Soup can help bring you back to reality.

A week in London goes by way to quickly! We saw some wonderful sights, ate some really great food, ran into a familiar face, did a bus tour, and also gazed at old & new architecture. We walked practically every inch of the city from Soho to Notting Hill…& more. It was really a fascinating trip that was way overdue and much needed.

On one particular day we walked so much from morning to night that I collapsed on the bed when I walked into our hotel room; only to wake two hours later. Talk about tiered!?! And I would do it all over again without a doubt. I loved every aspect of the city and could easily see myself going back for longer. Although, that is a vagabond adventure that is a ways off for now. I do know that if I was to go back I would need a small apartment to stay at so that I have a kitchen to cook in. It is not fair to see all the fantastic foods that you cannot take advantage of.

I will dream on about that, but reality does set in. Reality = dealing with jet lag for about two days; and no food in the refrigerator. Brian and I headed to the market for some basics. I picked up some carrots, celery, onion, potato…just some staples and a head of savoy cabbage. I made stock to have for the week and baked some French baguettes. It made our apartment feel warm and smell fantastic while we unpacked. Back to normal we were headed.

As dinner time approach we both agreed that something simple and uncomplicated was in order. I did not really have a plan for the savoy cabbage we picked up – it was just that it looked so good. I decided a real simple soup made with it was just what the jet lag called for. Adding in some garlic crostini for flavor and texture completes it. It was just what we needed. This soup is satisfying for a night in relaxing and facing the reality that we are no longer on vacation. This soup is also great for company. I know I will be making it again for others to share. It really was that good. I am happy to be home cooking in my own kitchen again…Maybe even happier I made the trip and have the memories. Now the reality that the holidays are around the corner!

Savoy Cabbage Soup (feeds 4 – 6)

1 small head of Savoy Cabbage, cored and grated

2 shallots, minced

2 carrots, peeled and chopped small

3 stalks of celery, chopped small

1 tbsp of butter

1 ½ quarts of veggie stock (chicken stock is fine for subbing)

1 cup of dry white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

1 small rind of Parmesan Cheese (**see notes below)

Thyme (fresh or dried), just a few pinches

Baguette slices

Olive oil (about 2 tbsp)

1 garlic clove

First place a large pot over medium heat and melt the butter in the bottom of it. Toss in your shredded cabbage, shallot, carrot, and celery and season with the salt and pepper. Sauté a bit until it all begins to soften. This will be about 5 – 10 minutes.

Next, place in the rind of your parmesan cheese in with your veggies and pour in your stock and wine. Let it all come to a simmer, stirring it occasionally; about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush your sliced baguette with olive oil and toast under a heated broiler until your desired “toasted” color appears. Remove from the oven and let cool enough to handle. Make a small slice into your garlic clove and rub both sides of the toasted baguette. Set aside for plating when you are done.

Finally, taste your soup and adjust your seasoning if needed. At this time you should sprinkled in the thyme. Remove the soup from the heat and fish out the parmesan rind. Ladle in the soup into the bowls and place a finished crostini in each one. You can sprinkle in a bit of grated parmesan if you like, but not necessary. Eat and enjoy!

 

**NOTE: I always buy my parmesan sliced so that I can grate as needed. It stays fresher this way and the flavor is superior. I personally like to save the tough rind edge of the cheese in my refrigerator. When making stews, sauces, and soups like this one I like to add it in. It will permeate what you are cooking with its flavor leaving what you are making filled with this essence of parmesan flavor.

Mmmm, Mulligatawny!!!!

