Tag Archives: soups

Vaduvan Butternut Squash Soup

I looooove making big batches of healthy soups and then freezing them in individual containers to have at lunch all throughout the cold months.  However, the same flavors over and over again can get a little boring after a while, which is when I consult my trusty spice rack (wall actually but that’s another story).  Butternut squash is perfect in soups as it gets super smooth and velvety when pureed without a lot of fat or cream.  I have my standard roasted butternut squash soup but again that can get boring after a while.  I decided to experiment with vaduvan, one of my favorite spices, and it totally perked up the squash.  I have used this spice before in my carrot with vaduvan yogurt sauce so hopefully you already have it in your collection.  If not they sell it at Hill’s Kitchen in DC or plenty of places online.  Vaduvan is a milder, more complex in my opinion, version of curry powder.  I find that curried butternut squash soup only tastes like curry but the vaduvan really lets the squash and other flavors come through.  I also used apple cider which is always in my fridge come fall to add a hint of sweetness to the soup.  Lastly I incorporated some greek yogurt to balance out that sweetness with some tang – you could also just add a dollop to the soup right before you serve it.  This soup freezes beautifully so make up a big batch this weekend and you can enjoy it for the rest of fall.

Vaduvan Butternut Squash Soup (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:
Special Equipment:  blender (immersion preferably)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 1/2 pound cubed butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vaduvan
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 5 ounces non fat plain greek yogurt

In a large stock pot or dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions have softened but not browned.

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Add the squash cubes and mix thoroughly to combine.  Cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the vaudvan spice, again mix to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.

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Add the chicken stock and cider to the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until the squash is tender.

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Using an immersion blender (or carefully transferring to a stand blender) puree the soup until smooth (add water if the consistency is too thick).

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Season with salt and pepper and add the yogurt, then puree again until the yogurt is totally incorporated.  Serve right away, store in the fridge for several days or freeze for several months.

Vaduvan Butternut Squash Soup

  • Servings: 10 cups
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Special Equipment:  blender (immersion preferably)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 1/2 pound cubed butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vaduvan
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 5 ounces non fat plain greek yogurt

In a large stock pot or dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions have softened but not browned.  Add the squash cubes and mix thoroughly to combine.  Cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the vaudvan spice, again mix to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and cider to the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until the squash is tender.  Using an immersion blender (or carefully transferring to a stand blender) puree the soup until smooth (add water if the consistency is too thick).  Season with salt and pepper and add the yogurt, then puree again until the yogurt is totally incorporated.  Serve right away, store in the fridge for several days or freeze for several months.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Soup is the best first course for any dinner party but especially Thanksgiving.  Make it in advance, even weeks ahead, and then just warm it up right before you want to serve it.  I make a ton of soups in the winter and give my immersion blender a workout.  I have this Cuisinart one and it’s great, trust me more expensive brands are not worth it.  They are perfect for smoothies in the morning but more importantly it means not having to transfer hot liquids into your blender.  Any kitchen tool that reduces the risk of injury is worth it in my book and they take up minimal space.  Immersion blenders are also great for making creamy soups…without cream!  By blending hearty vegetables like butternut squash or cauliflower you get a nice rich, creamy texture with none of the fat.

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Since this is such a low cal veggie heavy soup I figure we deserved a little something for our effort and grated some goat cheese on top – not chevre, the typical soft creamy goat cheese but something a little more aged.  One of my favorites is the Drunken Goat, a semi soft goat cheese that has a red wine rind, but anything with a nice tang to it will work (also feel free to omit if you want to make this vegan just remember to swap out the chicken broth for veggie broth).  A few snips of chives add a nice green and some fresh flavor as well.

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I like to make a full batch of this soup and freeze it in individual containers for lunches or cold winter nights.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (printable version at the end of the post)

Special Equipment:  immersion blender (recommended but not necessary) or regular blender

  • 3 pounds cubed butternut squash (I use the precut stuff, do yourself a favor and do the same)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • several ounces aged goat cheese like Drunken Goat, grated
  • chives

Heat your oven to 450 degrees.  Spread the butternut squash out of 2 baking sheets and toss them with 2 tablespoons on olive oil and salt and pepper.

