Category Archives: soups

Pumpkin Soup, hold the spice

Alternative title: Miso over pumpkin spice. It may really be just me, but I am sick to death of pumpkin spice. I love pumpkin and all its winter squash cousins but the pumpkin spice conspiracy to assault your senses all fall is just too much. And so, while I want to want to savor pumpkin muffins and PSL’s, I really don’t want to, because they make me feel like I am eating or sipping a horribly misappropriated Yankee Candle.

Enough already. I prefer pumpkins and their cousins to taste like, well, the pumpkin family. If you don’t believe me, check out these pumpkin all stars. (There’s even a mighty fine pumpkin muffin in there that tastes nothing like a Yankee candle.) ‘Tis the season for orange goodness, and, unlike me, my family can only take so much Sugar and Spice Squash Soup. I needed another comfort soup in the repertoire and I think I’ve found it. This comes from My New Roots, home of the ever brilliant “Dirt Bread” that is the stuff of lusty Hippie dreams.

The original version of this soup uses red pumpkin also known as Kuri or red kabocha. I used cooked kabocha (AKA buttercup) squash because I had it at the ready and because it is mighty dense and creamy. I did not use the gnarly green peel. Butternut squash would also be fab. Or, hey, even an actual pie pumpkin would work (though they are more watery and less sweet and the skin is not for prime time).

This soup is also a fine way to work through the vat of miso that seemed like a good idea when I bought it, which was a while back. Miso adds the funk, or umami if you must, and the variety of toppings lets you totally riff in whatever direction you please. I used some fried shallots (that I bought at the same store where I made my excessive miso purchase), toasted pepitas and chopped pistachios to be X-tra klassy. We had this as just a soup, without the noodles, and it was tremendous, though noodles would be bulk it up into a fab fall dinner. If you want a similar recipe, with mushrooms right in the soup, check out this similar, though non-pureed one here.

Get your pumpkin on, and hold the spice. If you feel cheated you can always light a candle.

Pumpkin Miso Broth with Soba
From My New Roots. Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (olive oil is fine too)
  • 2 medium yellow onion
  • ¾ tsp. fine grain sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium, 2 lb / 1kg Hokkaido pumpkin (or other favorite hard winter squash)
  • 3 – 4 cups / 750ml – 1 liter water
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp. white or light miso (3 was way plenty and I am a salt fiend)
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 175g / 6oz. soba noodles (100% buckwheat)

Toppings:

  • spring onion
  • sesame seeds
  • sautéed shiitake mushrooms
  • seaweed (optional)
  • Other options: fried shallots, chile crisp, diced avocado, toasted pepitas, and so much more

Directions:

1. Roughly chop onions, mince garlic. Wash the pumpkin well (as you’ll be eating the skin), and chop into chunks. (I used kabocha without the peel. Look at your squash, know your audience and use your judgement here)

2. In a large stockpot, melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and salt, stir to coat and cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are just starting to caramelize. Add garlic and cook for about a minute until fragrant.

3. Add the pumpkin and stir to coat. Add 3 cups / 750ml of water, cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender.

4. While the soup is cooking, prepare the toppings: Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cook soba noodles according to package directions, drain and lightly rinse. Slice spring onion, lightly toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes. Sauté mushrooms in a lightly oiled skillet over high heat for 5-7 minutes.

5.Transfer the soup to a blender and blend on high until completely smooth. Add more water if necessary – you’re looking for a creamy consistency, but it should not be thick like a paste. I like the soup to be on the thinner side for this dish. Add the miso, ginger and blend again until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Transfer soup back to the pot and keep warm (reheat if necessary, but try not to boil–miso does not appreciate that).

6. Ladle soup into bowls, top with soba, spring onion, sesame seeds, mushrooms and crumble the seaweed over top. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Many thanks to cousin D for this sign of the season

 

Coolest Cucumber Soup

Labor Day be damned summer is NOT over yet. Well, not totally. Sadly, I was skunked at two corn suppliers yesterday, so that ship is quickly sailing. But cukes and zukes are still going strong. I’ve got a pretty epic zucchini creation coming soon (I was so busy marveling at it that I forgot to take a picture), but while we’re waiting, here’s a cool way to use up some of the many cucumbers you may be experiencing.

