Honeycrisp Apple Butternut Squash Soup

And, suddenly, autumn arrives. Yesterday was the first day of fall and it snuck past me without any sort of fanfare. Actually, each meal yesterday included tomatoes and I’ve been hoarding what Early Girl and heirlooms I can find with the rapt attention of a dragon guarding its gold. In school and on into the working years, if I needed to get into a particular state of mind quickly, the best way to do that included dressing the part or what you could call dressing for success, and what some of you might call faking it til you make it. I may still be holding onto light lingering into early evening and perhaps also certain summer states of mind (reading early, often). But, then again, I’ve also cranked up the oven to roast winter squash a handful of times. And, this soup is one such way to fake it till you feel fall-ish. It’s too soon for pumpkin, but bring out the bushels of apples aplenty.

What is it about honeycrisp apples that make them a contender for the ultimate apple? Their sweet and tart flesh that snaps when you take a juicy bite. You can find a host of other apples at farmer’s markets but this particular varietal seems to be the apple of everyone’s eye. Their flavor adds a bright slightly acidic note that balances the sweetness of the squash. Homemade soup to usher in autumn.

Make a pot of homemade Honeycrisp Apple Butternut Squash Soup to fall into an autumn frame of mind.

5 from 2 votes

Honeycrisp Apple Butternut Squash Soup

Course Soup


  • 4 cups ( 1-inch) chopped butternut squash, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped (about 4)
  • 2 cups white onion, chopped (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup celery stalks, chopped (about 2)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Creme fraiche, optional
  • Extra olive oil, optional
  • Extra sage leaves, optional
  • 1 1/2 medium honeycrisp apples, peeled and chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

  2. Toss the butternut squash with the 2 teaspoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and sage and a dusting of Aleppo pepper. Roast the squash for 25 minutes or until fork tender.

  3. Drizzle and swirl the remaining olive oil in a heavy stockpot set over medium heat. Saute the onion, celery, and salt for 8 to 10 minutes or until translucent. Add the squash to the pot, tossing together. Pour in the chicken stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork tender.

  4. Pour a portion of the soup into the blender with apple slices, removing the cap, and covering the top with a towel. Puree the soup in batches.

  5. Garnish with a swirl of creme fraiche and perhaps a few fried sage leaves, if desired. (To fry them, line a plate with a paper towel. Heat a slick of olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Once shimmering, add the extra sage leaves, lightly frying them until they take on a little bit of color. Drain them on the paper towel before placing them atop of the soup as a garnish.

Roast the squash and you're halfway there to make a comforting pot of Honeycrisp Apple Butternut Squash Soup.


Romanesco Soup

Romanesco Soup pulls together rich flavors from parsnips, fennel, and celery root.

Romanesco might be the vegetable of an architect’s dreams. This broccoli cauliflower hybrid is full of M.C. Escher angles. I could eat soup every day. It can be easy and tough to master. So much of it comes down to semantics of seasoning. For this Romanesco Soup, I wanted to riff on the green color, adding a green tasting food like celery root, which when the hairy husk of an exterior is cut off reveals pale flesh that taste like the stalk. A little parsnip goes a long way but I love it in soup. Fennel offers a smidge of sweetness and a barely green bulb sliced into half moons. The spice here is enough curry powder to give it an edge but not enough to taint the silky green surface with turmeric’s golden glow. No, instead, that’s done by actual shaved disks of fresh turmeric as an optional garnish with shaved jalapeno for a hit of heat (and more green), and the fresh sudsy scent of cilantro. Fresh turmeric is a revelation–it’s a taste of sweet earth with only rooibos coming close to matching that flavor moniker. Don’t skip the butter unless you’re vegan (then, you can totally sub in vegetable stock and all olive oil). I love the luscious texture the butter gives to the soup and a hint of flavor without it becoming at all indulgent. But then again, I’m of the ilk that a soup made from scratch (that includes using boxed broth) with time, love, and intention is pure indulgence of the highest order that feeds the stomach and soul simultaneously.

 All sorts of green vegetables go into making Romanesco Soup, topped with a fresh shower of cilantro leaves and jalapeno.

Romanesco Soup


  • 1 medium white onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 celery root, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped (1 heaping cup)
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 romanesco, chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 knob fresh turmeric, peeled and shaved into coins
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, shaved


  1. Saute the onion, celery root and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt for 10 minutes in oil over medium high heat, stirring often or until slightly browned and the onion is translucent.

