Zesty Winter Squash Soup

December 20, 2015

Zesty Winter Squash SoupAunt Suzy says . . .

It’s winter! Time for soups and stews. This one from our local newspaper caught my eye because Beth Dooley, creator the this recipe, is one of our local food/cooking gems here in the Twin Cities. Also, this looked so different from the soups I’ve been making with a mirepoix base. While some ingredients are familiar – squash, beans, tomatoes and kale – others sounded exotic in a soup – za’atar, orange zest and juice. Randy and I both loved this – we could hardly stop eating it! The recipe says it serves 4-6, but honestly after one meal we only had a tiny portion left for my lunch the next day. I will probably double the ingredients next time I make it.  I was excited that I met Beth yesterday at one of our local indoor winter farmers markets and was able to tell her how much we liked this soup.

Here’s Beth’s note from the article in the Strib: “Note: Think of this recipe as a series of suggestions; you can add other vegetables you have on hand, substitute chickpeas for white beans, try winter squash in lieu of pumpkin. Toss in leftover turkey or chicken and call it stew. The za’atar blend of spices can be found in the spice aisle of many grocery stores, culinary shops and food co-ops. From Beth Dooley.”  Check out Beth’s website for more about her and see all the great cookbooks she’s authored. A new book, a memoir, has just come out!

And here’s my note: I’ve been obsessed with using dried beans in soups these days following the Cook’s Illustrated brining method, so I’ve made some adaptations to Beth’s original which uses canned. If you want to take the quick and easy route, you can do so with Beth’s approach in her recipe. I won’t judge 🙂  (This makes me laugh because when making this soup, I texted my blog partner “I’m kicking myself for using dried beans instead of canned!”) Actually, this was pretty quick and easy using the dried beans, it just took the extra step to brine/soak them.

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2-4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced

1 to 2 tablespoons za’atar (see Beth’s note)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Generous pinch red pepper flakes

4 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock

1 cup brined dried cannelinni or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices (1 1/2 cups)

3 cups roasted kabocha or butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup chopped parsley

grated orange zest from 1 medium orange (or to taste)

juice from half the medium orange (or to taste)

2 cups thinly sliced kale

Instructions

Brine the beans: Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts of cold water.  Add the beans and soak overnight or up to 24 hours. Alternatively, you can bring the beans, salt and water to a boil, turn off the heat and let sit for 1 hour. In either case, drain the beans and rinse well.

Prepare the squash: Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. I used Kabocha squash of the orange variety, but green Kabocha, butternut or pumpkin would be excellent in this recipe. Whichever you use, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Slice into 1-inch slices. Line a baking sheet with foil and then put a skim of vegetable oil on the foil. Place the squash slices on the foil and turn to coat both sides with the oil. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, turn the squash over using tongs and bake for another 8-10 minutes. Let cool. Remove the skin with a knife and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside. (This step can be done up to 2 days ahead of making the soup.)

Make the soup: In a deep stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil and sauté the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute till fragrant. Add the Za’atar, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir for a minute or two till fragrant.

Add the stock and the dried beans. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to low and simmer, covered, until the beans are done. This can vary depending on type and freshness of the beans you use from 30-60 minutes. I checked after 30 minutes and the cranberry beans I used were cooked through.

Stir in the squash and the tomatoes with their juices and continue simmering for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Stir in the orange zest and juice, and parsley and continue simmering another 5 minutes until the flavors meld. Adjust the seasonings and add the kale before serving hot.

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Tuscan White Bean Stew

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

In our ongoing 2015 series of soups and stews, we wanted to revisit one we make regularly and love. We did this recipe a couple of years ago which was a riff on today’s Cook’s Illustrated stew. This recipe is found in THE Cookbook, as my brother John calls it – The Science of Good Cooking from Cook’s Illustrated. It’s chock full of just what it promises, cooking science! The 2013 version used Italian sausage as the meat flavoring and cabbage as the vegetable. Today’s version uses pancetta and kale. While I liked both of these spins on the stew, I think the perfect combo will be sausage and kale. We will report back!

Margaux says . . .

I love this stew, and was excited to make this variation! This stew is so hearty and delicious, I’ve made it with the sausage and cabbage several times. I agree with Aunt Suzy, though, that kale and sausage would be the perfect combo. I will definitely make it that way next time! I love serving this with a loaf of crusty sourdough and a green salad. Yum!