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Roast for 15 minutes then toss the squash on each sheet and then roast for 15 minutes more.  (This is a great way to eat butternut squash – you could eat it as is or maybe with some parmesan grated on top).  In a large dutch oven heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Add the apple, onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes until the apple and onion are cooked through and softened.  Add the roasted butternut squash to the apple mixture along with the allspice, ground ginger, crushed red pepper, and coriander.  Cook for a minute, stirring until everything is combined.

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Pour in the broth and water, stir everything together and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat.  If you have an immersion blender go ahead and blend away until completely smooth in the pot.

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If not let it cool a bit and then CAREFULLY transfer to a blender.  Now the soup is ready to serve or let cool and freeze for 6 months.  For each serving top with a handful of grated aged goat cheese and several snips of chives.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

  • Servings: 10
  • Print

Special Equipment:  immersion blender (recommended but not necessary) or regular blender

  • 3 pounds cubed butternut squash (I use the precut stuff, do yourself a favor and do the same)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • several ounces aged goat cheese like Drunken Goat, grated
  • chives

Heat your oven to 450 degrees.  Spread the butternut squash out of 2 baking sheets and toss them with 2 tablespoons on olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes then toss the squash on each sheet and then roast for 15 minutes more.  (This is a great way to eat butternut squash – you could eat it as is or maybe with some parmesan grated on top).  In a large dutch oven heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Add the apple, onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes until the apple and onion are cooked through and softened.  Add the roasted butternut squash to the apple mixture along with the allspice, ground ginger, crushed red pepper, and coriander.  Cook for a minute, stirring until everything is combined.  Pour in the broth and water, stir everything together and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat.  If you have an immersion blender go ahead and blend away until completely smooth in the pot.  If not let it cool a bit and then CAREFULLY transfer to a blender.  Now the soup is ready to serve or let cool and freeze for 6 months.  For each serving top with a handful of grated aged goat cheese and several snips of chives.

Homemade Chicken Stock

Confession here – I am a hoarder.  A hoarder of chicken carcasses.  Until today only my husband knew this about me, the poor man has to dig through bags of frozen chicken bones to get to the ice cream in our freezer.  Thing is, I think you should start hoarding them too.

impressive collection no?

impressive collection no?

Left over chicken bones, scraps of onion peel, sad dried out carrots from your veggie drawer – they can all be turned into pure gold.  Homemade chicken stock is 100% better than anything you can buy in the store and the best part is it’s practically free.  The only real investment is time but it’s totally worth it.  Anytime you roast a chicken or grab a rotisserie from the store, save any parts you don’t eat.  It goes without saying save the bones but also keep any extra meat you don’t eat, the skin – basically everything should all go into a plastic freezer bag.  When you have carrots or celery that are looking a little less than pristine, throw them into a bag as well (throw them in with the chicken if you want).  Once you have critical mass, approximately 4 chicken carcasses, or when you can no longer navigate around them in the freezer, then its time to carve about 4 hours out of a weekend to babysit a pot of stock.  You throw everything into a pot, cover with water and soon enough your entire home will smell absolutely amazing.

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Some recipes for homemade stock call for whole uncooked chickens but that just seems like a waste to me.  Tons of flavor comes from the bones and the leftover ones have the benefit of already having been roasted, which gives the stock a deeper flavor.  I use a pretty basic mix of celery, carrots, and onions but you can throw in other left over veggies as well.  Just be careful because whatever you put in, that flavor will be imparted.  Sometimes if I have fennel hanging around I toss that in and my stock will have a slight anise hint to it.  I wouldn’t use anything too strong like a broccoli or anything too soft like a zucchini.  You can also use different herbs, dill is really nice, as is marjoram but I would steer clear of rosemary as it’s a bit too strong.  Once you have the stock the sky is the limit on how to use it – obviously as a base for soups and stews but I also like to use it to deglaze my pan when cooking, to cook rice or couscous in, or to braise meat or veggies.  It will last in the freezer for a long time, about 8 months but I guarantee you will use it up well before that.  I do keep boxed chicken stock on hand just in case but it is a total bummer when I realize I don’t have any homemade stuff left and have to resort to the box – the flavor, richness and viscosity is totally different and inferior in my humble opinion.  With fall on its way its time for yummy, comfort food and this chicken stock is the best place to start.