  2. Melt the butter. Stir in the curry powder, parsnip, fennel, romanesco and remaining teaspoon of salt. Pour in the stock and water.

  3. Cover and lower the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Puree. Top with turmeric, cilantro, and jalapeno if using.


Kale Celery Root Soup

Kale Celery Root Soup - anneliesz

In the Bay area, if it dips under 60 degrees, we pull out the scarves and beanies. I’ve been donning my fingerless gloves for weeks and am wearing out my hoodie (hood up, thank you). Our place doesn’t have a working heater or a working fireplace though we have one of each. To stay warm and for overall high spirits, I drink copious amounts of tea and coffee. Then, I pile on the layers. On particularly cold days, the oven cranks onto a balmy 375, which makes my challah rise to the happy climes. Recently we made an excursion to Philadelphia. That city won me over in a big way a few years back and claimed the spot of favorite food city of 2014, narrowly being edged out of its spot in 2015 by Los Angeles and its booming bold flavors of any kind of cuisine imaginable.

While in Philadelphia, we sported winter coats. Hats with ear flaps. Mittens. And on a few occasions, we may have ducked into stores we didn’t really have any intention of perusing had the wind not picked up into the soul-crushingly cold temperatures. We ran up the Rocky steps, or more accurately, I ran up the Rocky steps. I quickly learned that detail alone separated the chump out-of-towners from the townies like opening an umbrella in Seattle gives you away in an instant. Two days at the museum meant two chances to eat incredibly good pizza in the name of it being within walking distance.

If I had to qualify my favorite thing to eat, anything wrapped in a fresh, hot corn tortilla would take the top seat and perhaps surprisingly, homemade soup would nab the silver spot. I love sweets more than I should, but I could eat soup everyday and not grow bored. Homemade soup is one part revelation and another part Bay area and beyond winter survival tactic. I created this soup with the specific aim in mind of cramming as much greens as possible into something that also tends toward being a little naughty. The bacon fat lends a nudge of meaty flavor to a veggie-filled soup. I won’t be mad at you if you make more bacon to crumble on top when you’re ready to serve it. Or, skip the bacon altogether and use veggie stock, letting it rain Parmesan on top as a garnish. Whatever you need to do stay warm in winter works.

Kale Celery Root Soup


3 pieces bacon, torn into 3 pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and medium chopped (1 cup)

1 green bell pepper, ribbed and medium chopped (1 ¼ cups)

1 small yellow onion, medium chopped (1 cup)

1 teaspoon kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon

1 (10 ounce-sized) small celery root, peeled and medium chopped (1 ¾ cup)

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

1 bunch kale, rinsed, ribbed and chopped (about 6 cups)

4 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 cup water

Crème Fraiche

Fry the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon, placing on a plate for later use. Drizzle and swirl the oil into a stockpot. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Saute them for about 10 minutes or until mostly cooked, stirring occasionally. Stir in the celery root and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the kale, coriander, paprika, and Aleppo pepper, stirring for about 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock, water, and remaining teaspoon of kosher salt. Raise the heat to medium high. Cook the soup for about 15 minutes or until the celery root is fork tender. Puree the soup in batches. Crush the cooled bacon into bits. Serve with a drizzle of crème fraiche on top a la Jackson Pollock and a scattering of bacon bits.


PS- This soup would actually be pretty terrific with grilled cheese soldiers dipped into it.

PPS- And, if you happen to find celery root in the summer, it would make a fine chilled soup too.

Kale Celery Root Soup - anneliesz


Ginger Carrot Soup

Ginger Carrot Soup

From the open window, a breeze tickles the tall trees outside in such a way that lets me know rain will soon fall. This morning I lolled in bed for an hour longer than usual. Do you find lazy mornings one of the most luxurious and decadent ways for the day to unfold? The ultimate morning for me would involve a book of poetry, heavy covers, and no clock. I meandered down to the farmer’s market, stumbled upon ingredients still in season that made me giddy. Early Girl Tomatoes! Concord Grapes! Lemon Verbena! Albion Strawberries! Last Monday, I flew back from Texas and sat next to an 85 year old woman from Arkansas who helped me think differently about the seasons of life. A big birthday looms in the not-so-distant future for me and I’ve begun to understand the reticence some people have for announcing their age. People ask me if we have children. They ask me if we plan to have children. To answer that question is to try to explain what has kept you from answering it the other way. The adage that time flies sometimes applies, other times, it stealthily slips through our fingers. I thought I had more time. I still do. 

