Thanksgiving leftovers for me are generally of the sandwich variety. I love leftover turkey sandwiches. With cranberry sauce and a slice of dressing. I make extra dressing, bind it with eggs and cram it into a loaf pan. Baked off, it makes perfect slices to fit a sandwich. I even make some sweet-savory jams and chutneys during the summer for use on the post-Thanksgiving concoctions. My family gathers and plows through the leftovers in a laid-back feed, usually at someone else’s home (lucky me). After preparing the bulk of the Thanksgiving feast, I don’t usually have the energy to deal with another cooking project. Frankly, I don’t’ always have it in me to make stock from the turkey carcass. Mostly, it means more dirty dishes.
But last year, I put my mind to creating a hearty, warming meal using the leftover turkey with minimal work and lots of flavor. And this is my result. There are several ways to speed up this process. When you are chopping vegetables for the big meal, put some aside in a Ziploc in the fridge to use for this. Or buy a bag of frozen chopped mire-poix or soup starter when you do the big shop. I always overbuy on sage, the classic Thanksgiving herb, but use what you have on hand. I find quick-cooking wild rice easily, so look out for that and save yourself a step (though it is an easy one) of cooking the rice. I don’t always have eight cups of turkey stock leftover after I make gravy and dressing, so I make up the difference with boxed stock. Cream cheese adds a little body and tang to the final creamy product. The soup is lovely as is, but some toasted pieces of leftover dressing on top add a nice contrast.
Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Chowder with Toasted Dressing Croutons
2 cups finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced carrot
1 cup finely diced celery
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 cups turkey or chicken stock, or a combination
2 finely minced garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 yellow potato, finely diced
1 ½ cups quick-cooking wild rice, or 1 ½ cups wild rice cooked according to package instructions
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups diced cooked turkey
Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in a 5-quart Dutch oven in the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle over 1 Tablespoon of the sage and stir well. When the vegetables are soft, add ½ cup stock and cook until the liquid is evaporated. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minutes. Pour in the remaining stock and bring to a boil. Add the remaining sage and the potato, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 1o minutes until the potatoes are becoming tender. If using quick cooking wild rice, add it now, cover the pot and cook for a further 15 – 20 minutes until the rice is tender. Bring the soup to a low bubble (not boiling, but bubbling). Cut the cream cheese into small chunks and whisk a few at a time into the soup adding more as it melts. Don’t worry if it looks odd and separated at some point, just keep whisking away until the soup is smooth and creamy. Stir in the diced turkey (and cooked wild rice if that is what you are using) and cook, stirring, until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Because of the potatoes and rice, you may need to be generous with the salt.
Serve immediately. Leftovers can be gently reheated until warm.
For the Croutons: Cut leftover dressing into cubes or rough pieces. Melt a Tablespoon of butter over medium high heat and toast the cubes until brown and crispy.
One of the great joys of my life in food is meeting other food writers in amazing places. This winter, I had the great pleasure of spending an amazing week at a writing workshop in Tepotzlan, Mexico at Cocinar Mexicano. Iconic food writer Betty Fussell lead a spectacular group of women through the birth of some great writing projects. Tepotzlan is nestled in the mountains of central Mexico and the stunning scenery lends a magical air. And it is the loudest place I have ever visited. I was there for the festival of the Three Kings, which went on for days, but there were several other festivals that week as well. Locals assured us that with the different barrio festivals, saints’ days and general holidays, there is pretty much a festival every week of the year. The sounds of bands playing in processions, cars honking in celebration, dogs barking with excitement, church bells pealing and intermittent bursts of fireworks makes the town a cacophonous but joyous place. The experience inspired me and opened my mind and really got my creative juices flowing.
Adding to the wall-to-wall inspiration was some of the best food I’ve had the pleasure to eat. The central market is bursting with chilies of every type, fresh and dried, and more varieties of corn than I can begin to list. Stallholders make and sell fresh tortillas made to order from that corn, filled with all manner of delicious things. I ate squash blossoms every day, sampled several delicious mole sauces, experienced huitlachoce, a rich, mushroomy corn fungus, in all manner of dishes and even crunched on some fried crickets. I learned to make tamales and tortillas myself, and reveled in devouring the results.
