb rack or shoulder, cut into 1-centimeter dice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp tumeric
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • pinch saffron threads
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 4 Tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro

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Directions

  1. In a large pan, sautee onion in olive oil until soft, about 2 minutes.DSC02305
  2. Add lamb, and cook 2-3 minutes until lamb pieces are seared.
  3. In a large (6 quart or larger) slow cooker, add chickpeas, lentils, celery, canned tomatoes, chicken stock and water, sugar, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger.  Add the onions and lamb.
  4. Stir lightly to combine.Harira soup
  5. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
  6. Add lemon juice, spinach, and saffron threads. Stir.DSC02307
  7. Serve, with chopped cilantro.

Makes about 3 quarts

 

Delicious and Healthy Breakfast: Walnut Avenue Cafe, Santa Cruz

17 Jul

Kicking off our road trip from San Jose down to San Diego, California, hubby and I were in search of a hearty but healthy start to our day. We found it at the Walnut Avenue Cafe in Santa Cruz.

My veggie scramble was fantastic. I hate it when scrambled eggs are too buttery, this was not it. And it came with a fruit cup and rye toast. The scramble may look simple, but it was so perfectly prepared.

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Hubby ordered a build-your-own omelette, stuffed with chorizo, onions, bell peppers, and avocado. 

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Check out all that avocado inside!! And, the side of potatoes were some of the best breakfast potatoes I’ve tried. Again, simple, but perfectly prepared.

We shared a plain, fluffy waffle too. Yum! What a perfect breakfast. I only wish I had ordered a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. The large glasses looked amazing at the other tables.

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The Final Word: A solid breakfast/brunch here, with simple ingredients done well. I would definitely come back!

Info: Walnut Avenue Cafe, 106 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060 USA

Walnut Avenue Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicken Tortilla Soup

10 Jul

A couple years ago, I had the best chicken tortilla soup ever at Iguana Cantina in Aruba. I’ve been trying to imitate that recipe ever since. I’ve tried many recipes, sampled other tortilla soups stateside, and nothing has ever come close. There have been soups that were too thin, too brothy, too tomatoey… but alas, I have finally got something as delicious as Iguana’s version!! Here’s a super healthy, thick, flavorful, chicken tortilla soup that’s gluten-free and made without cream! (Insert happy dance here).

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs), cut into large pieces
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped  
  • 2 red or orange bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 30 oz cannelini beans (two 15 oz cans, drained and rinsed)
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • Optional toppings: corn, avocado, sour cream, tortilla strips

Directions

  1. Sautée carrots, celery, bell peppers, onion, and garlic until fragrant and soft. Put into slow cooker.DSC05839
  2. Sautée chicken pieces until brown on all side, about 3-4 minutes. Add to slow cooker.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the slow cooker (except those marked “Optional toppings”)
  4. Cook in the slow cooker 8 – 9 hours on LOW or 4 – 5 hours on HIGH.
  5. Remove chicken and place in a separate bowl. Shred the chicken.
  6. Puree the rest of the soup using an immersion blender, or in a blender.
  7. Return chicken to the soup. Add corn if desired.
  8. Ladle into bowls, and serve with diced avocado, sour cream, or tortilla strips if desired.DSC05842

Great Mole, but Skip Everything Else – New Rebozo, Chicago

4 Jul

Based on good Yelp reviews and a recommendation from a colleague, hubby and I decided to check out New Rebozo. Let’s start with the highs of the dining experience. Or should I say the “high”, singular. That was the mole fiesta, a plate of six enchiladas each covered with a different mole sauce. From left to right: classic chipotle chocolate, pumpkin, cinnamon, macadamia, guava, almond. My favorites were the pumpkin and the chipotle. The guava was to sweet for me but my husband really liked it. Overall, a very rich, filling, beautiful, and delicious entree.

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Now on to the rest: The guacamole was good, but overpriced at $10 for an ice cream scoop-sized serving. And , my husband’s famous guac is better.

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Shrimp ceviche was beautifully presented, but otherwise nothing to write home about.

New Robozo - ceviche

 

The chicken tortilla soup was beautifully presented, but odd – everything was arranged in the bowl, sans broth at first. And then the server poured into the bowl at our table…while the micromanaging chef/owner presided, providing additional instructions to the nervous server in Spanish. Somehow, the soup did actually pack some flavor, but it wasn’t really my style I prefer my own chicken tortilla soup recipe! (To be posted next week!)

New Rebozo - chicken tortilla soup

Speaking of the chef/owner – he greeted us as we entered the restaurant, and introduced himself again soon after we sat down. Hubby thought his white chef’s jacket was  too pristine – should it not be slightly stained from an evening’s work in the kitchen? But Chef was busy showing of menu items to us and other diners on a tablet. Certainly a tad unconventional but not a huge deal.

What was a bigger deal was the huge disappointment named Shrimp Tacos – the shrimp were overdone and rubbery, the tortillas were stiff and stale, and there was too much green sauce – perhaps an attempt to moisten the hard tortillas.

New Rebozo - shrimp tacos

Meanwhile, the chef/owner stopped by our table to check in with us constantly – Yes, we’re having a fine time, yes, the soup is fine, ok,  I already shook your hand three times already, and can I please just get back to a conversation with my husband?

So, at the end of our constantly-interrupted, meal, we weren’t really craving dessert. But by “Checking in” on Yelp, we could redeem a complimentary jalapeno ice cream.  It turned out to be a chocolate ice cream with a spicy kick. It was unique, but honestly, I’d prefer just a plain chocolate ice cream. I didn’t get much out of the spicy, burning sensation in my throat.

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The Final Word: Overall, the moles were delicious, but everything else was forgettable – I’d certainly like to forget the strange service at this place. 

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Info: New Rebozo, 46 E Superior Street, Chicago, IL, 60611 USA

New Rebozo Chicago Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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