Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

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Southwestern Turkey Chipotle Chowder

by Danica Waters / chipotle photo courtesy of


I love Thanksgiving.  However, I must confess, once it’s over, my personal palate wants to be as far away from Thanksgiving flavors as is humanly possible.


Out of desperation and sheer will several Thanksgivings ago, I pulled everything out of my kitchen cabinets, chose a few ingredients that looked like they’d be light years from anything closely resembling potatoes or stuffing, and ended up what my family feels is a little masterpiece.  They expect it to follow Thanksgiving at this point, it’s that good.


Now keep in mind that although chipotles play really well against the strong flavor of turkey meat (and the darker the meat, the better) they can be a bit on the naughty side; their heat will sneak up on you and set your tongue on fire if you’re not careful.  Adding a whole 6-oz can to your soup will most certainly put hair on your chest and enliven your step, so judge your own tastes accordingly.


I, for one, don’t like to perpetuate that Thanksgiving-food-coma-feeling any longer than I have to, so I make it per my original recipe and serve it with a hearty piece of Corn Bread.


And Milk.  Lots of cold milk.




Southwestern Turkey Chipotle Chowder


1 – 18 lb turkey carcass

1 medium onion chopped coarsely

3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

Several sprigs fresh parsley

1 bay leaf


3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, diced

3 stalks celery, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

2 tsp chicken or vegetable bullion, or to taste

1 – 6 oz can chipotle chile peppers, chopped fine (or use to taste!)

1 – 8 oz can green chiles, chopped fine

1 – 16 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

1 ear corn, kernels stripped

3 Tbsp minced cilantro

3 Tbsp minced parsley

2 C basmati rice

Sour Cream, Lime Sections, Minced Cilantro for garnish


Place turkey carcass (all of it) into a large stockpot.  Add 1 coarsely chopped onion, 2 stalks celery, bay leaf, and several sprigs of parsley.  Cover all with water, and boil until meat loosens from bone and stock becomes fragrant.  For richer stock, allow liquid to reduce a bit.  Allow to cool thoroughly; strain off stock and reserve in stock pot.


Discard vegetables.  Remove meat from bone, being ultra-careful to separate any bone and cartilage from the meat. (Sorry, but NOTHING will ruin a great homemade soup faster than finding a bit of bone or cartilage in it.  That’s just… ick.)  Chop or shred turkey meat and set aside.


In separate pan, saute onion and garlic until soft, add celery.  Saute about 1 minute, add carrots and allow to sauté for approximately 2 minutes more.


Season reserved stock in stockpot with chicken bullion or stock concentrate – preferably MSG-free!  Add vegetable mixture to reserved stock; add chopped de-boned turkey, green chiles, black beans, cilantro & parsley.


Add finely chopped chipotle peppers to taste – be careful – add a bit at a time, as the smoky heat can sneak up quickly!


Add raw rice to soup, simmer until rice is tender, approximately 30 minutes.  Add fresh corn just prior to serving – the crisp tender texture makes the soup wonderful!


Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, and a generous squeeze of lime juice.


Posted November 25th, 2011.

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Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

by Danica Waters / butternut squash image courtesy of


This, dear readers,  is a recipe for Butternut Squash soup excellence.  Clipped from an issue of the Rocky Mountain News years ago, this recipe qualifies as one of my personal all-time favorites for the following reasons:


It is definitely “comforting”, which makes it a great bet for weekend soup-and-sandwich fare (think grilled Havarti cheese with caramelized onions on French  – or better yet, homemade – bread);


It is also extremely sophisticated, which makes it an outstanding choice for a formal, multiple-course meal;


But the best part of all is that this is not your ordinary comforting cream soup.  It is far more exciting; the addition of cayenne pepper creates a sensory surprise and leaves a delicious tingle on your tongue; go sparingly at first and add to suit your preference.




Creamy Squash Soup

(as seen in the Rocky Mountain News)


1/3 C diced white onion (don’t substitute – the white onion is more delicate than its yellow cousins!)

