Let’s get wild with rice and mushroom soup! By Nikki

fresh ingredients for fresh soup

fresh ingredients for fresh soup

If you are a Prague Basket reader who currently lives in Prague, you will understand when I say winter has taken a turn… not for the worse, but to a stand still! If you read from other places in the world, let me paint you a quick picture: this morning, we woke up to melted snow, streets glistening with the shimmer of a light rain, and a temperature that seems like Spring should be here tomorrow. But the weather reports say there will be more cold temperatures and another snowfall in our near future… it is like a weather yo-yo and it is only the last day of January.

Initially, when I saw the weather forecast for this week, I thought to myself, “oh no, we still have one more winter soup to feature!” But then as I sat on my couch for two days, feeling sorry for myself because of a head cold… I suppose it was fitting that I had to make soup for this post- despite the warmer weather.

Wild Rice and Mushroom soup

Wild Rice and Mushroom soup

The “wild” thing about this Wild Rice and Mushroom soup is that I made it vegetarian… usually I prefer to use a chicken stock in my soups, but for my vegetarian friends, I had to try this out in it’s pure veggie form. Well, guess what? I wasn’t disappointed! Despite my stuffy nose, my taste buds danced at the bursts of thyme, the remnants of the white wine, and the softness of the cooked mushrooms. Complimented with firm, cooked wild rice and the tangy flavor of the sour cream this soup is a new favorite. Now, I am not interested in skipping over seasons but I can imagine using this recipe during the Czech mushroom season in the late autumn… oooooooh, that is already tasting so good in my imagination.. can you tell I am “wild” about this recipe!?! Enjoy…

mushrooms, mushrooms, in the pan

mushrooms, mushrooms, in the pan

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

adapted from Oh My Veggies

 I can imagine using this soup recipe during the late fall mushroom season in the Czech Republic – yum!


1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 c. celery, chopped
1 c. carrots, chopped
1 medium shallot, chopped
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
salt + pepper to taste
1/3 c. white wine
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 c. vegetable broth
1 c. cooked wild rice
3/4 c. reduced-fat sour cream
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley


  1. Prepare rice according to directions on the package… this could take up to 1 hour!
  2. Heat olive oil in bottom of a medium soup pan on medium heat. Saute mushrooms, celery, carrots, and shallot until softened approx 5-7 minutes.
  3. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add white wine and thyme; increase heat to medium-high and cook 2 minutes more. (The flour might stick to the bottom of the pan but will release itself when soup broth is added later.)
  5. Add broth to pan and bring to a boil.
  6. Add cooked rice to the soup and stir in sour cream and parsley.
  7. Let simmer together for 5 minutes. You may need to use a whisk to mix up the sour cream- I did!
  8. Ladle into individual soup bowls and enjoy with a warm piece of bread slathered with butter- yum!

Gluten-Free French Onion Soup by Allison

Bubbly cheese covered bread on top of piping hot French onion soup, who wouldn’t want that meal for a great lunch out or even for dinner? I haven’t had French onion soup in over 2 years since I found out my about having Celiacs disease. It is pretty ironic that I grew up on a wheat farm where my Dad raised crops of wheat and barley for a large part of my life. Wheat, barley and rye or any form of them is an absolute  “no-no” for someone with Celiacs disease.  I even know the unforgettable scent of wheat when it turns that golden yellow right before harvest, that almost sweet and whole grain smell is very familiar. I can almost smell it right now if I transport myself back to the front porch of my parents’ house at the end of June or beginning of July (depending on the year) as the wheat fields ripen from a few hundred yards away. Believe me, I’m thankful that I don’t eat those grains as they make me sick and now I feel so much better overall. But there are some things I’ve certainly missed and French onion soup was one of them. No longer am I missing it though as I’m in creation mode and feel challenged to make an old favorite “gluten-free”.


I know mine is missing bubbly cheese on gluten-free bread but I think I need some new Polish pottery to make this soup even better. Soup bowls with a handle so you can place the bowl right in the oven to get the full affect of what is supposed to be traditional French onion soup. That’s it, it is officially added to the next shopping list I make for Polish pottery!

