Every once in a while, it’s time to cook up an old recipe on the blog, take new photos, and tweak the dish up to today’s standard. That’s exactly what happened the other day with the blog’s very first pumpkin soup from way back in November, 2009. With my book club meeting in my living room last Thursday, I thought I’d move away from the same-old, same-old cheese and whatever….and make a soup I could serve in coffee mugs along with the glass of wine we enjoy. Change = good. I looked at the not few pumpkin soups I’ve blogged and settled on the simple, but fun 12-year-old version that is finished off with peanuts and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. As I sometimes will, I tried making it right from the original recipe, which is so old it’s not even printable. While good, it needed perking up, thickening, and expanding. I was amazed, though, to see how readable the recipe was even then. That’s not to say it didn’t need editing and redoing. It did.
From one year to the next, I keep a few cans of my favorite Libby’s 100% pumpkin in the pantry. Thanks to my father-in-law, Gene Morgan (who spent years in grocery management), I know that “old” pumpkin makes for better pumpkin pies. I see no difference in pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, or pumpkin martinis but pie — oh yes. The pie filling is darker, feels richer-thicker though still silky, and sports a deeper flavor profile with the aged cans. This year, I’m very glad I kept those few and a couple more because when I put in an order for pumpkin, my King Sooper’s app indicated zero, nada, zip, nil, nought, nothing, though it allowed as there were a few cans of the organic variety left. I don’t like those for pie (ewww), but I’ll take them in a pinch for baked goods and so tapped the icon. When I went to pick up my groceries, I didn’t even get the organic cans. Yikes. What was the story? Should I be grabbing a few pie pumpkins out of the produce section and getting out the roasting pan? Consider a Thanksgiving featuring sweet potato pie? While I have nothing against sweet potato pie as my parents were both southerners, I like pumpkin pie so much better. What’s a baker to do?
You might — or might not — know that around my own house I’m known as “The Soup Queen.” I’m proud of my moniker and after all these years of souping, I choose to believe I deserve it. I can make a fancy-schmancy soup, having bought every single ingredient for it at a certain expense (Let’s say a gorgeous seafood stew for Christmas Eve, for instance), but there’s also the very good chance I’ll look in the refrigerator and pantry to come up with dinner based on what just happens to be lying around looking sad and sorry. Folks who know me have probably had a pot or bowl of soup left on their doorstep at some time or another — maybe when they weren’t feeling up to snuff or when I had more soup than my freezer would hold. Others have shown up for a dinner party only to find two big pots of soup on the stove and a big basket of bread on the counter along with several bottles of my favorite wines. My friend Jean, who gets a little soup every week lately as she’s recovering from a back injury, likes to say, “Please keep me on your soup list!” It makes a woman feel good.
Just a short drive from our house in Colorado Springs is our favorite Italian market and deli Mollica’s, which is perhaps best known as a popular, packed lunch spot on Garden of the Gods Road just west of I-25. Mollica’s is the happy kind of place that still serves old school “red sauce” meals like spaghetti and meatballs or a very good lasagna (all made with fresh pasta) as well as yummy pizza and calzone — though I couldn’t call it a “pizza place.” A large part of the lunch menu has always been devoted to stellar sandwiches (think grinders from house made sausage, scratch meatballs, heroes, and hot Italian beef) and a full line of filling salads that of course are served with fresh bread and butter. While I’m ready to eat anything Mollica’s makes –check out their dinner specials, too — I nearly always choose a salad because I can also get a cup of their minestrone–a simple and herby vegetable soup that just hits the sweet spot in my tummy. Occasionally I wonder why I don’t make some minestrone at home, but for some reason, I rarely do. That just changed.
If you drove through Colorado north to south and west to east, you would be fairly amazed at the amount of farmland in the state most often thought of as full of rocky mountains or The Rocky Mountains! You would also be overwhelmed with the beauty of our land.
You might be like me and LOVE butternut squash soup. The baseline, silky with cream French-herby sort that graces decent/decadent/expensive restaurant menus and fills you up to the brim while you sip an oaky California Chardonnay. Or maybe the chunky vegetarian variety chock full of not only squash, but also every other vegetable in the whole wide world and is best served up with a local icy-cold wheat beer. Could be the Thai version all curry-laden–both sweet and spicy, which is lovely with a Grüner Veltliner, by the way. What’s your favorite?
Next to my reading chair I typically keep a big, messy stack of books and magazines; sometimes the Sunday NEW YORK TIMES rests there until the next Sunday rolls around. In the pile are that month’s book club books (I try and keep up with three book clubs plus a cookbook club, though I often don’t succeed) along with another new one or two someone’s told me about or loaned me. If I’m really lucky, and I often am, I also keep a precious something I can read piecemeal, a tiny bit at a time when I need to get off my feet or have an extra 10 minutes before needing to stir a pot or leave for an appointment.
While Christmas seems so very far away now, it’s definitely not if you’re a traditional observer. Today is the 6th day of Christmas — as in 6 Geese A-Laying, right?
The 12 days of Christmas is the period that in Christian theology marks the span between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi, the three wise men. It begins on December 25 (Christmas) and runs through January 6 (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings’ Day). The four weeks preceding Christmas are collectively known as Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on December 24.
When Thanksgiving is over and Advent has begun within a few days…
Advent, (from Latin adventus, “coming”), in the Christian churchcalendar, the period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas and also of preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. In Western churches, Advent begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30 (St. Andrew’s Day) and is the beginning of the liturgical year. In many Eastern churches, the Nativity Fast is a similar period of penance and preparation that occurs during the 40 days before Christmas. The date when the season was first observed is uncertain. Bishop Perpetuus of Tours (461–490) established a fast before Christmas that began on November 11 (St. Martin’s Day), and the Council of Tours (567) mentioned an Advent season.
(below: Next-door neighbor Mike carving the charcoal grilled turkey at his house. He cooked the bird in a disposable pan, collected the juices, and I made yummy gravy from it. I whisked a 1/4 cup or so flour into a cup of water and added that slurry to the pan- right on the stove- along with salt, pepper, and a drop or two of hot sauce.)