Homemade Chicken Stock (printable version at the end of the post)

Special Equipment:  large stock pot

  • at least 4 chicken carcasses with meat and skin attached – frozen or fresh
  • 2 onions cut in half – peels and all
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half – peels and all
  • at least 3 carrots cut in half – unpeeled (sensing a theme?)
  • at least 3 stalks of celery cut in half
  • several bay leaves – dried or fresh
  • handful of thyme sprigs
  • decent size bunch of parsley
  • approximately 2 tablespoons of whole peppercorns
  • approximately 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • water to cover

Get the largest pot you have, I use my grandmother’s old lobster pot, and throw everything but the water into the pot.  It will probably be an awkward fit especially if the chicken carcasses are frozen but once the water is in and it starts to get heated up, everything sort of slumps together so don’t worry.  Fill the pot with water, just to the brim, so you can actually carry it over to the stove (this is why my dream kitchen has a pot filler).  Set over medium high heat uncovered and wait for it to boil – depending on how big your pot is and how much water you have in there it can take up to 45 minutes.  Yes it looks like a mess but trust me.

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Once it has come to a boil turn the heat down so that the liquid is simmering – you don’t want a lively boil, just a handful of small bubbles reaching the surface.  Sometimes you will get a foam on top like in the picture below, I just skim that off and toss into the sink.

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Cook like this for 3-4 hours checking on it occasionally to make sure it’s still simmering.  Sometimes you might need to adjust the heat up or down during those hours as the simmer can fall flat or it can be going too hot.  I stir it a couple of times as well just to move everything around but it doesn’t need much babysitting.  After 3-4 hours the liquid will be nice and golden.  I then use a strainer scoop to pull out the big chunks of chicken and vegetables and toss them.  When it’s mostly liquid pour through a fine strainer or line a regular strainer with cheese cloth.  My last batch produced 4 quarts and 4 pints but really its hard to gauge exactly what the result will be.  After the liquid has cooled put it in the fridge and you can keep it there for several days or transfer it to the freezer for the better part of a year.  Depending on how much skin and fat were on your chicken carcasses, there may be a solid layer of fat that settles on the top once it’s cooled.  That makes it pretty easy (though gross) to scoop it off the top.  Also once chilled the stock will take on a sort of gelatinous consistency and that is a good thing.  The gelatin in the chicken bones is what causes that – once its been heated again it will go back to its liquid form but it’s a good way to tell the truly homemade stuff versus the thin boxed stuff.

Homemade Chicken Stock

  • Servings: 6-8 quarts
  • Print

Special Equipment:  large stock pot

  • at least 4 chicken carcasses with meat and skin attached – frozen or fresh
  • 2 onions cut in half – peels and all
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half – peels and all
  • at least 3 carrots cut in half – unpeeled (sensing a theme?)
  • at least 3 stalks of celery cut in half
  • several bay leaves – dried or fresh
  • handful of thyme sprigs
  • decent size bunch of parsley
  • approximately 2 tablespoons of whole peppercorns
  • approximately 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • water to cover

Get the largest pot you have and throw everything but the water into the pot.  Fill the pot with water, just to the brim so you can actually carry it over to the stove.  Set over medium high heat uncovered and wait for it to boil – depending on how big your pot is and how much water you have in there it can take up to 45 minutes.  Once it has come to a boil turn the heat down so that the liquid is simmering – you don’t want a lively boil, just a handful of small bubbles reaching the surface.  Sometimes you will get a foam on top, I just skim that off and toss into the sink.  Cook like this for 3-4 hours checking on it occasionally to make sure it’s still simmering.  Sometimes you might need to adjust the heat up or down during those hours as the simmer can fall flat or it can be going too hot.  I stir it a couple of times as well just to move everything around but it doesn’t need much babysitting.  After 3-4 hours the liquid will be nice and golden.  I then use a strainer scoop to pull out the big chunks and toss them.  When it’s mostly liquid pour through a fine strainer or line a regular strainer with cheese cloth.

Tortilla Soup

After we returned from Chicago I was still dreaming about the tortilla soup Patrick had at Topolobampo (you can read the full post here about our trip).  I figured that it must have taken days to make and a crazy amount of ingredients, like a Mexican mole.  Mexican food can actually be quite complicated if you cook traditional recipes as they use layers and layers of flavors.  I was so happy to discover that not only did Rick Bayless put this recipe up on his website but that it was really simple!  I can never leave well enough alone so I make some tweaks of my own – keeping the pasilla chile seeds in adds a nice little kick – and by using rotisserie chicken breasts I simplified it even more.

