I really have a thing for orange colored foods. Sweet potatoes, carrot juice, nacho cheese... Whether you are talking about health food or junk food the color orange is usually a sure-fire sign that I'll like it. That's one reason why I make soup from root veggies so often. Besides my natural affinity to warm colored vegetables I find these soups to be stupid easy to make and extremely versatile when it comes to flavoring. I've made about a zillion variation on the basic pureed veggie and stock combo. I've added curry spices, cheese and broccoli, and even miso. It seems like every time I turn around I'm making an orange colored soup.
This soup is a little extra vibrant thanks to some fresh turmeric. Turmeric not only adds a bright, sunny flavor to this soup, but is also valued for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. Between an ongoing lack of sleep and hours spent everyday hunched over a tiny little person I have my fair share of aches and pains. Add to that discomfort my battle with Austin's dreaded Cedar Fever and you've pretty much sussed out my motivation for making a batch of turmeric soup. I'm inflamed, baby, and I need something to bring that mess down a notch.
By the way, I thought of calling this stuff Sunshine Soup because it's flavor struck me as bright. Turmeric has a taste that is hard to describe - the closest adjective I can seem to muster is sunny. Thus Sunshine Soup. Some Googling revealed several other recipes for Sunshine Soup, but none of them seemed to be anything alike, so I'm guessing that the title isn't really officially attached to any particular soup yet. When it goes for a vote, remember me. Turmeric = sunny = sunshine soup. Makes sense, yes?
Butternut Sunshine Soup
Makes about six one-cup servings
- 2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 large sweet onion (vidalia is best, but yellow will do), peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil/fat (grapeseed, olive, bacon fat, or melted butter)
- 1/2 teaspoon dry sage powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 quart stock or broth (I used chicken, but veggie would be fine)
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon dry turmeric
- the juice from one lemon
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the squash, onion, and garlic with the oil, spices, salt, and pepper. Spread the squash out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the roasted squash to a large soup or stock pot along with the stock/broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add turmeric, then using a stick (or immersion) blender, puree the soup until totally smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, then taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.
If I had to describe myself based on a defining skill, I'd have to say that I'm an idea person at heart. Nothing really gets me going like a good brainstorming session. My husband shares the same over-active imagination. We've spent many a road trip engineering make-believe business plans, inventing impossible machines, or dreaming up imaginary characters and stories.
When it comes to food, coming up with new ideas can be trickier than you might think. Thanks to the internet, it seems like almost everything has been done before. So when I come up with something new, I try to stay away from Google while I'm working things out. Nothing takes the winds out of my sails like finding out that my great new idea has been done umpteen times before.
This soup, for example, was a fairly simple thing, but its newness gave me a thrill. I steamed the squash, pushed it through a food mill, then whisked it together with chicken broth and miso paste. I tasted it, then decided to add a little salt and a splash of sesame oil. Developing this recipe wasn't rocket science, but with my belly full of warm soup I felt kind of like a genius anyway.
Now that I finished making my soup I Googled a bit and found that, yes, other people have had this idea as well. You can check out recipes from my fellow soup geniuses here:
By the way, HELLO food mills! Where have they been all my life? A big thanks to Aneelee for letting me borrow hers. I'm now in love with pushing food through mesh.
Simple Acorn Squash & Miso Soup
Makes about three cups
This week's guest post is from Nelly at Aneelee. Aneelee is a family-friendly vegetarian food blog where Nelly shares tasty recipes, weekly meal plans, and stories from her family kitchen. Keeping up with Aneelee is a treat for me since Nelly and I share the same CSA. I often check out her blog for inspiration on how to use up my own share of fresh local veggies. This delicious soup is a great example of the kind of healthy, delicious fare you'll find there. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Nelly!
Earlier this week my Father began a long flight from Houston to Beijing. Naturally, this left me fraught with jealousy and nostalgia. Oh, the food. Oh, the madness. I loved living in China, and will always feel a pinch of regret that we ended up leaving way too soon. It's a life goal to live abroad again at some point. Being an ex-pat is marvelously romantic. Even when daily life kicks your ass, it feels worthwhile, more like an adventure than a hassle.
Well folks, it's official. I'm on a butternut squash kick. It started innocently enough, with a slightly cheesey experiment in baked macaroni. Before I knew it I was roasting up a second squash, then another and another!
They are just so creamy, and nutty and... orange.