But I knew pozole was the dish I would try to re-create at home. I had a number of versions of this classic Mexican hominy soup, at the cooking school, the lovely hotel and in the market. Some were red with chiles, others were so rustic, the bones were still in the bowl. I had it with pork, chicken and a combination of the two. The prettiest and freshest version was served by the wonderful cooks at Cocinar Mexicano, a simple, rich, flavorful broth with tender meat and hominy , served with a beautiful array of toppings. And this dish is all about the toppings. Bright and colorful with different textures, they elevate this soup. This is interactive eating at its best. I had never had radishes as a soup garnish, but I am a convert and I promise the slight peppery crunch adds a wonderful touch.
Posole (Mexican Chicken and Hominy Soup)
When I make stock and want to include the meat in the finished dish, I use chicken pieces instead of a whole bird because you end up with more meat. You’ll have some leftover, which is never a bad thing.
3 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 ounces salt pork
1 large white onion, cut in half
3 celery sticks, cut in half
2 carrots, cut in half
1 jalapeno pepper
1 red pepper, like Fresno
1 head garlic, cloves separated
7 – 8 stems cilantro
2 limes, cut in half
1 (30-ounce) can white hominy
Finely diced radishes
Finely diced red onion (I soak the diced onions in water about 30 minutes to take away the bite)
Crumbled queso fresco cheese
Crispy fried tortilla strips or crushed chips
Place the chicken pieces, pork and vegetables, cilantro and lime in a large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven or stock pot. Add 12 cups of water. Bring almost to a boil over high heat, turn down to low, cover the pot and simmer for 4 – 6 hours, until you have a nice, rich stock.
Line a large colander with cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl. Remove the chicken pieces to another bowl or plate, then carefully strain the stock through the colander. Let the stock cool, then skim the fat from the top. I always refrigerate the stock, then simply remove the solidified fat from the top of the liquid.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones, removing any fat or gristle as you go. Shred the chicken into thick strands.
You can make the stock up to two days ahead. Place the chicken meat in a ziptop bag, cover the stock and keep in the fridge.
When ready to serve, transfer the stock to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Rinse the hominy thoroughly and drain. Add to the simmering stock, cover and cook for 30 minutes until the hominy is tender. Add about 4 cups of shredded chicken and simmer until heated through.
Spoon the soup into large bowls, making sure there is plenty of hominy and chicken in each bowl.
Serve with the beautiful array of toppings for everyone to add as they please.
Red Beans and Rice are a classic of the Louisiana cooking canon. And I assume every Louisiana cook has there own version that they would assert constitutes the only way to properly make the dish. And I’ll tell you, the same can be said of me. No, I am not from Louisiana and I don’t have roots there, but I love the food and I cook my own version of red beans and rice – the way I like. So I’ve been reluctant to share the recipe, because I may be brought to task for not cooking them in the traditional way. But as I see it, that’s kind of the point of a country, homey comforting dish. You do what you like, with out the constraints of technique or the weight of history. But with Mardi Gras on the doorstep, I thought I’d better share the dish I make most often from my Louisiana repertoire.
My red beans are full of flavor, and full of delicious pork. I cook the beans with lots of flavorful additions, then use that cooking liquid in rich sauce. I like a little creaminess in my red beans, the rice just soaks it up so well. And underlying everything is the beautiful trinity of Louisiana cooking, celery, onion and green pepper. This makes a big ol’ pot, and I like more red beans than rice, so cook a little extra rice if you are so inclined. Make a batch of King Cake Bars and you’ve got a Mardi Gras party!
Tasso is a spiced, smoked Cajun style pork. If you can’t find tasso at a specialty market, use a piece of smoked ham or a ham hock and some creole seasoning. If you can’t find Andouille, use any smoked sausage like kielbasa.
