Homemade Vegetable Soup

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by David Latt

veggiesoupIn the blink of an eye, summer disappeared. It seems like the 4th of July was just yesterday when we wore short sleeve shirts and shorts, had a picnic in the park, and watched fireworks explode overhead.

Now we're trying to keep warm and dry as dark clouds matte out the sky and cold winds push thick rain drops against our bodies. At a time like this, happiness is a good parka and thick socks!

Wrapping up in a thick blanket or cozying up to a well-stoked fireplace fortifies body and soul against the chill. For internal weatherproofing, though, nothing beats the cold better than homemade soup.

Simple is often best and that is doubly true in soups. When I'm cold, I want my soup hot, fresh tasting, and flavorful.

Vegetable soup is easy-to-make and nourishing. Perfect any time of the day, but when the weather's cold and rainy, I like soup in the morning. It's better than a cup of coffee or tea to get me out the door.

Farmer's Camo Pasta

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by James Farmer III

falldinnerI’m not a big hunter. My brother-in-law, cousins, uncle and friends make up for my lack of time spent in a deer stand or duck blind… But, I do love camo – it is surprisingly chic mixed with denim and I’ve seen it sported fashionably (albeit unknowingly) by many a gentleman in The South… and even a lady or two.

As hunting season waxes down here, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a favorite fall dish – my Camo Pasta. This pasta, mixed with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and mushrooms is about as fatigue-fashioned as they come. Even the whole wheat noodles join in the camo color scheme.

All melded together, this combo makes for a delicious fall supper and I even love it better the next day – which so many things find themselves better. It is better the next day in my leather chair and Netflix binge-watching… which is where you’ll find me enjoying this dish over the deer stand I’m afraid - ha! 

Here’s to autumn, its colors and hues and flavors – all mixed together in a pasta dish ready for the hunt. Add wild game or chicken or shrimp to your liking. Enjoy y’all!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Preserved Lemon

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by Joseph Erdos

brusselslemonsFall produce isn't just about pumpkins and squash, which is what most people assume. Other vegetables, too, reach their prime in the fall. Right now you'll find a host of cabbages in season, including the entire family—cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, which are my personal favorite. These mini cabbages are so adorable—I just wish more people liked them.

When it comes down to it, you either know how to cook Brussels sprouts or you don't. Those that don't know how to cook them ruin it for everyone else. A pot of over-boiled sprouts never could make anyone like the vegetable (kids liken the smell to stinky feet). The correct cooking method is key to coaxing out the natural sweet flavor of sprouts. No other method can do that better than roasting.

The simplest way to prepare sprouts for roasting is to toss them with oil, salt, and pepper. Then just roast until tender, about 25 minutes. You can customize the basic recipe to suit your own tastes, e.g. add some herbs or vinegar or even lemon juice. For this recipe I utilize preserved lemons I made earlier in the year. Thin slices of the lemon rind along with some of the briny juice give this dish a noteworthy zip. You will love sprouts prepared this way.

Creamy Red Pepper-Coconut Soup

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by Cathy Pollak

Creamy-Red-Pepper-Coconut-soup-serve-with-crunchy-breadIt was one of those days, dreary and cold, and it was my turn to make lunch (I’ve told y’all how much I dislike making lunch). Mostly I was dreading it because I knew the fridge was devoid of leftovers I could just heat up and call good. 

I strolled into the kitchen and opened the vegetable drawer. There it was, two red bell peppers, celery that needed a purpose and half an onion from the last soup I had thrown together. Luckily, inspiration hit and within 30 minutes, this soup and lunch was served. It was delicious and is now in the fall/winter soup rotation over here.

The coconut adds the Asian flare I was looking for and the Thai-style sweet chili sauce balances it all out. This soup is so easy to make and the flavor is bold. You will love it.

Creamy-As-You-Like Beet Soup

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by Amy Sherman

creamybeetsoupBeets are like paint bombs. Deliciously sweet, red, flavored paint bombs, so intensely colored they stain your fingers, bleed into the sink, tint the cutting board, you name it. When cooked, they aren't so much red as deep magenta. When mixed with sour cream they turn paler shades of magenta to pink. The color, like the flavor is either something you love or you hate.

Beets get a bad rap from the low carb police, but they are actually quite healthy, filled with antioxidants, low in calories, they have significant amounts of fiber, folate, manganese and potassium. I know some people find beets too "earthy" tasting, but both Lee and I love 'em. Especially in beet soup.

There are an unbelievable number of recipes for beet soup. It's commonly served all over Eastern Europe. There are versions that are cold, hot, vegetarian, with meat, chunky, smooth, with tons of vegetables, with no other vegetables.

Lately I've been experimenting with "less is more". I've tried stripping down various recipes to the barest of basics to see if I could coax the ingredients to shine through. This is one of those recipes. In my experiment to get to the essence of the beet, I developed a recipe that has little more than beets in it at all. A pinch or two of sugar perks up the flavor and the broth and sour cream add body and richness.

