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Archive for Soup

::savory soup:: Roasted Butternut Squash

I like to think that the weather has officially changed. The few 90+ degree days we had last week have passed, and it hasn’t stopped raining in a few days. Oddly enough, except for the horrible drivers it seems to bring out, this is one of my favorite things about Fall. When things seem to really transition. Rain is no longer cooling you off and welcome. Everyone thinks it is dreary, and yes, it is a bit gray, but the air feels so clean and crisp. It is irresistible. I know sunny days with crisp air are right around the corner, so I will take the rain. Make those pumpkins grow!

Speaking of pumpkins… did you know that the butternut squash is referred to as the butternut pumpkin in New Zealand? Fun fact of the day ūüôā I don’t know that I was exposed to squash of any sort enough as a child. I was hesitant to eat anything that involved it except pumpkin pie. Oddly enough, I’m not that crazy about pumpkin pie as an adult. Now it is a different story. PTB may go crazy with the amount of squash-related recipes I have hopes for this fall.

This soup was perfect for a lazy night. There is so little work involved, but you do need to be around while the oven goes for almost an hour.

What You Need
Step One

~ 4 cups cubed butternut squash (my whole squash was 3lbs)
4 large shallots, peeled and halved
1″ piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
Step Two
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (use veggie brother for a vegan soup)
Step Three
fresh chives
cracked black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Combine all step one ingredients in a foil lined baking dish. Roast for approximately 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes. If you have an immersion blender, combine roasted veggies and stock in a large pan. Blend away until you have your desired consistency.

If you do not have an immersion blender, go buy one. Or, you can combine the veggies and stock in a blender in batches, and pour into a pan.

Cover and heat through over a medium heat. Serve topped with cracked pepper and chives.

Are you warm and cozy yet?

Serves: 4-6   Cost: ~$2/serving (4 servings)

::cajun cooking:: Chicken & Sausage Gumbo


adminDespite the fact that I don’t like seafood, I am still a huge fan of cajun cooking. There is something in Jambalaya that gives me hives. ¬†I have no idea what. ¬†Every time I have eaten it, my arms break out in hives. ¬†It is so weird. ¬†I’ll have to make it at some point. ¬†Maybe breaking it down will help me figure out the problem. ¬†Anyway, I am already going off topic.

We went to Reading Terminal Market a few times this weekend.  I never knew there was a Cajun place there!  Yum!  They offered us tiny samples.  We tried the Crawfish Etouffe and the Chicken & Sausage Gumbo.  The Etouffe was decent.  It had corn in it, so by default I think mine is better.  It also seemed a bit thinner than mine.  The Gumbo was great.  Nice and tomato-y.

So after trying these delights, and inspired by the season premiere of True Blood, I decided to take on gumbo for dinner on Sunday night. ¬†This was my first time cooking gumbo, but it seemed fairly similar to etouffe, so I figured I could handle it. ¬†Turns out it is actually a bit simpler than the etouffe, only taking me about an hour and a half. ¬†Even with picture taking breaks. ¬†Not too shabby (and I am a slow chopper/slicer). ¬†After burning my mouth with excitement over the first couple bites, once I was really able to taste it, I realized it wasn’t very different from the etouffe. ¬†Yes, it was a bit simpler in ingredients, but the preparation was almost identical. ¬†The flavors were definitely different, but definitely in the same family. ¬†Does that even make sense? ¬†So I had to look it up. ¬†If you already know all this, good for you, but I am still learning.

So what I learned…. is that I wasn’t very wrong. ¬†They are almost identical. ¬†Etouffe is more traditionally a main dish that is thicker and heartier. ¬†It is normally made with shrimp or crawfish, but is sometimes made with chicken (like mine)! ¬†Gumbo is actually a soup. ¬†It can be served as a main dish, but it is still a soup. ¬†Traditionally, gumbo has chicken and andouille sausage as the meats (just like mine!). ¬†Ok, so far, I am making both dishes correctly. ¬†The other main difference though is the roux. ¬†From what I read, the etouffe is made with a blonde roux, which is made with butter and flour and is a light caramel color. ¬†Mine is close to this. ¬†I do use butter and flour. ¬†But I prefer a near peanut butter shade. ¬†Gumbo is made with a dark roux that is made with oil and flour. ¬†Mine had a little but of oil, but was primarily butter. ¬†All the recipes I saw differed with this step, so I stuck with butter, knowing what I was doing. ¬†I think this led to a bit of a thicker gumbo, which I am A.O.K. with. ¬†Oh! ¬†And Okra! ¬†There isn’t okra in etouffe. ¬†It was my first time using it and I have to say I am quite pleased.

I couldn’t find a recipe I was happy with in terms of preparation and ingredients combined. ¬†So I had to make my own. ¬†On a scale of 1-10, PTB ranked it an 8 (and the Etouffe a 9.5). ¬†Butter Chicken is his 10 rating. ¬†Back on topic! ¬†Time for the recipe!

What I Used
Step One

1.5 Tbsp Canola oil
3/4 lb chicken breast
3/4 lb andouille sausage
Step Two
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
Step Three
medium yellow onion, chopped
green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
6 fresh okra, sliced
Step Four
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Step Five
2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves

Really, I should like the vegetables as step one.  Make sure you have them all chopped and ready to through into the pan before you start.  Then cut all the meat into bite size pieces.  Salt and pepper the chicken.  In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides (~5 min).  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil behind for the sausage.  Add the sausage in, browning completely.