I discovered while searching for a soup that involved zero cooking or warming of any kind, and could all be made in the blender. Slackers delight!

This one goes out to you Californians and westerners who are feeling the heat, and the smoke, and the earthquakes. As a bonus, it involves an avocado. The original recipe calls for the avocado on the soup, but this is not my first soup rodeo. Adding the avocado to the blender adds heft and creaminess without actual cream.

I hope this soup helps you soak up every last bit of summer, and frees up some space in your fridge.

Coolest Cucumber Soup

 Adapted from The New York Times

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 cups buttermilk (or use 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt plus 1/4 cup water) *
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 2 anchovy fillets (optional) **
  • 2 small whole scallions, trimmed
  • ½ jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup packed mixed fresh herbs (like mint, parsley, dill, tarragon, basil and cilantro)
  • ½ teaspoon sherry or white wine vinegar, more to taste ***
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more to taste (omit if using miso, then add if needed)
  • ½ avocado ****

All The Options

  • 4 slices toast of choice
  • ½ avocado, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked, kernels sliced off
  • Fresh dill, for serving
  • Fried shallots or onions (if you’ve got ’em, why not?)

* Vegans, you have your milks. Use them here, soured with vinegar or lemon juice
**I used 2 tsp miso paste instead, for saltiness and funk, or what one might call “umami,”
*** I used 1 Tbsp lime juice (half a lime)
**** I threw the avocado intended as a topping right into the blender. Save the other half for toast…or throw it in as well. Did anyone ever complain about too much avocado? Ok, except for my husband?

Method

  1. In the bowl of a blender or food processor, combine cucumber, buttermilk, garlic, anchovy, scallions, jalapeño, fresh herbs, sherry vinegar and salt. Blend until smooth and adjust seasoning as needed.
  2. Smash avocado slices on the toasted bread. Sprinkle with crumbled feta, squeeze the juice of the lemon half over the top and finish each with a drizzle of olive oil and some pepper. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Distribute soup between 4 bowls and garnish with raw corn kernels and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve avocado toast on the side.

 

 

 

Easiest Tomato Soup: Beating the lunch curve

Gluten has made a serious comeback in our house, mostly out of desperation. Baking, once a rarity, is now a daily or twice daily thing, as the little darlings (read locusts) can work through two loaves of Easiest French Bread Ever in a day. To keep everyone fed, I’m turning to old favorites I can crank out with minimal effort. I’d love to try new recipes, but now is not the time to gamble precious ingredients—especially flour, the new toilet paper—on anything that might not work out.

I’m also trying to make mornings more pleasant by getting ahead of the breakfast curve the night before: making granola; mixing up batter for popovers, blueberry muffins, victory bran muffins; or stirring together the dough for Maple Oat Breakfast Bread.  

All those freshly baked goods may earn you some peace and joy in the morning, but by lunchtime—just when the coffee is worn off—it turns out you also need something to go with the carbs.

Fortunately, for inspiration we have the chain letter of favorite recipes that’s pin-balled through everyone’s inbox a few times already during lockdown. If you want a deep dive into why we do these chain letters, here you go  (Thanks NoPo, for being on the pulse with this analysis). I went looking through the emails for a soup that could be ready in less than an hour, without adding to the kitchen mess.

A lot of favorite recipes are labeled as “best” and “easiest,” tall claims that make it hard to choose what to try first: Best, easiest, best, easiest. It will surprise nobody that I opted for the one, from cousin Michelle, entitled “Easiest Tomato Soup.”

A quick look at the ingredient list confirmed that this would satisfy the recipe trifecta, by being: easy, cheap and requiring no trip to the store. I’ve been burned by minimalist recipes that taste like they are missing ingredients and steps, so I wanted to see just how good this was, exactly as written. I resisted every urge to add a little bit of this or that, things like: Maple syrup; a glug of sherry; a squeeze of basil from those yummy herb tubes; a splash of cream.

For a serial recipe tweaker this abstinence was tough, but I did it. I am so glad I did, because I can now attest that this soup over delivers on its promise. Maybe the simplicity is why it is so good, though it must also have to do with cooking time. Don’t cheat on the 40 minute simmer—that’s where the magic happens. Confession: It was not until writing that line that I realized this is essentially a pureed version of Marcella Hazan’s pasta sauce but with garlic and broth. Mystery solved. Of course it’s good!