Autumn has definitely arrived. The air is crisp with cool breezes and the leaves have started to change their color. I came home the other day longing for soup. A warm, comforting and flavorful soup is perfect as the season changes. But which one should I make? What I love about soup is that your possibilities are endless making this decision even harder – and that is when I realized I had coconut milk still in the refrigerator and lentils in the cabinet.  OOHHH, Mulligatawny!!!! Now I cannot even think of Mulligatawny without a flashback to the Seinfeld episode with the Soup Nazi. In the episode the whole cast is obsessed with the soup that is being served at this soup stand in New York City. There is the infamous scene where Newman gets his soup and as he walks away cradling the soup he says so lovingly with an evil, savoring undertone “Mmmm, Mulligatawny!!!!!!”  I will be honest that when the episode aired in 1995 I had no idea what Mulligatawny was.  Several years later I tried it when I was in culinary school and I was intrigued.  Then some very good friends of ours brought me back a cookbook from their trip to Fiji, and in it was a recipe for Mulligatawny. Of course I had to try it, and after a few tries I have adapted it into a recipe that Brian and I love. It is hearty, warming, and many would not believe after trying that it also is vegan! I feel this recipe is soulful and we love the way it awakens your taste buds. If you like lentils, and coconut you should give it a try…you will not be able to resist it.

Mulligatawny (serves 4 – 6)

(Note: If you would like to make this a heartier soup you can add the rice. I sometimes omit the potato if using the rice. Also, I know that the sweetened shredded coconut may seem odd; but its sweetness marries well with the heat of the chili, curry, and ginger.)

2 tbsp of vegetable oil

1 small onion, chopped small

2 serrano chili, chopped small

1 tbsp of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbsp of curry powder

1 carrot, chopped small

1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped

1 potato, peeled and chopped small

1 cup of lentils, (I usually use red ones but black and green ones work as well)

1 ½ quarts of vegetable stock

¼ cup of lime juice

2 cups of coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup of sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup of cooked Jasmine Rice, optional

First, place in a 4 – 6 quart pot over medium heat. When heated through add you vegetable oil. When your oil is heated add your onion and sauté about 5 minute until they become transparent. To this add your ginger, chili, garlic, and curry powder. Let all these ingredients simmer together (they may become pasty, but that is normal) about 2 minutes stirring it constantly, be sure that is does not stick or start to burn.

Next, add in your carrot, apple and potato and stir it well. Pour in your vegetable stock and lentils. Be sure to stir it well getting up all the bits of curry and spices that might have stuck to the pot previously. Let the soup simmer about 20 minutes stirring it every once and a while. You are looking for your lentils to plump up, and they may also begin to break down – that is fine; you just want them to be cooked through.

Finally, when your lentils are cooked through and your soup has thickened up a bit you will add your lime juice and coconut milk. Return it back to a simmer and season to taste with your salt and pepper. (If adding rice you can add it now and heat through.) Turn off the heat and stir in your shredded coconut. Serve warm and with lime wedges and chopped cilantro if you have any.

Lithuanian Borscht (Friendship and the love of soup.)

As you have read in my previous post, and those who know me; you already know that I come from one big and loving family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, distant cousins, in-laws and honorary relatives; we love each other unconditionally. Growing up this way I never felt the need to have a lot a friends, I knew I always had family to rely on and always be there for me. Do not get me wrong, I do have friends but I have learned something about myself over time. The friends that I have I hold near and dear to my heart and treat like family. I guess that is the result of having a large family that is such a part of me. Over the course of life: growing up, high school, college, moving on, more schooling, marriage, and travel I have been gifted with a beautiful friendship.  My dear and true friend Wayne has been a part of my life through thick and thin. (I know when he reads this he will probably be embarrassed by what I have to say, but it is all true.) I love him like family and no matter how much time passes, how far away we live from one another we can always pick up the phone or send an email like there has been no time lapse. We pick up where we left off; just like that we are catching up and filling each other with the details of our lives. We have been there for each other through good times and bad, physically and spiritually.  I just love that we have this connection as though time may not exist and I value it more than all the cookbooks in the world.

Not too long ago I was looking though some recipes and came upon one for a Lithuanian Borscht that I found intriguing. It is a soup made with beets as its base and served chilled with a hot boiled potato on the side; of course I had to give this recipe a try. As I started to make it I thought of Wayne, his wife is from Lithuania; and of course I called him to see if they knew of the soup.  To my surprise they were stunned to hear that I was making it. Apparently it is an extremely common dish served throughout Lithuania and they both love it. Since then every time either of us makes it or eats it we text each other pictures of our soup. Low and behold I was making the soup all wrong.

