soup

Curried Acorn Squash Soup

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As I’m trying desperately to stay warm this winter, I’ve managed to find ways to appreciate the season: via root vegetables, leafy greens and citrus! The winter’s most plentiful produce has made its way into many of my meals, and this weekend, my trip to the Union Square Farmers Market resulted in this hearty, comforting pot of curried acorn squash soup. I must admit, I was looking for butternut squash, but when the only thing I could find was acorn, I seized the moment and the end product left me pleasantly surprised (I didn’t know how sweet acorn squash could be!). You can tweak this recipe as much as you like, whether its changing up the type of apple, squash, seasoning, or adding other winter ingredients like leeks or parsnips. The pos-soup-bilities are endless!

INGREDIENTS

1 4-lb acorn squash

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 tart apple, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp curry powder

salt and pepper

4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse squash and poke various holes in the skin using a fork. Bake squash for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots and celery and saute until they begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Add the onion, apple, curry powder, salt and pepper and cook until everything is tender, about 10 minutes more. Add the stock and lower the heat until the squash is cooked through.

Once the squash is soft and cool enough to handle, peel the skin and break into pieces. Add the squash to the soup and simmer for about 5 minutes more.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Add any additional salt and pepper if necessary.

The soup will keep up to a week and freezes wonderfully!

Soup Season Already?

It’s barely fall but I’m already in the mood for everything autumn: Pumpkin Spice Lattes, knit sweaters, leather boots and, most importantly, fall ingredients and soup! I bought a few extra peppers last week at the grocery store and felt inspired to make my first-ever roasted red peppers, which would then be converted into soup. The recipe is very simple, but the flavors are devine. Add some chicken or quinoa and make it a meal, or serve it on the side of a salad or light dinner. Fall, I’m ready for ya!

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INGREDIENTS (makes 4 servings)

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

3 red peppers

2 tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp. smokey paprika

dash of cayenne pepper

3 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

salt and pepper

greek yogurt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat broiler. Cut each pepper in half and remove the seeds and stem. Place each half, skin side up, on a foil-lined cookie sheet and brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Broil peppers until the outsides are completely charred, 15-20 minutes. Once charred, place the peppers in a plastic bag and seal for about 20 minutes. The steam will help the skins come off more easily. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sautee until soft and translucent. Add the cayenne and paprika and stir for a minute. Add the stock and lower the heat. Once cooled, remove the skins of the peppers and tear them into strips. Put them in a blender or food processor and pulse a few times. Add the stock mixture and puree until the soup is smooth. If the soup is too spicy, add a dollop or two of greek yogurt and blend again. Return soup to the saucepan and heat to your desired temperature. Garnish with a dollop of greek yogurt, sour cream, olives, olive oil, etc.

An Epicurious-Inspired Taste of Spain

The Epicurious app has successfully proven that the folks at Bon Appetit know what they’re doing when it comes to social media and iPhone apps. I find myself utilizing this app for recipes more than I do cookbooks, websites or- dare I say it- my own imagination. The other night I was inspired as I was browsing the “Spring Dinners” category and came across salmorejo– a cold Spanish soup made with tomatoes, almonds, garlic and breadcrumbs. I used to have this soup at least three times a week when I studied abroad, and even reading the name made my mouth begin to water. I decided to craft and entire Spanish meal around salmorejo and Epicurious. The supporting characters? “Arroz” con pollo (rice with chicken, similar in flavor to paella but way less complicated to make) and a light dessert of Valencia oranges with a spiced wine sauce. I put “arroz” in quotations because while the original recipe (and, of course, name) calls for long grain white rice, I wanted to try something healthier and heartier and substituted quinoa. I also used boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders instead of a whole chicken.

The salmorejo recipe was perfect. It took me right back to sitting outside at a Spanish cafe, sipping soup from a mug on a sunny Sevillano day. The recipe is so simple and satisfying, if you’re a fan of gazpacho I highly suggest you try this next time. The arroz con pollo made way more food than I expected, but I was perfectly okay with that, as it was so flavorful, healthful and authentic, I’m happy to have leftovers. I really enjoyed the quinoa substitute. The dessert was a great way to round off a healthy Spanish meal. It was refreshing yet packed with flavor, and while the original recipe didn’t call for it, I added mint and whipped cream, and wouldn’t have it any other way. So thank you, Epicurious, for letting me relive my semester abroad for the night. I was truly satisfied with my meal, would give it four forks, and would definitely make it again. Here are the recipes:

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SALMOREJO

INGREDIENTS

3 pounds ripe tomatoes

3 slices white or wheat bread, cubed and toasted

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

4 garlic gloves, roughly chopped

1 tsp Sherry or white wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze seeds and pulp into a strainer set over a large bowl. Press solids to release as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids, core and chop the tomatoes and add them to the liquid. Combine the toasted bread cubes, slivered almonds and garlic in a food processor. Blend until well chopped. Add tomatoes with liquid to blender in batches, pureeing until very smooth. Add Sherry vinegar and blend. With blender running, slowly add olive oil and puree until emulsified and frothy. Season with salt, pepper and more vinegar if necessary. Chill until cold and serve in mugs or tea cups. Optional: garnish with Serrano ham, a chopped hard boiled egg, slivered almonds, chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives or a drizzle of olive oil.