I hadn’t walked the farmer’s market in weeks and felt out of step with what was in season. Did I miss the tail end of zucchinis and summer squash? Would eggplant still be around? Earlier this week, I scouted around in the refrigerator for jam to smear on toast. Wistfully I uncorked one of two remaining jars of Morado Jam, 2015 reserve, thinking I had missed making reserve 2016. This jam walks the line between summer and autumn. It’s a bit like me right now in this season of my life. So, imagine my surprise and glee when I spied Concord grapes at the market this morning. Without hesitation, I bought several pounds of the dusty dark clustered orbs, knowing the work ahead of peeling, pitting and cooking them down into something sweet to be preserved for a different season. 

It’s a funny thing when a jam hijacks a recipe for soup, but I could easily see a plate of crostini, dabbed with Morado Jam and chèvre served alongside this soup. The ginger juice obsession that started this spring continues. I’m still tinkering with a few recipes that when ready, will be wonderful additions for autumn. My first pot of Carrot Ginger Soup came together in an in-law apartment so near to the Ocean we could almost taste the saltwater in the air. At that time, I was in my early 20’s and according to my Dad, was in an age of invincibility. I’m not there anymore. Instead, I see the delicate webbing of our lives. The rain is about to fall. A stillness inhabits the space around us. We wait for autumn to come in earnest, girded with a bowl of soup.  

Ginger Carrot Soup

Makes 4 to 6 servings

10 carrots, peeled 
1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 white onion, minced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup ginger juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
Carrot Top Pesto, optional

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the carrots with the olive oil, using the pastry brush. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a fork can easily penetrate them and they almost fall apart. Cool the carrots for 2 to 3 minutes.

Sauté the onions until caramelized. Pour the orange juice, ginger juice, carrots, onion, celery seed, turmeric, salt, and chicken stock into a blender. Purée in batches until smooth. Warm on the stovetop for 5 minutes. Season with pepper. Serve with a dollop of pesto on top, if desired.


Potato Leek Bok Choy Soup

Potato Leek Bok Choy Soup

In the cold evenings of deep winter, you can get a bit desperate. Perhaps it’s the shortened days paired with the fact that our kitchen overhead light is on the fritz again, but darkness comes too soon. With it, it brings a chill that penetrates the thin windows enough to make me reach for an extra layer, slinging a scarf around my neck, pulling a knit cap onto my head or sometimes burrowing under a wedding gift of a chenille throw I call “the Moses blanket.” Between the tea cup that gets refilled as it’s emptied and roasting vegetables for oven heat,  turning on your heater is the final straw in this chain of events.

But sometimes you get desperate which sounds like a tickle in the throat of the person hanging onto the pole of the bus a few people down. Sniffles erupt from passersby while walking along the street. An older man lassos his torso in the direction of the street curb ejecting a loud loogie. And this, friends, is what makes you seriously consider a future of creating a hermitage from which to leave once the first sprouts of spring shoot through the chilled earth. This utopian notion lasts as long as the larder stays full. Once the boxed pasta disappears and that jar of turtle beans begins getting perilously low, a plan must be hatched to brave the masses.

Can you hear the anthem start up: “Give me your tired, your sick, your stuffed up noses yearning to breathe freely!” It’s enough to make a person take up running so that they might get in and out of the grocery store more quickly so as not to get the winter gift that keeps on giving. Luckily, in steps our CSA box of mysteries so we can wait one more day before setting out. Tucked into the massive cardboard box, a stash of potatoes linger with several leeks and a bag of  green leafy bok choy. From there, we start our meal. From there, the possibilities bubble up and become a soup that is both healing and warming, rich and comforting. For a moment, that winter desperation subdues.


Potato Leek Bok Choy Soup


The key to this soup is to blend half of it. That simple decision elicits a creamy soup with thin tender potato coins left to nibble. I’m convinced it’s the best of both worlds. You could make this soup vegan and dairy-free easily by swapping out the butter and chicken stock for all olive oil and vegetable stock. Lastly, in this iteration, we made a bone broth stock from chicken bones and chicken thigh meat that was superb, but feel free to use 7 cups of boxed chicken stock that has been reduced down to 5 cups. Also as with any salt and peppering, season to your tastebuds and what tastes good to you.

