Cooking With Honey – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup With Honey, Pancetta, and Fried Sage Leaves

butternut soup

There are wonderful butternut squash available in the local markets, and today, cool and sunny, is a perfect day to prepare this tasty soup!

It’s what I’m having tonight!!

Yield:  Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 (2 to 3-pound) butternut squash, halved with seeds removed

4 medium shallots, peeled and left whole

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

2 ounces pancetta (about 12 paper-thin slices), diced

1 cup diced leeks, white part only (about 1 large leek)

1/3 cup finely diced carrots (about 1 small carrot)

1/3 cup finely diced celery (about 1 small stalk celery)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon dry white wine, of drinkable quality

2 quarts rich chicken or vegetable stock, plus extra if needed

1 teaspoon honey, or to taste*

Splash of sour cream and/or hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Canola oil for frying

1/4 cup sage leaves

Fine sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat the squash and shallots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season generously with salt. Place  the squash and shallots onto the lined baking sheet and roast until the squash and shallots are tender when pierced with a skewer or the tip of a small knife, about 40-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until needed.

Heat a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat; add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and heat through. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp. Remove from the heat, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside until needed.

Return the pan to the heat and add the leeks, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sage and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan (deglaze). Cook until the wine has evaporated, then add the stock.

Scrape the squash pulp from the skin and add the pulp, the shallots (scraping up any browned bits) and honey to the pan; bring the stock to the boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup completely. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and honey as desired. Keep the soup warm until service. (This is where you’d add the splash of sour cream to taste, if desired.)

For the Sage: In a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat 1-inch of oil to 365°F; fry the sage in batches, stirring to separate the leaves, until crisp, about 3 to 5 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; season with fine sea salt while still hot.

For Serving: Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls or cups. Top each serving with some of the crispy pancetta and a few fried sage leaves. Serve immediately.

*The honey doesn’t sweeten up the soup; it just enhances the caramel flavor of the roasted squash.

Scottish Cockie Leekie

It is likely convicted Scottish witch Helen Duncan enjoyed this traditional Scottish soup.

An ancient dish, with prunes included in the ingredients, is mentioned as early as the 16th century. It is often served at Burns Suppers or St Andrew’s Night Dinner (30 November) as well as an everyday soup in winter. Some people omit the prunes though.

It is also notorious for being on the Titanic menu on the day the boat sank.

Titanic Menu Card

Titanic Menu Card

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

1 stewing chicken, 4-5 pounds

1lb leeks (about 12) cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 pints stock or water

1oz long grained rice

4oz cooked, stoned prunes

One teaspoon honey

Salt and pepper

Garni of bay leaf, parsley, thyme

3 slices of bacon

Directions

Put the chicken and bacon in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and remove any scum. Add three-quarters of the leeks, (green as well as white sections), herbs (tied together in a bundle), salt and pepper and return to the boil. Simmer gently for 2-3 hours, adding more water if necessary.

Remove the chicken, bone and cut into small pieces and add them back into the soup. Add the rice, honey, drained prunes and the remaining leeks and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a little chopped parsley.

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Vegetarian Honey Winter Vegetable Soup

vegetarian winter veg soup

Reprinted from Salon.com

There’s never been a better time to be a half-assed vegetarian. Five years ago, the American Dialect Society honored the word flexitarian for its utility in describing a growing demographic—the “vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.” Now there’s evidence that going flexi is good for the environment and good for your health. A study released last October found that a plant-based diet, augmented with a small amount of dairy and meat, maximizes land-use efficiency. In January, Michael Pollan distilled the entire field of nutritional science into three rules for a healthy diet: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” According to a poll released last week, Americans seem to be listening: Thirteen percent of U.S. adults are “semivegetarian,” meaning they eat meat with fewer than half of all their meals. In comparison, true vegetarians—those who never, ever consume animal flesh—compose just 1 percent.

Yield:  10-12 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

8 ounces crimini mushrooms, halved and sliced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

2 ribs celery, finely diced

1 large onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

One 35-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 quarts water

3 tablespoons soy sauce

One 2-by-2-inch piece Parmesan rind

7 ounces butternut squash, cubed

5 ounces kale, stems removed and chopped

Two 15-ounce cans great Northern beans, undrained

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Shaved Parmesan, for serving

Directions

Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into an 8-quart stockpot over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Decrease the heat to low, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the carrots, celery, onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, sage, rosemary and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the tomatoes. Add the water, soy sauce and Parmesan rind, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to low, add the squash and kale, cover and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Return the mushrooms to the pot along with the beans, honey and red wine vinegar and cook until all is heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove the cheese rind and serve warm with shaved Parmesan.

