Roasted Squash Soup

Squash soup is as fall as colorful leaves, apple cider, pumpkins. And even though the leaves have been blown by the wind into disorganized piles around the yard, pumpkins replaced with holly greens and lights, squash still holds an honored spot in our local grocery stores. As long as these fruit-like vegetables stick around, I will turn them into soup… Bwahaha

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Roasted Delicata Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS

3 to 4 pounds squash, peeled and seeded (I use Delicata, but if you can’t find that, Butternut works too)
2 yellow onions
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 teaspoon good curry powder

Scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced diagonally (sprinkled on top)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash, onions and apples in 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread it in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until very tender.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done, put them through a food mill fitted with the medium blade. (Alternatively, you can place the roasted vegetables in batches in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add some of the chicken stock and coarsely puree.) When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings to be sure there’s enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor.

Recipe slightly modified from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.

Corn Chowder

This morning I received an email from a reader who very politely let me know I had left out potatoes in my list of ingredients when I posted this corn chowder recipe over on PortlandPeeps. My bad! Her message made me realize my omission of soups here on DecisiveCook. Soup is one of my favorites on cold winter days. Soups are the smoothies of winter. So many healthy ingredients can be added to one dish. You may just be looking for some hearty soup recipes for this holiday season, so I’ll be posting a few of my favorites.

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Corn Chowder
(recipe slightly modified from Cooking Light Magazine)

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Medium sweet onions, diced
2 Cloves of garlic, minced
1 Teaspoon sweet paprika
4 Cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 pound small red potatoes
1 Celery rib, thinly sliced
1 Bay leaf
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
4 Cups frozen corn kernels
5 Scallions, thinly sliced
1 Cup milk (or half and half if you want it richer)
1/4 Teaspoon dried thyme
A few dashes of cayenne pepper
Sour cream

1. In a large stockpot, combine the butter, olive oil, onions and garlic. Saute over medium heat until the onions are tender but not brown, about 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle with the paprika, stir, and cook for a minute.

2. Add the vegetable broth, potatoes, celery, bay leaf, salt, sugar and pepper. Cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the corn and scallions and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Scoop out 2 cups of the chowder and set it aside. Puree the remainder (if you have an immersion blender, it comes in handy since you can puree directly in the pot of soup) and return it to the pot. Stir in the reserved chowder, milk, thyme and cayenne pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Serve hot with a spoonful of sour cream on top.

Coconut Chicken Curry

February in Portland always fools us with its sunny, springlike days. Then, just as you think it’s safe to go outside, the cold winds knock you down. I was able to sneak away to the beach last weekend, and returned to a husband and daughter who appear to have caught the flu. Let me tell you, not having the flu while everyone else in your house does, is almost as bad as all that. They seem to be on the mend, and as a way to stay clear of their germs, I spent some time creating comfort food. I’m not sure they loved it, but I sure found it comforting.

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If you’re still in the wintery season where you are, you need this in your life.

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Keep in mind that I am still without a stove or kitchen, so I made this in my life-saving skillet.

This could easily be turned into a vegetarian or vegan dish. I’m thinking of trying it with cauliflower, green onions, maybe some chickpeas. Once you get the curry sauce to your taste, you can build it however you like.

Coconut Chicken Curry

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 sweet onion, diced
1 delicata or butternut squash, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree
2 cups low-sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 Teaspoon ground ginger
2 Teaspoons tumeric
2 Teaspoons coriander
2 Teaspoons curry powder
1/8 Teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Rice or pasta to serve alongside

Directions
Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet (or Dutch oven) over high heat. Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces and cook until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Reduce heat and add remaining 1 T olive oil to pan. Add diced onion, diced squash and ginger powder. Cook for a few minutes until the onion and squash is soft. Add pressed garlic and cook for another couple minutes.
Add tomatoes and pumpkin puree. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until puree is lightly browned.
Add broth, coconut milk, tumeric, coriander, curry and cayenne. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add chicken and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
Stir in cilantro.
Serve with rice or pasta, and a glass of red wine.

Asparagus Risotto

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Hi everyone! Welcome to fall! It’s my very favorite season. So much to look forward to… cozy sweaters, crisp mornings, crunchy leaves, rainy days, Halloween, fires in the fireplace, new TV shows, soups… I used to love fall because it meant my birthday was coming, but that doesn’t excite me anymore. It actually kinda freaks me out. I try to believe that those numbers don’t really mean much, but the higher they get, the more I have to tell myself that they’re just numbers and they don’t really mean much. Why does time seem to accelerate with more life experiences? (aka age). Does anyone else feel that way?

Speaking of time, if you’ve ever made risotto from scratch, then you know how much time is involved. The amount of time spent stirring and waiting for all the liquid to be incorporated is almost not worth the effort. Homemade risotto is one of those all consuming tasks that does not allow a bit of multitasking while creating it. Come to think of it, I may have just found a solution to slow down time… risotto. But if you’re like me, you don’t really have enough time to not multitask, so carry on. This post is about saving time right?

Enter microwave risotto! Welcome to my world!

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It’s so simple. I made mine with fresh asparagus, but you can add whatever you like. I can’t wait to try it with delicata squash!

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I served it with a small filet of wild Coho salmon topped with homemade pesto. Oh yea!

Microwave Asparagus Risotto
Serves 4 (serving size: 1 cup)
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 ounces shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1/3 cup), divided

Preparation:
NOTE: This risotto is not covered while microwaving, so use a large (at least 2-quart) bowl to allow plenty of room for the liquid to boil.
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a 2-quart microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave at HIGH 3 minutes. Stir in rice; microwave at HIGH 3 minutes. Stir in stock and wine; microwave at HIGH 16 minutes, stirring for 30 seconds every 4 minutes. Add asparagus; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes. Stir in rind, juice, salt, pepper, and half of cheese. Top with remaining cheese.