Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Squash soup

This easy-to-make pumpkin soup warms and fills us with a similar flavor profile as pumpkin pie but without all of the heavy sweetness of a pie.

Our Canadian readers will be celebrating Thanksgiving next week, so I wanted to share one of my favorite autumn recipes for pumpkin soup, though we just as often make it butternut squash soup. Whatever squash you grew this year or you find abundant at your farmers market, use that.

You can use this as a soup course, serving just a small portion, or you can change the flavors to make it more naturally sweet and serve as a hot dessert substitute for pie. Sometimes we make this our main dish for dinner, but it works well as a side dish for Thanksgiving.

Warm to the Bone Harvest Soup

Serves: 4-6
Time: 90 minutes, mostly unattended

  • 2 cups pumpkin, cubed (other squash, such as butternut, works well)
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Spices. Balance 2-3 of the following to taste.

  • Ginger
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put all ingredients into a roasting dish.
  3. Cover.
  4. Roast for 1 hour or until squash is soft. A little caramelization around the edges improves the flavor.
  5. Blend until smooth. Depending on your blender, you may have to cool first. With a VitaMix, just buzz it hot.
  6. Return to heat in a saucepan.
  7. Add salt to taste—this depends a lot on the stock used.
  8. Adjust spices.

We at bynature.ca wish you and your family the best during this harvest season.

Image © Msheldrake | Dreamstime.com

 

Lemony Cornmeal Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Lemony Cornmeal Shortbread Recipe

During the holidays, maybe you like to have sweets, but you don’t want to offer your children and the rest of your family cookies that are overly sweet. I have lemony cornmeal shortbread cookies for you.

I started with Ginger’s Cornmeal Cookies recipe from the Iroquois White Corn Project based in upstate New York. They grow, process, and sell heirloom Haudenosaunee corn. This isn’t white sweet corn but the corn used for masa, corn tortillas, grits, and hominy. This is not instant cornmeal, either. This is corn that takes a while to cook. This is the best kind of slow food.

Cornmeal and corn flour offers a great alternative for those who cook gluten free. This recipe, however, is not gluten free. This is a basic shortbread recipe that replaces 1/4 of the wheat flour with cornmeal. This particular cornmeal is rough-cut, giving the cookies a lovely crunch. Also, the roasted corn flour from the Iroquois White Corn Project has an amazing nutty smell. Try it, and you’ll want to find more and more recipes where you can substitute corn flour for wheat flour.

My version of the recipe keeps the ingredients but changes the way the cookies are shaped and baked. I used my grandmother’s old candy dish to press stars into the cookies, since I plan to give them as gifts. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), it took less than a day for these cookies all to go missing. Each of the cookie thieves in my family have offered their own explanation, including my husband wondering whether there is some kind of mystery, “mawish” chemical in the cardamom. (Which he tells me means one can’t stop eating it. Likely story. Maybe it’s a British thing.) I now need to make a double batch and hide them so I can give them to neighbors.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Roasted Iroquois White Corn Flour
1/2 tsp of salt
2/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
Zest of one organic lemon
1/ tsp ground cardamom

Directions

  1. Prepare heavy cookie sheet by greasing and lightly flouring. Butter papers provide enough grease.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flours, salt, and cardamom; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and lemon zest; beat until smooth. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  4. Use teaspoon or melonballer to scoop 1″ ball of cookie dough. Flatten each ball to a disk shape about 1 1/2″ across and 1/2″ high. Using the bottom of a crystal wine glass or any cut crystal, lightly floured, press shape into cookie disk until about 3/8″ high and set onto cookie sheet.
  5. Chill cookies on cookie sheet for 2-3 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  7. Bake until edges are golden, 20-21 minutes.
  8. Transfer cookies immediately to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Full disclosure: I’m a volunteer on the Iroquois White Corn Project. Over the past 16 years, I’ve worked with this version of the project as well as with the original project based in western New York. I’m very excited that we have this great corn available again.

Double-up Meals: Slow Cooked Indian Curry

Slow-cooked Curry

As holidays approach, there seem to be a lot more evening activities to fit in. We have less time to cook but the cold weather leaves the family wanting a hot meal every night. Our solution is simple: slow cooker. With soup, stew, curry or any other slow cooked meal, it’s easy to make enough of a warm, healthy dinner to cover two or three nights.

This Indian curry, like so many meals for the slow cooker, takes only a few minutes to prepare. For my family of four, including two active, hungry children, we usually make it stretch for two nights. Our Crock-Pot is 6 quarts, but we only fill it about halfway. We could probably make a bigger recipe and fit another night’s dinner in the same pot.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, I recommend you get one this winter season. Knowing that my husband is the primary cook in our house, my mother bought one for him as a holiday gift one year. We’ve used it at least a hundred times a year for many years. This is a kitchen staple that no busy family should be without.

I adore curry of many varieties. I remember the first curry I ever had (young teenager, green, Indian, chicken), and I have loved many curries since. This is my favorite food in the world because of the spice and its ability to stretch to every taste and budget.

