Four Clan Kitchen

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Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

Garlic Whey/Buttermilk (Chhachh) Soup

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 4, 2012

For those who occasionally make cheese (ricotta, paneer) etc.  and wonder what to do with the whey/buttermilk, please do not throw this amazing liquid away. I don’t know what the exact term for this stuff is, but I am talking about the greenish milky liquid  that remains when you strain out your cheese   Indians sometimes use it in curries ( in hindi it is called chhach or chhas). This stuff has potential.  I used it in saag paneer the other day and it was better than adding yoghurt and way better than adding cream.

I had come across a 40 garlic soup recipes here and there and it immediately seemed like a marvelous idea.  When I made ricotta last week,  a simplified version of this soup seemed like it would really take to using up the whey/buttermilk and boy did it! Instead of roasting garlic in the oven for 40 min on a weeknight,  I went with slow cooking for about 10 min on the stove.  Perhaps the roasted version is superior, but this  was a great great soup and so easy.  If you dont have whey/buttermilk,  using chicken (vegetable) stock  with a bit of cream will do the trick. The cultured store bought stuff is not a substitute.  I ate this soup with Chinese chili oil, because that’s how I roll.  But my guys ate it with a basmati-wild rice combo (the kind Costco sells).  It would also be great with garlicky croutons and a dash of parmesan.


40 cloves garlic (peeled;  I bought mine peeled)

1 large onion – 2 cups diced

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 cups whey/buttermilk (Substitute 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and 1/2 cup half and half  if you don’t have this stuff)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (1 used 2 cup water and 1heaping  tbs+1tsp of Better than bouillon)

2 tbs. butter

2 tsp dried  thyme.


1. Heat butter, add cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sputter and release their aroma.

2. Add garlic and cook garlic on low until garlic browns nicely (about 7-10 min).  You don’t want your garlic to burn.

3. Now add onions, sauté about 10 min, till the onion softens.

4. Add thyme and sauté for a min or so, till you smell its aroma.

5. Add the whey and chicken stock/water+ bouillon and simmer for 25 min till the onions and garlic are completely soft.

6. Blend using an immersion blender.  This step seems to make the soup more airy, like a colloid and gives soups a better texture than the food processor.  I have no idea how a blender compares,  I don’t have mine out on a counter and never get around to using it.

7. Serve with a garnish of Chinese chili oil.  For a heartier meal,  serve with a basmati-wild rice mix or with garlicky croutons.


Posted in Brunch, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Soups, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pumpkin-Pecan Soup

Posted by fourclankitchen on December 9, 2011

I came back from my weekly grocery shopping foray craving pumpkin soup, something rich and nutty and rib sticking.  I found this recipe for pumpkin soup on Simply Recipes. As written,  this is a rich soup, and it wants to be this way.  So just don’t take out the butter and half and half.  Just don’t eat too much of it, ok?

I made a few changes to the original recipe.  These include substituting half and half for the heavy cream and adding some ground up toasted pecans as a thickener.   I tried a garnish with chives and cilantro, but the flavors were discordant with the creamy mellowness of the soup.  What was lovely instead was a generous garnish of toasted pecans and cracked black pepper.  Because I loaded the soup up with cracked pepper, I omitted the red pepper called for in the original recipe.


4 tbs butter

1 large red onion, diced

3 large cloves garlic, minced (more if desired)

1 1/2 ”  ginger, peeled and minced (don’t reduce this)

1/2 cut pecans toasted (about 1/4 cup ground, the rest coarsely chopped)

2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/3-1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cans pumpkin puree (not pie mix)

1 1/2 cups 2% milk

1/2 cup half and half

2 tbs.  “Better than Bouillon” vegetable soup base (substitute 3-4 cup chicken stock if desired, add more if you want a thinner soup)

3-4 cup water (if using the soup base and not the chicken stock)

Fresh ground cracked pepper (1-2 tsp)


1 Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the ground pecan, coriander and curry powder and stir for a minute.

