Tag Archives: soup

Tomatillo-Veggie (or Chicken) Posole


I broke out my fall garb this week, and taught my students a valuable lesson while wearing a cozy wrap/scarf that the mister got for me in Amsterdam.  A scarf is just a socially acceptable way to wear a blanket to work or school.  You’ll see me wearing a lot of “scarves” in the coming days.  The Dutch have a specific word for all things cozy, inviting, friendly and warm: gezellig.  It’s one of those words that has no English translation.  Picture a cool misty fall day.  Gezellig is arriving home from work and snuggling up in a cozy knit blanket with a cup of tea, a book, and your favorite furry companion (canine, feline, or hey, even human).  It’s huddling around a fire with friends, steaming mugs of soup in hand. The leaves are swirling around, and it’s hinting at frost.  It’s gezellig time, so I thought I’d share my favorite after-work gezellig I meal to spread a bit o’ the cozy.  If everyone were just a bit more gezellig, the world would be a happier place.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Soups and Stews

Moroccan Lentil Soup

My husband and I met a friend downtown last Friday for drinks.  I’m not high maintenance by most standards, but it took me about 40 minutes and two outfit changes to switch over from teacher-mode to going out mode.  The mister, on the other hand, showered, shaved, chose a button up shirt and jeans, and carefully mussed his hair in less than 15.  He was sitting on the couch playing Angry Birds long before I emerged from the bedroom to ask him which shoes looked better.

My male counterpart is usually known around here by pseudonyms like Mr. Medium Rare, The Hubs and my favorite taste tester.  You may be surprised to know that he has a real name.  Meet Peder; 6 foot 4, blue-eyed and amiable, the keeper of  both random and highly useful knowledge.  Equal parts logical and creative,  stubbly and polished.  Peder has good kitchen sense, but cooks only occasionally.  He rarely reads cookbooks or browses food sites, and chooses recipes like he shops–thinks, decides, procures, purchases, and goes home to move onto more important things.  And the most endearingly annoying part? Every recipe he chooses is pure gold.

If you have been to my house in the past 3 months, you have undoubtedly heard about “the” Moroccan lentil soup.  You know, the one we mention every time the topic of food comes up (which is pretty frequently around here).  You may have even tried it, one of the ten times we have made it recently, at a school staff potluck, or a last minute dinner get-together.

I’d love to take credit for finding such a fantastic recipe.  After all, I read cookbooks like it’s my part time job.  I luxuriate in the glossy pages, and bookmark potentials with neon sticky notes.  I check Tastespotting on a daily basis, just to see what catches my eye. The problem is, I’m easily distractable…Um, what were we talking about again?  Oh, right.

It goes something like this:  I go to my massive shelf of cookbooks and pull out the Native Foods cookbook, Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Home Cooking, and the latest issue of Bon Appetit.  Halfway through the sandwich chapter of my Native Foods cookbook, I remember my favorite portobello burger.  A good possibility…I move on to Madhur Jaffrey.  Before I can flip past the foreword, I remember a recipe I had bookmarked on Indian Simmer.  After deciding that the Malai Kofta would have to wait for another day, I head on over to another one of my favorite food blogs, Use Real Butter.  Oh, look, I can make ice cream using only bananas!  Hey Peder–I can make ice cream using only bananas!  You get the picture.

One day, three months ago, Peder decided to make lentil soup for dinner.  After a quick google search, he discovered this recipe buried deep in the comments section of another recipe (we later found the recipe in The Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss).  He gathered the ingredients, mostly pantry staples.  It took him 20 minutes to chop and saute the onions and garlic with heaped spoonfuls of aromatic spices.  He added the red lentils, broth, and crushed tomatoes, and poured everything into the slow cooker.  6 hours later, something magical emerged.  The lentils were soft, but still toothsome, like perfectly cooked al dente pasta.  The broth had a layered complexity and was scented with turmeric, coriander, and a hint of cinnamon.  A couple pulses of the immersion blender thickened the broth slightly, turning the soup from light to medium-bodied.  A squeeze of lemon and some parsley and cilantro stirred in at the end woke up all the flavors and tied them all together.