3 Tbsp dry white wine

1/8 tsp marjoram

2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks*

4 C rich chicken stock

1-1/2 C heavy cream or half and half

4 Tbsp butter, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

Garnish:  sour cream, freshly snipped chives or fresh rosemary sprig; toasted pumpkin seeds or toasted chopped walnuts


Saute the onion in one tablespoon of the butter until soft and transparent.  Add the wine, marjoram, squash and stock and bring to a boil over high heat.


Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes or so, or until the squash is very tender.


Carefully puree the mixture in a blender, a little at a time.  Pour it back into the pan over medium heat and add cream and butter.  Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.  Heat the soup, stirring constantly, until heated through (do not allow to boil).  Taste and add more seasonings, if desired.  If the soup is too thick, thin it with more stock or cream.


Keep the soup warm over low heat or over a double-boiler.  Be careful not to scorch it.  Serve the soup in mugs or wide, flat bowls with your choice of garnishes.


Serves 4


*Note from author:  Figuring out how to cut and peel a butternut squash safely and efficiently is a bit of a challenge due to their hard, thick skins.  Here’s some tips:


1)  Use a large, very sharp Chef’s knife or Santoku.

2)  Use a thick cutting board with a non-skid bottom.  Wood is great!

3)  Turn the squash on its side, and, cutting from the widest end first, cut the squash into rings approximately 1-1/2” thick.

4)  Remove the seeds and fibers from the inside of the rings and discard.

5)  Cut the rings into quarters.

6)  Using a paring knife, peel the hard skins off the squash and discard.

7)  Cut the squash into smaller pieces if desired.


Voila!  You have conquered a butternut squash!  (And you get to keep your fingers!)

Posted November 17th, 2011.

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Lentil Soup, Chateau Vegas

by Danica Waters / photo credits at bottom of post

This is one of my all-time favorite winter soups, the recipe for which hailed from the old Chateau Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This is going to sound weird, but this soup tastes glamorous.  And powerful, too, in a Sinatra sort of way.   Try it – you’ll see what I mean.  It is hearty, with a delicious tang and terrific texture.  It’s also incredibly easy to make, which comes in very handy when you have a million holiday-related things to do on top of the million other normal everyday things you have to do.


While the original recipe calls for the addition of bacon and frankfurters.  I’ve found that substituting a bit of diced turkey ham and a few drops of liquid smoke flavoring substitutes for the bacon just fine.  With respect to the frankfurters, I use Foster Farms turkey franks.  Rated #1 in taste tests for best flavor and best overall texture (no tough skins – could easily double as a regular hot dog), Foster Farms guarantees no added hormones or steroids. (source:


Serve it with a thick slice of Chipotle Cornbread (recipe to follow tomorrow!) and a crisp salad.  It’ll warm you up…



Lentil Soup

(Chateau Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada; as seen in Bon Appetit’s Favorite Restaurant Recipes)


Serves 6


2 slices bacon, finely chopped

1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil (optional)

1 celery stalk, diced

1 carrot, diced

¼ medium onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 quarts water (8 cups)

1 pound lentils (brown lentils preferred for texture)

¼ C diced canned tomatoes

1 bay leaf


6 frankfurters, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp steak sauce

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp Kosher salt, or to taste


Fry bacon (or diced turkey ham) in Dutch oven until almost crisp, adding oil if necessary.  Add celery, carrot, onion, and garlic, and sauté until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in water, lentils, tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.


Stir in remaining ingredients and continue cooking until frankfurter slices are heated, about 10 minutes.


Photo Credits:

Bowl of lentil soup courtesy of  www.

Raw lentils image courtesy of

Foster Farms Turkey Franks image courtesy of


Posted November 10th, 2011.

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Parsnip and Leek Soup

by Danica Waters


Here in the Skagit Valley, just over a week past the autumnal equinox, sea mists hang noticeably thicker and creep down lower to enshroud the hillsides leading to the mercurial Puget Sound.  This is my favorite time of year; the walking paths that were only recently lined with the lush emerald foliage of a hearty Indian summer are now littered with crimson and gold.

And now, as bare black branches and the wings of Canadian geese stretch themselves against the fiery evening skies, a noticeable chill to the evening air sends me to the kitchen with thoughts of all things warm and wonderful…

…like SOUP!  And happily, this is a very delicious soup, indeed.  Adapted a bit from a clipping out of Fine Cooking Magazine, it is wonderful served with a hearty loaf of bread (try Golden Raisin Irish Soda Bread) and a nice glass of wine, with great music and a crackling fire in the background.




