Asparagus Soup {FFwD}

Asparagus Soup

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie just screams “Springtime!” It’s light, flavorful, and bursting with asparagus flavor.

The soup consists of asparagus (lots of it), onion, garlic, shallot, leeks, olive oil, butter, salt, and white pepper. I started by snapping the asparagus to remove the woody part at the base, then peeling the stalks (seriously, who does that?). I tied the peels and stems in a cheesecloth, then boiled the asparagus, stalks, and peels in boiling water. I removed the asparagus after about four minutes, reserving the water and discarding the stalks and peels.

Next, I heated olive oil in the pot. I was using a butter-infused olive oil, so I left out the butter called for in the recipe. I added the onion, garlic, shallot, and leeks, salted and peppered them, and cooked them low and slow until they were soft and glistening. I added back six cups of the asparagus water, simmered for a while, then dropped the asparagus back in.

After everything had cooked a bit more, I puréed the soup in two batches in my Vitamix. I thought the first batch looked a bit too watery, so I left most of the liquid out of the second batch. When I mixed it all together, it was a beautiful color and consistency.

The recipe says that the soup can be served hot or cold. I wanted to try it right away, so I served it hot with a dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of olive oil. I found it slightly bland, but a little sprinkle of cayenne pepper solved that problem.

I’m interested to try this soup cold, but I really enjoyed it hot. It was smooth, silky, and brimming with Springtime flavors.

Thanksgiving Dinner Roundup

I recently hosted a Pumpkin Dinner Roundup. That’s right: an entire meal featuring pumpkin! I had so much fun, I decided to invite all my baking friends to join me for an early Thanksgiving Dinner. We agreed on a time and picked our dishes, then I got busy cleaning the house and anticipating everyone’s (virtual) arrival.

Thanks to Mike for the Awesome Place Card!!!

Abby provided our first course – Butternut Squash Bisque. We don’t usually have soup with our Thanksgiving meal, and after trying Abby’s creamy, indulgent bisque, I think I may have to remedy that! The fried sage and popcorn garnish was fun, festive, and delicious! What a great way to start a meal.

I think everyone was surprised when our next guest showed up. Knowing how Nick Malgieri loves to get together and share recipes with other cooks, I wasn’t surprised at all. And once I saw the Cranberry Orange Relish he brought, I was glad I had taken the chance and invited him to the party.

I was recently introduced to Jeanette, who hosts a blog called The Whimsical Cupcake, and I was so pleased that she accepted my invitation. I was even happier when I saw what she brought: Beer and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese! In my humble opinion, there is entirely too little beer at most Thanksgiving dinners. And you can never go wrong with mac and cheese.

Nancy brought our next dish, Carrot Soufflé. This was one of the dishes I was most excited to try. Like most everyone else, I love candied sweet potatoes and look forward to them on Thanksgiving. But this savory, creamy carrot soufflé made me forget all about candied yams.

A must-have dish for Thanksgiving dinner is something with green beans. Like many of you, we always have green bean casserole with mushroom soup and crunchy onions on top. Not this year! Peggy left that old standby in the dust with her Gingered Green Beans.

Ever industrious, our friend Hanaâ signed up for two dishes. For her first offering, she brought these wonderful Mediterranean-style Oven-Roasted Vegetables. I love the smell of vegetables roasting in the oven, and these were absolutely heavenly.

Renee signed up to bring one of the dishes without which the Thanksgiving table wouldn’t be complete. Call it stuffing or dressing (in eastern Pennsylvania, they call it filling), just make sure there’s plenty of it! Renee’s Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples had a lot of texture, as it was made with three different kinds of bread. And the sausage, apples, and white wine really gave it great flavor.

And right next to the stuffing, you have to have mashed potatoes. God bless Glennis. She brought not one, but two kinds of mashed potatoes for us to try. The first, buttermilk mashed potatoes, is a recipe by Ina Garten that I’ve made (and loved) many times. The other recipe, by the Pioneer Woman, raises potato decadence to new heights by adding cream cheese. Glennis and her husband had a hard time deciding which recipe they liked best. Personally, I had to try several helpings of each and still haven’t made up my mind. Maybe I need more….

And for those of you who like mashed potatoes but want something a little different, Mike brought these amazing Cauliflower “Potatoes”. They are as delicious as they are fancy.

As the host, I decided to provide the main attraction. Besides, I’m always looking for an excuse to fill the house with the aroma of roast turkey. And speaking of Ina, I based my Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter on one of her recipes. Turkey slathered in butter seasoned with truffle salt and truffle oil. How bad could that be? Not bad at all, as it turns out.