Ingredients

Table salt
1 pound dried cannelini beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over
1 tablespoon EV olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large onion, medium dice
2 medium celery ribs, ½-inch dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with a garlic press
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 bunch kale,  stems trimmed and leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Black pepper to taste

Brining the beans: Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Alternatively if you’re in a hurry, bring the beans in the brining water to a boil. Turn off the heat and let stand for 1 hour.  For both methods, when done soaking, drain and rinse well.

Making the stew: Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Remove all racks except the bottom one.
Heat oil and pancetta in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, 6 to 10 minutes. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, bay leaves, and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are almost tender (very center of beans will still be firm), abut 45 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the prepared greens and tomatoes. Cover pot, return to oven, and continue to cook until beans and greens are fully tender, 20 to 30 minutes longer.

Remove pot from oven and submerge rosemary sprig in stew. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves and rosemary sprig and season stew with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over toasted bread, if desired, and drizzle with olive oil. Alternatively serve with a nice crusty baguette.

 

Late Summer Veggie Saute - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I’ve been making these sautés for a while now, using veggies that are in abundance this time of year.  The source of my idea was this sweet corn sauté from a couple of years ago. I thought it would be delicious with other vegetables and maybe some pasta. And maybe a little Parmesan . . . what’s not to like when Parmesan cheese is part of the equation?!! This is ultra flexible and the “3-Ways” reference is that it can be served as a side with a couple of variations and as a vegetarian main dish with small pasta shapes added. I made it last night in about 45 minutes, including chopping and cooking the pasta. Pretty fast, I would say!

Late Summer Veggie Saute - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

When Aunt Suzy mentioned a new easy pasta dish for dinner, I was all for it! I love the sweet corn saute dish that she mentioned, and make it pretty often in the summer. I loved the idea of adding pasta to it, along with the kale, zucchini and tomatoes. And it’s beautiful when you add the tomatoes! We were all oohing and aaahing about it while I was taking photos.  I will definitely be making this again before summer is over. It’s delicious with the pasta and Parmesan!

Late Summer Veggie Saute with Pasta - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

 

Late Summer Veggie Saute

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium yellow onion, cut in thick slices then in quarter rounds

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

4-5 small garlic cloves, or to taste

2-3 ears of sweet corn, husked and kernels cut from the cobs

1 bunch Lacinato (Tuscan) kale, tough stems removed and cut in 1/4-inch slices cross-wise

1 zucchini, small dice (optional)

10-12 large cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

1/2 pound pasta, small shapes of your choice, regular or whole wheat, cooked al dente, 1/4 cup pasta water reserved

1/4 cup basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

Grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Prepare all veggies before starting cooking because there is no time to chop once the cooking is started!  Place a large saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once it is shimmering, add the butter. When butter is melted and bubbling, add the onions and turn up heat slightly. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes till they become translucent. Add the thyme, oregano and garlic and stir/cook for about a minute. Add the sweet corn and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the kale ( and optional zucchini if using) and cook stirring for about 3 minutes. Put a lid on the pan and cook another 2-3 minutes. You can serve this as a side dish – way #1.

However, if you want to keep going, add the tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring then place a lid on the pan and cook another minute or two. This is way #2 – an awesome side dish as well! Maybe add the fresh basil or serve as is.  To make the main dish with pasta, add the pasta to the veggies with a little of the reserved water. Stir to combine completely and add the fresh basil. Once served pass the Parmesan!

 

 

 

Aunt Suzy says . . .

The calendar says soup, but the weather says salad.  Nonetheless, the kale is so fabulous at the farmer’s markets that I decided to make a kale-based soup today.  We went for a walk today in the Big Woods State Park south of Minneapolis, and I thought it would be great to come home to an already prepared meal.  If it were actually cold out, I would pair this with a hearty sour rye or multi-grain bread, but baguette seemed perfect given the warm weather.  A light red Cotes-du-Rhone is a nice match for the flavors in this soup.

Makes 8-10 servings, depending on appetites

2-3 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 carrot, small dice (about 3/4 cup)

1-2 celery ribs, small dice (about 1/2 cup)

1 onion, small dice

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, or 2 teaspoons dried

4-5 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 tablespoons)

2-3 chicken chorizo sausages, like Amylu brand, optional

1 1/2 cups diced roasted tomatoes, homemade or small can fire-roasted

1 cup dry white wine

10 cups liquid, chicken stock, vegetable stock or water

5 leafy sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, 1-inch chunks (about 5 cups)

15 packed cups kale, in 2-inch pieces (roughly one bunch)

salt and pepper to taste

Heat a soup pot of at least 6 quarts capacity over medium-high heat.  Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and heat to shimmering.  Add the carrots, celery, onion and rosemary to the pot.  Turn down the heat to medium and saute for 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and chorizo and saute for another 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown a little.

Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes.  Next add the wine and simmer for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol.  Add the liquid of your choice (I used chicken stock) and the thyme sprigs; stir to blend.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the thyme sprigs, taking care that the leaves remain in the soup.

Add the potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.  If you like a thicker soup, you can simmer for up to an hour to break down the potatoes.  We like a brothier soup and “just done” potatoes, hence the shorter cooking time.

Add the kale and simmer for 15 minutes more, making sure not to overcook the kale.  Taste and then add salt and pepper.  I did not put in additional S&P since the oven roasted tomatoes had plenty as well as the homemade chicken stock.  We added a tiny amount of each at the table.

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:   Either fully cooked Andouille or Chorizo sausages, pork or chicken, would be great in this dish.  If you do not add the sausages, I recommend 2 teaspoons smoked paprika added with the tomatoes.  I used “regular” green kale, but Lacinato would be excellent also.  I did not peel the potatoes out of personal preference.  If you want to thicken the soup a little, I recommend peeled russet potatoes over the Yukons.

And it was a beautiful day for a walk!

Aunt Suzy says . . .

If you read our blog, you know how much we love cooked greens!  Even as a greens enthusiast, when I saw this post on a favorite blog, Green Your Plate, I thought it sounded like an odd use for cooked greens (even if it was adapted from a Rick Bayless cookbook)!  However, the recipe showed up on the very day that my neighbor gave me a big bunch of young kale.  Plus I had a bag of turnip greens leftover from a recent batch of Turnip Risotto and a pretty large piece of  leftover cooked salmon in the fridge.  Since I had everything on hand except the tortillas, I felt the cosmos was conspiring for me to make these!   Randy and I both agreed that we would make this recipe again . . .  maybe often.  These tacos are a great weeknight meal option, taking less than 30 minutes to prepare.  You’ll see in the notes on the ingredients that there’s lots of flexibility in types of greens, tortillas and salsas, so you can utilize what’s available at the market and on hand in your pantry.  Randy had a Pilsner beer and I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc – both good matches.

If you like greens, I recommend browsing through Green Your Plate  – Amy has several recent posts about the wonderful greens that are available at our farmer’s markets throughout the season, along with a recap of a demo she did at our main farmer’s market on cooking with greens.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 bunches greens (spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, kale, turnip greens or collards)

2 medium onions, thickly sliced in half moons

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

Water, as needed, up to 1/2 cup

Zest of one lemon

1 cup crumbled feta or queso fresco

Cooked salmon, chicken, Spanish chorizo or andouille sausage, optional

6 medium flour  or 10 corn tortillas

Salsa for passing

NOTES ON THE INGREDIENTS: 

Greens – If using tender or young greens, leave them whole.  If using tougher or more mature greens, remove the center ribs and chop into 2-inch pieces.  Swiss chard stems can be cut into 1/2-inch slices and sauteed along with the onions.  Tender greens will cook in 1-2 minutes and likely not require water other than that left on the greens from washing.  Tougher greens will take longer – up to 10 minutes for mature collards – and will need more water.

Tortillas – I recommend flour tortillas for bitter greens (kale, turnips, collards) and corn tortillas for sweeter greens (spinach, beet tops, chard).

Optional Fish/Meat – The salmon was delicious with the bitter greens and I think the chorizo or andouille would work with them also.

Salsa – I recommend smokey chipotle salsa for the best match for bitter greens.  I would use a lighter, fresher salsa for sweet tender greens – maybe even a pico de gallo.

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring constantly, until they begin to brown, but are still fairly firm.  Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook for another minute.  Add the greens a little at a time and stir to wilt.  Add the water if using tougher greens – I used about 1/3 cup for the kale and turnip green combo.  Turn the heat down to medium and cover to cook till tender, but not mushy.  This took about 6 minutes for the kale/turnip greens.  Remove the lid and turn up the heat to cook off the liquid.  Add the lemon zest and remove the pan from the heat.

In the meantime, warm the tortillas in foil in the oven.  To assemble the tacos, place a little of the greens/onions mixture on a tortilla.  Top with the cheese and fish or meat, if using.  Pass the salsa.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Every week Salon.com has what they call Kitchen Challenge, where they pose a type of food or specify ingredients and ask people for their best recipes.   These are often informative, usually lots of fun and provide ideas for new recipes.  Last week was no exception when they asked people to send in “your best combinations of beer and sausage”, asking that people think outside the bun.  The winner was this recipe for sausage and kale braised in dark beer and tossed with pasta.  The author had a sense of humor in that the recipe includes beer, sausage and mustard!  Everything except the bun :-).   We really enjoyed this with the arugula-mint salad that follows, and I thought the Valpolicella I served was a great match.  (sorry the photo is so dark!)

