Spring Chicken Soup

9 06 2011

Lemon and dill brighten a soup packed with chicken and spring vegetables

Soups are perfect for showcasing the best of each season, from asparagus in the spring to cabbage in the fall and winter. Packed with spring vegetables, this particular recipe is light and summery, making it ideal for warmer weather. A bit of lemon and fresh dill brighten it up and give it a bit of zip.

Some Helpful Tips: Dill is best when it’s fresh (vs. cooked) so add it at the very end of cooking. Don’t use dried dill – it doesn’t have much flavour. Use fresh lemon juice and always zest a lemon whole, before cutting it open to juice it.

This soup is delicious served with fresh Cheddar-Herb Biscuits or Cheddar Toasts (or just some plain bread if you’d rather not fuss!)

Spring Chicken Soup

Makes about 9 to 10 cups

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 X 12 oz. (350 grams) chicken breasts or thighs/legs, bone in and skin on
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 large spring onions (or 1 small regular onion), chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (you could also you a couple of garlic scapes, chopped finely)
  • The zest of one lemon, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 lb. (450 grams) thick asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 12 oz. (350 grams) baby red potatoes (about 2 cups), cut into quarters
  • 6 cups good quality chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (or more, to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Pat the skin of the chicken dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. In a large stockpot or enameled cast iron pot (5.5 quart or larger), heat the olive oil on medium-high.  Add the chicken pieces and brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  2. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate. Add the carrots, leeks, celery, onions and garlic to the pot. Sauté until just beginning to soften, about three minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and thyme and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the asparagus pieces and potatoes. Pour in the chicken stock. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pot and make sure they are submerged in the stock.
  4. Cover the pot and simmer gently on medium heat for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the chicken pieces from the soup. Remove the skin and discard. Using a fork, pull the meat off the bones. Chop it into small pieces and return the chicken to the soup, discarding the bones.
  5. Add the lemon juice,dill and chives and simmer the soup for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve: Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with more fresh dill and chives if desired.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!
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Farmers’ Market Report – July 8th, 2010

8 07 2010

Zucchini blossoms are a rare and delicious summer treat.

Welcome to my first Farmers’ Market Report for Summer 2010!  The markets are at their peak for the next couple of months and this week’s offerings did not disappoint.  In fact, growing conditions in Southern Ontario have been so good this year, there were a few surprises.  Here is a rundown of some of this week’s highlights:

Corn

Corn has arrived at Ontario markets earlier than usual this year.

I was a bit stunned to see the first local corn at the markets already.  Speaking with some farmers, I learned that’s about two weeks earlier than normal this year.  I bought six ears to experiment with, crossing my fingers the quality was going to be decent. The ears were on the small side but the kernels were very tender.  It wasn’t as flavourful as I’d hoped but because it’s so early, I’m sure later harvests will be sweeter. My favourite way to eat corn is boiled, rolled in butter and then topped with salt and pepper. However, if you’re looking for something more elegant, try my recipe for Corn with Red Pepper and Herbs.

Peaches

Like corn, peaches are also early this year.  I didn’t buy any this week but we’ve been having a heat wave so hopefully that bodes well for upcoming weeks (peaches love hot, dry weather).  Peach Tiramisu is an elegant, no-bake dessert that showcases fresh peaches beautifully.

Apricots

Apricots were abundant at this week's market.

I often find raw apricots kind of bland with a bit of a mealy texture but the ones I bought today were pretty tasty.  They had a nice sweet-tartness to them so I ate a few out of hand.  I chose ones on the smaller side but the farmers were selling larger ones as well.  Apricots are ideal for both sweet and savoury recipes; why not make some Spicy Apricot Glazed Grilled Shrimp?

Herbs

Fresh herbs were in abundance this week including basil, mint and dill.  I keep an herb pot during the summer for day-to-day herbs but if I decide to do any large batch pickling or pesto, I’ll head to the farmer’s market to buy large amounts at a good price. To make use of summer herbs, check out my recipes for Pesto Sauce and White Bean Dip with Fresh Herbs.

Summer Squash

Pattypan squash and baby zucchini.

