Every winter I find myself returning to some version of a creamy puréed broccoli soup. This time around I’ve gotten the making of it down to a very simple formula. In fact it’s a formula that I’ve used successfully for making a roasted butternut squash soup and a roasted cauliflower soup. I think it’s a formula you can use to make other roasted vegetables into soups as well, without overthinking it, adding different spices or herbs to bring an individual flavor to each soup.
I’ve been in a bit of a rut when it comes to root vegetables, which means I eat a lot of sweet potatoes. Nothing wrong with that, but why play the same note over and over again when you have so many others to choose from? I realized how monotone I’d been after eating at a local farm-to-table restaurant where one of the sides was mashed parsnips, and since then I was determined to add it to my repertoire.
If you aren’t familiar with parsnips, they look like a carrot whose pigment has faded. Though the parsnip doesn’t have the vibrant color of its relative, its flavor and fragrance is so much more interesting than the candy-sweet carrot.
Vegetables. They’re something I try to eat often, and I always feel better for it. When the mercury falls, vegetables take their place in hearty soups, rich roasts, and cheesy casseroles. For certain vegetables, there’s another option to consider, something that can replace the common staple of mashed potatoes in really interesting ways.
For several years now I’ve made the same sweet potato recipe for holiday dinners. It involves roasting peeled and cubed potatoes in the oven with butter and salt and pepper until tender, then tossing with apple cider that has been reduced until it thickens into a syrup, and finally topping with toasted almonds. I’ve lost the original recipe and don’t remember the source, so memory has served me for the last few years when making the dish.
I’ve been waiting all summer for our garden’s green beans. Now it’s fall, and so far I’ve harvested about a pound of beans this past week from our two Blue Lake bush plants. I wish I’d planted more of them, because it’s one of my favorite vegetables, and we’d have no problem eating the surplus. Seeing the green bean plants finally producing fruit was a long-awaited success after several failures that seemed like it might not happen. Now that the green beans have arrived, the long wait is over.
Last night I walked around the garden as the sun was setting. It’s my favorite time of day, with its mix of shadow and light and the warm glow that bathes everything and seems to put its arm around you and say “Here, sit. Relax.”
It may be tradition to grill outside on the fourth of July, but when I imagine grilling outside on an uncovered porch with the southern Texas sun beating down upon my head, in this regard I am a tradition breaker. So unless we get invited to someone’s house where they have water misters on their covered porch or their property is next to a lake with a cool breeze, we’ll be taking our celebration inside, thank you very much.