Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Red Potato and Broccoli Soup

If you're missing some teeth, or otherwise have a sore mouth, soft foods become something you seek after. As a part of the “soft foods” series I'm doing, I am going to present a recipe for a soup I made last Sunday night. I like doing soups or roasts on Sundays because they require very little work. I just have to plan ahead for the time.

I used red potatoes for this soup simply because that’s what I had on hand. It will be just as delicious with russet potatoes.

4 -5 medium red potatoes
1 medium head of broccoli
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 / 4 cup white wine
6 cups of chicken stock or water (if you want to make this vegetarian style)
3 / 4 cup plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 / 2 teaspoon pepper
1 / 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon light cooking oil


1.Wash all vegetables and rough chop them. Leave the skins on the potatoes, or peel them if you prefer.
2.Over medium heat, in a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the garlic just starts to brown and the onions soften.
3.Add the broccoli and potatoes
4.Add the wine (use water, if you prefer) and stir. Add the parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
5.Add the water, stir, and bring to boiling.
6.Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are cooked through and soft, about 40 minutes.
7.Using a hand-held blender, puree the mixture until smooth. If you left the potato peels on, you'll be left with nice red bits that add some texture to the soup.
8.Add the yogurt and blend again, until all is smooth and creamy. Add additional salt, pepper, or nutmeg as desired.

Serve with buttered bread.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Polenta - Soft Food Kicked Up

Polenta is an interesting dish. What it amounts to is congealed corn mush with a bit of spaghetti sauce on it. What a restaurant can't sell during breakfast for fifty cents, they can dress and up and charge $20.00 a plate for dinner. Polenta is generally considered to be a side dish, but I first served it to my family last Friday as a main dish, with ratatouile and bread on the side.

We also watched the Disney movie 'Ratatouile.' You know, one of those silly but oh-so-important family togetherness things. Actually, it was kind of fun.

Polenta is also a wonderful soft food. People who have trouble with more substantial food, such as those who have had dental work, are missing teeth, or otherwise have a sore mouth, cry out for something they eat besides Jello. A good polenta may just be the answer.

This is a basic polenta recipe, made just a bit creamier by adding mozzarella cheese.


1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal (the finer, the better)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup of your favorite marinara
Additional grated mozzarella cheese and parsley for garnish


1.Finely grate the cheese and set aside. Spray a 9 inch square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2.Heat the water and salt to boiling in a medium saucepan.

3.Gradually add the cornmeal, beating with a wire whisk as you slowly pour it in. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often.

It's important that you only add a little bit of cornmeal to the boiling water at a time to avoid lumps. We want the mixture to be very smooth.

4.Add the cheese and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often. The mixture should be quite thick.

5.Pour the mixture into the 9 inch baking pan, and smooth out the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until quite firm (at least 4 hours).

6.After the cornmeal mixture has become quite firm, remove it from the pan by inverting it on a cold cutting board. Slice into 16 small squares.

7.Melt the butter in a medium sized skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the polenta squares, half at a time, until lightly browned on both sides. Meanwhile, heat your favorite marinara sauce until hot.

8.Serve the squares, two at a time, topped with hot marinara sauce. Add a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, and a bit of parsley for garnish.

This recipe can also be prepared using Parmesan, Romano, or any other hard, grating cheese. Just reduce the amount to 1/ 4 cup.

Makes 8 side-dish servings.

Update -- Once in a while, after leaving the polenta mixture in the refrigerator, even overnight, it doesn't get firm. I'm not sure why. If that happens to you, place the mixture, in the 9-inch baking pan, in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. It's going to turn into a liquid, and a crust may develop on top and the sides. That's okay. Take it out, remove the crusted parts if desired, and let it sit on your counter until it's cool. It will firm right up.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Soft Foods

Sorry. It's been a long time since I posted. Mostly because the holidays and family issues all seemed to come to a head at once. When family comes first, blogs, even family oriented ones, have to take a back seat.

Let me catch you up to date, though.

I recently had some dental work done that required a couple of extractions. Loosing teeth can put a real damper in a Foodie's day, Mormon or otherwise. It kind of limits the kinds of food you can enjoy while you heal up. You can read about it over at Campus Codger, if you're interested.

While I've been sticking to protein drinks, Jello, oatmeal, and the like while I heal up, it occurred to me that soft food doesn't have to mean a blender and it definitely doesn't have to be boring. There are plenty of wonderful soups available, and other soft foods that would be great for a cook with a tender mouth, but still satisfy the rest of the family.

I can't imagine I'm the only one with this problem, either. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that love food but, for one reason or another, have been unable to enjoy it because of a sore mouth.

Rather than sit and feel sorry for ourselves, let's explore a few recipes and see what we can come up with for yummy, satisfying, soft food. I'll be posting a couple of experiments over the next couple of days, but I'd like to hear your ideas first. Go ahead and share your soft food solutions with the rest of us. I'll bet many of your's will top mine.