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Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

It is easy to take the tomato for granted in late summer. A stroll around Copley’s Farmer’s Market, or any farmer’s market, shows an abundance of these beautiful round shapes, their skins taut and from juices who’ve had the luxury ripening in the fresh air of an open field instead of a hothouse. But these jewels are fleeting. Eat them while you can.

I was at the farmer’s market last Friday, a few blocks from the Monitor. I had met my mom and my brother there for lunch. Mom had taken a bus up from the Cape with a group that was listening to a performance of Trinity Chapel‘s organ (not to miss, if you are ever in Boston). My brother’s office overlooks Copley Square from his shiny office tower in the John Hancock building. It was easy for him to swoop down and join us for a sandwich among the smells of ripe vegetables and the sounds of a guitar and saxophone jazz duet.

Mom spotted a gazpacho recipe pinned to a basket of tomatoes in one of the stalls. I didn’t waste any time in loading up my own bag with the ingredients (parsley, peppers, heirloom tomatoes, yellow onion). I had been wanting to try making a batch of gazpacho since I spotted the Rowdy Chowgirl’s recipe, a new pal from the International Food Blogger’s Conference.


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After leaving Seattle and the International Food Blogger Conference, I’m having a short visit with my mom and my “Auntie Marj” in leafy Leland, Mich. I’m heading for a long weekend in a cabin setting with friends, but I had time for a quick cooking lesson from Auntie Marj. She makes her own broth which also ensures that the chicken for this soup will be tender. Learning how to make your own broth is a good habit to develop, I’m told. I’m still working on it.

Once you’ve made your broth, this soup is fast, tasty, and will prepare you for the chill that is starting to creep into these last days of summer. Both mom and Auntie Marj served me plenty of motherly wisdom as we ate, because I was salting my soup with a few tears as I unpacked some life frustrations. Moms and aunts and kitchen tables are good for this kind of thing, but I recommend using regular sea salt or table salt for your soup. (more…)

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Potato and Chickpea Stew

My friend Nate has what I call a kitchen ministry. He gathers people around his table and showers them with affection and food on almost any night of the week. More than once I have gotten a “dp?” text message (meaning “dinner party”) that has pulled me out of the grooves my routine and into his kitchen just a few blocks away. It’s warm in there. The walls are painted reddish orange. And we always say grace before we eat. People depart transformed.

If there are more people than soup spoons, 15 was the count one night, Nate hands out measuring spoons as substitutes. I gave him a shoebox full of extra silverware for Christmas but I am pretty sure this box sits under his bed. He admits he likes the spontaneous creativity that comes with solving the problem of too many friends and too few spoons.

This stew reminds me of a dp at Nate’s house. A lot is crammed in and it exudes warmth. It’s from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.” I’ve left out a few fancy things below such as a bread crumb picada thickener and a romesco sauce to add zest. You don’t really need them, and if you think you do, you should just go out and buy the cookbook because it is full of great recipes. (more…)

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Pumpkin Curry Soup

This is one of my annual fall favorites, a creamy pumpkin soup with a bit of a spicy kick. This is also for mushroom lovers. (Sorry, ‘shroom haters.) It’s also pretty simple and quick to make before you head out the door to your pumpkin carving party. Or serve it as a first course at your chaotic Thanksgiving gathering when you barely have time to think between timing the turkey and mashing the potatoes.

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Pumpkin Curry Soup

I’ve got two pumpkin parties to attend this year. Bostonians may seem passionate about sculpting squash, and perhaps we are, but I think we are really trying to keep very, very busy even as the leaves darken and turn to brilliant gold. Busyness is a thinly disguised attempt to postpone the inevitable: ice and cold. Somehow thrusting bare hands into an orange pumpkin and coming out with a fist full of goop and seeds puts one in the right here and now. Winter can wait. (more…)

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Soup for 'June Gloom'

The forecast in Boston calls for rain for the next 10 days. As a New Englander, it’s hard not to think that once June rolled around we would get our share of mild, sunny days after the dump of snow we got this year.

Apparently Mother Nature feels we still need to shore up some more of that hardy Yankee character by postponing our outdoor fun for just a bit longer. Gray clouds fill the horizon. Sidewalks are slick.

So, when stuck in doors as the rain pounds on the roof turning your attention to a nice steaming pot of soup is always a good idea. Secretly, this means we can enjoy the comfort of hearty bread for another week or two before really having to worry about how that swimsuit will fit this summer.

Sunburst Soup

Sunburst Soup

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Chef in Season: Carl Schroeder

From the trained chef to the home cook, preparing meals with fresh, local ingredients over shipped, shrink-wrapped food seems an obvious choice. Shopping locally may have a growing appeal among those wanting to lessen their carbon footprint, but its true attraction lies in simple flavors that sing for themselves.

“The quality of [fresh] ingredients is so good that you don’t have to do a lot,” says Carl Schroeder, executive chef and owner of Market Restaurant in Del Mar, Calif. “If you’ve got some great summer squash, sautée it … with some garlic, olive oil, and season it up … [with] some fresh chopped herbs, and you are done. That’s the beauty of it.”

Mr. Schroeder, California’s 2005 restaurant chef of the year and this year’s San Diego chef of the year, lives this philosophy. Every day he handpicks his ingredients from Chino Farms, a farm stand a short drive from his restaurant. At Market, Schroeder works with his team of talented cooks to conjure up a new menu almost every night.

Creative simplicity in the kitchen is a panache home cooks can easily emulate, but make sure you start with the best produce.

“Buying a great tomato is so much better than trying to make a bad tomato taste good,” says Schroeder. “All it takes is a good salt and a good vinaigrette, and you are ready to roll.”

So pay a visit to your local farmers’ market and load up. Then play chef with these recipes for chilled vegetable soups – a cool delight for a warm summer evening.

To hear an interview with Carl Schroeder and see recipes for Chilled Corn and Lobster Soup and Chilled Avocado and Tomato Soup and  Chilled Heirloom Tomato and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Soup, click here.

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