Soup À La Carte

Why not? When buying a new car you can build a custom auto to your liking. Otherwise we’d all be driving black cars. So why not create a recipe that allows you to build your own soup. You can then tweak the recipe to play casual or more formal, depending on the occasion.

With a chill in the air, use my Potato and Leek Soup recipe as the base of your soup à la carte; it allows for so much creativity, on your part. Basically, this recipe is a blank canvas for you to adapt the addition of most winter vegetables, meats, seafood, and legumes. 

Tips:

Use approximately 1 cup of any vegetable, meat, seafood or legume. 

Cut up any additions into small or maximum one-half to one inch pieces. Why so small? Simply, so it fits on a soup spoon. 

Adjust flavor by grilling a piece of salmon vs. poaching. For a delicate flavor poach the meat or seafood in the soup itself. For a more robust flavor pre grill if you crave a little smoke taste. 

Change presentations by serving a larger piece of fish or meat in a soup plate and use a half-cup of the base Potato Leek Soup as a sauce garnish; served around the fish or meat. In a more formal setting, include a knife and fork for guests ease.

Vegetables:

corn, cabbage, escarole, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, yams, etc.

Meats:

chicken, pulled pork, smoked ham, cooked pancetta, cooked bacon, etc.

Seafood:

cod, shrimp, scallops, crabmeat, salmon, oysters, etc.

Dairy & Eggs:

poached egg, Gruyere cheese, parmesan, sour cream, yogurt, non-fat half & half, etc. 

Legumes:

black, chick peas cannellini, navy, red beans, etc.

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A simple staple like a potato can make for a very hearty and satisfying soup.

Potato Leek Soup

Makes eight servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Living it UP! cookbook

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter

1 cup sweet onion, chopped

1 leek, whites only, washed and chopped fine

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

3 cups Yukon Gold Potatoes, *scrubbed & medium diced

3 cups chicken broth

6 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

1/4 cup half and half

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Pre heat a medium size soup pot. Add olive oil, butter, onion, leek and garlic. Cook two minutes until onions are translucent.  Add nutmeg, chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of chives.  Bring soup to boil, then lower to simmer cooking for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. 

Puree half of soup mixture, leaving remaining chunky bits of potatoes. Ladle soup into bowls, top each serving with a drizzle of cream, cheddar cheese and remaining fresh chives.

*Good to Know: Wash potatoes and leave skins on to preserve the nutrients in the flesh of the potato. A great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, and dietary fiber. 

13 EPISODES on 4 HD-DVD Disk Set
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Blue Food

With just 80 delicious calories per cup and virtually no fat, blueberries offer us many important nutritional health benefits. 

Blueberries are an excellent source of dietary fiber, and possess antioxidant properties as well. These important antioxidants help neutralize free radicals can prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's. 

Blueberries are also high in Vitamin C. In fact, a serving contains about 14 mg or almost 25% of daily requirement for Vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed for the formation of collagen and to maintain healthy gums and capillaries. It also aids in the absorption of iron and promotes a healthy immune system.

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There are many ways to incorporate blueberries into your diet with a healthy breakfast including a parfait of blueberries, yogurt and granola.

Blueberries are also an excellent way to add sweet and tart flavor to pork, poultry or fish with sauces, salsas and chutneys. Simply simmer blueberries with balsamic vinegar, sweet onion, garlic and peppers. 

Create desserts with blueberry toppings with cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, and mint. Garnish desserts topping off with fresh blueberries like a Creamy Rice Pudding from George Hirsch Lifestyle TV series.  

And a few fun facts:

The blueberry is the official state fruit of New Jersey.

There are only three fruits native to North America; blueberries, cranberries and Concord grapes.

The blueberry muffin is the most popular muffin in the U.S.

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Enter in person at the Create TV Booth NY Times Travel Show, Jacob Javits Center NYC, Friday - Sunday Jan 29th 

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Welsh Rarebit

This 18th century dish from Great Britain hales from Wales and is made with melted cheddar cheese sauce over toast. Think fondue-like only more of a pub-ish lunch; ideal and comforting during cold weather. 

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Making Rarebit

A béchamel or white sauce can be spiced up with a pinch of cayenne pepper, or hot sauce, 1/2 cup IPA (or another good ale), 1 teaspoon prepared English mustard, and pinch of paprika.

Finish the sauce off with 1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese. Whisk in and simmer just until the cheese is melted. Serve a couple tablespoons of sauce over a slice of good wheat toast. Serve as is, or you may want to place the 'rarebit' under a broiler for 30 seconds to brown lightly. Top with chopped chives or green onion. I've also topped this with a slice of good ripe tomato + sweet onion. Enjoy.

A Light Béchamel Recipe | ChefGeorgeHirsch.com

1 Tablespoon sweet butter

1 Tablespoon flour

1/2 cup half & half (can use milk for a lighter version) 

In a small sauce pan over low heat add butter and flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. With a wire whisk add in milk and allow to simmer until slightly thickened.

If using béchamel for rarebit, continue adding ingredients as above and simmer for 5 minutes while continuing to stir. 

13 EPISODES on 4 HD-DVD Disk Set
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