Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche

Crimini Mushroom Soup

Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche

I’m a bit embarrassed to showcase three hot soups in a row because the weather this winter in Southern California has been absolutely beautiful.

Yes, we would love more rain for our thirsty environment, but we keep seeing sunny 70°F + days… week after week. So, my Chicago family and friends and everyone Back East with shovels in hand, I am dedicating these three soups to you. Stay warm kids!

The crimini mushroom, also known as baby bella, is actually a young portobella. They are earthy and more flavorful than common white button mushrooms, therefore an excellent choice for mushroom soup. When paired with velvety rich and tangy crème fraîche, the result is a heavenly bowl of warming potage, no matter the outside temperature.

Soup #3

Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche

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Curried Red Lentil Soup

Curried Red Lentil Soup

Curried Red Lentil Soup
Tomato, Coconut Milk, Lime, Cilantro
Frizzled Shallots

I never met an Ottolenghi recipe that I didn’t like. And Curried Red Lentil Soup is no exception. The Israeli-British chef describes his soup as “healthy and hearty, spicy and straightforward, frugal and fragrant in equal measure.”

He touted his svelte recipe as an antidote to rich holiday foods…but since those holidays are now a distant memory, I’m garnishing with a generous topping of irresistible crispy fried shallots.

Curried Lentil Soup with Tomato and Coconut Recipe

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Rhode Island Clam Chowder

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

Rhode Island Clam Chowder aka Clear Broth Clam Chowder

My apologies to the fine folks of Rhode Island for preparing their eponymous clam chowder with bivalves from Florida. Our local fishmonger carries Cedar Key Sweets, littleneck clams grown in certified clean Florida waters whose aquaculture farm has the highest quality standards. I have been buying them for years, and they are always tender, fresh and flavorful.

With nary a tomato nor cream in sight, Rhode Island Clam Chowder is made from a clear broth and is lesser known than its more popular cousins – Manhattan Clam Chowder (the red) and New England Clam Chowder (the white).

The true briny clam flavor shines through in this lighter version. Bacon and potatoes play supporting roles, while Asian fish sauce adds a layer of depth and umami qualities. Italian parsley and dill bring bright fresh notes as well as adding nice color to the monochromatic soup.

Rhode Island Clam Chowder Recipe

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Winter Radish Salad

Winter Radish Salad

Winter Radish Salad
Feta, Kalamata Olive, Frisée, Baby Celery, Upland Cress
Dressed with Fresh Lime Juice & Olive Oil

It was difficult to resist all those colorful heirloom radishes…and the frilly heads of frisée, hydroponically grown long thin stalks of baby celery and the delicate lime green leaves of upland cress too. While strolling the outdoor aisles of the Torrance Farmers Market – a crunchy, peppery, chromatic winter salad began to take shape.

Watermelon radish – an heirloom Chinese daikon – is a stunner with its white and green shoulders and vibrant fuchsia interior. The taste is mild with almond-sweet notes. Purple radishes – a Korean radish hybrid – are small and plump with a gorgeous violet ring around striated white flesh. They are far more peppery than the watermelon variety. I chose watermelon and purple radishes for their visual appeal and different flavor profiles.

Frisée, baby celery, upland cress, and chives make up the green elements of this winter salad.  With a bittersweet flavor and unique frizzy texture, frisée adds character. Upland cress has pretty leaves with a pungent spicy flavor. The baby celery has an intense celery flavor concentrated in the leaves. Chives bring that mild classic onion flavor.

Winter Radish Salad Recipe

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Hot Mulled Wine with Orange, Spices, and Scotch Whisky

Hot Mulled Wine

Hot Mulled Wine
Orange, Spices, Scotch Whisky
Amarena Cherries

Whether on the slopes or off, Hot Mulled Wine is guaranteed to ward off that winter chill.

A fruity orange juice reduction has a touch of sweetness, warming spices of cinnamon and clove, the exotic flavor of star anise and the unique herbal fragrance of bay. A hearty Cabernet Sauvignon (that’s not too oaky or tannic) is simmered with the orange spice mixture until piping hot.  The wine is fortified with a generous splash of scotch whisky for an extra kick.

When it comes to hot mulled wine, the garnish is important! We jazz it up, otherwise, it just looks like murky fermented juice in a glass. Orange slices and cinnamon sticks are a traditional garnish. Additionally, we skewer luscious amarena cherries to enhance the dark fruit characteristics of the wine. Skol!

Hot Mulled Wine Recipe

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Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini

Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini

Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini
Feta, Kalamata Olives, Oregano, Red Chile Flakes

These large plump shrimp have a striking golden hue. Here, the exotic flavor of saffron – that heady spice derived from the dried stigmas of a crocus – takes a simple shrimp and pasta dish to another level.

Traditional Greek ingredients – kalamata olives, oregano and feta play supporting roles as lemon “two ways” adds bright tangy notes and red chile flakes bring piquant qualities.  And while spaghetti or linguini shapes would work just fine, those robust bucatini noodles magically weave this super-satisfying dish together.

Saffron Lemon Shrimp with Bucatini Recipe

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