Wayne would comment that my soup was not “pink” enough. I was told you would never add chives like I once did.  Another time I served it with a baked potato…I think I could hear the eye rolling through the phone. What was I to know about this soup? I was raised in an “Italian American” family and I studied French cuisine in school; this Lithuanian soup was so foreign to me. I had to get it right; I had to learn the traditional way of making it. So through a series of emails & photos Wayne and his wife Ovidija sent me step by step instructions, measurements, and suggestions. When my lesson on the traditional Lithuanian Borscht was done my eyes were opened and so were my taste buds.  It was so light, delicious, bright in flavor, and perfect for the hot weather of the summer.  The contrast of the chilled soup and the hot potato is like nothing else. It is perfection. Brian and I slurped our way through all that the recipe made and we enjoyed each and every last bit of it.

I do not know many that would go through the trouble of step by step instructions on a family recipe like Wayne and Ovidija did for me. (Wayne explained that his recipe is just the way that Ovidija’s grandmother taught it to her.) This recipe and friendship makes me thankful for so many things. I hope that someday we can sit at the same table and share it together and not through a phone, emails and pictures. This is just another connection we have now in life, chilled soup.

Lithuanian Borscht

Ovidija’s Chilled Lithuanian Borscht (serves 4)

1 ½ - 2 # of beet roots (boiled, chilled, and grated), about 2 cups

2 cups of grated cucumber (peeled before grating)

1 cup of scallions, chopped small

¼ - 1/3 cup of finely chopped fresh dill

½ - 1 tsp of salt, to taste

2 pts. of Kefir

A couple of boiled potatoes (1 – 2 per serving), served hot

Hardboiled egg, optionally served along the side of soup (1/2 per serving)

First, boil the beets with their skin on. It is neater this way. When tender plunge hem into a bowl of ice water and remove the skins. With a food processor or a grater, grate the beets and place in a large bowl. Chill until the beets are cold.

Next; add the grated cucumber, scallion, and dill to the bowl. Stir in the Kefir and salt and admire the color that transforms before you. If you feel it is too thick you can add a bit of water (a smidgen at a time) until you reach a desired constancy.

Finally, to serve, ladle the chilled soup into a bowl and serve with a boiled potato on the side. If you wish you can also serve with a half of a boiled egg to go with each serving. Garnish with some extra dill if you like and serve.

*Note: I like to add a squeeze of lemon to my serving. Not in the traditional recipe, but my own little touch.

 

Dad's Homecoming - Potato Cabbage Soup

I am sure that March 15th is just like any other day to most of you. Many may know it as the Ides of March, but in our family it is a very special day that we always celebrated. It is the day that my father returned home from the Vietnam War. My father served as police in the Air Force and was overseas in the war for two years.  So his homecoming was a big deal to our family. The day he came home my mother (they were engaged at the time), my father’s parents, my aunt Marie (my father’s sister), and my Uncle Frank (my mom's brother) were all at the airport. They say that as my father walked over to them and they all greeted him with kisses, hugs, and cheer. My mom always describes how ecstatic they were to have him back. They would also always explain how in the mist of showering him with hellos and fawning over him they lost my grandfather! They were all looking for him when they found him standing alone, against a wall (inside) with his sunglasses on. He was so happy to see my father, but he didn’t want anyone to see him cry that his son was finally home.  It has also been told that my Grandmother left her Christmas tree up (yes it was there until March!) she insisted my father would want to see it since he was not there for the holidays.  You can imagine, his homecoming was a very big deal.

So on March 15 every year my mother would tell my father that he could have whatever he wanted for dinner. For reasons unknown to me – maybe it is just because it was the season or maybe he just really likes it- my father would always ask for Corned Beef, Potatoes, Carrots, and Cabbage. (Quite different from the Italian food we were used to eating.) My mom would make it proudly and she always made a trip to the local bread bakery to pick up a loaf of Rye Bread to go with the meal. She would place the meal on the table with mustard and butter to accompany it. Although we would all sit down and share the meal, I always disliked it. Maybe it was the future vegetarian in myself, and not that I have anything against it, but it is something I never enjoyed. But I ate it to celebrate with dad and my family.