The Sausage-Kale Pasta

1 pound small pasta

EV olive oil for sauteing

4 fresh Italian sausages, meat removed from casings

1 white onion

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound kale, inner stems removed and chopped in 2-inch pieces

1 12-ounce bottle dark beer (we used porter)

1 tablespoon mustard (more or less to taste)

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Grated Parmesan for serving

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS: The original recipe called for spaghetti, but I thought it would be easier to eat with small pasta shapes.  We used Strozzapreti, having just gotten some on sale.  We used 2 hot and 2 mild Italian sausages made with turkey – pork would also be delicious.  We used Lacinato kale (also on sale!), but I think the curly would work just as well, although it would take longer to become tender.

DIRECTIONS: Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven with olive oil.  Heat to medium high and add the sausage meat.  Brown till just done breaking up into pieces.  When done, remove the sausage and set aside.  Wipe out any stray bits of sausage from the pot, but leave all the good brown stuff – the fond – in the bottom.  Put in a little more olive oil and add the onion.  Saute over medium heat until soft, scraping up the bits off the bottom of the pan.  I found that those bits started burning a little after about 3 minutes, so I added a small amount of the beer to deglaze the pan.  Add the garlic when the onion is soft and stir for a minute till it becomes fragrant.  Add the prepared kale and stir until it’s wilted – you might have to do this in more than one batch.  Add the cooked sausage and the beer, bring to a bubble, reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the kale is tender.

In the meantime, cook the pasta according to directions till al dente.  Drain, saving 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Stir the mustard into the pasta water and then add, along with salt and pepper, to the kale-sausage mixture. Add the Parmesan and stir to blend everything.  Stir in the pasta and heat back to serving temperature.  Serve in bowls and pass the extra Parmesan.

The Arugula-Mint Salad

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground in a mortar

2 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or a mix of the vinegar and lemon juice to equal 1 tablespoon

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

6-8 cups greens – a mix of baby lettuces and arugula (I found a bagged mix)

20 or so mint leaves

Make the dressing by combining the fennel, olive oil, red wine vinegar and lemon juice, mustard and salt and pepper.  Whisk until slightly emulsified.  Combine the greens and the mint, then wash and dry.  Place in a salad bowl and toss with the dressing.  Garnish each bowl with a couple of mint leaves.  This salad is a refreshing Wow!

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This recipe in Bon Appetit caught my eye for a number of reasons.  I love, love, love cooked bitter greens for one, as you know if you read this blog regularly!  I imagined that it would be delicious as it’s a cousin to another stew recipe we’ve posted with white beans and Swiss chard.  I’ve also been looking for things to do with the smoked paprika I have on the shelf, and I just ordered something called Pirate’s Bite, a combination of dried hot peppers, spices and salt (from The Spice and Tea Exchange).  Lastly, I’ve vowed to eat a vegetarian diet for a few of weeks after coming off a couple of months of rich food.  So this dish fit the bill in a number of ways!  And like the stew with chard, it is a snap to make.

2-3 bunches of mixed winter greens (collard, mustard or kale)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, small dice

2-4 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

3 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice (or one large)

2 cups liquid (water or vegetable stock)

2 14-ounce cans cooked cannellini or pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1/4-1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes or 2-3 grinds of Pirate’s Bite (optional for heat)

Grated hard cheese for serving (such as Parmigiano, aged Manchego or Pecorino Romano), optional

Prepare the greens by washing thoroughly, removing the tough inner stems and coarsely chopping in 2-inch pieces.  I used a combination of all 3 greens – 1 bunch each – which added up to about 25 cups!  Don’t be alarmed by this amount since they cook down dramatically. Set aside.

Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven with the olive oil and heat to medium-high.  Add the onion and saute till soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute 1 minute more.  Add the smoked paprika and saute for about a minute.  Add the tomatoes, their juices and the liquid.  Stir in the greens a little at a time until wilted.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the greens are tender but not mushy.

Add the beans and chili flakes or Pirate’s Bite.  Add more liquid if you want a brothier stew.  Stir to blend and heat through.  Serve in bowls and pass the cheese.  (I thought this was delicious without the cheese, but try for yourself and decide.) Addendum Oct 9, 2011:  I’m busy stocking my freezer this year for the winter and think this is a good candidate.  I have frozen a couple of batches of this recipe without the beans, with the idea that I will add them when reheating.