Chunky Kabocha Soup with Appeal

chunky-kabocha-soup-with-appeal

Kabocha squash has a delicious green peel.  My friend Randi turned me on to kabocha soup with chunks of squash with the peel. We cut it up and roasted it with the peel immersed in a 1/2 inch water bath until it was tender. This recipe can be made vegan with vegetable stock.

Makes about 1 gallon.

Ingredients:

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1 medium kabocha squash

1 small piece of ginger root, grated to make 2 tsp (more if you really like it gingery)

2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

14 oz. can coconut milk

1 quart (4 cups) broth (chicken or vegetable stock)

a few grinds black pepper

1 tsp salt to taste

about 1/4 cup of roasted green pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for garnish

Preheat oven to 350′

cutting-stem-off-kabochaRinse off Kabocha and dry with paper towel. Cut off the stem.

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Cut squash into about 16 pieces. cut-kabocha-in-water-bathPlace in 8″ x 11″ x 2″ pan and fill pan with 1/2 inch water.

Sprinkle with 1 tsp melted coconut oil.

Roast for 45 minutes until squash is tender.

Let cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

While squash is cooling, grate ginger, discarding fibrous part. Saute it in 1 tsp coconut oil in a gallon size heavy pot.

After a minute, add broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.

bite-sized-pieces-of-squashAdd the small pieces of squash to the broth. Stir in pepper.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the softened squash into the broth. Add salt to taste.

Serve topped with roasted pepitas.

Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

kabocha squash coconut soup with pepitasThis smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash, leeks and carrots and seasoned with a hint of ginger. It is rich and creamy from coconut milk. Brandy Giggey, my student in the Episcopal Community Services CHEFS program, http://www.ecs-sf.org/programs/chefs.html, helped me develop this recipe, and critiqued each batch. After a particularly gingery batch, she suggested that I saute the ginger to mellow out the flavor.

I’ve tried this recipe with both regular and light coconut milk. The regular milk gives a more pronounced coconut flavor, but the light is lower in calories. I’ll let you choose what’s right for you.

You can roast the squash and vegetables and/or make the vegetable broth ahead of time. You can cook the vegetables in the broth ahead of time, and then blend and heat before serving.

makes 3 1/2 quarts (15 cups)

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Ingredients

6 cups vegetable broth (recipe below) or chicken broth

1 small kabocha squash

14 oz can coconut milk

2 cups 1% milk (To make this vegan, use milk substitute)

3 large carrots, peeled

3 large leeks, split lengthwise and rinsed well.

1 tsp minced ginger

1/2 tsp coconut oil

1 Tb olive oil

1 tsp sea salt (to taste)

a few grinds pepper

¼ cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 350◦ Stab whole kabocha several times and roast for 30 minutes. Toss white part of  leeks and peeled carrots with olive oil on a foil-lined heavy pan. Leave squash in the oven and roast all the vegetables for another 30 minutes.???????????????????????????????While vegetables are roasting and cooling, prepare vegetable broth: Heat about 5 cups of water to boiling. Soak green parts of leeks in salad spinner and rinse at least 3 times, making sure to remove all the dirt. Roughly chop them and 4 celery sticks, and put in boiling water. Season with 1 tsp celery seeds, 1 tsp dried thyme, 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp salt, simmering 1 hour. Pull out green leeks and celery with a slotted spoon and discard. Strain broth into a large bowl, then pour back into pot to boil. (If you prefer, you can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.)

Cut top off roasted squash then let cool. Scoop out and discard stringy seed pod. Cut flesh from peel and into 1 inch chunks and slice carrots.  Saute the minced ginger in coconut oil for a few minutes, but don’t let it brown.

Heat broth and coconut milk and then add roasted squash, carrots, white part of leeks, and ginger. Simmer vegetables for about 30 minutes, and then  cool enough to blend.

Pour soup and milk into a large bowl. Fill blender half-way with liquid and then add vegetables. Liquefy and return to the pot. It took me about 3 batches to blend.  If you have an immersion blender, use that instead.

Add a few grinds of pepper, Stir in about 1 tsp sea salt, to taste, then simmer for another 15 minutes and serve.

Toast pepitas (green shelled pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy skillet at medium heat and toss on top of soup to garnish

Tom Kha Gai ต้มข่าไก่ Thai Coconut Soup with Mushrooms

soup

This creamy coconut milk soup, fragrant with lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro and galangal, pungent fish sauce and a bit of chili heat, is one of my favorite Thai foods.
I am fortunate to live within shopping distance of Monterey Market and several Asian markets that carry the authentic ingredients. If you can’t find galangal you can substitute its relative, ginger.

