Of Soup and Spices

It’s fall and soup season again. So, if I see vegetables in the fridge for more than a day, I’m tempted to turn it into soup. This week the lucky contestants were cauliflower and leftover baked potato wedges. Now, I like puréed soups and The Hubs likes chunky soups. So, I’m going to write this one out so you can do this soup either way with a few modifications.

I was in a spice mood when I started making this soup. This is one of those soups where I just open up the spice drawer and just start pulling out anything that sounds interesting. It probably helped that I’d been talking to my mom the day before about a doctor who wrote a cookbook and was pushing spices like turmeric, mustard, sesame, etc. etc. Of course, I am also completely hooked on making my own bread since I found HFCS on the list of ingredients of bread I was about to buy. And I figured I needed something else to do with the 12 pounds of honey I bought. (…Don’t ask) So, I figured soup would be the best thing to dip my bread into.

 

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Curried Cauliflower-Potato Soup
(Makes 4 quarts)

1/4 c curry powder (or to taste)
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
3 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 large spanish onion, minced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 large heads cauliflower
2 quarts potatoes, baked
1 can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock

Chunky Soup:

NOTE: cut cauliflower & potatoes into 1/2″ pieces. (Make it look pretty).

In a separate pot warm the stock over medium-low heat. Add coriander, cumin, sesame seeds & mustard seeds to a stock pot and turn to medium heat. When you start smelling all the spices (the whole spices may start popping), grind the spices in a spice grinder or leave whole. Add the minced onions, garbanzo beans and olive oil. Add the curry, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Stir the onions and beans occasionally until the onions are translucent and the spices are starting to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic & stir the ingredients until you can smell the garlic. Add the cauliflower florets and cubed potatoes. Turn to coat with the spices. Add enough stock to cover the vegetables. Cover the pot and let cook until the cauliflower is soft enough that you can put a sharp knife through it easily. Add more stock as needed to get to desired brothyness (it’s a word now…). Add more salt & pepper as needed. Serve with buttered multigrain bread w/ apple butter or grilled cheese sandwiches.

Puréed Soup

NOTE: Cut the cauliflower & potatoes any way you like. It’ll look the same in the end.

In a separate pot warm the stock over medium-low heat. Add curry, coriander, cumin, sesame seeds & mustard seeds to a stock pot and turn to medium heat. When you start smelling all the spices (the whole spices may start popping), add the minced onions, garbanzo beans and olive oil. Add the smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Leave the onions and beans to cook in the spices, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the spices are starting to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic & stir the ingredients until you can smell the garlic. Add the cauliflower and potatoes. Turn to coat with the spices. Add 1 quart of the stock. Cover the pot and let cook until the cauliflower is soft enough that you can put a fork through it easily. Purée in batches in a blender or in the pot with a hand blender. Add more stock as needed to get to desired consistency. Add more salt & pepper as needed. Serve with buttered multigrain bread w/ apple butter or grilled cheese sandwiches.

What to do…. What to do….?

Sometimes my overindulgence in buying vegetables works out to some sort of magical symphony of ingredients available in the house. That was what happened on Wednesday… National Sandwich Day (I guess there’s a day for everything). So, there seems to be an odd phenomenon in our family… I can’t pick a good sandwich. It is my Food Achilles Heel. If The Hubs and I go to a restaurant and get sandwiches, I always end up liking his sandwich and not eating mine. I’ve learned over the years to just have him help me pick a sandwich because he is a sandwich genius. I don’t even try anymore. So, I was dreaming of The Hubs’ grilled cheese sandwich when I realized I roasted all the tomatoes I had in the house last night to make the Roasted Pepper & Tomato Sauce. I had to come up with some other way to convince The Hubs to make me a grilled cheese. He makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever had and I love to dip them into a smooth super creamy soups (usually my Balsamic Roasted Tomato Soup) so I had to come up with something else.

I was at the produce place last weekend and since it’s that time of year, I got winter squash, sweet potatoes and apples which are plentiful and relatively inexpensive at the moment. I ended up roasting the butternut squash (in a 400F oven for 1 hour) and making sweet potato fries (roasted in a 400F oven for 1 hour) and when I looked into the fridge this afternoon and saw the leftovers, I had an idea…. What if I made a super creamy soup with the butternut squash, sweet potatoes and apples. If I made it spicy enough It could hold up to a grilled cheese sandwich….hmmm…. So I started fiddling.

