Butternut Squash Soup with Sage-Gouda Baguette

Look at the pretty mug o' soup

From Giada De Laurentiis’ newest cookbook, Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California (Amazon link), I made this butternut squash soup tonight. Its been snowing and blowing all day, so this seemed like a great choice for such a gloomy, read a good book in bed all day, kind of day.  Unfortunately, I did have to venture out to buy the sage but Horrocks is quite close and the snow was keeping the usual Sunday crowd away.

I received this cookbook as my prize for winning the Cookbooker challenge by reviewing recipes from a featured cookbook. This is the first thing I’ve made from it. I’m intrigued by some other dishes, especially the lobster risotto (because really, who wouldn’t want that!?!). I doubt I would have bought this book of my own volition simply because I tend to avoid the Food TV cookbooks even though I do like Giada’s show.

There are some recipes which definitely are more suited to spring but a soup like this is perfect for mid-December.  I have been eager to make a pureed soup since ordering an immersion blender (thank you Kohl’s Cash!) a few weeks ago. An immersion blender has been on my ‘wish list’ for-EVER and I discovered that Kohl’s carries a recommended one with a more powerful motor than the cheapie available elsewhere.

This one is from Wolfgang Puck and came with a number of accessories I don’t really need but for the price (with the coupon) it didn’t really matter. I did notice that the casing on the motor section gets hot so as I use it, I’ll need to be mindful of that.

The soup is easy enough: onion, carrot and garlic sauteed in butter/olive oil then diced butternut squash added along with several cups of broth. Bring to a boil, add sage then cook 20 minutes or until veggies are soft enough to blend.  We liked it though I did have to adjust the salt for more flavor boost- I didn’t use low-sodium broth so this surprised me but it wasn’t enough to make me worry about sodium. I do think I might make this in the future with oven-roasted squash. A little (or a lot) caramelization never hurts.

The recipe called for fontina cheese melted on baguette which I didn’t have and didn’t see at Horrocks so I just picked something that would melt and sounded good. In this case, it was Beeemster XO Gouda. The XO stands for extra old or aged. It is a harder cheese and nuttier than regular gouda but not smoked, as you can sometimes find gouda.  Good on the bread, and yummy straight up too.

Between the fun of immersion blending and the cool new soup mugs I won at the charity auction (through work) last week, I see plenty more soups in my future.

Creamy Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

Aah leftovers. We had a lot. I knew the turkey would eventually become turkey salad but I also knew that would be a lot of turkey salad. So, while Chris made the salad, I pondered on soup versus chili.  After a check of fridge contents, I went the soup route, primarily because I had unintentionally made double the amount of wild rice required for the corn casserole on Thursday.

Turkey-Wild Rice Soup with Fancy Carrots

The skeleton recipe for this was from a Paula Dean magazine but I only used it for approximate ratios.

4 cups cooked turkey, approximately, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion (red, is what I had)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pints heavy whipping cream
1 32-oz broth (chicken or vegetable) plus more as desired
2 cups cooked wild rice
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 tsp thyme, dried
1/2 tsp rosemary, dried
salt & pepper


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large stockpot, over medium-high heat.  Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic, stirring to coat with oil; season with salt & pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook vegetables until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth, turkey,dried herbs and rice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Check broth level and add more if necessary, depending on how thick you want it. Add fresh thyme, stir in cream and let cook about 5 minutes more. Season to taste.

This made for a thick soup. It was brothy, not overly creamy but not a lot of broth compared to the  turkey and rice. Just something to bear in mind.

An ideal go with: seeded bread sticks or cheesy toast.

Comfort Food

For the last 10 days or so, since coming back from vacation, I have been sick. One of the symptoms is a mouth that feels like I’d chewed on some glass. So, I haven’t been able to eat hard or crunchy foods for about a week. I really wanted some BBQ chips yesterday and I tried to eat one. Too soon! Too soon!

My mouth is getting better but I’m still looking for food that doesn’t require much chewing or biting down with my front teeth. At first, I thought I could make millions on this “diet plan.” Just get a dual bacterial and viral infection going at once and watch the weight fall away!

Between the sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, sore mouth and nausea from the antibiotics (as it turns out, I probably don’t have strep but they gave me drugs, just in case), I’ve lost about 7 pounds since last week. It was all going like gangbusters until Monday night when I realized the perfect food to get me through was ice cream. The cold numbs the pain and I don’t need to chew- life is good. Kind of hard to lose weight on the Ben & Jerry’s plan though.

Alas, I’ve set aside my dreams of revolutionizing the get-skinny-quick market. After speaking with medical experts and looking on the internets, I realized that most people only get sick like this during their first infection of the cold sore virus. After that, you might get an ugly third-eye sore on your lip periodically, but you probably won’t wake up feeling like all your teeth are about to fall out. I hope they are right.