As further endorsement, I barely had time to stage a photo of this before my family ate the shot and then the entire batch. The next day, I doubled it, amortizing the minimal effort over even more servings.  

Enjoy a bowl of this with a grilled cheese, or any of the aforementioned carbs, and consider yourself comforted…at least until dinner.

Really Truly Easiest Tomato Soup

from Michelle Prioleau

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • Butter (4 tbsp)*
  • White onion (1 half)
  • Garlic (1 large clove)
  • Canned tomatoes (2 cans)
  • Chicken stock (1.5 cups)*

Method:

  1. Finely chop onions and mince garlic
  2. Melt butter in large pot. Add onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until onions are softened
  3. Add canned tomatoes and chicken stock to pot, and cook uncovered for ~40 minutes
  4. When done cooking, pour soup into blender and blend until smooth (an immersion blender works beautifully too.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste
  6. That’s it!

*Edie’s note here. Don’t tell my family (God knows they will never ever read a food blog), but I used fake butter and veggie “Better than Bouillon.” So, yes it can be Veganized if you like, and the carnivores won’t even notice.

Spring Chicken Soup

 

This recipe is straight outta Steamboat from Tania, Bring It’s Rocky Mountain correspondent. Along with her husband, she invented this by merging three Thai recipes. As Tania  says,  “It can be tweaked anyway you want, but it is pretty amazing as written.” She also admits it’s a pain in the butt to make, but it’s really nothing more than a a few rounds of chopping sautéing and stirring. 

What I love about this soup, beyond it’s sheer freshness, is the way it builds in the pot, kind of like stone soup. I guess this is how Stone Soup would evolve in a community with really well stocked veggie drawers. It features a lot of greens, and can handle a lot of flexibility. That said, the first time I made it I was missing key ingredients—fish sauce, mint, red peppers—and used the wrong mushrooms and imposter jalapeños. (It’s New Hampshire. It happens).The result was ok but underwhelming. The next time I made it, with the right stuff, it got the kind of unsolicited rave reviews I NEVER get from soup.

There are no amounts listed for the fresh herbs, but be generous with them, according to your taste. If you want to freelance, I suggest doing it on the amount of oil and butter used at each phase, using whatever amount looks and feels right to you. It makes a lot, so as you reheat it during the week, give it fresh cha-cha  by adding more ginger, garlic and lime. 

Spring Chicken Soup

Courtesy of Chuck and Tania Coffey

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of chicken stock
  • *olive oil
  • *butter
  • 1 ½ lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 3” ginger root peeled and minced
  • 2 red peppers sliced thinly
  • ¾ lb shitake mushrooms sliced
  • 3 limes (skin from one lime)
  • ¼ c fish sauce
  • fresh basil
  • fresh mint
  • fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 3 jalapenos diced
  • 2 fresnos cut in rings (easterners, you are forgiven if you can’t track these downw)
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 T brown sugar
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 11 oz  baby spinach (1 entire plastic coffin)
  • i package straight cut rice noodles

Method:

Pour all the stock into a big pot and heat on medium high.

Grill chicken (or cook up however works for you) 8-10 minutes per side. The breasts are undercooked because they are going in the soup.  When cool enough to cut, cube into 1” pieces and add to soup.

In a nonstick pan heat 1 T butter and 1T olive oil and cook garlic and ginger until fragrant.  Pour into pot.

In a large nonstick pan heat 2 T butter and 1T olive oil (I used less here) and cook mushrooms until fragrant and starting to brown. Add a half cup or so water to the cooking mushrooms if they seem dry.  Add to soup.

Add 1-2 T butter to pan and cook red peppers until slightly soft. Add to soup. You’re done with that pan now.

