Ray gardner, sr

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Beef Vegetable Soup - ☺♥

Beef vegetable soup is one of the wonderful soups to serve on a cold day. It is very tasty and after eating it you will feel warm and satisfied. This recipe is presented in narrative form instead of the typical Food Nirvana format as the narrative form is better for describing the reasons why I choose particular ingredients and specific procedures.

I do not have a truly standardized recipe for beef vegetable soup. I make it from memory. What I can do is tell you in general what I do and the ingredients and amounts I typically use. Oh, yes, the soup is quite good, but the exact contents and precise amounts vary from time to time.

I start with good beef for soups, which means I avoid raw lean beef as it will be comparatively tough and tasteless if boiled. So I will make a roast beef with a chuck or sirloin roast, skillet seared and roasted to a well done point per the Food Nirvana recipe, enjoy that at dinner and use the leftovers a day or two later to make beef vegetable soup. Similarly, any leftovers from a standing rib roast or charcoal grilled steaks will be perfect. Those types of beef additions give the soup a very tasty beefy flavor and tender pieces of beef. I suggest having a minimum of one pound of leftover beef when making a gallon of soup. Two pounds is better.

I also use canned beef broth ... College Inn® brand ... typically two or three 14.5 oz. cans. Water is something I add after putting in the beef, the vegetables and the beef broth, and then only to make sure the vegetables are barely covered in liquid. For a gallon of soup I also use a teaspoon of sea salt and one half teaspoon of pepper, figuring that people like to season their vegetable soup at the time they eat it. Thus, this soup is intentionally underseasoned relative to salt and pepper.

Start with a two gallon soup pot and put in the meat after it has been cut/diced into small pieces. Add two cans of beef broth and the salt and pepper.

Now let's add the vegetables ... I start with a 28 oz. can of peeled plum tomatoes in juice and I cut them into quarters and add the pieces and the juice to the two gallon pot. I then dice a medium size onion and add it to the pot. Also three diced cloves of garlic. I then add a can of corn (with liquid), a can of green beans (with liquid), two or three diced fresh carrots, two or three diced stalks of celery and a cup of fresh or frozen (never canned) peas. Peeled and diced russet potato pieces and a can of kidney beans will be added later.

I season the soup with a tablespoon of dried oregano. Other herbs can also be used, like sage or thyme, along with a bay leaf. The amount of any particular herb can obviously be varied. It is a matter of personal preference.

I do not put in the potato until the last fifteen minutes of simmering ... I peel and dice the potato but avoid overcooking it which will make it mealy and too soft. I often use only one very large russet potato and supplement it with the other main carbohydrate ... the can of kidney beans. At some times in the past I've thrown in small amounts of chopped broccoli and/or cauliflower but they are not essential. I've also added a small can of sliced mushrooms (with liquid) to add texture variety.

If necessary, I add the third can of beef broth and possibly a small amount of water to assure that the vegetables are covered in liquid. I bring the soup to a full boil on high heat and then put the pot on a small burner on very low heat, and cover the pot, and let it simmer for an hour ... then I add the diced potato and the can of kidney beans and simmer the soup for an additional fifteen minutes. It is done and ready to eat, with the following caveat ... soups of this sort will always taste better the second day, after the various flavors have had time to mix.

Thus, I do something many people fear, unnessarily ... I cover the very hot soup with a lid and simply let the pot sit on the unheated stove overnight. I do not refrigerate it. After heating and serving some of the soup the next day I do refrigerate the leftover soup or process it with my vacuum sealer and freeze it.

I serve hot beef vegetable soup with a side of Keebler® Club Crackers and butter.

Bouillabaisse - ?
Bouillabaisse is a popular seafood dish that is a melange of different fish and shellfish in a nice broth. I have not tried this recipe from Marie. I will do so and report back. I do notice the lack of any tomato product and also no saffron. I think I will check out some other recipes before making this one. Okay, I checked out other recipes and one with more traditional ingredients follows this recipe as Bouillabaisse II.
4 cups of water

½ cup of dry white wine

5 tbsp. of lemon juice

½ cup of butter

1 tsp. of salt

2 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce

½ garlic clove, minced

½ bunch parsley, chopped

3 lbs. total of (raw) – scallops, oysters, crabmeat, shrimp, whitefish
Combine the first eight ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 15 minutes to meld the flavors.
Add the seafood and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not boil.