Serves 3 large bowlfuls

ingredients

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth (I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup)
2 inches galangal, sliced thin
2 stalks of lemongrass
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 Thai bird chili (bright red), finely julienned, seeds removed (unless you want more heat)
½ teaspoon salt (to taste)

2 cups white mushrooms, sliced

1 scallion, sliced

1 tomato

2 Tb fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup cilantro leaves

14-oz can of coconut milk
½ raw chicken breast, thinly sliced, OR sliced leftover roasted chicken breast

Bring broth to a boil. Dip tomato in the boiling broth for a minute, and then cool.

While broth is heating, trim ends from galangal and slice thinly.

lemongrass         smashing lemongrasss

Remove a couple of inches from the root end of the lemongrass and the dry outer leaves. Slice the main stalk diagonally into 3 inch pieces, then smash the lemongrass with the blunt side of the knife. Smash the galangal slices with a mortar and pestle, molcajete, or other heavy object to release their fragrance. Add these to the boiling stock along with torn kaffir lime leaves,  julienned chili, and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes. You can make this part ahead of time and refrigerate.

Strain the broth into a bowl or another pot and discard the lemongrass, galangal. kaffir lime leaves and chili pods. Heat the strained broth again.

Peel the skin off the cooled tomato, then slice tomato thickly and stir into the broth along with the mushrooms and white parts of the scallions. Next, add the raw chicken (if using) and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in coconut milk and heat for 5 minutes. When meat is thoroughly cooked, stir in lime juice and fish sauce. If using cooked chicken, add it at this time.  Pour soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro and sliced green parts of scallion.

Creamy Spicy Kabocha Soup

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This smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash and seasoned with cumin and spicy garam masala. Although it is rich and creamy, it uses no cream; only 1% milk and broth.

You can roast the squash ahead of time. Use leftover squash for other dishes or freeze for future soups.

serves 3 bowls

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Stab whole kabocha several times and place on a foil-lined heavy pan. Roast for 1 hour at 450◦

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Cut top off then let cool. Cut flesh from peel and into chunks, and discard stringy seed pod

3 cups squash chunks

1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth

2 cups 1% milk

3 cups squash chunks

Heat broth and milk and add squash. Let squash sit in warm liquid for 15 minute to soften.

Blend in batches.

Stir in ½ -1 tsp salt to taste

½ tsp cumin

a pinch to ¼ tsp garam masala to taste

Heat soup until ready to serve

Toast ¼ cup pepitas (green shelled pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy skillet and toss on top of soup to garnish

Vegetable Broth

vegetable brothPerfect to make for the vegetarian cousins for my Seder’s matzo ball soup, or great as a base for Minestrone soup, mushroom barley soup, kale and white bean soup, borscht,  or other veggie soups. It smells fantastic while cooking.

vegetables3 medium leeks

1 bunch celery, outer stalks and leafy tops

1 onion

4 cloves of garlic

3 carrots

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 Tb thyme (fresh or dried, depending on the season)

1 tsp each dried dill weed, oregano,

4 bay leaves

1 – 2 Tb salt

several grinds black pepper

Boil 6 cups of water in a large pot.

soaking leeksDiscard root end off of leeks. Slit leeks down the middle several times, then chop crosswise. Place them in a salad spinner and fill it with water. Let soak while chopping other vegetables. Then lift basket and discard dirty water. Repeat 2 more times, rubbing leeks to loosen dirt, then rinse thoroughly.

Rinse onion, trim top and tail, then cut into large chunks, including the skin for its lovely golden color. Peel the bitter skin from carrots and chop roughly. (I sometimes use dried but edible baby carrots instead). Pull outer stalks from celery and discard the dirty bottoms. Rinse well and chop roughly. Cut leafy tops from the inner stalks and rinse and chop roughly. Smash garlic in a molcajete or mortar and pestle to remove shell, and chop.

cooking brothAdd all vegetables and seasonings to boiling water and let boil for ½ hour. Transfer to a crock pot and let cook all day or night, depending on when you begin.

Strain broth through a sieve and adjust salt. The broth freezes well, so put in several containers for future use.

Unbeetable Borscht!

borscht serving

This was one of my favorite dishes that my mom made when I was a kid. We used to eat it with blintzes  on the side. This is not traditional Russian hot borscht which has meat, cabbage and potatoes, but cold simple beet borscht, served back in the day with sour cream, Meyer lemon juice and a spoonful of sugar.