2 Add pumpkin puree  and the soup base and water (or chicken stock) and blend well. Bring to a boil.

3 Add brown sugar and mix. Slowly add milk while stirring to incorporate. Add the half and half . Adjust seasonings, salt and sugar to taste. If a little too spicy, add more milk or water.

4 Ladle into bowls and sprinkle the top of each with toasted pecans and a generous pinch (upto 1/2 tsp) of cracked pepper.   The soup is wonderful with a nutty bread: we ate it with a cranberry walnut bread for lunch.

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Chinese Wonton-Watercress Soup

Posted by fourclankitchen on June 8, 2011

I have been working non-stop for 5 weeks on a big work-related project.  Its finally submitted, but the rest of my life is a wreck.  So dinner had to be whatever the heck was in the fridge and in the garden. I started by planning an egg drop soup, but had to take a detour since I only had 1 egg.  I  ended up instead with this whatyoumightcallit Chinese soup which had  chicken wontons/ potstickers from the freezer and every vegetable shrapnel from my fridge. As you can imagine, the  vegetables you use are irrelevant, pretty much anything will do.  Also,  I swirled in an egg into the soup at the end, because the initial plan after all was an egg drop soup.  But when I tasted it, it was so full of flavor that I thought the egg was unnecesary.


1 tbs. cooking oil

7-8 cups chicken stock (or water+2 heaping tbs. Better than Buillion Chick Soup Base- this is what I used_

1/2 medium sized onion, diced

1 bunch water cress, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 poblano pepper, thinly sliced

1 large tomato, coarsely chopped

3 large mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

2 tsp. grated ginger

2 fat cloves garlic, grated

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

4-5 basil leaves, cut into strips

1 tbs. soy sauce

1/2 tsp ground black pepper, adjust to taste

1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil for garnish (optional)

10-20 potstickers/wontons (I used the chicken and cilantro wontons sold by Costco-they are smallish).


Heat the cooking oil in a large pot.  Briefly, saute the onions, garlic and ginger, then add the carrots,  peppers, mushrooms and water cress.  Saute for a few minutes, then add the water and boullion or chicken stock.  Now add the cilantro and basil (don’t take out the cilantro, it is the key flavor).  Bring the soup to a boil, then add the wontons.  Cook the wontons through (usually about 10 min).  A few (2-3) minutes before the wontons will be cooked, add the tomatoes.  Finish with the soy sauce and black pepper.  Adjust the soy sauce, if the salt is inadequate.  Ladle into bowls and drizzle with sesame oil if using.  Dig in!

Posted in Asian, Brunch, Chinese, Main Dishes, Soups | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chard and Pea Soup with Cilantro-Mint Pesto

Posted by fourclankitchen on April 17, 2011

Our local farmer’s market is now showcasing early summer greens: chard, cilantro, basil and kale.  I overbought and worked late a couple of nights, resulting in a fridge full of lovely vegetables that needed to be eaten.  So I made soup.  I combined frozen peas with chard for the soup base and made a garlicky  cilantro-mint pesto (minus the chesee and nuts) for an intensely fresh-tasting summer, herby soup  (herbacious if you are a grammer maven).  See for yourself.


For the Soup:

2 tbs. oil ( or butter for a richer taste)

4 cloves garlic (sliced or minced in the food processor)
1 small onion, diced in the food processor
2 cups  peas  (10 oz frozen, use the petite kind, these are sweeter and less starchy)
6 leaves chard,  thick stems removed and coarsely chopped  (these were bought at the farmer’s market, use 4-5 store bought leaves)
1 heaping tbs. better than bullion (or replace with chicken stock and reduce the water)
4-5 cups water

Few grinds of black pepper (optional)

1 tbs. lightly beaten yogurt (optional)

Cilantro-Mint Pesto

2 cups cilantro, tender stems included
1/2 cup spring onions or scallions: green and white parts
1/2 cup mint, stemmed
salt to taste
4 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil


1. Set a pot of water to boil and blanch the chard and the peas for 3-5 min. Drain.

2. Add oil in a large soup pot.  When hot, add the cumin and garlic and saute for a few seconds, until fragrant.
3.  Add the onions and saute for about 5 min, then add the chard and peas.
4. Add a heaping tbs. of “better than boullion”, and mix thorughly so that it is fully incorporated, then add the water.  Alternatively, add chicken stock.