I have a real thing for sweet potatoes. If they weren't so ugly, I'd probably have one tattooed on my body. Speaking of tattoos, I indulged my ink addiction recently at Bijou Studio here in Austin. It's a little over half-way done, with all of the line work, and a touch of color completed. I'll go back for another session some time next month.
One thing I love about getting inked up is the simultaneous mix of pleasure and pain. It hurts like a "b", but your body releases all these fun little endorphins and chemicals, making you feel a little loopy (in a good way). I also find some kind of weird satisfaction in gritting my teeth through the whole stingy business. I guess I like reminding myself that I'm tough, and I don't have to let a little thing like pain stand in the way of getting what I want.
So you might think this is a bit of an odd segway into a soup recipe, but I'm going to go for it anyway. While tattoos afford a blend of pain and pleasure, my favorite sweet potato recipes combine a mix of spicy and sweet flavor. My Chipotle Quinoa Casserole, for instance, blends sweet potatoes, creamy sauce, and spicy chile pepper. I delight in drowning my sweet potato fries in spicy sriracha mayo, and caking my roasted yams in blackened cajun spices. Sweet loves spicy, and I love playing match-maker.
I created this soup recipe with that kind of blend in mind. The hot red curry paste blends into the candy-sweet baked potato really nicely. I was tempted to add coconut milk, but I found that the coconut oil added plenty of aroma without making the soup overly rich. You can serve it garnished with scallions and cilantro, or even some crunchy rice crackers. You can also just guzzle it as-is. I made this recipe on the medium to mellow side. If you'd like more heat, just add a little more curry paste, or a squirt of sriracha sauce.
Red Curry Sweet Potato Soup
Makes about four to six servings
Lately I've started turning all kinds of unsuitable foods into croutons. This soup wound up getting a dose of puffed rice cereal. Nothing crunchy is safe from my soup bowl. Is this is as weird a habit as I think it is, or does everyone do this?
If you ask me, a soup can only ever be as good as its stock. Homemade stock has a way of elevating even the simplest broth to something spectacular. They understand this in Japan, so plenty of attention is given to making the very best stock (called "dashi" in Japanese cooking) possible. A classic dashi invariably contains fresh or dried bonito, a deliciously pungent fish responsible for much of what makes Japanese food delicious. Other ingredients vary with each house recipe. You can find anything from pork bones to shrimp heads stuffed into a Japanese dashi pot. Momofuku in New York is known to make a dashi with bacon. The commonality you might be noticing here is a heavy reliance on fish and meat for flavor.
When you make a vegetarian or vegan dashi, you have to rustle up your best plant-based savory and umami ingredients. It's also important to include an element of the sea. You might think that's impossible for a vegan soup, but not so! Kombu, a thick, rubbery dried seaweed is excellent way to "fish up" your vegan dashi. It carries a decidedly fishy, ocean-like aroma, and has a way of making dashi taste heavier and richer than it would be with out. I also like to use plenty of stinky mushrooms. Shitake are my favorite, dry or fresh, but any shroom will do.
To make the broth a little more interesting I add some leek. Leek has a light onion taste, sort of like scallion, but it's much sturdier, making it better choice for dashi-making. When working with leeks, it's really important to peel them completely apart and rinse out every crevasse. They tend to horde soil between their leaves, so it isn't unusual to find sand buried all the way in the center of the stalk. I usually cut the bottom of the leek off, then slice it down its center. After that, fill the sink with cold water, and dunk the leek inside. Take the leek completely apart, washing each piece carefully, then drain and rinse them.
So what do you do with dashi once you've got it? Dashi is the base for a huge range of soups and sauces. Miso soup is the simplest way to enjoy it. Just heat 1 cup of dashi, mix in a teaspoon of miso paste, add diced tofu, sliced scallions, and a few pieces of dry wakame seaweed. A dash of soy sauce or a pinch of salt can be added for extra flavor. I use Dashi as a base for tempura sauce, udon noodle soup, ramen, and homemade teriyaki sauce.
Makes about 4 quarts
Combine the solid ingredients in a large stock pot, then cover with cold water. Bring the pot to just under a boil on high heat, then reduce to low. Simmer for 60 minutes. Allow the stock to cool enough for handling, then strain it through cheesecloth or fine mesh.
I spent my last Friday night at home with Scott Bobleo, fantisizing about classic cars we'll probably never own, and cruising the internet for geeky memes. Later, we had a tickle fight, ate noodles, and went to bed. It's funny how something so normal as a quite evening with your husband can be filled with so many unique little moments. Sure, it's boring, but it's a special blend of boring that is exclusively yours.
