Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Avocado Soup

Concord Point Lighthouse
Havre De Frace, Maryland

In our recent travels we climbed up to the top of this beautiful old lighthouse at Havre De Grace, MD. This lighthouse served as a beacon at the point where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay for over 180 years. The waters from the Tioughnioga River (which is on our land) flow into the Susquehanna then into the Chesapeake and I find that so fascinating! If you haven’t been to this part the country, you should plan a trip. I love the Delmarva Peninsula and we made many interesting stops along the way to Virginia Beach.

The soup we made before we started on our trip was Avocado Soup with Cilantro, Coriander, Cumin, and Lime from the 10 Things You Need to Eat cook book on eating smart, getting healthy and living long by Dave Lieberman and Anahad O’Connor, not to be confused with Dave Letterman and Conan O'brien! One of the things we all should be eating is avocados. This soup conjures up the flavors of Mexico with all the bright and flavorful ingredients. The Hass avocado has a silky, buttery and velvety taste on the tongue. This is an easy soup to make and perfect for entertaining.

Avocado Soup with Cilantro, Coriander, Cumin, and Lime
Dave Lieberman and Anahad O'Connor
Souper Sarah
You can serve this soup chilled, but the flavors are much more pronounced and vibrant if you keep it hot.
Serves 8

1 large leek
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 large ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and mashed
juice of 1 lime
salt and cayenne pepper
1 small bunch of scallions, finely chopped
1 small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
fromage blanc

1 – Trim the root end of the leek, cut off the tough green leaves, cut the leek in half lengthwise, and rinses well to remove any grit. Roughly chop the leek.

2 – Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the leek, celery, and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.

3 – Add the bay leaves, stock, coriander, cumin, avocado, and lime juice and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4 – Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

5- Ladle into bowls and serve topped chopped scallions and cilantro to taste.

Cooking leeks, onions and celery until soft

Cilantro, Hass avocado, limes and scallions

Mashed avocado

Simmer soup for 10 minutes

Herbs ready for garnish

Serve topped with scallions and cilantro

This soup was so delicious and had a delicate freshness to it. This is a perfect time of the year to enjoy it!
Here are some of the things I learned from this book about avocados:
It is a fruit
Fat can be good – especially monounsaturated, which cannot be overstated
Acts like arterial drain cleaner, keeping blood vessels clear and reducing harmful deposits
Contains no cholesterol
High level of fiber – about 30 percent of the recommended daily amount in a single cup – the most of any fruit
Half an avocado has only 150 calories
Contains about 60% more potassium than bananas – potassium is the blood-pressure-reducing mineral
Is there any doubt that we all should eat lot more avocados!!
Souper Eric's comment - "Don't eat too many or you will have avocado foot!!!"
The thought for the week - "Friends are the Flowers in the Garden of Life" - Unknown (came in a church letter)
Happy souping until we meet again!
Souper Sarah

Harvest Moon Squash Soup

Hubby Eric rototilling with our new toy "Husky"

Grandson Andy working the soil

Planting the early seeds -
peas, radishes, spinach & scallions

Every seed carefully spaced!

Our new tiller “Husky” arrived and we put it to good use in the garden, with our grandson Andy. The planting is early this year, thanks to Andy, who planted the seeds – peas, radishes, spinach and early scallions. Our guest Soupers - Laura & Jim, are part of our blended family and are gardeners, too. Laura takes pleasure in her flower beds and Jim enjoys growing food for the table from his vegetable garden. Laura has a free spirit and when she makes soup, you never know what will result. They both enjoy cooking and you can tell that in the pictures. Their Harvest Moon Squash Soup has a vegetable base and the chunkiness of the vegetables in the pureed squash has amazing rich texture which makes it very filling. I loved this soup!! Melanie, Laura's sister, brought the pumpkin seed oil from Austria and if you never tried it, you are in for a treat. The pumpkin seed oil has an intense nutty taste and is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids(”Wikipedia”). Once you have tasted this soup you will want to buy the oil, check out this site www.pumpkinseedoil.com.

Harvest Moon Squash Soup

Souper Laura & Souper Jim

Souper Sarah

This is a wonderfully hearty and satisfying soup, no matter what the weather is. The stunning pumpkin seed oil enhances the flavor and gives it an elegant taste!
Serves 6-8

2 butternut squash (6 cups), cooked and pureed
1 cup celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, sliced about ¼ inch thick
1 cup parsnips, diced
1/4 teaspoon gram masala
1/4 teaspoon tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
32 oz vegetable broth
4 oz sour cream
pumpkin seed oil - kernol

1­ – In a stock pan, add pureed butternut squash, gram masala¸ and 8 oz of vegetable broth; simmer while other vegetables are cooking.

2 – In a soup pan, add rest of vegetable broth, celery, onion, carrots, parsnips, tarragon leaves, and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft (not crunchy and not mushy). Add parsley and cook for 2 minutes.

3 – Mix the squash from stock pan into the vegetable mixture and season to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Thin soup if too thick.

4 – Add 1/3 cup of sour cream, mix and let rest for 3 minutes.