I have a feeling that zucchini are going to take over many gardens this summer, judging by the number and size of them at this week’s market.  Many of the yellow and green zucchini on display were already getting a little big for my taste (smaller ones tend to be less watery and are better for most recipes).  Pattypan squash were also abundant this week. You can make the most of summer squash by making Zucchini Pie with Fresh Basil or a moist Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting.  I was also excited to find zucchini blossoms at a local grocer this week.  They are fragile and rare but will occasionally turn up at local markets.  To use them, try my recipes for Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms.

I discovered another summer squash this week that I was not familiar with: vegetable marrow (see photo below).  I asked the farmer about them and learned that they are very similar to zucchini and are often stuffed with a ground meat mixture.  It seems to be a popular vegetable in England.  You can find a recipe for stuffed vegetable marrow here: Recipe for Stuffed Marrow with Sausage Meat.

Vegetable marrow are similar to zucchini and are delicious stuffed.

Cucumbers

My husband loves cucumbers and often eats sliced cukes with a dash of salt and pepper as a snack.  They also add a fresh note to sandwiches and salads.  A crisp Asian Summer Slaw makes a great no-cook dinner.  Some of the stalls were selling dill alongside baby cucumbers – one-stop shopping for pickle makers.  Pick up some smoked salmon to make a Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad that is accented with fresh dill.

Cherries

Both sweet and sour Ontario cherries were abundant this week.  While sweet cherries are imported from the U.S. each spring, sour ones are harder to find.  My grandmother had a sour cherry tree in her yard so they were the only kind we ever had when I was growing up.  They’re not very good raw but once cooked and sweetened, they have a tartness that is addictive.  For a classic sour cherry pie recipe, check out this one from Epicurious.com: Classic Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust.  If you have sweet cherries, why not make a Cherry Clafouti with Almonds or a simple Cherry Almond Bread?

Asparagus

I was told that this is probably the last week for asparagus this year.  Usually by the end of the season, asparagus is starting to look tired but not this year.  The stalks were thick, robust and vibrant.  This was an exceptional year for asparagus and I enjoyed it in a variety of dishes.  Check out the Asparagus Archives for some delicious ideas ranging from Sesame Noodles with Asparagus and Mushrooms to a rich and decadent Roasted Asparagus Lasagna.

Until next week,

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Smoked Salmon Spread

20 12 2008

 

Smoked Salmon

Things have been pretty quiet this December at The Seasonal Gourmet.  I’ve been busy working on a project and getting ready for Christmas so there hasn’t been a lot of time for recipe development and baking (plus, for dietary reasons I’ve cut back on cookies and sweets this year).  However, it is the season for entertaining family and friends so here’s an easy smoked salmon spread that is delicious on crackers.   You can use reduced fat cream cheese and serve on cucumber rounds to lighten it up a little.

Smoked Salmon Spread

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

  • 4 oz. (113 g) smoked salmon slices (about 5 slices)
  • 1 package (250 g / 8 oz) light cream cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dill sprig, for garnish

 

  1. Make sure cream cheese is at room temperature.  Cut into chunks and place in a food processor.
  2. Add all other ingredients and pulse until mixture is smooth.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.  Serve with crackers or cucumber rounds.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad

29 08 2008

Smoked salmon, cucumber and fresh dill make a refreshing light lunch or first course on hot summer days. Although summer is winding down, cucumbers and dill are abundant right now so give it a try on the next warm day.  The cucumber salad is also a great side dish to grilled or roasted salmon.

Crème fraîche is a thick, aged cream.  Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to find.  If you can’t get it for this recipe, you can used drained, plain yogurt or sour cream but adjust the seasonings because the flavour will not be quite the same.   It’s also possible to make your own. You can check out this link for more information on substitutions:

Crème Fraîche Substitute

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad

The crème fraîche dressing can be made in advance but do not assemble the salad until just before serving because the cucumbers will start to give off liquid resulting in a soggy salad.

Makes 4 first course servings

  • About 5 oz. (140 g) smoked salmon
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche (see note above for substitutions)
  • 2 Tablespoons shallot, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large English (Burpless) cucumber, cut into slices about 1/4″ thick (about 2-1/2 cups)
  1. In a medium bowl, combine  crème fraîche, chopped shallot, cider vinegar, sugar salt and chopped dill.  Stir to combine thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to use.  
  2. Just before serving, mix the cucumbers with the crème fraîche dressing and toss to coat.  Top with smoked salmon and garnish with fresh dill.  Can be served family-style or plated individually.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

 

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad with fresh dill garnish

 

 








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