This year it will be 44 years my father is home. We are lucky my father made it back, in one piece, and without side effects. Well, he sometimes gets startled when he hears helicopters; but we are all lucky that is it. I wish I could be there to celebrate with my parents this year. I will call like I have every year since I moved away, and I wonder if my mom will still be making him the same meal? I will be celebrating my father’s homecoming anniversary in my own way. I am making a Cabbage Soup and some Irish Soda Bread to finish it off. I think my dad would love this meal. Maybe in the next few years we can celebrate this anniversary together and I can cook for my family…you never know what can happen.

Happy Homecoming Dad!

Happy Eating!

 

Potato, Cabbage, and Carrot Soup (serves 6)

3 cups of Russet Potatoes, peeled and cubed small

2 cups of onion, chopped small

2 cups of carrots, sliced

2 ½ cups of cabbage, (green, red, or purple) chopped small

1 ½ quarts of veggie stock

1 tbsp of butter

½ cup of cream

Sea salt and Black pepper to taste

1 ½ tsp of dried dill

Grated Irish Cheddar for topping

First, in a large pot, place your potatoes, onions and carrots and pour your stock over. Bring to a simmer and let it cook together about 15 minutes. You potatoes will begin to break down; which is exactly what you are looking for. Add in your cabbage, butter, and season well with the sea salt and black pepper.

Next, let you soup continue to simmer and have the liquid reduce by a fourth. Turn your burner off and let your soup cool about 15 minutes. With a potato masher, mash your soup together for a bit to even out the chunks.

Finally, place your soup back over medium heat and add in your cream. Sprinkle in your dill and let it all come to a simmer. Give it a taste and season again with the sea salt and black pepper if needed. Serve warm and with the grated cheddar if you wish.

Note:  The hue of my soup came from a beautiful purple cabbage I had picked up at the local farmers market.  So be prepared that if you are to use a green or red cabbage your soup color will vary.

 

 

Ballard Fish Stew

I have recently started a new job; and I have been putting in a lot of long, hard hours. I am so fortunate that I have been coming home night after night to a home cooked meal. Brian has been serving me something great every evening. I was basting in his hospitality, but beginning to feel as though I owed him big time. It was time to make Brian something special for dinner. Our life here thus far has been fun, exciting, and has been leaving us much to be thankful for. I thought it was only right to honor the Pacific Northwest – let alone our neighborhood with a dish that says “Ballard, Seattle”.

You see, Ballard is an old Scandinavian neighborhood that sits along the Salmon Bay. There are tons of ships (many of them fishing boats) that are docked here. You can walk along the locks and see the ship sailing on through. Many of them off to bring back bountiful varieties of fish and shell fish. They are beautiful to watch, and my imagination always wonders as to what their lives might be like and how hard they work to bring back these abundant bushels full of fruit from the sea.

Being I had the day off Brian and I took a trip over to the Fisherman’s Warf on the other side of the bay. We walked along the pier and took in all the ships that were docked. It is so impressive to see how big these ships really are when you are up close to them. Many of them are tattered, and some look a bit more worn then others; but my were they beautiful. We then walked over to the Wild Salmon (Fish Market) to get few pieces from these bountiful so that I could create a dinner for Brian that I hoped he would love.

My dinner creation result was a Fish Stew. Did Brian enjoy it? I think going back for a second bowl as big as his first was my answer! And he says he cannot wait to eat the left overs for lunch tomorrow.

