Last night I had the most amazing dinner with friends at La Tavola in Little Italy.  The service was friendly and the food was fantastic. I had an incredibly fresh bruschetta appetizer and the gnocchi with pesto.  But by far the best thing I tasted all night was the tomato sauce that several of my dining companions had with their pasta.  It’s amazing how the simplest things can have the biggest wow factor when done exceptionally well.  Everyone was raving about it and when I returned home I couldn’t stop thinking about how I might possibly recreate it.

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Curried Pumpkin Apple Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 medium cooking pumpkin, halved and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup leeks, chopped, white and pale green parts only
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • ½ can Masaman curry paste (I used Maesri)
  • Salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Coat the pumpkin flesh with some olive oil and place face down in a roasting pan. Add about an inch of water to the pan and place in the oven. Bake until the pumpkin is soft, about 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for a bit, then scoop out into a bowl and puree with an immersion blender. Set aside. (You can use canned pumpkin and skip this step, if you prefer.)
  3. In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic, and leeks in olive oil on medium-low heat until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the apples and saute for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add the chicken stock and coconut milk.
  6. Add the curry paste and stir well to combine.
  7. Now add the pumpkin puree in and slowly stir until everything is combined. If you want a stronger curry flavor feel free to add more of the paste. Let the soup simmer for 40 minutes.
  8. Cool briefly and blend with an immersion blender.
  9. Heat for another 5 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve with some hearty bread!

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Today I went to Larriland Farms and bought acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, broccoli, apples, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and cider.  Phew!  I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Tonight I’m making Acorn Squash Soup (and sipping some Hot Mulled Cider with rum while cooking).  This soup is healthy, rich, with just the right amount of sweetness.  A delicious, comforting fall soup.

Adapted from Canyon Ranch Cooks by Scott Uehlein

Acorn Squash Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground or grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup half and half
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450. Lightly coat a shallow baking pan with olive oil. Arrange squash in baking pan, cut side down, with 1 cup of water. Bake for 45 minutes or until soft. Remove from pan and spoon out the pulp. Transfer pulp to a blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender). Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the remaining vegetables, and cook over medium-low heat until they begin to soften. Add the stock, squash puree, cinnamon and nutmeg. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup and half and half and then simmer, uncovered, for another 5 minutes. Use an immersion blender to smooth, or serve with the yummy bits. Add salt if needed.
  2. (If you want to make this vegan, simply swap out the chicken stock for vegetable and the half and half for soy milk)

 

 

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Tomato season is coming to a close so I’m a bit late with this entry.  However, I find vine-ripened tomatoes to be good all year.  This is one of my favorite savory simple side dishes: a juicy, rich, flavorful tomato that is good with salad, a sprinkle of balsamic and/or fresh mozzarella.  They’re also quite tasty by themselves!  I usually eat several straight out of the oven.

The best part is that they’re so easy.  Slice some vine tomatoes in half, toss to coat with a thin later of olive oil, sprinkle some salt on top, and cook unattended at 275 for 3 hours.

Really, does it get any easier than that?  So delicious!

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