Makes 4-6 bowls
2 leeks, whites only, rinsed and sliced

6 russet potatoes, peeled and 1/4 inch-sliced

3 sliced bok choy, leaves only, 1/4 inch-sliced

1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 tablespoon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

5 cups bone broth or really good chicken stock


Place a heavy-bottomed pot over medium low heat for 1 minute. Swirl in 1 tablespoon each olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the leeks and stir to coat. Saute them until they are transparent, about 4-5 minutes. Add in the remaining tablespoon of butter and olive oil, potatoes, salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Cook them for 5 minutes letting the potatoes and leeks get acquainted. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. Cover the pot and cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Blend half of the soup until smooth. Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and stir to combine with the remaining soup. Stir in the bok choy leaves and cook for 4 minutes.

Food Poetry

Stinging Nettle Soup: Greens in Winter Food Poem

Stinging Nettle Soup | Annelies Zijderveld

Greens in Winter

Stiff edged leaves want

to stick fingers, prick them

if unaware of their nature.


Winter has left us

bereft, for years we knew

what to expect. But now,


farmers throw their hands

out to the fields, then up to

the skies. When precipitation


makes some states quake,

ours is notably barren.

The dustbowl is what came


of December, long remembered

for rain. We ask ourselves if

the Bay area could become L.A.


even as a cloud of smog hovers

where the fingers of fog used

to snake over green hills as cover.


To take a season and shake it up

like a snowglobe is to redistribute

what is known with the unknown,


leaving us to pray for rain for a Fuyu

tree in Anderson valley, to wait and see

if in a year the fruit will blossom and grow.

Stinging Nettle Soup | Annelies Zijderveld



This soup’s bright green color is the perfect pick-me-up for a cold January evening. Sumptuous without being overly indulgent, the almond milk gives just enough of a creaminess with a smidge of warming nutmeg added that lets the subtle flavor of nettles shine. Take note and wear gloves as suggested below. Stinging nettles get their name for a reason when raw, but once cooked, they can be used in similar ways as spinach.

YIELD: 4-6 servings


8 ounces of stinging nettles

3 cups of spinach

1 medium onion

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups almond milk

freshly cracked black pepper


Slip your hands into gloves and rinse the nettles. Bring a heavy bottomed pot 3/4 full of water to a boil. With gloves still on, move the nettles and spinach into the pot. Submerge them with a wooden spoon, letting them cook for 10 minutes. Drain them and squeeze the  liquid out of the greens between two paper towels .

Meanwhile, chop the onion. Turn the heat under a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the olive oil and butter until melted.  Saute the onion until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg, salt, the nettles and spinach. Saute for 4 minutes.

Puree the soup in two batches until it’s smooth, adding 1 cup of almond milk each time. Serve with crusty bread, the kind that has enough personality to be a bit sour.

[/print_this]Stinging Nettle Soup | Annelies Zijderveld 2014-01-14 18.11.09


Stinging Nettle Spaetzle – Honest-Food

Pasta with Stinging Nettles and Ramps Pesto – Sassy Radish

Stinging Nettle Ravioli Gnocchi – A Hungry Bear Won’t Dance

Nettle and Ricotta Tart – Treehugger

Stinging Nettle Omelette – Nourished Kitchen


Bok Choy Soup with Avocado Crema

Bok Choy Celeriac Soup

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that my current obsession with celeriac knows no bounds. Celery root is mellow in its celery flavor and is great roasted with sea salt.

In the past few weeks we’ve tossed it into salads , tried it braised letting it soak up the juices of the other ingredients as well as impart its distinctive flavor into them and played with working it into soup… This soup layers green upon green blending the mellow celery flavor of roasted celeriac with the sauteed greens of bok choy, a hint of ginger and the toasted pistachio meal for something quite special.

