Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Golden Potato-Leek Soup with Cheddar Toasts

I am still in my soup making mode.  This recipe for Golden Potato-Leek Soup was easy to put together on a work night.  I did not make the cheddar toasts as the soup was my focus.  

I made some slight variations due to quantities of my available ingredients.  I used twice as much thyme sprigs because I LOVE THYME!  The vegetable broth I bought came in 32 ounces, so I used it all and did not add any water.  I also had a cup of whipping cream so I added it all and I believe the soup came out perfectly.  I left some potato chunks and the soup has a creamy texture that was not too thick and very smooth.  Before I added the cream I was concerned that I had just created a starchy, inedible mess.  Once the cream hit the warm potato mixture it came together beautifully and I was very pleased.  Delicious!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

I have never made pumpkin or squash soups and with a blistery cold front dropping temperatures, I thought this would be the perfect time to try a soup recipe.  Cook's Illustrated's Great Butternut Squash Soup sounded perfect.  The modifications I made were to add some diced onion, since I had some left over from another recipe and I added 4 thyme sprigs rather than 2 since I love thyme.  I had a difficult time peeling the squash, so I mostly peeled it after it cooked.

The soup tastes very fresh and creamy with a delicate flavor.  Yum!

Butternut Squash Soup
serves 6 to 8

2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch cubes (about 7 cups)
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 leek, white and light green parts only, quartered lengthwise, sliced thin and washed thoroughly (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 cups vegetable broth
1-2 cups water
2 springs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
pinch cayenne pepper

Place squash in a bowl, cover and microwave until paring knife glides easily through flesh, 14 to 18 minutes.  Transfer squash to a colander set in a bowl and drain 5 minutes.  Reserve liquid.

Melt butter in Dutch over medium high heat.  Add squash, leek, and 1 tsp salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash pieces begin to break down and brown bits form in the bottom of the pot, 10 to 13 minutes.

Add 2 cups broth and scrape bottom of pot to loosen brown bits.  Add remaining 2 cups broth, reserved squash liquid, 1 cup water, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and cayenne.  Increase heat to bring to a low boil and then reduce heat to medium and simmer until leeks are fully tender, 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove and discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs.  Working in batches, process soup in blender or use immersion blender, until smooth.  Return soup to pot (if using blender) and thin with up to 1 cup of water to desired consistency.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Walnut Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries

I found this recipe for Walnut Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries in an HEB circular.   I love making sweet potato casseroles and I want recipes that do not include marshmallows.  This one sounded different because of the cranberries.  It was easy to make and very tasty.  The cranberries add a bit of tart sweetness.  I followed the recipe exactly though I used an 8 x 8 inch pan.  My 4 potatoes would not have made 2 layers in a 9 x 13 pan.