I particularly like curry for a family meal because we can adjust the seasonings very easily. My children have different tastes. One is more than happy to snack on pickled beets (loves sour) and the other takes after my taste for hot food (loves spicy). Curry works well for us because we can make it mild in the pot, and each person can spice it up in their bowl if they like.


Slow-Cooked Indian Curry

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts, 1″ cubes
  • 2 large potatoes, 1″ cubes
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped

Add all ingredients to the bowl of the slow cooker to wait while you cook the sauce.

Curry ingredients in slow cooker

Sauce

  • 2 can coconut milk (either light or 1 light and 1 regular)
  • 1/4 cup chopped ginger
  • 1 large potato, ½” cubes (for thickening)
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • curry to taste (We sometimes make our own and sometimes try store varieties. If you don’t have a favorite, start with “Mild Indian Curry Powder” in any brand.)

Simmer on the stove top in a small saucepan until the potato is soft—about 20 minutes.

Simmering Curry Sauce

Pour into blender, and blend until smooth.

Blended Curry Sauce

Poor into slow cooker.

Curry Ingredients ready for slow cooking

Cook on low for 8-12 hours, depending on the instructions for your cooker.

Often we serve with crunchy rice, but that isn’t necessary with all of the potatoes in the curry. This is such a warm, filling dish that we don’t need to add any more than a salad to complete the meal.

Chunky Spaghetti Sauce in under 1 Hour

Chunky tomato sauce for children

Since my children weren’t big fans of my homemade licorice (though I was!), I decided to make a more kid friendly garden recipe today: tomato sauce for spaghetti. I planted several kinds of tomatoes this year: fat juicy tomatoes for my husband’s sandwiches, little yellow pear tomatoes for salsa, and Roma tomatoes for sauce.

The tomatoes are only just ripening for us in the past few weeks, so I didn’t have enough to make a lot of sauce yet. So, I just made lunch for two children.

Roma tomatoes picked this morning

Roma tomatoes picked this morning


Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

8-10 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/4 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
salt, pepper, basil, oregon, and chili pepper to taste

Serves 2 children.

From picking the tomatoes to serving lunch took about 50 minutes, including 30 minutes of infrequent stirring.

Tomatoes still warm from the sun

Tomatoes still warm from the sun

We often add carrot to our tomato sauce, but it was necessary today because we had so few tomatoes. If you have carrot-averse children, you can blend the sauce and they will never know.

Start with the aromatics

Start with the aromatics

Add carrot, onion, garlic, and oil to a small sauce pan, and cook on medium low heat for about 5 minutes.

That's all of the ingredients

That's all of the ingredients

Add diced tomatoes and continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes.

Cook down to the texture you like

Cook down to the texture you like

Serve! It really is that easy.

Spaghetti lunch for two children

Spaghetti lunch for two children

Cool Summer Foods

Cold Cucumber and Yogurt SoupCool foods can be such a refreshing treat in the heat of summer. We often think of cool sweets—or cool almost sweets like frozen juice pops or smoothies. (See my recipes for intense purple, orange, and green smoothies.)

If you are going out for the day, how about leaving drinks in the freezer for an hour or two before you leave? Nice, slushy juice during a hot day out can be a great way to help your children cool down.


How about frozen, savory treats?

If you are going to fill the freezer with frozen pops, how about adding a few soup pops to the mix?

Some soups are meant to be served chilled. Gazpacho is a tomato-based raw vegetable soup. Borscht is a beet-based cooked then (sometimes) chilled soup. One of my favorite summer soups is a really simple, raw, cold cucumber soup.


Chilled Cucumber Soup

This is an amazingly simple soup to make. If you grow cucumbers and dill in the garden, you can really impress younger children (when they are more likely to be impressed by your amazing feats of cooking) by picking the ingredients and serving the soup within minutes.

  • 2-3 cucumbers, peeled, halved, and most or all of the seeds removed
  • 1tsp – 1 Tbs fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

That’s it. Blend it well in a food processor, and chill.

You can make it creamy with a cup or two of yogurt. You can add stock. White wine vinegar makes it more tangy.

Personally, I like even chilled summer soups to have a kick, but I have one spice-loving child and one spice-averse child, so we generally avoid spices in family dishes unless we can each add our own. The soup tastes great with garlic or onion, but don’t do this if you have a hot date within the next 12 hours.

I’ve had a Greek version with mint, which makes it taste a bit like liquid tsatsiki. Some people like tarragon, which I find cloying, and others add parsley. Plain dill suits me fine. My favorite version includes cucumbers, onions, dill, and yogurt.

If you freeze small servings of the soup, you can take it with you in the morning and it will still be cool by the time you arrive at your lunchtime picnic.


Freeze It, Chill It, Keep It Cool

Kinderville Popsicle Molds
Kinderville frozen pop molds are a kid summer essential. This high-grade silicone is safe for freezer, refrigerator, dishwasher, and even microwave.

Kinderville Freezer Trays
Kinderville freezer trays hold about 1 cup each, which is a perfect serving size for soup on a picnic.

Kinderville Jars
Kinderville silicone jars are perfect for freezing and storing cool summer foods. They comes in small (about 3.5oz or 1/2 cup) and large (about 10oz or just over a cup).

Image © Pawel Strykowski | Dreamstime.com