Roasted Squash and Apple Soup

Hey there! So I’m back from my little hiatus, ready to soup again. Last weekend I was at the farmer’s market — specifically there to buy cider from this fantastic place in Missouri that comes to the market every fall and has the best cider I have EVER TASTED — and while I was eating my delicious farmer’s market crepe I was thinking up a soup I could make with my new purchases… squash and apples. The result is like autumn in a bowl.

The flavors went together very well, and the apple flavor in particular is fairly strong so that the first taste is almost like a sweet and savory applesauce, and then the flavors of squash and thyme and shallots come through as well. Enjoy!

Roasted Squash and Apple Soup
serves 4

about 2 pounds of winter squash (I used one each of a medium-sized butternut and delicata), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
3-4 medium apples (I used 2 empire and 1 granny smith), quartered with cores removed (I left the peels on; you do whatever you like)
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
3 T butter
2 medium shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock (sub vegetable for vegetarian soup)
2 t brown sugar
leaves from about 4 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the squash (cut side up), apples, and carrots on a baking pan and roast for about 45 minutes.
2. Once the veggies are about finished, melt the butter in a soup pot or Dutch oven and add the shallots and garlic over medium heat. Stir occasionally, and cook until translucent and starting to caramelize.
3. Scoop the flesh out of the squash, and add with the roasted carrots and apples to the pot and reduce heat to medium low. Cook together for about 10 minutes.
4. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for about 25 minutes.
5. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender. I didn’t puree for too long because I wanted some chunks of carrots and apple peel. Return to pot and stir in sugar and thyme, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Melon and Mint Salad

This is the perfect salad for a cookout or a potluck — it’s even better if you make it 4-6 hours ahead, so that the flavors have time to meld. The cayenne gives it a subtle kick, but the end effect is barely spicy. It’s very pretty and refreshing for any hot summer day!

Melon and Mind Salad
serves: about 12

INGREDIENTS
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 smallish melons (I used a watermelon, cantaloupe, and musk melon) or 2 medium, with seeds removed
3 2″ sprigs fresh mint, with extra leaves minced for garnish
1/3 cup sweet white wine (such as Riesling)
juice of 3 limes
dash salt
1/4 tsp cayenne

PROCEDURE
1. Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, to make a simple syrup. In the meantime, remove the seeds from the melons and scoop out melon balls into large bowl.
2. When syrup has come together, keep at low heat and add sprigs of mint and Riesling, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
3. Juice the limes into a small bowl, and add a pinch of salt. Remove the mint sprigs and add syrup mixture to lime juice mixture and whisk together into dressing.
4. Pour the dressing onto the melon through a strainer. Sprinkle on a bit more salad and the cayenne pepper and gently stir (add more cayenne to taste if desired).
5. Add the extra minced mint leaves just before serving (they might turn brown if left on too long) and stir. Enjoy!

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup

Another CSA-inspired recipe (abundance of carrots this week!), this is something I made up based on a bunch of simple carrot soup recipe research, with an added spicy-lime twist. It’s been a stormy summer in St. Louis thus far, and this is the perfect complement to the wet and steamy weather.

The potato is optional, but it will thicken up the soup a bit. Without the potato it will still taste great but might be a little thin.

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup
serves about 4

INGREDIENTS
3 T butter (can substitute olive oil for vegan soup)
1 Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
dash salt
1 pound young carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 or 3 inches of fresh ginger (to taste), peeled and roughly chopped
1 yukon gold potato, peeled and roughly chopped (optional; see above)
4 cups vegetable stock
white pepper
juice of 1.5 limes
cayenne pepper

PROCEDURE
1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large stockpot, and then add the onions and dash of salt and sweat for 4-5 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and cook until softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add at least 3 cups of the vegetable stock (add more to cover all the vegetables if necessary) and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle in a 1/4 tsp of white pepper.
3. Puree the soup using an immersion or regular blender. When thoroughly blended, squeeze in the lime juice and sprinkle in cayenne pepper to taste (I like at least a teaspoon, but I like my spicy food to be pretty darn spicy).

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Gallactica.

Okay, I realize that in certain circles, beets have gotten a bad rap.

More beets, this week, from the CSA. I don’t want this blog to become Mostly Soup & Beets, but I’m sorry, I love beets. Yesterday I tried grilling beets for the first time — I sliced a beet, splashed on some olive oil, ground some black pepper, sprinkled on the big sea salts, and wrapped it in foil. I wasn’t sure how long to grill my little packet but I gave it about a half an hour. This was so delicious! I’m sure after the beets are cooked you could add different herbs, or goat cheese, or other yummy things to spice this up, but it was fantastic just nice and simple. I plan to make this every day until my beet supply runs out (horror!), and I just wanted to share.