Tomato soup is kind of like that. Everyone makes this classic recipe with their own method, peppering it with special ingredients, and serving it up with an equally original side dish. Some go for salad, others prefer grilled cheese or sesame breadsticks. In China they are likely to stick a catfish in there.
Sure, there is always the basic Campbell's style straight tomato, but who wants that? That's like a quiet evening at home spent detailing a coffee-maker. In other words, Snores-ville. Live a little. Put some cheese on it. Kick the heat up a little with some hot pepper. Try something new!
I like to experiment with my tomato soup. Sometimes I go Chinese, adding ginger, garlic, and red chile. Other times I sprinkle in some chipotle pepper and avocado. Today, my inspiration was dill. I saw a photo recently picturing a sprig of dill sitting on a bowl of rich, red soup. Since then, the combination of dill and tomato has been haunting my dreams. It gives the soup a really bright, fresh flavor. To me, it seems like the flavor of dill picks up on the greener notes in the tomato, highlighting it's herbaceous nature. Have you ever smelled a tomato leaf? If you pay close attention, you'll notice that the same smell is present in the fruit of the tomato, but it's a lot more subtle.
When I was a kid, I couldn't think of any food more bland or revolting than soup. To say that I hated soup, would be a bit of an overstatement. Soup had never personally offended me. It had never kidnapped my family, insulted my mother, or called me names. I just didn't care much for it. To an eight year old me, eating soup was about as exciting or pleasurable as spending an afternoon following my Dad around CompUSA. In other words, lame city. Bereft of other options, I might go for a can of spaghettios, but other than that, soup was not part of the short list of things that Kid Mary would eat.
Kid Mary was actually pretty darn picky. While everyone else ate garden salads I would stick to a bowl of tomato and cucumber. Ordering pizza? Plain cheese for Kid Mary. I wonder how many grown-up food lovers started out as picky children? Was it an early sign of my discerning pallet, or was I just a royal brat?
Anyway, back to soup. My contempt for soup continued on into young adulthood. I suspect that being raised as a vegetarian had something to do with it. That, and the fact that most soup I had ever encountered came out of a can. By the time I was a teenager I was known to partake in the occasional New England Clam Chowder, mostly using it as a sad substitute for the only soup I had ever truly enjoyed, that being my father's lobster bisque.
It was Fish Head Soup, of all things, that actually opened my mind to how good soup could be. The fatty, tender neck and fin meat of butchered salmon and bonito finally made a soup-eater out of me. This "soup" was actually the first stage of the house dashi made in my first Japanese restaurant. That stock was used in countless sauces and recipes, but most often in the miso soup and clear soup that we served with every entree.
When I went to culinary school, and began making soups of my own, I really fell in love. It turns out that it wasn't soup that I disliked so much, just bad soup. These days, soup is one of my very favorite things to make and eat. While I still find canned soup to be utterly repugnant, there is almost nothing that I enjoy more than a bowl of homemade.
Almost every week you'll find at least one type of soup simmering in my kitchen. Sometimes it's creamy, other times brothy. They almost always have a starchy surprise inside, like noodles, barley, or potatoes. The soups that I make most often are minestrone, butternut squash, and black bean. These are recipes that I have made so many times, that it's almost difficult to nail down a recipe that does the real thing justice. Black bean is the first to make the transition to my satisfaction.
Once upon a time, there was a lovely Thai princess that lived in a palace made of vegetables that floated over a sea of coconut milk. She loved her home, but spent her nights dreaming of far-away places. One evening, as she bathed herself in the glow of her favorite spaghetti western, something magical happened. She found herself transported to Texas, the land of tumblin' tumbleweeds!
Soon she got hungry and made herself a cup of soup.
This soup isn't exactly a pho, but the collection of rich savory flavors and fresh herbs definitely get my mind thinking "pho pho pho" when I eat it. If it were a true pho, it would have beef instead of mushrooms, and the noodles would be clear rice noodles instead of thick, chewy wheat noodles. Despite these obvious discrepencies, I shall persist in titling this recipe "Faux Pho". Personally, I think that for a vegan, this soup is just about the closest you are going to come to finding the satisfaction that lies buried inside a bowl of steaming hot Pho.
Know why? Because this shit is umami as hell.
