Leek/Potato chowder with Pumpkin and Turkey

Thanksgiving leftovers: ah, who can forget them? This recipe, made for last night's dinner, accomplished an important goal: it used up about a third of various leftovers that I had hanging around from Thanksgiving dinner. Plus, it's very filling, and it's rich without being *too* high in fat.

NOTE: The pumpkin purée I used in this recipe is actually homemade. I took two small pie pumpkins, scooped out the seeds and stabbed them a bunch of times with a knife, then roasted at 375°F for about an hour until they were really well cooked. Then, I scooped out the flesh and whizzed it up in a blender until smooth. If you're using canned purée, you want to add more veggie stock than what's used here; the home made stuff was pretty watery.

To make it: 

To start the soup, add:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 slices of good-quality bacon, cut into chunks

into a soup pot and begin cooking until the bacon begins to brown. Then add:

  • 1 leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 6 small potatoes, cubed
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • salt and pepper to taste

To the pan and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the leeks are good and soft. Then add:

  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (or 1 tbsp potato flour for Gluten-Free)

and stir into the mixture, letting it brown a bit. Now, add:

  • 3 cups pumpkin purée (or 1 can packed pumpkin)
  • 2 pints veggie stock (use 2.5 pints for canned pumpkin)

Stir until everything is incorporated and cook on low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes until veggies are soft. Lastly, add:

  • 1-1/2 cans evaporated skim milk
  • 2 cups cubed cooked turkey

Stir to incorporate, heat through and serve immediately.

Tomato soup with zucchini and potatoes

When I was in college, like many other college students, I was pretty darn broke. The good thing was that I was a vegetarian in those days (I try to be now, but not very successfully), so I became very good at finding ways to keep my kitchen stocked without breaking the bank, and I came up with some really terrific recipes that cost me very little to make. One such recipe was this soup: Campbell’s Tomato Soup as a base, made a bit richer and heartier with some sauteed vegetables. This recipe is good for 2-3 servings, and keeps beautifully.

To make it: 
  • 2 medium-sized zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/8″ slices
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped roughly
  • 3 small potatoes, cut into smallish cubes
  • 1 tbsp butter (or non-hydrogenated margarine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pinches dried thyme
  • 1 tsp garam masala (an Indian spice, available at most supermarkets; if you can’t find it, use a dash each of nutmeg, cumin, and a bit of cinnamon. It’s not the same, but it’ll work)
  • Lots of fresh-ground pepper (I like the 5-peppercorn medley)
  • 2 cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup (don’t try to use another kind - it doesn’t work as well)
  • 1 bottle of Wolaver’s Organic Brown Ale

In a largish skillet (preferably one with high walls) or smallish dutch oven, melt butter and add onions and garlic. Saute over medium heat until onions are a bit translucent and add potato. Cook for another 5-7 minutes and add zucchini; saute another 3 minutes. Add spices and stir to incorporate; add tomato soup and beer. Stir to incorporate the ingredients, and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Serve with a bit of shredded parmesan or romano cheese.

Butternut Squash and Corn Bisque

This is a hearty, creamy soup that’s great in late summer or early fall, when fresh corn is available. The stock takes a while, but the leftovers make an amazing sweet corn risotto. Alternately, you can use canned veggie stock or chicken broth, but there’s something magical that happens when you make your own stock. Make this on a Sunday afternoon, when you have plenty of time to cook. Serves about 6-8 people, and makes great leftovers.

To make it: 

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 Bosc pears
  • 1 tbsp butter or vegan margarine
  • 1/2 package (about 3 sprigs) fresh tarragon
  • 1 lb silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup plain soymilk (or whole milk/cream, if no soy milk on hand)
  • salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • chili-infused olive oil (or plain olive oil and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)

To make stock: Peel the corn and use a large knife to cut the corn kernels off the cob into a medium-sized bowl. Set aside kernels and put cobs in a large stock pot. Peel and seed butternut squash and put squash peelings in pot. Peel and core pears and add peelings and cores to the pot. Add tarragon and fill the pot about 2/3 full with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, bring heat down to medium low and simmer for about 2 hours, until stock is a bit yellow (think camomile tea) with a strong scent of corn and tarragon. Strain stock through cheesecloth and reserve. This will make about a gallon or so of stock, so it’s best to store some of it in the freezer for later use. You’ll need about a cup or so for the soup.

To make soup: Preheat oven to 375 Farenheit. Arrange squash and pears on a baking sheet and drizzle with chili oil (if you don’t have chili oil, olive oil or peanut oil works well also; if you can find it, I LOVE using sunflower oil to roast squash. If you use an unflavored oil, however, you’ll want to add some red pepper flakes to the soup.) Put in oven and bake for 1 hour, until squash is soft and it looks like the bottom is coated with maple syrup.

Meanwhile, melt butter in the pot you used to make the stock and add onions and corn. Sauté for about 5 minutes until onions are a bit translucent. Add squash/pear mixture. Pureé tofu and roasted pears and squash in a food processor or blender with 1 cup of corn stock and add to the pot along with soy milk/cream. Stir to completely incorporate and add salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup simmer for about 1/2 hour on low heat, and serve in smallish bowls with bits of crusty bread.

Thai Chicken Soup

This soup is spicy with a little sweet & sour action. Most of the spices and seasonings can be gotten in the regular supermarket (check the International Foods section), but some things might require a trip to your local Asian market, which is always a fun time, even if you just marvel at the odd foods on display. The soup is especially good for beating colds, so you could make this any time of year.

To make it: 

Chicken stock:

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 head celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 12 cups water

Place all ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for about an hour, stirring periodically. Drain with a large strainer into Tupperware containers. Reserve chicken pieces.

Soup:

  • 1 tsp Chili Paste with Thai Basil
  • 1 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1⁄2″ piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp dried lemongrass (if you can find it already cut, great – otherwise, use a 1-inch piece dried)
  • 1 tbsp Peanut Oil (or olive oil, if allergic to peanuts)
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock (use a bit more for thinner soup)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2/3 cup flat parsley, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped finely
  • 1 carrot, chopped finely
  • ½ medium onion, chopped finely
  • Chicken pieces from stock
  • ½ cup jasmine rice

Sauté carrots, celery and onion in oil over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add chili paste, lemongrass and stock. Simmer for five minutes. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger and rice and simmer for 20 minutes until rice is tender. While soup is simmering, remove skin from chicken thighs and cut meat into medium-size pieces. Add chicken, parsley and lime juice at the end of cooking. Let sit five minutes, and serve.

Chickpea, Mungbean, and Summer Squash Stew

This recipe has lots of advantages. For one, it’s vegan and completely fat free, which makes it really good for you; for another, it’s terrifically easy to prepare (just throw it in a pot and simmer for a while), and for yet another, it’s unbearably spicy. Garam Masala (a common Indian spice, which is also a common ingredient in my cooking) can be found now in most supermarkets, but Penzey’s makes the best garam masala (and best spices overall) that I’ve tried. I highly reccomend them. The 2.1 oz jar will last you quite a while. Makes enough for about eight servings, but it freezes wonderfully.

To make it: 
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup dry mung beans
  • 1 can (15oz) chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (the kind with onion and garlic in them)
  • 2 red-skinned potatoes, diced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 5 small summer squash, sliced thick (or 2 larger summer squash, sliced into 1/4″ thick half-moons)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dry rosemary, crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Throw everything into a large stew pot with the exception. Simmer over low heat, uncovered, for about 25 minutes until mung beans and potatoes are tender. Throw the summer squash in, and simmer for another 10 minutes until it’s tender but still a bit crispy. Serve by itself or over baked brown rice