Category Archives: Gluten Free

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Easy and Spicy Pork Vindaloo

One thing I love about the cuisine of India is the fact that it is so full of flavor.  There is a reason it’s one of the most popular cuisines in the world. . .  It’s awesome.  I have always had a special place in my heart for Vindaloo.  Pork Vindallo, epic dish from the region of Goa.  Tangy, spicy, full of spices and flavor.  A stick to your ribs dish that will really remind you why you love food!

This is a relatively easy dish to make, not completely traditional but very close.  It takes a bit of time on the stove to get done if you use the pork shoulder, which I recommend if you have the time. Nothing compares to the depth of flavor achieved during long slow cooking!  The pork shoulder will take 4 or so hours to get tender.  Time well spent!

A even quicker option would be to make the base and keep in in the cooler.  If you are in a hurry for dinner take some of the sauce out and start reducing it.  Get a few pork chops out (or chicken breasts) of the refrigerator dice them up and add them to the sauce once it is 1/3 of the way reduced.  Cook the meat in the sauce until done and the sauce coats the meat.

Cooking the pork shoulder is a simple process stir it every so often the closer to when its done you will have to stir it more often as the sauce gets reduced.  If the pork is not tender when the sauce it getting too thick you just add a bit of water and continue cooking.

You want to have the meat beautifully tender but not shredded.  If you take your eye off it too long and it does shred, don’t worry, life is still good.  You can make tacos!  Put some of this on a tortilla with cheese, lettuce, tomato and some salsa.  You will be a believer!  Tacos are a great way to use leftovers of Vindaloo.  Another awesome way to use up some left overs is on eggs in the morning with a bit of naan bread or tortilla.

One last note.  Do not skimp on the quality of your spices.  Make sure they are not old.  If you do one thing make sure to buy powdered Kashmir chili only!  Do not even think of using a American style chili powder blend.  Kashmiri chili have a beautiful color and flavor.  They are a must, use 100% Kashmiri chili powder.

Serve with a nice toasted bread or some basmati rice.  I like this with a nice cold IPA or even a pilsner.

Ingredients

Base

2 onions, rough chop

1 inch of ginger (about 1/2 to 3/4 ounce), peeled and rough chopped

1 large can of diced tomatoes (28 ounces)

5 teaspoons ground cumin (10 grams)

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

10 teaspoons garam masala (20 grams)

6 to 8 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder (100% ground Kashmiri chili), 8 if you like it spicy

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

7 FL ounces  red wine vinegar (200ml)

Main

3 pounds pork shoulder, diced to 3/4 inch cubes

3 curry leaves

Water as necessary

Salt, red wine vinegar, pepper, and  cardamom as necessary

1.  Put all base ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

2.  While the main ingredients are being puréed heat a thick bottomed pot, big enough to hold the entire recipe.  When hot add 1/4 cup ghee (or olive oil) and begin browning the pork shoulder, if the pork cools the pan down and it doesn’t brown well don’t worry, just continue with the recipe.

3. Once the pork is browned off add the curry leaves and stir.  Add the entire base to the pork, stir and turn down to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring every 20 min or so.  The closer to being done it gets more reduced the sauce will be and you will need to stir more often.  Also depending on the size of your pot and the heat you may find the sauce is too reduced and the pork is not tender.  If this happens add 1/2 cup of water, sir and continue cooking.  You can do this as many times as necessary.  You want the pork tender but not shredded so you wild have to watch at the end! (if it shreds make tacos!)

4.  Before removing from the stove adjust seasoning with Salt, red wine vinegar, pepper and cardamom as necessary.  This dish gets even better the 2nd day.

Thyme in,

Jason

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Cauliflower Hummus

Is Cauliflower  a misunderstood and underappreciated vegetable? You bet!  It’s often regarded as a peasant vegetable, not elegant or full of flavor, and that’s just wrong!  Cauliflower has many wonderful uses – not the least of which is this awesome low carb, paleo friendly, healthy “hummus”. It also happens to taste great!

