Cauliflower Soup!

I know what you’re thinking. Cauliflower soup? Where’s the pumpkin? Well, this chunky soup is packed with our favorite fall gourd.

Kidding! This wasn’t a post we were planning, but I cooked a pot of this soup on Tuesday and had to share it with everyone because it was so delicious. In addition to eating leftovers for lunch, Alex also requested it for breakfast the past couple of days!

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When the days get cooler, I crave all types of soups, and while I make most at home, I’ve always shied away from cheesy soups because I’ve had the bad luck getting the cheese to melt without creating a greasy and clumpy mess. I can’t say for sure what made the difference this time (following instructions, maybe?), but the soup turned out perfectly. I think I may use  this same base recipe for a broccoli version next.

The original recipe can be found here, and it was so perfect that I my changes were minor.

Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 medium cauliflower head, broken into florets
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups 2% or whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, and celery. Cook, stirring once in a while, until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the cauliflower, water, and bouillon. Keep the soup at a gentle simmer for about 10-15 minutes as the vegetables cook.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour, salt, and pepper until smooth. Continue whisking and slowly pour in the milk. Whisk until smooth. Bring the milk to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stir once in a while, and cook for about 2 minutes until thickened. Reduce heat to low and stir in the cheese until melted.
  4. Stir the milk mixture into the soup and serve.
http://liveseasoned.com/cauliflower-soup/

We found that this soup reheats well, but doesn’t last long! I think this has started a little cauliflower kick in our house. Up next, this roasted cauliflower and garlic dip.

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Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. If you like this pumpkin chili, you might want to check out our stew and curry too!

Pumpkin Chili! In our house, chili was one of the first dinners that we learned to make. Our mom had a really simple, kid-friendly recipe (ground beef, canned beans and tomatoes, chili spice packet). Side note : can’t wait to teach Alex to make that one; look for that as a Cooking with Kids post in a couple of years. I was always really psyched to for chili night, but as I’ve grown, so have my tastes. Now I love a chili packed with fresh veggies, and fortunately for me, this chili has not one, but two types of pumpkin. Victory!

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I used two types of pumpkin because they each do something different for the dish. The fresh pumpkin holds its texture well when cooked, making it another vegetable that easy to identify in this chunky chili, while the pureed pumpkin adds a creamy texture to the chili liquid.

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Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. We’re a big fan of pumpkin desserts (cookies, and popsicles, anyone?), but we’re not opposed to drinking our pumpkin or putting it on our face! Oh, and if you like the idea of a pumpkin soup, but don’t want the spice of a curry, check out this stew!

I’m trying to figure out how to introduce this pumpkin curry. Here are my options : 1. it’s so easy to make! 2. it’s delicious; everyone, including little Luc and Alex, loved it! 3. on a personal note, cooking curry brings back so many awesome memories from my time visiting Sarah in Thailand. All three introductions are true, and together, they have me wanting to make a pot of this curry every night. You should probably make it too.

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In Sarah’s post about Bangkok, she briefly mentioned the cooking class that we took together at Silom Thai Cooking School. It was such a great traveling experience. I love eating Thai food, and I’m happy to experiment with recipes I find online and in cookbooks, but it was reassuring to have experienced teachers show us how to make a handful of dishes and confirm that, as I’ll show you today, making a delicious curry is really that simple.

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Three Sisters Stew

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. After you’re done making this stew, serve a batch of these pumpkin cookies for dessert.

I may be taking some liberties in calling this three sisters stew, but whenever I see any combination of winter squash, corn, and beans, I think of the sisters. That combination of vegetables goes together in this savory stew as well as they grow together in the garden. What I’m trying to say is that this dish is fan-freaking-tastic. It’s delicious, is packed with vegetables, and pairs well with any number of meats. We served it with our favorite fried chicken, which is another recipe we shouldn’t keep to ourselves (look for it soon!).

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The recipe below is based off of this one, but with a few tweaks. For example, I can’t help but start a vegetable soup with diced onions and carrots, so we threw those in with the original recipe’s red pepper. I’m also a big fan of Rapunzel’s vegetable bouillon, so I substituted that in place of the chicken stock. Loving to garnish with avocados where ever we can (even in the form of avocado ice cream!), a few slices goes perfectly with this soup.

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In addition to those full-on changes to the recipe, I made a few basic swaps too. I used a can of fire-roasted tomatoes in place of the plum, and I used dried beans in place of canned. When it comes to beans, I almost never used canned. I’m just a fan of keeping dried beans in my pantry and then using our pressure cooker to soften them up on a moment’s notice. I’ll even make more than I need, using the extra for a dish later in the week or freezing them*. I also like that I can keep them in the cooker for a few extra minutes to create a cracked and really soft bean, making them even easier for Alex to eat.

