butternut squash soup with parmesan cheese crisps

My counter is full of squash.  Acorn.  Butternut.  Spaghetti.  All rolling around and teeter-tottering about like vegetable weeble wobbles. Squash was not meant to lay about on a countertop.  I  fear that they will eventually end up cracked and splattered on the floor before I find the time and energy to create a dish that would be eatable …

I don’t mind the squash on my countertop as they are my  only fall decorations…I bet my CSA didn’t know they were providing a bedecking service once they started harvesting squash.  Perishable decorations however at some point in time need to be eaten.  I don’t have many dishes to hide squash in…and yes, I hide squash.  There is the ever so popular mac and cheese or the fancy schmancy butternut squash risotto, both of which claim to be crowd pleasers.  I am not sure about just eating it roasted because I have this misconception that it should be as sweet as a sweet potato, but it isn’t and it never will be.  And therefore,  I need to load up the vegetable with butter and brown sugar, and while I see very little wrong with this picture, I feel like I am pushing squash to be something it isn’t.  A sweet potato.  You see, they may have similar color…but no go on the level of sugar.  If the vegetable is bright orange, I have a level of sweetness that I inherently connect with it…sweet potatoes, sweet.  Carrots, sweet.  Yams, sweet.  Butternut squash, not sweet.  So upsetting!  So, over the years I have had quite a few of so-called failed dishes because they missed the flavor bullseye in my brain because I was hoping for a bit of sweetness when I should have been striving and expecting a savory end result…my mistake.  I am in the midst of reshaping my thinking.  Altering my taste buds.  Maturing if you will.

So, with this in mind…and more squash expected in this weeks CSA and a lack of any more counter space for fall decorations, and a craving for comfort in a bowl…I went in search of a decent soup recipe.  I knew going in, the basics of a butternut squash soup.  I knew how to roast the squash.  I knew how to saute my onion and garlic.  I knew how to add chicken stock and bring it to a boil.  I knew how to puree until smooth.  I knew to add cream at the end.  I knew to top with chopped chives and a dollop of crème fraîche.  I, however, needed help with the spices.  Deb of Smitten Kitchen to the rescue.   And come to find out…cumin, ginger, thyme, and sage are exactly what you need.  Que Simon and Garfunkel.  She is genius.  But I already knew that and I am betting you did too.

So with the right spices on board and a change in mind-set from sweet to savory…I made a bowl of roasted butternut squash soup that was quite enjoyable and necessary on Saturday as the cold rain fell and we curled up on the couch and settled in for a day of sweatpants and Netflix.

And seriously, the parmesan crisps are a must and take literally 6 minutes to whip up…maybe 8 if you are grating your own cheese, which huge props to you…I have a tendency to buy pre-shredded parmesan cheese because I abhor shredding cheese of any kind and plus I like to snack on parmesan cheese throughout the day…a pinch here and a pinch there…talk about salty goodness.

5.0 from 1 reviews
butternut squash soup with parmesan cheese crisps
 
Makes enough for 4 decent sized servings.
Ingredients
  • 1 Butternut Squash - medium in size
  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Sweet Onion, small dice
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2½ to 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1+1/2 Teaspoon Sage finely chopped
  • 1+1/2 Teaspoon Thyme finely chopped
  • 1+1/2 Teaspoon ground Cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon ground Ginger
  • ¼ Cup Heavy Cream (or half and half)
  • chives (optional)
  • Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream (optional)
  • Parmesan Crisps
  • 2 Tablespoons Freshly grated Parmesan per crisp.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Cut butternut squash and acorn squash in half, length wise. With a sturdy knife, slice off top of squash close to stem. Scoop out seeds and membranes. Lay face up on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and roast for about 30 to 45 minutes, until fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, scoop out the squash flesh and place in bowl, set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, saute until translucent. About 10 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth, cooled squash flesh, sage, thyme, cumin, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Working in small batches, transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth, transferring pureed soup back into original pan. Once all the soup is pureed, stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste. (if the soup is too thick, stir in a bit more broth until desired consistency is reached...I like a thicker soup, so I used only 2 +1/2 cups) Bring soup to a simmer over low heat and prepare parmesan crisps.
  6. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Neatly mound 2 tablespoonfuls of grated parmesan cheese per crisp on lined baking sheet 3 inches apart. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until edges are browned and centers are bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool. These are best slightly warm or at room temperature.
  8. Serve soup with a dollop of creme fraiche, chopped chives, and a parmesan crisp or two.

 

Tomato Corn Chowder

I am a chowder girl.  All the way.

