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25 Jan 2010 - 16:25
15 Jan 2010 - 18:53

chestnut pear soup

Friday, 20 Nov 2009 | recipe inside

Roasted, candied, whipped into a gelato, pureed into a soup-- I salivate for chestnuts in any fashion, at any time.  Throughout the streets of Europe in the fall and winter, you'll find vendors on every corner selling freshly roasted chestnuts.  I love to snack on these-- they are tasty and nutritious, and I somehow feel virtuous for choosing to munch on them.   

We spend quite a bit of time in the northern Adriatic Istria region.  El Burrito is from Slovenia, and when we're there, we like to cruise around sniffing out the choicest spots for snacks and drinks in the area.  There's a gelateria in Trieste, Italy named Zampolli. No matter how cold it is, when it's chestnut season, you'll find me asking for scoop after scoop of their sensuously creamy candied chestnut gelato if I'm anywhere within 100 kilometers on any given day.  The arrival of candied chestnuts (marron glacé, castagne candite, whatever you choose to call them) is just about the only thing that soothes me when I start freaking out over the fact that winter is coming.  Gelateria Zampolli doesn't have a website, but if you ever find yourself in Trieste, make your way to Via Carlo Ghega No. 10, just a couple of blocks from the train station. I've professed my loyalty to the candied chestnut offering, but I can heartily recommend pretty much everything they make.

A while back I set out to make something incorporating this seasonal favorite but that wouldn't send me into glycemic shock.  So, a soup was born, and though it has a hint of sweetness, this chestnut-pear combo provides a perfect savory start to a homey fall meal.  It's creamy but not heavy, hearty but completely unique.  It's not your everyday combination, and I think you'll find it incredibly comforting and exciting to your palate in equal dimensions.  You have various options for the chestnuts. Most difficult: start with raw, whole nuts. Easiest: use pre-peeled, vacuum sealed, par-boiled nuts.  For an additional flavor profile, you can roast some chestnuts in your fireplace or just buy some roasted nuts from your favorite street vendor.

Chestnuts are the only nuts that contain Vitamin C, and they are full of fiber and low in fat.  Pears have these same qualities, and their pairing in this soup gives you a welcome boost now that the sniffle season is revving its motor.  Served in shot glasses, this could be an unconventional amuse-bouche for a funky Thanksgiving meal.

roasted bell pepper soup

Tuesday, 13 Oct 2009 | recipe inside

I haven't been cooking much these past couple of months.  We've been traveling like true burros, and my access to and time for a romance with my kitchen has been frustratingly limited. Our days are still filled with tasty healthy eats, but usually meals we can throw together on the fly requiring more assembly than roasting or simmering. All this to say, I haven't been able to blog much and it's stressing me out.   And it's all a kind of karmic circle because cooking is my ultimate stress reliever. I chop away my anxiety, transporting my mind to the corners of the world spicing up my creation, a sort of rhythmic hypnosis sets in and by the time I'm done cooking, the stress has been annihilated and my appetite's back.

So, it was high time for a trip to the farmer's market for more than fruit to tote around town.  One of our favorites is this roasted bell pepper soup and luck of lucks, the fall has brought in paprikas galore!   It's simple and simply delicious-- and good for you too! Bell peppers are bursting with vitamin C, the milk provides some lean protein and calcium, which combined with the copious garlic and it's immunity boosting properties, this soup will help ward off any sniffles brought on by the change in season.

cold kale summer squash soup

Friday, 14 Aug 2009 | recipe inside

Though kale is usually a winter plant, I've been seeing it very frequently at the farmer's market this summer-- maybe it's due to all that rain New York had in June.  I first heard of kale a few years ago in an article about super foods and decided we needed to be eating it.   So, I went out and bought some and then got totally intimidated and had no idea what to do with it.  It's a pretty leaf-- dark and mysterious--  but looked more like a decorative plant than something edible.  Turns out my reticence was pretty silly-- it is delicious, so good for you, and easy to cook.

Summer squash doesn't have these problems.  It is so ubiquitous that the challenge in these late days of summer is how to give it some mystery.  I'm not looking to make a rockstar out of a librarian; I just want a sexy librarian.  But then what do you do with a sexy librarian when it is so hot and humid that all you want is to eat ice? Well, I made a cold soup packed with flavor.  El Burrito is training hardcore right now and he needed more than frozen water for fuel, so I found a couple of lighthearted friends (cilantro and lime) for my bookworm zucchini, and they all ended up doing a cumbia with the kale.

Both kale and summer squash are packed with nutrients-- vitamins, fiber, calcium, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, among others.  This soup is very light and refreshing-- low calorie with a super low glycemic load, so pair it up with some whole-wheat bread for a more complete starter.  If you prefer a heartier soup, you could invite a potato to the dance or stir in some cream.