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The recipe called for a garnish of toasted pumpkin seeds (if it didn’t I already had plans to add some – great minds!). I think we’re toasting pumpkin seeds on a weekly basis around here, primarily for adding to salads. I always toast them on the stovetop in a small cast iron pan. Put the pan over medium-high heat, add the pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of salt. Toss them regularly and take them off the heat the moment they begin popping. Easy peasy… and like the beans you’ll want to make extra, but in this case the extra’s for snacking before dinner :-).

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If you’re like me, you may get the idea that you want to partially blend this soup when finished. It’s something about a soup with winter squash and beans that makes me want to grab the immersion blender. If you’re like that too, don’t do it. This recipe creates a nice, hearty vegetable soup, and I’m convinced that there’s nothing to gain by blending it. Make a batch and let me know what you think. In line with that thought, you’ll see that you have to add raw squash to the pot, which means you may have to spend some time peeling and chopping a raw pumpkin (unless you pick up a pack of the chopped and peeled butternut squash from Trader Joe’s!). At first I wanted to roast my pumpkin to make removing the flesh easier, but if I did that, then the pumpkin would be mushy and wouldn’t hold its shape well in the stew (a characteristic that’s great if you do plan on making a blended soup).

Three Sisters Stew

Three Sisters Stew

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 large red pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups winter squash (pumpkin, acorn, or butternut) cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • toasted pumpkin seeds
  • sliced avocado

Instructions

  1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add the onion, carrot, and red pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until tender and the onions are clear.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and sauté for a few seconds until you can smell their aroma. Add the garlic, cinnamon, and cloves, and sauté for a few more seconds.
  3. Add the corn, squash, tomatoes (with their juices), and the broth. Bring the stew to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the squash is almost tender.
  4. Add the beans, cover, and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. If you would like the stew to have more liquid, you can always add more broth.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve with a garnish of toasted pumpkin seeds and sliced avocado.
http://liveseasoned.com/three-sisters-stew/

There you have it! A veggie-packed stew for a cool fall day, and if you have kiddos, you can teach them about the three sisters (not the Schu sisters!) over the dinner table.

*this week my extra beans were used to make a tex-mex black been dish with green chilies and more red pepper, and then those leftovers were used to make huevos rancheros!
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Garlic + Parmesan Roasted Chickpeas

liveseasoned_winter14_chickpeas-5I’m a big fan of crispy, salty snacks, but I feel pretty bad about myself when I eat an entire bag of kettle cooked chips.  Maybe you don’t, which I applaud you for, and that case go open another bag while you read this recipe.  I think these garlic and parmesan roasted chickpeas are the perfect substitute for potato chips because they provide the crunch and the salt that I’m craving, but they also pack some protein.  They’re baked, not fried like chips, and really you could season them however you see fit.  I recently kicked my chips and dip habit (thank you, thank you very much) and I found I’m baking these up quite often to satisfy my salt tooth. Is that a thing? It is for me at least.

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Crab Chowder

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I’m happy to report that so far my weekly soup challenge is successful!  Woah, I just realized I already transformed my soup-a-week goal into a challenge?! I think I’m on the challenge train.  Anywho, I grew up eating this chunky crab chowder.  This recipe actually comes straight from Momma Schu.  She has been dubbed the soup queen many times in the past.  Years ago, she would stir up soups for soccer concession stands, pot lucks and get-togethers.  My job usually consisted of unwrapping the bouillon cubes, but I get a sense that this is where my love of cooking came from.  Thanks for that Momma Schu and with no further ado, I present you with the yummiest crab chowder.

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Crab Chowder

Crab Chowder

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 5 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 lb. fresh crab meat
  • 2-3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • chicken or vegetable bouillon to taste
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • handful of oyster crackers

Instructions

  1. Warm olive oil in a big soup pot.
  2. Add the onion, celery, red pepper, and carrots. Sauté until soft. Throw in a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Add the potatoes and cover with water. Add chicken or vegetable soup base to taste. Cook on medium high till potatoes are soft.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and crab meat.
  5. Turn down the heat. After a few moments, when the soup cools enough to not curdle the cream, add 2-3 cups of heavy whipping cream.
  6. Slowly bring heat to desired serving temperature.
  7. Serve with oyster crackers and a dash of pepper.
http://liveseasoned.com/crab-chowder/

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If you are far from the ocean and wondering what crab meat to buy, we usually go with this.  On that note, have you ever gone crabbing?  As I grow older and realize that I’ve had slightly different opportunities than others, I come to appreciate them more and more.  I didn’t realize that other kids weren’t hauling in crabs from the side of the boat every summer.  Crabbing is relatively easy if you’re in a good spot.  All you need to do is tie a string around a raw chicken neck, attach a couple sinkers, drop it in the water and wait.  When you feel a little tug, you pull the line up hand over hand ever soooo slowly.  When the crab and bait are almost at the surface, you scoop them up with a fishing net.  It’s that easy! Like I said though, you have to go find a good spot.  So if you visit the beach next summer, talk to some locals and ask where they go crabbing.  They might not tell you, maybe they’ll tell you a fake spot, or who knows, maybe the crabs are so abundant that you can go crabbing right off the dock.  If you ever get the chance, this is me telling you to try it.  You’ll have fun.