You will note that I don’t recommend salting the soup and that is purely for preference. If you want to add salt to the soup to taste, go for it. I included the generous pinch of salt in the avocado crema knowing it would suffuse its slight saltiness to the rest of the soup and avocado for me comes alive after a hit of salt. Have you ever tried avocado with a pinch of salt, smeared on fresh baguette? With sliced tomatoes, it is a meal of much hullabaloo. But I digress…

Topped with a bright dollop of avocado crema, you might find, like we did, that this soup makes a tasty accomplice to an egg frittata or baked ricotta casserole.

SOUP RECIPES- Bok Choy Celeriac Soup with Avocado Crema





  • 6 Bok Choy, coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, coarsely shopped
  • 1 medium celery root, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (plus 1 teaspoon for roasting pepper)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pistachios
  • 4 tablespoons plain goat’s milk yogurt
  • 1 avocado
  • a generous pinch of salt


1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Place celery root and whole green bell pepper on roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes.

3. Saute ginger, leeks and garlic over medium low heat for 3 minutes in 2 tablespoons of oil.

4. Add bok choy to pot and stir in. Stir for five minutes as bok choy cooks down. Add chicken stock. Set to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Remove pepper from the oven and remove the skin, seeds and stem.

6. Chop the pepper into strips and add to pot along with adding the celery root to the pot once done.

7. Pulverize pistachios into meal. Then add the pistachio meal to the pot and stir in.

8. Puree in small batches in a blender until smooth or use an immersion blender in the pot and puree until smooth.

9. For the avocado crema, mash the chopped avocado with the yogurt together and add salt. I like this a bit chunky, so mash until the avocado is slightly broken up.

10. Serve soup with a dollop of avocado crema.





Minestrone Soup

SOUP RECIPES- Minestrone Soup

It’s not often that I find myself hankering for soup at an Italian restaurant, but a no-name hole in the wall in North Beach gets me hankering for their Minestrone. What I like about it is that it’s lemony and bright and the secret to their sauce- fennel! It holds up against the tomato base of the soup adding its lemony brightness. Nathan likes to grate parmesan into his soup and I’m keen on it just like it is. Soup is comfort in a bowl and Minestrone is a great way to get your vegetables. You might think it’s anathema to not add cannelini beans to Minestrone, but this cook is not partial to them in this soup.



Minestrone Soup

TIME: 1 hour and 20 minutes
YIELD: 8-10 bowls 

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, chopped into 1 inch slices
  • 2 cups celery ribs, chopped into 1 inch slices
  • 4 large carrots, halved and chopped
  • 4 yukon gold potatoes, quartered and chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes and any juices
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 T thyme, chopped
  • 2 tsp. parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T lemon juice

Pour olive oil in large heavy pot set on medium high heat. Add onion slices and garlic to pot. Saute and stir until almost translucent.

Add celery, carrots, fennel, potatoes and green beans to pot. Cook for 10 minutes and stir occasionally. Add the tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, water, thyme, salt, pepper and lemon juice to pot. Turn heat down to low, cover pot and simmer for an hour or until potatoes are soft.




Silky Butternut Squash Soup

SOUP RECIPES- Silky Butternut Squash Soup

The fall hastened the coming of winter this year. Fall came and went overshadowed by the wedding. I think I missed November altogether this year. Thanksgiving became the whole of the month. Yikes. Month one of being married kept us busy unpacking and making our home from our individual bits.

Winter in San Francisco is rain and chill. Snow doesn’t alight on our city but sometimes if we’re lucky, it caps Mt. Tamalpais. Fall and winter mean soup season has descended. Usually I make at least one pot of Butternut Squash soup. It often changes slightly, but after trying this particular rendition, Nathan exclaimed, “you should share this on the blog.” High praise indeed.

Something about soup is both warming and comforting. It fills the belly and heats you up from the core. Homemade soup is like a hand-written letter waiting for you in the mailbox. It makes you want to rip it open, spoon it up. Served with homemade bread or cornbread finishes the ensemble.

One Saturday morning, ahem the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, the rain was dripping from an all-grey sky. It was a good day to stay home, cook, read and enjoy just being together. I had roasted the butternut squash staring at me from the veggie bowl on our counter the night before. I had been itching to make Butternut Squash soup and that was only made more keen when we had it the night before Thanksgiving at Nathan’s parent’s house. Think of it as bookends to our Thanksgiving celebration.

