Archive for the ‘Soups and Stews’ Category

A Belated (but fun!) Halloween

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

I don’t get trick or treaters here in the wilds of western Massachusetts, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying Halloween this year. My house was festooned with my favorite fall decorations on Tuesday. Cocoa the dog reluctantly donned her turtle costume. And I made Halloween treats with my friends on the show Mass Appeal.

Actually, the first recipe we prepared wasn’t a treat; it was a hearty soup I recommend for Halloween night (or any other fall evening). Pam’s Country Ham and Potato Soup (the recipe is here; I shared it a few years ago) is so warming and delicious I don’t want dessert after dining on it.

I did feel the need to feature a treat on the air as well, however, so we made festive sweets from the recipe box of one of my area’s best bakers, Paula Rice of Charlemont. In plastic wrap or a sandwich bag, they’re an ideal hand out for trick-or-treaters. They’re also tasty all fall long. (Paula reports that she hasn’t made them yet this year, but she’s going to!)

The recipe below is Paula’s. Instead of her filling, I used my traditional cream-cheese frosting. Either way, the pies are welcomed by adults and children. They taste like pumpkin, spice, and fall.

Paula’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies


for the cookies:

1 pound light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I use Canola)
2 eggs
1-3/4 to 2 cups pumpkin puree (freshly cooked and mashed, or a 15-ounce can)
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves, and ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour

for the filling:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the cookies: Combine the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and spices in a large bowl, mixing well. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in the flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Lightly grease baking sheets or line them with parchment or silicone. Drop rounded 2-tablespoon portions of dough onto the sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are firm. (A slight indentation where your finger tests them is allowable.)

Cool the cookies completely; then get ready to fill.

Beat together the filling ingredients, and spread them between whoopie layers. If you’re NOT handing these out to children in bags, feel free to decorate the tops as well.

This recipe makes about 20 filled pies. If you wish, you may make your whoopie pies bigger or smaller than indicated. (Paula likes small ones.)

If you make them bigger, you may have to cook them a little longer; smaller, a little less time.

And now the videos:

Tinky Makes Pam’s Country Ham and Potato Soup on Mass Appeal

Tinky Makes Paula’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies on Mass Appeal

Soup Nights (and Days!)

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Betty Rosbottom spent her formative years in areas known for their food. In her childhood home of Memphis, Tenn., she enjoyed that city’s signature barbecue. She attended college in New Orleans, where she learned to love Cajun and Creole dishes. She spent her junior year at the Sorbonne savoring French cuisine.

Nevertheless, she spent no time in the kitchen herself until she married. “I couldn’t cook a thing during any of my upbringing,” Betty told me in a recent telephone interview. “I was just an appreciator.”

Her husband gave her a copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking as a wedding present. “It was my first learning experience about food,” recalled Betty. “I was so naïve I thought ALL recipes were five pages long.”

Once she started cooking, she never stopped. She founded a cooking school in Columbus, Ohio, in the late 1970s and learned from guest teachers like gourmet legend Jacques Pepin and “queen of cake” Maida Heatter. Eventually, she attended the Parisian cooking school La Varenne.

Betty has written a syndicated food column, hosted a PBS food show, taught cooking in many venues, and written 11 cookbooks. The most recent of those books is Soup Nights, published just in time for National Soup Month (January) by Rizzoli.

I asked Betty about her earliest happy recollection of soup. Ironically, she told me, her first beloved soup—French Onion Soup Gratiné—graces the front cover of “Soup Nights.” She fell in love with this classic French favorite at les Halles, Paris’s big central market, during her junior year abroad. Les Halles has since closed; I am lucky enough to have visited the market and tasted that ambrosial soup as a small child.

Betty loves soup in general as well as in particular, however. “For me [soup is] just a sense of well being,” she explained. “Every culture has soups. They’re comforting. They can be hot. They can be cold. In the winter they warm you up, and in the summer they cool you down.”

They can also be very forgiving,” she added, noting that a thin soup can be thickened or a thick one thinned. “If you put a little too much salt in a soup, you can put in a raw potato.”

Soups are handy for anyone looking for a simple, inexpensive way to entertain, she noted. “Not only can you make soup in advance and it’s helpful for you as a host or a hostess, but it improves with time.”

I asked Betty to walk me through the process of creating one of the recipes in Soup Nights. She explained the thinking behind her Winter Tomato & Garlic Soup, which uses ingredients she tends to have in her cupboard—canned tomatoes, chicken stock, onion, garlic.

