Oh! The past couple of days have been extremely cold. This past Saturday was the coldest day so far. Freezing.
I wanted something hot. Something to warm me up. Then I remember a simple soup recipe from Haalo (Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once). I’d saved it a long time ago. It was time to pull it out. I liked that the recipe was simple. I like simple recipes. I like no fuss recipes. This was my kind of recipe.
It called for fresh peas. I bought frozen peas, which worked fine. The recipe also called for capsicum. Capsicum? What was that? I had no idea. After looking it up, I found that that it’s a common name in Australia and Britain for pepper. In North America and Canada, it is commonly known as Bell Pepper ( In other countries it’s also known as Cayene Pepper, African Chillies, Tabsco Peppers, Pimiento and more.). Ahhh! Now I understood. One Red Bell Pepper coming up. I love to learn something new from my fellow bloggers.
I prepared my soup. It tasted delicious! I offered some to my mom. At first she was hesitant and then she said, "yes."
She finished one bowl and then asked, "Is there any more soup?"
LOL! Yup! My soup tasted Mmm, Mmm good. We were both warmed up by this simple, delicious Vegatable Soup with Orzo.
Even one of my dogs got in on the action when I left a few drops in the bowl. I turned around for just a second and she reached up on her hind legs and pulled the bowl down to the ground from the table. She quickly cleaned it out with her long tongue. Yup! I’ll say that even the dog enjoyed the soup, too.
Thanks Haalo for this recipe!
Little bit of soup left in the bowl, before the dog got to it. *sigh*
Vegetable Soup with Orzo
Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once
1 large red onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 small red capsicum, finely diced
1 large stalk of celery, finely diced
1 zucchini, finely diced
1 large tomato, diced finely
salt and freshly ground white pepper
handful of orzo, per person
I’ve made a very simple vegetable soup and the ingredients should only be used as a guide – feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand.
Place a little olive oil and butter into a saucepan over a medium heat – when butter has melted add the onion, carrot, celery and red capsicum and cook slowly until the vegetables start to soften (you may need to turn the heat down to ensure they don’t colour).
Now add the zucchini and cook until it has started to soften and then tip in the tomato. Wait until the tomato starts to break down before adding the orzo followed by enough boiling water (or stock if so desired) to cover the vegetables by about 2cm/1inch.
Turn the heat up to maintain a boiling temperature and cook for about 5 minutes. Remember to keep stirring so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add the fresh peas and then taste and season with salt and freshly ground white pepper.
Turn off the heat and cover and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes – during this time the pasta will finish cooking by absorbing the cooking stock but won’t become mushy.
Before serving add a little more stock if it looks a little dry and bring it back to temperature.
After watching Tyler Florence on his food show called Tyler’s Ultimate, I decided to go for it and try his Ultimate Paella recipe.
His food show is interesting. He picks a themed ingredient or food and travels around the world to find out the history of the food and how it’s made it that part of the world. Then he returns home, to the U.S., and makes the dish with his own spin on the recipe.
In the episode of The Ultimate Paella, Tyler first traveled to Spain to watch the preparation of authentic Valencia paella (Paella Valenciana). I found the main ingredients very different to what I’m used to eating – snails, rabbit, and something else I don’t remember. The man from Valencia said that the locals there don’t use seafood because they are farmers and use meats around them.
Next, Tyler went to Miami, Florida to watch two guys make their version of paella –Cuban style (Paella Cubana), in which they included chorizo sausage and lots of seafood.
Finally Tyler came home, to New York City, to make his version of paella, which he called The Ultimate Paella.
When I first made the paella, I mentioned it to my friend Nancy. She’s lived over 20 years in Spain and told me that paella is very much a traditional Sunday family meal in Spain. There are different varieties of paella. The best is made along the Eastern coast of Spain, from Valencia to Alicante, a rice-growing region.
She enjoys a paella mixto (mixed paella), which is made with chicken and seafood like shrimps, clams, mussels and calamari. Recently, she tried arroz negro (black rice), which she said is delicious. Apparently squid is a part of the ingredients and its ink gives the rice a black color. Interesting. I think I’d like to try it.
Nancy also told me that there is a type of paella, which consists mostly of vegetables, including green beans and “habas,” which are like lima beans. A more liquidly and soupy paella version, called “arroz caldoso” is very good, Nancy said. She and her husband have their favorite paella places, which they like to frequent. Sometimes a few scoops of paella are given to the patron when he or she has a beer or wine.
I can’t wait to try some paella in Spain, but until then I plan on making some at home. So far, I’ve made it twice.
My paella came out okay for a first timer. I enjoyed the taste of the clams, shrimp, chicken and chorizo sausage, but I had a problem with the way the rice cooked. The recipe calls for short-grained rice, but I used a long grain Jasmine rice because that’s what I had in the house. Nancy confirmed that it’s important to use short-grained rice for paella.
The more I cook, the more I discover that the proper pots and pans make a big difference in the outcome of the food. The first time I made the paella, I used a deep pot to make it and realized that the rice would have cooked better in a large paella pan or a wide shallow (none of which I had.).
When I visit Spain, I plan on buying a nice authentic paella pan, but in the meantime, I decided to buy one from Amazon.com. The second time I made my paella, I used the paella pan and I cooked with short-grained rice. While the pan has served its purpose for making paella, it is a cheap, but it will do for now. Nevertheless, my paella tasted even better the second time around, and so I dedicate this post and my meal to my two friends in Spain — Nancy and Tattum. Paz
THE ULTIMATE PAELLA
Spice Mix for chicken, recipe follows 1 (3-pound) frying chicken, cut into 10 pieces 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 1 Spanish onion, diced 4 garlic cloves, crushed Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish 1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed 4 cups short grain Spanish rice 6 cups water, warm Generous pinch saffron threads 1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined 2 lobster tails 1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed Lemon wedges, for serving Special equipment:
Large paella pan or wide shallow skillet
Rub the spice mix all over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Heat oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken skin-side down and brown on all sides, turning with tongs. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from pan and reserve.
In the same pan, make a sofrito by sauteing the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld. Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in water and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron. Add the clams and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, when the rice is filling the pan, add the lobster tails. When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it’s perfect.
Cook’s note: The ideal paella has a toasted rice bottom called socarrat.
Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with peas, parsley and lemon wedges.
Spice Mix for chicken: 1 tablespoon sweet paprika 2 teaspoons dried oregano Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken; marinate for 1 hour, covered