Monday, December 8, 2008

Soup #3 - Roasted Butternut Soup

Krista provided this recipe for Sunday Slow Soupers. We tried it last night with a homemade Chicago style pizza. This is a nice easy recipe if you use a butternut squash as suggested in the title and ingredients. However since I had a really big bag of Hubbard squash in the freezer, I used that.

Let me tell you a little bit about hubbard squash. First of all, it looks like it fell from outer space and possibly houses alien creatures. Second, only someone who was told by someone they trusted would believe that there was a lovely sweet tender flesh inside. Third, this is the world's most difficult squash to open. It's similar to opening a dried coconut (which is easier if you use a machete). You can see what I'm talking about at where you can read the step-by-step process my sister and I used to get to the tender flesh.

This one yielded enough puree for about 24 pumpkin pies. So far I've made 4, so I welcomed an opportunity to use some of it in this soup.

I used fresh instead of dried ginger in the recipe but we decided that I should have used more. After blending, I used a sieve to remove the pulp. But then I put it back into the left-over soup because it tasted really good and I don't want to waste it.

I also have a large bag full of fresh thyme on my counter, so in went a few sprigs of thyme for flavor. The garnish is Greek yogurt.

Fortunately there is still a little left, hidden in the back corner of the refrigerator behind all the furry leftovers (where no one else will see it). Now if I can just get to it while everyone else is showering or taking naps, then I won't have to share.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Soup #2 - Mexican Turkey Soup

We tried Jerry's Mexican Turkey Soup recipe tonight. Yet again avoiding the grocery store, I noted on my way to feed my compost worms their Thanksgiving Dinner that there were still some small roma tomatoes on one of our plants. I also had a can of corn niblets in the pantry, some frozen chipotle, and a few bedraggled green onions which I supplemented with some shallots. Fortunately my neighbor's lime tree borders our driveway and there was one lying on the ground under the tree. Lucky me.

While the recipe calls for dry roasting both the corn and the tomatoes in a skillet on high heat, I chose to char my tomatoes with a torch... the kind you get at Sears. We discovered this roasting method when our kitchen was being remodeled (after trying a wood-fireplace roast and ending up with soot-covered tomatoes). It works especially well for peppers and chiles. Stick them on a fork and run them through the flame. I did char the corn, however, in the skillet over high heat because the fork thing doesn't work on canned corn.

I put a leftover turkey wing bone in my chicken stock and let it simmer while I chopped the onions, garlic, and charred tomatoes.

The only difficult part was getting the avocado cream to sit photographically in the soup at the end.

No one seemed to care, they just wanted to try it. It was delicious.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sunday Slow Soupers: Porcini and Chestnut Soup

Krista Harris who writes In and Out of the Garden, told me about the Sunday Slow Soupers. Every Sunday each member makes the same soup and then writes about it. Porcini and Chestnut Soup was their first soup, scheduled for last Sunday. What? Today is Friday? Aargh, I'm a little behind but I did find raw chestnuts!

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Amy. I made a few modifications based on not wanting to go back to the grocery store on the heaviest shopping day of the year and risk my life for a parking spot. Instead of celery, I used a few hearts of romaine. I used cilantro instead of parsley (in California we use this like parsley anyhow). We had some leftover kabocha squash from Thanksgiving (Californian for pumpkin), which I added with the carrots. I chose the sherry option at the end.

So I bought the chestnuts (early before the crowds hit the shopping center) then wished I bought a can of chestnuts when I started reading about how to roast and peel them.

I like it better when you stop on a street corner in London to buy them hot off the grill and keep them in your pockets to warm your hands. But London was too far to go for roasted chestnuts today. So I heated the oven to 400 degrees, cut a slit in the rounded side as directed by a nearby cookbook, and put them into a jelly roll pan with a bit of water.

I think I left them in the oven about 20 minutes--I was upstairs when the timer went off at 10 minutes. I was really dreading the part that says peel hot shell off nuts and then try to rub off the skin... if this doesn't work, boil them and try again. Instead, I cut the hot leathery nuts in half and used a small melon baller to scoop out the mealy centers. The skin miraculously stuck to the inside of the shell, not the nut. Yay!!

The rest of the recipe was simple and some friends arrived just in time to join us for the soup tasting. None of us had ever had chestnut soup before and we all enjoyed it. The porcini mushrooms gave it a deep rich flavor and the chestnuts gave it a hearty texture. I didn't add any extra liquid and my broth was salty enough so we didn't need to add salt. The color was quite pleasing. The fake creme fraiche was made by whisking together some warmed cream cheese and milk. A nice photographic substitute.

I'll definitely do this one again.