At first, I was a little jealous that I didn’t find this fantastic recipe on my own.  Then…I tasted a spoonful, and thought, a girl could really get used to this!

Moroccan Lentil Soup

Adapted from The Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt (to begin with), then to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 24-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • a small splash of red wine vinegar (about 1/2 tablespoon)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, and allspice.  Cook for another minute or two, stirring to coat the onions.  Add the broth, tomatoes and salt, and bring to a boil.  Pour into a slow cooker, and stir in the lentils.  Cook for 4 to 5 hours on high, or 6-8 hours on low, or until the lentils are tender.

Stir in the lemon juice, a small splash of red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, cilantro, and parsley.  Season to taste again with kosher salt.   Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes.


Filed under Soups and Stews

Cooking With Friends Part Two: Roasty Pumpkin-Butternut Soup with Frizzled Sage Leaves


I’ve had soup on the brain lately.  At the first sign of crisp Fall air, I made tomato soup.  When my father in-law gifted me with a batch of smoky white bean soup, I eagerly accepted, and promptly devoured.  Whether chowder or bisque, gumbo or stew, brothy or hearty, filling or light, Fall means soup.  Soup in epic proportions.

So, I will ask your forgiveness, readers, for posting about soup three times in a row…but I never turn down an invitation to cook with friends.  When my close friend Karissa, geographically far (but always close in mind), invited me to make pumpkin soup, I had to accept.

You see, Karissa lives in Morocco.  Although Skype and e-mail suffice for now, I miss the simple things that make up our friendship, like browsing and chatting over tea at the bookstore…random photography excursions…double-dates and speed scrabble with the husbands…and most of all, cooking good food together.

I admired Karissa’s charming white pumpkin, gifted by her co-worker Imane, and journeyed to the last farmers market of the year to find my own pumpkin–an heirloom variety with plenty of character of its own.

I found this delightful lad at the farmer’s market.  He just wouldn’t leave without his friend, a precocious little butternut squash, so I relented and took both home.  As I marched through the un-raked leaves on my walkway, satisfied with the crunch beneath my feet, I felt as if Fall had finally arrived.

My pumpkin soup embodies everything I love about Fall:  rich roasty flavors, comfort-food spices like cinnamon and allspice, and the aroma of sage-browned butter–a combination I crave like clockwork every year during the colder months.

This pumpkin soup tastes best when eaten with friends; so whether your friend lives next door, or in Casablanca, Morocco (many of Karissa’s friends, ironically, fit both of these criteria), share a few spoonfuls!

Roasty Pumpkin-Butternut Soup with Frizzled Sage Leaves

Serves 4-6 as a main course

For the Soup:

  • 1 small/medium pumpkin (3 pounds)
  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds), halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 fresh sage leaves (for frying)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for roasting
  • 1/2 tsp allspice, divided
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper, plus extra to stir in at the end
  • 1 teaspoon real maple syrup
  • 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • Kosher salt to taste

For the Croutons

  • 2 cups cubed bread (from a baguette or loaf of ciabatta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • a pinch of kosher salt

Prepare for roasting:

Preheat the oven to 425˚F.  Cut off the top of the pumpkin (like you do for Halloween), and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.  Cut the pumpkin into wedges and place on a baking sheet.  Cut the butternut squash into 3/4 inch thick slices and place on a separate baking sheet.  Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the pumpkin and squash.  Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, and about 1 teaspoon kosher salt over the pumpkin and squash pieces.  Toss to coat.

Roast the Pumpkin and Squash:

Bake in the 425˚ oven for about 45 minutes, flipping the pieces over after 30 minutes.  You want your pumpkin and squash to be softened and lightly browned. (Keep a careful eye on the oven, because your butternut squash may cook faster than the pumpkin)

Allow to cool slightly before handling.