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“ARROZ” CON POLLO

INGREDIENTS

1 package boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, roughly 10 pieces total

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp paprika

2 cups quinoa

1 1/4 cups dry white wine

1- 14 oz. can diced tomatoes including juice

1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth

3/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads

1 dried bay leaf

1 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)

1/2 pimiento-stuffed green olives, coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS

Pat chicken breast tenders dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over moderately high heat and brown chicken, about 4 minutes per side and transfer to a plate. Don’t worry about the chicken being done, it will finish cooking later.

Add onion, bell pepper and salt to the pan. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, paprika and quinoa and stir for one minute. Add wine and boil about 2 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in tomatoes with juice, chicken broth, saffron and bay leaf. Add the chicken back to the skillet with any juices from the plate. Cook, covered, over low heat until chicken is cooked through and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in olives and peas (the peas will thaw the second they hit the hot pan, which is why you don’t need to thaw them ahead of time). Discard bay leaf and serve.

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ORANGES WITH SPICED WINE SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

1 750-ml bottle dry red wine

1 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

8 oranges

3 tbsp chopped fresh mint

whipped cream

DIRECTIONS

Bring wine, 1 cup sugar and cinnamon stick to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 18 minutes. Remove sauce from pan and cool completely. Finely grate the peel of two oranges. Mix zest with 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bow and set aside. Peel all eight oranges and cut between the membranes to release the segments into a large bowl. Divide the oranges among 8 bowls. Drizzle the wine sauce and divide the mint leaves. Top with whipped cream, then sugared orange zest.

French Onion Soup with Parmesan Croutons

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Well, it’s finally snowed in Cleveland, and snow calls for one thing, and one thing only: a piping hot bowl of soup. There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl French onion soup, with sweet and tender caramelized onions, salty crunchy croutons and an ooey gooey layer of cheese. This recipe is a great way to spend a snow day at home, as it is very time consuming. But trust me, its well worth the effort and love.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 large French baguette

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 large vidalia onions, sliced lengthwise and then thinly sliced lengthwise

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 dried bay leaf

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 stick unsalted butter

2 tsp all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay

1 1/2 cups water

4 cups vegetable stock

cracked black pepper to taste

thinly sliced Gruyere cheese

DIRECTIONS

To make the croutons:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Cut up baguette into 1-inch cubes and let sit out to dry for 30 minutes to an hour. Toss the croutons in olive oil and half of the parmesan cheese and spread evenly on a sheet pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the croutons and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway through, until they are firm and golden. Remove from oven and let cool. Croutons can be made up to three days in advance.

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croutons before and after

To make the soup:

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add onions, thyme (leaves will fall off the sprigs during the cooking process), bay leaf and salt. Cook over medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring frequently, until onions are tender, sweet and golden brown.

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onions before and after– look at how much they shrink!

Add flour and stir for two minutes. Add wine and stir for another two minutes. Add water, vegetable stock and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes, until flavors are well combined. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Preheat broiler and ladle soup into oven-safe bowls. Top with enough croutons to cover the surface area of the soup and lay thin slices of Gruyere cheese on top of croutons. Broil soup in oven until cheese is golden and bubbly, 3-4 minutes. Soup will be very hot!

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the assembly of the soup process

Eggstra! Eggstra!

Cooking for one is hard. Grocery shopping for one… is even harder. I tend to buy an overabundance of fruits and vegetables, and then ending up having to throw some of it out or eat so many blueberries that I might just turn into one (Re: “Violet you’re turning violet, Violet!” – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). This week, my ingredient abundance is in the form of eggs. I wasn’t able to find a half carton of eggs and got stuck buying a full dozen. I know eggs keep longer than other items but I still have 12 eggs to use, which is quite a challenge for one person who usually eats Greek yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast. Alas, I found a conclusion… sort of. Last night I made use of four of the eggs, providing me with at least four meals.

For dinner: Favorite Vegetable Egg Drop Soup. As I was eating this I realized it has my three favorite veggies- sweet potatoes, kale and mushrooms. Maybe some subconscious decisions going on there, but I didn’t do this on purpose when I was grocery shopping. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger

1/4 cup chopped vidalia onion

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 box low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

4 cups chopped kale, stems removed

1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cut into discs and quartered

1 cup chopped portobello mushrooms

1-2 eggs, beaten

salt and pepper (and I added smoked paprika and chile powder) to taste

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until they begin to soften, 10 minutes. Add the stock and let mixture come to a boil. Once this happens, add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the kale and seasonings. Once the kale is wilted, add the eggs in a slow, steady stream, continuously stirring the pot. Remove the soup from the heat and serve!

I accidentally bought Japanese sweet potatoes but they were so delicious nonetheless!

Next up, lunch: Curried egg salad with basil and peppers

Ingredients

2 eggs

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt- I like Fage or Chobani

1/3 cup chopped red bell peppers

2 tbs chopped fresh basil (for anyone in NYC use Gotham Greens… best basil I’ve ever eaten)

2 tsp yellow curry powder

2 tsp cumin

salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Hard boil the eggs. Place eggs in a pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Turn the heat to high and once the water is at a rumbling boil. Remove the pot from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and let cool. Once the eggs are cool, peel and mash with a fork.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs with the rest of the ingredients until uniformly mixed.

Serve in pita with lettuce and tomato, or just eat it straight from the bowl!

Mmmm… eggciting, eggsquisite… and damn delicious!