Tag Archives: lunch/dinner

First Fall Soup


I decided to make my first soup of the fall season. I was torn about it at first, thinking I should hold onto those ripe heirloom tomatoes, California avocados, and summery salads for as long as I could. But there was no denying a certain crispness to the air, school starting again – even Smitten Kitchen decided it was time to start doing baked pastas. And then I got a sore throat and that sealed the deal – time to make soup.

I really love soup. This is one of my favorites, and it’s super easy to do. It’s from a Bon Appetit issue in January that included recipes for a 3-week health cleanse. I challenged myself to make all of them that month and ended up with a few recipes worth doing even when you’re not being particularly health-ambitious.

The recipe is simple – start by sauteeing onions, garlic and ginger, add lots of spices, and then squash, carrots, and an apple. To make it even simpler, buy pre-chopped butternut squash – yes it’s lazy, but my last attempt at chopping a whole butternut squash caused my entire hand to peel off (apparently some people are allergic to raw butternut squash). Go ahead and use the same excuse if you need to – pre-chopped is so much easier anyway! The recipe is highly flexible, so if you accidentally ate that apple yesterday because you forgot it was for this soup (true story) or accidentally dropped in way more cinnamon than you needed (also true story), the recipe still works out. Just simmer it all for about 25 minutes and finish off in an immersion blender. The spices alone make you feel like you can fend off a fall cold!

OH, and let’s not forget – I also made pumpernickel croutons from our fabulous star chef Chloe Coscarelli. A great great combo, and the croutons work just as well in salad the next day!

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
From Bon Appetit

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch of chopped fresh ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cardamom
a dash of ground cloves
2 peeled, chopped carrots
1 tart apple
4 cups chopped butternut squash
3 cups water (if you’re not on a cleanse, I recommend a combo of vegetable broth & water)

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender (6-8 minutes). Add the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots, apple, and squash, and liquid. Bring to a boil; cover partially and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, and then blend (either with an immersion blender or in a regular blender).

Chloe’s Pumpernickel Croutons
Chop up 6 slices of pumpernickel bread. Toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake at 325 for about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container – lasts surprisingly long.

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Dainty Little Salads


In my favorite cooking blogs and magazines I often find the Dainty Little Salad – ultra light, usually with shaved this or grated that, and featuring some type of seasonal fruit, usually pink – the most idealistic recipe there is. I usually write these off as a highly attractive, but kind of improbable meal. Then I had a labor day weekend that included a buffet of four types of mac & cheese, several some serious Giants ballpark fare, and copious amounts of beer at every turn. In a cruel coincidence (?), both pairs of jeans I own ripped straight down the bum. True story. So I thought it might be time to give one of these trophy wife salads a try.

Turns out this salad was as delightful to eat as it is to look at, provided you keep a few things in mind:

Recommendation one: thinly shaved fennel is a must. I have really enjoyed having a roommate with a mandolin, and can confidently say that the recommendation to buy this particular kitchen gadget is sound advice. When you’re crunching into a big old piece of fennel, you really do lose the effect.

Recommendation two: a salad bowl. It makes food ten times better. Even if it’s ridiculously large for one person. Just try it.

Recommendation three: sturdy greens. I used a spinach mix from the farmers market. If there’s one culinary pet peeve I have, it’s wilted, wimpy little lettuce leaves – and these guys have lasted a week and still look peppy.

Final and probably most important recommendation: supplement your salad. Dainty Little Salads are a lot more enjoyable when you aren’t starving. I threw a little tuna salad on the side of this one night, and had it with a fried egg over a slice of dark bread the other. I promise it doesn’t make you any less cute.

Spinach Salad with Sprouts, Fennel, and Grapefruit
1 bag of mixed spinach leaves or other fresh greens
1/4 of a grapefruit
1 bulb fennel
1 packet sprouts – alfalfa, broccoli, or mung bean
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Dijon mustard

Wash spinach and sprouts and throw in a big salad bowl. Shave fennel with a mandolin and add to the bowl. Slice grapefruit with a knife into any dainty shape you want – you can slice it or just chop it.

Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 2 parts olive oil. Add some freshly ground pepper and a little squirt of dijon mustard. Beat with a fork and pour over salad.