I  love all things hummus but once in a while I find myself looking for something just a little bit healthier (not that hummus isn’t good for you), something with just a few more veggies and less carbs.  This is it!  Healthy and fantastic.

In this recipe the cauliflower is grated then cooked in the microwave with a bit of water.  This can take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes depending on the microwave.  Its very important to cook  completely or it will be impossible to get the smoothness you will want.

Cauliflower Hummus

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

1/8th cup of water

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 ounces of tahini (Lebanese)

1.5 ounces lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1.  Separate the head of cauliflower into flowerets that are a good size to grate.  Grate the cauliflower and put into a microwave save container.

2,  Add the water to the cauliflower and microwave on high for five minutes.  Cover and microwave at lest 3 more minutes (but up to 10 minutes depending on the microwave).  The important thing is its complete cooked.

3.  When the cauliflower is completely cooked put all remaining ingredients, including the cauliflower into a food processor and puree very well.  This could take 5 to 8 minutes.  Scrape down every minute or so with a rubber spatula.  This needs to be very smooth!

4.  Chill and serve with a drizzle of avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy and be healthy!

Thyme for a snack,

Jason IMG_2864 IMG_2849 IMG_2852 IMG_2859

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Quick, Easy and Delicious Hummus

Greetings all. I was recently enjoying a glass of wine (bottle actually) reflecting on things, life and hummus. Thinking of the old times when I lived in Dearborn, Michigan. Some if the best hummus in the world was a 5 minute drive away, to a restaurant called La Shish. In my post “Chasing the Hummus Ghost” I shared my experiences on trying to replicate the famed hummus of La Shish (complete with 15 years of failure).  I still hold to the belief that the recipe in that post gets really close to the magic of “la Shish”, however, I do realize not everyone wants to wait two full days to satisfy a hummus craving.

For years at work we have been making a “quick hummus” which has Greek yogurt in it. The yogurt adds creaminess and a tang to the hummus. Short of making the recipe from scratch with dried chickpeas this quick hummus is one of the best recipes you can find. It takes about 10 minutes to make, 5 to 8 of which is watching it puree in the food processor.

I can’t stress enough the importance of taking the time to make the hummus as smooth as possible. Put everything in a food processor and puree!! Every so often stop the food processor, grab a rubber spatula and scrape it the bowl down in case some chickpeas get stuck on the side or on the bottom. The cumin is optional. Some people are chickpea purists and would not want it, others like the extra spice. I fall directly in the middle and use it about half the time.

When I serve this I like to drizzle with some avocado oil (or extra virgin olive).  Use some nice warm flat bread or some nice crisp lettuce to scoop.

Thyme In,

Jason

Simple Quick Hummus

Ingredients

2 each 15 ounce cans of chickpeas (drained reserving ¼ cup of the liquid)

4 ounces Lebanese tahini

1 teaspoon of kosher salt (heaping)

4 teaspoons lemon juice

6 ounces Greek yogurt (2/3 cup)

1/4th cup of the drained chickpea liquid (optional)

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

  1. Drain the chickpeas, reserve ¼ cup of the liquid (adding the liquid is optional depending on the texture you like in a hummus)
  2. Place everything in a food processor except he reserved liquid.
  3. Puree very well. In my experience this can take 5 to 8 minutes. Occasionally stop the machine and scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula. While pureeing you can decide if you want the liquid in. It will help with the pureeing but will also make the final hummus a bit lighter than without. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
  4. Puree until ultra-smooth!

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The Cauliflower Pizza Crust Experiment

Pizza crust made with cauliflower instead of flour . . . say it isn’t so! Well it is. Lately I have been hearing a lot of talk about the technique and since I’ve been looking for ways to eat healthier and sneak in some extra vegetables, I  had to give it a try. Some years ago I would have jumped off the roof before eating a pizza that was not made with wheat flour and yeast! Now I am a bit more open minded, even though I will never completely give up on classic pizza . . . no way! I will, however, sometimes opt for the health cauliflower version.  This recipe is awesome for anyone looking to limit carbohydrates or eliminate gluten.

