This last week, I took Kelli’s Kitchen on the road to Brooklyn, New York. Twice yearly visits to my family are a pre-pandemic habit I’ve greatly missed.
With my sister off on a business trip, I agreed to help out with my nephews. The timing was not ideal as we’re in the middle of moving, but the tickets were bought, and I hopped the redeye to JFK. The visit started with lots of hugs and cuddles. My nephews change into more complicated and enjoyable creatures with every visit. The 6-year-old is playing the cello and his younger brother loves penguins. He has taken up saying “I’m Okay” to let me know his status just in case I was wondering.
The weather had turned chilly thanks to a cold front that blew through the night before my arrival. The cold was one of the motivating factors that led me to cook a bunch of simple, hearty food and a variety of soups including braised beef shanks in bone broth with root vegetables, creamy black bean soup with goat cheese, herb-roasted chicken with fennel and root vegetables, and chicken soup with lemongrass and ginger.
We went on a family adventure to Stonington Borough, Connecticut, the oldest in the state dating back to 1801. I only thought about moving there and opening a restaurant a few times. Neil reminded me we are in the middle of buying a new house so will need to wait on Connecticut until retirement. I have missed being near the ocean. My food cravings were inspired by the fresh, moist sea air, I wanted all the oysters and a steamy bowl of clam chowder.
We visited the Mystic Aquarium because they have penguins, watched apples being pressed in the oldest steam-powered cider mill in the country and drank the cider, and slurped down countless oysters while sitting on the bay surrounded by historic sailing ships. The only disappointment was the chowder at a restaurant on the Connecticut river in Essex. My expectations were high, and it was a devastating blow. My sister urged me to write this article about chowder. But a soup with so many variations merit more time than I can spare right now. Here are some recipes I crafted at Kelli’s Brooklyn Kitchen.
Asian Chicken Soup
Leftover chicken carcasses, meat removed
1 white onion - quartered
1 head garlic - peeled
2 large chunks of ginger - quartered
1 bunch lemongrass - quartered
1 jalapeno - halved, seeds removed
1-2 T black peppercorns
Soy sauce or Tamari
Vegetables: Bok choy, carrots, broccoli, whatever
Optional: dumplings or noodles
Optional garnish: cilantro, mint, basil, sliced jalapenos, lime wedges
In a large pot combine chicken carcasses, onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, jalapeno, and peppercorns. Submerge in cold water, bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for a few hours skimming the scum that forms on the top periodically. Strain into a large bowl. Keep stock and discard all solids.
In the same pot add 2 T sesame oil over medium heat. Add vegetables and sauté until bright in color. Add stock, 2 T each soy sauce and fish sauce, simmer until vegetables are tender.
Add shredded chicken and dumplings or noodles, cook until heated through. Garnish.
Black Bean Soup
1 lb black beans
12 c water
6 oz Mexican style chorizo (bulk or cut out of casings)
1 stalk fennel - cut into chunks
1 medium yellow onion - chopped
3 chipotle chiles in adobo - chopped
Salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish & Other protein (optional)
12 medium shrimp
Crumbled goat cheese
In a large pot combine beans and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat off, let beans sit for at least 1 hour. Drain.
Place beans back in pot, cover with remaining 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer. Stir in chorizo, fennel, onion, and chiles. Partially cover. Simmer until the beans are soft, 1-2 hours.
Puree soup in batches in food processor or blender until it is smooth. Season to taste.
If cooking shrimp, return the pureed soup to pot, heat over medium stirring regularly until hot. Add shrimp and cook until they are orange-red (3-4 minutes).
Serve soup topped with shrimp and optional garnish.