Grate the skin of a lime into soup. Add juice of 3 limes and the fish sauce to soup.Cut stems of cilantro into ½” pieces and add to soup.
Slice fresnos and mince jalapenos and add to soup.
Add coconut milk, red pepper flakes to taste and  brown sugar.
Chop basil, cilantro and mint leaves and add to soup with all of the spinach (you really have to use a big spoon to get it all in there).
Cover soup partially and cook until the spinach wilts (this happens fast).
In another pot bring water to boil and cook rice noodles according to directions. (alternatively serve this over jasmine rice)
To serve put noodles in a bowl and cover with soup.  Add red pepper flakes to taste.
The soup gets better the next day especially if you add a bit more garlic, ginger and jalapeno.

Looking for other fresh spring recipes? How about minty snap pea salad, or of course Marcharitas. And because it’s the confluence of soup season and sugaring season—what we lack in peppers around here, we make up for in maple—don’t forget maple oat breakfast bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower and Pear Soup

 

My Dad’s favorite soup was vichyssoise, which is French for a cream, leek and mashed potatoes milkshake. While vichyssoise is delicious, I always feel a little guilty having a day’s worth of calories in a cup. It’s also traditionally served cold, which makes it a tough sell in winter. This soup, from Food52, reminds me of Vichyssoise in its creamy texture and in its potato/leek provenance. It is, however, downright healthy and served hot—key features for all food in January.

The addition of pears here is all upside, especially if you need a way to use up any Christmas pears. By the way, if you happen to have that problem, I’ll be right over! It also cooks in one pot. And that’s not all…it can easily be Veganized by replacing the butter with your fat of choice, and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Swirl in some cream if you need a hug.

Cauliflower and Pear Soup
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts, chopped
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, green leaves and trunk removed, florets chopped
  • 2 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 5 leaves fresh sage (or about 2 tsp chopped), plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken stock
  • kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 tsp sherry vinegar, or to taste (champagne vinegar also works well)
  • 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)

For Serving:

Method:

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leek and shallot, and cook until they are soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cauliflower, potato, pear, sage, and thyme, stirring to thoroughly coat them with the oil and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently, another 8 to 10 minutes. (if your pot is pretty full it may take quite a bit longer. Be loose and go with your instincts here). You’re aiming for a little caramelization around the edges for depth of flavor.
  3. Add 5 cups chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, lower heat to just maintain the simmer, and cook until all of the ingredients are very tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. With an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup until it’s smooth. If using a blender, you may need to do this step in batches, then return to pot. You’re looking for a smooth, velvety texture, so take your time to blend thoroughly. Thin with more chicken stock, if needed, until you reach desired consistency.
  5. Season to taste with vinegar, maple syrup if desired (when would it not be?) and salt and pepper. Serve in heated bowls, with garnish of choice

The experts say you should serve this with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Who am I to argue? And in case you wondered, it’s darned good cold as well. Buck would approve!

Winter’s back. Stay warm out there!

Chupe de Pollo con Chipotle

chipotle-chili-ck-1687650-x[1]First, I know it’s spring and everyone is thinking light, fresh, vibrant. So what’s with the winter stew you ask?  Here’s the scoop…

  1. It’s going to be 30 degrees and snowing at my house today (good grief!).  Every time I share this meal with someone they ask for the recipe (a Bring It pre-requisite).  I recently made this for a friend and I forgot how darn good it is.

In all seriousness, this recipe is a winner. It came to me from a friend who brought it to my house many years ago. I had a bike accident which resulted in a lot of couch time and several months on crutches. I couldn’t do much except sit, read, watch movies and visit with friend. It was so hard not to cook! On the up side, my unbelievably generous neighbors and good friends made meals for me and my family while I was out of commission. They delivered 3-4 meals each week right to my doorstep and there was always enough for left overs. It was so kind of them and very much appreciated (my husband loved it so much that when I came off crutches he actually said, “I’m going to miss the meal delivery”!). One of the meals they brought was this chicken stew. We all loved it and I had to have the recipe. Since then, I’ve made it over and over for friends and family and, every time I shared this meal with someone, they asked for the recipe. And so, a Bring It entry was way overdue!

This stew has a bit of a kick with the chipotle peppers. Careful if you are wimpy in terms of “heat”. It can get away from you quickly. Otherwise, go for it and enjoy!

