Dakdoritang is a traditional Korean braised chicken dish.  Chicken thighs or drumsticks may be used instead of breasts.  I didn’t have Korean chile paste (kochujang or gochujang)) and couldn’t find any at my local Asian market, so I used some harissa I had prepared earlier in the week.  This dish wasn’t really very hot, but was very flavorful and super easy to prepare.  It is definitely something I would make again, especially if I am able to find the Korean chile paste.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
2 onions, cut into eighths
1 carrot, cut into 1 inch chunks
1-2 jalapenos, sliced (optional)
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp kochujang (also spelled gochujang – Korean hot pepper paste)
2 tbsp kochukaru (red pepper flakes)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp ginger
2 cups of water
Salt and pepper

In a heavy pot, combine all ingredients.  Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes over medium heat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot with rice.

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

I’m loving the cooler weather and it has gotten me in the mood for soup.  Well, honestly, I’m always in the mood for soup, but I’d rather eat it when it’s not in the triple digits and oppressively humid outside. This is a nutritious soup with just a little kick.  It’s quick and easy enough for a weekday.  Serve with crusty bread and a simple salad for a complete meal. If you don’t like your food spicy, leave out the jalapeno and cayenne. You can use red lentils instead of regular ol’ brown lentils in this recipe, but watch them, they cook up a bit faster.

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno or serrano, seeds removed and minced (optional)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 – 8 cups vegetable broth (depending on how brothy you like your soup)
1 cup lentils, picked through (rocks and broken lentils removed), and rinsed
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
2 medium zucchinis, diced

Saute onion, celery, carrots, jalapeno, and garlic in the olive oil in a pot until veggies are tender.  Add potatoes and spices and saute 1 minute more.  Add broth and bring to a slow boil.  Add the lentils and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini and spinach and continue to simmer until lentils are completely cooked, 5 to 10 minutes.

Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp

This is a super fast and super delicious soup.  It is worthy of  a special occasion, but easy enough to do anytime. Pair it with a nice BLT sandwich and you have a great weeknight dinner. This recipe makes about 4 servings.

Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped  onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and saute until the bacon begins to brown and get crisp. Remove about 2 slices-worth of the bacon to be used as garnish later and drain on paper towels. Add onion, celery, and garlic to the pot, and saute for 2 minutes. Add corn, and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth; bring to a boil, and cook for 4 minutes.

Place 2 cups of corn soup mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape), and secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return pureed corn mixture to pan. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender to partially puree the soup, leaving some of the soup chunky.  You will want to be able to see whole corn kernels.

Stir in shrimp; cook 2 minutes or until shrimp are done. Stir in half-and-half, pepper, and salt. Ladle soup into bowls and crumble reserved bacon over soup.

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is one of my favorite things to eat.  I love adding the fried tortillas, cheese, chiles and cilantro to the  tomato broth seasoned with onion and garlic.  This is a good, simple version of the soup.  I usually prepare the soup first and have it simmering while I fry the thinly sliced tortilla strips (instead of following the recipe exactly).  Pureeing the onion, garlic and tomatoes in the soup pot with a hand-held blender is so much less messy than using a blender or food processor.   If don’t feel like frying the tortilla strips, sometimes I bake them instead.  I thinly slice the tortillas, arrange them on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray (like Pam), sprinkle with salt, and bake them in the oven at about 350 degrees, turning often, until golden.  If I’m really lazy or tired, I will forgo frying or baking tortilla strips and just crumble some purchased tortilla chips into the soup.  If I have  fresh pico de gallo, I also add that to the soup before eating.

Tortilla Soup

12 (or more) corn tortillas
Canola oil, for frying
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 white onion, sliced
1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, or 3/4 pound fresh tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

shredded cheese (queso fresco, farmer cheese, Monterrey Jack, or mild cheddar)
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 large lime, cut into wedges
serrano or jalapeno chiles, sliced

Cut tortillas in half and then into thin strips. In a medium (2-quart) saucepan, heat 1/2 inch oil over medium flame until the edge of a tortilla strip inserted in oil sizzles vigorously. Fry tortilla strips in small batches until golden brown and crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Pour off all but a thin coating of hot oil. Add garlic and onion and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, press garlic against side of pan to leave behind as much oil as possible, then transfer garlic and onion to a blender or food processor.

Puree tomatoes with garlic mixture in the blender or food processor until smooth. If using fresh tomatoes, strain puree to remove pieces of tomato skin. Heat same saucepan over medium-high heat. Add tomato puree and stir until thickens to consistency of tomato paste, about 10 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil, then partially cover and gently simmer over medium-low heat 30 minutes. Add salt.

To serve: Divide cheese and avocado among warmed soup bowls. Ladle broth into each bowl; top with tortilla strips and a sprinkle of cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and sliced chiles.

Adapted from Rick Bayless’ version in Mexico, One Plate at a Time (Scribner, 2000).