Ballard Fish Stew (serves 4 - 6)

1 large Onion, chopped small

1 Carrot, chopped

2 Celery Stalks, chopped

1 small Fennel Bulb, chopped

2 cloves of Garlic, chopped

3 tbsp of Olive Oil

2 – 3 sprigs of Thyme

½ tsp of Crushed Red Pepper

1 28 oz can of Chopped Tomatoes

1 cup of White Wine

1 pint of Fish Stock

2 lbs of Salmon Filet, cubed

12 – 18 Shrimp

12 – 18 Clams

Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Fresh Thyme to garnish

First, place a large six to eight quart pot over high heat. When pot is warm; pour in your olive oil and coat the bottom of the pot. Then toss in your onion, celery, carrot, and fennel. Sauté about five minutes and add in the garlic, Thyme sprigs, and crushed red pepper. Simmer together until your garlic is fragrant. Add in your tomatoes, stock and wine and bring to a simmer.

Next, once your pot is simmering nicely add in your cubed salmon and stir well. Season with a bit of sea salt and black pepper. Be sure your pot continues to simmer keeping an eye on it, and stirring it occasionally. You do not want your stew to stick. You are looking for your salmon cubes to be cooked through.

Finally, toss in your shrimp and clams and stir well. Keep a close eye on your pot, because you are looking at this point for two things. One is to see that your shrimp cooks through, and two is that all your clams open up. (When your clams are open your stew is ready, if there is one that does not open do not serve it…it is probably no good)

Serving: Serve warm and with either a sliced baguette that has been brushed with olive oil and toasted; or some long grain rice to pour your stew over. Garnish with fresh Thyme, sea salt, and black pepper.

Root Vegetable Stew with Herbes de Provence and Dumplings

I love how using herbs and spices in a dish can transform what you’re making to taste like you are in another area of the world, or time. I love mixing the perfect blend of herbs and spices to get to a desired flavor as well.  You will seldom find me buying a “spice mix” or “herb medley”, I find they are lacking in depth and tend to lose their flavor quickly. There are a few exceptions….curry is one of them, although I do find myself adding to its mix all the time; I have also just discovered Zaatar spice mix on the recommendation of my cousin Judy,  and I must admit it is mighty tasty. But the one that puts me to shame is Herbes de Provence…. I buy it time and time again and I am always pleasantly pleased with it. Herbes de Provence is most commonly a blend of basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme- they are commonly found throughout the Provence region of France and in most of their regional dishes. When I use it I dream of myself in the south of France eating in a kitchen with friends.  I hope to make that dream come true, but until then I will have to settle for my Seattle kitchen with the lovely flavors and aromas it creates.  Herbes de Provence works great with real savory meat dishes, and fantastic with a roasted chicken, but I adore it with veggies. Especially root vegetables; I feel they really stand up well to the herb mix. So in my Seattle kitchen on a very windy overcast day I am making a Root Vegetable Stew with Herbes de Provence and Dumplings.  I am dreaming that I can make something like this in a kitchen of a farm house in Provence with others to share it with and sunlight coming through the window. Hopefully that dream is not too far away, but at least I visit there when I cook at home!

Root Vegetable Stew with Herbes de Provence (feeds 6)

1 large Turnip

2 large Golden Beet

2 - 3 Parsnips

2 -3 Carrots

1 medium to large Celery Root

*(All the above peeled, and cut into bite size pieces)

1 onion, chopped small

1 quart of Stock, (Veggie or Chicken)

1 cup dry white wine

1 tbsp of Herbes de Provence

2 tbsp of butter

½ cup of cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Dumplings

2 cup of Flour

½ tsp of Salt

1 tsp of Baking Powder

1 cup of milk

First, place at least a 6 quart pot over medium heat and melt your butter in it. Toss in all the root veggies and onion that you prepared. Stir them well and let them simmer together. Sprinkle the Herbes de Provence over the veggie mixture and let simmer about 3 – 5 minutes.

Next, into your pot pour your stock and wine. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook about 10 – 15 minutes. Your veggies should be tender, and at this point you can stir in your cream. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste and continue to simmer.

Meanwhile, you will want to prepare your dumplings. In a bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in your milk until it is slightly smooth. With two spoons scoop a tiny amount of your batter into your simmering stew mixture. You will want to work quickly and spacing them apart. I like to give them a gentle but good stirring to ensure that the dumplings are separated from one another and cooking evenly.