Okay… so here’s the other thing…. my “blender” is a Vitamix which I love (and which is expensive).  If you see any contest to win a Vitamix, I highly recommend entering it.  You won’t be disappointed if you get one.  It blends things really fine so I didn’t peel the sweet potatoes or squash (I did peel the apples).  I leave the skin on most things I puree in the Vitamix to boost the texture since The Hubs likes creamy soups and corporate microwaves don’t generally do a great job with creamy soups when you reheat them.

The soup turned out far better than I expected.  The ground poinsettia peppers gave it a lot of heat.  I really recommend growing them and drying them because their heat sneaks up on you so you get to taste all the spices before the heat hits you like a wave.  The apples are sweet enough so you’re not left with a permanently burnt tongue and if you pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich you’ll be all set.  This is a great cold weather soup!

 

Spicy Sweet Potato &  Butternut Squash Soup

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Spanish Onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or ground poinsettia peppers if you have it)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp apple pie spice
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 apples, peeled and cored (I used 2 small McIntosh, 2 Gala & 2 Fuji)
1/3 cup AppleJack (or apple juice)
2 large roasted sweet potatoes, cut in large pieces
1 medium roasted butternut squash, cut in large pieces
2 quarts water

In a soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions and garlic. Cook slowly moving onions around the pan as needed until the onions have given up most of their moisture. Add the apples and all the spices. Let this cook slowly for 5-8 minutes. Stirring as needed. Add the AppleJack or apple juice to deglaze the pan and scrape up any spices that may be sticking. Add the sweet potatoes and butternut squash and the water and turn the heat up to high. When the mixture starts boiling, turn down to a summer for about 10-15 minutes. Puree the mixture to a smooth texture in a blender and serve.

Hot Soup on a Cool Fall Day

I’m on a soup kick. I know. I can’t stop. Every year when the cool air starts creeping in I have that moment where I crave putting on a thick cozy sweater and wrapping my hands around a steaming soup mug. I tend to like my soups a bit spicy since it adds to the warming effect. If you’re not a heat fan, feel free to skip it.  I started thinking about this soup in the summer when all the fresh corn was available. But somehow I just couldn’t get into making soup when it was hot out. So, when I went into the produce spot and saw whole corn and poblano peppers on a cold day I knew what I was going to do. Of course, I wasn’t thinking it through and completely forgot to pick up the potatoes. Thankfully I picked up a Jamaican yam (also sold as Name) which I roasted (in 425F oven for two hours) so I used that instead of potato, but potato works just as well in the recipe. If you’re feeling adventurous give the Jamaican yam (yes I know its not only Jamaican) a try… Why not try something new? The swiss chard also wasn’t part of my original idea, but it’s the end of the season and there was a ton of swiss chard at my parents place, so I’ve been using the stems like celery in my soups. It’s easier than letting them go to waste.  On a side note, if you decide to add the jalapeño (or whatever good hot pepper you have) roast a few extra potatoes just in case.  The potatoes and half and half really help calm down some of the heat in the soup.  If you don’t use all the potatoes for this recipe, then we can come up with some other way to use them.

 

Corn Poblano Chowder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 poblano peppers
4 ears corn
5 cloves garlic
2 Spanish yellow onions, cut in large pieces
1 stalk celery, cut in large pieces
15 stalks Swiss chard, remove leaves and cut in large pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped, seeds & stems removed (optional)
8 cups water or vegetable/chicken stock
1.5 cups beans
1/2 medium size roasted yam (or 2 baked russet potatoes), cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup half and half

Roasting the poblanos:

Move the oven rack to the top. Turn on the broiler. Roast the poblanos on a metal baking sheet for 8 minutes per side or until the skin is black and blistered.  Put the roasted poblanos in a glass dish and cover with cling wrap.  After about 10 minutes, the steam should have helped separate the skin from the poblanos and you can peel and remove the seeds.  Chop the poblanos into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces and set aside.

Soup:

While the poblanos are roasting, cut the corn kernels off the ears. With food processor running add garlic cloves. When the garlic is minced, stop the food processor, add onions, celery, and Swiss chard stems. In a soup pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the vegetable mixture. Add the corn cobs, salt and pepper and sauté with the vegetables. Add the jalapeño peppers. After about 8 minutes add 8 cups of water or stock. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Take the corn cobs out of the pot and purée the vegetables in a blender. Put the cobs back in and add the corn kernels. Turn the heat to high until the mixture is boiling. Add beans. Add poblano. Add yam. Turn the heat back down to medium-low and simmer for 15-30 minutes.  Add half and half and adjust salt and pepper to taste while it warms through and serve.

Note: Add some crushed tortilla chips on top!!