Once the sausage is browned and set aside, add the butter to the hot pan and melt.  Once melted, whisk in the flour, and start to remove any brown bits on the pan.  The butter and flour will blend to create your roux.  It should become a perfect golden brown.  Once it is, you can add all step three veggies and cook them until they begin to soften (~3 min).

Slowly stir in your broth.  I did this in tiny increments using it to scrape up any remaining bits from the bottom of my pan (deglaze).  Once the broth is combined, add your chicken back in, and then the sausage and step five ingredients.

Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve over hot rice.

Serves: 6-8 Cost: ~$2/serving

::cooking for two:: Turkey Chili

Clearly we were spoiled by such a beautiful week. ¬†It has been raining non-stop. ¬† Oh well….any excuse back to cozy comfort foods! ¬†PTB’s birthday is this week, so he is getting a week of meals made especially for him. ¬†Some favorites, and some new dishes that I wouldn’t make if it were just me. ¬†So – there will be some delicious postings this week and next to say the least!

To start though – I need to warm up with some turkey chili made just for two. ¬†I will admit – with this recipe….it didn’t double great. ¬†I’m not sure what to change, I just didn’t like it as much when I doubled everything…I adapted this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two 2009.

What You Need:
Step One

one small onion, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tsp Cumin
1/4 Tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 Tsp oregano
1/8 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
Step Two
3/4lb ground turkey breast
Step Three
1 can diced tomatoes (with green chiles makes it awesome)
1 can red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can tomato sauce

Heat about 2 tsp vegetable oil in a medium saucepan (I use a 4qt for this recipe) until shimmering.  Add all step one ingredients.  Stir them often, and cook until the onion is softened.

Stir in the ground turkey using a wooden spoon to break it up into smaller pieces.  Cook until there is no more pink (~5 min).

Add all step three ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and cover, simmering for about 30 minutes.

This chili can certainly stand on its own.  Or, while it is simmering, prep some creamy polenta or rice to serve it over.  We love pairing turkey chili with polenta.

Divide the chili between two dishes and enjoy!  We topped with a bit of cheddar as well this time around!

Serves: 2    Cost: ~$4/serving

::recipe:: Carrot + Lentil Soup


Since it is GORGEOUS out, I didn’t think I was going to post anything warm. ¬†In fact, I was going to post a delightful pomegranate honey vinaigrette. ¬†But….my mom called asking for this recipe today because she had searched and searched and could not find it. ¬†Actually, she flipped through every single post. ¬†Hey mom….and everyone else reading this – in the top right of the sidebar I have a handy search function. ¬†You could have just searched for carrot ¬†ūüėČ

Anyway!  This recipe was from Long Nights and Log Fires, but I had to adjust for our tastes and ingredient availability.

What You Need
Step One

3 Tbsp Butter
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Step Two
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
Step Three
1 lb Carrots (about 5), peeled + grated
1 .25 cup red lentils, rinsed
1.5 quarts vegetable stock

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over high heat and add onion and garlic.  Cook for ~5 min stirring often and add tomato paste, cooking for another minute.

Add all step 3 ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low let simmer for 40 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

If you have a Bamix (or any other immersion blender)….mix it up to your desired consistency. ¬†I went with a full puree. ¬†If you don’t, blend in a food processor or blender in batches. ¬†We topped ours with a few parmesean crisps and a basil leaf. ¬†MMMMMM. ¬†Be creative in your toppings.

Serves: 4   Cost: ~$2/serving

::recipe:: Creamy Tomato Carrot Soup

This soup ended up creating the perfect cozy meal I needed after the long rainy weekend we had here in Philadelphia.  The only thing that made the rain worse was that I had to drive in it both days.  Outside it is completely gray, so this bright soup was a perfect ending to the weekend for me.

I will give my mom credit because she did give me the idea last week. ¬†I just had to tweak it to make it my own. ¬†Since it was an experiment though, there are no exact measurements….but it is tomato soup. ¬†You can’t really mess it up that badly can you?

What You Need:
Step One

small onion
medium shallot
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
Step Two
1/3-1/2 cup milk
~1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar
Step Three
1 can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Roasted Garlic

Optional + Highly Recommended
2 cups cooked brown rice
immersion blender
grilled cheese sandwiches (the best is whole grain bread with pepper jack cheddar)

Chop up all your step one veggies. ¬†In a 4qt pot, melt your butter over medium heat. ¬†Add the flour and whisk together. ¬†Continue to stir often until it becomes the color of peanut butter. ¬† Stir in all the vegetables. ¬†Cook about 5 minutes. ¬†Stir in milk. ¬†This amount can really vary depending on how creamy you would like your soup. ¬†I think I ended up with a bit more than 1/2 a cup….but I was pouring it straight into the pot until I was satisfied. ¬†I was going for all the vegetables to be covered, plus some. ¬†Heat slightly and stir in cheese, melting completely. ¬†Add the can of diced tomatoes. ¬†Heat to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. ¬†While simmering, I used my Bamix immersion blender to liquify the tomatoes and chop up my vegetables a bit more, but not all the way. ¬†You can blend this soup to whatever consistency you prefer, but I like a bit of texture. ¬†While the soup was simmering, I made our grilled cheese sandwiches. ¬†Then added the rice to the soup, and served. ¬†So simmer ~20 minutes ¬†ūüôā

Seriously – it was sooooo good.

Serves: 2 alone, 4 with sandwiches       Cost: $2.50/serving