So here goes:

Gluten-Free French Onion Soup by Allison


8 onions, peeled and quartered

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

6 cups gluten-free vegetable or beef broth (I found mine at DM on Vodičkova here in Prague by the brand name ALNATURA)

2 fresh rosemary springs


Preheat oven to 210 degrees C and arrange quartered onions on pan and brush with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour until soft and partially caramelized. Roughly chop or use kitchen scissors to cut. Add onions to a large saucepan with wine and cook down until the wine evaporates. Add the broth and the rosemary and cook until flavors combine 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat. Serve with my gluten-free cornbread on top if you’d like  as well! Would be yummy!!! Enjoy!

Mommy and Me Miso Soup by L

Miso for my Munchkins and Me!

Miso for my Munchkins and Me!

When I was a little girl, my family attended church every Sunday. I never looked forward to going to church, but I sure did get excited about what came afterwards- lunch! Instead of big family dinners at Grandma’s house, we got to dine out. Who needs to be slaving over a stove and washing up a bunch of pots and dishes? It was Sunday. The Lord’s day. We all needed to rest and eat! When I say “WE,” I happen to mean my extended Filipino family of 9. When church was over, my granny, aunties, brothers, parents and I squeezed into our big blue van and headed to a restaurant.

Now that my brothers and I have grown up and moved out of the house, it’s great to see that this tradition still lives on. During our recent visit to NYC, we had plenty of Sunday lunches to catch up on and we made the best of every one of them. However, our whole family could no longer fit into my parents’ van. Over the years, a new generation of kids were born and spouses were added on. Our original party of 9 had expanded to a party of 15!

When the girls’ turned a year old, I was sad to see my babies become toddlers. Yet, one thing that is especially great about toddler hood is how the girls can eat practically anything I eat. So, when we went to dim sum, they feasted on congee, shu mai and shrimp rolls. When we had slices of New York pizza, they devoured the crusts and licked off the tasty tomato sauce! At our family’s favorite Japanese restaurant, they tried to eat sushi with chopsticks, but found that using their hands was a faster way to eat their cucumber rolls. They also delightfully slurped away at bowls of miso soup and I discovered their appreciation for this simple soup of fermented soy paste, sea veggies and tofu.

"I can do it all by myself, Mama!" T

“I can do it all by myself, Mama!” T

In fact, I wish I had thought of it sooner because it is one of the most simplest and tastiest soups to make. Oh, and of course, there are all the health benefits that come with it too!

This is miso soup from scratch, which is very simple to make. Truthfully, anything “instant” frightens me, but we all have to do what we have to do. If you keep reading on, you will find that making homemade miso soup is as simple as making oatmeal from scratch. (Reader- I hope you are making oatmeal from scratch 🙂 ) Miso soup and you might imagine: boiling water, ripping open a packet, pouring contents into a bowl, and with a swirl your soup is ready! Um… you are really missing out on something here. Yes, you still have to boil water, but with just a few simple additions, you can have a customized bowl of miso soup in your own home. Doesn’t everyone want something personalized and authentic these days?

"Seaweed is so much fun to play with, uh, I mean eat!" P

“Seaweed is so much fun to play with, uh, I mean eat!” P

I call this “Mommy and Me Miso Soup” because of the type of miso I used: white miso. This type is less salty than the others. Should I want to make a stronger pot miso for an adult palate, I tend to use a combination of brown and white miso and add a few more tablespoons.

Easiest broth you'll ever make!

Easiest broth you’ll ever make!

It all starts with the broth. You need some Dashi broth to get started and this is REALLY EASY! You just take strips of dried kombu and place it in a pot of cold water. Then leave it overnight. In the morning, your broth is ready to go. This really is a mama/papa friendly recipe! I sneaked in a few more vegetables such as shitake mushrooms and spinach to boost up the nutrients in our soup, but feel free to leave them out. It becomes an even simpler soup if you just stick to the wakame and tofu. Enjoy!

Miso Soup and More (adapted from Essentials of Asian Cuisine by Corinne Trang)

Konbu Dashi Broth:

1 package of about 2 oz. of Kombu.

2 quarts of cold water

With a damp paper towel, wipe the strips of Kombu.

Then place it in a big pot filled with cold water.

Let it sit for 12 hours or like I do,  overnight.

In the morning, the dried sea vegetable will have expanded and your broth is ready!

Remove the kelp (you can use slice it up and use it in a stir-fry with vegetables) and follow the miso recipe.


Just a few simple ingredients found at my local organic bio shop.

