Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fantastic Fall Soup

Soup is good lovin' in a bowl, isn't it?  As soon as the weather turns chilly I'm thinking about a nice pot of soup.  I raided my just-delivered farm box for a lot of the ingredients.

-Vegetable stock (mine was homemade and frozen in cubes).  You could use stock from the store, or even begin with a pre-made soup base found on most store shelves.  Anything will work!
-olive or grapeseed oil (about 2 or 3 Tablespoons)
-carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch segments
-potato (optional) cubed.  This will add some thickening to the soup base.
-yellow squash, cross cut into 1/2 inch segments
-grape tomatoes, cut in half (I used the equivalent of a cup, both red and yellow)
-2 bay leaves
-fresh cilantro (optional if you are a cilantro hater)
-3-4 baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
-1 cup yellow wax beans, snapped into 2 inch segments
-1 avocado, sliced into chunks
-salt and pepper to taste
(I would have added an onion but I forgot to get one at the store...duh)

I added the following to make it  a hearty soup.  Omit if you are vegetarian.  Add whatever you have available to increase protein.  It all tastes good!

-2 slices bacon, cut into 2 inch sections
-1 cup cubed roast beef
-1 cup pork
-1 lobster tail 

Other options as toppers:  
grated cheese
red sauce for more heat
sour cream

In a large soup kettle over a medium heat, allow pan to warm, then add oil.  Saute the garlic for a minute, and then if using protein add those ingredients to the oil and saute until cooked through.  
Add carrots & potato and allow to cook for several minutes to begin softening.  Add wax beans & tomatoes.  I like to "layer" the seasoning.  I added a small dash of dry curry mix (see link for recipe).  I did NOT add salt to this soup because I used bacon & lobster, which adds enough salt flavor.
Add squash, wait a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms.  Once the vegetables have been "sweated" and begin to soften add the soup stock & the bay leaves.  Bring this to a slow, rolling boil and then reduce the heat and let the liquid reduce slightly.  The potatoes in the mixture will begin to thicken the soup base.

Prior to serving cut the avocado and cilantro and place in small bowls at the table.  Top the soup with these just prior to eating, if desired.   Some grated cheese or a dollop of pesto would be pretty fabulous additions, too.  The soup looks so colorful! 

One can add or subtract any combination of ingredients to suit your own taste.  Use what you have!
Taste, taste, taste with spoons (a new one each time!) to check the seasoning.  I suspect that my soup will be even better tomorrow, and I have enough to freeze a bit for later!  Isn't soup grand?

We ate our soup with a nice arugula salad, some noosa yogurt dotted with fresh blackberries for dessert.
Life is good!

Try some and let me know how it turns out!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sorrel Urban Bistro, Houston, TX

I found this restaurant on Open Table, when I was looking for a Farm to Table restaurant in Houston that was open on a Sunday night.  Sorrel was an excellent choice.  The restaurant was quiet enough to hear one another talk, which we all enjoyed.  I had Grouper for dinner and it was succulent, tasty and wonderful.

Now for the dessert, they were amazing.  This one was by far the favorite - plum crisp with homemade ice cream.  We each had bites of each dessert.

Salted caramel creme brulee

Chocolate Ganache