Batter Licker

March 31, 2011

smoky black bean and spinach soup

A few weeks ago, Jay and I enjoyed a weekend in Bodega Bay with his five other former roommates from college and their significant others. After a late morning and early afternoon of local wine tasting, we ventured upon a cute little cafe (whose name now escapes me) for lunch. It was in that cafe that I made a fatal error: I did not order the black bean soup. But luckily, our good friend Matt was up for swapping bites, and that one spoonful inspired this post.

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Subtly smoky from cumin and smoked paprika and very creamy thanks to pureed black beans, the soup was also lightened by the fresh, raw flavors of lime, cilantro, tomatoes, and peppers that clearly contributed more than just a colorful garnish to the bowl. (more…)

January 27, 2011

roasted cauliflower and sunchoke soup

You wouldn’t know it when tasting it – or when looking at it, for that matter – but there’s no cream in this soup … and no cheese. Give your accolades to roasted, pureed cauliflower for the creamily rich texture and to sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes) for the wonderfully nutty flavor they contribute to this soup. And to Chef Frank McClelland.


And by way of thanking Chef McClelland for inspiring me to recreate his gastronomic invention at home, stop into L’Espalier next time you’re in Boston for a culinarily magical meal. In my three visits, I have never left his restaurant feeling any less than entirely exhilarated about his creations – and entirely full.

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During my second visit to that lovely restaurant, I ordered the cauliflower and sunchoke soup as an appetizer. There is nothing I love more than ordering soup at a fancy restaurant. On this occasion, the bowl came with two (or three?) large scallops sitting center stage, decorated with a sprinkling of crispy pancetta and some watercress. Moments after the bowl’s appearance, I watched as the waiter ladled spoonful after spoonful of thick, creamy soup into the bowl and consciously refrained from drooling as the milky substance slowly shifted to encircle the plump seared scallops. (more…)

January 20, 2011

swiss chard and potato soup spiced with cilantro, jalapeno and cumin

So when I loaded up on veggies, especially greens, at the grocery store on Sunday in preparation for a meat- and dairy-free week, I went a bit overboard. By Wednesday, it became clear that I was going to have trouble finishing all the lettuce, spinach, kale, and chard, and that the chard particularly needed some attention soon. But it was cold out, and I had a sore throat, and I just didn’t want to eat any more salad or sauteed greens or greens in any recognizable form, really. I wanted something warm, filling, and soothing for my throat. I wanted soup.

But none of that bland, watery soup. I wanted thick soup, rich with flavor. Then I remembered the whole bunch of untapped cilantro lying in wait in my refrigerator. And the potatoes. And the 6-pack of jalapenos from Trader Joe’s. And thus, this hearty, happens-to-be-vegan chard and potato soup was born.

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This soup is a great way to use up excess greens when they’re starting to look less-than-chipper but haven’t quite gone bad yet. While I chose chard, you could substitute spinach, kale, and even leftover lettuces – whatever excess greens you have on hand – but the darker ones will bring a bit more depth to the flavor. (more…)

January 4, 2011

creamy butternut squash soup with a kick

Filed under: cheese,soup,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 9:10 pm

It’s teeth-chattering cold in my San Francisco apartment. That makes it a perfect night for using some freshly roasted, pureed and frozen butternut squash leftover from one of these to make butternut squash soup. It’s also a good time to wonder why I always visit Boston and its bone-chilling weather in January.

Usually, we venture back East for the New Year, excited to experience that magical bit of winter wonderland that snow-less San Francisco can never quite achieve. But this time around, Christmas decorations have already been re-packed and my cute tabletop rosemary Christmas tree has made its way into soups and stocks and even an aromatherapeutic bath or two. With the holiday season so utterly behind me, except the extra pounds that have chosen to stick around, I wonder how the blistering cold and the post-blizzard, muddy snow could possibly retain their charm. Regardless, I look forward to visiting with Jay’s grandmother, checking in with the Tarves family, and eating some of the best food Boston has to offer, from Frank McClelland’s sophisticated New England-French fare at L’Espalier to authentic Italian and hand-made pasta dishes at Francesca’s. And this time, when Francesca asks why Jay hasn’t made an honest woman of me yet, as she has every visit for the last several years, I’ll flash the bling her way.

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But back to the soup: onions, marjoram (or oregano!), and garlic add aromatics and a delicious depth of flavor to roasted butternut squash puree. But two other ingredients really transform this vegetable soup into something luscious. Cream cheese blended with the seasoned puree creates a sumptuous, velvety texture, and a kick of cayenne adds an unexpected, utterly delicious spiciness to balance the rich creaminess of this soup. (more…)

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