Andalusian Gazpacho

I made several trips to Spain the year I was an au pair in Germany. I had a good friend from college au pairing in Madrid and a couple of other friends teaching English in southern Spain, oh and there was a hen weekend to Barcelona in there too! One of the trips I did started in Malaga, and wound up through Andalusia stopping in Granada, and smaller towns like Cabra and Antequera, making my way up to Madrid.

Among the many memorable things from the trip is a meal that my friend (who I was visiting) and I had in Antequera, a meal prepared for us by and in the home of the director of the school my friend worked for, a meal I’ll never forget. She so easily whipped up a shockingly simple and delicious lunch including an amazing gazpacho simply of tomato and bread, and she delivered some of the best fried artichokes I’ve had. I have remembered it all this time and it’s funny to go back to my blog from that year and see how the soup they made is exactly what I saw in this month’s Spain issue of Food & Wine magazine.

From Adventures in Deutschland: “they made us this amazing Andalusian soup thing for lunch. It is raw tomatoes blended with some garlic, pepper, olive oil, vinegar and bread. It is eaten kind of like soup, and you dip a lot of bread in it as well…”

From Food & Wine: “Salmorejo is a classic soup made primarily with tomatoes and bread. It’s best with a splash of sherry vinegar, but Andalusian tomatoes pack a good hit of acidity, so they often omit it in Spain.”

Yum Yum.

Obviously after all the Spanish inspiration in the September issue, I now want to have a Spanish dinner party, but for now I’ve started with this soup as a way of using my pounds of tomatoes that just keep coming. It’s refreshing and spicy with the raw garlic, and so so smooth, this ‘soup’ is hard not to love. I topped it with a corn & poblano salad/salsa and a poached egg, which was delicious. I loved the contrast that the texture of the raw veggies provided against the creaminess of the soup. I made it in the morning and let chill to have the whole thing for lunch. It took me right back to Spain and got me so excited about traveling, trying new foods and the endless tomato possibilities that await.

 

Salmorejo (Andalusian Gazpacho), serves two (originally from Food & Wine) Continue reading

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Roasted Carrot Soup

Pureed soups continue to be one of my favorite things to make at winter time. They are so easy, always loaded with flavor and obviously soup is comforting when it’s rainy and blustery outside. This carrot soup is no exception.

This past week, I found some time to cook on a week night (shocking, I know!) and absolutely loved the way it turned out. You have a creamy slightly sweet hot soup, countered with the tart bite of cold yogurt and the crunch and smokiness of the dukkah spice mixture. You simply roast carrots in the oven, then blend with broth, heat through and you’re done. I have made butternut squash soup many a time before and while I love that, I did love how this was sweet without being overly so, and that you can mix as much or as little of the yogurt and spice into each bite.

It’s just the right way to warm and spice up a cold night.

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Roasted Carrot Soup, adapted from Bon Appétit here

  • 1/2 cup unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 6 larger carrots)
  • 1/2 white onion, largely chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • Low-fat plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 425. Place the carrots and onion on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with melted butter, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast until the carrots are tender and just beginning to brown, about 25 minutes. Let the carrots cool slightly.

While carrots are roasting, toast pistachios in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, until golden brown about 6 min. Remove from pan, return to heat. Toast sesame seeds, coriander and cumin 1-2 min until fragrant. Transfer to bowl with pistachios,  add 1 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper. When cool, transfer to mortar and pestle and corsely grind.

Transfer carrots and onions to a blender with broth and blend until very smooth. You may need to do it in 2 batches. When smooth transfer to a medium saucepan and heat through.

Serve soup with a dollop of yogurt in the middle and sprinkle with the dukkah spice mix.

Chilled Corn Soup

The most amazing gazpacho I’ve ever had was in Spain. I stayed with a friend of a friend when I visited the country for a week during my au pair year. One of her colleagues made this amazing cold, tomato soup thickened with bread for lunch, with simple seasonings, which really letting the tomato shine through. Other than that one experience, I haven’t ordered or attempted gazpacho. There’s something about cold soup that kind of turns me off. For some reason I don’t really get an iced coffee kick out of it, more like a ‘my cold coffee went cold’ sort of irking.

That said, I was really intrigued by this chilled corn soup recipe I found on Gourmet. I love love love summer corn. Corn on the cob, uncooked in salads, creamed. You name it, I pretty much love it. I was compelled by the fact that this soup only had 5 ingredients (including water) and utterly shocked at the result. It was luscious and creamy; so creamy. I really couldn’t believe that simmering corn and blending it would yield a thick soup, full of one of summer’s best flavors.

I hope you have a chance to try it. Next time I might add a bit of jalapeno or other heat in the to balance out the sweetness, but I promise with or without that heat, you will not miss the temperature heat in this chilled soup.

Recipe here

My Favorite Butternut Squash Soup

You know how they say scent is the strongest sense related to memory? Well, I have very strong memories to many foods, as I know we all do, and I’m sure a huge part of that is scent related – most of what you taste is because you smell the flavors too. Please watch this Alton Brown clip to help explain – I have referenced this many a time in random conversation because I love the fun fact so much. My recreation usually involves my fingers dangling downwards above my face and saying the word flanges – so fun.

Anyhow, I digress… My whole point about this, is that I love the foods traditions that have taken root in my life and the memories they stir.  Most of these traditions take place during the holidays or winder time like cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, my braided sausage roll for a holiday party, winter chili, and this butternut squash soup. It’s really my favorite recipe that I’ve come across and I make it at least once every winter.

There are so few ingredients but the impact is grand. The bit of cumin ads just the slightest smokiness that pairs so well with the sweet squash and cream at the end. AND as I’ve mentioned before, pureed soups are the easiest thing in the world to make – you have no excuse not to try this.

I originally found this recipe online when I lived in Germany – my host dad didn’t believe I was actually going to cook the squash when he saw it in the kitchen, he thought it was some project for the kids! This is my original copy all the way from Poppenweiler, DE, 5 years old.

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 Butternut squash (abt 2 lbs)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Halve squash, peel and remove seeds, cut into 1 inch chunks. Heat oil in pot, cook onions and garlic for about 5 in until beginning to brown. Add carrot, cumin, salt and pepper, cook about 1 min. Add squash and stock, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is very tender, about 15-20 min. Puree with immersion blender or in a regular blender in batches. Add cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.

rainy day delight

Soup and a grilled cheese is the ultimate rainy day food for me. Takes me way back to being a kid when my mom would make us tomato soup and a melted velveeta sandwich – oh so good.

Rainy Saturday creation numer two was Broccoli & Leek Soup with Thyme. I used dried thyme because it’s what I had, and added a quarter cup of cream at the end because I think thats the way creamed soups should be finished, and it turned out great. Blended soups are SO easy – I love them. Start with some onions, add veggie(s) of your choice, cover with broth, boild until tender and blend… and of course, finish with a little cream 😉
Even though it wasn’t raining today, I paired it with a sourdough+swiss+ham+apple grilled cheese sandwich, which is the perfect combo to melty+nutty+sweet+crisp.
I highly recommend this lunch or any variation of the soup method mentioned above on your next rainy day in.