Thai Pumpkin Soup

I love the farmer’s market, especially in fall.  Although the excitement of summer tomatoes, corn and zucchini is over by now, the thought of shopping for pumpkins, squash, cipollini onions, and frost-kissed spinach makes me squeal with delight.  This past Saturday, as I strolled around the square, bundled enough to guard from the chilly breeze, I couldn’t stop staring at all the beautiful pumpkins.  Blue pumpkins, white pumpkins, carving pumpkins, pumpkin pie pumpkins-the list goes on!  I had to buy one.

After talking with one of the pumpkin vendors, I decided on a blue-gray pumpkin (I can’t recall the name) that was supposed to have a bright orange flesh and sweet flavor.  I waddled home with the five pound beauty, visions of pumpkin dishes running through my head.

I remembered seeing a tempting Thai pumpkin soup on Heidi’s site a while back, and, after revisiting the recipe, could not imagine a more fitting use for the morning’s purchase.  A purée of sweet, roasted pumpkin, combined with the heat of red curry paste, this soup is sure to please on a cold fall day.  For an extra treat, make sure to toast the seeds with salt and cinnamon to serve alongside.

Blue Pumpkin

 
Thai Pumpkin Soup
(adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
I topped this soup with a papaya-ginger yogurt sauce and, as hinted to above, toasted pumpkin seeds.  The dish received RAVE reviews!  Also, make sure you have a sharp knife handy before attempting to cut the pumpkin into wedges.  The hefty task  took my skimpy muscles 30 minutes!
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1 large pumpkin
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cinnamon
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
2 cans coconut milk
1 small jar Thai red curry paste (about 1/4 cup)
1 quart vegetable stock
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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
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Cut the pumpkin into small wedges and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Drizzle the pumpkin with olive oil, and sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and black pepper.  Roast until the pumpkin is fully cooked, approximately 1 hour.
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Scoop the flesh from the pumpkin and place in a large stockpot.  Add the coconut milk and curry paste.  Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat  for 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
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Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until silky smooth.  Alternatively, puree the soup in batches using a regular blender.  As always, be extremely careful not to burn yourself from the steam.  At this point, the soup is extremely thick.  Thin the mixture out with vegetable stock until your ideal texture is reached.  Adjust seasonings accordingly and serve.
 
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Enjoy.
 

Potato Leek Soup

What has gotten into me over the past few weeks?!?  I say that I don’t particularly like potatoes, yet here I go with another potato recipe.

It’s just that I found such beautiful leeks at the farmer’s market! I couldn’t help but make potato leek soup.  When searching for soup recipes, I found that most let the leeks blend into the background.  In my opinion, the leeks should be the star of the show, with a supporting cast of potatoes.  And so, I created my own version of potato leek soup, with a few simple ingredients.

Potato Leek

Potato Leek Soup:
I serve this soup with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese, and a lightly toasted slice of French bread.

 
Ingredients:
5 large leeks
1 1/2 lbs thin-skinned potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, smashed and sliced
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt & pepper, to taste

Slice the leeks into half-moons, and rinse extremely well, as leeks tend to hold hidden dirt.  Scrub the potatoes, and chop into small pieces.  Set the potatoes and leeks aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the leeks, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme.  Cook until the leeks begin to soften, about 8 minutes.  Add the potatoes to the pot, along with enough water to cover the ingredients.  Cover the pot with a lid and simmer until the potatoes are soft, topping off with water as needed.

When the potatoes are fully cooked, puree the mixer with an immersion blender, or in a blender.*  (I like to leave the soup slightly chunky, as it adds an extra textural element).  Once the soup is blended to your desired texture, add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy.


*If you do use a blender, make sure to puree in batches, and cover the top with a towel.  The steam causes extra pressure, so be careful not to overfill the blender container!



Spiced Bread with Ginger and Chocolate

My taste buds change with the seasons.  When the leaves start turning and the breeze regains its chill, I trade crisp salads and cold sandwiches for the comfort of warm winter soups, deeply spiced baked goods, and steaming pasta.

Today, this quick bread was exactly what I wanted–candied ginger and dark chocolate swimming in a pool of spices.  Try it toasted, slathered with a knob of salted butter, with a side of piping hot black tea or coffee.  You won’t find a better breakfast on a cold, fall day.

Spiced Bread

Spiced Bread with Ginger & Chocolate:
(adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches)
 
Note: Feel free to use any combination of flour that you have available, as long as it adds up to 2 full cups.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup barley flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sorghum
1 cup dark beer (such as Guinness) or buttermilk
2 eggs
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup diced crystallized ginger
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped

 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
 
In a large bowl, combine the flours, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix well.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and set aside.

 
In a small bowl, mix together the oil, sorghum, beer or buttermilk, eggs and orange zest.  Pour into the well of the dry ingredients.  Stir together the wet and dry ingredients, only until combined.  Fold in the  crystallized ginger and the chocolate chips.

 
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake approximately 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

 
Enjoy.
 

Screaming Potatoes

Whether baked, fried, or mashed, potatoes have never been my favorite item on the plate.  I always want something more–more texture, more flavor, more oomph!  It seems ironic then, that the star ingredient of my first post happens to be potatoes.

These potatoes, however, stand out from the typical potato crowd.  Fluffy on the inside and addictively crunchy on the outside, flavored with rosemary, thyme, and garlic–these will convert any potato-hater.  My favorite part is hearing the little spuds scream as they come out of the oven, telling you they’re ready to eat.

Screaming Potatoes

Screaming Potatoes:

I wouldn’t call this a recipe, as much as a technique.  Feel free to put your own unique twist on the herbs and spices used.  I would imagine that chili powder and garlic, or curry powder, red pepper flakes, and garlic would be divine!  Go ahead, be creative.

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2 pounds of assorted, thin-skinned potatoes
Generous drizzle of olive oil (I use around 4 tablespoons)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon rosemary
1/2 tablespoon thyme
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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Scrub the potatoes and cut them into bite sized pieces.  Scatter evenly on the baking sheet.  Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil (you can also use melted butter, if you prefer).  Sprinkle the garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme over the potatoes.  Mix with your hands until the potatoes are evenly coated.  When potatoes are cooked through, which will take approximately 25 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes, place under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Enjoy

Note: Do not eat until the little spuds stop screaming, or you’ll be the winner of a very burnt mouth!