OR chowda…if we are to be saying it correctly.  Which I think we should be, even if we are in Ohio and a good days drive from any New England accent…which is sad, because I could listen to them talk for days.  And driving 8+ hours to hear an accent might be a bit crazy.  But what if I added chowda’ eating and lobsta roll gorging?  The thought of driving for all three of those things; accents, chowda, and lobsta rolls….well, I am thinking it might be doable.  Insane, perhaps…but totally worth it.

Did someone mention coffee ice cream?

OK, all dreaming of a New England fall vacation aside…

Do you have an insane amount of tomatoes sitting on your counter?  And a few cherry tomatoes too… that perhaps your cat is swatting off the counter?  No?   My CSA and fellow co-workers have been supplying my humble abode with tomatoes faster than I can eat or Stan can swat.  Such a tough situation, right? Too many tomatoes…womp, womp…

Besides canning or making salsa – both great ways to enjoy a tomato…I didn’t have enough to go through the whole canning process and I can’t be trusted with salsa and a bag of tortilla chips….So, I always turn to making some sort of soup/stew or in this instance, a chowda when I have more tomatoes than I can eat on sandwiches or in salads.

Lets gather some ingredients.

Skinned yellow tomatoes…and all their glorious juices.  Super easy…the darn oven does all the work – you just have to wait and allow them to cool or wind up nursing burnt fingertips.  I swear, I pray for patience.  Daily.

You will need some sweet corn.  And leave it under the broiler longer than I did.  Read about my patience above.

 

Handy dandy way of trimming off the kernels without them flying all over your kitchen…Game changer.

Is there anything more satisfying than eating a chunk of corn kernels?  No, there isn’t.  Sorry, I didn’t give you a chance to answer.  So. darn. satisfying.

What is chowda without bacon and onions?  I don’t even want to think about it.  Get bacon.  Find an onion. Dice.

 

Potatoes.  Keep the skin on.  It is easier.  Why new potatoes rock.

 

 

Eat.

With crusty bread.

And a spoon.

And friends.

A cold beer wouldn’t be bad either…

Tomato Corn Chowder
 
Makes about 4 large servings
Ingredients
  • 3 Large Yellow Tomatoes, ripe (or 4 medium)
  • 4 Ears Fresh Corn, in husk
  • 6 Slices of Thick Cut Bacon, Diced
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme (use 1 Tablespoon if you have fresh)
  • 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 5 Small New Potatoes, washed and large dice - I used Yukon Gold
  • 1 Cup Half and Half.
  • Salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. Roast tomatoes and corn. Turn boiler on high. Place tomatoes and corn (in husk) on separate tinfoil-lined rimmed baking sheets and place under broiler. Broil tomatoes until the skin has blackened - turning every so often. Broil the corn until the husks begin to brown. Remove trays from oven and let cool until they can be handled. Remove skins from tomatoes and remove husk and silk from corn. Roughly chop the tomatoes, reserving any and all liquid. Slice the corn kernels off of the corn husks. Set tomatoes and corn kernels aside.
  2. Place a large pot over medium heat and add diced bacon to pan. Cook bacon until crispy.
  3. Stir in the onions and thyme and cook until onions are softened and translucent, do not let them brown (about 5 to 7 minutes, if they begin to brown, turn down heat).
  4. Add tomatoes and corn and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Add broth and potatoes and bring to a simmer, cook until potatoes are fork tender (about 8 to 10 minutes).
  6. Stir in half and half. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately.
  8. Store in fridge.

 

 

Creamy Tomato Soup w/ Blue Cheese

Here we go again.  Or I.  But I like to think we are in this together.  Since we are.  So, it is a total we situation.

Back to my normal…which, minus all the laundry and dishes and bill paying…kinda sorta rocks.  Buuuuttt, no matter what you are returning to, coming back from vacation can be difficult…so difficult, that it would have just been easier to stay on vacation – ha!  We all wish, right?!?

Let us get back to talking about food.  It takes my mind off that whole laundry sit, which is totally cool with me.

No matter what the weather is outside your window….sometimes your food choices just don’t match.

Ice cream in January.  Pumpkin pie in July.  Grilled peaches in December.  Hot soup in June.  Anyone with me?  Yeah, I figured that much…we can be weird together!  What weird things do you crave out of season?  Right now (and most summers) it is soup.

