Sunday, January 9, 2011

A bit of warmth on a cold day

Hello faithful readers! I feel bad that I haven't posted anything lately, but Christmas was hectic. Fun and wonderful, as always, but very busy. But have no fear, my New Years resolution involves writing here more often.

I had extravagant intentions of writing about my adventures in Christmas baking, but I spent so much time baking that I had no time left for writing. I made decorated sugar cookies as well as some chocolates, both molded and dipped. I plan on making some of the same for Valentine's Day, especially since I got some lovely chocolate molds for Christmas, so you will not miss out entirely.

I also attempted to make German springerle, which may have turned out better had I not over-baked them. Next year I will attempt a new recipe and let you know how it turns out. Also, I will watch the oven throughout the baking process. Or just set an oven timer.

Until then I have something else for you. I had several days off recently. Entire days off. No work, no school, only minimal chores to do around the apartment, so I decided to make myself a good meal. In light of the recent snow and cold (and the head cold I contracted) I decided soup was a good way to go. And what I landed on was this lovely recipe from Fine Cooking magazine.

It is called autumn vegetable soup, and though it is no longer autumn, I think it's also appropriate for the chill of winter. It's chunky and hearty and downright delicious.

Soup is easily the best way to get your vegetables. Though vegetables have begun to grow on me in recent years (figuratively speaking of course), they're still not my favourite thing in the world. But even as a child, when I abhorred vegetables with a passion normally reserved for spiders and centipedes, I would eat them in soup. Something about the mingling of flavours, the softening of the normally hard and crunchy carrots or broccoli or celery, makes vegetables nearly divine. They sort of melt in your mouth with the broth, warming you straight to your toes all the while satisfying your appetite and keeping you healthy. The true definition of delicious and nutritious.

So here it is. Autumn vegetable soup. I tweaked it from the original recipe because I had spinach in my fridge and didn't feel like buying kale. I added the cumin and I'm leaving out the salt that it calls for because even with the low-sodium broth I found it a bit salty.

Autumn Vegetable Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
3 medium carrots, medium dice
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cubed butternut squash (about half a 2lb squash)
1/4 tsp ground allspice
pinch of cumin to taste
1 quart low salt chicken broth (for those of you not brought up on the imperial system of measurement it's just over 950ml or three standard size soup cans)
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups lightly packed spinach or kale
1 cup chickpeas

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
Add carrots and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 6 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for a minute more.
Add the squash, allspice, and cumin and stir to combine.
Add the broth, tomatoes with their juice, and thyme.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add spinach and chickpeas and cook uncovered until squash is tender and spinach is wilted, about 10 more minutes.
Discard thyme before serving. Season with more salt and cumin to taste.

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