Monday, October 5, 2015

Thai Coconut Squash Soup

This soup combines squash, one of fall's bountiful crops, with flavors of Thai cuisine. I owe the inspiration for this soup to Annie Somerville's recipe for Kabocha Squash soup in her "everyday Greens" cookbook. In fact, I owe much of my cooking style to Annie Somerville's recipes, and continually enjoy San Francisco's Greens restaurant, where she is the chef, as one of my favorite restaurants of all time. I enjoy her use of seasonal produce, especially local, seasonal produce. I also enjoy her use of herbs over fats as flavor enhancers. This squash soup can be made with whatever kind of winter squash you have available - kabocha, butternut, kuri, or acorn. Winter squashes are just beginning to make their appearances in our local farmers market, and I always welcome their first entry onto the seasonal food scene.


1 winter squash
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 quart stock, chicken or vegetable
3 stalks lemongrass, cut into 3 inch lengths and tied in cheesecloth
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 (14 ounce) can low fat coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions: Cut the squash in quarters and remove the seeds. Place the squash in a microwave safe dish and cook on high for 5 minutes, turn and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Test the squash to see if it is tender, cooking an additional minute or two if needed, then cool. While the squash cooks, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for an additional 3 minutes, until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the stock, lemongrass, ginger and lime juice. After the squash has cooled, remove the rind, and cut the squash into largish chunks, about 2 inch cubes. Add the squash to the soup pot and cook until the squash is completely tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the lemongrass from the soup, then puree the squash soup in a blender. Add the coconut milk and return to a low simmer. Taste the soup and add salt or pepper as needed. My stock had enough salt that I didn't need to add any salt. Serve warm or chill and serve cold. Top each bowl of soup with a little of the chopped cilantro.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: I grew lemongrass in my garden this year. It did well! Really well. However, it's not as tender as I would like. The solution? Tie up the spicy inner stalks in cheesecloth. Tying herbs in cheesecloth allows flavors to meld into liquids, like soups, without adding the actual herb to the soup pot. In this recipe, putting lemongrass in cheesecloth allows the soup to taste like lemongrass, but I can remove the tough stalks and still have the silky texture you'd expect with coconut milk. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pineapple Salsa

This salsa was born when I had leftover fresh pineapple, and I was serving grilled pork with Latin style vegetables. I figured that a fresh salsa would work in, and it sure did! This salsa goes well with all sorts of grilled or prepared meats, as well as chips.


1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup chopped jalapeno peppers (optional)
juice of 1/2 lime
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro


Mix all the ingredients together, and serve.

Serves 4 as a topping on a meal, 2 as a salsa for appetizer, easily doubled

Stealthy Cooking Tip: Vary the amounts in this salsa according to your taste. I used more pineapple when I made this up, and served the tomato on the side to satisfy one of my eaters with an allergy.