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Easy Peasy Creamy Chicken Soup

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If you’re feeling under the weather (like me) or low on time, you should probablyyyy make this easy peasy creamy chicken soup tonight. BTW I came up with the title of the post while I was making the soup and that’s how I had the idea to add the peas, so pun originally not intended 😉 Anyway, this chicken soup is creamy, delicious and so damn easy to make. Why is it so damn easy?! Here’s why: It only takes a handful of ingredients, most of which are probably in your fridge or pantry already. It’s a one pot meal. It all comes together in twenty minutes. No fibbing here!

Creamy Chicken Soup Ingredients:

  • two TBSP olive oil OR butter
  • one onion, chopped
  • two celery stalks, chopped
  • three big carrots, chopped
  • one cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • three cups chicken broth (or two cups chicken broth and one cup mushroom broth)
  • three cups milk
  • one cup peas, cooked
  • salt, pepper and thyme to taste

Creamy Chicken Soup Instructions:

  • Heat olive oil or butter in a big soup pot over medium heat.  Toss in the chopped onions, carrots and celery. Sauté until onions are clear and veggies are soft.
  • Add the shredded chicken and mix.
  • Toss in a third cup of flour.  Mix all the ingredients so the flour coats everything.
  • Add three cups of broth. I always use bouillon to make a tasty stock, but this time I also added some mushroom broth.
  • Add three cups of milk and mix.  Watch the soup and stir occasionally.  After about five minutes the broth will thicken.
  • Add a cup of cooked peas (I used frozen!) and a bunch of salt, pepper and thyme.

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Crowd pleaser, am I right?  This is the first of many soups of 2015, let’s all hope and pray they are this easy and delicious!

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Roasted Root & Squash Soup

Last week Sarah shared her fantastic recipe for squash soup with a citrus zing. Then we debated: should share another soup recipe this week, especially another one that uses squash? The answer was yes, because for us, it’s most definitely soup season and squash season! I was also jumping at the bit to share this recipe before Thanksgiving because I think it could make a fantastic addition to your feast, but it’s also a great way to use up leftover roasted vegetables, turning them into a completely new dish so you’re not eating the same leftovers for days.

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I made up this recipe a few years ago, and I never make it exactly the same way twice. I truly believe that anything goes when it comes to the vegetables. In this post I’m giving you an example of a typical vegetable mix in our house, but you could easily add more vegetables to the mix and subtract the ones you don’t like. The same goes for the garnish. I don’t buy anything special for the garnish and always make a point of using what I have on hand. If you do the same, I’m sure you’ll come up with some pretty surprising and delicious combinations.

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Soup Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth + additional water
  • 1 medium/large butternut squash
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 medium/large onion
  • 2 large beets
  • 3-5 medium potatoes

Garnish Suggestions

  • beet or chard greens
  • tuffle oil
  • parmesan cheese
  • sour cream

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 How To

  • Prepare the vegetables for roasting. Cut the squash in half and clean out the seeds. Coarsely chop the beets, potatoes, and two carrots. Place all vegetables on an oiled cooking sheet or baking pan and roast until soft (about one hour), stirring halfway through.
  • While the vegetables are roasting, dice the onion and remaining carrot and saute them in olive oil until the onions are translucent.

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  •  When the vegetables are done roasting, add them to the soup pot (removing the squash from its rind) with the broth and enough water to reach the top of the vegetables. Bring this mixture to a boil and then turn down to low heat for blending.
  • Carefully puree the soup using either an immersion or upright blender. Return the soup to the pot and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, and then you’re done!

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About the Garnishes

I think garnishes add a special touch to what is otherwise a homogeneous soup (not that that’s a bad thing). As I mentioned, there’s no particular right or wrong when it comes to the garnish, but you may want to think about using things that will add a different color, texture, or flavor to the soup. I often use some cooked greens because they add both color and texture to the smooth, pureed base. I like parmesan or cheddar cheeses for their nutty taste, but the tang of yogurt or sour cream is also a great compliment to the sweet flavor of the vegetables. And, as you know, I love the taste of truffles, and a dash of truffle oil works really well on this soup.

If using greens, saute them in some olive oil to prepare them. You can do this with a touch of salt and some diced onion and/or crush garlic or garlic powder.

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Alex loves this soup, I’m sure it has something to do with the sweet/savory combination from the roasted vegetables and the easy-to-eat pureed texture. I love knowing that he’s eating such a wide variety of vegetables with every bite. Oh, and I already have two quarts of this frozen for when I’m too tired to cook!

There you have it! A relatively simple soup that is so easy to prepare, packed with flavor, and with so many different veggies! Try making this for friends and family over the holiday season and I’m sure it’ll be a hit… if not, just send it to my house, I have a freezer that I’m looking to fill ;-).  
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