Serve the bouillabaisse hot with crusty French or Italian bread chunks for dunking into the soup.

Bouillabaisse II - ?

This recipe from simplyrecipes.com is one I decided to include after Marie’s bouillabaisse recipe as this one appears to have more of the standard ingredients with which I am familiar.
Ingredients: (Serves 6)

  • 3 pounds of at least 3 different kinds of fish fillets, fresh or quick frozen (thaw first)

  • 1/2 cup of Olive oil

  • 1-2 pounds of Oysters, clams, or mussels

  • 1 cup of cooked shrimp, crab, or lobster meat, or rock lobster tails

  • 1 cup of thinly sliced onions

  • 4 Shallots, thinly sliced OR the white parts of 2 or 3 leeks, thinly sliced

  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

  • 1 large tomato, chopped, or 1/2 cup canned tomatoes

  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped

  • 4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced

  • 2-inch slice of fennel or 1 teaspoon of fennel seed

  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2-3 whole cloves

  • Zest of half an orange

  • 1/2 teaspoon of powdered saffron

  • 2 teaspoons of salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup of clam juice or fish broth

  • 2 Tbps lemon juice

  • 2/3 cup of white wine

  • Sliced French bread

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large (6-qt) saucepan. When it is hot, add the onions and shallots (or leeks). Sauté for a minute, then add the crushed garlic (more or less to taste), and the sweet red pepper. Add the tomato, celery, and fennel. Stir the vegetables into the oil with a wooden spoon until they are well coated. Then add another 1/4 cup of olive oil and the thyme, bay leaf, cloves and orange zest. Cook until the onion is soft and golden but not brown.
Cut the fish fillets into 2-inch pieces. Add the pieces of fish and 2 cups of water to the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Add the oysters, clams or mussels (though these may be omitted if desired) and the shrimp, crabmeat or lobster tails, cut into pieces or left whole.
Add the saffron, salt and pepper. Add the clam juice, lemon juice and white wine. Bring to a simmer again and cook about 5 minutes longer.
At serving time taste and correct the seasoning of the broth, adding a little more salt or pepper if need be, and maybe a touch of lemon juice. Into each soup bowl place a thick slice of crusty French bread, plain or slightly toasted. Spoon the bouillabaisse over the bread. If desired, serve it with Sauce Rouille.
Sauce Rouille:
1 tbsp. of hot fish stock or clam broth.
2 cloves of peeled garlic
1 small red hot pepper
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/4 cup of soft white bread, pulled into bits
1/2 cup of olive oil

Put the hot fish stock or clam broth into the bottom of a blender. Add the garlic and red hot pepper, salt and bread. Blend until very smooth. With the blender still running, add the olive oil slowly and stop the blending as soon as the oil disappears.
At serving time pass the Rouille in a little bowl along with the bouillabaisse. Each serving is about 1/2 teaspoon that you stir into your soup. Use it gingerly like you would hot pepper sauce.
Brazilian Fish Stew - ?
I was “fishing around” for a traditional bouillabaisse recipe when I came across this one for Moqueca, or, Brazilian Fish Stew. It looked very interesting so when Janet and I shopped in an Asian market I found the more esoteric ingredients and now I am about to make this stew for the first time.
Simply Recipes® was the Internet source for this recipe and I have modified it only to the extent I use chicken broth when I prepare rice, not water. Otherwise the recipe is identical to the original.
I am really interested in finding out just how good this stew is because it looks really good. I will report back with my results.
Ingredients: (6 to 8 servings)
For the stew:
2 lbs. of boneless skinless fish fillets (halibut, swordfish, cod or haddock)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

4 tbsp. of lime juice

1 1/2 tsp. of Sea salt

1 tsp. of Black pepper

4 tbsp. of Olive oil

1 cup of chopped yellow onion

¼ cup of chopped scallion (green parts included)

