Sweet Corn Chowder

Summer is not the time for soup. Broths, bisques, and stews belong to colder months, when snow crunches underfoot and frozen ice crystals hang in the air.

But summer? Summer is not the time for soup.

Except when you’ve been sick for four weeks while your boyfriend coughs next to you and you’re in the middle of moving to a new apartment and just need to sit down and eat something warm despite the hot, muggy air outside and the sweaty hair plastered to your forehead.

And you make a potful. And you savor it while sitting next to the air conditioner, surrounded by moving boxes, smiling at the rebellion of eating chowder in late, late June.

Then, summer is for soup.

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Pasta e Riso

Wednesday night was leftover night. But rather than just point Gabe to the fridge to “pick and scratch,” I decided to actually make something with my leftovers. What did I have on hand? Mushrooms, some cooked rice, and a spare onion. Lo and behold, a recipe was born.

I thought about calling this “kitchen sink soup,” since I threw in everything but the kitchen sink, but that name was both illogical and unappetizing. So instead it’s pasta e riso, similar to pasta e fagioli but with rice instead of beans. This soup is hearty and filling, just lovely on cold winter nights. And perfectly suited for leftover days.

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Art Class

As soon as Gabe walked through the door, I told him, “You’re going to laugh at me.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because I just went through two bags of frozen, chopped bell peppers and separated the green pieces from the red pieces.”

“Yep,” he replied, “I’m going to laugh at you.”

I love using frozen vegetables for soups. They’re picked at the peak of freshness and flash-frozen, ensuring quality during those sad, long months when farmer’s markets are closed. But so far, the only frozen bell peppers I can find are a medley of both green and red. And everything I learned in elementary school art class tells me that pureeing red and green bell peppers together would result in a very brown soup. No thanks.

So I sorted through two 10-oz bags of frozen peppers and separated the reds from the greens. Worth it? I think so.

Creamy Red Bell Pepper Soup

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Soup du Jour

After a marathon library research session this morning and another annoying bus delay, I arrived home at 1:00 P.M. determined to make myself beer cheese soup for lunch.

Over an hour later (yikes), it was chow time.

Although I love my mom’s classic recipe, I was determined (with a whiff of snobbery) to make soup without cheese so processed it comes in a jar.  So I tried this recipe from Williams-Sonoma, minus the bacon.

The taste was good– thanks to Sam Adams Irish Red–  but the texture was disappointing.  I whisked the flour furiously and pureed the whole batch in a blender, but I just couldn’t get the cheese to melt completely.  Maybe my problem was buying pre-shredded cheese rather than grating it myself.  Maybe I haven’t found the perfect recipe yet.

Or maybe I just need help.

Cheddar-ale soup with anadama croutons

Adding a bunch of popcorn always helps the texture :)

P.S.  Advice is always welcome.  Just leave a comment!

Matzo Matzo Man

Yesterday I felt better just long enough to run out to the grocery store and pick up the ingredients for homemade chicken soup.

That's a lot of food!

Luckily, years of helping Aunt Pat prepare Thanksgiving feasts reminded me to look inside the chicken and pull out the bag of giblets.  I only squirmed once, and that was when I noticed a single feather remaining on one of the chickens and had to pull it out.  (Dad told me later that he used to pluck freshly killed chickens for his mother, which made me exceedingly grateful for my dead-fowl-free childhood.)

In you go!

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Jumping into Fall

Now that it’s officially fall, I’ve let go of summer and am ready to leap into autumnal recipes headfirst. I think there’s something about going back to school that gets me into fall mode. On Friday Gabe helped me make this awesome recipe from Jane: butternut squash and sweet potato soup. We had a friend over for dinner and she exclaimed delightedly, “This is grown-up food!”

This week I made cran-raspberry cider and chicken noodle soup, and on Friday I was all set to make pumpkin ice cream, but the grocery store had no canned pumpkin. They told me it was “out of season.” What??

And then I realized it was 76 degrees outside and only September 23rd.

No worries; the seasons will just have to catch up with me. I’ll probably be baking Christmas cookies in October.

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • a sprinkle of crushed red pepper
  • 8 whole canned San Marzano tomatoes (about half of a 28-oz can)
  • 1 1½-2 lbs. pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • good olive oil

In a medium pot set over low heat, heat olive oil. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot and break them up with a wooden spoon to release the juices. Sprinkle in a dash of crushed red pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until tomatoes begin to turn dark red.

Turn the heat to medium-high and stir in squash and sweet potatoes. Add enough chicken stock to just cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking that the vegetables are just submerged.

Once vegetables are tender, remove pot from heat and mash with a potato masher until thick and creamy. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into four bowls. Garnish with grated Parmesan, a few dollops of mascarpone, and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Source: Slightly adapted from Ruth Rogers