My Communal Table


Pumpkin Soup
October 25, 2010, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Budget Meals, Soup | Tags: , , , ,

We never ate fresh pumpkin growing up. We carved them. We ate zucchini, butternut, and countless other varieties of squash, but then would head off to the store and purchase pumpkin puree in a can to make our holiday pumpkin pie.

I had no idea how easy it was to cook pumpkin. I have to admit that I learned this from Martha Stewart years ago and I have not gone a season without cooking up lots of pumpkins and storing the puree in the freezer to use in various ways all winter long.

Okay, are you ready for how easy it is to roast a pumpkin…

1. Stick the entire pumpkin on a foil lined baking sheet. Yes, the entire pumpkin! No cutting, nothing!

2. Put in a 350F oven for about an hour or until pumpkin starting to soften and brown up. It will be soft to the touch when done.

3. Let cool completely.

4. Pull off skin. Discard seeds and stringy stuff.

5. Store cooked pumpkin in quart freezer bags.

Can be used in soup, pie, ravioli, etc. So many choices.

Now, let’s get on with pumpkin soup…

The ingredients are few, but you do not need much with fresh pumpkin. It simply tastes fabulous.

2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 t. sage
1lb. pumpkin puree
3-4 cups chicken/ vegetable stock
2-3 T. butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. In soup pot, heat oil over med heat.

2. Add garlic and sage to oil and stir. Let get warm and garlic soften a bit.

3. Add pumpkin puree, stir. Then add 3 cups of stock.

4. I use a hand blender to blend the puree and stock together, but you can also use a stand blender. Add more stock to get the consistency that I want. Add butter one tablespoon at a time until the texture is smoother.

5. Taste, then adjust salt and pepper.

6. Heat through and serve.

Homemade soup is pure food of love. A warm cozy bowl of goodness. It is healthy and something my home always has some variety of it during the winter.

Pull up a chair, Elizabeth



Greens and Potato Soup for Meatless Monday

“Meatless Mondays!” An intiative with the goal to reduce meat consumption by 15% to improve personal health and the health of our planet. I just love the idea and found out that “Meatless Mondays” is not a new concept. It was first introduced to Americans during World War 1 by the US Food Adminstration, though is was reintroduced in 2003 for health, as a way to reduce the consumption of key staples to aid the war effort. “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” were born. According to Meatless Mondays.com

The effect was overwhelming. Some 10 million families, 7,000 hotels and nearly 425,000 food dealers pledged to observe national meatless days. In November 1917, New York City hotels saved some 116 tons of meat over the course of just one week. According to a 1929 Saturday Evening Post article, “Americans began to look seriously into the question of what and how much they were eating. Lots of people discovered for the first time that they could eat less and feel no worse – frequently for the better”.

Now do not get me wrong, I have said often the I am unapologetic carnivore, but working towards better health and safer planet is really a no-brainer. I make an effort to know where my meat comes from and I no longer desire to have an entire side of beef at one sitting to feel satisfaction. So we, as a family, decided to start not having any meat one day a week. No beef, chicken, pork or fish, so when you have a son that is allergic to dairy and eggs its more like vegan Mondays.

Okay, I was a little scared about doing this, but it has turned out surprisingly well. I have never allowed my child to eat something different then what the adults are eating unless is has to do with his allergies. I am not a short order cook to meet his every whim when it comes to food. I also believe that this really helps with the ability to try new things in many aspects of life. Have you ever know a super picky eater that loves to travel and explore new things? Gabriel know that what is served is what he gets for dinner or he doesn’t eat that evening. That being said, I do try to find things that he will find pleasurable. Soup is my best vehicle for going meatless for my six-year-old. He loves soup.

Super fast, super tasty, super healthy is Greens and Potato Soup. My six-year-old actually ate two bowls full.

Serves 2-4

Kale, one big bunch
3 medium potatoes, peeled & cut into chucks
1 large leek, thinly sliced
2 gloves of garlic
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 big handfuls washed spinach
fresh dill or other herbs that you have on hand.
few pinches hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Finish with purple onion,olive oil, and peashoots.

1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil.

2. Remove heavy thick stems from kale and slice up.

3. Place kale in boiling water for about ten minutes. Take a test bite of the kale and make sure that it is tender. When tender, drain.

4. In second sauce pan, place potatoes, leeks, and garlic with broth. Put enough broth in to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cook until tender.

5. Use a potato masher to mash-up the potatoes in the broth.

6. Add cooked kale, spinach, herbs, and seasonings.

7. Add more broth if necessary, then heat through.

8. Taste and adjust seasonings.

9. Serve and garnish as desired. Today I garnished with purple onions, a drizzle of olive oil (would have loved pumpkin seed oil, but I can not find it), and a few sweet pea shoots.

Note: a. You can make this super thick or soupy. I have made it thick like mashed potatoes as well. Just use less broth.
b. You can also mix up your greens. Use whatever ones you have on hand.
c. I have also added curry powder to this soup as well for a different flavor sensation.

Think about Meatless Mondays you and your family. When you join me and my family on Mondays at my communal table you will find us enjoying the bounty of vegetables and grains. I seem to make a new recipe every week to learn more and more about how to cook this way. I would love to hear about your favorite Meatless meals.

Pull up a chair, Elizabeth



Orchazuke (Tea Rice)
June 16, 2010, 2:22 pm
Filed under: Soup | Tags: , , ,

I was introduced to Orchazuke with this great recipe for Salmon Orchazuke on Food 52. I just loved this idea of making something so satisfying as soup with tea and a few leftovers. Making this from scratch is not hard either.

This is different everytime I make it. There are no rules. Sometimes I like a lot of tea in my bowl, sometimes just a little to cover the rice. Using the green tea with soy sauce makes it a bit like a dashi broth. I prefer brown rice to white rice, but make sure that you heat up your leftover rice up before adding your hot tea. It cools the whole dish down too much if you do not.

I have tried it with salmon, tuna, roasted pork shoulder and steak that I have had leftover. My favorite is salmon and pork. This is a little tuna leftover for this delightful soup of comfort.

Just make tea, heat rice and assemble.

Ingredients needed:

Cooked rice
Meat
Green tea
soy sauce
nori seaweed or furikake, cut into strips
sesame oil, just a few drops on top
green onions, thinly sliced
wasabi or sriracha

Optional: mushrooms or cilantro

As much as I love people around my table, this is one of those dishes that I love to eat when I need that zen moment alone. Great taste and no guilt.

Pull up a chair, Elizabeth