soup

Buttercup Squash Soup with Candied Walnuts

Now is the time of year for soup. Toasted, candied walnuts add crunch, sweetness, and a luscious nutty flavor to this creamy potage of buttercup squash lightly spiced with cinnamon and tumeric. I recommend making extra candied walnuts. They can be added to salad, yogurt, oatmeal, or eaten straight up by the handful. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8

Buttercup Squash Soup

• 1 buttercup squash (about 3lbs) • 3 medium onions, chopped • 1 medium potato, cut in 1" cubes • 3 garlic cloves, chopped • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I made mine with water and it still tasted really good. I just added a little more salt.) • 2 tablespoons heavy cream • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon • pinch ground cayenne pepper • salt + ground black pepper

Peel the squash, scoop out the seeds and cut in in 1 inch cubes. In a soup pot, cook the onions and garlic on medium heat for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the squash and potato. Continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the stock and spices and simmer for 30 minutes, until the squash is cooked. Blend the soup in a blender until smooth and transfer back to pot. Add the cream and season to taste.

Candied Walnuts

• 1 cup walnuts • 1/4 cup sugar (preferably organic cane sugar)

Dry-pan toast the walnuts for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, shaking the pan often. Add the sugar, lower the heat and stir until the sugar melts and coats the walnuts. Lay them to cool on a plate or parchement.

Watercress and Roasted Potato Soup

Soup days are not over here on Cape Breton Island. We've had a week of rainy-windy weather, interrupted here and there by brief periods of sun. Cook-outs are just around the corner, but there's no rush. Just fill me up another bowl of that watercress soup. You can eat watercress raw as a salad leaf, or you can cook it. I made a soup with watercress and some roasted potatoes. I roasted the potatoes with herbs simply to give them (and the soup) a greater depth of flavor. You could also use any form of leftover potatoes--a rare sort, but hey, that's us. To make a good soup you need a good stock. That said, I really encourage you to make your own. Once you do, you won't want to go back.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

• 3 medium potatoes, roughly cut in 1/2" slices • 2 medium onions, chopped • 5-6 cups vegetable stock • 2 cups watercress, roughly chopped • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil • 1 teaspoon dried thyme • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary • a few crushed red chili flakes • 2 tablespoon cream • salt + ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a bowl, mix the potatoes with oil, thyme, rosemary, chili, salt and pepper. Lay them on a pan and roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. In a medium pot, sweat the onions in a bit of oil until translucent. Add the roasted potatoes and watercress, give it a stir and add the stock. Simmer for 30 minutes. Blend the soup roughly with a hand mixer for a couple of seconds. You still want some potato chunks in there. Add the cream, season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

Leek and Corn Chowder Gratiné

Here's another satisfying soup that's quick, easy, and inexpensive to make. I topped the chowder with croutons and cheese the same way you would an onion soup, but if you're too pressed for time or too exhausted to bother, the chowder alone is tasty and filling enough to cover for you.

Ingredients

• 3 medium onions, chopped • 2 leeks, chopped • 5 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1" cubes • 800 ml creamed corn • 5 cups vegetable stock • 1 bay leaf • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped • salt + black pepper

Toppings

• croutons • gruyère cheese

Sweat the garlic, leeks, and onions on medium heat until soft - for about 10 minutes. Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Set aside and season with salt and pepper.

With a hand blender, blend the soup for about 5 seconds. You just want to roughly mix it and leave some chunks in there. If you don't have a hand blender, you can blend half of the soup with a regular blender for five seconds and then return it to the pot.

Fill an oven-safe bowl with chowder, top with croutons and gruyère and broil for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.

Part 5 - Poor Man's Lobster Bisque

This started out as a four-part post, but lobsters just keep giving. So here's another classic - Lobster Bisque. Bisque is the best way to savour every last scrap of your fruits de mer. A lobster's casing is full of flavour. You know what they say - waste not, want not. Next time you prepare crustaceans, remember to put a bisque on the menu too.

The only reason I'm calling this a poor man's version is because I don't put any of the meat back into the broth. It's all carcass and shells, veggies, a dash of cheap white wine, and home-smoked bacon. Part 1 - Cooking the Lobster Part 2 - Lobster Eggs Benedict Part 3 - Flatbread Lobster Roll Part 4 - Lobster Stuffed Shells

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

• shells and bodies of 4 lobsters, roughly chopped in pieces • 8 thick slices smoked bacon (optional) • 1 cup white wine • 2 medium onions, chopped • 2 medium carrots, chopped • 2 branches celery, chopped • 1 tablespoon tomato paste • 2 garlic cloves • 2 bay leaves • 2 sprigs of thyme • 1/2 cup butter • 1/2 cup flour

Directions

In a large pot, cook the bacon for 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half. Put the lobster shells in and just cover with water (or, for more flavour, cover with the liquid you used to cook the lobsters). Add bay leaves, thyme and tomato paste.

Simmer for 45 minutes.

Strain and discard the solids.

In the same pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Then add the liquid back to the pot a bit at a time. This will thicken the bisque. Season with salt and pepper.

Illustration by Kevin Sprouls.

Curried Spinach and Potato Soup

"A big man can carry a heavy load; a good soup can carry a dinner." - Country Proverb

I make a soup almost every other day. It's healthy, economical, and fills my house with flavor. Walk in the front door of a home where soup is simmering, and you'll know what I mean. To fill your own place with soothing aromas and reap the major health benefits of a wholesome, homemade soup, first take a peek in your fridge. You'll need only three or four veggies and a few spices or herbs. If you eat meat, use what you have. Take your ingredients, put them in a pot with stock and simmer. It's the best way to use the leftovers. For more specific directions, try the soup below. It's so simple. You might also serve it up with some Brown Soda Bread.

Serves 6

Ingredients

• 2 medium onions, chopped • 2 medium carrots, chopped • 2 medium potatoes, diced • 2 handfuls spinach • 2 garlic cloves, chopped • 1 tablespoon curry powder • 5-6 cups vegetable stock • 2 tablespoons cream • salt + black pepper

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium pot. Add the onions and carrots and cook until soft. Add the potatoes, spinach, garlic, curry and stock. Simmer for about an hour. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth. If it`s too thick, add more stock. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Winter Carrot Soup

It's winter and you have carrots? Here's a simple soup to enjoy while the temperature is dropping.

Winter Carrot Soup

• 3 medium onions, chopped • 6 medium carrots, chopped • 3 cloves garlic, chopped • 5-6 cups vegetable or chicken stock • 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only • 1 teaspoon ginger powder • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon • 1/4 cup heavy cream

In a pot, gently cook the onions and carrots in butter for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme, ginger and cinnamon. Add enough stock to cover the vegs. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Blend, add salt and pepper to taste and finish with cream.