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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.

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Honeycrisp Apple Butternut Squash Soup


Course Soup

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Categories
Recipes

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

 

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BOK CHOY SOUP WITH AVOCADO CREMA 

SOUP

  • 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
CREMA
  • 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.

 

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Categories
Recipes

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.

 

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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.

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Categories
Recipes

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.

 

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SILKY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP 

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.

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Categories
Recipes

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.

 

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GOLDEN BORSCHT WITH POTATO CROSTINI

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

SOUP INGREDIENTS

  • 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

CROSTINI INGREDIENTS

  • 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

SOUP PREPARATION
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.

CROSTINI PREPARATION

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.

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