When it comes to the second week of December, no matter how well prepared you are, the month begins to take over. It seems you’re not in charge of your own life. Instead of easy-going fall weekends culminating in Sunday games, there are work parties, family get togethers, school and church performances, and neighborhood potlucks. Somewhere down the road and fairly soon, that stack of bags in the corner of the spare bedroom must be gone through, sorted out, wrapped, and mailed or delivered, if need be. There are travel plans, weather delays or plain old bad weather, holiday attire to attend to, and the forever and constant barrage of holiday ads all with some version of “Sleigh Ride” for the soundtrack.
Being a butternut squash devotee, but far from being an Italian, I had no particular idea of whether or not my silky orange fall favorite was much of a thing in the country of mozzarella, artichokes, popes, cappuccino, pasta, beautiful fish, red wine, gorgeous shoes, shining lemons, and pizza.
The past few mornings at our house, it’s been about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). Skies are smoky from California and Canada wildfires; windows are thus closed tightly. The garden is looking a bit wan and worn around the edges; flowers are fading and crabapples are ripening. There is snow on Pike’s Peak. Summer is short here and the growing season is sometimes…
Each week this summer, I’ve made a vegetable-based soup to have for lunches or to round out a salad dinner that uses up leftovers. In order to increase my INSTANT POT (IP) skills and to see how many of my soup book’s recipes transfer well to this medium, I’ve mostly made them in the IP or multicooker–-the real name for the electric pressure cooker that’s also a sauté pot and a slow cooker. Like folks call all tissue “Kleenex,” we tend to call most multi cookers “Instant Pots.” (Note: I like my regular slow cooker much better than the IP version.) To get food cooked in a flash is the main idea with IP recipes and while I’m rarely in a hurry (in fact, it’s just the opposite in my kitchen), I get the idea. In fact, I do enjoy throwing things in a pot, turning it on, and then being able to disappear to the treadmill or a good book. Magic! Another excellent reason to cook soup this way is there’s much less heat in the kitchen with the stove off.
Since making soup is one of my very favorite activities, I invited my junior chefs Josiah and Alaena (8 and 6, respectively), over to make one of the newer soups on the blog, EASY CHICKEN- BLACK BEAN SOUP, featured here last March. While some soups and stews are made from scratch ingredients, there are just as many made with a few goodies found ready to go or leftover in your kitchen.
It’s a drink, it’s an appetizer, a first course, a meal, or all of the above. Definitely cool and summer stunning in chilled, heavy on-the-rocks glasses with a crostini side-car, this Spiked Gazpacho with Crab would eat happily out of small bowls, coffee cups, wine glasses, or … …
So you just can’t decide between soup and fish for dinner. Here’s your answer. Nah, that’s not what this is about. It’s more like I’m crazy about fish cooked in or right there with vegetables. The simple, clean taste in fish or seafood is perfect all on its own; ok, ok, ok. Grilled or sautéed white fish, for example, doesn’t need much more than a bit of butter or lemon. It’s true and I agree. I’m nothing if not crazy about something like Sole Meuniere, Grilled Salmon, or even Fish and Chips when I’m feeling skinny. But there’s more…and more– and I really like figuring that out with a bit more sophisticated dishes like:
Stove top version included in the printable recipe below.
A few years ago, next-door neighbor Mike brought over a big dish of peas with pearl onions and fresh mint for the Easter potluck (he did that again this year as peas and mint–mushy or not– are a standout comfort spring bonus with lamb) and Easter Monday I discovered he’d left a big bagful in my fridge. It seemed time for some sort of pea soup and you’ll find that post here. I loved that soup to death, but had sort of forgotten about it in the interim. It wasn’t split pea, though it might have been its third cousin twice removed. Not dark and smokey with bacon, nor a homey thick, tummy full soup you’d want in the thick of winter, this was pea soup gone light and bright–and it was a gorgeous hue. (What are mushy peas?)