Thursday, December 2, 2010

Presenting Course #1: Pumpkin Soup

Until last week, I had never made pumpkin soup before. I know, I couldn't believe it either! As a woman completely and utterly obsessed with all things pumpkin (pancakes, pie, cake, risotto, ravioli, bread...), soup was one thing I had not yet tackled.

I mean, unless you're adding two cups of sugar, some eggs, yummy spices and possibly buttermilk and chocolate, how can you make that can of orange mush tasty by heating it on the stove?

Like this...

Start with some chicken stock, garlic, and chopped onions in a big pan on low heat. 

Then add the pumpkin, salt and pepper, some fresh thyme and stir that puppy up real good. (Apologies: we had our annual showing of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," and I'm channeling my inner Cousin Eddie.)

After this orange bath simmers for about 30 minutes, get out your boat motor (aka immersion blender) or food processor and puree the mixture until it's smooth and thick.

At this point, you could add a bit of heavy cream to make it silky and rich...I thought it tasted so delicious freshly pureed that I just left it be...and let the autumn pumpkin flavors get all happy with the sweet onion, biting garlic and lemony thyme. Mmmm!

Pumpkin soup. It won't disappoint, I promise.

Pumpkin Soup
(*aka Barbara's Pumpkin Soup recipe, Junior League of Athens cookbook Beyond the Hedges)

6 Cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 Cups pumpkin puree
1 Cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp. freshly chopped thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
5 whole black peppercorns
1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream

1. In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, combine the chicken stock, salt, pumpkin, onion, thyme, garlic and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.

2. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or food processor.

3. Return soup to pot and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer an additional 30 minutes, uncovered.

4. Stir in cream, pour and serve!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Who Says Lemon and Herbs are Just for Spring?

Barefoot Contessa is my hero.

Her newest cookbook, How Easy Is That?, is a fantastic gift to put underneath the tree for that foodie on your list (well, except me...I just bought it!). Every recipe is super-easy and can be made with fresh ingredients readily available at your local grocery.

One of my new favorite recipes is her Lemon Chicken Breasts. I made this recently and couldn't believe how much flavor is infused into the juicy chicken breasts by just a few key ingredients: good olive oil, garlic, white wine (good enough to drink), lemons, fresh and dried herbs.

To accompany this delicious and easy weeknight chicken (which is way more than weeknight chicken), I roasted up some fingerling potatoes with the same herbs I used in the chicken and with an added bit of dill and parsley from the fridge.

I eat veggies with every meal (right, who am I kidding?!), so I whipped up a salad with some easy grated onion vinaigrette.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Easy Onion Vinaigrette
(courtesy of my friend Kristy who writes the fantastic blog, Short Order Mama)

1/2 C. good olive oil

1 tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. grated onion
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
Pepper to taste

Combine everything in a sealable container and shake, shake, shake!