WHOAA…

Photo 1- Ice on Window

It’s Cold! I mean smack dab in the middle of winter, freezing cold temperatures. I know you mid-westerners are somewhat accustomed to frigid temperatures in the winter but down here in the south, it is usually a bit milder. The new year brought a new climate for us. We’ve been snuggling up in the house with blankets and the soup is definitely on! Here are a few yummy ones loaded with vegetables to keep you all healthy and warm.

Photo 1- Hubbard Squash

Before I get to the soups, though, I was given this beautiful but enormous Blue Hubbard Squash a couple of weeks ago. Its size was quite intimidating. Once I finally got it open, I had to roast it in several batches. I made a couple of different recipes with it and Lu, our hound dog, even enjoyed some. Below is a photo of a Winter Squash and Shiitake Mushroom Rustic Pie I made. I just sauteed onions, mushrooms, garlic and then added some of the roasted squash and topped with herbs and grated Cave-Aged Gruyere cheese.

Photo 3- Squash Gallette

Rustic Winter Squash Pie
For Pie Crust:
1 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour (I use White Lilly)
4 oz (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I use organic butter)
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
3-4 Tbsp Ice Water

Place flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add butter. Gently mix with your hands, be gentle- your objective is to make the butter into little crumbs or grains, not to mush it all together, do not over mix. Go slow. The largest pieces of butter should be the size of peas or grains of rice. Sprinkle with 3 Tbsp of ice water. Make your hand into a claw as if you are trying to grab a basketball one handed, and stir dough briefly until the liquid is incorporated.  Squeeze a handful of dough in your palm.  It should have just enough moisture to stay together.  If it seems dry and crumbly, add more water a teaspoon at a time until you can squeeze it into a ball that doesn’t crumble when broken apart. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Roll out, into a circle, onto floured surface as quickly as you can.  Place the rolled out dough onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

For Tart:
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ medium or 1 small Onion, sliced in rings
Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced (I used a small container full)
3 cloves Garlic,  crushed and chopped
Cubed Winter Squash, roasted (I think I used 1-2 cups)
2-3 oz Cave-Aged Gruyere Cheese, grated
1 Egg, lightly beaten
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp Fresh Herbs, chopped (I used Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme)

Preheat oven to 425. Heat a saute pan on medium heat. Add olive oil. Saute the onions. Once they begin to soften, add the mushrooms and garlic. Remove from heat and mix with the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Roll out dough, leaving about a one-inch border all the way around. Place the squash mixture on top, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle the top with the cheese and the herbs Gently fold over the edges of the dough to form a rustic edge all the way around. Pour the egg over. Place in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and fully set. Let it cool for a few minutes and then cut into slices as you would a pie.

I still had some squash left so I decided to make soup. The idea of a pureed winter squash soup just sort of bored me. I wanted some different ideas so after rummaging around in the kitchen to see what I could pair it with, I came up with this one and it was perfect. I again paired it with Gruyere. It is such a yummy fall and winter cheese. You could easily leave the cheese off or use a Parmesan Reggiano or sharp Cheddar. I used chicken stock here but you can easily substitute vegetable to make it vegetarian.

Photo 4- Squash Soup

Hubbard Squash Potato Apple Soup
1 Tbsp Ghee, Butter, or Olive Oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 big Red Potatoes, finely diced
2 Apples, finely chopped
3-4 cups Roasted Hubbard Squash, finely diced
4 cups Chicken Stock
Herbs (I used probably 2 Tbsp mix of- fresh sage, rosemary, lemon thyme, and 1 Tsp dried Herbs de Provence)
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to Taste
Cave Aged Gruyere, grated, to top each serving

Heat a big pot on the stove on medium heat. Add the ghee. Add the onion and potatoes. Stir. Once they begin to soften, add the apples and squash. Stir. Salt and pepper. Add herbs. Add stock and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, lower heat and continue to cook for about 20-30 minutes. Serve each bowl topped with grated cheese.