Miso Soup:

8 cups of Konbu Dashi

1/4 cup of Wakame (this needs to be soaked prior to using it in the soup. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain)

1 block of tofu, cut into tiny cubes

3 tablespoons (more if just for mama and papa) white miso paste

2 scallions, sliced thinly,

6 fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly

1/2 cup of spinach leaves

Set aside 1 cup of broth.

Place the rest of the broth in a deep pot.

Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat.

Add the mushrooms, wakame and tofu.

Let it cook for 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the miso paste with the remaining bowl of dashi.

Add spinach and check if the mushrooms are tender.

When ready, stir the miso paste into the soup and let it cook for another 2 minutes.

Do not let the miso paste cook any longer than that or you will lose all of its healthy benefits!

Pour into bowls and garnish with scallions.

Enjoy with your favorite lil’ person!

Sweet Pea Soup with Carrots and White Beans… yes, peas! By Nikki

Sweet Pea Soup for the Soul!

Sweet Pea Soup for the Soul!

Have you noticed a a theme in our recent posts…? As Allison mentioned in her last post, we are in the full swing of winter here in Praha. It is cold outside and naturally it is the best time for warm, winter soups! We at the Prague Basket have dedicated the month of January to soup… we hope one of these recipes finds it’s way into your kitchen this month! Stay warm and enjoy…

peas, peas, peas

peas, peas- yes please!

 Green Pea Soup with Carrots and White Beans

adapted from Cooking Light

This is a Sunday soup- a labor of love some might say! You will need time and patience to prepare… but it is worth it! So put on your favorite tunes, sing along and at the end you will enjoy the fruits (er.. soup!) of your labor!


2 teaspoons butter, 1 cup coarsely chopped green onions, 4 cups shelled green peas (about 4 pounds un-shelled), 2 carrots, chopped, 1 can of white beans, 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, (Substitute 3 cups of vegetable broth for vegetarian based soup), 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, Cracked black pepper (optional)

Note: I made my own, fresh chicken broth by boiling 3 chicken breasts with 4 bay leaves, salt, pepper, 1 medium onion, and 2 cloves of garlic, chopped. Boil for 20 minutes, strain and use broth for soup.


Homemade, fresh chicken stock


   Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onions and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peas, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until peas are very tender. Remove pan from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

While the soup sits, use 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan. Lightly saute carrots until tender. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Place half of the pea mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the pureed soup mixture into a large bowl. Repeat this process until all the pea mixture is blended well. Pour half of pureed soup mixture through a sieve over a large bowl, reserving the liquid. Return liquid to pureed soup mixture and discard the pea skins.

Return the soup liquid to the soup pan, add the white beans and sauteed carrots and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve in bowls with a dash of pepper… preferably with your favorite bread!



Gluten-Free Lentil Soup With Lemon Yogurt Cream by Allison

The temperatures have dropped here in Prague, okay really dropped. It is quite frigid to say the least at a chilly -6 degrees Celsius and on its’ way down to -11 over the weekend. It’s definitely winter, there’s no denying that fact anymore. I know it is colder in some parts of the world right now but yikes, it seems as if I should wear 5 layers of clothes, have a hot tea IV and a face mask at times whenever I brave the cold temperatures outside. Somehow I have a difficult time warming up after coming in from the cold after walking to my place from the metro or sitting in a drafty seat on the tram all the way home. What’s the answer to warm up my bone-chilling body?! Soup! Soup does a body good.



GF Lentil Soup with Lemon Yogurt Cream
Makes about 8 cups of soup

slightly adapted from the Kitchn

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced small
2 small carrots, diced small
3 celery stalks, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 can of diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika or 1 tablespoon regular paprika with a 1/4 tsp of chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups green or brown lentils (dried)
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (try a gluten-free chicken or vegetable broth sold at DM on Vodičkova here in Prague by the brand name ALNATURA)
2 cups of boiling water
1 bay leaf
1 cup yogurt
juice from 1 lemon

Place a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat slightly, add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, cook for several more minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes and spices. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

Add the lentils, broth, and bay leaf to the pan and stir. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes until the lentils are soft (exact cooking time will depend on your lentils). Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Whisk together the yogurt and lemon juice. Add a dollop of this yogurt sauce to each bowl as you serve.

Chicken Noodle Soup for the Broken Hearted by L


My Mama’s Chicken Noodle Soup, excellent with Allison’s Cornbread!

“I used to hate this when we were little,” my brother said, one night as I served our mother’s chicken noodle soup for dinner.

“Me too,” I replied with a laugh.