Finally, once your dumplings have risen and are puffy your stew is ready. I like to let the stew sit off the heat at least 10 minutes before serving. This lets the stew cool slightly so that it thickens, and the flavors shine through. I like to sprinkle a bit more black pepper in serving.

NOTE: My Cousin Judy who I mentioned above has a great food blog. This is a recipe she posted using the Zaatar spice mix. I love it and I hope you will too.  http://judysculinaria.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/chanterelles-in-zatar-cream-sauce/

Carrot Ginger Orange Soup

This soup is a classic and I have been making it as long as I have been cooking. The sweetness of the carrots with the spiciness of the ginger is great together. The nice refreshing zip the orange adds rounds out its flavor on your pallet. It is warm, comforting, and great with some crusty bread.  It is a wonderful meal on its own, and equally great as a starter to a meal. I have changed it a bit over the years, but this way I feel it is perfect.

Carrot Ginger Orange Soup (feeds 4 - 6)

2 lbs of Carrots, peeled and chopped

2 medium Onions, chopped

3 cloves of Garlic

2 tbsp of Ginger, minced

3 tbsp of butter

Stock, Veggie or Chicken (at least a quart)

1 orange, zested and juiced

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Garnish - Fresh Chopped Mint or a slice of Orange

First; place a four quart pot over medium heat.  Add your butter and melt. To your butter add your carrots, onions, garlic, and ginger. Mixed them together and season with a bit of the salt and pepper. Add in your zest and give your veggies a good stirring.

Next, pour the stock over the veggies just to cover.  Cover it all and let it simmer together about 20 minutes.  Check to be sure the veggies are all tender. Once they are tender you can remove from the heat and puree with an immersion blender until smooth.

Finally, return to a low heat and add in your orange juice. Be sure to stir and taste - season if needed. At this point if you feel it is too thick you can add in a bit of stock to thin it out to your desired consistency.  Serve warm and garnished, it looks lovely and matches it great flavor.

Note: If you did not know Ginger aids your body in digestion! It is great on its own, but personally likes to eat a crystalized peace or two after a big meal. That is why a soup like this is perfect after the holidays of rich food and non-stop eating!

Creamy Golden Beet Soup

I believe in a previous post I expressed my admiration for beets.  I just truly love the earthy sweetness of them. While I was at the Farmer’s Market this weekend there were overflowing baskets of all beet varieties. They were abundant, large and just beautiful to look at. I purchased several Golden Beets and wanted to make a hearty and creamy soup that warms you up on these chilly nights! The beets were so fresh and the aroma of them simmering to make the soup was gratifying. The flavor combo of dill, thyme, and lemon add to the overall finish of the soup. My personal favorite add to this is the Blue Cheese crumbled over the top of it as you serve it because it slowly melts into it as you are eating it. I know I was on to something as Latte (my yellow lab) watched every step of mine in the kitchen while I made this soup and even needed to get a sniff of it as I ladled it.

 

Creamy Golden Beet Soup

 

4 – 5 large Golden Beets - peeled, trimmed, and chopped

1 – 2 (depending on their size) Yellow Onions, peeled and chopped

3 Red Potatoes, peeled and chopped

Water or stock (Veggie or Chicken), about 6 cups- enough to cover your veggies

1 tsp of dried Dill

¼ tsp of dried Thyme

1 lemon, juiced

Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper to taste

¾ cup of Heavy

Blue Cheese for crumbling (I used Maytag Blue – but use your personal preference for this)

First, in a six quart pot place your Beets, Onions, and Potatoes and cover with water or stock. (I made my own stock and felt it was strong tasting so I did ½ stock and ½ water.) Place your pot over high heat and bring to a simmer for about 30 – 45 minutes. I then remove from the heat and let cool about 15 minutes.

Next, with and immersion blender puree your soup. Replace soup over medium heat and bring back to a simmer. Add in the Dill, Thyme, Lemon Juice, Sea Salt, and Fresh Black Pepper and stir well. I let this all simmer together for about 10 minutes.