I let everyone pick what they wanted to bring, but I was secretly hoping that Di would sign up for some kind of bread or rolls, as she always does such an amazing job with them. She didn’t disappoint, and showed up with these beautiful, fluffy, and delicious Make-ahead Dinner Rolls. I have to admit, I slopped some extra gravy on my plate just so I could sop it up with one of these rolls.

Margaret (to no one’s surprise!) showed up with dessert in hand. And what a dessert it was! Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Pecan Sauce. This recipe combines two of my favorite things — pumpkin and whiskey — into my all-time favorite dessert. This bread pudding was everything I dream of. And, no, Margaret, I don’t think there was too much whiskey! (Is that even possible?)

And as if her oven-roasted vegetables weren’t enough, Hanaâ also contributed a Pumpkin Layer Cake with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting. I’m sure she didn’t bring this just because of my love for pumpkin, but buttering up your host never hurts.

Finally, we have a traditional Hoosier dessert from a transplanted Hawkeye. Kayte is responsible for this whole dinner, as she planted the idea in my head when I hosted the Pumpkin Dinner Roundup. So it’s fitting that she should bring this satisfying, belt-loosening meal to a sweet finish with her Persimmon Pudding. I hope you saved some room, because you definitely don’t want to miss out on this one!

Well, that wraps up this amazing Thanksgiving feast. Thanks for coming. We really enjoyed having you here. And don’t worry about the dishes. The girls and I will clean them up after we sleep off some of this food.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so stuffed I don’t think I’ll need to eat again until the Holiday Appetizer Roundup.

Pumpkin Dinner Roundup

Welcome, Fall! This is, by far, my favorite season. And one my favorite things about this time of year…

Pumpkins!! Sure, they’re fun to carve, and they make great decorations. But what I really love to do with pumpkins is cook and bake with them. So, I rounded up some of my friends for a Fall-welcoming pumpkin dinner.

Renee over at Every Pot and Pan got dinner started with not one, but two recipes: Pumpkin Curry Soup and three varieties of Pumpkin Fries. She preferred the cinnamon fries, but I’d love to try the herb and spicy versions, too!

Nancy from The Dogs Eat the Crumbs rushed back from her daughter’s wedding to make another soup for us, Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Cider Cream. Mmm, mmm good!

Di over at Di’s Kitchen Notebook decided to test a new recipe on us, and we’re so glad she did. Her Pumpkin Brioche Rolls look both cute and delicious!

Marthe of The Baking Bluefinger made a delicious entrée of Pasta with Mushrooms and Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Sauce.

And nothing goes better with a big bowl of pasta than slice of fresh, warm bread. Margaret at Tea and Scones knows this, so she provided us with this beautiful, yeasty Braided Pumpkin Bread.

Mel from Mel’s Home Baking Adventure also shared two dishes with us. First, she made Pumpkin Ravioli, combining recipes from Wolfgang Puck and Giada.

And as if that wasn’t enough, she also made these amazing looking Pumpkin Scones.

Heather, over at Tease-spoon of Sugar, made this wonderful Pumpkin Risotto as an elegant, savory side dish.

My contribution was another side dish (although I could easily eat this as a complete meal): Stuffed Pumpkin.

In addition to providing the jack-o-lanterns at the top of the page, Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table also gave us these wonderful Pumpkin Cookie Bites for dessert.

And last, but certainly not least, Abby at Stir it! Scrape it! Mix it! Bake it! got the whole family involved in making these amazing Pumpkin Muffins!

I’m sure these Pumpkin Muffins will go fast, but I’m hoping there are a few left for breakfast tomorrow morning!

Man, am I stuffed. I think I’ll have to wait a bit before I drink my pumpkin coffee with a slice of good, old fashioned pumpkin pie.

I hope you enjoyed this pumpkin dinner as much as I did. Be sure to check back in a few weeks for our Thanksdiving Dinner Roundup!

Paris Mushroom Soup {FFwD}

At French Fridays with Dorie we’re starting off the new year with the perfect recipe for those wintry January days. I love soup, especially when it’s cold outside. I’m not sure why I don’t make it more often, especially since so many soup recipes, like this one from Around My French Table, are so easy to put together.

Preparing to cook included little more than chopping vegetables and measuring out the remaining ingredients. The most time-consuming part was cleaning and slicing the mushrooms. If you really wanted this soup to be almost effortless, you could start with sliced white mushrooms. Starting with whole mushrooms, it still only took me about 15 minutes to get everything ready. With my mise en place completed, it was time to make soup.

I began by sautéing onions and garlic in butter.

Or rather, my sous chef sautéed them.