Nathan came into the kitchen and as I started up the soup, he began playing guitar. The smells of curry scented the air as his strumming set a pace and rhythm. The sizzle of butternut squash in the pot was accented by one song leading into another. This might be one of my favorite Saturdays ever with him. I served this with stuffed peppers and we cozied up in our warm home with the sound of rain slapping the windowpane.




YIELD: 4 servings

  • ½ leek, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T curry powder
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cooked butternut squash, roasted & quartered
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Heat the oil in a soup pot and once it’s hot, toss in the leeks and garlic along with the curry powder. Once they’ve browned, add the butternut squash. Simmer for about five minutes and then add the whole milk, whipping cream and chicken stock. Simmer for 15 minutes. Then with your immersion blender, puree the soup. Serve & enjoy.





Golden Borscht with Potato Crostini

SOUP RECIPES- Golden Borscht with Potato Crostini

It pays to have people in your life who entertain for a living. My friend Katy sings opera and can do a spot on perfect Scottish accent or Russian. I chalk it up to her time studying for a role in Eugene Onegin several years back. Regardless, her Russian accent inspired the nickname Olga, so Olga she remains to me.

Earlier this year, she performed in the Pirates of Penzance. She landed the role of the Pirate Queen so to speak and had great fun wearing ruffles, velvet and a saber on a regular basis. Nathan and I attended a matinee of her performance with the privilege of sitting alongside her parents watching her nursemaid transform into a pirate much later in the performance. She possesses great spirit on the stage and as the case stands for most mezzo-soprano roles, either takes her turn as a nurse, maid or elderly aunt. When the role calls for humor, she gives the audience a rollicking good time.

Summers in San Francisco can be a bit chilly and this one was no exception. I will remember me clad in turtlenecks and coats for the summer of 2010. After Pirates finished, Nathan, Tyler, Olga and I joined her parents at a bistro for a light early supper. Olga ordered borscht as we ordered the goulash to split with salad. I had never before had the occasion to try that bright purple soup. When the gauntlet comes down about what’s for dinner, I can’t say, “Russian!” is usually what pops out of my mouth. A spoonful of her soup was full of dill and a hearty flavor. I found myself intrigued and kind of eyeing that bowl of soup from across the table wondering if I might sneak another taste.

The Pirate Queen herself & parents
Sans pirate makeup
Trying on my best pirate snarl

I love homemade soup. November is beginning to feel chilly in the city and I felt an urge to tackle the borscht myself, giving it a bit of a different spin. Nathan is a good sport as he puts up with my kitchen experiments and joins me in their execution. Tonight, and really all last week, the desire for a good hearty beet soup put me in an expectant mood. This one does not disappoint; I heartily suggest eating the crostini and soup in the same bites.




adapted from the Culinary Institute of America’s “Gourmet Meals in Minutes


  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 3 golden beets, peeled, grated
  • 1/4 cup dill, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or as needed


  • 2 medium red fingerling potatoes, sliced thinly
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T of sour cream
  • 2 T of plain yogurt
  • 2 T dill, minced
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • Cracked black pepper & kosher salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350. Bring the broth to a simmer while you peel and prepare the vegetables. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat with the oil. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme.

Add the celery, sweet potatoes, carrot, leek, and cabbage. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly tender, about 8 minutes.

Add the broth and the bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes before grating the beets directly into the soup. Separate the third beet and grate into a separate small pot of boiling water where you will blanch the shredded beet and keep it separate. Simmer the soup, partially covered, until the soup is flavorful and the vegetables are completely tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the dill. Add the red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. With your immersion blender, pulse the soup to the desired consistency. We kept ours a bit chunky. Drain the separated shredded beet and garnish in each bowl for a bit more crunch. Garnish the soup with the potato crostini and serve. We found the perfect bite included a bit of the potato, the yogurt dill dollop on top and soup.


Place the thinly sliced potatoes on a cookie sheet. Brush the tops of the potatoes with the olive oil. Sprinkle some kosher salt on top of them. Stick them in the oven to cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Afterwards, pull the cookie sheet out and flip the potato crostini. Bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. While the crostini are baking, in a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, plain yogurt, dill, garlic powder, onion powder and a pinch of salt. Place them on a paper towel lined plate to catch any excess oil. Place a small dollop of the yogurt dill sauce in the middle of each of the crostini and serve with the soup. You can serve the crostini on the side of the bowl or in the middle of the soup for a more dramatic presentation.