½ yellow sweet pepper, sliced

½ red sweet pepper, sliced

2 cups of chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp. of paprika

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (set some aside for later garnish)

1 14 ounce can of coconut milk

1 tbsp. of palm oil
For the rice:
1 tbsp. of olive oil

½ yellow onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 cup of Uncooked rice

2 cups of Chicken broth

1 tsp. of Sea salt

Cut the fish into serving size pieces (6 or 8). Put them into a bowl and add the minced garlic and the lime juice so that all pieces are well coated. Sprinkle the fish generously with salt and pepper. Keep the fish chilled while preparing the rest of the stew.
Make the rice portion. Bring two cups of chicken broth to a simmer in a saucepan. In a second saucepan heat one tbsp. of olive oil. Add the chopped ½ onion, stirring until the onion is translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the raw white rice and stir to coat it completely with the oil, onions and garlic. Add the hot chicken broth and one teaspoon of sea salt. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, cover the saucepan and allow the rice to cook for 22 minutes (some brands of dry rice have been parboiled and require only 15 minutes of simmering, so check which one you have first). Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside, covered.
Now to the stew. Coat the bottom of a Dutch Oven with 2 tbsp. olive oil and heat it on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook a few minutes until the onion is softened. Add the bell pepper slices, paprika and the red pepper flakes. Sprinkle the mixture generously with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes longer until the bell peppers begin to soften. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and the scallion pieces. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the chopped cilantro.
Use a large spoon to remove about half of the vegetables. Spread the remaining vegetables over the bottom of the pan to create a bed for the fish. Arrange the fish pieces on the vegetables. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Then add back the previously removed vegetables, covering the fish. Pour the coconut milk over the fish and the vegetables. Put small dots of the thick palm oil over the surface evenly.
Bring the stew to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover the Dutch Oven and let the food simmer for 15 minutes. Taste it and adjust the seasonings. Garnish the stew with cilantro.
Serve the stew with the rice or with crusty bread.

Chicken Corn Chowder -

Perhaps once in my life I ate Chicken Corn Chowder and I found it to be too bland to be interesting. Years have passed and now I believe it is time to make this dish properly, and that means delicious. As usual I have researched the Internet and a few cookbooks and I have developed my own version … One that attempts to bring together the best of all that I found.
So, what is the best? To begin, bacon is a must, though many recipes do not call for bacon. So it is with various other ingredients, and what I decided was to put all the ones together that made sense, i.e., complementary tastes, and exclude the so-called outliers, like squash.
Yes, I will report back with my results, and (this is becoming repetitious and boring!) whatever changes are appropriate to my first attempt at perfection. Here goes …
6 slices of bacon, fried then broken into pieces

2 tbsp. of butter

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 sweet red or orange or green pepper, cleaned and diced

2 cloves of fresh garlic, diced

¼ cup of flour

2, 14 oz. cans of chicken broth

1 ½ lbs. of diced pre-boiled chicken breast

1 large russet potato cut into small slices or ½ inch cubes

4 large ears of corn, blanched with the kernels cut off and chopped, or two, 15 oz. cans of creamed corn

1 cup of heavy cream

1/2 cup of milk

2 tsp. of fresh thyme leaves

2 tsp. of fresh cilantro (optional)

1 tsp. of ground cumin

2 cups of shredded pepper jack cheese

½ tsp. of sea salt

½ tsp. of black pepper

1 tsp. of Tabasco sauce (optional)
Pre-boil the boneless, skinless chicken breasts for ten minutes on medium heat.