“I love tomato soup,” she enthused. “As a child I the only tomato soup I ever had was the one that came in the red-and-white Campbell’s can. It was a revelation to me that you can make tomato soup.

“I always like to give a kind of citrus taste to tomato soup. This one has orange zest. It lightens the soup a little bit.”

Eager to help readers figure out what to serve with their soup (her book features sandwiches, salads, and desserts as well as straight soups), Betty Rosbottom suggests pairing the tomato soup with Gorgonzola bruschette.

“When we have a nor’easter coming, this soup will serve a lot … and it gets better when you make it ahead of time.”

Betty Rosbottom wasn’t at liberty to tell me what her next project will be, but she predicted that it will be “very popular.” She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, but she is spending January in her favorite city in the world, Paris, doing culinary research.

In fact, when we spoke she was in her Paris apartment. The long distance connection made me happy if just a little jealous. During our conversation I could almost smell the onion soup!

Courtesy of Betty Rosbottom

“Midnight in Paris” Onion Soup Gratiné

© Soup Nights by Betty Rosbottom, Rizzoli New York, 2016. Used with permission.


for the soup:

2 quarts beef stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pounds yellow onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick, to yield 10 cups
kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar, plus more if needed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dry white wine
freshly ground black pepper

for the croutons:

18 baguette slices, cut about 3/8-inch thick
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1 12-ounce piece good quality aged Gruyère grated to yield 1-1/2 cups and the remainder cut into slivers (1/4-inch by 1-inch long) to yield 1/2 cup


Set the stock in a pot over very low heat; then cover it. Keep the stock warm at a very low simmer while you prepare the soup.

In a 5-quart heavy pot (with a lid) over medium-low heat, heat the butter and oil. When hot, add the onions. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, and raise the heat to medium. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, the sugar, and the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan so that the flour does not burn, until the onions are rich golden (like the color of light brown sugar), 35 to 40 minutes or more.

(While you are cooking the onions, the flour will start to darken too and the onions will cook down considerably. That’s okay.)

When the onions are done, add the simmering stock and 1/2 cup of the wine. Season the soup with salt and pepper, and a pinch or two of extra sugar if desired. Simmer, partially covered with the lid set ajar, 40 minutes more.

With a large spoon, skim off any foam that forms. Add the remaining 1/4 cup wine and season the soup again with salt and pepper. (Soup can be prepared three days ahead. Cook to this stage, then cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)

While the soup is simmering, prepare the baguette slices and the cheese topping. Arrange a rack at center position of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Brush the baguette slices generously on both sides with olive oil and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake until the slices are crisp, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove and cool. (The baguette slices can be prepared two days ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature.) Retain oven temperature.

Arrange 6 ovenproof soup bowls or ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and fill them 3/4 full with the hot soup.

Divide the slivered cheese among the bowls. Float 2 to 3 baguette slices on top of each serving, and sprinkle generously with some grated cheese. Depending on the size of your bowls or ramekins, you may have some soup, cheese, or croutons left over.

Bake the soups until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned, 15 minutes. Watch constantly. If desired, run under a hot broiler to brown more, 1 to 2 minutes. Serves 6.

Winter Tomato & Garlic Soup with Creamy Gorgonzola Bruschette

© Soup Nights by Betty Rosbottom, Rizzoli New York, 2016. Used with permission.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained well
3-1/2 cups chicken broth or stock, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon dried basil
a scant 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more if needed
kosher salt

a scant 1/2 TSP red pepper flakes, plus more if needed
kosher salt
2 small pinches sugar
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon grated orange zest


In a heavy, 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the onions and stir until they start to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, 3-1/2 cups broth, basil, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and sugar. Stir well to combine and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Purée the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, then return the soup to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.) The mixture will be somewhat chunky. Stir in the half-and-half, Parmesan cheese, and orange zest and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the soup is heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. If the soup is too thick, thin it with 1/2 cup extra broth. Season the soup with salt if needed and, if you’d like more heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes. (Soup can be prepared two days ahead. Cook to this stage, then cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring often, over medium heat.)

Ladle the soup into bowls. Serve with the Gorgonzola Bruschette alongside or, if you prefer, float one on top of each serving. Serves 6.

Gorgonzola-Rosemary Bruschette


12 baguette slices, cut 3/8-inch thick
olive oil for brushing
1 8-ounce piece creamy Gorgonzola, such as Gorgonzola Dolce, softened slightly
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary


Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Have a foil-lined baking sheet ready.