Red Beans and Rice My Way
1 pound red beans or kidney beans
3 stalks celery
1 large yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
6 ounces tasso or smoked ham or ham hock plus 2 teaspoons creole seasoning
1 green bell pepper
14 ounces Andouille sausage
4 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
salt to taste
1 ½ cups long grain white rice
3 ½ cups water
hot sauce for serving
For the Red Beans:
Sort through the beans, picking out any debris or broken beans. Rinse well then place in a bowl and cover with water by about 3 inches. Soak overnight.
Drain and rinse the soaked beans and place in a large pot. Add the carrot, broken in two, one celery stick, also broken and half of the onion. Cut through the circumference of the onion and put the root end in the pot, it will hold together better. Add the garlic, bay leaves and tasso. Cover with 10 cups of cold water, bring to a boil, skim off any scum that rises, reduce the heat and cover the pot. Cook until the beans are tender, about 1 – 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
While the beans are cooking, finely dice the remaining onion half, 2 stalks of celery and the green pepper. Cut the Andouille into bite-sized pieces.
When the beans are tender, place a colander over a large bowl and drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and garlic and set the tasso aside. Wipe out the cooking pot and return it to the heat. Melt the butter over low heat, then add the onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are completely soft. Sprinkle over the flour and stir until it is absorbed into the vegetables. Stir in the Creole seasoning. Pour in 3 cups of reserved cooking liquid from the beans. Stir until the sauce has thickened, about 4 minutes, then add the andouille and stir to coat. Return the beans to the sauce and stir gently to coat. Dice the tasso into small pieces and add to the pot, stirring gently again. Simmer over low heat until everything is warmed through, making sure the sausage is cooked through.
For the Rice:
When ready to serve, cook the rice. Stir the rice into the water in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil and boil until almost all the water is absorbed and little air bubbles form in the rice, about 10 – 12 minutes, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and tightly cover the pan. Set aside for 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving.
Spoon the rice into nice, big bowls and scoop the red beans over. Serve with some hot sauce on the table.
Serves 6 – 8
Sometimes, good recipes don’t make good photos. They are just hard to make pretty. This is one of those recipes. I have tried for a while now to photograph this soup, to make it look like a magazine spread, to make it so perfect, your mouth-waters just looking at it. But I can’t. My meager skills are not up to it. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a delicious recipe – I assure you it is – just that its humble whole is not picture-perfect. But get past the simple surface and you will find a hearty, comforting soup perfect for chilly winter evenings, nights in front of the fire, or a hearty meal for football fans. Garlicky kielbasa, creamy gouda and fresh dill jazz up a simple potato chowder, the perfect hearty meal with a big chunk of warm, crusty bread.
Potato Kielbasa Chowder with Gouda and Dill
1 pound kielbasa
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus more for topping
1 teaspoon mustard powder
6 cups chicken broth
3 medium red-skinned potatoes
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups grated Gouda cheese, plus more for topping
Cut the kielbasa into small cubes and place in a Dutch oven with the olive oil. Remember, you’ll be eating this with a spoon, so size the kielbasa pieces accordingly. Sauté over high heat until the kielbasa begins to brown. Finely chop the onion and add to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and golden and the kielbasa is nicely browned. Add the minced garlic, the dill and the mustard powder and cook for two minutes more. Stir in the chicken broth, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and bring to a boil.
While the soup is heating, cut the potato into bite-sized cubes. When the soup is boiling, add the potatoes, lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Cook for 15- 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Cut the cream cheese into eight even cubes, increase the heat to medium high and stir in cubes of cream cheese, one at a time, stirring until each one is melted before adding the next. At times the soup may look curdled, but it will melt evenly with gentle stirring. Don’t knock it around too much or the potatoes will disintegrate. Stir in the grated Gouda a handful at a time until it is melted.
Serve immediately, with a little chopped dill and grated Gouda sprinkled on top.
