Posts tagged ‘soup’
As much as we’d like to think winter is over, I don’t think we can’t put away the soup pot quite yet.
This squash soup is an old favorite from the original Silver Palate cookbook (for those of us over 50 who remember it) and very easy to make (especially if you have access to Costco’s already peeled chunks of butternut squash). It’s a bit on the sweet side, but you can always substitute chicken or vegetable broth for some of the apple juice. And whenever the recipe calls for water, I use broth instead. It contributes a deeper flavor to the final product.
Topping it with crumbled blue cheese completes the deliciousness.
Ever heard of the Happy Soupeater? That would be Todd Schulte, who delivers gourmet soups around the metro on the weekends. During the week he is at the stove of the Happy Gillis Cafe and Hangout, a funky little spot in Columbus Park. It used to be a sundries shop and the sign still hangs from the building. It attracts a diverse clientele, those wearing suits and ties as well as those in painter’s pants or ratty jeans. Many get a sandwich to-go, others grab a seat at one of the vintage tables and chairs, still others juggle a sandwich on their laps while sitting on a bright orange velour sofa in the living room-like area.
Breakfast and lunch are served, both with a fairly limited but creative menu. One would think soups would dominate, but there are only one or two daily soups offerings. A few salads are also available, but the sandwiches are the focal point at lunch, deservedly so. Todd uses only fresh, high quality ingredients to ensure the most flavorful combinations. No deli turkey here, only fresh roasted slices of “real” turkey. I had what was obviously a seasonal selection–asparagus and fresh ricotta with arugula pesto and pistachios on crusty ciabatta. Wow. Tasty and pretty to look at. And I felt healthy eating it. My friend had a tuna and white bean sandwich, which sounded better than it was. Nothing wrong with it, just a bit bland. As was the arugula and Israeli couscous salad. It had all the right things going on–apricot, olives, feta, but the dressing didn’t have much flavor. A friend sitting at the next table said her egg salad sandwich was as good as it gets. I can’t wait to go back to try the curried chicken salad which, fortunately, is usually on the menu.
While not all offerings are successful, Happy Gillis is the kind of place you go back to again and again anyway. If you make a wrong choice one time, you can be comforted in knowing that next time you’ll have something you love. The friendly staff truly want you to enjoy your experience and odds are you will.
To me, asparagus sings “spring”, a welcome song after a long winter.
Avoid no more. Whether you want to make soup, salad, or simply a side dish, this is the time to enjoy it at the height of its freshness and availability.
My favorite way to serve asparagus is to grill it. First snap the stalks to get rid of the rough and chewy ends. Then drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and a bit of black pepper. Using tongs, move the asparagus around on the plate to coat each spear before placing them directly on a hot grill. Depending on the thickness, I usually don’t leave them on the grill more than 5 minutes, turning a couple of times to ensure even cooking and blackening. Stay close and watch them carefully to avoid burning.
Once the asparagus is cooked, the least complicated way to eat it is as a side dish with meat or fish, embellished only with a splash of balsamic vinegar. I also enjoy making a salad with asparagus, using greens or grains as the base. Here’s a great Bobby Flay recipe that is substantial enough to serve as a full meal. If you don’t want to take the time to make olive vinaigrette, buy a jar of olive tapenade and doctor it with some red wine vinegar and a touch of mustard.
When asparagus season nears its end and the stalks start getting thick and tougher, use them to make a cream-less asparagus soup.In this recipe, I reserve the stalks, microwaved separately, and add them to the finished product. I also puree the whole batch, using one of my favorite tools, an immersion blender. The sour cream is not an essential element, so feel free to eliminate the fat and skip it altogether. The soup will still taste rich and flavorful.