5 – Serve the soup hot and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a swirl of Kernol – pumpkin seed oil.
Pureed butternut squash

Laura chopping onions

Laura & Jim stirring the pots

Chopping the fresh parsley

Vegetables simmering in broth with parsley

Mix together the pureed squash and vegetables

Tasting the results!

Serve with a garnish of sour cream,
pumpkin seed oil and parsley

Laura and Jim, thank you both for sharing your creative cooking skills with us. The soup was simply delicious!!! They say food brings people together and I’m glad we had this time together. You are fun people to be with!

The thought for the week-

Making real, lasting change is like plowing a path.
The more you use it, the easier it gets.
Happy souping until we meet again!
Souper Sarah
Here is Laura's bio that she wrote for me - I'm sure you will enjoy it!
I grew up in Otisco Valley on 60+ acres of land which was my "play ground". I love the outdoors and love to roam around wherever my feet decide to take me. This ensures that no experience is ever the same, thus keeping my roaming adventures unique and exciting.
I tend to cook the same way. No soup has ever been made the same way twice. Instead of viewing as tried and true, recipes are used as guidance only. Just as with my nature walks, every creation is a unique variation on a common theme. Each is based on my intuition in the moment. I start out with a broad idea and a few basic ingredients in mind, but how they all come together, the quantities and ultimate flavor, is based upon creatively answering questions along the way. What base do I use?, what texture do I want?, what viscosity do I want?, what is missing?, what would enhance the flavor?, what is in my pantry, garden or refrigerator that would go well in it?, and is it complete or does it need one more thing? Each time the answer may be different and therefore the end result is never the same, providing our taste buds with an endless array of delightful experiences.

I also take pleasure in my flower beds - creating, designing, maintaining, and enjoying the display, beauty, and fragrance. It's no wonder Spring is my favorite time of year. My husband, Jim is the vegetable gardener. He enjoys planting, tending, watching, and harvesting his vegetables. He takes great pleasure out of being able to put food on the table without having to make a trip to the grocery store.

During the day, I work out of my home for Oracle, Inc in a finance roll supporting a sales team that sells into Higher Ed, Healthcare, and State & Local Government. I was employed by Sun Microsystems for 22 years prior to the company being acquired by Oracle. Jim also works from home. He is self employed as a money manager. He has had his business, Infinity Asset Management, LLC (IAM), for 7 years. Prior to that he worked for AG Edwards as an Investment Broker.

We both share the role of creative cooking in our household.

Our Harvest Moon Squash Soup was created in the kitchen of and with the assistance of Souper Sarah and her Souper Hubby, Eric. We created the recipe as we went along. The parsnips were added in answer to the question "what is in Sarah's pantry, garden or refrigerator that would go well in it? That proved to be a very tasty addition. The squash was baked in the oven instead of cooked on our wood stove as is our usual custom. Thus the squash was a little drier than normal yielding a thicker soup. For those of you who like a thinner soup, feel free to experiment by adding additional broth, milk, some half and half or some H2O if it turns out a little thicker than you like.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Happy Easter

Do you see the bee?

The temperature this week was so warm, close to the 80’s. Not knowing, our friend, Souper Rosalie volunteered to make soup and picked a perfect soup for the weather – Chilled Cucumber Soup. Rosalie belongs to many organizations, doing volunteer work for them. One of her favorite charities is the Red Cross and she recently became a board member of the Groton Library. RSVP has just honored her with the Volunteer of the Month award for March! She had this type of soup at Virginia Beach and liked its Mediterranean flavor, so she came home and made her own recipe! This soup is served chilled and the explicit and vibrant flavors are mouth-watering! It is a cooling soup.

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Souper Rosalie/Souper Sarah

This is an exceptionally refreshing chilled soup, using a traditional combination of cucumber and yogurt.

Serves 6

3 (7oz.) containers Greek yogurt
1 cup half and half (may substitute buttermilk)
2 English cucumbers, unpeeled, seeded and chopped
½ cup chopped red onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
6 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (4 lemons)
A bit more fresh dill and a few lemon slices for garnish
6 Pita Breads – warmed just before serving – and cut into wedges

1 – In large mixing bowl, stir together the yogurt, half and half (or buttermilk), cucumbers, onion, scallions, garlic, salt and pepper.

2 – Transfer the mixture in batches to a food processor fitted with steel blade. Process until the cucumbers are coarsely pureed – pour into another bowl. Continue until all is processed and pureed. Fold in the dill, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

3 – Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice – serve chilled, garnished with lemon slices and fresh dill, with the warm pita wedges.

Chopping scallions

English cucumbers

Chopped red onion

Mixed & stir cucumbers, onions, and dill

Process until coarsely pureed

Serve chilled - garnished with lemon slices & fresh dill

Souper Rosalie/Souper Sarah
Celebrating their April birthdays!
Thank you, Rosalie for celebrating our birthdays and making this fantastic soup. Ralph (Rosalie’s husband), Eric and my Mom were here, too. We had fun at our birthday party! By the way, this soup is equally sensational the next day!

The thought for the week -
Rather than search for a single miracle food, strive for a varied and delicious diet.

Happy souping until we meet again!

Souper Sarah