I can tell you that for me it’s about adding vegetables.

I really did enjoy the recipe. It doesn’t exactly have the taste or texture of pizza, however if you are having a pizza craving but want to keep it healthy, it’s a great alternative.

I used a very simple pizza sauce made by draining a can of diced tomatoes (San Marzano if possible) very well in a colander. Then I pureed the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and a garlic clove.   Simple and classic. If you don’t drain the tomatoes well the sauce will be too thin.

For this pizza I topped it with some smoked turkey breast and some ground turkey.

One head of cauliflower will make about 3 pizzas.

Cauliflower Crust

Makes 1 Crust (roughly a 10 inch pizza)

 

Ingredients

2 cups grated raw cauliflower

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese ½ cups skim milk

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 egg

 

  1. Pre heat oven to 400f.
  2. Put the grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, uncovered. Cook on high for 8 minutes. This will essentially dry out the cauliflower.
  3. After removing from the microwave fluff with a fork and let it stand for about 5 minutes. Then add all remaining ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula.
  4. Now we will prepare a baking tray one of two ways: (1) Line a baking tray with a silpat and rub a bit of olive oil on it (you can also spray with a bit of pan spray), or (2) Line a baking tray with some parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Spread the cauliflower mixture in the shape you want on the prepared tray. Try to keep it thin, approximately ¼ inch thick.
  6. Bake in the oven for approximately 9 minutes. You will want to watch it and take it out when the edges are browning. At this point you can let the crust cool, wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  7. To finish a pizza, turn the broiler to high. Top the pizza as desired with sauce, toppings and cheese. Broil in the oven on a baking sheet until the cheese is brown and everything is hot and bubbly.

Thyme Out,

Jason

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Essential Charred Tomato Salsa

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What would the world be without salsa? Salsa is healthy, vibrant, and simple while at the same time capable of great complexity.  There was a time in our country when ketchup ruled the condiment world, a bleak time in history to be sure. Thankfully we are now in the know and have at our disposable thousands of recipes for glorious salsa.

This particular salsa is quite simple.  Not a lot of ingredients, easy and quick to make, and it allows the natural flavors of the tomatoes and peppers to shine through.  I consider it an essential recipe.  The problem with simple recipes is that when there are not a lot of ingredients the quality of technique and integrity of the ingredients are paramount.   Be sure to char the tomatoes, peppers, and onions well in the oven.  The other key is the dry pan roasting of the garlic.  The unpeeled cloves of garlic get roasted in a medium hot pan until blackened and charred.  This adds a smoky sweet element to the salsa that is really amazing.

 

Essential Charred Tomato Salsa

Makes 1 quart

 

Ingredients

2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 7 Roma tomatoes)

2 to 4  Jalapeño Chili’s

1 habanero chili (optional)

1 onion, rough chopped

8 garlic cloves, fresh and not peeled!

2/3 cup fresh cilantro (about 2 bunches)

3 fresh limes

3 teaspoons kosher salt

  1. Start the broiler on your oven on high.
  2. Begin by slicing the stem off of all the tomatoes and slicing them in half lengthwise.  Also slice the stem off all the chilies and slice them in half as well. You may want to use gloves to avoid getting any of the oils on your fingers . . .  then eventually in your eyes!
  3. Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil, oil it or spray it lightly with pan spray.  Place the tomatoes on the tray with skin side up.  Scatter the jalapeños skin side up on the try as well.  Scatter the rough chopped onions as well.
  4. Place the tray in the oven under the hot broiler until the skin on the tomatoes and peppers are blisters and blackened.  In my oven this takes about 20 minutes.  While they are broiling heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.  When hot add the garlic cloves (do not peel) and cook on medium heat, with no oil, until blackened, charred, and soft (about 15 minutes).  Cool everything down in refrigerator.
  5. Once everything is cool peel the garlic and put in a blender with the tomatoes, peppers and onions.  Add the juice of two limes and two teaspoons of the salt.  Puree until roughly pureed, not too smooth.
  6. Use the remaining salt and lime to adjust the seasoning.  It should be highly seasoned!!

