Super Soups for Supper

Crescent Dragonwagon

My longtime friend, Crescent Dragonwagon, author of dozens of children's books, cookbooks, novels, poetry and fiction, as well as one of the best vegetarian cookbooks ever written, had a souper-habit. Put simply, the crockpot in her kitchen always had soup cooking. Every day she'd add something new and every evening, she'd have a cup of soup along whatever food she had fixed and for whomever was in the house for dinner. The soup was always on;  I've eaten her "perpetual soup" many times and it was always delicious. With cold weather in the making, or having already arrived in many parts of the world, it's time to make soup. One of Crescent's soups that she used to serve at her Dairy Hollow House Restaurant, was the curried pumpkin bisque. You can find the original recipe in her book, Soup and Bread, but here's my own Crescent-inspired version.
Her recipe calls for nearly all the ingredients to be cooked in one big soup pot, onions with peelings on, etc., then strained through a colander. She used chopped-up, whole pumpkin, seeds, peel and all. Same with apples, no need to see or core them. My version, listed below, is based on whatever I have on hand at the time and a little different method.
I chop the ingredients rather than cooking them whole or in large chunks. It just appeals to my sense of organization and order. I saute the chopped ingredients in a bit of olive oil until they are tender.
If I don't have pumpkin on hand, I use butternut or a similar squash. Cut in chunks, peeling left on and seed removed, it microwaves in about 6 or 7 minutes. Once it cools, the peel is easy to, well, peel off.
Here's the recipe. I've made it so many times I should go back to Crescent's Soup and Bread book to see if it still resembles the original.
Curried Squash Soup
This is a really tasty winter soup and you can vary the ingredients according to what's in the pantry. Rather than chopping everything individually, I put all the raw ingredients in a food processor and chop them. Occasionally I put some canned pumpkin in the mix, other times I use different squash or a combination of the two.

1 butternut squash, stem and seed removed, cut in chunks, microwaved until soft
1 large sweet potato, microwaved, peeled
4 apples, cored but not peeled, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
1 large carrot, cut in pieces
1 large baking potato, scrubbed, peeling left on, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled of course, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups chicken broth, or vegetarian broth instead
2 cups water
4 cups apple juice (or frozen apple cider if you can find it)
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1 - Microwave the squash and sweet potato and set aside to cool; peel and discard peelings.
2 - Working in batches, chop the raw ingredients in a food processor.
3 - Add the olive oil to a stockpot and heat. Add the chopped onion, apples, carrot, garlic and potato, stirring often and simmer until almost tender. Add 2 cups water and continue cooking until vegetables are completely tender. Add additional water as it cooks, if needed.
4 - Working in batches, process the chopped vegetables, sweet potato and squash in a blender, and puree until the soup in nice and smooth.
5 - Pour that back into the stockpot and add the chicken broth and apple juice, including the salt and pepper and curry powder. Simmer for a few minutes and taste the soup. If the first tablespoon of curry powder wasn't quite enough, add more but not so much it overpowers the soup. It's ready to serve. You can add a bit of half and half or cream if you wish but this is a surprisingly creamy soup without anything extra. This makes enough for about 8 or 10 average soup bowl servings.

Below is another of my favorite soups I like to make in winter. When I spoke at the Frankenmuth (Michigan) Herb Society a few years back, they asked me for some of my recipes for their luncheon. This is one that was on that menu and I think you'll find it quite tasty.
Ginger-Orange Carrot Soup, with a cracker from my Homemade Crackers book.
Ginger-Orange Carrot Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
5 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 pounds small baby carrots (or if using larger carrots, peeled and cut up)
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons dry rice
1-2 teaspoons freshly-grated ginger
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup (or slightly more) heavy whipping cream or half and half

1 - In skillet saute the onion in butter.
2 - Transfer the saute to a soup pot with the 5 cups of chicken stock, honey, baby carrots, tomato paste and rice. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer and cook, covered for about 30 minutes or until rice is tender.
3 - Transfer soup to a food processor and puree with the orange zest, ginger, cream and salt and pepper to taste. Puree well, this is meant to be a very smooth soup. Return the soup to a pot to keep it warm until serving but don’t let it boil. Taste and adjust seasonings. If too thick, add more chicken broth. The recipe serves 6 as a side dish soup with salad, served in small coffee cups.

You might like serving either of these soups with homemade crackers from my book, Homemade Crackers Using Herbs. If you've never made homemade crackers before, they are as easy as making cookies, and your guests or family will be SO impressed that you know how to make crackers! The book also makes great hostess gifts, with a plate of crackers for the Holidays!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i've been on a salad kick for a couple days, soups sounds just thing for tomorrow.
thanks for being out there.