Build Your Soup:

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large dutch oven or saucepan until butter is melted.  Wait until the mixture is hot, and then fry the whole sage leaves, 8 at a time  until the edges curl up slightly (the leaves will crisp further upon cooling). Remove to a paper towel-covered plate. At this point, the butter-oil mixture should be a light golden brown.

Saute the onion, carrot, celery, and chopped sage in the brown-butter mixture until the vegetables are softened but not browned.  Add the garlic, and saute for two more minutes. Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and squash, and add to the pan.  Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon allspice, a pinch of white pepper, and the maple syrup, and salt to taste.  Stir, then allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Make the croutons:

While the soup is simmering, set the oven to 350˚F.  Toss the bread cubes in the olive oil and salt, and bake on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, or until golden.

Finish the Soup:

Blend the soup together until smooth, adding additional broth if needed to reach the right consistency.

Serve while hot, garnishing with croutons and fried sage leaves.


Filed under Main Dishes, Soups and Stews

Cooking With Friends Part One: Karissa’s Moroccan-Spiced Pumpkin Soup

When I received an e-mail with the subject line “Cook Together?” from my wonderful friend Karissa, my interest was piqued.  I knew the answer was “yes” even before knowing the details.  Sure, we’ve embarked on culinary adventures together before…like the time we made sushi rolls and miso soup, hands all sticky with rice and seaweed; or put ourselves into a sugar coma with a big batch of vanilla buttercream macaroons.

Karissa’s co-worker in Morocco (yes, that’s right–Morocco!) had given her a cheeky little organic pumpkin as an early fall gift.  Not long after her invitation to make pumpkin soup together, I found myself toting my own heirloom pumpkin through the Cherry Creek Farmers Market.

What follows is Karissa’s experience living, cooking, sharing with friends, and her Moroccan take on pumpkin soup…

Part One:  Moroccan-Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Text and Photos by Karissa Swanson-Moore

I was delighted when Imane, my coworker and fellow lover-of-cooking, presented me with a little organic pumpkin and a note: “Happy Early Fall & Happy Cooking.” I spent two weeks deliberating over the most creative possibility for this charming vegetable.

Of course, I emailed my dear friend and greatest cooking inspiration, Jenny, and we devised a plan. Choose a basic pumpkin soup recipe, adapt it to your liking, and share! I perused many recipes, and realized that aside from the pumpkin-apple sweet idea, none of these quite fit the bill for me.

I devised a way to fill my soup with my favorite Moroccan spices: cinnamon, saffron, and cumin. Accompany those with the fun things I find in the market: quince, big yellow raisins. There you have it, a recipe of my own whim, and a day to make it happen. Here is my story of Moroccan cooking.

This rainy morning I wandered to the underground market, basket in hand, expecting a lull in activity. Not so, as I was pushed aside multiple times by the guy squeeging water from the walkway.  Here are my main ingredients.

My ness (that’s half in Arabic) kilos of ingredients are weighed quickly on the scale and bagged up by efficient hands.

Part of the adventure of cooking in Morocco is getting the ingredients. A woman cannot go to the market alone without a sense of humor. Trying to be careful about taking pictures of others, I asked this man if I could photograph his vegetables. What followed was a series of posed shots, taken by the guy selling tomatoes, of the shopkeepers and I.

All said and done, I paid decent prices and walked, heavy with produce, back to my kitchen. After thoroughly washing my vegetables, which includes a bath of water and a dash of bleach (lesson learned from past experience), I attempt to capture the beauty of this food before I chop it all up!

An army of zucchini

Moroccan celery

Grumpy-faced quince

My adventure is almost complete. “There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the Real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.”  As artist Brian Andreas so eloquently puts it, it’s time to share this soup with the friends I’ve made in Morocco.