Other than ice cream, I ate a lot of soup this week. Chris decided to pamper me by making up a big pot of vegetable soup similar to the one I’d made for my Detox program back in August. And by pamper, I mean come and ask me some question about the recipe every 10-15 minutes (I was attempting to nap at the time). In the end, it was a joint effort. He did the slicing and dicing, I watched the pot boil and adjusted seasonings.

I don’t really have a recipe for this soup but here are some ingredients:

1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 package sweet pepper and tomato soup from Imagine
A little bit of leftover cherry salsa
Some pasta sauce and/or tomato paste
1/3 red onion plus 1/2 yellow or Vidalia onion, diced
celery, diced
baby bella mushrooms, sliced
small red potatoes, cubed
2-3 fingerling potatoes, cubed
green beans, cut in thirds
3-4 Bay leaves
Basil, oregano and rosemary
salt & pepper

Directions: Saute onion, celery and carrot in a big stockpot with garlic and olive oil over medium heat.  When onions are translucent add tomatoes, soup, mushrooms and 2 cups water with an undetermined amount of seasonings.  Let cook over medium-low for awhile, add some pasta sauce and other tomato-based ingredients then come find your girlfriend and ask for help because it should taste “more tomato-y.”

GF steps in and asks how long did you simmer for and did you bring it to a boil first?  “I don’t know.”  I actually tried a bite and the celery was still very crunchy so I knew that more cooking was needed.  I added more oregano and thyme plus 2-3 good pinches of salt. Brought to a boil then reduced to low and simmered, lid on for 40 minutes. Then we added the potatoes and green beans, turned the heat up to medium-low and cooked an additional 15-20 minutes until the potatoes were done.

It tasted really good, just took forever and recreating it won’t be easy. Fortunately, we made a lot so there were 4 bowls in the fridge plus two ziploc bags in the freezer even after we each ate a big bowl for dinner. I couldn’t eat the green beans though- still too crunchy.

The other thing I’ve been eating is potatoes. Yes, some instant potates (which were rather unsatisfying) but also some real taters. The other night, Chris was studying late and I didn’t really feel like eating or cooking but I had pierogies on my mind. I’d just read a post about them and I knew I had a batch of them from Roma Bakery in my freezer. After thinking about them for 20 minutes, I suddenly found that I was hungry, starving in fact.

I took out 6 pierogies (by this point Chris was on his way home and I knew I’d be forced to share) and microwaved them about 3 minutes, flipping them over half-way through.  They were still cold but mostly defrosted. I patted them dry before adding to the pan (see below)

Meanwhile, I put a big slab of KerryGold butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat.

Kerrygold is Irish butter made with the milk from grass-fed cows and it definitely tastes different than Land O’ Lakes. Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to find the salted variety in our stores (Horrocks and The Fresh Market). I don’t use it for everything because its pricey but this is an ideal application.

Once  the butter was melted, I tossed about 1/4 of a onion, chopped, and a mashed clove of garlic in to the pan.  I kept the heat up on medium-high until the onions started to turn golden then I added my pierogies and reduced to medium.  It took about 3 minutes for the pierogies to start crisping and turning light brown on the bottom. Flipped ’em and cooked another 2-3 minutes since I like my tops a little crispy too.

Finally, something I enjoyed eating this week, even if I did have to cut them in to small pieces and gently maneuver the bites in through the side of my mouth.

The Roma Bakery & Deli is on Cedar just north of Lansing Lugnut Stadium, across from the City Market.  According to their website, they are open Monday thru Friday 8am to 6pm and Saturday 9-5 but I recall the storefront sign said they are closed on Mondays now.

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned the Roma Bakery before. Its a potentially dangerous place with a gorgeous baker’s case full of sweet temptations.  I believe I was looking for Chris’s mystery cheese (Idiziabal) the first time I went over there.  I didn’t find the cheese but I did pick up some dried mushrooms and these pierogies. They are made by a company in DeWitt and are available in a variety of flavors including my preferred potato-cheese version.

Okay, its now Friday night. I wrote 90% of the above post on Wednesday, right after eating those pierogies.  Since then, I am both better and worse. I can chew again, pretty well. However, the side effects from the antibiotics have kicked in full force and I’m not really enjoying food that much.  I never thought I’d say this but I think I may have thrush- a yeast infection in my mouth.  I fear another visit to the clinic is in my near future.  Between that and the GI issues, I am sick of being sick!!  I want to cook something and bite in to the fruits of my labor, savoring the flavors and textures as the food hits my tongue.  I want to go out to eat somewhere and not look for the mushiest thing on the menu. And whatever I choose to eat, I want to bite in to it like someone with all her teeth; someone who can eat in public without fear of embarrassmend and food falling from her mouth.