Parsnip and Leek Soup

(adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine)


Make the Croutons:


1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

3-4 slices good-quality white bread (French, Sheepherders’, etc.), crusts removed and cut to ½” cubes

Sea or Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the bread cubes and fry, tossing and stirring, until crisp and golden on all sides.  Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, set aside.


Make the Soup:


2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 C chopped leeks (white and light green parts only, from 2-3 large leeks) rinsed and drained

Kosher salt

1 lb parsnips, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1-inch pieces

¼ dry sherry or dry white wine

6 C vegetable broth (preferably homemade)

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 small bay leaves, broken in half

½ tsp white peppercorns, lightly crushed

¼ C heavy cream (optional)

2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme, for garnish


Heat the oil in a wide soup pot over medium heat.  Add the leeks, season with approximately 1 tsp salt, and cook gently until the leeks have softened and just begin to turn golden, 8-10 minutes.


Add the parsnips and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the parsnips are fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the sherry, increase the heat to medium high, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the broth.  Tie the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a cheesecloth sachet and toss it into the pot.  Partially cover the pot, bring to a boil, immediately lower the heat, and simmer partially covered until the parsnips are soft enough to mash against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.  Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Discard the sachet.


Puree the soup in batches using a stand or immersion (hand) blender, being sure to combine a mix of broth and solids in each batch.  If your using a stand blender, fill it no more than 2/3 full and be sure to vent the blender so the top doesn’t pop off (either remove the lid’s pop-out center or lift one edge of the lid and drape with a clean towel).  Rinse the soup pot, return the blended soup to the pot, taste, and adjust seasonings.    If you’re using the cream, add it now (if you’re making the soup ahead, wait to add the cream until you reheat the soup just before serving).  Garnish each bowl with some of the croutons and a pinch of fresh thyme.


Serves 6-8, yields approx. 7 cups.


Posted October 3rd, 2011.

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Tom Kha Gai

by Danica Waters

Already it is the Summer Solstice!  Given that the June gloom is already starting to break up here in Los Angeles, and the forecast says we’ll be in the throes of summer heat this week, I can tell you already I’m pulling out every recipe I can find that will help me avoid firing up my oven.

Tom Kha Gai is a culinary treasure, and if you haven’t tried it, you need to ASAP.  This mildly spicy chicken coconut soup is not only one of my ultimate all-time favorite soups on the planet, it’s also great to make because it doesn’t require hours of simmering on a hot stove.  Combined with a few steamed potstickers, you’ve got an easy meal – fast!  Don’t be intimidated by this recipe – it’s super-easy to make and will deliver over-the-top results every time.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Asian ingredients, and if you’re not near an Asian market where you can get educated quick, there’s a few things you need to be aware of:

Even here in the great city of LA, I am having a heck of a time finding galangal, which is a cousin to gingerroot that has a much heavier citrus tang to it.  Do not fear.  Gingerroot works just fine.  If you like a heavier citrus tang, increase the amount of lime juice to taste.

Fresh lemongrass is now carried in most well-appointed supermarkets.  You should be able to find it in the produce section – don’t be afraid to ask the produce manager, because chances are, if there’s a request for it, he/she will get it for you.  I have not tried substituting dried lemongrass for the fresh, but I am sure, in a really desperate pinch, it will work.

Fresh or frozen lime leaves. Right.  Short of growing my own lime tree, I haven’t been able to find these anywhere.  Again, not to fret.  Use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the skin from one lime in long, thin strips.  The flavor is fantastic.

And finally, fish sauce. Again, most well-appointed supermarkets will have this in their international aisle.  Do not tell your children you are adding this to the soup.  They get all freaky with too much information, and in this instance they’ll never suspect what gives this soup such a rich, exotic flavor.  Tell ‘em it’s the coconut milk.


Now, on to Tom Kha Gai!

