Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Avocado Soup

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister

Cold soups are perfect to serve on hot summer nights. This one requires no cooking at all! Everything just gets put into a blender and mixed together really well, until it is smooth.

I saw this recipe in Gourmet magazine, and thought it would be a perfect startcooking recipe. All you need to make this soup is:

Start by dicing 1/3 of the cucumber and chopping into chunks the remaining 2/3 of the cucumber.

The chunks are going to be put in the blender and the diced cucumber is for the garnish.

The remaining ingredients just need to be chopped up a bit before they get added to the blender.

If you are unsure how to cut avocados check out my blog on Avocados.

Measure 1/2 cup of buttermilk (or yogurt) and 1 1/2 cups of cold water.

Add the water and buttermilk to the blender.

Start by blending everything on a low speed at first, then increase it just a bit. Everything needs to get totally chopped up and then made really smooth. This will take about 2 minutes of blending.

You can chill this soup for up to 3 hours before serving, and then garnish it with the diced cucumbers just before serving.

This soup is a beautiful color and the cucumbers add a wonderful crunch!

* Note:

I discovered one BIG problem with this recipe after I made it. What the heck do I tell a novice cook to do with the leftover buttermilk? In retrospect I should have suggested using yogurt or sour cream instead. Either would work beautifully for this recipe, and there are a lot of things you could do with leftover sour cream/yogurt.

If you are going to use buttermilk, you could always drink the leftovers??? (Has anyone seen “White Christmas”? Isn’t that what they were drinking before singing “Count Your Blessings”?)
Anyhow, I’m asking all my experienced cooks to toss in some EASY suggestions on what to make with leftover buttermilk!

Thanks and I hope you enjoy the soup!

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How to Make Tomato Soup

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister

Forget “Mmm Mmm good”, this Tomato Soup is “Mmm Mmm great”!

There is a surprise ingredient in this recipe which I’ll tell you about in just a second. It makes the soup taste smooth, rich and creamy without adding any cream!

You will need a blender to make this soup, and you will also need to know how to chop an onion and mince garlic.

There are also a few pantry items you will need.

This recipe is made with canned whole tomatoes rather than fresh tomatoes, which makes it great a year round recipe! Winter tomatoes tend to be tasteless and the texture quite mealy. A bay leaf will add great flavor, but remember you don’t actually eat the bay leaf. Olive oil, chicken or vegetable broth, and brown sugar complete the pantry ingredient list.

As always, get all your ingredients prepared before you turn on the stove!

Start by chopping an onion.

If you have difficulty holding the onion while you chop it, there is actually a way to make an onion holder out of the skin of the onion!

Preparing fresh garlic is not as complicated as you might think. When recipes call for 1 clove of fresh garlic it usually means approximately 1 teaspoon of fresh garlic.

I have minced the garlic for this recipe, but you could also have crushed it if you find that easier.

The surprise ingredient is white bread! Yes it does seem like an odd addition but it will cook down and make this soup rich and creamy!

Slice off the crusts of the bread….

…and cut or tear it into 1 inch pieces.

Let’s startcooking!

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it is shimmering.

Add the onion…

… garlic and bay leaf.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juice.

Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes until the pieces are no bigger than 2 inches.

Add the sugar…

…and the bread…

…and give everything a stir.

Bring the soup to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes.

The soup now needs to get processed in a blender until it is smooth. This needs to be done very carefully as the soup is hot. Set out the blender and have a bowl ready to put the soup into after it is blended.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup and throw it away. It cannot be reused.

Scoop out the soup with a ladle and pour it into the blender. Only fill the blender half way with the soup. This will have to get done in 2 to 3 batches.

DO NOT OVERFILL THE BLENDER. The steam from the hot soup will blow the top right off if you over fill the blender.

Release the steam by leaving open a small crack in the plug on the cover of the blender.

Put a kitchen towel over the lid of the blender to hold it in place.

Now let her rip! Process the soup for 2-3 minutes or until it is smooth.

OOPS! Forgot a step! Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the blender before you start blending

Good olive oil will really enhance both the flavor and the texture of this soup!

Now pour the soup into a bowl and continue processing the remainder of the soup.

Put the soup in the blender and add the oil…

…release the steam…

…cover the lid with a kitchen towel…

…puree until smooth!

The soup has to get added back to the pot to adjust the thickness with some chicken or vegetable stock. Be sure to wash the pot first!

Now pour the soup back into the pot.

Add as much as 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth until the soup reaches the consistency that suits your taste.

Return the soup to a boil.

Now taste the soup and decide how much salt…

…and pepper the soup needs.

You can garnish this Tomato Soup with chopped basil, green onions, parsley, or croutons.

Want a bite?


This recipe was adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

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Pasta Sauce – Italian Turkey Sausage

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes, Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister

Italian turkey sausage is great in this tasty sauce! It has a lower fat content then regular sausage; consequently it’s a bit healthier.

If you like a bit of sausage in your lasagna, this sauce recipe is perfect!

To make this sauce you will need:

It’s a really good habit to get all your ingredients prepared before you turn on the stove. It makes the cooking process go much more smoothly.

That means you need to:

  1. Chop the onion
  2. Mince the garlic
  3. Chop the parsley
  4. Remove the casings (that’s the really thin skin) from the sausage
  5. Open the cans of tomatoes and tomato paste
  6. Measure the spices

Now we are ready to start cooking!

Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet or frying pan. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent.

“Until translucent” is a typical term used to describe cooking onions. Raw onions are fairly opaque. As you start to cook them, they slowly reach a point where they become almost see-through. They have not turned brown, and are not supposed to for this recipe.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, or until you can smell the garlic cooking.

Add the sausage to the onions and garlic. I like to use a combination of both hot and sweet sausage. We need to cook it over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. This is just like browning ground beef.

Because this Italian turkey sausage has a lower fat content then regular Italian sausage, there will be very little fat to drain off. (If I were using regular sausage, I would definitely drain off the fat before adding the remaining ingredients.)

Now add the remaining ingredients:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Simmer the sauce, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until it has thickened.

This turns into a really thick sauce which is great over any pasta. Enjoy!

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