Lately, my craving for tomato soup has been Out. Of.  This.  World.  Completely, and totally.  I have gone to restaurants known for their monster grilled cheese sandwiches (i.e. Melt for my fellow Clevelanders) hoping the Soup du Jour would be tomato…because it is awesome.  Trust me friends.  It is.  It wasn’t on their menu last time…talk about a total let down (upside?  a fried egg on my burger, so we made up rather quickly).  After this outing, my need for tomato soup increased 7.6 fold.  I was on the hunt.  Officially.  I had hopes, high hopes, for the hospital’s cafeteria.  Daily, I scoped out the soup options.  I talked about it from when I got to work ( ahem, at 6:30am) until I could wander/escape down there.  It got to the point that my lovely coworkers started to report back to me the soup possibilities, if they found themselves down there before me.  I even got one to call the cafeteria for me…newbies.  Gotta love ‘em!

All of this effort and nothing, people.  Zero tomato soup.  I was on the verge of buying a can of Campbell’s and calling it a day, but I found myself with a bit of time and a few cans of San Marzano Tomatoes…and within no time I had a pot of tomato soup simmering away on my stove and a bit of sweat forming on my brow…Gross.  The sweat not the soup.  Tip of the day…turn on a/c if making soup in the middle of the summer.  Unless you love sweaty brows.  Which, more power to ya.  I think.  I don’t know.  Sweaty brow or no sweaty brow…just make the soup.  Be it December or June.

Oh! and definitely, and I mean definitely, add some cheese.  I prefer blue cheese, but not a blue cheese fan?  Totally OK, just add another crumbly cheese.  I bet feta would be crazy good or goat cheese?  Life is better with cheese, as is soup.

Creamy Tomato Soup w/ Blue Cheese

Adapted from Michael Symon

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 – 28 Ounce Can of San Marzano Tomatoes, with juices (dont’ have/can’t find San Marzano - use what you can find – but splurge on San Marzano if possible!)
1 – 14 Ounce Can Chicken Stock
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
2 Teaspoons to 2 Tablespoons Sriracha Sauce (depends on how spicy you prefer)
Salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon total)
3/4 Cup Half + Half
1/2 Cup Blue Cheese, plus extra for garnish

 

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and a pinch of salt and sweat for a few minutes.  Add garlic and continue to sweat for an additional few minutes, until onion and garlic start to become translucent.  Add tomatoes, stock, and oregano and bring to a simmer.  ( taste and add salt here if needed)  Stir in half and half and sriracha sauce and continue to simmer for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.

Transfer soup along with blue cheese to a blender, working in batches if needed.  Blend until smooth or desired consistency.  I like mine a bit chunky, but to each their own.  Pour back into original pot and taste - add extra salt or sriracha if needed.

Serve once soup is reheated.  Top with blue cheese and enjoy.

Sausage, Bean, and Swiss Chard Soup

I made this soup Monday evening for dinner.  It was after I had made a crisp ( to be posted about later this week) and was feeling like I needed to make something more , ah-hem, healthy to exist on.

Monday was my day off/pay off for working the weekend.  I find it to be a fair trade.  I didn’t have anything planned beyond running ( umm…that marathon is LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY!), haircut/trim/got-my-bangs-back-that-were-no-longer-bangs, and puttering around the kitchen…all completed, just not necessarily in that order.  OH, and a total un-necessary, necessary trip to Target.  A little retail therapy if you will.

Once home and coming off my caffeine buzz – I am sucked into Starbucks in the front of Target each and every time.  I don’t even try to resist anymore, I just get in line.  Any who… I realized I needed actual food for dinner…besides the crisp.  Something healthy, yet substantial.  With a bit of green, because I hadn’t any veggies all day…and yes, I try to get some sort of green into my body each and every day.  Also, it needed to last a few days…you know, easy lunches all week are a total requirement for any meal I make.

Therefore, soup is what I came up with.  Real original right?  I just love the stuff.  And if I am adding requirements to lists…then I might as well add one to my list of requirements in the dude department.  They must LOVE soups, or at least enjoy them from time to time.  And by time to time I mean at least once a week.  Otherwise, they might end up hungry or fending for themselves.

As you can guess, this soup contains sausage, beans, and swiss chard.  I was a bit hesitant to toss in swiss chard because I was afraid it would get slimy…but thankfully it doesn’t.  What a relief!  I prefer thick soups or creamy soups and while this one has a bit of broth, it is chunky….which is a trade-off I can deal with.  Brothy soups are for those that are sick and ailing.  I need substance if the soup is going to be the main dish.  Substantial is this soup’s middle name.

P.S.  Check this out…had me giggling all day long.