Serves 4 – 6
I think the chilly winter is a great time to host a real, grown-up dinner party. The holidays are over, school is back in session, everyone has had a chance to take a breath, and frankly, the social scene is a little slow. During the holidays, I see virtually everyone I know, at parties and celebrations, but generally only briefly, for a quick catch-up and greeting. There are just so many people to and so many places, it’s hard to spend any meaningful time with any one person. I also do a lot of cooking, but it’s on demand, as it were, I’m assigned cookies for one party, appetizers for another, the traditional Christmas breakfast. I love it, but I don’t always get to exercise my creativity. So as January progresses, it’s nice to gather friends together, set the table and get in the kitchen for a session of cooking by choice.
Pear and stilton is a classic pairing, the sweet, juicy pears and the tangy, rich, salty cheese complement each other perfectly. This soup is a unique way to recreate the classic. It’s silky and rich, a sweet backdrop with a sharp note. For an elegant multi-course meal, this is the perfect opener. But it works equally well as a casual meal, served with a plank of hearty bread, or maybe a salty ham sandwich.
Pear and Stilton Soup
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only
3 celery stalks
¼ cup butter
6 ripe green pears, such as Comice
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
10 ounces Stilton
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and then into thin half-moons. Separate them with your fingers and place them in a colander. Run lots of cold water over the leeks, tossing to make sure they are all cleaned. Chop the celery into small pieces. Melt the butter in a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the leeks, with some water clinging to them, and the celery. Stir to coat well in the butter, Cover the pot and cook the vegetables until they are very soft and tender, about 15 minutes. Stir frequently, and if the leeks are in danger of browning, add ¼ cup of water and continue cooking. Do not let the vegetables brown.
While the vegetables are cooking, core the pears, but do not peel, and cut them into small chunks. When the vegetables are soft, add the pears to the pot and stir to mix everything together. Cover the pot and let the pears simmer, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and have released their juices, about 15 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Let the soup cool for a few minutes, puree it in batches in the carafe of a blender. Be careful with hot liquids; fill the carafe half full, vent the top and hold it down with a tea towel. Puree the soup as smoothly as you can. Pour each batch through a wire mesh sieve set over a bowl. Press the soup through the sieve with a spatula. In the end, you may have some pulp left behind, but very little. This step creates a smooth, silky texture that makes the soup so elegant.
Rinse out the soup pot and return to the stove. Pour the soup back in and bring it up to a gentle simmer. Whisk in the cream. Set aside a little bit of Stilton to top the bowls of soup, crumble the rest and whisk it bit by bit into the simmering soup until it is all melted and smooth.
Serve the soup with the toasted walnuts and a little crumbled Stilton on top.
I spend most of my time in the kitchen. It’s my favorite space in this house, a house my father has always called a kitchen with a bedroom attached. It’s a large, open space, with a fully fitted kitchen, lots of counter space and a den attached where I do most of my work on the computer. The den opens on to a sunroom with huge windows so the light pours in. That’s where I take most of my pictures. The space is perfect for me. One of the many benefits of living in the kitchen is the wonderful scents that permeate the space. I never miss out on the fragrant bread baking, the sweet cookie smell, the rich stew braising. I love to write a recipe while its aromas waft over me. And I snuggle up on the couch with a good book and a delicious smell.
My favorite kitchen fragrances are bacon cooking and onions caramelizing, so you can imagine how much I love this soup. It fills my house with the aromas of warmth and comfort and fully follows through on the promise. This soup has the feel of a Spanish version of French Onion, rich, sweet onions made smoky with bacon and smoked paprika, and rich with tomatoes. I particularly love the soup accompanied by a Fontina Cheese Toastie or two.
Smoky Bacon and Onion Soup
1 ½ pounds sweet yellow onion (about 2 large)
5 strips smoked bacon
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram leaves
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
Slice the onions into very thin half-moons using a mandolin. I you do not have a mandolin, shred the onions in the food processor using the grating blade. And of course, you can go carefully with a sharp knife. You want nice, thin threads.
Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry in a 5-quart Dutch oven until the bacon is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon pieces to paper towels to drain. Turn off the heat and let the bacon grease cool for several minutes, then add the butter and let it melt. Turn the heat back to medium and add the onions. Stir to coat the onions completely in the bacon fat and butter, then cover the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and golden brown. Do not let the onions burn or turn dark brown. They need to cook gently to a caramelized softness. When the onions are soft, stir in the marjoram and continue cooking, covered, until the onions are evenly golden. Stir in the paprika and cook for five more minutes, making sure the onions don’t scorch.
Add the crushed tomatoes and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add half of the cooked bacon and cook until heated through. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed. Just before serving, stir in the remaining bacon pieces.
Makes 4 big bowls
Melty cheese and crispy bread are the perfect pairing for soup, creamy or brothy. And this may be the ultimate soup sidecar. If you are fan of the classic croque monsieur, this is basically just the top. A creamy, cheesy béchamel sauce browned until bubbly on a good piece of bread. I like it plain, but feel free to alter it to suit your soup – before you melt in the cheese add finely chopped green onions, a dash of cayenne, a dollop of mustard, lots of cracked black pepper. The topping will keep covered in the fridge for two days, giving you a weekend of special soup meals,
Fontina Cheese Toasties
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 ¼ cup milk
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup grated fontina cheese
8 thick slices country bread, like ciabatta or boule
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then whisk in the flour. Continue whisking until it is smooth and pale, almost white. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook over medium-high heat until the sauce is thick and smooth. Whisk in the nutmeg. Whisk in the cheese, a bit at a time, stirring until melted before adding more cheese.
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it has firmed up. The topping will keep covered in the fridge for two days.
Preheat the broiler in your oven. Place the sliced bread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or non-stick foil. Lightly toast the bread on one side, then remove it from the oven and spread a generous amount of the cheese sauce on the untoasted side. Make a nice thick layer, spread to the edges. Sprinkle a pinch of flaky salt over the toasties, then place under the broiler. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Watch very carefully and remove as soon as the brown spots appear.
Let the toasties cool for a minute, then serve them with a nice bowl of soup.
Makes 8 toasties, perfect to accompany 4 bowls of soup
Winter is all about soup. I could eat a nice, steaming bowl of warming soup every day in the chilly months. A cup of summer tomato soup from the freezer for lunch with a simple sandwich, a hearty bowl with chunky bread and a good salad for dinner, even a little mug of leftover as an afternoon snack. And this roasted garlic version is particularly comforting. It’s the perfect soup when you are beset by the sniffles or chilled by the winter wind. When I feel that tickle in my throat that forebodes a cold, I find I can make this without too much effort and have it on hand to get me through.
Mellow roasted garlic is brilliantly set off by its allium cousins – leeks, onion and green onion add depth and dimension. And this soup can handle any manner of toppers. Simple croutons, crispy bacon, a swirl of olive oil, a dollop of crème fraiche, a sprinkling of herbs; let your imagination run.
Roasted Garlic Soup
I take no issue at using the peeled garlic available at many stores. Just make sure it is as fresh as possible.
25 peeled clove of garlic, from about 2 heads
2 medium leeks, white parts only
1 small white onion
3 large green onions, white and lightest green part only
7 cups of chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Place the garlic in a large, oven-proof Dutch oven (about 5 quarts). Slice the leeks in half, rinse them under running water, cut into chunks and add to the pot. Cut the onions into chunks and add to the pot, then the green onions cut into pieces. Salt them lightly, then pour in 2 cups of chicken broth and stir. Place the pot in the oven, uncovered. Roast the vegetables for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until everything is soft and mushy and the liquid is reduced. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a few minutes.
Transfer the vegetables and liquid to a blender and add 1 cup of chicken broth. You may want to do this in batches. Very carefully purée the soup. Leave the hole on the cover of the blender open, but hold it down with a tea towel. Hot liquids tend to send the cover flying. Wipe out the pot. Pour the purée through a strainer and scrape as much substance through it as possible. Discard any leftover bits. Stir in the remaining 4 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream and whisk to combine. Cook gently until the soup is warmed through.