Thyme for some spice,

Jason

 

 

 

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Cilantro Chimichurri

 

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It was only a matter of time until I posted this recipe.  I have used it for years in multiple ways.  This is one of my “have-to-have-it-around” sauces.  Having a sauce like this on had makes it easy whip up something delicious.   It is, by its very nature, a perfect sauce for steak. But, it is also so much more!  I use it on fish, chicken, pork, I toss roasted fingerling potatoes in it, finish sauces, use it to flavor compound butter, and even add it to vinegar and oil for salad dressings.  It also make a nice dip for appetizers like crab cakes or spring rolls.  If you make it . . . you will use it!

For old thymes sake,

Jason

Cilantro Chimichurri

Ingredients

Sauce

2 bunches cilantro

1 bunch parsley

4 garlic cloves

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 small hot chili (optional)

  1. The first thing to do is get your blender out.  It is very helpful to have a blender with a plunger such as a Vita Prep.  Adjustable speed is a plus too. The mixture is very dry at first and the plunger will help.
  2. Wash the herbs under cold running water.  I break the stems at the point where there are no more leaves.  Discard the lower stems and then put the herbs (upper stems and leaves) in the blender.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients.  Add the hot chili only if you want to spice it up!
  4. Puree in the blender until smooth.  Use the plunger to push down on the herbs.  Once it starts to become a puree it will be thin enough that you won’t need to plunge.   Puree until its smooth, but don’t over puree.  The heat from friction will warm the sauce and cause it to turn a dull color if you over blend.  This sauce should be as bright green as it tastes!

 

 

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Swiss Muesli With Oats, Mango, Flax and Quinoa

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Yes, I know, another muesli recipe — I couldn’t resist.  This was so easy, quick and delicious to make I wanted to share the recipe.  I was lucky it was a beautiful day with nice light so it photographed very well too!

We had gotten some really nice mangos the day before while touring around the Asian market.  For some reason the mango at our Asian market are always so much nicer than at our local grocery store.  When putting together my muesli for breakfast the mangos were a clear choice!  Typically I would have done an apple but not with those mangos about.  I decided to add the quinoa for a few reasons.  First, it was there, and second, I have been doing a lot of exercise lately so why not add quinoa?  Quinoa is an awesome ancient grain (technically a seed I suppose), which contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Throw in some flax seed, some toasted almonds and garnish with some grapes . . .  you have a fantastic and healthy breakfast!

Swiss Muesli with Oats, Mango, Flax, and Quinoa

Makes about 1.5 quarts

Ingredients

2 cups quick oats

½ cups cooked quinoa

3 cups skim milk

2 tablespoons agave nectar

½ tablespoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon flax seed

1 ripe mango, diced

4 tablespoons sliced, toasted, almonds

20 grapes, sliced in half

  1. In a container large enough to hold all the ingredients add the milk and cinnamon, then whisk to dissolved the cinnamon and work out any lumps.  Add agave nectar.
  2. Add oats, cooked quinoa, flax and the mango.
  3. Allow to sit anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours before eating.  If it sits longer you may need to add a splash of skim milk to loosen it up.  Sometimes I make enough where I have some in the refrigerator for the next day.  This does change the texture as the oats absorb more of the milk, however if you thin it out with a bit of skim milk it’s still delicious and fresh.
  4. I like to add the almonds and some sliced grapes on top when dishing up.  You can even reserve a bit of the mango for the top too!

Thyme to get busy,

Jason

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Swiss Muesli with Grapes, Dates, Almons and Pecans

 

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For those who have not had the chance to try homemade Swiss Muesli it’s definitely something you should do.  First introduced to the Swiss by a doctor who was making it for his patients at his hospital, Muesli is easy to make, delicious, healthy and easily adapted to ingredients you have on hand.