5.  Bring the soup to a boil and turn off the heat.

6.  While the soup is coming to a boil, make the pesto.

7. In a food processor, add garlic, cilantro, mint, olive oil, lime juice and salt to taste.

8. Pulse till fully pureed.  Remove to a small bowl.

9.  Scoop out the solids from the soup into the food processor and pulse briefly till it forms a coarse puree.

10. Add this and the pesto back to the soup pot.  Bring to a boil.  Taste and adjust the salt.  Add a few grinds of black pepper.

11. Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt if desired.

12. Serve with your favorite bread or with parmesan crackers (what we ate).  Mmmmm…

Posted in Brunch, Main Dishes, Soups, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Roasted Acorn Squash and Kale Soup

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 25, 2010

I find vegetables in the squash family a little mealy with flavors teetering between being sweet and bland. The typical recipe for a squash prep calls for enhancing the sweetness of the squash by smothering it in butter and sugar (and some sweet spices). But another way to enhance a squash’s flavor is to cure it of its blandness by adding spices, particularly a little heat. Or you could do both and push it into another dimension by roasting it in the oven prior to whatever prep you have in mind. Here I want to describe a kale acorn squash soup which retains the basic composition of a broth based soup, but has been kicked up a few notches with a combination of Indian/Mexican spices and sugar.

So here is how you do it. Roast the acorn squash a day or two ahead. If you do this, ahead of time, this will be a no more work than any other weekday dinner prep. In fact do a couple squashes, scoop out the flesh and freeze some portion of the flesh until further use.

So you’ve got your squash all roasted up. Start the soup. Heat an oil-butter mix and sauté some whole spices (I used cinnamon, cumin, fennel). Add ginger, garlic, onions, celery- cook briefly. Then add kale and allow it to soften. Add the roasted squash puree and sauté a little bit longer. Add broth, water salt and cumin, paprika and cinnamon. Mix until everything is blended. Cover and cook for about 5-10 min.


1 ½ small acorn squash.
1 medium sized onion
3 ribs of celery
1 bunch kale
2 tbs. oil
2 tbs. butter
4 cloves garlic
½ ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin pwd.
¼- ½ tsp. cinnamon
salt to taste
2 tsp sugar or to taste
4 cup chicken broth
1 cup water

Roasting acorn squash:

Heat oven to 350˚F. Halve 2 acorn squashes, scoop out the seeds, and rub the cut surfaces with oil, kosher salt and cayenne pepper (you could use paprika if you dont want the heat). Roast for an hour or until a knife inserted into the flesh glides through it easily. Cool slightly and scoop out the flesh with a largish spoon. Save some portion of it (I used half a squash for making a ravioli-pea-squash dinner and used the rest for this soup).

Chop onions, celery and mince ginger and garlic in the food processor. You could do the onions and celery together and the ginger and garlic together. Rinse and roughly chop the kale into 1” strips. Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pan (a Dutch oven is ideal). Add the fennel, the cumin seeds and the cinnamon stick and sauté till fragrant. Add the onions and celery and cook till softened-about 5-7 min at medium-high heat. Then add the Kale and sauté till kale is just beginning to soften- another 5 minutes. Add the squash and mix ingredients thoroughly. Then add the water and broth and the powdered spices (cinnamon, paprika, cumin) and sugar. Cover and cook for 5-10 min till soup comes to a low boil. Adjust the salt and sugar and add a few grinds of pepper. Serve with a carbo of your choice and a salad.

Posted in Main Dishes, Soups, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

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