Sausage, bean and Swiss Chard Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, diced small
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Lb Hot Italian Turkey Sausage ( or mild) – if using links, remove casing
  • 2 Cans ( 15 ounce) Cannelini Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Cans (15 ounce) Chicken Broth
  • 2 Small Bunches Swiss Chard, stems removed, roughly chopped (about 4 cups packed)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese for garnish

In a large pot/dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook until onions are soft and translucent.  Add sausage and continue to cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through (7-10 minutes).  Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage into bit size pieces.  Once the sausage is cooked through, add beans, chicken broth, and swiss chard.  Stir to combine, scrapping the bottom of the pan to get all the sausage tidbits.  Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.  Top with parmesan cheese.

Store covered in fridge.

Roasted Garlic and Ginger Carrot Soup

 

Have you ever turned yourself a color?  A color different from what you were born with.  A color different from what sun exposure can create.  And no body paint was involved?  Because, unless you are a Blue Man, you shouldn’t be using body paint….that is just plain strange.  And strange…well I may not have the right to speak of strange in a little bit.

So, let’s get this straight… besides becoming sun burnt or if you are lucky…tan, you probably have never turned yourself a color.  This I think I am safe in assuming.  And you are probably assuming that I have turned myself a color.

And you would be right.

Orange.

Between the first year of college and year 4ish….I slowly turned orange.  When they say, you are what you eat…they aren’t joking.  Especially when you are eating carrots…by the 5lb bag…weekly, or biweekly…Which happened more often than not.  Carrots are crunchy and sweet and packable and quick…and delicious.

The shift from freakishly pale to freakishly orange was slow and was most noticeable on the souls of my feet, palms of my hands, tips of my ears and nose.  And at the peak…my complexion was a tad orangey.  You might say I went a bit overboard.  Thankfully, I came to my senses and slowly backed off the carrots and right now, I am back to my freakishly pale skin tone.  But, I still love carrots and eat them (in moderation) on a regular basis.

I prefer actual carrots that you have to peel to the ever so popular baby carrots.  Baby carrots don’t have much flavor and often taste strange…and why all the water in the package?  No, I like real honest to goodness carrots.   The peel and chop kind.  They are sweeter, crunchier, and more flavorful.  A little bit more work, but totally worth it.  Now, carrots are also great transportation vessels of tasty dips.  I think I have dipped a carrot in anything and everything.  My favorites include peanut butter, cream cheese, blue cheese dressing, Parmesan cheese, and yellow mustard.  But, I normally eat mine plain…maybe with a sprinkle of black pepper.

I think the next time I turn myself orange, it will because of carrot soup.  If I had known that carrot soup was so good and simple to make while in college…well I would have looked more like Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – and I would have turned orange in record time.

Smooth and creamy and slightly thick…this soup is pure comfort food.  I added a bit of zing with grated ginger….adds flavor and a touch of spiciness.  And the roasted garlic.  Well, it’s roasted garlic…I don’t think I need to explain that one.  With a touch of cream and some chopped chives on top…For this carrot lover, it is simply heaven.

The next time you see me…I might be orange.  And please tell me…because I won’t notice until I am too far gone.

 

Roasted Garlic and Ginger Carrot Soup

Servings: 2 Large Bowls or 4 Small

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 Large Head of Garlic
  • 4 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Shallots, thinly sliced ( or half a yellow onion)
  • 1+1/2 Tablespoon Ginger, minced
  • 1 Can Chicken Broth ( 14 ounces)
  • 1/2 Cup Half and Half
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil.  Lay carrots out onto cookie sheet.  Drizzle about 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil over carrots and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and arrange in a single layer.  Also, prepare garlic for roasting.  With a sharp knife, cut off the very top of the garlic head (where it comes to a point), exposing the individual garlic cloves.  Place garlic onto a square of tinfoil.  Drizzle about 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of olive oil onto the garlic head.  Like a Hershey Kiss, bring up the tin foil around the head of garlic and wrap it securely.  Place both the carrots and garlic in the oven and roast.  The carrots will take about 20 minutes and the garlic about 30 minutes.  Toss the carrots half way through roasting.  Remove from oven when the carrots are fork tender and the garlic is soft/tender to the touch.  When cool enough to handle, remove garlic cloves from their skins.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Once warm, add shallots and minced ginger.  Saute until shallots are tender and translucent.

Grab your blender.  Add roasted carrots, roasted garlic cloves, shallots, ginger, and chicken broth to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Pour mixture back into a medium pan over low/medium heat.  Stir in honey and half and half.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Once soup is warmed through, ladle into bowls and enjoy.

I like to top my soup with a dollop of sourcream or Greek yogurt and chopped chives.