Ingredients

1 (7 ounce) can chipotle in adobo sauce
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
6 garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups fat free, less sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 (15.5 ounce) can white or golden hominy, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup whipping cream (I used 1% milk)
1 cup chopped, seeded plum tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Remove 1 chile and 1 tsp adobo sauce from can (reserve remaining chiles and sauce for another use). Finely chop chili, set chile and sauce aside separately.
  2. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped chile, onion, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic), cook 6-7 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Stir in broth, bring to a boil. Add chicken, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and cool slightly (enough so you can handle it). Shred chicken with 2 forks, cover, keep warm.
  3. Remove pan from heat, let stand 5 minutes. Place 1/3 of broth mixture in blender and process until smooth. Pour broth mixture into large bowl and repeat procedure in two more batches. Return pureed broth to Dutch oven. Stir in potatoes and hominy; bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in chicken and cream, simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining adobo sauce, tomatoes, cilantro, and salt/pepper.

Bring It

Bring in original pot or crockpot with crusty loaf of bread – super easy.

The Souper Bowl

Souper Bowl of green goodness

What if all your favorite ingredients jumped in pool of green goodness? It could happen.

It’s tough being a Raiders fan. But it does take the pressure of having to ever get worked up over the Super Bowl. This year, once again, I have no skin in the game, which clears the way to concentrate on snacks.

This “soup” is more of a pesto-like base that is diluted with hot water to become the venue for a pool party of your favorite ingredients. Ever since seeing it on a list of  “best yet most ignored recipes of 2015,” I’ve been wanting to make it. It’s got it all—fresh greens and savory herbs, spicy ginger, hot peppers, edgy garlic, creamy almonds and a sweet touch of honey. A severe lack of both exercise and vegetables has only intensified my desire to have a batch of green goodness on hand.

Disclaimer here: This is not for everyone, as attested to by some haters in the comments on the original recipe. If you want a thick creamy soup that is filling on its own, make yourself a batch of the best squash soup ever. This make a thin, flavorful broth which can be sipped like therapy on its own, or used as the backdrop for all manner of yummy things. I also find it pretty irresistible in its undiluted form where it can be used like pesto: spread thinly on toasts, bruschetta style; dabbled atop burrata; swirled into hot grains, pasta or roasted veggies, etc.

I totally support  the pursuit of tradition. Go boldly into the meaty, cheesy, creamy core of the Internet to find classic super bowl snacks. But while you’re getting chips and cheese and potato skins and fixin’s for chili (don’t forget the killer cornbread) and seven layer dip, throw some greens and citrus, ginger and peppers in your cart. Whir up this concoction in the food processor it will sit quietly ready for when you crave an instant bowl of health and comfort.

With a thorough tour of the produce department and very little time or effort you can make a supply of this and know you have paid your health insurance premium through winter.

Souper Bowl with Roasted kabocha squash

Roasted kabocha squash filled with green goodness and topped with frizzled shallots and toasted seeds. Can you say extra credit?

The Souper Bowl of Green Goodness

AKA Heidi Swansons Spicy Green Soup

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup (20 grams) firmly packed basil leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups (35 grams) firmly packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1/4 cup (7 grams) lightly packed mint leaves
  • A thick 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small serrano chiles, stemmed
  • 1/2 cup (45 grams) sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey (Vegans- do your workarounds)

Options for Making it Awesome:

  • Poached eggs, hot white beans, soba noodles, or brown rice, to serve
  • Chopped black olives, lemon wedges, toasted almonds, shaved green onions, or roasted, sliced mushrooms (or other oven-roasted vegetable), to top

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, bring water just to a simmer.
  2. As the water heats, combine the garlic, basil, cilantro, mint, ginger, olive oil, chiles, almonds, salt, lemon zest, and honey in a food processor. Blend until smooth, thinning with a couple of tablespoons of cold water and scraping down the sides along the way, until the mixture becomes as smooth as possible.
  3. Taste and adjust to your liking; the paste should be strong and spicy.
  4. Just before serving, add the paste to the simmering water and stir well. Dial back the heat at this point; you don’t want it to return to a simmer, but you do want it very hot.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning—a bit more salt or a squeeze of lemon juice. (Editors’ note: Don’t skimp on the lemon!) Ladle into bowls with your chosen accompaniment and enjoy on its own or topped with any of the suggested toppings.