I roasted the beets before boiling them, for a deeper flavor. I’ve added the beet greens for more body and nutrients, as well as a bit of salt, dill and lemon zest for flavor. Since I’m watching my waistline, I added nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Not quite the same, but not bad either.

Ingredients:

lemons and roasted beets

1 bunch of 4 medium beets, leaves included

1 Meyer lemon

A few shakes, dill weed, salt, sugar, to taste

Trim “tails” and stems from beets. Scrub beets well. Line a covered container with foil (to prevent baked-on beet juice), then place beets in with ¼ cup of water, cover and roast at 400 for 40 minutes.

washed beet greets

While beets are roasting, rinse leaves and stems and thoroughly: first rinse, then soak in a salad spinner for about 10 minutes in warm water, then rinse several more times.

beet greens boiling

Boil 4 cups water in a medium pot. Add washed greens and boil for 15 min until tender. Drain greens. Reserve the water and pour it back into the pot. Set greens aside to cool.

grating beets

Remove beets from oven and let cool. Peel them and then grate on a box grater. Be prepared for hot pink hands!

grated beets

Add grated beets to reserved water. Boil for 20 minutes. When greens are cool, chop them finely, and then add to beets.

Grate lemon zest (the yellow part) from a Meyer lemon on a fine grater into the soup, and then squeeze in the lemon. Stir in a few shakes of dill weed, ¼ tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar to taste. Let borscht cool, then refrigerate.

Serve with more lemon juice and sour cream. (You can substitute plain Greek yogurt for a low-fat alternative.)

Pozole

Oy vey! Nice Jewish girl learns to cook with pork products! My friend Jann made this hearty and delicious pozole with her Mexican husband, Luciano, for their  New Years Eve parties. She gave me her recipe using pork shoulder, but the second time I made it I used the leaner pork loin.

Cooked with chilies and hominy and topped with cabbage, oregano, radishes and cilantro, it makes a rich and satisfying stew.

This recipe made 10 servings, including leftovers.

Ingredients:

1 gallon chicken broth. For the cross-cultural experience, use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup.
4 dried red chilies, such as ancho or pasilla chili
2 fresh poblano chili peppers
2 Tb olive oil
2 onions
2 1/2 pound pork loin.
1 Tb dried oregano
1 head garlic.
3 bay leaves
1 tsp cayenne
1 Tb paprika (Spanish smoked paprika adds a nice smoky flavor)
Several grinds black pepper
1 Tb salt to taste
2 chayotes, peeled, seed area removed, and chopped
39- oz and 15-oz cans of white or purple hominy (maíz blanco o morado)

Condiments:

1 Tb dried oregano
Black pepper
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 small green cabbage, shredded
A bunch of radishes, sliced thin
1 jalapeno, sliced thinly
4 limes, sliced into wedges
 

Bring the soup stock to boil in a large pot.

Heat a heavy frying pan and toast the dried red chilies and the poblano peppers. Place them in a covered bowl to cool, and then remove the stems and seed pods. Throw them in the stock pot

Pour a tablespoon of olive oil to the frying pan and cook the sliced onions until soft. Slice the poblano chiles and fry up with the onions, then add to the soup. Smash the garlic bulb with a molcajete or mortar and pestle, chop it finely and add it to the soup. Add bay leaves, salt, paprika, black pepper and cayenne.

Cut the pork into large (about 3 x 3) chunks and trim extra fat. Pour another tablespoon of oil to the frying pan and add the pork, sprinkling salt and dried oregano on each side. Brown pork on all sides then put in the stock. After pork is browned, add  2 ladles of hot broth to the frying pan to deglaze it. Using a metal spatula, loosen all the browned bits  into the broth and then pour it back into the pot.

Simmer the soup at low-medium heat for 1 ½ hours.

Pour the soup into a large container and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the congealed fat from the top of the soup. Pour the broth through a sieve into a large pot, and heat it. Pour the solids into a bowl. Remove the red chili and strip whatever skin from it that you can. Put in a blender with 2 cups of broth and run blender on high, then add to the broth in the pot, rinsing the blender with broth several times to get all the chili out.

While broth is cooking, shred or chop the meat, discarding bones and fat, and then add the shredded meat to the broth. Add chopped chayotes and hominy. Adjust salt to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes, until chayote is tender, and then scoop into bowls.

Top with condiments, squeeze a bit of lime in, roll up a few warm corn tortillas to dip in the soup, y disfrútelo.