Potiron-Piquillo Soup

20 10 2008

Well, Fall is officially upon us.  The guys with the makeshift grills who sell corn on the cob all summer have switched over to chestnuts.  Winter squash are starting to show up in the market, and despite the gorgeous sunshine, there is a distinct nip in the air.  Soup is definitely in order these days.

A light Fall supper

Hope over at Hopie’s Kitchen has been regaling her readers with tales of her awesome organic farm share basket.  If there’s a best time of year to belong to one of these, I think Fall is it.  Anyway, she posted a delicious-looking Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup a little while ago, and I wanted to make it, despite the fact that I am not, in general, a fan of bell peppers.  Upon reflection, I thought, wouldn’t it be good with the sweet smokiness of charred piquillo peppers?

Charring piquillo peppers - it's the fire that makes it good.

Never being one to leave recipes alone, I also decided to use a hunk of potiron (a type of pumpkin with very thick flesh and much more flavor than the kind used to make Jack O’ Lanterns) instead of the butternut squash.  I roasted it in the oven until it was soft, then scooped out the flesh and added it to my already-simmering pot of onions, piquillos, and chicken stock.  I seasoned the soup with salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, and the tiniest hint of cinnamon – just enough to bring out the warm sweetness of the potiron.  After simmering it all for about 10 minutes, I busted out the hand blender.

Ah, the hand blender.  Is there anything it can't do?

Wearing my new favorite T-shirt, I fearlessly buzzed the soup, knowing that the pot was deep enough to contain any splatters that might occur.

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The Great Duo of Avocado and Shrimp

23 07 2008

It’s time again for the Leftover Queen’s Royal Foodie Joust!  This month the ingredients are Cilantro, Sesame, and Seafood.  For some reason I thought immediately of tahini, the delicious Middle Eastern/Mediterranean sesame paste.  Then I was stumped for a while, because I wasn’t quite sure how to work the cilantro in, or which seafood to choose (it’s a pretty broad category).  But one afternoon, over lunch with Hope, she mentioned that she had been playing around with gazpacho lately, and it struck me as the perfect vehicle.  Somehow avocados came up, and by the time lunch was over I had a recipe jumping around in my brain, just waiting to be made a reality.

We picked up some avocados and cilantro at the market the next day.  I had decided on seared scallops for the seafood quotient, but was unable to find any at the market.  I briefly considered going the crispy-skin seabass route, but an overly long line at the fishmonger on my lunch hour made that decision for me.  Ultimately, I settled on shrimp for their ability to pair awesomely with avocado.

When I finally cut into the avocados, I was pleased to find some of the most gorgeous, buttery-green specimens I’ve seen in France.

I have a painting very similar to this at home, painted by a friend of mine.

The gazpacho was really easy to put together:  I just threw all the ingredients (avocados, cilantro, lime juice, tahini, garlic, fish stock, salt, cayenne) in a bowl, like so:

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A Soup Fit for Bugs

19 05 2008

Bunny, that is.

Carrots simmering in chicken stock

Inspired by Mark Bittman’s blog entry from a couple of weeks ago, and the lovely Spring carrots in the fridge, and the spanking-new immersion blender on my shelf, I decided to make some carrot-ginger soup.  Something bright, fresh, and tasty to celebrate the glorious Spring weather we’d been having.  (Although lately it’s been a little temperamental.)

I kept it simple in order to let the flavor of the carrots shine through.  I started with a sliced shallot, which I sautéed in a little butter.  To this I added a sliced clove of garlic and about a tablespoon of diced ginger.  Next came salt, pepper, and chicken stock.  Then I chopped 8 carrots and added them to the pot.  I let the whole thing simmer about 15 minutes until the carrots were tender.  Finally, I puréed the whole mess right in the pot with the immersion blender.  (I know I have waxed rhapsodic about this gadget before, but it makes things like this ridiculously easy to do.)  I stirred in a little milk to round out the flavors and tasted for seasoning.  Soup’s on!

Carrot-Ginger Soup

A little cilantro would have made a nice garnish and cool contrast to the warmth of the ginger, but, alas, the cilantro in my fridge was well past its prime.  Next time, I’ll plan ahead.








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