Bonus Recipe

I ran across this recipe for Vegan bouillon (see way below). I have not made it yet, but the fact that it includes miso and nutritional yeast—two totally weird tastes that I love—made me put dried mushrooms at the top of my shopping list. It’s an umami bonanza.

Vegan Bouillon

By Joe Yonan The Washington Post

Makes 1 cup; enough for sixteen 1-cup servings of broth. The bouillon paste can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 6 weeks or refrigerated for 3 to 4 months.

Ingredients

1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4
cup porcini mushroom powder (may substitute 6 tablespoons shiitake mushroom powder; see NOTE)
1/4
cup white miso
1/4
cup canola or other neutrally flavored oil
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon granulated garlic (powder)
1 tablespoon celery seed
2 teaspoons sea salt

Method:

Combine the nutritional yeast, mushroom powder, white miso, oil, soy sauce, onion and garlic powders, celery seed and sea salt in a food processor; process to form a thick, smooth paste.

Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container.

Note: Make your own mushroom powder by crumbling dried mushrooms in a blender, food processor or a clean electric coffee grinder and processing until finely ground.

Sugar and Spice Squash Soup

Soup worth yodeling about? Hell ja!

Soup worth yodeling about? Hell ja!

Tick Tick Tick. It’s happening, snow or no snow. A certain person in our house wore an elf suit for an entire weekend, the Christmas music on the radio is running 1:1 with Adele, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had at least some chocolate by 10 am for the past five days. Oh yeah…’tis the season.

This sweet, spicy, ginger squash soup is another fabulous contribution from Steamboat Tania, who holds the bar so much higher than me that I almost just posted this without trying it. Almost. But the whole candied ginger thing was intriguing, and I figured before descending into holiday carb overload I owed it to my people to produce one last healthy, unique, yet broadly appealing dish.

It’s a more sophisticated version of Halloween Soup, with creaminess from coconut milk, spice from red curry paste and sweet holiday sparkle from the candied ginger. (You know you were wondering how to use up the tub of candied ginger you got for fruitcake or ginger libations or various gingery creations.)

If I have not sold you on this soup yet, it’s also pretty hard to screw up. I didn’t have a full jar of red curry paste, used bouillon cubes instead of broth and misread the recipe, using only one butternut squash. It was still incredible, and an acorn squash out there lives for another day. Oh, and Tania’s tip on heating the squash in the oven first is sheer brilliance.

I urge you to make this, as a gift to yourself or to share with your holiday squad. Extra points if you enjoy it in your elf suit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large acorn squash
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (plus more to rub on squash)
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 1 jar red curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk (Full fat tastes best. Hide the can if you must)
  • 1/3 cup candied ginger
  • salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 350.
Put uncut squash on baking tray while the oven is preheating (do this so the squash cuts easily and you don’t lose fingers), 10 minutes or so.
Cut squash in half, discard seeds, rub cut side with olive oil and place cut side down on baking sheet. Cook until soft, half an hour or so depending on size.
While squash is cooking warm 3T olive oil and butter in a large sauce pan. Add onion, cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Remove squash from oven and scoop flesh into onion/garlic mixture. Add chicken stock, curry paste, coconut milk and candied ginger. Stir over low-med heat until blended.

Ladle lumpy soup into vitamix/blender (or use an immersion blender). You will need two pots because this was 2 vitamix loads. Blend until smooth. Return to stovetop to warm. Add salt and pepper to taste. Warm and serve. (P.S. It’s also really good cold)

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Colorado Summer Corn Souper Chowder

Fresh corn and peppers in their raw, pretty state. What happens later is tasty but not so pretty.

Fresh corn and peppers in their raw, pretty state. What happens later is tasty but not so pretty.

Cowgirl and cook Tania Coffey is back on the cooking range, this time helping us figure out more ways to enjoy summers sweetest fresh corn. This recipe is adapted from a vegetarian version created by Aaron Bennett, a chef at the Aspen Ritz Carlton. It was created as an appetizer to showcase Colorado’s produce, in particular Olathe corn.

Tania says: “This soup is so much of a pain to make that after many efforts we decided to grill a chicken breast, shred it, toss it in with the soup, rename it chowder and not cook another thing for dinner.  That said, it is so good that in August we make it over and over until we are sick of it and can wait another year for fresh corn.”

