Category Archives: vegetables

Not Your Mom’s Pumpkin Soup

You know it’s pumpkin season when the TV special for the evening is “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”. Well, there’s that and the playoffs. Two big tip-offs; even I would have to be living under a rock to miss those.

So it’s pumpkin season, and I’ll admit it. When it comes to squash, my favorite way to eat it is usually in a baked good. Oh, I do like acorn squash roasted with butter, but pies, muffins and the the ubiquitous tea cakes are really my favorites. That means that for a main dish I want different ingredients than the usual pumpkin companions, leaving me continuously on the lookout for another interesting way to cook those winter squash. The following recipe uses pumpkin, however I’m betting it would be equally good with butternut, acorn or some other lesser known squash such as buttercup.

This bisque has no apples. It has no cinnamon, no pumpkin pie or apple pie spice mixes. No nuts here, and barely any sugar. What it does have are some incredible flavors in the form of caramelized onions, marsala and bacon. Other than the bacon, there’s little fat in the soup, because it calls for milk rather than cream.

I’ve also made it easy on myself by using canned pumpkin. Feel free to substitute your own roasted pumpkin if you just happen to have one lying about.

Pumpkin Bisque with Marsala and Bacon (Printer-friendly recipe)

4 pieces Bacon
1/2 Onion, diced
3/4 cup dry Marsala
1 15-ounce can Pumpkin Puree
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
1-2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 – 1 1/2 cups Milk

Note: With the understanding that the bisque will be sweeter, a sweet marsala may be substituted for the dry. If this substitution is made, omit the sugar and use only 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.

Fry bacon in pan until crisp. Remove to drain, reserving bacon drippings in pan. To drippings, add onion and cook until caramelized.
Deglaze pan with marsala, then add pumpkin, chicken broth, sugar, spices and balsamic vinegar. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
Puree pumpkin mixture using immersion blender or in batches using standard blender.
Return soup to heat and add milk to achieve desired consistency. Heat through and serve topped with crumbled bacon and a dollop crème fraîche.

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One Way to Love Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts. I’m always amazed by how many people don’t like them. Oh, please tell me you didn’t just wrinkle your nose or run away screaming! To someone who has long claimed brussels sprouts as one of my very favorite vegetables, it really is a bit shocking that some people won’t eat them!

Still, even I have to admit that these small green globes can taste a bit bitter. And I’m not even discussing PTC or tasting genes which really makes me wonder, do those genes have anything to do with liking things like beer (which I don’t like at all) or mushrooms (which I love)?

While I don’t mind some vegetables with sugar or a glaze once in a while, I’ve found that brussels sprouts recipes which contain sugars rarely work for our family. Somehow those sugars often polarize the bitterness of the vegetable, making an inharmonious whole. So I approach the challenge in another way.

Rather than adding sweetness, this recipe mellows the flavor and odor by using steam to cook the vegetable.

A sauce, utilizing strong flavors, more than matches the cruciferous vegetable’s hearty taste.

Resulting in brussels sprouts that carry a light layer of tremendous flavor. Hey, I can’t guarantee you’ll miraculously like these little gems, but I can tell you that this recipe has earned a permanent place in our home.

Garlic Brussels Sprouts with Dill Sauce (printer friendly version)
4 servings

1 pounds Brussels Sprouts, ends trimmed and yellow leaves removed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 – 2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1/4 teaspoon dried Dill Weed
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Pepper
Halve brussels sprouts from bottom of core to top of head. Steam until fork-tender. Remove from heat.
Heat saute pan and add olive oil. Add brussels sprouts, cut side down. Cook only until cut sides have begun to caramelize, then remove from pan. Add remaining sauce ingredients to pan and allow to reduce by about half.
Toss sauce with brussels sprouts and serve immediately.

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No pic, but still. . .

Very short entry today, and no pic of the dish; sorry! There are two pics of the kale, however. Both are from my garden; very yummy.

Tonight’s dinner was a hit all around. On the menu: Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp from The Accidental Hedonist (I used Applegate Farms Turkey Bacon, which is the best turkey bacon on the market.), Portabello Mushroom Risotto, and Herbed Kale with Tomatoes. The Kale recipe:

Herbed Kale with Tomatoes

1/4 onion, chopped
8-10 Sage leaves, minced
1/4 teaspoon thyme, minced
1/8 teaspoon chervil, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon Patak’s Spicy Ginger & Garlic Marinade
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sized tomato, chopped
1 bunch of Kale (about 1/2 -3/4 lb; 30 leaves or so)

Wash the kale well. Like spinach, kale has a tendency to collect grit on its leaves. Pat dry and trim sides of leaves away from the center rib. Leaves smaller than 3 inches are usually fairly tender, and can be left with the rib intact. Discard the ribs, slice kale into ribbons and set aside.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and add chopped onion. Cook until transluscent, then add herbs, Patak’s, chicken stock, and garlic. Let simmer for a few minutes until stock begins to reduce. Add tomato and cook for a few minutes more, until it starts to soften into stock mixture. Add sliced kale on top and cook just until wilted, stirring to fully cover kale with sauce.

Serve immediately.