Chicken Soup with Chickpeas & Za’atar

It’s October, while we still haven’t turned on the furnace, there’s definitely a chill in the air, and it feels great to wear a sweater.  My sister came over to play cards last night, actually we needed to practice as we’re having a card night with friends later this week, and we haven’t played since the spring.  We played Kings Corners, which is fun, strategic, and frustrating, which for me is the perfect card game.  For supper I decided to make soup in celebration of autumn, along with a simple cheese & veggie flatbread.

I wanted to make Posole, because of a dream I’d had recently.  After explaining to anyone who wanted to hear (in my dream) that a bowl of heated dirt was not, in fact, true Posole, I awoke wanting to make the real thing.  But living on an island, we can’t always go out and buy things like Hominy & the right Chilies. Staring into my pantry, I spotted jars of Za’atar and Sumac, and my brain clicked into place, so I grabbed them as well as smoked paprika and a tin of chickpeas.  With a great chicken stock ready, and a chicken breast in the freezer, I knew that they would come together to make a hearty soup.

The meal started with a small dish of Baba Ghanoush and some sweet potato crackers, along with a yummy Sangiovese. Next up was the soup with the flatbread.  The soup had so much flavour, with a deep broth, full of chickpeas, carrots, and pulled chicken.  Not a huge meal, but an absolutely perfect Card Night supper.

Enjoy making this soup, as it is fragrant and warming, and follows all the methods for a delicious braised meal. Note that the mix I use for Za’atar follows.   Continue reading

Mushroom Soup with Chestnuts & Apple

IMG_1494The first time I ever witnessed someone actually swoon over food was at Pino Posteraro’s “Cioppino’s”. On the other side of sixty, she had walked in wearing a swanky denim pantsuit, with a blond flip of a hairdo. She sat talking with her friends as they poured over the menu, just as we were, one table over. We had been considering the Mushroom & Chestnut Soup on offer. The chef had recently won the Gold Medal Plate Award for this very soup. While waiting for our dinner to arrive, she was served a bowl of this same soup. She lifted a spoonful into her mouth, and she just stopped. People at her table kept talking but she only had eyes for her soup. I think she ate the whole of it without speaking. I could hardly wait for my serving. It was the best soup I have ever eaten. This restaurant is well known for its incredibly fresh produce. Racks of tomatoes stand ready for sauces, with huge boxes of other veg, ready to go.

I knew that I couldn’t possibly replicate the recipe, even with it at hand, as buying produce of that quality and freshness can rarely happen at our local produce market. But, even with knowing that mine would never measure up, I have religiously made this soup once a year since (when chestnuts are available). Always tweaking it a bit, but it wasn’t until this year when I added some apple that it became so very, very close to the soup we had that evening. All I can think is that the apple added in the freshness that it had been lacking before. Continue reading

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

IMG_8930During a busy week in a restaurant kitchen, I was checking the walk-in cooler doing the order for the following week. I came across three big cauliflowers that for some reason hadn’t been used. As the weather was rainy and cool, I decided to roast all the cauliflower and make soup. It sold out the same day. So here it is, simple, nutritious, with the depth of flavour that roasting gives. Enjoy! Continue reading

Avocado Bisque

IMG_7930Here’s a little something that I’ve been doing for years. A little bit of yummy-wow to lead into a special dinner. It’s so easy to do, and is delicious, with creamy avocado goodness, all dressed up to impress. There are two versions; one has a decadent cream base, while the other uses coconut milk. Both are wonderful.

Serve in chilled martini glasses, or other cute glasses, with a simple flower garnish. Shown here with dried rose petals. Continue reading

Curried Pumpkin Soup with Apple

IMG_6548This was one of those nights!  Hadn’t really spent any time thinking about dinner, but my husband’s on a special diet right now, and knew that I had to put something together!  Looking in my diverse pantry, I kept seeing things that would really be good, but most of them were on the “no” list.  So using some really basic items (all of which were on the “yes” list), I pulled a really tasty soup out of a hat.  It is filling, so we were satisfied with just the soup, no side dishes, no bread.  I feel guilty eating a variety of foods when the one other person eating just has a whole long list of “no’s”.

Of course, now that I’ve made it, I know I’ll make it again. It is so easy, vegan, too, if that’s required.

I had two lovely little pumpkins from jollity Farm sitting waiting patiently for me to put them to good use.  A quick peel & chop and they were in a pot, gently simmering until soft, drained, and then mashed.

I really suggest this as a main course soup, maybe on a really cold winter’s night, before a game of scrabble or crib.IMG_6529 Continue reading