Roasted Winter Squash Soup

October 22, 2012


Our last CSA box of the season came a couple of weeks ago and with it two lovely winter squash. We made a squash curry one night with carrots, coconut milk, and all kinds of spices, and as I was telling the lovely lady who cuts my hair about this plan (yes, really) she suggested taking the same idea but making a soup. Did I mention I love her?

It’s simple as can be, really. Just throw some root vegetables in the oven with olive oil and all those warm spices, roast-roast-roast til they’re tender, then throw it all in a blender with some coconut milk and broth and you’re golden.

Roasted Winter Squash Soup


  • 1 medium sized winter squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 carrots, peeled, chopped into the same size as squash cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 small can coconut milk
  • 1.5 cups/ 355 ml chicken broth or water
  • Garnish (optional): roasted and salted pumpkin seeds or serve with crispy-fried bits of bacon


  1. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C. Combine squash and carrots with oil and spices. Roast in single layer on a parchment paper covered baking sheet for about 40 minutes or until tender.
  2. In a blender combine the roasted vegetables, 3/4 of the coconut milk, and half the chicken broth. Puree till smooth. Taste and add more coconut milk or chicken stock as necessary.
  3. Reheat the soup slowly in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven. Test and adjust the seasoning as needed and serve in bowls garnished with roasted, salty pumpkin seeds. Serve with bread and salted butter or salty crackers.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

October 8, 2012

One day, if I’m lucky, I am going to have children – a fact that I find terrifying and exhilarating in almost equal proportions. Sometimes, when I’m not distracted by the terror or exhilaration, I like to think about the nice mundane, including imagining what dinner time will be like. I like to cook, especially when it’s not just me eating and Dan loves to cook. I’m pretty sure we’ll attempt to involve our kids with food and cooking and all the fun of it as much as humanly possible.

They’ll need to know how to make cookies obviously and learn that old bananas = banana bread. I hope they’ll grow to love some of my favourites (though they’ll probably hate them, right? Isn’t that how it works?) like spaghetti bolognese and bangers and mash.

One way or another I suspect they will eat this soup mainly because of the AWESOME TOPPINGS. Toppings are fun, even when you’re 28 years old and so I imagine toppings are incredibly full of win for a four or five year old. Get the basic soup made and then let people add toppings to their heart’s content.

The “bones” of this soup are amazing too of course – rich tomato and chicken stock and salty-smoky chicken – but the toppings take things up a significant notch. Don’t forgo the cilantro or sour cream and by all means add shredded cheese, diced red onion, and avocado if that’s your thing. It’s all good.

And while this makes a really fun dinner it also makes delicious leftovers reheated the next day after all the flavours have had a chance to hang out and get acquainted.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
adapted from The Pioneer Woman


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp canned green chilies
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 3 Tablespoons cornmeal
  • 5 whole corn tortillas, sliced into 2 inch strips

To garnish

  • Sour cream
  • Avocado
  • Diced red onion
  • Salsa
  • Grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • Cilantro


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix cumin, chili pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then dust spice mix on both sides. Save the rest of the spice mix.
  2. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Remove from the oven and use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the rest of the spice mix. Stir to coat and then add the shredded chicken and stir.
  4. Pour in chopped tomatoes, green chilies, chicken stock, tomato paste, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.
  5. Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water to form a paste. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more salt or chili powder if needed. Turn off heat and allow the soup to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before you’re ready to eat, gently stir in tortilla strips.
  6. Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, salsa, and grated cheese, and cilantro, as desired.

I consider this to be a sexy soup. That may cause you alarm; you may think that I’ve lost my marbles but wait. This soup is rich and intoxicating. Others might try to sell you on the merits of cauliflower before trying this soup; if you’re reading my blog then I’m guessing you’re already on board with the vegetable love (including broccoli and brussels, right?). Good.

In this soup, its sweet, slightly charred flavour is competing for your love with oak-smoked cheddar. Ne’er did a cheese work better in soup than this one. Normal cheddar is fine. Aged cheddar is better. But oak-smoked cheddar? Ding! Ding! Ding! That’s what I’m talking about.

Beyond roasted cauliflower and divine smoked cheddar, here are the essential accoutrements: green onions, sour cream, and bacon. The bacon’s salty crunch and the sharp green onion add a luxurious contrast to the silky smooth texture of the soup and the cool sour cream goes beautifully with the sweet puree. Make sure you get some bacon bits, green onion and sour cream in every.single.damn.spoonful. and you’ll be one happy camper.

Roasted Cauliflower and Smoked Cheddar Soup with Bacon Crumbles
adapted from Closet Cooking and inspired by Relishing It


  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried thyme, ground)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups smoked cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream (optional)
  • 2 green onions, diced, to serve
  • sour cream, to serve
  • 6 rashers of bacon, cooked until crispy and well done, and diced, to serve


  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Toss the cauliflower florets in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil along, season with salt and pepper, and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower until lightly golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Heat more olive oil in a large pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  3. Add the broth and roasted cauliflower, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  4. Puree the soup in a blender until it’s silky smooth (or with a rougher texture, if that’s your liking).
  5. Return soup to the dutch oven/pan and gently heat. Stir in the grated cheese until it’s melted and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the milk/cream and remove from heat. Serve immediately with a splodge of sour cream, bacon crumbles and green onion  sprinkled on top.