Serve with hearty whole grain bread and a green salad.

The Romancing The Bee Diet – Day 16 – Onion and Garlic Soup For A Snowy Day

onion garlic soup

It’s a cold and snowy day in Cincinnati and everything is quiet outside. I didn’t feel like going out, so I made this lovely soup from what I had on hand. I’m pretty sure it’s good for whatever ails you, and will also keep any Vampires away!

Yield:  1- 2 servings

Ingredients

1  thinly sliced large yellow onion

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus additional to taste

1/4 teaspoon honey (helps the onions to brown)

1  tablespoon almond flour

3 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup  dry white wine

Freshly ground black pepper

2-4 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Directions

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 2- to 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions and garlic, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and honey. Cook onions and garlic, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown.

After the onions and garlic are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed.

Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness.  Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve.

The Romancing The Bee Diet – Day 12 – Chili Con Carne

chili

This dish is affectionately known at my house as “Meat Chili.” It’s been an integral part of every successful diet I’ve ever been on.

In my opinion, it’s close to the perfect diet meal.  It’s satisfying, it’s healthy, it’s tasty, it’s even better the next day, and, best of all, when I eat it I don’t feel like I’m dieting!

The most important thing to remember is DON’T ADD BEANS!  It won’t be a diet meal anymore.

Yield:  6-8 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 large yellow onion, small diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons cumin

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon honey

1 pound lean ground beef

1 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes

Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish only

Directions:

Preheat a 8-quart sauce pan or Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Saute ground beef, onion, garlic, and peppers in canola oil with salt until beef is browned and vegetables are tender (about 10 minutes). Add spices and cook for 1 more minute. Add honey and canned tomatoes, including juice, and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and to break up the tomatoes. Adjust seasonings. It may need additional salt.

Serve in soup bowls and top with no more than 2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese for garnish.

Potage Parmentier (Potato Leek Soup)

potage parmentier

Another soothing recipe for the eating impaired. I may never eat chocolate again…

It was this time of year that my beloved mother L.J. served Potato Leek Soup. Now I know why.

Yield:  For about 2 ½ quarts, serving 6 or 8

Ingredients

4 cups sliced leeks – the white part and a bit of the tender green

4 cups diced potatoes – old or baking potatoes recommended

6 or 7 cups of water

1 teaspoon honey

1½ to 2 teaspoons of salt, to taste

Optional: ½ cup of more sour cream, heavy cream or crème fraiche

Directions

In a heavy-bottomed, three-quart saucepan, bring the leeks, potatoes and water to a boil, uncovered. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 20 or 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add honey. Taste and correct seasoning.

Serving au Naturel – Ladle out the soup and top each serving with a dollop of sour cream, if you wish.

Pureed Leek and Potato Soup – Puree the soup through a vegetable mill or in a blender or food processor. Serve with optional cream.

Cream of Leek and Potato Soup – Use a cup less liquid when simmering the soup. After pureeing, whisk 2/3 cup or more of sour cream, heavy cream or crème fraiche into the soup, simmering a moment to blend.

French Onion Soup

Julia Child French onion soup

I don’t know about you, but I’ve eaten like three pigs and a goat over the past three days. I didn’t encounter a chocolate or a cookie that I didn’t want to ingest (and usually did…). The perfect medicine for overdoing it is Julia’s French Onion Soup. With a touch of honey, of course!

1 1/2 pounds (680 grams or 24 ounces or about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons (42 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) honey (helps the onions to brown)
3 tablespoons (24 grams or 7/8 ounce) all-purpose flour
2 quarts (8 cups or 1.9 liters) beef or other brown stock*
1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (45 ml) cognac or brandy

To finish [Gratinée]
1 tablespoon grated raw onion
1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated Swiss or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and honey. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup. Plus, from here on out, it will be a cinch.

After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness and I often accidentally overdo it. Stir in the cognac or brandy.  It’s not onion soup if you don’t!

Set aside until needed. I find that homemade onion soup is so deeply fragrant and flavor-rich that it can stand alone, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the graitinéed top once in a while. Here’s how to pull it off:

Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls.

Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab pot holders, and serve immediately.

Jalapeno Honey Corn Bread Muffins

jalapeno 2

These muffins go beautifully with the Black Bean Soup posted earlier today.

Ingredients

1 cup sifted flour

1 cup cornmeal, preferably stone ground

1 tablespoon sifted baking powder

1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

2/3 cup sour cream

2/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 large egg

1/3 cup finely diced fresh or canned jalapenos

1/3 cup finely diced green onions or scallions

1/3 cup drained canned corn kernels

1 3/4 cups finely grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Melted butter or liquid bacon fat for greasing muffin tins

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, pepper flakes, salt and cumin, and blend well.

In a separate mixing bowl, add the sour cream, honey and milk, and blend well with a wire whisk. Beat in the melted butter and egg.

Add the liquid ingredients to the cornmeal mixture and blend well. Add the chilies, green onions, corn and cheese. Blend thoroughly.

Grease the inside of eight half-cup muffin tins. Spoon equal portions of the batter into each greased tin. The batter may be a bit higher than the top of the tins.

Place in the oven and bake 25 minutes. Ideally, these muffins are best eaten hot, fresh from the oven.

Yield:  Eight muffins

Black Bean Soup With Honey

black bean soup

The inspiration for this recipe was one that appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine on January 4, 1987.  The recipe looked so good that by the time I made it to the grocery store, all the black beans had been sold out!

Ingredients

1/2 pound smoked slab bacon with rind

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions

1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery

1 1/2 cups finely diced carrots

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon finely minced garlic

1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme

4 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crumbled

3 tablespoons tomato paste

16 cups rich chicken broth, preferably homemade and concentrated, or canned broth may be substituted

1 pound black turtle beans or other black beans, about 3 cups (soaked and drained)

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt to taste, if desired

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Salsa for garnish (recipe follows today)

Sour cream for garnish

Directions

To soak beans quickly, cover them with generous amount of water, cover pot, bring water to boil and boil 2 minutes. Remove cover and allow beans to sit in the liquid for one hour. Drain.

Slice off and reserve the rind of the bacon. Cut the bacon into quarter-inch cubes. There should be about one and one-half cups.

Put the bacon cubes and the rind into a heavy kettle or casserole and cook, stirring often, until rendered of fat. When ready, the bacon cubes should be well-browned and crisp.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaf, garlic, thyme, three tablespoons of the cumin, black pepper and oregano. Stir to blend and cover the kettle or casserole closely. Cook about five minutes over moderately low heat. Do not allow the mixture to burn.

Add the tomato paste and stir briefly. Add the chicken broth and bring to the boil.

Add the soaked beans to the soup. Cook, uncovered, over relatively high heat about two and one-half hours, skimming the surface occasionally to remove foam, scum and fat as it rises to the top. The soup is ready when the beans are soft and some of them have disintegrated because of the cooking heat and stirring.

Stir in the lime juice, honey, cayenne pepper, salt, coriander leaves and remaining cumin. Remove and discard the bacon rind and bay leaf.

Puree soup a bit with an immersion blender.

Ladle the soup into individual soup bowls. Serve the salsa and sour cream on the side, to be added at will. This soup is best served with jalapeno honey corn-bread muffins as an accompaniment (recipe follows today).

Yield:   Eight to 12 servings

Honey Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?”
Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Ingredients:

2 butternut squash (about 2 lbs each)
4 carrots, peeled
½ pound parsnips, peeled
1 onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup honey
3/4 stick butter
9 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon mace
2-3 teaspoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Pitch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side up, in a large roasting pan. Cut the carrots and parsnips into small pieces, and scatter them, along with the onion, around the squash. Sprinkle the cut surfaces of the squash with the honey and dot all over with the butter. Pour 2 1/2 cups of the broth into the pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake until all the vegetables are very soft, about 2 hours.

Carefully remove the foil and let the vegetables cool slightly. Scoop the squash out of the skins and place it in heavy soup pot. Add the other vegetables, juice from the pan and the remaining 6 ½ cups of broth. Season with the mace, crystallized ginger, cayenne and salt. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered for 10 minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or by batches in a blender or food processor until it is very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add extra broth, if necessary, to thin it to the desired consistency. Heat it through. This soup can be refrigerated or frozen, but there is unlikely to be any soup leftover.

Serves 10