Moroccan-Spiced Pumpkin Soup

By Karissa

  • 1 small pumpkin (approx. 1.5 lbs), peeled and cubed.
  • 2 quince, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium yellow or Vidalia onion
  • approx. 5 cups vegetable broth (see below) or Chicken Broth (the exact amount will vary depending on your desired consistency)
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • Generous pinch of saffron, soaked in about ¼ cup of hot water
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 ¼ cup yellow raisins and crushed walnuts for garnish

Vegetable Broth

  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ head of a small cabbage, cut into large pieces
  • 2 large green onions (5 small), chopped
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 6 Celery stems and leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley, knotted
  • 3 small zucchini, chopped into large pieces
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cinnamon sticks


Start with the vegetable broth.  Fill a big kettle halfway with water and a pinch of salt.  Add the chopped vegetables and more water to cover.  Add the spices and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn heat down to a simmer, cover, and allow to simmer for 2 hours.

When the broth is almost finished, start preparing the pumpkin soup. Heat a large saucepan; add butter, and sauté the pumpkin, followed by the quince, then the onion.

Remove the carrots, cabbage, and zucchini from the vegetable broth and add them to the pumpkin mixture. Pour some of the broth into this mixture, making sure to not add too much or the soup will be watery.

Add the spices, except the saffron, and bring to boil. When the quince and pumpkin are nearly tender, add 1 cup of the raisins and the saffron-water mixture.

When all ingredients are cooked, use a mixing wand or blender to puree the soup.

Present with a dollop of plain yogurt, crushed walnuts, and yellow raisins. Serve with crusty bread.


Filed under Soups and Stews

“Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright” Tomato Soup


“Rise up this mornin’,

smiled with the rising sun,

three little birds

Pitch by my doorstep,

Singing sweet songs,

Of melodies pure and true,

Sayin’, This is my message to you-ou-ou”

Every time I hear Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, I can’t help but smile, even if I’m in a foul mood.  “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing’s gonna be alright…”  As I listen to the reggae beat, I think “Yeah, Bob… It is, isn’t it?”

I swear by the happiness-inducing powers of Splendid Table podcasts, pilates classes, and just-mailed Bon Appetit magazines.   If I need a dose of slightly off-color dinner table humor, my goofy brother Greg is always good for a laugh.

We all need an assortment of pick-me-up-stop-moping-around activities.

One lousy day last week, I didn’t smile with the rising sun.  My birds evidently weren’t the ones Bob Marley sang about.  They were grumpy birds; feel sorry for yourself birds.  In Alexander’s words, I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

So, first I moped.  Then, my stomach started to growl.  I thought back to one of my favorite childhood feel-better foods, tomato soup.  Tomato soup reminds me of being a kid, reading Matilda at the dinner table while dipping the corner of a grilled cheese sandwich into my bowl.  It’s relatively impossible to feel down for long when your belly is filled to the brim with gooey cheese and hot soup.

Of course, my tastes have advanced from the old standby soup from a can. So…

I pull the last batch of tomatoes from the vines, and start chopping.  My mood moves from foul to semi-tolerable.  After chopping an exorbitant amount of garlic, I can’t help but feel optimistic.  A few glugs of olive oil and the sound of sizzling onion elevate my mood status even further.  Upon breaking out the immersion blender and whizzing together my sauteed onions, garlic, and fresh herbs, I daresay I felt pleasant.

I dip a corner of seeded whole grain bread into my soup.  You’re right, my Rastafarian friend. Every little thing is going to be alright after all.

Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright Tomato Soup

Serves 4 as an entree

  • 2 pounds ripe, in-season tomatoes, chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme (about 6 sprigs), leaves picked and chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh oregano, leaves picked and finely chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Basil leaves to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the onions and saute for about 6 minutes until soft.  Add the thyme, garlic, and crushed red pepper.  Saute for an additional minute.  Add the tomatoes, oregano, and salt.  Saute, stirring often for about 10 minutes, allowing some of the moisture to cook down.  Add 2 cups of the broth.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Blend together with an immersion blender, or allow soup to cool slightly before blending in a standing blender.*   Add additional broth if needed to reach the desired consistency.  Garnish with torn basil.

*Blend hot foods safely (ie:  avoid a blender explosion):

•Only fill the container up halfway, and start at the lowest speed.

•Place a kitchen towel over top of the lid, and hold it down while you are blending


Filed under Main Dishes, Soups and Stews