Posts Tagged ‘soup’

Transition-to-Winter-Pumpkin Soup

I’m sure I’m not the only one who decoroates my house for the fall with real pumpkins, gourds, and squash.  It’s not only pretty to have a few pie pumpkins and acorn squash, but it’s also practical and efficient!  As long as they are kept at a room temperature of 75° or below (let’s face it, in Florida these would not last outdoors) they can keep a good 1-2 months.  But what do you do with them after Thanksgiving and it’s time to take the autumn decór down?  Well, I like to use them to make a special “transition-to-winter-dish”.  I’ve made things from pumpkin risotto served inside the pumpkin to pasta sauces and soups.  This time a pumpkin soup was in order.  A second-aunt was visiting from Ecuador and she had heard of my pumpkin soup and requested it.  In Ecuador they don’t serve a lot of seasonal items, being that there aren’t really any distinctions in the yearly seasons over there.  No, since it’s on the equator, and actually in the middle of the world, the seasons sort-of occur in one day.  Cold and brisk mornings, warmer mid-mornings, the sun is scorching by mid-day, and cooling back up by dusk.  And it pretty much stays this way year-round.  So, this soup was a big hit.  Usually I freeze half of my soups in containers to keep for busier days, but this wasn’t one of them.  It is actually a lighter soup too, even though many people don’t usually associate pumpkin with lightness.  And of course, you know it has plenty of amazing nutrients and benefits, as pumpkin is one of the superfoods.   Go ahead and try this soup, it may become your “transition-to-winter-soup” as well… and your spouse will be so proud of you for being so resourceful with your decorating budget 😉

Pumpkin Soup

About 3 small pumpkins or a total of 5 lbs of pie pumpkin and/or any variation of pumpkin or winter squash
4 tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions (about 2 1/2 cups total) diced
4 celery ribs, diced
1 quart chicken stock
1 1/2 white wine
2 cups water
10 sage leaves, destemmed, and chopped
1 stem of rosemary
3 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp crushed black pepper



Halve your pumpkins or squash and scoop out seeds (save for toasting if you like this as a snack, if not discard) and place on a baking sheet, open side up.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Put into a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the flesh with a knife.  Set aside to cool.

  Once cool enough to handle you can actually just use a pairing knife and slice off the skin of the pumpkins like you would peel the skin off an apple.  Baking the pumpkins first makes it so much easier to peel.  If you have a grapefruit spoon you can even scoop the flesh out with that, and save yourself so much time.  Once peeled, cut pumpkin into 1-inch cubes.







Next, heat a heavy-bottomed pot with the olive oil over med-high heat.  Once hot add the onions, celery, and salt and give it a stir.  *Adding the salt to the onions while sauteéing causes the onions to release their juices or sweats them out and softens them quicker.  Allow the onion mixture to get nice and soft; the onions should be translucent.  Now add the pumpkin and stir into the onion mixture and allow them to meld together for about 5-7 minutes. 







At this point the pumpkin should be soft enough to smash with the back of your wooden spoon.  Now add the white wine, and with your spoon stir the vegetables and scrape off any sucs or deposit of caramelized sugars, carbohydrates, and/or proteins that form on the bottom of the pan.  Then add the chicken stock, water, and your rosemary stem and chopped sage leaves. 













Allow this to simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered on a medium heat.  Remove your rosemary stem, then puree and serve with a dollop of plain greek yogurt, a sage leaf, and toasted pepitas. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for a winter apple salad to serve with your soup!




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The weather in Florida is finally getting cooler.  I love cooler weather.  Our family can finally enjoy opening the windows and turning off the air conditioning for a while (hopefully).  I have been craving a good tomato-basil soup for a while now, so as soon as I woke up yesterday I decided that it would be the perfect soup along my other craving: grilled cheese.  You see my parents-in-law went out to California for Thanksgiving, that’s where they used to live for 20+ years, and spent some time with my sister-in-law, Keely.  As I was bidding them farewell I just casually slipped them a hint.  That if they wanted to bring me back anything, a loaf of San Fransisco sourdough bread is all I wanted.  Well, if they aren’t the best in-laws, I don’t know who is.  Guess what they brought me back? 

Of course you can make your grilled cheese with any bread, but I recommend finding a good sourdough loaf to take it to that next level 🙂

Fresh Tomato-Basil Soup 

4 lbs of tomatoes (I used 2 pints of grape tomatoes, 1 pint of heirloom tomatoes, and 1 big ugly tomato)
2 onions, approximately 2 1/2 cups
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 shallot, diced (or can substitue garlic)
1/4 cup basil, julienned, + more for garnish
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp salt + more to taste
2 tsp fresh ground pepper + more to taste
1 quart chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato paste (helps to develop flavor quicker)
3 tsp sugar
1/4 cup 2% milk
optional: croutons or parmesan shavings for garnish

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot at medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, salt and pepper to the pot and allow them to become soft and translucent, about 10 minutes; stirring periodically.







Now add the shallots, stir and continue to cook until you can press a carrot piece with the back of your spoon and it easily falls apart.







Next add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, stock, and finally the basil.







Allow your soup to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the tomtoes are soft and cooked down.  Now check for seasonings, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Now use your immersion blended (or in 2 batches in blender) and puree the soup down. If you don’t like bits of tomato skin you can strain your soup, but I personally love the bits and pieces of texture in this soup. You can also use a food mill if you have one.









Now I add the milk and give it a stir. Serve in a mug or bowl and top with your favorite garnishes- I used parmesan shavings and basil. Really great flavor, super fresh, hence the name 😉 and really nice thicker consistency.








Next the grilled cheese to eat along side your soup. 

sourdough loaf of bread cut into whatever thickness you prefer (i like medium thick slices 🙂 )
sharp yellow or white cheddar cheese, about 2 slices per sandwich
muenster cheese, 2 slices per sandwich
swiss cheese, 1 slice per sandwich
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp dijon mustard
3-4 tbsp of butter


Combine your mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl.  Spread this sauce on both insides of bread.  Next, arrange your cheddar slices on one sourdough slice of bread.  Place your swiss cheese in the middle and your muenster slices on the other side.  Top with your already mayo’d slice of bread.  You can either spread your butter lightly over both top and bottom of your sandwich bread-or if you want a little less butter, like me, I just used a brush to spread  it directly on my George Foreman grill..(I don’t have a panini grill yet, and this was a gift).  If you don’t have a panini press you can use a skilled and place a plate or heavy lid on top of you sandwiches, flipping halfway through.  Total time is about 4 minutes.  You can try your own combination of cheeses, let me know what the results are!

So there you have it, the perfect combination on a cool Florida evening:  fresh and hot tomato-basil soup with a crunchy crust on the outside, melty and cheesy on the inside with a slight tanginess from the sourdough and dijon, but a slight sweetness from your swiss cheese- sandwich.  And if you dip one into the other, some say fireworks go off…  a bit exagerated?  I don’t know 😉  Some really have seen said fireworks 🙂  I hope you enjoy this one!

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