I've updated by roasted butternut squash soup recipe by adding a unique winter spice blend. This blend has everything from orange peel and candied ginger to pink peppercorns and cinnamon sticks. The roasted quash with its delicate yet subtly sweet flavor is the perfect vehicle to bring out this array of spices (and flavors!) And making it was an absolute cinch.Read More
Crackling brown leaves slowly cascade to the ground. Fast-walking pedestrians drape lightweight scarves around their necks as their ankle boots clack down crowded sidewalks. The temperature is finally dropping, and it’s actually beginning to feel like fall. Now that I’ve traded tank tops and cut-off shorts for a pea coat, I’m more inclined to indulge in a hearty pasta. And the perfect way to add some pizazz to any pasta dish is to grate some fresh parmesan on top.Read More
Fresh avocados are the perfect addition to brighten up this warming tortilla soup. The creamy avocado flesh contrasts the crisp, baked tortilla strips, and the cool avocado balances the heat from the chilies. This soup is one of my fall favorites and the avocado livens it up!
Growing up, this green super-fruit was not in my family’s produce rotation. When I moved to Los Angeles for college, I was constantly confronted with all things avocado—from guacamole to California rolls. My love for avocados flourished during my tenure in Los Angeles. I even developed one of my favorite go-to dishes: sliced avocado with a sprinkle of creole seasoning, drizzle of olive oil and squirt of lemon juice.
Avocado trees can't tolerate freezing temperatures, so avocados are not as readily available in NYC as they are in southern California. But when they are in abundance, I partake.
Sliced avocado complements the southwest flavors in this tortilla soup, so it's time to get cooking!
2 tablespoons olive oil + additional for tortilla strips 1 medium onion, finely chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 chipotle chili en adobo sauce, finely chopped 1 tablespoon chili powder 2 teaspoons salt 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 1 cup corn kernels 1 small tomato, diced 2 medium avocados 2 limes 4 flour tortillas (OK to substitute with tortilla chips) 2 medium avocados 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
Optional Garnishes: Cheddar cheese sour cream
To prepare the baked tortilla strips, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (alternatively, you can use tortilla chips). Stack 4 small flour tortillas and cut them crosswise into ½ inch strips. Place tortilla strips in a rimmed baking sheet. Toss them with enough olive oil to lightly coat them, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a single layer for 5 minutes. Turn the strips over and bake an additional 3-5 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. (Be careful not to burn them--like I did the first time I made them!) Set the tortilla strips aside while you prepare the rest of the soup.
To prepare the soup, heat the two tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic and chipotle chili and saute in the oil for about 5 minutes, until the onions soften. Add the chili powder and salt. Cook an additional three minutes. Add the chicken broth and increase the temperature to high to bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add the corn and cook for five more minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
Stir in the cooked, shredded chicken (if using), diced tomato and chopped cilantro. Squeeze in lime juice from the two limes and stir.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with baked tortilla strips (or chips), sliced avocado, shredded cheese and sour cream.
Nothing says cozy to me like a warm bowl of soup made with autumnal squash. I strayed from my traditional pumpkin soup since I didn't have any fresh pumpkins on hand--just a butternut squash and an acorn squash. Since acorn squash isn't very sweet (or orange for that matter), I also threw in a few small carrots and an apple for good measure.
This recipe uses coconut milk instead of cream. I converted to coconut milk in my squash soups after hosting a fall dinner party last year for friends, many of whom don't consume dairy. I made two pumpkin soups--one that was vegan and dairy free and one that wasn't. The vegan one was by far superior, and I've been using coconut milk ever since.
I've tried this recipe with boxed or canned squash, and I highly recommend roasting fresh squash. By roasting the squash, you get a wonderfully nutty flavor that imparts an elegant complexity to the soup. Also, I'll include what I used in this soup, but with any soup, be open to free styling. You don't have to follow the recipe exactly. If you like your soups thin, you'll want to add a little more water. If you like them thick, a little less water. As a Louisiana girl who's no stranger to spicy food, I love the kick from the curry powder and cayenne pepper, but maybe you'll want to tone those flavors down. Make this soup your own!
Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
One butternut squash, quartered
One acorn squash, quartered
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 small carrots, roughly chopped
One small apple peeled, cored and chopped
One can of coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon curry powder
4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Roasted Pumpkin seeds, to garnish (optional)
A note about garnishes: Here's your chance to really go wild. Try topping it with roasted walnuts, crumbled chèvre, sautéed shrimp or crispy bacon. I also used pumpernickel croutons which were an excellent vehicle to soak up this soup with, made from my botched pumpernickel bread making this weekend.
