Saturday, February 12, 2011

Vegetable Beet Soup

Yes, you read it right, "Vegetable Beet Soup" not "Borscht". I can't call it borscht because there is more of other vegetables in it than beets. But it's still a lovely beet-red color and has a lot of beet flavor. Also I used fresh cilantro rather than the traditional fresh dill because (a) that's what I had on hand and (b) I don't really like dill for some reason, except in dill pickles.

This turned out really tasty!


6 beets
3 carrots
3 stalks of celery
2 onions
1 small cabbage
1/2 bunch cilantro
3 qts. vegetable and/or beef broth (*)
salt and freshly ground pepper
sour cream

(*) If you or one of your guests is vegetarian, just use vegetable broth


Cut the tops off the beets and the long straggly root part, and give them a rinse. Put them in 3 qts. of salted water and boil until tender. Bring the beets out of the pot and set them aside to cool, retaining the water.

Chop the onion, celery, carrots, and cabbage and boil them in the beet water for 20 minutes or so.

In the meantime, when the beets are cool enough, peel them and cut them into about 1" cubes.

After the other vegetables have boiled in the beet water for 20 minutes, drain the beet water. Now add the beets to the vegetables along with the 3 qts. of broth, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 2 hours or so. At this point you can add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Trim the cilantro leaves and add them to the soup for the last 10 minutes.

Turn the heat off and let the soup cool for 30-45 minutes. Next, puree the soup in a blender until smooth.

Place the blended soup back into the pot, adjust the seasoning, and heat for serving.

To serve, fill a bowl with the soup, add a large dollop of sour cream and garnish with cilantro if desired.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pumpkin Mousse!

So I had an unopened pint of whipping cream left over from the holidays, sitting there in the refrigerator, looking at me accusingly, "What? You're just going to let me sit here and go sour?"

I had to take action.

Then I remembered that I had a can of organic pumpkin puree in the pantry. So the idea of a pumpkin mousse sprang to mind.

Oddly, an Internet search did not turn up any simple pumpkin mousse recipes. There were a lot of elaborate concoctions, such as "Pumpkin Mousse Trifle", where the pumpkin mousse mixture included marshmallow creme, and it was layered with ginger cookies and custard -- well it may be good but it just looked like a little more trouble than what I wanted to do.

Well at least it looked like you really can fold together canned pumpkin puree and whipped cream to get a mousse. So I made up a recipe on the spot, and it turned out really, really good. Here it is:


1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 c heavy cream


Mix all ingredients except for the whipping cream. I used an egg beater to get it all nice and smooth.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream until stiff (don't overwhip or it will start to become butter).

Fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture.

Spoon the mixture evenly into 8 bowls or ramekins. It will be about 1/2 - 3/4 cup in each bowl (varies depending on how much volume there is in the whipped cream).

Cover the bowls and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours before serving.

Mmm, good! The spices really bring out the pumpkin flavor, and there is enough sugar but it is definitely not over-sweetened.