Rinse the cooked chicken breasts in cold water to remove cooking scum and then chop them into ½" cubes or thin slices and set them aside.
Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain. Break up the bacon after it is cool enough to handle into small pieces.
Keep the bacon fat in the pot. Add the butter to the pot and melt it on medium high heat.
Add the chopped onion and the chopped sweet pepper and sauté on low heat until the onions are soft, about ten minutes.
Add the salt, the pepper, the garlic and the flour and stir to mix well and continue to sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the chicken broth, the diced potato, the thyme, and the cumin and bring the pot contents to a boil on high heat. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for ten minutes.
Add the corn, the cream, the shredded cheese and the milk and bring the pot contents back to a simmer.
Add the chicken and the bacon pieces. Simmer for fifteen minutes.
Add the Tabasco sauce if wanted and mix well.
Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro.
This chowder is a complete and very satisfying meal except for possibly adding a light side salad.
Serve it with oyster crackers or Keebler® Club Crackers and butter.
Cream of Broccoli Soup - ☺♥

I had a nice large broccoli crown with a medium large stem that we hadn't used and it was starting to develop a yellow color on a few florets. I like vegetables and fruits to be fresh so I had to figure out how to use the broccoli, for simply throwing it away would be wasteful, and I wasn't about to lightly steam it as I normally do as the quality would be less than we require. By coincidence, I had recently eaten an excellent cream of broccoli soup while vacationing in Florida, so I decided to try my hand at making that soup.

As usual I sought a variety of recipes from the Internet, thought about the ingredient differences between them, and came up with my own composite recipe. I am very pleased with the result, so this recipe belongs in Food Nirvana. I hope you enjoy it as I do. Typically, foods that contain cream and are served hot are not candidates for preservation by freezing, but according to the recipes I read a few indicated that this soup freezes well. I tried that and it worked pretty well. But pretty well isn't good enough! I want perfect soup so I have included instructions in the recipe below to freeze the soup, and vacuum seal it if you can, prior to adding the cream. That will guarantee that when you later thaw the frozen soup and heat it to thicken it and then add the cream that it will be perfect.

Note that you can make cream of cauliflower soup with this recipe by simple substitution, or, you can mix a combination of broccoli and cauliflower and have a unique and very tasty cream soup. Go for it!


One large broccoli crown, about 5 to 6 inches in diameter

2, 14.5 ounce cans of chicken broth

3 tablespoons of butter

½ cup of diced sweet onion

½ cup of diced celery

1 large fresh clove of garlic, diced

3/4 teaspoon of white pepper

1 teaspoon of sea salt

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

10 ounces of heavy cream

2 tablespoons of corn starch


Put the chicken broth into a three quart saucepan.

Break up or cut up the broccoli into florets and stem pieces, after cutting off the bottom of the stem, and add all of the broccoli to the chicken stock.

Add the sprigs of fresh thyme to the chicken stock.

Bring the chicken stock mixture to a boil on medium high heat, covered, then reduce the heat to a very low simmer and simmer the contents for 30 minutes.

While the broccoli is simmering, saute´ the onion and celery in the butter in a small skillet on very low heat until the onion is transparent. Then add the garlic and continue to saute´ for two minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside for 30 minutes, uncovered, to allow the contents to cool.

Remove and discard the thyme sprigs.

Put some of the broccoli and chicken broth into a blender and blend on medium speed until the mixture is completely uniform with a thick sauce consistency. Process/blend the sauteed onion, celery, garlic, butter and the remainder of the broccoli and chicken broth the same way.

Return all of the well blended soup mixture to the saucepan.

Add the salt, the pepper and the corn starch, mixing the cornstarch into the soup mixture completely.

If you plan to eat the soup right away then proceed with the remainder of the recipe instructions below. If instead you want to freeze the soup and use it at a later time then follow the instructions in the remainder of this paragraph. Chill the soup, then vacuum seal it and freeze it. When you are ready to make the final soup then thaw the frozen soup and put it into the three quart saucepan. Proceed as indicated next.

Bring the saucepan contents to a 200+ degrees F simmer/low boil on low to medium heat, stirring often to avoid having the soup mixture stick to the bottom of the saucepan. That will cause the cornstarch to thicken the soup. I recommend using a candy thermometer to approach and then hold the temperature well below 210 degrees F, to avoid boiling the soup.

Once the soup has thickened, turn off the heat, let the soup cool to around 190 degrees F and then add the heavy cream and stir until the soup is well mixed.

Serve the soup and let each guest adjust the seasoning to taste with sea salt and white pepper.

Enjoy! This stuff is really good ... Far better than you might imagine. Serve it with some crackers and butter. You will get nice compliments.

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