Photo 5- Squash Soup Final

I recently found a small jar of dark greenish-brown lentils up in our cupboard and I happened upon a beautiful bunch of Rainbow Chard at the market so I did a quick google search for those two ingredients together and found this which gave me the general idea for this next soup. I added more celery and then lots of other stuff and came up with this version, below. It turned into a beautiful French style soup and was the perfect pairing with some fancy cheese and crackers and a good bottle of red wine.

Carrots-Chard-Lentils

Lentil Soup with Chard, Lemon, and Manchego
1 cup Lentils
1 bunch Rainbow Chard
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil (I used 2 and 1 Tbsp of Butter)
1 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
3 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
5-6 small Rainbow Carrots, with tops
3 ribs of Celery, chopped
1 small bunch of Parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon
Water
Salt & Black Pepper
Manchego Cheese

Lentils Cooking

Place the lentils in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and simmer, covered, until tender (about 30 minutes). Wash the chard leaves, remove the middle vein and then chop the leaves into small pieces and add to the lentils with 1 cup water. Cook until the chard is wilted. Crush the garlic, chop the parsley, and chop the green leafy carrot tops. Mix these together and sprinkle with salt and the lemon juice. Set aside. Sauté the onion, celery, and carrots until soft, and then add the herb mix in. Stir and then add this mixture to the lentils. Add more water (I ended up using about 4 cups total, it just depends on how soups you want your soup to be) and adjust your salt and pepper to taste. Stir and simmer about 20 minutes. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the Manchego and serve each bowl with some Manchego shavings on top.

Lentil Soup Final

And sometimes, you just need some good old beans and cornbread! Here’s how I prepared them last week… These were tasty and warming. Leftovers made for great lunches.

Photo - Beans Final

Beans & Cornbread
Dried Beans- I used equal parts Pintos and Kidneys, 1-1 ½ cup of each, soaked overnight in enough water to cover the beans.
2 tsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
4 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
3 Celery Ribs with leaves and tops, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbsp ground Cumin
1 Tbsp fresh chopped Oregano
3 Bay Leaves
Water
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Fresh Chopped Cilantro and Avocado to top each bowl (optional) or cook with Country Ham, diced

Photo - Beans

Heat a big pot on the stove on medium and add the oil. Add the onion and stir. Once it has begun to soften, add the garlic, celery, and pepper. Stir and cook for a couple minutes. Drain the beans and rinse them. Add the spices and the beans and ham if you are using it. Add some water. I used about 4 cups. Add just enough to cover the beans in the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook until beans are tender, it usually takes me about 1 ½ – 2 hours. Top with fresh cilantro and avocado (if using).

Photo - Cooking Beans

And here is my favorite cornbread recipe.

Photo - Cornbread & Beans

When we moved to Nashville, one of the most exciting things was to suddenly be immersed into all this country music history with so many of the musicians who made that music so famous still living and working right here. We’ve had some amazing opportunities to get to know some of these folks and Grant has even had the good fortune of playing with some of them. The downside of this, though, is with so many of them elderly now, we feel a little closer to the loss when one of these folks passes away and it happens pretty often now. Last week, we were saddened to lose Phil Everly, half of the great musical duo The Everly Brothers. The Everly Brothers were members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame AND The Country Music Hall of Fame. These two toured early on with Buddy Holly. They moved to Nashville and found much success as songwriters with hits such as “Bye Bye Love,” “Bird Dog,” and “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and they are famous for their incredible harmonies and for helping to create the sound of rock & roll as we know it.  Here’s some old footage of them doing “Take a Message to Mary” and “Bird Dog.”

The tiny silver lining to such a loss as this is, we are all reminded of the immense musical contributions his life made on Nashville, and the world. I’ve been listening to some of their greatest tunes all week. Here’s one of my current favorites which they did not write but they sang so beautifully.

And, it just so happens that we were road tripping to South Carolina to visit family last weekend and as the news of his passing hit, we happened to be listening to the new album from Nora Jones and Billy Joe Armstrong called, Foreverly, that consists of traditional American songs that were reinterpreted, recorded, and released by The Everly Brothers in 1958. It is a beautiful album with wonderful harmonies, in the tradition of the Everlys.

Oh and don’t think I haven’t forgotten to pay tribute to Mister Ray Price. I’ve been working on that. Coming soon…

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