The mushroom broth and fresh green herbs are the key to this recipe. Be sure not to skimp on either one. You can use boxed mushroom broth, but you'll be sorry if you substitute dried basil or scallions for fresh. There is something about their earthy aroma and crisp bite that would be sad to miss out on. Feel free to swap the noodles out for whatever is your favorite. Rice noodles would be the most authentic, but I think this recipe would be delicious using soba, ramen, or gluten free pasta too.
And yes, I know, it's hot as the devil's armpit outside and noone probably wants to eat noodles right now. But one of these days it's bound to rain, or get cloudy, or something, and you're gonna be thanking your lucky stars for the red hot comfort of noodle soup. It is known.
This soup was so good, that I wanted to just take an oversized straw to the whole pot. Seriously. It's crazy. The deep, savory flavors of roasted carrot and sweet onions blended with creamy cashew is unbelievable. I'm not even sure what to garnish it with for a photo. I suppose I might toast up some croutons and plop a green or two into the mix, but really, this soup speaks for itself. No solids needed. Just lay down on the floor and have a friend pour it all over you.
I don't want to seem overdramatic, but this soup might just be the most delicious thing you will ever put in your mouth. For serious. I started out by roasting two butternut squash, a large onion, and baby carrots. When they finished roasting, I pureed them with carrot juice. Next, I whipped up a batch of bechamel, and melted shredded sharp cheddar and white American cheese into it. Then, the two worlds collided into one glorious pot. After I used a little salt, pepper, and cayenne to bring that beautiful soup to its flavor potential, I added blanched, chopped broccoli to finish it up.
What you once knew as broccoli and cheddar soup is no more. This is its evolution. The meaty, savory sweetness of roasted squash and carrot totally amps up the cheese flavor, making this the best cheese soup I ever had. When it was time to serve, I garnished it with shredded hard salami, and a few super thin slices of fresh tomato. The addition of these acidic garnishes balanced the soup perfectly, launching the whole thing out of Taste World and into the far reaches of Flavor Galaxy.
Here is how you make it.
Cheddar Carrot Chowder With Broccoli
Makes about 6 servings
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the carrots, onions, and squash on a lined baking sheet and rub generously with oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, then roast for 45 minutes, or until the squash becomes fork tender. Stir the carrots and onions half way through roasting time. When the veggies have finished roasting, set them aside to cool.
To blanch the broccoli, add them to a pot of salted, boiling water. Cook them in the water for 3 - 5 minutes, just long enough for the broccoli to become tender. Once they are finished, strain them into a colander and immediately shock them with cold water. Set aside.
Once the veggies are cool enough to handle, peel the garlic and squash. The easiest way to peel the squash is to scoop it out of its skin with a spoon. Put the squash meat\, carrots and onions into a blender along with the carrot juice and puree until smooth.
In a large soup pot, melt butter over low heat. Add flour, and increase heat to medium. Whisk continuosly until flour has cooked. It's important not to overcook or undercook the roux. We are looking for a white roux in this recipe. If you have never made one before, check out this video:
Once the roux is cooked, slowly whisk in the warm milk. Add just a little at a time to avoid lumps. After you've added all the milk, continue stirring until the sauce reaches a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and start mixing in the cheddar. Add just a little cheese at a time, waiting until each bit has melted before adding more. Next, stir in the white american cheese followed by the cayenne pepper. Taste the sauce, and add salt and black pepper to taste. These kinds of sauces often need a lot of salt, so don't be afraid to keep adding it, little by little, until you can really taste the cheese.
Now, combine the pureed vegetables with the cheese sauce in the soup pot. Stir them well to combine, and raise the heat to bring the soup back up to a simmer. When it is simmering, reduce the heat to Low, and taste for seasoning. Add any necessary salt and pepper, then stir in the lemon juice, and broccoli. Serve piping hot with or without a garnish. Croutons, corn nuts, bacon, or crackers are some classic ideas for garnishing a soup like this, but if you are a little more daring, use something acidic, like pickled jalapeno, pepperocini, or olives.
You may have noticed that it's squash season. I've recently become addicted to the stuff, and since it also happens to be soup season... well, you do the math. I've been busy reinventing squash soup in just about every conceivable way. Though I have made one about every week for the past month, only the best of the best will make it onto the blog. This one, for instance, is no slouch. The sweet, mild flavor or Butternut squash goes so nicely with curry spices. You can make this is spicy or gentle as you like, and it can be converted easily for vegans or vegetarian diets. Also feel free to garnish the stew with any sauteed vegetables you like. I used sweet potatoes and bell peppers, but anything from mushrooms to zucchini would work just as well.
