Gazpacho as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

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This time of year is perfect to dream about those farm fresh veggies. But don’t just dream, enjoy one of my favorite refreshing soups anytime!  

 on location Seps Farm East Marion, NY from  George Hirsch Lifestyle

on location Seps Farm East Marion, NY from George Hirsch Lifestyle

I also call Gazpacho "liquid salad" — for obvious reasons. Its origin and roots go back to ancient times in Andalusia Spain; with a version of the recipe believed to be concocted as a re-energizing dish for Roman workers building roads in early 2nd century Spain. Traditionally, gazpacho recipes include stale bread, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, and a touch of vinegar. 

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Gazpacho aka Liquid Salad

Makes four servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | from George Hirsch Lifestyle TV  

1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped very fine

4 cups low sodium tomato juice + Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup each sweet red + yellow pepper, chopped very fine

1/4 fresh plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped fine

4 cloves garlic, fine chop

1/4 cup scallion, fine chop

1/2 cup cucumber; peeled and seeded, chopped very fine

1 Tablespoon cilantro + 1/4 each teaspoon hot sauce, cumin, sea salt + fresh ground black pepper 

1/2 cup stale bread, toasted and chopped fine

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar 

Optional: 1 fresh gherkin cut into four wedges and a spring on dill to garnish. Or, marinate very fresh scallops or shrimp in tequila & hot sauce--top mugs ceviche style. 

*In a large bowl mix all the ingredients and chill for two hours before serving. 

My recipe will give your knife skills a work out. Feel free to use a blender. Keep in mind the manual chopping of the vegetables will preserve the flavor. 

*Tip: Be aware, using a food processor or blender actually cooks the veggies with the friction, in turn, changing the natural uncooked flavor, which is the true essence of this dish. There are many versions of gazpacho, but I prefer this one without any meat broth, keeping it true to its veggie roots, and finishing it off with a drizzle of a good olive oil.  

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Divided BY Chowder

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If there is one thing I have learned as a chef there as many versions of chowder recipes as there are people who enjoy this soup, err..I mean stew..no I think soup?  

George Hirsch Chowder

Each of my cookbooks and TV series has a version of some sort of a chowder recipe. I have judged chowder contests, participated in chef chowder tastings, and been a referee at a few chowder-boxing matches. Well, not really, but people do get heated up over red or white chowder. 

What really is chowder? The word "chowder" comes from the French word chaudiere, or caldron, the vessel in which the dish was cooked. And, derives from the word "jowter," meaning fishmonger, a term that was used in 16th century coastal regions of England.

George Hirsch Seafood

Is it a soup or stew? Early versions of chowder simmered from the New England area and was basically a frugal recipe of pork fat, onions, potatoes, fish, herbs, dry biscuits or flour for thickening, layered in a pot and cooked in water, with a little milk added at the end. In the 1800’s the Manhattan clam chowder was notable because it contains tomatoes. James Beard described Manhattan clam chowder "that rather horrendous soup called Manhattan clam chowder resembles a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped into it." All respect Mr. Beard, but those are fighting words. As a New Yorker and from coastal Long Island, an East Ender we take our chowder VERY serious. See, how a discussion on chowder can turn into a sparring match.

Tomato-based clam chowders came about with the newfound popularity of the tomato in the mid-1800s with the large population of Italians and Portuguese in New York and Rhode Island region. Still, there is no chowder harmony. In 1939, Maine legislators introduced a bill outlawing the use of tomatoes in chowder because it is far more of a vegetable soup. What? 

I can end this entire soup divide right now. Aside from any vegetables, corn, chicken or other non-seafarer ingredient for the stew--here are three versions you can enjoy from my TV series and cookbooks. They have satisfied many and with hope can prevent a nation from future chowder conflict. 

Manhattan vs. New England Chowder N.E. not my fav..

Seafood Chowder Yes, now this is a stew!

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Summer Corn Chowder

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It's time for a summer soup. Make magic with the goodness from the earth, simply with corn and potatoes.

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One my most often requested soup recipes especially during summer when the farms are so abundant with fresh candy-like corn, and our famous Long Island East End Yukon Potatoes. 

It is known that eastern Long Island has some of the best soil for farming in the world. Off the record I have had some farmers tell me - that farmers in other regions are envious over the rich well drained earth here on the East End. 

Summer Corn Chowder

Makes four-six servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 Tablespoon olive oil 

4 Tablespoons pancetta or bacon, chopped

3/4 cup chopped sweet onion, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 

1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 

1/2 cup chopped carrot, chopped 

1/2 cup chopped celery, chopped 

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour 

4 cups chicken broth 

2 cups corn, (about 4 ears) fresh cut from cob; or leftover grilled corn

1 cup Yukon potatoes, well scrubbed skin left on, chopped 1/4 inch pieces

1 bay leaf 

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped 

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce 

pinch of sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup half-half 

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Pre heat a soup pot to medium temperature. Add olive oil and pancetta, cook until light brown. Add onion, garlic and chicken and cook until lightly colored. 

Add carrot, celery and cook three to four minutes. Add flour, cook for two minutes and slowly add chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil, add corn, potatoes, thyme, hot sauce and bay leaf. Simmer soup for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Pre heat half-half, add sea salt, pepper to soup and top with fresh chopped parsley.

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There's a Sop in My Soup

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Of course there is - what would a French onion soup be without a toasted crouton, aka a sop? Sops are used for soaking up a warm liquid, broth or wine, and was the term used in days of yore. I guess it was only natural that the word soup derived from sop. 

The mixture of these five onions gives a nice character to the soup. But, no sweat if you have less than five, just use a sweet onion such as OSO which I found this week at the market and you'll have a tasty version. The so called bar of success in making an onion soup is all the slow cooking and gradual 'caramelizing' of the onions. The natural sweetness from the onions adds the rich robust flavor and golden brown color, the prize in this soup. 

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CREAMY FIVE ONION SOUP

Makes 6-8 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

This easy to prepare hearty soup for a cool night makes for a wonderful dinner or rustic appetizer. 

2 Tablespoons olive oil 

2 each sweet onions*, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, chopped 

6 each Chipolini onions, chopped 

1 each red onion, chopped 

1 green onion, chopped 

1 Tablespoon flour 

1/2 cup tomato sauce 

2 teaspoons dried thyme 

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 cup white wine

1/2 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped 

2 cups chicken broth 

2 cups beef broth 

Optional:

1/2 cup half and half

French bread croutons

Parmesan, Emmental, or Gruyere cheese

Pre heat a large soup or saucepot to a medium heat. Add olive oil, sweet onions, garlic, chipolini onions, red onion and green onion. Cook for 10 minutes without stirring until you begin to see the onions in the bottom of the pot begin to brown, Stir, and allow the onions to continue to further brown. Stir and allow onions to cook for an additional five minutes. Total cooking time of onions will be about 20 minutes or more.

Season with thyme, bay leaves, pepper, add tomato sauce, flour and stir. Add white wine and cook for 5 minutes or until dry. Add chicken broth, beef broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer, cover and cook about 30 minutes. 

Remove bay leaves then, puree one half of soup in blender or food processor.

Return pureed soup back to soup pot. Bring soup back to a boil; reduce temperature down to a simmer. Add optional half and half. Serve with a toasted French bread crouton, top with grated Parmesan and melt Emmental or Gruyere cheese. 

*Note on onions: Soup may be made with any type sweet onions and garlic only. Or, you may use addition of any onion family such as leeks, chives, etc. 

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