After the onions and garlic had softened a bit, we added the mushrooms and cooked them down until they gave up their liquid.

We continued cooking the mushrooms until the liquid had mostly evaporated. Then we added white wine and cooked it away, too. Finally, we dropped in rosemary and parsley, then poured in chicken broth.

We brought the broth to a boil, covered the pan, and simmered the soup for about 20 minutes. We — or rather, I, as my sous chef had gone off to play by then — uncovered the pot, moved it off the heat, and broke out the immersion blender to purée the vegetables.

 With the soup ready to go, I prepared the salad, which consisted of mushrooms, scallions, parsley, and chives.

I assembled the salad in the bottom of shallow soup bowls, then ladled the hot soup onto the salad.

I served the soup with a dollop of sour cream. The recipe called for crème fraiche, but the grocery store didn’t have any, and I hadn’t thought ahead to make it. No matter, as the sour cream worked just fine.

This soup was perfect for a chilly winter Sunday supper. My sous chef, who claims not to like mushrooms, even liked it. Actually, that was part of the reason I had her help me cook it. I’ve found that kids are more likely to try — and like — a dish that they have helped prepare.

As for the rest of us, we loved the soup, too. Everyone finished their bowls, and I went back for seconds. The soup was creamy and delicious, and the salad gave it a bit of added flavor and texture.

 This is definitely a recipe I will make again. And it has me thinking I should make homemade soup a regular part of my winter dinner rotation.

Leek and Potato Soup {FFwD}

This week for French Fridays with Dorie, I made Leek and Potato Soup. This soup is simple, delicious, versatile, and comforting. It’s easy to throw together — once you chop some onions, garlic, leeks, and a potato, all you have to do is put it all together. There are quite a few variations suggested in the recipe, and you could easily come up with many more, making this a great recipe to have in your repertoire, as the possibilities are endless.

This soup is perfect for wintry weather days, but it can also be served cold in the spring or summer. And it can be served chunky, smooth, or somewhere in between. If you can’t find a variation of this soup that you like, you don’t like soup.

To assemble the soup, I began by cooking onion, shallots (my addition), and garlic in butter over low heat. I added leeks, potato, thyme, sage, chicken broth, and milk, and seasoned with salt and white pepper.

I brought the soup to a boil, lowered the heat, covered the pan partway, and simmered the soup for 40 minutes, until the vegetables were soft. I decided to purée the soup in the pot with my immersion blender. I left a few chunks in it, but for the most part, it was smooth.

After ladling the soup into a bowl, I topped it with freshly ground black pepper and white truffle oil and served it with Irish brown bread made with Irish wholemeal flour from King Arthur Flour.

This soup is easy enough to make on a busy weeknight, versatile enough that you can probably make it with ingredients you have on hand, and so delicious that you will want to make it again and again.

Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup {FFwD}

The third recipe Dorie Greenspan chose for the French Fridays with Dorie group seems like an odd recipe to find in a French cookbook — Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. However, as Dorie explains, France has colonial ties to Vietnam, and Vietnamese restaurants are common throughout France. So, it should not come as a surprise that some Vietnamese dishes have found their way into French kitchens.

This recipe is a combination of two traditional Vietnamese soups: pho ga and la sa ga. I’ve never had either of these soups, but this recipe does remind me of one of my favorite dishes — Thai chicken coconut soup.

The recipe begins with a bouquet garni tied up with star anise, coriander seeds, white peppercorns, and cilantro stems. This is added to a pot with onion, garlic, fresh ginger, red chiles, chicken broth, and coconut milk. This mixture is seasoned with fish sauce, brown sugar, and salt, then brought to a boil.

Once the broth boiled, I lowered it to a simmer and added the chicken breasts. I covered the pot and poached the chicken for about 15 minutes.

After the chicken was cooked, I removed it from the pot and let it cool for a few minutes before shredding it by hand. While the chicken was cooling, I cooked and drained the noodles.

I then returned the broth to a boil and added the chicken and noodles to the pot. When everything was heated through, I stirred in cilantro and lime juice, adjusted the seasonings, and served the soup for dinner with a salad.

I topped my bowl with a few splashes of chili oil. I had omitted the red chiles from the recipe at the beginning, as I was serving the soup for dinner and my daughters don’t like things that are too spicy.

This soup was delicious. Spicy, slightly sweet from the coconut milk, and full of flavor. As noted above, it reminded me of Thai chicken coconut soup, which I order almost every time we get Thai food.

Even though there were quite a few ingredients in this recipe, it was really simple to assemble, and it was ready to serve in about 30 minutes, making it a perfect light dinner for any night of the week.

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