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As you can see from the picture it’s not the prettiest meal but it is so hearty and satisfying – the perfect upgrade for chicken noodle soup if a loved one was sick.  If you wanted to class it up a bit you could add the broth tableside like they did at Topolobampo.  One negative about this soup – it’s not great made ahead of time.  I made the full recipe that serves 4 for Patrick and I one night for dinner.  I saved the left over broth for the next day but it was almost inedible it was so salty and strong.  Soups are usually great to freeze and make ahead but I think this one is just too flavorful – its best eaten day of.  Happy fiesta friday!

Tortilla Soup (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  Sopa Azteca from Rick Bayless
Special Equipment:  blender or food processor

  • large or 2 to 3 small pasilla chile with the stem removed 
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
  • tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • onion, sliced 
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • quarts chicken broth
  • sprig of oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 2 roasted chicken breasts, shredded 
  • 1 avocado cut into small cubes
  • 6 ounces of monterey jack or cheddar, shredded 
  • cups of crushed tortilla chips (I like Tostitos Multigrain) 

First you want to toast the pasilla chile.  If you have a gas stove you can do it directly over the flame (much like making rajas).  Basically you want to see the color darken a bit and to be able to smell the chile.  If you have an electric stove just heat a skillet over high heat and add the chili for 30 seconds or so until you get the same smell/color change.

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Put the chili or chilis into a blender or food processor.  I leave in the seeds for some heat but if you want to remove them do so now.  The tomatoes will soften the pasilla while you cook the onions.  In a large saucepan or dutch oven heat the oil over medium high heat.  Cook the onion for 5 minutes or so until starting to soften, add the garlic and cook for a minute more being careful not to burn it.  Using a slotted spoon transfer the onion and garlic to the blender/food processor and blend until smooth.  Using the same pan over medium high heat cook the tomato, onion and pasilla puree for 6 or 7 minutes.  Make sure to keep stirring it so the bottom doesn’t burn – you want most of the liquid from the tomatoes to cook out.

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Then add the broth and reconstitute the tomato mixture – this is easiest to do with a wisk.  Add the sprig of oregano or dried oregano.  Raise the heat to bring it to a boil and then lower the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes.  Season with salt.  Stir in the shredded chicken and let it cook with the broth for a minute to heat through.  To serve equally divide the cheese and tortilla chips at the bottom of the bowls.  Laddle the soup on top and then add the avocado on top.

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Tortilla Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  blender or food processor

  • large or 2 to 3 small pasilla chile with the stem removed 
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
  • tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • onion, sliced 
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • quarts chicken broth
  • sprig of oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 2 roasted chicken breasts, shredded 
  • 1 avocado cut into small cubes
  • 6 ounces of monterey jack or cheddar, shredded 
  • cups of crushed tortilla chips (I like Tostitos Multigrain) 

First you want to toast the pasilla chile.  If you have a gas stove you can do it directly over the flame (much like making rajas).  Basically you want to see the color darken a bit and to be able to smell the chile.  If you have an electric stove just heat a skillet over high heat and add the chili for 30 seconds or so until you get the same smell/color change.  Put the chili or chilis into a blender or food processor.  I leave in the seeds for some heat but if you want to remove them do so now.  The tomatoes will soften the pasilla while you cook the onions.  In a large saucepan or dutch oven heat the oil over medium high heat.  Cook the onion for 5 minutes or so until starting to soften, add the garlic and cook for a minute more being careful not to burn it.  Using a slotted spoon transfer the onion and garlic to the blender/food processor and blend until smooth.

Using the same pan over medium high heat cook the tomato, onion and pasilla puree for 6 or 7 minutes.  Make sure to keep stirring it so the bottom doesn’t burn – you want most of the liquid from the tomatoes to cook out.  Then add the broth and reconstitute the tomato mixture – this is easiest to do with a wisk.  Add the sprig of oregano or dried oregano.  Raise the heat to bring it to a boil and then lower the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes.  Season with salt.  Stir in the shredded chicken and let it cook with the broth for a minute to heat through.  To serve equally divide the cheese and tortilla chips at the bottom of the bowls.  Laddle the soup on top and then add the avocado on top.

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