Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Alice Waters' Pumpkin Soup

These two characters have been staring me down every time I open the fridge. "Use me Lauren! Don't let me go to waste!" "We're going to rot!" "You love pumpkin, why are we sitting here?!?" They've been taunting me....

We are so happily settling into our new routine as a family of three. It is hard to believe our little bundle is just 2.5 weeks old. There is, undoubtedly, less time in the day for cooking and the pumpkins felt a little daunting. So I ignored them. Until today.

Laying in bed the other night I thought, "Well this is silly, Lauren, what would Alice do? She undoubtedly has a simple preparation."  One quick look at page 277 of Chez Panisse Vegetables and I had just the recipe.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup: 2 hours of total time, but more importantly, only 20 minutes of active cooking time. So simple, and so so so good. My mother and I enjoyed the soup for lunch today, and she actually used the adjective "divine." Enjoy!

Alice Waters' Roasted Pumpkin Soup 
Ingredients
(from Chez Panisse Vegetables)
  • 3 lbs of fresh sugar pumpkin (2 small pumpkins in my CSA)
  • 3-5 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and darker orange pulp
  • Rub the cut sides with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper
  • Place the pumpkin, cut side down, on a baking sheet, with a sprig of thyme and 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic tucked into each cavity
  • Roast for 45 minutes to one hour until completely tender
  • Remove from oven, and let cool completely 
  • Peel off the skin and add the remaining pumpkin to a soup pot along with the roasted garlic, squeezed out of its skin
  • Strip the thyme off the stalk, and add to the pot
  • Add 3 cups of chicken stock and heat to a simmer
  • Alice suggests mashing together with a wire whisk... I blended with an immersion blender until smooth
  • Add more chicken stock, if desired, to achieve your preferred consistency 
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt or pepper as needed
  • Optional in the Alice recipe (but not in my kitchen!): add 1 tbs of butter to richen the soup

If you have the ingredients, continue with these black pepper croutons. I served my soup with a dollop of greek yogurt instead but will certainly add this croutons next time:

  • Cube the bread into 1/2 inch cubes and toss with the melted butter
  • Sprinkle with salt, spread on a baking sheet and roast until brown and crispy
  • Generously grind black pepper as you remove from the oven
  • Top the soup with the croutons and serve

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lauren Lately: Super local... stew


Lately, I've been working hard on my most local endeavor to date. Anywhere from 6-8 hours a day, I'm at it and the distance from production to consumption is less than an inch....  You see, we were blessed with the arrival of our first son, and I am deep in the trenches of breast feeding. 

For the past week since his precious arrival, we've been happily enjoying food drop-offs from my mother-in-law (Homemade lasagna, chicken and rice, etc.) and frequent take-out as we navigate this exciting time for our new family. 

It actually feels like an accomplishment making breakfast shakes every morning (Blend: 1 Banana, 1 Orange, 1 tbs ground flax seed, 1 cup yogurt, ice and almond milk), and last night, on day 7, I cooked my first meal.  

It was therapeutic to get back in the kitchen and steal a little time chopping and stewing while my hubby played with our son.  My monthly winter CSA arrived with a bundle of root vegetables, and as you may know from this post, I love freezing, and I was able to take advantage of some of summers bounty of green peppers, jalapeƱos and zucchini.  

Winter Root Vegetable Stew
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/8 cup chopped jalapeƱo
  • 4 cleaned and bite size chopped carrots
  • 6 cleaned and bite size chopped turnips
  • 3 cleaned and bite size chopped fingerling potatoes
  • 1/2 an onion finely chopped
  • 1 can rinsed chick peas
  • 1 large can peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • Herbs of your choice: I used a 3 tablespoon mixture of oregano, cayenne, rosemary and thyme
Directions
  • Brown the turkey, breaking it up as you cook over medium heat
  • Add the garlic and onion, cook until fragrant
  • Add all the vegetables, except the tomatoes, mixing well to distribute
  • Pour in the red wine, let simmer for 5 minutes
  • Mix in the chopped tomatoes, and fill the can 1/3 up with water.  Swish around to get all the good bits, and pour into the stew
  • Add the herbs, and mix well
  • Cook, over low-medium heat for 45 mins - 2 hours (lower heat for longer times).  Add more water or stock as needed
  • Enjoy with crusty bread
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