Posts tagged ‘winter squash’

I’m souped!

Tonight I spent several hours making soup. I know my last post was also about soup, but what can I say, it is probably my favorite category of food to make. Plus, I collected a few recipes over the last month or so that I wanted to try and had some veggies in the fridge in desperate need of using, so it seemed like a good way to spend the evening.

It just so happened that all three of the soups I made were of the pureed variety – two according to the recipes and one by my own choice. Though I love a good hearty, chunky soup, I often enjoy a good pureed soup as a way to use a lot of different ingredients to create exciting new flavors, and they generally make excellent “comfort foods.” Also, though I have done no research whatsoever on this, I feel it might be one of the best ways to help my body really absorb and utilize the nutrients in food. As my husband will tell you, I am not exactly a slow eater, which unfortunately probably doesn’t do my body any favors when it is trying to digest the foods I ingest. I’m working to slow myself down and chew my food more (that sounds ridiculous for a 27-year-old to say, seems like something I should have learned a couple decades ago), but the pureed soups (hopefully) help in the meantime.

On to the soups. First up was basically a homemade version of Cream of Mushroom Soup. My husband and I both love fungi of almost any kind, so this was a great fit for our family.

Here is the recipe for Mushroom Soup:

Cooking the mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 pound firm white mushrooms, cleaned
  • Juice from 1 medium lemon
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp minced shallots
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
Directions

  • Sprinkle the mushrooms with lemon juice. In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, coarsely chop the mushrooms.
  • Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, and lightly saute the shallots. Add the mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaf and saute for 10 minutes, or until the liquid disappears.
  • Add cream and stock and bring to a boil. Quickly reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water and add to the soup. Continue to simmer 5 minutes longer, stirring constantly.
  • Correct seasoning to taste.

MY NOTES: This one is definitely not for the faint of heart – it is a full on mushroom fest – loved it. I made the mistake of putting the whole pound of mushrooms in the food processor at once, that did not work, definitely split it in a couple batches. Also, I opted to pureed the whole batch at the end. In the future, I will probably just puree 1/2 or 2/3 and leave a little for texture. One other random thing, when cooking the mushrooms, they looked oddly like ground meat, which could put off the die hard vegetarian. Speaking of which, this could easily be made with veggie broth – though you might lose some of the richness of an animal fat based broth, so maybe add some butter – I did use some homemade chicken broth as suggested.

Next up was Thai-spiced Pumpkin Soup

MY NOTES: If there are two things I love in food, they are squash and curry, so this was a definite winner. Also, this was a super easy recipe, largely because of the curry paste, which includes other spices, so it would be easy for any level of cook to make. I used the Thai Kitchen brand of red curry paste, which I found at my local co-op, but you can probably find many places. Your local Asian grocery will probably have a recommendation for other brands as well, but being new to cooking with curry paste, I can’t say for sure what the differences might be between Thai red curry and other red curry pastes. The flavor of this soup was superb (my husband said, and I quote: “This is probably the best squash recipe you’ve made,” which could be taken several ways – he hates squash, but I also make a lot of stuff with squash, so…)

Finally, I did some serious chopping and made a recipe I got via my weekly email from Blendtec called Roasted Root Vegetable Soup. I cannot, for the life of me, find this recipe online, so here it is:

Ingredients

1 celery root, peeled and cubed
1 large parsnip, peeled and thickly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 Tbsp olive oil
5-6 C chicken or vegetable broth
1 ½ tsp white wine vinegar
1/16 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Add prepared vegetables, onion and garlic to 9×13-inch pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toss vegetables in olive oil and bake for 45 minutes until roasted and tender. Add 3 cups of broth and roasted vegetables to blender and secure lid. Puree. Pour remaining broth into large saucepan and add pureed soup. Taste and adjust salt as necessary and add black pepper, if desired and serve warm.
For a creamy touch, try adding ½ cup of half and half or full-fat coconut milk before serving or garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream. Serve with a sprinkling of paprika, cumin or fresh herbs of your choice.

MY NOTES: As many of you already know, I do not use olive oil ever on high heat. It is BAD to do, no exceptions! So, the first substitution I did was using canola oil on the veggies, but you could easily use other high heat oils like sunflower oil. I did not have a celery root (celeriac) and didn’t really want to buy one, so to make up for the volume lost, I increased the carrots and parsnips and threw in a couple small potatoes. Also, the directions never said when to add the vinegar (which I did not have so substituted with a bit of white wine and apple cider vinegar) or the cayenne, so I added them both in near the end. For broth, since I had both chicken and veggie thawed out for the previous two soups, I used what I had left of each. The taste on this one was also excellent, as my husband said “rooty!”

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March 4, 2012 at 11:36 pm Leave a comment

Blue Cheese and Crispy Sage

Though I didn’t know it a few years ago, I love sage, particularly when it is cooked to a crisp in a lot of butter. I also have a serious love for blue cheese, the more flavorful, the better.

That said, sage isn’t exactly something one eats in quantity on its own. The same can largely be said for blue cheese. So tonight I made a dish that I thought was just going to be a good way to use my kabocha squash and a few leeks I had in the fridge, but quickly realized is mostly an excellent vehicle for eating crispy sage and blue cheese. At the same time. Yum.

Enter the recipe for Squash Risotto with Blue Cheese and Crispy Sage. I had this recipe stored in my Springpad account, a resource I suggested to readers a while back as an excellent way to organize your recipes. Luckily, I also had all the ingredients at home, so no shopping was required. 

MY NOTES: This recipes makes a lot of food, so either make it for a group or with the intention of having leftovers. Most of the cooking time is in baking the squash, so be sure to start that right away. And don’t forget to save the seeds for roasting! Otherwise, there really isn’t a lot to comment on this one except to say that it is exceptionally easy, and that you definitely want the blue cheese and sage, as there isn’t a lot of flavor in the squash and risotto. In other words, that part would be pretty plain without the straight-from-heaven toppings.

December 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm 2 comments


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