The first snow of the season calls for some comforting soup. There is nothing better then curling up with a warm blanket, a good read and some hot soup on a cold snowy day. So when the weather guys predicted snow for Saturday I got the soup pot out and made this wonderful fall soup.
This soup is made with root vegetables, but any leftover vegetables in the fridge would do. I had some leftover parsnips, sweet potatoes and rutabaga from Thanksgiving. Root vegetables have a longer shelf life and can last for days if stored in a dry place.
4 slices of center cut bacon (optional and can be replaced with 2 Tbsp of olive oil)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 medium onion diced
2 stalks of celery diced
1 large carrot diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium red skinned sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 a medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 Qt chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
In a large bowl toss the parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, salt, pepper and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Spread them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 1 hour.
In a large pot add the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil (leave this out if you are not using bacon and use the 2Tbsp olive oil to replace the bacon) and the bacon(cut into 1/4 inch strips). Cook on medium low heat until the bacon has rendered its fat. Remove the bacon and reserve on some paper towels for garnish later. Add the onions, celery, carrots, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves and cook until the vegetables are tender(about 15 minutes). Add the roasted vegetables and the chicken stock and cook covered for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and using an immersion blender, puree the soup to desired consistency. Add more chicken stock if you want the soup to be thinner. You can blend the soup in a regular blender as well, but be sure not to overfill the blender jar and allow the soup to cool a little.
Garnish the soup with the bacon bits and some chives or green onions.
Another traditional dish which I learned from my grandmother. Traditionally this is made with Chinese Okra which is grown abundantly in Vasai and is generally available throughout the monsoon season (June-September). These crispy fritters are perfect accompaniments with fish curry and rice.
Chinese Okra is not available in US supermarkets, but can be sometimes be found in Asian and Indian grocery stores. I have used Zucchini here instead.
Ingredients: Makes about 24 fritters
1 medium Zucchini
1medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped fine
1 green chilli, chopped fine
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp meat masala
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup chick pea flour
2 Tbsp cooking oil
Cut the Zucchini into 4 slices lengthwise. Taking two slices at a time, chop them finely into strip. Add to a bowl with all the remaining ingredients except for the oil, rice flour and chick pea flour. Allow to rest for about an hour. This was my grandma’s trick to avoid adding water to the batter. When you let the mixture of Zucchini and onions stand for a while, the salt draws out the water from the veggies which is enough to form a batter.
Add the rice flour and chickpea flour to form a thick batter (thicker than pancake batter). Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a saute pan(preferably non stick) on medium heat. Drop the batter one tablespoon at a time, flattening it with the base of the spoon. Fry on each side till they are brown, remove on paper towels to drain excess oil.
- Add extra rice flour if the batter isn’t thick enough.
- The batter can be frozen for up to 1 week.
- If using Chinese okra, peel the Okra, slit it into half lengthwise, seed it and slice it thinly.
- You could use 1/2 tsp chili powder,1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin powder and 1/2 tsp coriander powder instead of the meat masala.
Ingredients: Makes 24 tartlets
For the Dough:
4 ounces Neufchatel cheese or reduced fat cream cheese
2 Tbsp Butter
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp All purpose flour
For the Filling:
1 Tbsp All purpose flour
8 Ounces of Crimini mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped scallions (green onions)
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp Neufchatel cheese or reduced fat cream cheese
1/4 tsp Salt
Place the 4 ounces of the Neufchatel cheese and the 2 Tbsp Butter in a mixing bowl. Using a whisk or an electric mixer mix well (about 1 minute). Add the 3/4 cup flour and mix till the flour is all combined. Do not over mix. Form mixture into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 and 1/2 hours.
Coarsely chop the mushrooms and the scallions. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil. Add mushrooms and cook till they are almost tender. Add the scallions and the salt. Cook for another few minutes. Allow to cool.
In a mixing bowl, place the mushroom mixture, 1 Tbsp flour and the egg. Mix well to combine. Stir in the cheeses.
Grease a miniature muffin pan. Divide the chilled dough into 24 pieces. Press each piece into the muffin pan, with the dough rising along the sides of each cup. Spoon the mushroom and cheese mixture into the dough lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 – 25 minutes.