Healthy Muffins That Taste Good. Really.

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by Susan Russo

healthymuffinsThe problem with "healthy" muffins is that they're usually bland, rubbery, or dry. I wanted to make a healthy muffin that actually tasted great. One you would want to eat. Turns out, that isn't so easy.

Healthy Muffins Take 1:

I hand Jeff a muffin to taste.

Me: "So what do you think?"

Jeff: Chewing, with a furrowed brow. "Well, they're a little bland. How much sugar did you put?"

Me: "Oh, no! I forgot to add the sugar!"

Healthy Muffins Take 2:

I hand Jeff a muffin to taste.

Me: "Are these better? I didn't forget the sugar this time."

Jeff: Chewing a lot and very, very slowly. "Well, they taste like they're good for you."

Seduced By Greek Yogurt, Fresh Fig, and Black Currant Parfaits

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by Susan Russo

figyogurtOscar Wilde said, "I can resist everything but temptation." I think he had fresh figs in mind when he said that.

Consider this: Yesterday morning at the Hillcrest farmers' market, I spotted close to a dozen people eating fresh figs as they shopped. That's because everything about fresh figs is irresistible -- their pleasingly plump stature, their velvet skin splitting with ripeness, their ambrosial pink flesh.

Despite fresh figs' high price tag, usually $4-6 per pound, San Diego shoppers couldn't get enough of them, including me. I also can't get enough of these simple, no-bake Greek Yogurt, Fresh Fig, and Black Currant Parfaits. This dessert proves that opposites attract -- sweet figs and tart black currants, syrupy honey and spicy cinnamon, and earthy rosemary and tangy lemon zest are enfolded in luscious, creamy Greek yogurt.

I just know Oscar Wilde wouldn't have been able to resist them either.

Grilled Plum Salad with Brandy Mint Vinaigrette

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by Cathy Pollak

plumsaladI love plums. Love them. They are so versatile, good both savory and sweet. I also love a good salad and am always willing to try something new in this arena as well.

The key to a decent dressing is good olive oil. There is no question it elevates the salad to new heights. It can also mercilessly drag it down when not up to par. A good extra-virgin olive oil is key to this Grilled Plum Salad with Brandy-Mint Vinaigrette. The ingredients are few, so quality matters.

When I made the dressing, I sort of felt like it needed something else, another flavor. But then I stepped back and looked at the other ingredients going into this salad; bacon, grilled plums, goat cheese, toasted pecans and peppery arugula. I decided to hold off adding anything and I’m glad I did.

This salad exploded with flavor. A bite with plum, cheese, arugula, nut and vinaigrette….yum. However, it’s definitely a grown up salad with the brandy addition. The perfect starter for a special dinner.

Try it for yourself when you have some time. 

Skillet Boneless Pork Chops with Rosemary Peaches

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by Susan Russo

porkpeachesI have always associated peaches with July and August. That is until a few years ago when I discovered the most succulent peaches I ever tasted -- in September.

Peach season in California is long and abundant; it runs from May to October and peaks from July through September. In general, peaches are picked early to withstand shipping and to have a longer shelf life. The problem is when you take home many of these peaches, they are as hard as a rock (and taste like one too). That's why buying locally grown peaches is a better option when possible.

A couple of years ago at a local farmers' market I discovered Summerset peaches, which peak in September. Like a California sunset, these fruits are a dazzling blend brilliant reds, warm oranges, and golden yellows. In addition to being visually beautiful, they emit a delicate floral aroma and are amazingly juicy and succulent, as if warmed by the sun.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

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by Susan Salzman

BUNDTS spotato2I always look forward to Thanksgiving. Sharing the holday with my family, extended family, and a handful of friends. Each year, my sister-in-law and I alternate with hosting it. I do like having it my house because it makes me organize my clutter, clean where I wouldn’t normally clean, and repair whatever seems to be broken at the moment.

This year I will be a guest. Yet, I am not off the hook with contributing to the meal. Volunteering to make Rustic Herb Stuffing, Cranberry-Raspberry Relish, Pecan Pie, and a delicious Sweet Potato Casserole with a Pecan Crumble.  YUM!  The rest of the meal was equally delicious; roast turkey, roasted brussel sprouts, butternut squash soup, carmelized string beans with hazelnuts, and the list goes on.

For the Sweet Potato Casserole, I had roasted way too many sweet potatoes and after peeling and ricing them I realized I had gone a bit overboard. With left overs on hand, I was inspired to create something new. In the past, I have made muffins, waffles, and pancakes, but today I chose to make a pound cake.

Using pantry staples, I whipped up the batter in minutes and made 6 mini bundts and 2 small loaves. This cake is so light and airy and down right delicious. To date, this is one of my favorites.


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