Brush both sides of the baguette slices generously with olive oil and place on the baking sheet. Bake slices until golden and just crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. (Slices can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature.)

Spread each slice with Gorgonzola; then return to the oven until cheese has melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle each slice with chopped rosemary.

© Harry Zernike. Used with permission.

Soup Weather

Monday, October 24th, 2016
Trish Crapo, a fellow freelance writer, took this photo of me prepping the soup on "Mass Appeal" last week.

Trish Crapo, a fellow freelance writer, took this photo of me prepping the soup on “Mass Appeal” last week.

We are enjoying a roller-coaster of a fall here in New England. At first we thought there might be NO color, thanks to the very dry weather of the past few months. A couple of weeks ago the trees apparently got tired of being drab and started turning gorgeous shades of orange and yellow, along with just a little red.

The temperature has also vacillated. A couple of weeks ago we were routinely very cold. Last week suddenly Indian summer arrived. Over the weekend just as suddenly things turned raw and cold. I hope it doesn’t snow too soon—but I’m not sure that it won’t.

It’s now officially soup weather. I love soup in any weather, but somehow it seems most fitting when temperatures are plummeting. This simple blended soup is warm, hearty, spicy, and even healthy. All the vegetables are in season—at least here in New England.

Seeing cauliflower at a farm stand made me think of the wonderful spicy Indian cauliflower dish aloo gobi. My soup is loosely inspired by it. I’ve never seen aloo gobi that included carrots, but I had a ton of carrots from my farm share so in they went!

Thanks to my cousin Kate Corwin for coming up with the idea of using chopped cashews (following the Indian theme) as a garnish. The gang loved that addition when I made the soup on Mass Appeal last week.


Curried Cauliflower Soup


1 small to medium (or 1/2 large) cauliflower
2 large carrots
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
olive oil as needed for roasting
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
curry powder to taste (if it is hot, use 1/2 teaspoon; if mild, at least 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon cumin seed
salt to taste
1 tablespoon honey
the juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more juice to taste
Greek yogurt for garnish (optional; even better if you put some chopped chives and parsley in it)
chopped roasted cashews for an additional garnish


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roughly chop the cauliflower, carrots, and onion. Toss those vegetables in a small amount of oil, and place them on a rimmed cookie sheet. Place the garlic cloves on a small sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle a little olive oil on top, and close the foil around the garlic. Place the covered garlic on the cookie sheet as well, and roast the vegetables for 1/2 hour, stirring and turning them after 15 minutes.

After removing the vegetables from the oven open the pouch of garlic and smash the cloves. Place all the vegetables in a 5-quart Dutch oven. Stir in the broth, curry powder, cumin, salt, and honey.

Bring the soup to a boil; then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the soup for 1/2 hour. When it has finished cooking, blend it with an immersion blender. (You may also use a regular blender, but in that case blend it in very small batches and watch out for burning.) Just before serving stir in the lemon juice. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a few cashew pieces if you like. Serves 4 to 6.

Here is the video. For some reason there is a gap in the recording beginning 42 seconds in and lasting for almost 50 seconds. Feel free to fast forward during that section!

Tinky’s Curried Cauliflower Soup

Back with Tortilla Soup

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

I'm back!


This week I returned to cook once more with my friends at Mass Appeal. I do a lot of fun things in the winter, but I don’t cook on TV. My Hawley hill is a bit hard to negotiate in icy weather.

Ice is now a thing of the past, however (and wasn’t too much with us this past winter anyway!). The daffodils waft in the breeze, my dog Cocoa has a new spring in her step, and I’m back with co-hosts Seth Stutman and Ashley Kohl.

I straddled two holidays for my Wednesday segment. We’re still in Passover so I made my delicious matzo crunch. (I have shared the recipe before on this blog.)

The gang at Mass Appeal wanted to look ahead to Cinco de Mayo—and so did I. So I revised my previous recipe for tortilla soup. I love the way this soup came out! It’s warm enough for the cool temperatures we’re having yet spicy enough to evoke Mexico and the American southwest.

If you forget about the cheese and the tortilla crisps, it’s reasonably healthy as well.

Here is my new recipe—and below I am sharing the videos for both dishes I made.

Happy Passover. Happy Cinco de Mayo. Happy SPRING! And happy birthday to my dear friend Peter.