I was first shown how to make Muesli by a Chef I worked for, Christian Schmidt. Christian is from Germany, a fantastic Chef, and I worked for him for 9 years (in 3 states).  We worked at the Ritz – Carlton in Michigan, the Mandarin Oriental in Miami and Opened the Mandarin Oriental New York together.  I credit Chef Christian for getting me ready for my first Executive Chef Post at the Mandarin Oriental in New York when he moved on to another hotel.  We all need someone to help us along!

I did not realize how authentic the recipe was until years later.  I had an Austrian general manager, Nils Stolzlechner, and we were doing menu tastings for breakfast.  A former Executive Chef in Austria, I could tell when I was presenting the Muesli (that one was very similar to this recipe but with apples, dried cherries and honey) he was skeptical.  One bite later he looked at me and asked, “Who taught you to make this?”  From that point he was in the kitchen every day for breakfast, taking my Muesli base and adding what he wanted in it for the day, sometimes berries, sometimes extra yogurt, different nuts or seeds.  That’s part of the beauty of Muesli, very adaptable.

Swiss Muesli

Makes 1.5 quarts

Ingredients

2 cups quick oats

2 3/4 cups skim milk

½ tablespoon cinnamon

1/3 cup of grapes (sliced in half)

2 tablespoons agave nectar

3 tablespoons chopped dates

3 tablespoons chopped almonds

20 pecan halves

  1. In container large enough to hold all the ingredients add the milk and cinnamon, then whisk well to dissolve the cinnamon.  Add the agave nectar, whisk to dissolve.
  2. Add the oats and dates, mix.
  3. At this point I typically allow the muesli to sit for 15 to 30 minutes to allow the oats to absorb some of the milk.  As the muesli sits it absorbs the milk more and more.  It’s a matter of personal taste.  Some people make it hours in advance and if need thin with a bit more skim milk.
  4. I like to sprinkle the nuts on top rather than mix it in.

Thyme to go,

Jason

 

Chasing the “Hummus Ghost”

 

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Years ago my wife and I moved from our relatively miserable neighborhood (actually downright dangerous) to our first “nice” house.  Granted we were in Michigan, not Texas, so the standards of “nice” were clearly different,  As we all know, Texas is the supreme state and is difficult to be rated against.  Specifically Allen, Texas (where the dew falls first from Heaven). I digress….

So we end up in Dearborn, Michigan, a wonderful city.  I was working at the Ritz – Carlton Hotel, all was good.  We loved Dearborn, because it was close to work and . . . . the food! We ate hummus, baba ganoush, shawarma, and falafel almost daily. To us it was as normal as pasta or burritos, and was so flavorful and multidimensional, we ate it often!   We had no idea how special this little area of the world was!  Since Dearborn we have lived in Miami, New York City, Allen TX, Las Vegas, Houston, and back to Allen TX.  I had never even come close to having Middle Eastern food as good as in the “Dearborn Days.”  Not even close!  There was a particular restaurant called “La Shish” that was a real stand out.  Their hummus was legendary, the best I have ever had.  Creamy and rich with a depth of flavor that I could never achieve in a hummus.  It was addictive. One of the great culinary achievements!

For years I tried to get close to that hummus, searching hummus recipes high and low.  I looked in professional cooking books, home style cooking books, text books from culinary schools, the internet . . . you name it.  Never found it. I made hummus hundreds of times, and it was always good, unless you compare it to “La Shish”.    About two years ago I hired a younger cook named Rashid.  He is a Lebanese guy with some good experience.  Of course on my mind right away, hummus.  For 15 years I had been chasing the “hummus” ghost.  I asked him if he knew how to make a great hummus.  Rashid says “I ran the best Lebanese restaurant in DC.  I make the good hummus.”  I was intrigued.  When he said he needed three days . . . I was really intrigued.

Rashid “made the good hummus.”  I could close my eyes and think I was back in Dearborn.  The “hummus ghost” . . . I had it in my sights.