Place the quartered acorn squash and butternut squash on a lined baking sheet. You can leave the pulp and seeds in tact. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and bake in an oven at 375 F for about one hour. The squash should be lightly browned and have a few brown spots. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, remove the stringy pulp and seeds with a spoon. Scoop the remaining flesh out and reserve in a bowl.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and saute them until they soften, about five minutes. Add the carrots and sauté an additional five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for three minutes.
Add the chopped apples, squash, coconut milk (reserve a couple of tablespoons to use as a garnish), maple syrup, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cayenne powder, curry, fresh thyme & vegetable stock. Increase the heat to high. Once the soup begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer on low, covered, for about 15 minutes.
Remove the thyme sprigs. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup**, or transfer the soup to a blender. Blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning by tasting the soup to see if it needs anything else. If the flavors aren't there yet, add a little more salt. Or maybe you want to add a little more curry powder. If it's too thick, add a little water to thin it out. This is the most important step--be bold in making sure your soup is flavorful.
Transfer the soup to bowls and garnish with coconut milk, fresh thyme, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, or any other toppings you fancy. Serve immediately.
**I purchased an immersion blender after accidentally pouring piping hot soup on myself instead of in the blender. Be very careful!
Leaves changing colors, colorful gourds and sweaters all remind me that it's finally fall. This colder weather has me craving warm drinks. I'm not the biggest coffee person, but I'm a huge pumpkin person. So I decided to make a homemade pumpkin spice latte to see what all the rage is about!
I love baking and cooking with pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash & sweet potatoes. Canned pumpkin works great in making the latte part of this drink. I added pumpkin purée to a saucepan over low heat. I stirred in cinnamon and freshly-grated nutmeg. I then added coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract. And voila, that's the "pumpkin spice latte" part that can be added to espresso or just strong coffee. I then added a dollop of whipped cream and garnished it with a cinnamon stick and freshly-grated nutmeg.
- 2 cups espresso or strong coffee (warm)
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk or whole milk
- Whipped cream
- Cinnamon sticks, for garnish
- Prepare espresso or coffee and keep warm.
- Add the pumpkin purée, cinnamon and nutmeg to a small pot over low heat. Stir for about one minute. Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir for another minute. Stir in the milk and increase the heat to medium. Heat until the milk just starts to simmer.
- Remove from heat and whisk or blend until the mixture becomes frothy (I used a hand mixer).
- Pour one cup of espresso or coffee into each latte or cappuccino cup. Divide the pumpkin-milk mixture evenly between the two cups.
- Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a cinnamon stick. Serve immediately.
This recipe was adapted from half baked harvest.
I have decided to celebrate the 25 days leading up to Christmas by blogging about a different holiday delight each day for the next 25 days. Over Thanksgiving, I had a number of people ask for tips on easy holiday dishes, so I'm going to label each dish over the next days as either "Piece of Cake" (fairly simple) or "Impressive challenge" (multiple complex steps). I've decided to start these 25 days off with a bang--a sophisticated twist on the classic pumpkin pie that finds its way to so many of our dinner tables around the holidays.
Day 1- Pumpkin White Chocolate Mousse Pie
Difficulty: Impressive Challenge
This pumpkin pie has the airy and custardy texture of mousse and is sweetened with white chocolate. The crust is made from pulverized gingersnap cookies and melted butter, and the hard crunch of the cookie crust provides the perfect balance to the light and airy pumpkin mousse custard.
- FOR THE CRUST
- 6 ounces gingersnap cookies, pulverized
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- FOR THE FILLING
- 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
- 3 1/2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (the finer its chopped, the more easily it will melt!)
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch of grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Prepare the pie crust. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, pulse the gingersnap cookies until finely ground; transfer to a bowl. Add the melted butter and use your hands to combine. Press the crust over the bottom and up the side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until set. Transfer to a rack and cool.
- Prepare the filling. Place 1/3 cup of water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over it and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Place the finely-chopped white chocolate in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar.
- In a small saucepan, simmer 3/4 cup of the heavy cream with the bay leaf, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla for 1 minute. Discard the bay leaf. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle the heavy cream mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk in the gelatin mixture. Immediately pour the hot egg mixture over the white chocolate; let stand for 1 minute, then whisk until all of the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and salt until incorporated. Refrigerate the mixture until it is cold, about 1 hour.
- Once the mixture is cold, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form; gently fold into the pumpkin filling until incorporated.Dollop the filling into the baked crust and spread in an even layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.