Tinky’s Tortilla Soup


for the soup:

extra-virgin olive oil as needed for frying the vegetables
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
6 small (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin (ground or seeds)
1 quart chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (10 ounces) tomatoes with green chiles
1 chipotle in adobo (more if you like), roughly chopped
canola or grapeseed oil as needed for frying tortilla strips
2 cups cooked chicken in strips or chunks (optional but good)
2 cups cooked corn kernels (optional but good)

for garnish:

corn tortilla strips made from 3 of the tortillas
cilantro leaves (optional)
sour cream (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese or queso fresco (optional)
lime wedges to squeeze for juice


In a 4-quart pot or Dutch oven heat a little olive oil. Add the onions, the garlic, and the green pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender (5 minutes or so).

Cut the tortillas into strips. Add the strips from 3 tortillas to the vegetable mixture (set the others aside), along with the chili powder and the cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another minute. Add the chicken stock, salt, tomatoes, and chipotle, and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer the soup, almost covered, for 25 minutes.

While the soup is simmering use the remaining tortilla strips to make a garnish of fried yumminess. Let them sit on paper towels for at least 15 minutes to dry out; then fry them in oil until they are crispy. Set them aside to drain on the paper towels.

Remove the soup from the heat, and puree it with an immersion blender. (You may also use a regular blender as long as you blend carefully in batches.) Stir in the chicken and the corn, if you are using them, and return the soup to the boil. Ladle into bowls.

Garnish the soup with your homemade tortilla strips plus any other garnish of your choice. Serves 4.

And here are the videos!


Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

pot of cherriesweb

My plan for this week’s television segment was sidelined when I got an email from Clarkdale Fruit Farms announcing that the orchard’s cherry crop had come in. I LOVE cherries—and I couldn’t resist the chance to cook with them during their short but glorious local season.

My friend Michael Collins, chef at the new Mexican Fusion restaurant Ponte in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, had recently informed me that he makes gazpacho with cherries. So of course I brought him along to cook with me on Mass Appeal. Michael actually worked a lot harder than I did, but we all had a good time.


I’m not sure I’d swear that I could taste the cherries in his soup—but whatever I tasted, it was awfully good: spicy and substantial. He was kind enough to share the recipe with me, and here it is. If you watch the video below, you’ll see that some of his quantities are subject to improvisation; I KNOW he threw in a lot more herbs and vinegar than he calls for in the recipe!

Cherry Gazpacho web

Ponte Cherry Gazpacho


1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded, diced, an drained (or 2 cups canned seeded tomatoes)
1 pound pitted cherries (about a pint)
1 small red onion
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper in adobo
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cilantro or parsley
the juice of 1 lime and the zest of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons blanched almonds
2 tablespoons mint leaves
2 sliced pitted cherries and mint leaves for garnish


Place all ingredients (except the cherries and mint for garnish) in a blender. Blend well.

Chill in the refrigerator for several hours.

Serve in your favorite bowl or glass, topped with cherry slices and mint.

Serves 6 as a first course.

I prepared something very simple, a cherry cobbler, which we dubbed “Cherry Plop Pie” on the air since the topping is simply plopped on. The cherries looked gorgeous in this recipe, and the cobber or pie or whatever you want to call it was well received.

Thanks to Oxo for sending me the cherry pitter I used! Yes, one does have to separate the pits manually from the cherries in a few cases, especially if one is a klutz in the kitchen like me. In general, however, this device sped up the task of making the cobbler/pie considerably—and kept the kitchen and my hands cleaner.

And thanks to Clarkdale for the Balaton cherries, which gave this dish its gorgeous color and flavor.

Cherry Cobblerweb

Cherry Cobbler (a.k.a. Cherry Plop Pie)


for the fruit base:

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups pitted cherries
2 tablespoons lemon juice

for the cobbler crust:

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

for the topping:

sparkling sugar as needed


Begin by making the base. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a smallish nonreactive pot. Stir in the cherries and lemon juice. Cover this mixture and let it sit for a while until the cherries juice up. (Half an hour should do!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish.

Uncover the cherry mixture and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil, stirring gently, for 1 minute. Remove the fruit from the heat. Spread the cherry mixture in the prepared baking dish.

To make the crust whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter, but don’t overdo the process. You should still have tiny pieces of butter in the mixture.

Whisk together the milk and egg. Add them to the dry ingredients, and mix just until moist. Drop this mixture onto the fruit mixture, and spread it around to cover the fruit. Sprinkle sparkling sugar on the top for crunch and glow.

Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 8.

And now the video!