Minestrone for an Autumn Day

I went to one of our local farm stores and found this…

It’s a crookneck squash, and it is gigantic! It is about the size of 3 or 4 butternut squashes! So you will likely be seeing this, or parts of it, a few times over the next few weeks. This recipe used just 1/2 of the bulb section.

We also dove into out CSA box and pulled out some collard greens.

My daughter and I had been to one of my favorite Persian kabob restaurants in DC today, so I wanted a light dinner.  Time for some minestrone soup.

When you look at my pictures below, feel free to chuckle at the size pot I used. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Minestrone Soup

adapted from Cooking Classy

2 medium carrots, diced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 Tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups vegetable stock

2 1/2 cups 3/4-inch diced yukon gold potatoes

2 1/2 cups 3/4-inch diced crookneck or butternut squash (locally grown)

1 medium zucchini, sliced into half-moons or quarters

1 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano (from the garden)

1 tsp dried thyme (from the garden)

2 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-inch parmesan rind

2/3 cup dry ditalini pasta

2 cups packed chopped collard greens (ribs removed)

1 – 14.5 oz can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

Shaved parmesan cheese, for serving


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and saute 3 minutes then add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

Stir in vegetable broth, potatoes, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, pamesan rind and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil then and stir in pasta if using. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and and simmer for 10 minutes, add the collard greens. Cover and cook another 5 minutes. Stir in the cannelini beans and cook until collard greens are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Remove bay leaves

If you want a thicker soup, use an immersion blender for about 10 seconds.

Serve warm topped with shaved parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Serves 6 – 8.

Categories: Butternut Squash, Carrot, Kosher, Recipe, Soup, Vegetarian, Zucchini | Tags: | Leave a comment

Andalusian Gazpacho & Catalan Vegetable Paella

Tonight’s dinner brought me back to my trip with my daughters to Barcelona last November.  Or, should I say, MAKING tonight’s dinner brought me back to our cooking class in Barcelona. I even used the recipe for gazpacho that Emily made that night.


But tonight we served it in glasses.

As our main meal I made a vegetable paella…

Both dishes were full of beautiful vegetables and herbs from my garden.

Memories of Spain… garden vegetables… a satisfying vegetarian dinner… happiness.

Andalusian Gazpacho

from Barcelona Cooking

6 tomatoes (from the garden)

1/2 cucumber (from the garden)

1 garlic clove

1 small jalapeno pepper (from the garden)

1/2 red pepper

300 ml water

2 Tbsp sherry vinegar

1 slice bread (or 1 small homemade roll)

2 Tbsp olive oil


Grate the tomatoes and cut up all the vegetables.

Set aside a little  (1 – 2 ounces) of the cucumber, green pepper and red pepper and dice them very finely to garnish the gazpacho.

Soak the bread in the water and vinegar.

In a bowl, mix all the vegetables together and pour the soaked bread in and blend while adding olive oil to emulsify.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Garnish, serve and enjoy!

Serves 4

Catalan Vegetable Paella

from Perla Meyers

tablespoons olive oil1 small fresh green chili pepper, finely minced (from the garden)

1 large Bermuda onion, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced

1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

1 ½ teaspoon imported paprika

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (from the garden)

1 medium-sized zucchini, trimmed and cubed (from the garden)

4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (from the garden)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 ¼ cups arborio rice

2 cups chicken stock or bouillon

Finely minced fresh parsley for garnish (from the garden)


In a large deep, 12-inch iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chili pepper, onion and bell peppers, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the onion is lightly browned.

Add the garlic, paprika, thyme, zucchini and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the rice and chicken stock or bouillon and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until the rice is tender. Taste and correct the seasoning. Garnish with finely minced parsley.

Serve the paella hot as an accompaniment to roasted or grilled meats or as a light Sunday supper, directly from the skillet, accompanied by a well-seasoned green salad. The paella can also be served at room temperature, doused with fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of fruity olive oil.

Serves 4 – 6



Categories: Cucumber, Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe, Soup, Tomatoes, Vegetarian, Zucchini | 1 Comment

Creamy Sunchoke & Asparagus Soup

After many nights of heavy Passover foods, I was craving soup. Plus, I had stopped at one of our local orchards on my drive home from a client meeting and picked up some just-picked asparagus. Asparagus and my Jerusalem artichokes…a happy combo!

The soup looks rich and tastes rich, but is so light and healthy! Perfection!