The soup will keep, covered, in the fridge for two days. Reheat gently to serve, do not boil.
From April through October, during farmers market season, I rarely visit the produce section of the grocery store. Why bother when there is so much beautiful, fresh, in season produce at the markets. I only seek out a few things that don’t grow here. Lemons and limes, cherries from Michigan and Washington (I call to see when shipments arrive to get them as fresh as I can). And Vidalia onions. I love Vidalias. Vidalias are sweet, with just enough bite. They make the best caramelized onions, one of my favorite kitchen staples. I buy Vidalias in bulk, thinly slice them and let them gentle caramelize in the slow-cooker then freeze Ziploc bags full. I store Vidalias in canvas bags in the pantry for when they are out of season. I am a Vidalia hoarder. And obviously, I cook with them.
In the summer, I love a creamy cold soup when the weather is so hot and steamy. Leek and potato vichyssoise is one of my favorites, and simple to put together. Once I have a big bowl of chilled vichyssoise in the fridge, I am set for several cooling meals. The idea for a chilled onion soup first came to me when I ran across that recipe title in an old community cookbook during the height of Vidalia season. The title appealed to me, but the actual recipe was a strange combination of canned soups that was quite off-putting. So I decided to adapt a classic cold soup preparation highlighting the brilliant flavor of my favorite onion. Cooking the onions slowly keeps them sweet and mellow, melding perfectly with smooth milk. You could top this soup with some crispy croutons, chopped herbs, cooked bacon pieces or caramelized onion.
Chilled Vidalia Onion Soup
2 large Vidalia onions, or other sweet yellow onions, to yield 4 cups chopped
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
4 cups light chicken broth
1 cup milk
Kosher salt to taste
Peel and dice the onions. Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium high heat, then add the onions, sprinkle over several pinches of salt and stir to coat. Add the thyme leaves. Slowly cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they are very soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Do not let the onions brown or caramelize. When the onions are soft, add ½ cup of chicken broth and cook until the liquid has evaporated, being careful not to let the onions brown. Add the remaining broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover the pot and simmer 30 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat and leave to cool. When cool, puree the soup in batches in a blender. Pour the pureed soup through a strainer into a large bowl. Whisk in the milk, salt to taste, and chill until cold, at least two hours but up to overnight.
After last summer’s successful experiment with Squash Blossom Pesto, I have been thinking all winter of other ways to use the lovely summer blooms, and soup is the perfect choice. This lovely, bright, sunny soup is very simple – I experimented with more complicated versions, using garlic and herbs and other ingredients, but I find too many elements mask the fresh, lightly peppery taste of the squash blossoms. So simple is best. This gorgeously orange soup is an elegant summer starter or light supper.
Squash Blossom Bisque
I buy my squash blossoms at the farmers market, but for this amount you may need to order ahead.
3 leeks, white parts only
3 Tablespoons olive oil
24 squash blossoms
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
Salt to taste
Peel off the outer layer of the leeks and slice them into thin disks. Place them in a bowl of water, swirl them around and leave them to soak for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the olive oil into a 5 quart Dutch oven. Peel and dice the carrots and cook in the oil over medium heat until they are beginning to soften. Do not let them brown. Lift the leeks out of the water, shake them a bit and add them to the pot with a little water clinging to them. The dirt from the leeks settles at the bottom of the bowl, so don’t pour them into a colander, getting the dirt back on them. Stir the vegetables, cover the pot and cook for five minutes or so, until the leeks are wilted, soft and translucent. Stir a few times to make sure they don’t stick or brown. While the vegetables are cooking, pull the hard stems off the squash blossoms, removing the stamens as well. Tear the blossoms into shreds and, when the leeks are soft, add them to the pot. Stir to combine, cover the pot and cook for a few minutes until the blossoms are wilted. Add the chicken broth, bring the soup just to the boil (not a rolling boil), reduce the heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are completely soft. Leave the soup to cool for 10 – 15 minutes.
Transfer the soup in batches to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the milk and heat until warm through. Do not boil. Salt to taste. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 – 6