Finally, stir in your Heavy Cream and heat through. Be sure to taste at this point in case you need to adjust your seasoning. Once the soup is warmed through you can ladle and serve. Top each serving with crumbled Blue Cheese of your choice and enjoy. I think the only thing missing is some crusty baguette to go along with this.

Potato Leek Soup

When you work in the food industry it is inevitable to talk about all things – FOOD! Food - movies, recipes, books, chefs, and so on. The other day my co-worker was explaining how great she thought the book Julie & Julia was. I had only seen the movie so she lent her book to me. I have been reading it on the bus to and from work each day. And it really is quite good. I thought I owed it to Julia Child to make a dish in honor of her this evening. Nothing was more appropriate then her Potato Leek Soup, the same recipe that Julie makes that inspires her own blog and led to her book. There are some things in life that are too perfect – this soup is one of them.  It is the way a good meal should be – simple and delicious. I thank you Julia Child – we have all learned so much from you.

Potato Leek Soup

3-4 cup of diced peeled potatoes (1 lb.)

3 cup thinly sliced leeks, including the tender greens

2 quarts water

1 Tablespoon salt

1 & 1/2 Tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons minced chives or parsley

Simmer vegetables, salt, and water together, partially covered for 40-50 minutes in a 3-4 quart saucepan. Mash the vegetables into the soup with a fork or pass through a food mill.  ( I personally used a potato ricer. )Julia does not like the texture of soup pureed in a blender, your call. Adjust salt and pepper. You can stop at this point. When ready to serve, bring soup back to simmering. Then off the heat, stir in the butter and top with chopped chives or parsley.

Note: I decided to add in chopped Arugula when serving. It was what I had in the refrigerator and didn't have any chives or parsley.

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

I think this is a great soup on a cool autumn day. One of the things I learned to love living in Phoenix was the chilies and spicy foods that were so abundant there. Having the jalapeno oil in this dish is just my little nod to Phoenix, plus the red and green flecks from the jalapenos against the yellow orange soup are so festive for the season. If you do not like things too spicy, feel free to omitt the jalapeno oil.

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup (feeds 4)

1 Acorn Squash (about 2 ½ pounds), sliced in ½ length wise and deseeded.

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 cloves of Garlic

6 – 8 cups Vegetable Stock (Chicken Stock can be substituted)

½ tsp of Ground Cumin

½ tsp of Dried Oregano

½ cup or more of Barley

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Crumbled Feta

Jalapeno Oil (recipe to follow)

 

First, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. With a bit of olive oil lightly coat the inside of your acorn squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 – 35 minutes, the edges should be browned and the squash should be tented when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Next, place a pot of water on high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add your barley; stirring on occasion until barley is cooked through. (This may take a while; I find to cook barley thoroughly takes about 20 minutes.)   Drain it and set aside until your soup is ready.

Meanwhile, in another pot (at least 4 to 6 quarts large ) place over medium to high heat and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, your onion, carrot, and garlic. Stir so all your veggies are coated and cooking evenly. After about 3 minutes add your cumin, oregano, and & freshly ground black pepper – let it all simmer together until fragrant. At this time your acorn squash should still be warm, but cool enough to touch. With a spoon scoop out the flesh of your squash and add to your pot of simmering veggies and spices. Giving it another good stir, and covering it with your vegetable stock. You want to let your soup come to a simmer at least for 15 minutes.

Finally, you want to take your soup off the heat and with an immersion blender, puree it all together. Please be careful in doing this – hot soup splattering is not fun, trust me!  At this point your soup is just about ready. Taste and see if you need to season at all. Add in your barley and ready to serve. Upon serving sprinkle with Feta, and I like to drizzle in some of the jalapeno oil right into the individual bowls.

Notes: if you would like this soup to be hardier you can make more barley to add in. You can also thicken it up by adding a potato or two to it, but I personally like it without. It is also good if you have some nice crusty bread to serve it with.** Normally you should wait for a soup or anything for that matter to cool before pureeing, but if you are like me – I can never wait I am usually too hungry at that point.