Candied Pepitas, Creme Fraiche, Pink Peppercorns
Is it a drink? Is it a soup? Is it an amuse bouche? Yes. Yes. Yes. Complex in flavor and compact in presentation – these kabocha shooters are excellent for Fall entertaining. Kabocha, a winter squash also known as Japanese pumpkin, has a delectable taste with beautiful flesh the color of turning Autumn leaves.
The soup’s sweet profile includes nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, and brown sugar while the savory side contains caramelized onion, garlic, ginger, and dry sherry. The roasted squash is blended with the various ingredients and a touch of cream. All this flavor is packed into a little shot glass where a rich cultured cream floats atop and a sticky-candied-crunchy pumpkin seed garnish is perched on the side.
Kabocha Shooters Recipe
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Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche
I’m a bit embarrassed to showcase three hot soups in a row because the weather this winter in Southern California has been absolutely beautiful.
Yes, we would love more rain for our thirsty environment, but we keep seeing sunny 70°F + days… week after week. So, my Chicago family and friends and everyone Back East with shovels in hand, I am dedicating these three soups to you. Stay warm kids!
The crimini mushroom, also known as baby bella, is actually a young portobella. They are earthy and more flavorful than common white button mushrooms, therefore an excellent choice for mushroom soup. When paired with velvety rich and tangy crème fraîche, the result is a heavenly bowl of warming potage, no matter the outside temperature.
Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche
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Rhode Island Clam Chowder aka Clear Broth Clam Chowder
My apologies to the fine folks of Rhode Island for preparing their eponymous clam chowder with bivalves from Florida. Our local fishmonger carries Cedar Key Sweets, littleneck clams grown in certified clean Florida waters whose aquaculture farm has the highest quality standards. I have been buying them for years, and they are always tender, fresh and flavorful.
With nary a tomato nor cream in sight, Rhode Island Clam Chowder is made from a clear broth and is lesser known than its more popular cousins – Manhattan Clam Chowder (the red) and New England Clam Chowder (the white).
The true briny clam flavor shines through in this lighter version. Bacon and potatoes play supporting roles, while Asian fish sauce adds a layer of depth and umami qualities. Italian parsley and dill bring bright fresh notes as well as adding nice color to the monochromatic soup.
Rhode Island Clam Chowder Recipe
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Cauliflower Velvet Soup
Cheddar, Crispy Rice, Chili Oil, and Chive Garnish
The silky smooth texture is achieved by the addition of cannelini beans and the action of a high-performance blender. Tasty, oh yes, but it is that velvety texture that makes the soup so extraordinary. It could easily be served naked…
…but the cream-colored blank canvas begs for something jazzy, cheesy, toasty, spicy, crunchy, and green. Queue up cheddar, crispy rice, toasted sesame chili oil, and chives.
Cauliflower Velvet Soup Recipe
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Sour and Spicy Kimchi Soup
Beef Broth, Buckwheat Noodles, Swordfish, Seaweed
It’s not the elegant soup I would serve at a dinner party, but rather a rustic soup I absolutely crave on a winter night. This soup is kimchi guk on steroids.
Kimchi guk is a simple Korean soup where chopped napa cabbage kimchi is simmered in beef broth. Sometimes daikon, meat, or tofu are added. It is usually garnished with scallions.
This version with ground beef, buckwheat noodles, seaweed, and swordfish is much more hearty, and served as a meal. The broth is sour, spicy, savory, salty with a hint of sweetness, and really explodes with flavor.
There are a few non-traditional foods that I like to pair with napa cabbage kimchi such as cheddar cheese, mashed potatoes, and BBQ oysters. Swordfish is another, with its mildly sweet flavor and a juicy meaty texture with a good balance of fat, it just goes well with sour and spicy kimchi.
Sour and Spicy Kimchi Soup Recipe
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Green Velvet Soup
Spinach, Zucchini, Potato with Herbs & Spices
Toasted Pine Nuts, Crema, Chili Oil Garnish
It’s a soup with a luxurious deep green color and velvety texture. Spinach, zucchini, and potatoes are the base for this satisfying and healthful potage. A zippy garnish makes it anything but boring.
Fresh cilantro and toasted dried spices give this green soup a wonderful depth of flavor. Dried cumin seed, coriander seed, and fennel seed are added at the beginning of the cooking process to unlock their intense flavors. Fresh cilantro is added at the end of the process to preserve its essence and verdant aromas.
Where the chili oil adds a fiery touch, the Mexican crema add a cool richness. Unlike a “cream” soup, there is less than a tablespoon of cream per serving. Pine nuts add texture and that toasty note, which is mirrored in the toasted spices.
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Baked Potato Shooters
Bacon, Mexican Crema, Cheese, and Chives
Chive Blossoms Too
I credit Graham Elliot with this idea. A couple weeks ago, we had a wonderful meal at his eponymous bistro in Chicago. On the menu – baked potato soup / traditional accompaniments, untraditional ways.
At a recent party, I served liquid baked potato untraditionally in 2 oz. shot glasses with traditional accompaniments of bacon, sour cream, cheese, and chives. They were a big hit. Thanks, Graham.
And with their savory garlic-oniony flavor and pretty lavender color, chive blossoms from my garden added a charming untraditional finishing touch.
Baked Potato Shooters Recipe
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