This past week the season turned from summer to fall, as it does every loop around the globe. Mom Nature took that turn very seriously here in the beehive state. On Monday, it was 91. On Wednesday it was 50, and the mountain peaks that surround my new fair city were iced with their first snow. I’m not sad about that one bit, because when my toes start to turn frosty in flip-flops and thoughts turn to boot season, that means it’s time to fill the freezer with cozy fare for football weekends and chilly nights. Here’s a favorite posts from the early days to usher in hot food in a big bowl season.
Oh, and if you need something to read while the soups are souping, check out this wonderfully ridiculous article from Car and Drive (seriously…Car and Driver) — The Physics of Clown Cars.
[Hi there. Present-day me again. Just thought I’d mention that I’m making the potato leek soup today, and made a few adjustments for those of you out there (me included) who are a little less “my body is a temple and fat is the enemy.” Start off with a strip of bacon (oh, how I wish every sentence ever uttered started with that), cut up into pieces and heat up in the soup pot, with a scant bit of olive oil if the bacon isn’t rendering a mess of fat. Cook the bacon until lightly browned. Toss in the onions, leeks and shallots, and a knob (about a tablespoon) butter, and sweat them until soft. Then add in the taters and proceed as written. Until the end. Once you’ve done the cooking and pureeing, add in a glug, or glug glug of cream or half and half. Season and serve. You can thank me later.]
My Freezer is a Clown Car
There’s something strange going on in my freezer. Structurally, it’s the ‘typical’ rental apartment freezer. It lives on the top third of my fridge and is small. Very small. Yet while it’s dimensions are diminutive, it continually defies the laws of physics. As an avid cook and food blogger, I’m constantly testing recipes and cooking for friends. Add to that I happen to have a good deal of time on my hands these days and relieve the stresses of not having a job, (and having way too much time on my hands), by cooking. Problem is, all that food has to go someplace. I’m a good eater (very), but even I can’t consume it all quickly and I hate to waste food. So it goes into the freezer. My very small freezer. And somehow it fits. How? My freezer it seems, is a clown car. Or rather has the same physical properties as one. You know when that teeny-weeny car drives into the center ring, the door opens, and an endless supply of clownage pours out? That’s what happens in my freezer. Except, they pour in. And in. A seemingly endless number of containers filled with homemade soups and sauces, zip-top freezer bags filled with fresh-baked tasty treats, tightly wrapped aluminum foiled leftover fare, and the occasional cocktail glass in anticipation of a forthcoming dirty martini.
I’ve studied physics in school and nowhere did I see the “Bozo-Principle” mentioned. I think it only occurs in three places. The clown car, a small handbag when you are trying to carry less crap (but really need that third lipstick just incase), and my freezer. It’s a place where time and the parameters of space are suspended, and no leftover is lonely or unloved. A 30 degree time-capsule where on any given day I can relive menus of dinners past, visit the results of successful new recipes, sample birthday baked goods too plentiful to fit into “if it fits it ships” boxes, and sticks of butter and shortening, brown sugar, and sundry nut meats all waiting their turn in some future recipe. Yes, my freezer is a magical and miraculous place. All that’s missing are the giant pants, floppy shoes, and maybe a pony.
This time of year my freezer’s main residents are homemade soups. Soup is my favorite way to get all sorts of good, healthy ingredients into me efficiently and tastily. They also provide me the best excuse I know to make grilled cheese sandwiches, a favorite comfort food choice when I’m in need. (I’ve included a list of my favorite grilled cheese ingredient combos at the end of this post).
A carrot obviously destined for my pantry…
My Spiced Carrot Soup is healthy and delicious, with the Moroccan flavors of cumin, allspice and cinnamon guaranteed to make you feel toasty on the chilliest of days. And if carrots are not your thing, give my Potato Leek Soup, Creamy Spinach, or Creamy Tomato, a try!
Potato Leek Soup Serves 4
This soup comes together in 45 minutes, and you will be shocked at how creamy it is without a drop of cream added. Perfect for a casual dinner, just serve with a green salad, some nice cheese, crusty bread and a glass of wine and you’ll be in spud-heaven!
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ lb leeks, well cleaned and finely chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 ¼ lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1-2 TBSP chopped fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried dill
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, leek, shallot and a good pinch of salt. Cover and sweat for about 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.
Once the onion mix is soft, add the potatoes, dill and stock. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Turn off the heat and puree the soup in batches in the blender, or with a hand blender in the stockpot. Season with salt and pepper. Calories: about 100 per serving.
Spiced Carrot Soup
Makes 4 servings, or about 6 cups
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 lb carrots (one bag), peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 ½ tsp cumin, plus extra for sprinkling on top
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- A pinch allspice
- A pinch cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (or more to taste)
In a large saucepan, sauté onion in butter and a pinch of salt over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Add carrots, cumin, cinnamon, and allspice and sauté another minute. Add broth, bring to a boil, then turn down heat, cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
When carrots are very tender, turn off heat and carefully puree soup in small batches in a blender until smooth. Return to pan, whisk in lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve with a sprinkle of cumin on top and a squirt of lemon. Calories: approximately 125 per serving.