In Rashid’s hummus the devil is in the details.  The chickpeas are soaked in water and baking soda overnight.  Then they are cooked at a slow gentle simmer, for 6 or 7 hours, in the same water they soaked in.  The cooking should be stopped when the water is at the level of the chickpeas, and the chickpeas are very tender.  The chickpeas are cooled in that liquid, which will gel like a classic, well-made stock (Rashid chilled his overnight).  The liquid and the chickpeas are pureed together with tahini, garlic and lemon.  The puree must be very smooth!

Lebanese Hummus

Makes 1.5 quarts

Ingredients

½ quart dried chickpeas

¾ tablespoon baking soda

3 quarts water

3 ounces tahini (Lebanese if you can find it)

½ ounce garlic

¾ ounce lemon juice

¼ ounce kosher salt

  1. In container large enough to hold the 1st three ingredients, combine the dried chickpeas, baking soda and water.  Cover and allow to soak overnight.
  2. The next day, in a thick bottomed pot dump the chickpeas and water in to simmer, do not drain, simmer in the same water it soaked in.  Bring to a light boil then turn down to a gentle simmer and allow to simmer for 6 or 7 hours.  The simmering time will vary greatly depending on the size of you pot, specifically the width because of increased evaporation.  I have had great luck simmering between 5 to 7 hours.
  3. The cooking should be stopped when the liquid is level with the chickpeas.  Do not drain!  Cool in the liquid.
  4. When very cool the liquid will gel like a well-made stock.  You will be pureeing chickpeas and this liquid in the final step of the recipe.
  5. In a food processor (you may need to do in a few batches.  It’s ok, just stir all of the batches together well at the end) puree the chickpeas (and the gelled liquid) with the remaining ingredients.  Here is the final detail . . .  it must be velvety smooth.  You may have to puree in your food processor for 5 or 10 minutes, scraping the sides every so often.
  6. Adjust seasoning a bit if necessary, although you should not need to.
  7. Cool down and store in your refrigerator.  It will last for 5 days but you won’t need to worry about that, it will be gone well before the expiration date.

Thyme Remembered,

Jason

 

 

 

Kale, Chicken and Spinach Soup

 

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Kale is a “super green.”  It is nutritious, flavorful and easy to use.  I find myself using kale in juices, quick sautés, in salads and on pizzas. I do love kale.  In hour house kale is a very controversial product.  My wife and kids hate it and I, as you know, love it.  I never tire of sneaking kale into recipes to see if they notice.   Good times indeed.  Approximately 80% of the time they don’t even notice and love what they are eating, even with the dreaded kale.  That is not the case with this soup, I love it, but for them it was an epic fail . . . it’s loaded with delicious, nutritious, dreaded and feared Kale!

This is a very simple but flavorful soup that is loaded with good stuff.  It has enough substance to it that it can be a meal.  It would also be a fantastic accompaniment to a salad or sandwich, or an elegant and healthy first course.

I made the chicken stock (which you can see in an earlier post) and turned it directly into this soup.  I was able to get some of the leftover meat off the leg bones in the stock and add it to the soup (the dark meat stays nice and moist after the long cooking).

The method for making this soup is very simple.  I do not sauté and caramelize any of the vegetables.  I simply heat the stock and add the ingredients in a straightforward time line.  The reason I can get such a flavorful soup so easily is the homemade stock.  Simple things done well.

Kale, Spinach and Chicken Soup

Makes about 2 quarts

Ingredients

1.5 quarts of good homemade chicken stock

2 carrots, diced (about 2 ½ ounces)

2 stalks celery, diced (about 2 ½ ounces)

1 onion, diced (about 7 ounces)

10 leaves kale, rough chopped (about 4 ounces)

3 cloves garlic, chopped (3/4 ounce)

1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme

2 ounces baby spinach

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

1.       In a sauce pot, large enough to hold all ingredients, heat the chicken stock.

2.       Add all ingredients except the kale, spinach, thyme and lemon.  Simmer for ½ hour.  Add  some salt and pepper and taste the soup.  It should be getting very flavorful and rich.

3.       Add the kale and spinach, simmer for 15 more minutes.

4.       Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon.

Thyme Out,

Jason