So there’s your motivation. Armed with Tania’s disclaimer I made this soup, with my own set of preconditions. First, I only had four ears of corn so I had to cut it in thirds which challenged my math skills. Second, in New England my pepper selection is limited, so I had to go with jalapenos and a couple of canned chipotles in adobo. (Update: as anticipated, Tania politely points out in first comment below that cans have no place in this recipe. So let’s all just pretend I never used those chipotles). Third, I had no chicken, so I reverted to a soup more like the original. The good news is that you now have our guarantee that it is delicious with or without chicken.

Before you embark, I will soften the prep warning a bit by summing up the procedure. You are cutting fresh corn off the cob, and boiling the cobs in milk and broth. You are roasting corn kernels in the oven. You are sautéeing diced onions and peppers in butter. Then you are throwing it all together and pureeing part of it. When it’s done it is really truly NOT pretty. But as Tania notes, “it is incredible when the corn is sweet.” So let’s get over appearances shall we?

You will need two big stock pots and a hearty blender (or an immersion blender along with the good sense to keep it deep in the pot while blending).

Colorado Summer Corn Chowder

Adapted from chef Aaron Bennett via Tania Coffey

Makes: A lot; 10-12 servings at least, or more if it’s eaten by the mug vs the bowl.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ears fresh sweet corn
  • 1 1/2 sweet onion diced
  • 3 poblano peppers diced (If you can find roasted poblanos use them for a totally different— and fabulous—taste).
  • 3 jalapeños ribs and seeds removed minced
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 T garlic minced
  • 4T butter
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb chicken breast grilled and shredded with 2 forks.

Method:

Seatbelts on. Preheat oven to 350
Preheat grill for chicken (or bake chicken with corn)

Peel corn. Cut kernels from cobs.  Save cobs.
Put cobs in one stock pot with chicken stock and milk and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Grill the chicken breast.  Don’t over cook it as it is going in the hot soup.  Remember, this step makes the soup a meal but is not mandatory!  The chicken is added after the soup is completely made so you can live dangerously and decide then.

Toss corn kernels with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Put kernels on baking sheet and roast for 15-25 minutes until lightly browned. (You’ll need at least two baking sheets if making the full recipe).

In an 8 quart stock pot melt butter and add all peppers, onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat stirring often until onion is translucent but not browned.  Add roasted corn and cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove cobs from stock and discard.

Pour broth over peppers and corn.  Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Blend 3/4 of the soup in batches in a powerful blender until smooth.  The remaining 1/4 stays lumpy for texture.  Season with salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken.

Told you it wasn't pretty. Not that you would judge on looks.

Told you it wasn’t pretty. Not that you would judge on looks.

This is how corn takes a bath.

This is how corn takes a bath.

Basic Lentil Soup, from the hip

Right from the hip....

Right from the hip….

We’ve shared a lot of desserts and drinks and appetizers lately and I thought, gosh…where are all the soups and stews? Then I saw this recipe for Basic Lentil Soup made “from the hip”, and I thought, it must be easy, now let’s just hope it’s good. So, I whipped up a pot and yes, in fact, it is very good! 

I got this recipe from a friend of mine, Michele Estes who works in health and wellness.  For a link to her Facebook page, click here.  She has wonderful, healthy recipes and can offer great advice, tips and tricks for leading a healthier lifestyle. 

Now onto the recipe which, is “from the hip”, so don’t stress about any of this…wing it… throw in whatever you have on hand….. and enjoy!

Ingredients

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, diced
3 celery stalks and leaves, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
Splash of wine (whatever you have on hand)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup lentils, rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Drizzle oil into a heavy bottomed pot, add onion and sauté for a few minutes and then add carrots and celery. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes (don’t let the garlic burn). Add kale and sauté for a couple minutes. Add wine and canned tomatoes. Add each spice and stir until you can smell the spices. Add vegetable broth and lentils bring to a boil, and then simmer for approximately 45 minutes, until lentils are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For a thicker soup, puree one cup of the soup in a blender and add back to larger pot.

Bring It!

To bring to a party or someone’s house for dinner, a crockpot is the way to go.  That mean no fuss for the hostess and you can keep it warm once you get there.