Despite absolutely glorious weather for the last 2 weeks, today definitely feels like winter may be right around the corner. This weather makes me want nice thick, homemade soup for lunch/dinner and to store some in the freezer so that when I don’t have as many wonderful fresh vegetables available to me, I can pull out a homemade batch of soup. Both of the following soups can be prepared and then frozen for a later meal. For the pumpkin soup, you could substitute butternut squash, buttercup squash or calabaza for the pumpkin if necessary.
Pumpkin Pear Soup
1 pie pumpkin, about 2.5 pounds, baked and chopped (see below for instructions)
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
2 pears, peeled, cored and diced
2 Tablespoons butter
3 cans (or about 40 ounces) chicken/vegetable broth
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
To prepare the pumpkin or which ever squash is being used, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pumpkin into quarters. Put on baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool and then peel. Now you can chop it up for the recipe.
Cook carrots, celery, onion and pears in butter in a large pot for 10 minutes. Add the broth, nutmeg, cinnamon, syrup, salt and pepper and pumpkin. Simmer for 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Puree with a stick blender or in a blender (if you use a blender and it is still hot, remember to take out the insert in the top and hold a clean dish towel over the opening to allow steam to escape). Return to pan. (If you are going to freeze the soup, this is the time. When you are ready to serve it, heat the soup up and continue the recipe.) Pour 1/2 cup of cream into soup. Beat the rest in a bowl. Stir the cardamom into the whipped cream. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Dollop with whipped cream.
Split Pea Soup with Ham (The New Basics Cookbook)
1 pound dried green split peas
5 cups chicken stock
5 cups water
1 meaty ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks (I prefer the ham bone to the ham hocks)
2 ribs celery, leaves included, diced
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried tarragon leaves
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced onions
1 leek (white part only), rinsed and sliced
1 cup slivered fresh spinach leaves
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the split peas in a strainer and then combine them with the stock and water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil. Add the ham bone, celery, 1 Tablespoon of the parsley and the tarragon. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the carrots, onion and leek. Cook until the vegetables are wilted, 10 minutes. Add them to the soup pot, along with the spinach. Simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat. Remove the ham bone and shred the meat from the bone, removing any excess fat. Return the meat to the soup. Add the sherry, pepper and remaining 2 Tablespoons parsley. Heat through and serve immediately.
Another favorite cold weather dish around here is pot pies. Actually I could probably serve this at any point in the year and it would be a hit but I enjoy it more in fall or winter. This recipe is adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classic Cookbook. When I was growing up I know I always preferred pot pies that had crust around the whole pie and not just on the top so, rather than do the biscuit topping the original recipe calls for, I use a pie crust and line 4 small oven safe baking dishes. I then pour in the contents and wrap the pie around over the top. I can safely say that it isn’t a work of art but it is gobbled up around here and that is all that I am looking for. You can use any number of different vegetables in the pot pie depending on what you have. I almost always throw in carrots and sometimes green beans. My kids will eat things in a pot pie that they might not eat plain (i.e. sweet potatoes). Last night when I made it, I didn’t have mushrooms so just beefed up the other amounts of vegetables and it worked out just fine.
Homespun Pot Pie (adapted from Moosewood New Classic Cookbook)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 to 5 cups sliced or halved mushrooms
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
2 cups chopped potatoes
2 cups peeled and chopped parsnips
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups water or stock
3 Tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omit this salt)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line four small baking dishes with pie crust. I think you could make as many as six because I always have a fair amount of leftover filling that I use in the following days.
Warm the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and garlic, cover and cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt, thyme, mushrooms and mustard. Cook until the mushrooms start to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, white potatoes, parsnips, black pepper and the water or stock and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender. Stir the dissolved cornstarch mixture into the simmering vegetables, stirring constantly. When the liquid starts to thicken, mix in the peas, corn, soy sauce and salt(if using). Pour the vegetables into the prepared baking dishes. Wrap the pie crust over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until they start to bubble and the crust is golden.
Sometimes (and some weeks more often than sometimes) I just don’t have my act together and am trying to throw something together at the last minute. This summer I embraced the frittata for dinner when that happened. I don’t know that there is any one recipe I used so the following recipe is just an example. A frittata is a good vehicle for extra greens, potatoes, onions, herbs, peppers, zucchini and probably many other vegetables. I’d cut the following frittata into wedges and serve it with salad or some fresh fruit. Both of my kids like most things when cooked into a frittata.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 small new potatoes, quartered
1 small onion, chopped
Handful or two of spinach
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tablespoons chives, chopped
1/4 cup milk
Heat olive oil in a 12″ oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and onions and saute until tender. Add spinach and cook until just wilted. Whisk the eggs, milk, chives and salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to medium low and add the egg mixture to the skillet. Stir quickly to get everything mixed together. Cook until the bottom is just set and sides are starting to pull away, about 5 minutes. The top will not be completely cooked yet. Place the skillet under the broiler and cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the frittata is puffed and set. Serve immediately with cherry tomatoes sprinkled over the top.
This recipe isn’t very cold weather oriented but maybe we’ll have a few more nice warm days and some fish on the grill will sound good to you. The original recipe called for packaged slaw. I always thought I didn’t like coleslaw but then when I made it myself once, I realized how delicious it could be. I’m sure you can cut it thin enough for slaw but I have a bargain mandolin so use that and it works wonderfully. We usually put our fish and slaw in tortillas. My son will eat a mountain of these.
Whitefish with Vegetable Slaw (adapted from The New Grilling Book)
1 pound mahi mahi or tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 fresh jalepeno, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots, shredded
1 cup shredded jicama or kohlrabi
Rinse fish. Pat dry. Place fish in shallow dish. For dressing, in a small bowl combine lime juice, cilantro, oil, honey, jalepeno, garlic and salt. Divide mixture in half. Stir lime peel into one portion of dressing. Pour dressing with lime peel over fish to marinade. Marinade about 30 minutes at room temperature.
For slaw, combine cabbages, carrots, jicama and/or kohlrabi. Pour remaining dressing over slaw and toss to coat. Chill until time to serve.
Preheat grill. Grill fish directly over medium coals until fish flakes easily (about 4-6 minutes per half inch of fish). Serve fish with slaw.