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Yuletide Soups

Winter Solstice Pumpkin Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Sea salt
White pepper, freshly ground
1 can (1 pound) pumpkin, or 2 cups fresh, peeled, and cubed
1 Yukon Gold (or yellow) potato, peeled and cubed
5 cups vegetable broth
2-3 tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 cup half-and-half or soy cream (optional)

In a heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add in the chopped carrots and celery and stir in the spices. Lower the heat and gently cook for about 10 minutes, being careful not to overbrown the onions. Add in the pumpkin, potato, and vegetable broth and stir. Add in the dry sherry, stir, and bring to a slow simmer, cooking the soup for about 25-35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat. Carefully ladle the soup into a blender. Cover and puree the soup until it is smooth and creamy. Return the puree to the soup pot and adjust the seasoning to your taste. Stir in the half-and-half, if desired, and blend until smooth. Serve at once in a festive bowls with a basket of warm bread or muffins.

Serves 4-6

From Recipes from a Vegetarian Goddess, by Karri Allrich, Llewellyn Publishers.

Sweet Red Pepper and Crab Bisque

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons Old Bay or other seafood spice blend
3 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
1/2 cup diced peeled russet potato
1/2 cup half and half or skim evaporated milk
1 pound crabmeat

Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and seasoning. Cover; cook 10 minutes, stirring twice. Add stock and potato; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover partially, and simmer until potato is very tender, about 30 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in blender. (Caution! Hot liquids create steam which will blow the top off the blender! Be sure to securely hold blender lid down!) Return soup to saucepan. Add half and half; bring to a simmer. Mix in crab. Season to taste. Cover; let stand 1 minute. Ladle into bowls. Serves 4.

Solstice Stew

1 lb. beef stew meat
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
3 1/2 cups V-8 juice
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. instant beef bouillon granules
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
2 1/4 cups cubed, peeled potatoes
2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery

In large saucepan, heat cooking oil and brown stew meat and onion. Once brown add V-8 juice, onion, bouillon granules, garlic, basil & thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour. Add potatoes, carrots and celery. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes. I usually let it simmer for an hour because I like mushy potatoes!

Winter Squash Soup

2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup tomato puree
2 fresh, hot chilies, seeded and chopped
2˝ pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
5 cups low-sodium, chicken broth (remove fat)
pepper to taste
very small amount of salt (optional)
lime wedges

1. In a large, non-aluminum saucepan, warm the butter over medium heat. Stir in the onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes and then cover the pan. Lower heat and cook for 3 or 4 more minutes, until the vegetables are very tender. Stir in the tomato puree, chilies, butternut squash, and chicken broth. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Mash the squash pieces with a potato masher or the back of a spoon (the soup does not need to be completely smooth), season to taste (optional) and serve. Pass lime wedges to be squeezed into each bowl of soup.

Serve with corn bread.

8 servings

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion (1/4-inch dice)
1/4 cup diced celery (1/4-inch dice)
1/4 cup diced carrot (1/4-inch dice)
1 cinnamon stick
Gray salt and freshly ground pepper
About 4 cups Chicken Stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground toasted coriander (optional)
1-1/2 cups Roasted Winter Squash
1/2 cup half-and-half (optional)
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese (optional)
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and cinnamon stick and sauté until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and the coriander, if using, and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes. Stir in the squash until smooth, then simmer gently to let the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. (The soup can be made ahead to this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for several days or frozen for about 1 month. It will thicken as it cools and may need thinning with stock or water when reheating.) Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently. Add the half-and-half, if using. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle into a warm tureen, a ceramic bowl or 4 soup plates. If desired, garnish with a spoonful of mascarpone and/or a scattering of pumpkin seeds.

(Makes about 4-1/2 cups, serves 4)

Cream of Brie Soup

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced celery
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon chicken base or bouillon granules
12 ounces Brie cheese, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a kettle saute chopped onion and sliced celery in butter until soft. Stir in flour. Remove from the heat and stir in milk, chicken broth, and chicken base; mix well. Return to the heat and simmer, stirring, until the soup thickens. Add diced Brie cheese and stir until melted. Transfer the soup to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Heat through.

Makes 6 servings.


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