“But now, I really like it,” he added, as he raised a spoonful of soup to his mouth.

“Me too,” I answered as I continued to enjoy my bowl.

This conversation took place some years after we had been living in our newly adopted city of Prague, far away from our hometown, far away from our family. It made me wonder if all that distance and missing “home” had somehow made this soup tastier and more delicious than ever. Even after so many years, I still haven’t found it easy to live in one place and have my heart in another. For me, that about sums up the biggest challenge in the life of an ex-pat.

My daughters and I have just returned back to Prague after two months of living la vida loca in my hometown of New York City. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, cousins and childhood friends galore visited us and filled our lives with joy and happiness. Although we have a wonderful and loving group of friends (who are like family) in Prague, there was still something that felt very sad about coming back “home.”

All you need is...

All you need is…

In our family, the word “home,” holds so many different meanings. We have our “home base” in Prague, but then there’s our “home” in Spain and there is also our “home” in New York City. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining here. I truly appreciate that we get to experience all these different places and live a life abroad. I just wish there was a way that we could live it with our families close by. That would probably ease the pain of having to say good-bye at the end of each stay and my heart wouldn’t be shattered to pieces. Parting seems to be a lot more difficult now that I have entered this new stage of life. Since becoming a mother, I swell up with truckloads of emotions when it comes to leaving my family. It saddens me that my kids won’t see their grandparents on a daily basis or have the chance to drop in on their cousins anytime they want. In my life B.K. (Before Kids), this thought rarely crossed my mind. Now, I try to find many ways to cope with the great distances and deal with the long separations. Thank goodness for Skype, I guess.  I know I’ll get over it as soon as our Prague life returns to order, but I will still miss my family. So, maybe this is why the first thing I wanted to cook when we returned home was my mama’s chicken noodle soup.

It’s a very simple soup. The most important ingredient you need is a good broth. Now, don’t skimp out and throw in a cube of chicken bouillon. It really doesn’t take much effort to make a pot of homemade chicken stock. You will definitely notice a difference!

I can’t remember why I disliked this soup as a child. These days, I cherish every spoonful. I hope you will too!

A cure for the broken heart: Chicken Noodle Soup

A cure for the broken heart: Chicken Noodle Soup

Mama’s Chicken Noodle Soup


1/2 chicken with bones

10-12 cups of water

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. sage

1 bay leaf

Salt to your liking

Cut the chicken into pieces.

Put all the ingredients together in a deep pot.

Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 30 minutes to 2 hours. (The longer the better 🙂

When it cools down, remove chicken and discard bay leaf.

Discard the skin and begin to shred the meat off the bones into thin pieces.

Return shredded pieces of chicken to the pot.

Set aside.

For the rest of the soup:

2 medium-sized carrots, julienne style

2 sticks of celery, sliced thinly

1 onion, chopped

1 cup of cabbage, sliced thinly

1/2 cup of elbow macaroni

In a shallow frying pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil.

When ready, add the onion and cook until translucent.

Then add the carrots and celery.

Stir and cook until tender, but still crisp.

Reheat the chicken stock.

When it starts boiling, add the onions, carrots and celery.

Lower flame to a simmer.

Let it cook for about 20 minutes.

Then add the cabbage and macaroni.

Cook for another ten minutes or until cabbage and pasta are done.

Optional: Pour 1/4 cup of milk or cream. (My mom always added this in at the end, it was a Filipino thing :))

Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Enjoy with Allison’s Gluten Free Cornbread and remember all those happy days with your family!

Seriously Delicious Gluten-Free Cornbread by Allison

So here we are in a New Year! 2013 sure seemed to come around quite quickly didn’t it?!  Time flies when you’re having fun I guess! This little recipe for cornbread can be considered fun in its’ own right as it comes together quickly and tastes like a party in your mouth. It is versatile as it can be paired with hearty soups, pulled pork, ham, roasted vegetables and well folks, just about anything. This is a hit as it goes together quickly, is easy to put together and is also delicious, trust me on this one. The gluten-free cornmeal and corn flour can be found at the bio store here in Prague. This recipe came from my Mom. She has so many amazing recipes, I am constantly emailing her for recipes and trying my best to recreate them and have them turn out the way it would in her kitchen. My Mom just whips things together and makes an incredible meal and has impeccable timing for having everything ready at the right time. She is an amazing cook with a heart of gold. Love that Mom of mine!IMG_1316

Gluten-free Cornbread by Allison


1/2 cup of butter, melted

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup  gluten-free cornmeal, coarse-grind

1 cup gluten-free corn flour, smooth

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius or 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar and eggs. Beat in buttermilk and baking soda by hand and add dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Pour into a greased 9″ x 9″ baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Serve hot with butter and honey. This is paired well with spicy and salty dishes such as ham or spicy pulled pork or enchiladas or even soup! Enjoy!