Creamy Sunchoke and Asparagus Soup

Very slightly adapted from

1 pound fresh asparagus (from T.S. Smith & Sons)

1 large white potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice ~ 1 1/2 cups diced potato

1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice (from the garden)

2 large shallots, peeled and sliced

1/4 tsp Kosher salt

2 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

3 cups chicken stock 


Slice off the tips of the asparagus about 1 – 1 1/2 inches long and reserve. Trim the woody ends and discard. Cut the remaining spears into 1″ pieces and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and salt. Cook until the shallots soften and become translucent – do not brown the shallots.

Add the asparagus, potato and Jerusalem artichokes to the shallots. Add stock, cover and bring just to a boil. Turn down the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring a cup of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath by adding 1 cup of ice and 1 cup water into a bowl and set aside.

Add the asparagus tips to the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes until just tender. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer the asparagus tips from the boiling water to the ice bath to shock them and stop the cooking. Set aside until ready to serve.

When the vegetables are tender, use an immersion blender and puree until smooth. Season as necessary with the kosher salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and swirl a teaspoon of olive oil over each bowl. Divide the asparagus tips among the bowls and float them in the soup. Enjoy!

Serves 4.


Categories: Asparagus, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kosher, Passover, Recipe, Soup, Vegetarian | Tags: | 1 Comment

Onion Soup with Sourdough Bread

The first time I made onion soup, it exploded all over my parents’ kitchen.

I was 17, and I was going to impress my boyfriend with my (apparently non-existent) cooking skill. Not only did I figure out how to explode a soup all over the kitchen, but I learned that I did not know the difference between a clove and a bulb of garlic, my steak Diane really packed a punch!

Luckily for my family and friends, my knowledge, and my cooking skills, have advanced since then. My onion soup has evolved from the same basic recipe I used so many years ago. And I am happy to report that it no longer explodes.

I made some beautiful sourdough bread the night before, so this onion soup is paired with the wonderful flavor of sourdough.

Onion Soup with Sourdough Bread 

2 very large onions

3 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp Kosher salt

1/4 tsp sugar

3 Tbsp flour

1 quart boiling water

1 quart beef stock (organic, if possible)

1/2 cup white wine

1″ thick slices of sourdough bread (enough for each bowl of soup)

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere


Cut the onions in half through their stems and slice very thinly.

In a 5-quart covered pot, heat the oil and butter/margarine over low heat.  Add the onions and cook slowly for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover and increase the heat to medium.  Stir in the salt and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes, or until the onions are deep, golden brown.

Add the flour, stir and cook for another 2 minutes

Add in the water, broth and wine.  Bring to a simmer and cook, partly covered for 30 – 40 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350F.

Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls.  Place a slice of bread in each bowl and top with grated cheese.

Place the bowls on a tray in the oven and heat for 10 minutes.  Switch to broil and cook another 3 – 5 minutes, until the cheese melts and browns to your preference.  Serve ande enjoy! (Caution, both the soup and bowls will be hot!)

Makes 4 main dish bowls or 6 soup-course bowls.





Categories: Recipe, Soup | Tags: | 1 Comment

Red Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup

I am in a soup mood.  It has been a few years since I have been in a soup mood. What does it mean to be in a soup mood?  Soups, and lots of them. My family must brace for many dinners of soups and stews.


First up for the blog… Yotam Ottolenghi’s Red Lentil and Chard Soup. Served with a whole grain sourdough bread I made. This one was one of my favorites so far, and one that I put the most “me” into rather than simply following the recipe.


But back to the soup.  I really like this one.  I am usually not a big fan of red lentils, but they work very well with the chard, creating a nice contrast of textures.


Red Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup

very slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Red Lentil and Chard Soup

1 lb split red lentils

2.75 quarts cold water

2 medium red onions

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 lb Swiss chard

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp coriander seeds

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Grated zest of ½ lemon

Sourdough bread

3 lemons, cut into wedges

Salt and black pepper


Wash the lentils in plenty of cold water. Place in a large saucepan with the water, bring to a boil and simmer for 35 minutes or until soft (mine was soft in 20 minutes). Skim off any foam that rises to the surface during cooking.  Using a slotted spoon, remove about half the lentils from the cooking liquid and set aside in a bowl.


Add a generous pinch of salt to the lentils and water in the pan and liquidise using a stick blender or in a food processor. Return the reserved lentils to the soup.
While the lentils are cooking, peel the red onions, halve and thinly slice them. Place a frying pan over a medium heat, add the olive oil and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4–5 minutes, until the onions soften and become translucent.


Meanwhile, remove and discard the large stems from the Swiss chard. Wash and rinse the leaves thoroughly, then chop them roughly.

Mix the cooked onions and chard leaves into the lentil soup and season with the cumin, cinnamon and some salt and pepper to taste. Reheat the soup and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

In a pestle and mortar, or using the heel of a large knife, crush the coriander seeds and garlic together.


