Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

This is easy. This is so easy. Yet it is one of the best soup recipes I’ve made. The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the acorn squash in half to roast them. After that it is a cake walk. But if you haven’t done this before and you are not particularly strong in the hands, take extra precautions. Heck, even if you are a linebacker, cutting one of these at the wrong angle can lead to a pretty unfortunate knife incident, so please be cautious (see notes). In the photo the soup bowl is surrounded by herbs but for once they are just for show. My garden is a profusion of herbs at the moment and the Mexican Mint Marigold is in bloom and I find myself making bouquets of herbs just for the beauty and the scent.

I made sweet and spicy croutons to go with this. It is a nifty flavor jolt in a sublime soup. Other than the spices used in the croutons, this is a low spice/seasoning affair. The squash sweetens as it roasts and is wonderful without any seasoning at all. One of my husband’s favorite dishes, in fact, is a half of a roasted acorn squash, with the cavity filled with melted butter and a heaping spoonful of brown sugar. I will not judge if you pull these beauties out of the oven and decide to just dig in, as is. For that same reason, the soup doesn’t need a lot of gussying up. I sautéed onions and garlic, and pureed the squash with the onions, garlic and chicken broth. After that, a light splash of cream and a teaspoon of maple sugar are all that I add. It is really lovely.

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Creamy Tomato Soup

The tomatoes are lovely right now. Recently at Whole Foods there were about seven different varieties, which always makes me happy. There were Roma, cluster tomatoes, grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, a big pile of various heirloom tomatoes, and more. In a fit of indecision I bought a little bit of four different kinds and make them into a satiny cream of tomato soup. It was lovely. And my son, a fan of the Campbell’s version, swore that mine was the “best ever!” I agree. It is great because it tastes exactly like tomatoes, fresh and new, warm and comforting.

Buy about 2½ pounds of assorted ripe tomatoes. They all have different flavors and textures. You are sure to not end up with dud tomatoes if you diversify. Plus, I think it is important to perk up your ears when you see a sign that says “heirloom” anything. It has become a fashionable food word and I always find that a bit off-putting, but…commercial tomatoes have been bred, much like apples, for characteristics like redness, shelf stability, and appearance. They have been hybridized to produce the desired characteristic, and flavor has not necessarily been at the top of the list. As we have seen with apples, shelf stability (a virtue, to be sure) is not the prime virtue many of us are looking for in fruits and veggies.

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Green Chile Chicken Soup

I have a friend named Natalie. She just turned 50 and jumped out of an airplane to mark the occasion. She also smiles non-stop, laughs from her soul, and creates new friendships by magnetically pulling diverse individuals into her orbit. She is silly and goofy and pretty and nice.

She gave me a recipe for this soup, generally. I changed it a bit, loved it, and then misplaced it. I went back through my photos of the first try, put the steps back together, and came up with this version. So, this is Natalie’s idea, except that it might not really be even remotely similar.

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Edible Dallas & Fort Worth :: Roasted Parsnip Soup

I’m very happy to show you this magazine cover because that is my photo. The pie was made by Kate Nelson of Piecurious here in Dallas. It is a beauty. But Terri Taylor and Nanci Taylor, the Publisher and Editor of Edible Dallas & Fort Worth, respectively, were kind enough to not only choose one of my photos for the cover, but also to include a little missive by me on “the meaning of pie” and several of my recipes.

Even more fun, if you look closely in the issue, you will find an image of my hands crimping a pie crust. That photo was taken by my eight-year-old daughter, Lily. And, Terri and Nanci were sweet enough to give her a photo credit. Occasionally, Lily has to handle the camera in my kitchen because I am elbow deep in a mess, or I need to demonstrate something using my hands. I will set up the tripod and she will get a stool and scramble up there and thoughtfully address the camera. She takes her job as an artist very seriously. This is a family affair. Our neighbor, Linda, said to Lily, “You have something to put on your resume now.” Lily smiled proudly and said, “What in the world is a resume?” She’s neat. If you remember, the last Edible Dallas & Fort Worth cover was taken by my husband, Pitts. I was grilling fish steaks for photos to accompany a recipe by noted Dallas chef Tim Byres, and flat ran out of hands and time. As I told you, we eat what we photograph around here, so many shots are done on the way to the table. I cried “uncle” and handed off the camera to Pitts, and he took many of the great photos for that session, one of which was of a cast iron skillet full of glistening cherry tomatoes and pickled green beans and carrots being cooked over a fire.  It was so gloriously juicy and lovely that it landed on the last cover.

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Green Chile Stew

photo of a bowl of green chile beef stewI do so love green chiles. They are quite handy for giving dishes a lift. But usually, it involves putting a tiny 4 ounce can in a recipe full of other creamy things. This recipe is all about the green chiles. You cannot escape them. You will know whether or not you want to try this recipe by the end of this sentence because I am about to tell you that there are 28 ounces of canned green chiles in this recipe. Are you still with me? Yes, that is four of the big cans or seven of the little ones. Yeehaw!

If you don’t cook with green chiles often, don’t worry. These are not jalapenos or habaneros or serranos. In fact, they are a very mild green pepper. The resulting stew is not so much hot, as peppery. That is, it is a sensation of flavor, not heat. The use of tomatoes softens the dish a little bit. Other than that, it is a very straightforward braise.

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