Curried Squash Stew
Makes 4- 6 servings
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees while you are prepping your squash, onions, and garlic. After these are cut, rub each of them liberally with oil, and set them on a lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 - 45 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. Remove from oven, and allow them to cool until they can be handled. Remove squash from its skin, and place in a blender, along with your other roasted veggies, and roasted cloves of garlic. Add enough of the stock to help the ingredient blend easily. Puree until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended. In your soup pot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter, or vegetable oil. Add all of the spices (except ginger or salt & pepper) and heat until just fragrant. Add the contents of the blender to the pot, along with the remaining stock, and bring to a simmer. Add the heavy cream (or substitute) mix well, then taste. Season to taste with salt & pepper. In a saute or cast iron pan, saute your sweet potatoes and bell peppers (one at a time) until they are al dente. Add them to the stew, along with the lemon juice. Taste and season as needed. Serve hot, garnished with roasted squash seeds , corn nuts, or fried noodles.
For real, this stuff is epic. I made my first batch of this last year after Thanksgiving, but this year I have it down to a science, a rich savory science of deliciousness that is.
This soup starts out with a super concentrated homemade turkey stock made from the Thanksgiving bird. If you are already an old hat at making stocks, go ahead and skip this next section. Instead of reading all this, just go on and do whatever you do to make your tastiest stock.
If you don't know how to make stock, read this:
After stripping it of all valuable meat, stuff the carcass into your largest pot and submerge it in cold water. Bring the water to just under a boil, a simmer would be perfect, and hold it there for at least two hours. Take time to skim off any gross floaty scum that bubbles up to the top, but mostly just leave it alone. Now, chop some celery, onions, and carrots into large hunks and add them to the pot. Continue simmering for 2 or 3 more hours, until the water has reduced by about one third. Remove the pot from the heat, and cool as quickly as possible. When it has cooled enough to handle, strain the solid ingredients from the stock. Discard the solids, and strain the stock though a cheese cloth and/or a fine mesh strainer. Chill the stock overnight if you can. This will allow any excess fat to rise to the surface. The next morning you can scoop that extra fat right off of the top and chuck it. You should be left with a beautiful (and fragrant!) jelled turkey stock.
How to Make the Best Turkey Soup You Will Ever Eat
Makes a whole hell of a lot of soup, I'm guessing in the neighborhood of 16 servings.
Now that your stock is ready, it's time to get down to business, soup business! You should have wound up with plenty of stock, but if you are short, go ahead and replace any missing stock with some organic chicken broth.
In a large soup pot, combine the olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Heat over medium, and saute until slightly browned and fragrant. Add tomatoes, breaking up the whole tomatoes into bite size chunks with your spoon. Allow the tomatoes to cook down for about 5 minutes before adding the red wine and tomato paste. Stir to combine, then cook for another 5 minutes. Add the turkey stock, stir, then bring to a simmer. Add the frozen spinach. Taste the broth, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Next, add the turkey meat and tortellini. Allow the soup to come back to a simmer, then add the basil. Taste again and season if needed. As soon as the tortellini has cooked through the soup can be served. Garnish with crumbled bacon, and eat while piping hot!
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This soup was inspired by Vietnamese Pho, a lovely combination of Basil and Beef, two things that are simply meant to be together now and then. Start with a homemade Beef Broth if you can. If you must use boxed Stock or Beef Base, just be careful about how much salt or Soy Sauce you add, as those broths will be quite a bit saltier. Anyway, steak lovers should know that although the meat plays an important role in this soup, it's really all about the noodles with this recipe. Bites of steak will be few and far between with my recipe's proportions, but if you like, you could beef it up by doubling or tripling the amount of steak I used.
Cook noodles according to package instructions, then shock with cold water and set aside. In a large soup pot, combine stock, soy sauce, and ginger. Bring to a low simmer. Warm oil in a fry pan and saute the mushrooms along with half of the minced onion until browned. Add the mushroom mixture to the soup, then repeat with the bok choy and the remaining onions. Slice the steak as thinly as possible and add the strips to the soup. Allow the meat to cook through, then remove the pot from the heat. Add the scallions, sesame oil, and basil, and salt & pepper as needed. The noodles can either be added to the pot, or to soup bowls. Ladle soup into each bowl over, or along with the noodles. You can enjoy the noodles as is, or you can add a little crushed red pepper, or Siracha Sauce if you'd like the hot n' spicy.
How do you like your noodles? Soupy, Saucy, or Stir Fried?