Melt the butter gently in a small saucepan over a medium heat, add the garlic and coriander seeds and fry for 2 minutes, until the garlic starts to color slightly (I used the pan from frying the onions, it worked well). Stir this into the soup, remove the pot from the stove and cover with a lid. Leave the soup to infuse for 5 minutes before serving.


Serve garnished with lemon zest and pass round some sourdough bread and lemon wedges. Squeeze the lemon into their soup – it adds tremendous flavor. Enjoy!


Serves 6

Categories: Kosher, Recipe, Soup, Swiss Chard, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

Southwestern Turkey Soup

Thanksgiving leftover soup #2 is very different from soup #1.  As we move away from the indulgences of the Thanksgiving feast, the leftover dish can get a bit heartier.  This Southwestern Turkey Soup makes a great lunch or dinner, especially when served with a great, moist cornbread from Cutter Light.  Check out their recipe (and their blog) it is the best cornbread I have ever made – I think the yogurt doest the trick.

The soup itself is a treat.  I have never put avocado in soup and really wondered how that would be.  They added a creaminess to the soup and seemed to help thicken it as well.

The soup has a real kick with the cayenne (you can use less if you want). Topping with some monterey jack or a mexican cheese mix keeps the heat in check a bit.

Southwestern Turkey Soup

By Doug Matthews

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked turkey

4 cups vegetable broth (I used my homemade turkey stock)

1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes

1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers

2 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tbsp lime juice

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

salt and pepper to taste

1 avocado – peeled, pitted and diced

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese


In a large pot over medium heat, combine turkey, broth, canned tomatoes, green chiles, fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, and lime juice. Season with cayenne, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in avocado, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Spoon into serving bowls, and top with shredded cheese. 

Serve with cornbread and enjoy!
 Serves 6

Categories: Recipe, Soup, Tomatoes | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Turkey Soup

After the heavy Thanksgiving meal, I find a really just want a soup for dinner the next day.  And, luckily, Thanksgiving dinner leaves me with the makings for a great turkey stock to use as a base for the soup.  Right after dinner, I ripped apart the carcass, put it on a tray and roasted it some more.  This would gives a deepness to the flavor of the stock.


So, to my local turkey carcass I added some local green beans and the sweet potato grown by a neighbor. Add some dill, a leek and ditalini and you have a hearty, satisfying turkey soup.


A great way to top an afternoon spent enjoying some unseasonably warm weather (and not spent indoors shopping). We took advantage of our State Parks waiving their entrance fees on Black Friday to take a nice hike at Killens Pond State Park.


Turkey Soup

Inspired by Day-After Turkey Soup from Food Network Magazine and Roasted Turkey Stock by Julia Moskin

For the Stock

Turkey carcass, broken into pieces (locally raised)

2 large onions, quartered (no need to peel)

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

4 large celery ribs, cut into chunks

2 cups white wine

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

leaves from a bunch of dried thyme (form the garden)

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Kosher salt

For the Soup

8 cups of turkey stock

2 cups diced leftover turkey

1 leek, white part sliced

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and broken into 1 inch pieces (locally grown)

1 large sweet potato, diced into 1/2″ pieces (locally grown)

1 Tbsp dried dill

1 cup ditalini

Salt & Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Hearty or crusty bread for serving (I used sourdough challah)


For the Stock – Heat the oven to 450F.

Arrange the carcass pieces on a baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes, until well-browned. Transfer it to a large stockpot and add the rest of the ingredients. Heat over medium heat until the wine becomes quite fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add 6 quarts of water and heat over medium-high heat just until it comes to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and skim the foam off the top.  Simmer for 3 hours.  Add 1 tsp salt or more to taste.

Strain 2 quarts through a large sieve into the pot for the soup.  Strain the rest into containers for  refrigeration or freezing for later use.  Refrigerate the pot, covered, until ready to make the soup.

For the Soup

Add the leeks and reheat the stock over medium heat. Add the turkey meat, green beans, sweet potato and dill to the pot and cook for 15 – 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.


Add the pasta and cook until the pasta and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.


Serve with bread and enjoy!


Serves 4.

Categories: Green Beans, Kosher, Leeks, Recipe, Soup, Sweet Potatoes | Tags: | 3 Comments

Corn Gazpacho

It’s hot, I don’t want to cook, I don’t want a salad, but I have a lot of veggies on hand, even some fresh corn from a local farmer. So I pull out my blender and throw it all in…


The color doesn’t look so pretty, but the taste makes up for it.  A refreshing lunch…


Corn Gazpacho

2 cups corn kernels, cooked (about 1 1/2 – 2 ears) (from Ficner’s Farm)

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 large cucumber, diced (from the garden)

1/2 orange or red pepper, chopped

juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (from the garden)

1 cup tomato juice


Put all the ingredients in the blender and puree.