It’s called, “Keeping your ducks in a row”! – guest post by Tom Hume

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

After a full day of skiing on Mt. Hood, it was a treat to come home to a New Year’s day dinner of roast wild duck, oyster stuffing and sweet, baked acorn squash.
That is a nicely centered plate!

That is a nicely centered plate- thanks Mom!

The post below is a contribution by my dad who has always had an interest in fish and wildlife- especially hunting, fishing, and clam digging. So much of what I have learned about being a creative cook has come from working in the kitchen with Papa Bear!
Here is what he has to say about roasting wild ducks…
plucking the feathers

plucking the feathers

After the birds were plucked, they were soaked, breast down in organic 1% milk for 3 hours.
This decreases the game-y flavor of the meat.
ducks take a milk bath

ducks take a milk bath

When finished soaking, place the birds breast side up in a baking dish.
Pat dry with paper towel. Then separate the skin from the breast meat with fingers.
the dirty work

the dirty work

Under the skin place 1 piece of small mandarin, 1 dried apricot and 1/2 slice of apple on each side of the breast, squishing the mandarin in between the skin and the meat. Salt the inside of the cavity with kosher salt and replace 1 heart and 1 liver per duck along with remaining apple and 1 minced garlic clove.
prepping the birds

prepping the birds

Slather the top skin with olive oil, dust with a mixture of dried sage and thyme, kosher salt and fresh parsley.
almost ready...

almost ready…

Pour about 1/3 cup of full bodied red wine in the bottom of the pan and roast on 375 degrees F for 50 minutes, covered.
Mama and Papa Hume- teamwork!

Mama and Papa Hume- teamwork!

Reduce heat to 325 degrees F and continue to roast for another 15-20 minutes.

those squash look yum

those squash look yum

Let sit out of oven for approx 10 minutes, uncovered before serving.

those are some beautiful ducks- all in a row!

those are some beautiful “ducks in a row”!

Notes about these ducks: “Northern Mallards are originally from Canada. The duck is recognizable by the 1 quarter inch of yellow, insulating fat under the down. They feed on grain and corn. Their flight path brings them through Moses Lake in Eastern Washington then on to Umatilla in Eastern Oregon. Colder weather will push them further south to the Klamath river basin where they winter with up to half a million ducks and geese.”

Ain’t No Ham Like the One I Know by L

Ham here. Ham there. Ham everywhere. In our house, Christmas dinner isn’t a dinner without a ham.

Hamon:Filipino Style!

Hamon:Filipino Style!

One of the guest stars at our family’s table during these holidays was the deliciously sweet and tender Filipino Hamon! It’s so simple to make and will leave your taste buds wanting more! This post will be short as I know many of you are busy getting ready to say farewell to 2012 and welcome the new year.

So, I’ll say on behalf of The Prague Basket, we hope you and your family had the merriest of Christmases and may 2013 bring you much fortune, happiness, love, joy and good ham!

Filipino Hamon  (best if prepared the night before serving)

All set for the carving!

All set for the carving!

1 Cured Pork Butt on the bone, with or without skin, it is up to you, so are the grams and kilos)

1 bottle of beer

1/2 container of pineapple juice

1 liter bottle of  7/up or Sprite

2 bay leaves

1/2 -1 cup of brown sugar (depends on how large your ham is)

Sliced pineapple rings

Maraschino cherries


In a large pot, add all the liquid ingredients, ham and 2 bay leaves.

Let the marinade come to a boil and then turn the heat down.

Let the ham simmer for 30 minutes.

Then let it sit overnight. Be sure to rotate it at some point.

For the next day…

Heat oven to 200 celsius or 400 fahrenheit.

Place ham in a large baking pan.

Take a brush and glaze the ham with the liquid marinade.

Then rub the ham with brown sugar. Make sure it is evenly coated.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Garnish with sliced pineapple rings, maraschino cherries and parsley.

Best way to have leftover ham!

Best way to have leftover ham. A post-Christmas ham and cheese sandwich!