(Adapted from a recipe  I found in Fine Cooking Magazine)

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp fish sauce

2 scallions, washed, trimmed, and sliced very thinly crosswise, including both white and green parts

6 fresh or frozen wild lime leaves, cut into quarters (or substitute the peel from 1 lime, removed in thin strips with a sharp vegetable peeler) and separated into two parts


2 stalks fresh lemongrass

10-12 thin slices galangal (or 10-12 thin slices of unpeeled gingerroot)

8 – 10 fresh hot red and green Thai chiles, stemmed and lightly pressed with the side of a knife (or substitute 3-4 serrano chiles, seeded and thinly sliced) – OPTIONAL

2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


1 boneless chicken breast half, cut into bite-sized chunks or sliced across the grain into strips

¼ lb white mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed, thinly sliced (should yield about 1 cup)


1 – 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk (shake the can before opening)

1-3/4 C low-salt chicken broth


Step 1:  Prep your ingredients:

Trim and discard the root end and top 3 inches of each stalk of the lemongrass, along with any brittle leaves.  Pound each stalk lightly with the spine of a cleaver or an unopened can.  Cut each stalk crosswise into 2-inch lengths and set aside.

Prepare all your other ingredients and place in either small dishes or on a prep platter and set next to the stove:  the galangal or ginger, the lemongrass, half the lime leaves or lime peel, the chiles (if using), the chopped cilantro, the chicken and the mushrooms.

Step 2:  Prepare your serving bowl with the final ingredients:

In a large serving bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, scallions, and half of the wild lime leaves or lime peel.  Set the bowl in close proximity to the stove.

Step 3:  Make the soup:

In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk and chicken broth.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.  Stir in the galangal, lemongrass, and remaining lime leaves.  Add the chicken and mushrooms, and half the chiles, if using.  Return to a gentle boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors and thoroughly cook the chicken.

Step 4:  Combine and serve!


Remove the pan from the heat, and carefully pour the hot soup over the final ingredients in your serving bowl.  Stir well.  Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro, serve hot, with the remaining sliced chiles as a garnish (optional).

(This recipe should serve 4 as a starter course, with each serving being just over a cup.)



Posted June 21st, 2011.

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Old Fashioned Potato Soup

by Danica Waters

June gloom is fully upon us here in Southern California. While the rest of you are enjoying the sun during your first days of summer break, here in L.A. all is gray-gray-gray, and a thick, chunky mist permeates the air. But I’m not complaining. The garden loves it… I love it, because it gives me a mid-season opportunity to occupy my kitchen without wilting in the summer heat. And I can make soup.

This is one of my favorite springtime soups. It’s not a heavy winter-weight soup; the ingredients are simple and very calming. The recipe comes from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks by the late Southern chef and author Camille Glen. Here’s what she has to say: “This is one of the best of family soups. Flavorful, nourishing, and easy for a nervous day. Parsley is essential to delicious potato soup. Don’t change the proportions. They are perfect.” Indeed they are.

Old Fashioned Potato Soup
The Heritage of Southern Cooking

4 C diced peeled potatoes
½ C chopped celery
½ C chopped onion
1 quart water
3 C milk
2 Tbsp butter
8 sprigs parsley, leaves chopped from stems, stems crushed and set aside
1-1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Place the potatoes, celery, onion, and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Drain, or allow the water to reduce until almost gone.

Add the milk, butter, parsley stems, salt and white pepper to taste.
Allow the soup to simmer, uncovered, for the flavors to blend, 8 – 10 minutes. Remove the parsley stems; taste for salt. Stir in the chopped parsley leaves.

NOTE: Potato soup should not be allowed to boil hard after the milk is added or it will curdle. Also, Camille Glenn recommends using whole milk instead of low-fat milk. I use low-fat and the results are still outstanding, though not as rich.

This is wonderful served with Spinach, Red Pepper, and Feta Quiche!

Posted June 9th, 2011.

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Tuscan Tomato Soup

by Danica Waters

Summer approaches, which means tomato season is coming!  This is an authentic Florentine recipe for an absolutely fresh and fabulous tomato soup that is poured over sliced, toasted bread and lightly drizzled with olive oil prior to serving.   Featured in one of the fabulous books my Mother-In-Law gave me nearly twenty years ago, the recipe is fresh, fast, and easy to make.  Paired with a nice grilled chicken breast and a basil-infused salad, you’ve got an extraordinary dinner in about half an hour!  As an appetizer, serve a fresh sliced seeded baguette with Roasted Garlic Spread.