Serve chilled topped with some cooked corn kernels.


Serves 4.


Categories: Cucumber, Kosher, Recipe, Soup, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: | 1 Comment

Kale, Spinach & White Bean Soup with Fontina

As you read this, I am in Alta, Norway, above the Arctic Circle.  I am hoping to enjoy some interesting food experiences to share, and maybe some new ideas to try.  I will be back with more new posts at the end of the month.


For now I will leave you with my riff on another Martha Stewart recipe from the magazine I bought for the date recipes: her Bruleed Winter Bean Soup.  My version has quite different proportions of the veggies and uses Fontina in place of Asiago:


It feels like a cross between minestrone and French onion soup, but amped up with lots of spinach and kale.  It was so hearty and satisfying, I could eat this just about every day! Especially when I put it in the cute cat bowls I bought for my parents back when I was in college.


Kale, Spinach & White Bean Soup with Fontina

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Bruleed Winter Bean Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

1 stalk celery, finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

15-oz can diced tomatoes

2-inch piece Parmesan rind

15-oz can small white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

12 ounces baby kale & spinach mixed, (about 8 – 10 cups)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

4 slices country bread, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Fontina


Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes.


Stir in tomatoes with juices; cook 1 minute.


Add 4 cups water and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.


Stir in beans and kale; cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


Heat broiler. Spread bread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Place under broiler and toast, tossing once, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.


Divide soup, croutons, and Fontina among 4 ovenproof bowls; drizzle each with oil.


Broil until melted, about 1 minute; serve and enjoy!


Serves 4    










Categories: Carrot, Kale, Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe, Soup, Spinach, Vegetarian | Leave a comment


We recently added a 10 month old puppy to our family.  He is a Shar pei – Lab mix and, aside from being my son’s new best friend, is my constant companion in the kitchen when I cook.  He loves the end pieces of squash, carrots and tomato cores, and lays in wait for anything that happens to fall to the floor when I transfer foods from the counter to the stove.  It is great to have a dog in the house again!IMG_7554.JPG

I harvested some of my parsnips today.  I am rather excited about how well they have done; it is the first time I have grown them.  To celebrate, I decided to make minestrone using the parsnips, carrots, yellow beans, and garlic from the garden.  To that I added kale, fennel, onions, plum tomatoes and butternut squash that I had to purchase since I do not have any in my garden right now.  The prep time for the vegetables was significant, it took almost 45 minutes to get my mise en place ready.


Once that was done, the soup was fairly simple to make, just a  series of additions and cooking.  Altogether it too about 2 hours from starting to chop to eating the soup.  It was time well spent the soup was delicious.  Light and fresh tasting, yet filling and satisfying. I am glad there are leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.



Adapted from Indian Summer Minestrone with Late Tomatoes and Beans from, cookfresh fall 2014

3 Tbs olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 cup chopped carrots (from the garden)

1 cup chopped parsnips (from the garden)

1 cup diced cored fennel bulb

Kosher salt

1 Tbs minced garlic (from the garden)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

8 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

2 cups butternut squash, diced

3 cups kale leaves, sliced (tough ribs removed)

2″ piece parmigiano reggiano rind, plus some shaved for garnish

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup dilitani

1 1/2 cups yellow or green beans chopped

1 can pinto beans, drained or rinsed

1 tsp balsamic vinegar


In an 7 – 8 qy dutch oven or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the carrots, parsnips, fennel and 1 tsp salt.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, 5 – 7 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are a bit shrunken and you are starting to scrape bits off the bottom of the pan.


Add the garlic, crushed red pepper and black pepper and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and oregano and cook, stirring accasionally, until the tomatoes are mostly broken downand the mixture starts to look thicker, 10 – 12 minutes.

Add the butternut squash, kale, parmigiano rind, broth, 4 cups of water and 1 tsp salt.


Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom, for 5 – 7 minutes.

IMG_7565.JPGAdd the pasta and cook for another 6 – 8 minutes, stirring and scraping occasionally.

Add the green beans and pinto beans and cook for 4 – 5 minutes more.

IMG_7566.JPG Remove the pot from the heat, if you can find it, remove the parmigiano rind, and sit in the balsamic vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning or vinegar if necessary.  Serve with shaved parmigiano and enjoy!


IMG_7568.JPG Serves 8.


Categories: Butternut Squash, Carrot, Green Beans, Kale, Kosher, Parsnips, Recipe, Soup, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

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