Vegetarian Borscht

After last week’s epic failure, I am so pleased to be writing about a soup that is seriously one of the best soups I have made since starting this blog.

For one, it is gorgeous. I have never wished that my stupid camera was working so much ever since it broke two months ago (I will get it fixed –or a new one– soon I promise). Not only is the finished product beautiful, but I was using carrots and beets from my CSA, and they were such great looking vegetables; I mean, the carrots looked nothing like carrots from the grocery store, they looked like carrots from a children’s book, all short and squashy and cute. Oh well I’m sure there will be more of that to come!

I’ll admit, I have always had a soft spot for borscht. In fact — all you lucky ducks getting to visit the Art Institute of Chicago’s new modern wing this summer, don’t forget to add Russian Tea Time, which is right across the street, to your itinerary. Their Ukranian borscht (and the selection of flavored vodkas) is not to be missed.

This recipe is incredibly easy, and remarkably good. And, it is made even easier, and more fun, for those with a food processor with one of those shredder attachments. If you have one of these and have never used it, now is the time to start, it is a blast. In addition, this soup can be eaten hot or cold, and is good either way — always a good feature of a summer recipe. And unlike my wintertime favorite Roasted Beet Soup, this borscht requires no oven roasting of vegetables at high temperatures for an hour, making it even more summer-friendly.

Alright, enough talking this up, lets get down to business:

Continue reading ‘Vegetarian Borscht’

Asparagus and Rice Soup FAIL

Today, my friends, is a tragic day. The day when I have to post about my first Mostly Soup FAIL. That’s right! This is a new category for the blog, one which hopefully won’t be used often, although I still feel it can’t hurt to write about these sad, uneaten soups whenever they occur.

It all started last weekend, when I decided I wanted to make a light spring soup– but not another all-veggie/fruit soup, as I’d done a lot of those recently (and there will be plenty more to come this summer, I promise you). I chose this Asparagus and Rice Soup that I found on the Serious Eats blog — not only did it sound light, filling, and delicious, but I thought it would be nice as a sort of end of spring recipe, being that it features asparagus and everything. Plus I already had all of the ingredients in my house (except bacon, and  I am really never adverse to buying some extra bacon).

I only made a few small changes to the recipe — for one, I used brown rice instead of white, because that is what I had on hand. I knew that this would require additional cooking time, so I adjusted the procedure accordingly. I did think that the 5 TABLESPOONS of olive oil called for in the beginning sounded like way too much, so I took that down by half. Otherwise, I did everything as instructed.

The thing is, I had a small cup of this soup right after I made it and it wasn’t half bad. A little richer than I wanted — I really had hoped for something pretty light, but all that bacon (I think I used about 4 or 5 slices total) really weighed things down. And the onion flavor was pretty strong. Oh well, I figured this would still make a good lunch for my week as I ladled the soup into plastic storage containers. They cooled down before I popped them into the fridge.

This is really where the problems started.

The next day at lunch I went to grab my soup and found that it had hardened overnight into a gelatinous mass. As in, from all of the olive oil + bacon fat in this soup. I’m sorry, but eew. I’m sure it would re-liquefy somewhat when heated, but I could not bring myself to scoop out this solid mess and attempt to reconstitute it into lunch. Yuck. So, as much as I hate to waste perfectly good food, I’m afraid this one was just headed for the trash. FAIL.

Creamy Cantaloupe Mint Soup

In my opinion, one of the key advantages of all this soup-making is that often I can decide to make something that’s going to help use up whatever I happen to have a surplus of in the kitchen. And that’s exactly how this Creamy Cantaloupe Mint Soup was created. Last Thursday I got a little preview share from my CSA, which will officially begin in a few weeks (and undoubtedly exert an influence over my soup-making, and this blog, in the coming months). Anyway, the preview share was mostly delicious radishes, which I promptly ate up in two days, and bunches of some fresh herbs, including a large supply of mint. And for me, when I see a big bunch of mint, of course I think mojitos, so I’ve been living on mojitos and radishes with butter and baguette for the last few days (not a bad existence at all, I’ll admit).

So today when I still had some mint to use up, plus the sugar syrup from the mojito recipes, I tried to think about what soup I could concoct with them. I also noticed that cantaloupes were on sale at the grocery this weekend and decided to pull all of these together into a quick and easy summer soup. I found this recipe online and adapted it to what I had around, and thus Creamy Cantaloupe Mint Soup was born.

Continue reading ‘Creamy Cantaloupe Mint Soup’



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