Tuscan Tomato Soup

(from Sunset Publishing’s Fresh Ways With Italian Cooking )

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 lb very ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped

4 C chicken or vegetable broth

1 C lightly packed basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper

6 slices crusty Italian bread (each about 3 inches wide, 5 inches long, and ½ inch thick)

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a 4- to 5-quart pan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden.  Stir in tomatoes, then broth.  Bring mixture to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until tomatoes are very soft when pressed with a spoon (about 20 minutes).  In a food processor or blender, whirl tomato mixture (a portion at a time, if necessary) until coarsely pureed.  Stir in fresh basil; season to taste with salt and pepper.

While soup is cooking, place bread slices in a single layer on baking sheet and broil about 4 inches below heat until golden brown on top (be careful – they’ll cook quickly!).  Turn slices over, brush each well with olive oil, and broil until golden brown on other side.

Place one slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each of 6 wide, shallow rimmed soup bowls.  Ladle soup over bread and drizzle with oil.

Serves 6.

Posted May 19th, 2011.

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Black Bean Soup

by Danica Waters

Aaahhh… the beginning of a blog…  Always preceded by a sleepless, anxiety-ridden night overridden with questions about “Which-Recipe-To-Post- First-… – And- Other- Insecurities”…  I don’t know why I stress out so much.   I really believe cooking is part psychology and part chemistry; ultimately, as the perfect blend of magic and common sense it should be something that addresses the needs of the day.  OF COURSE the weather  provided the answer for me the next morning.

One of my favorite things about California is that no matter how beautiful the weather, there is always an opportunity to fall back, get cozy, and make a great soup to ward off the chill.  Today dawned cold and very wet – the driving rain that poured without stop last night continued most of today… There was, indeed, no time like the present to whip out this little gem.

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes.   Adapted from a recipe I found in the Denver Rocky Mountain News years ago, this soup never, ever fails to hit all the right spots for everyone who tastes it.  It’s kind of like the “little black dress” – it works for every occasion.  Great for vegetarians, vegans, meat-eaters – it’s a Southwestern masterpiece you can dress up or dress down as you see fit.  Enjoy!

Black Bean Soup

1 lb dried black beans

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, cut into ½ inch dice

4 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

3 quarts water

2 bay leaves

1 small dried red chili pepper

2 Tbsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp dried oregano

4 large sprigs fresh cilantro (roots and stems attached, if possible)

4 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut to ¼ “ dice

2 tsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp dry sherry, plus ½ cup for serving

2 tsp fresh lime juice

¼ C fresh chopped cilantro leaves

Cooked white (we love basmati) rice for serving (optional)

6 thin slices of lime for garnish

Sour cream,  to taste, for garnish (optional)

*  *  *  *

Pick over the beans, discarding any stones.  Soak them overnight, covered with 2 inches of water.  Drain beans and rinse several times in cold water.   Set aside.

Heat olive oil in large heavy pot over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 15 minutes or until translucent, adding the garlic during the last 5 minutes.  Add the reserved beans, water, bay leaves, dried chili, oregano, and cumin.Tie the cilantro and parsley springs together with kitchen string, gently bruise stems and any roots, and add them to the pot.

Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer uncovered 1-1/2 hours (reduce the heat if necessary).  Skim any foam that comes to the top.  When beans are tender, remove cilantro and bay leaves.  Puree soup in blender, reserving 2 – 3 cups of soup to add whole-bean texture.  Pour all back into the pot, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add bell pepper, sugar, 2 Tbsp sherry, lime juice, and 2 Tbsp each freshly chopped cilantro and parsley.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Serve in bowls as a soup, or over white rice.

This is fantastic with grilled chicken served over the top, as well.  Garnish each serving with a slice of lime and a drizzle of sherry.  If desired, add a dollop of sour cream.  If you like your soup spicy, feel free to add more red pepper to taste…

And as a  footnote, this soup freezes exceptionally well!  As long as you’re cooking, make a double-batch and freeze half of it for an emergency later on.  (Consider this recipe one of those indispensable “Get Out Of Jail Free” cards…)   🙂

Posted February 28th, 2011.

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