Pumpkin Miso Soup

I’ve had a recipe for Pumpkin Miso Soup open in my browser for two months and finally got around to making it this afternoon. I made a few modifications based on what I had in the refrigerator and loved the end result. Even my soup swap buddy would be impressed! (S, I miss you!)

This soup is hearty and begs for seconds. It was my first time cooking with harissa and miso paste so now I’m looking for new ways to use those up. Suggestions welcome!

  • 2 cups cooked wild rice (a little less than 1 cup uncooked rice, boiled in 3 cups water until chewy—20-30 mins—and drained)
  • 1 large or two medium onions, cut into ½ inch dice (about 3 cups)
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds or 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 lbs pumpkin (about 12 cups), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ cup carrots, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 3 medium potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 cups kale or chard (about 5 large leaves) removed from stem and chopped
  • 1 tbs harissa (or more, to taste)
  • 2-3 tbs miso paste (use a dark brown or red miso with a strong flavor)
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 ½ tsp salt or to taste
  • Plain yogurt for topping, if desired
In a small pot, cook your wild rice until soft and chewy, 20-30 mins, drain, and set aside. While the rice is cooking, prepare the following.

In a large pot (5-6 quarts), add the oil and sauté the onion and carrots over a medium high heat until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the cumin seeds and continue to sauté another five minutes. If the cumin seeds start to pop, turn the heat down.

Add the pumpkin and potatoes and cover with water (use vegetable stock, or part stock and water if you prefer). Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the pumpkin and potatoes are soft. This will take about 15-20 minutes. The floury potatoes will fall apart in the water, that’s fine.

Using a ladle, spoon some of the liquid into a serving bowl or 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add the harissa and mix to dissolve. Add this mixture back to the pot and stir. Add the salt and lemon juice. Add the greens and stir to incorporate. The greens will wilt with the heat of the soup.

Using the ladle, again remove some of the liquid into a bowl (about 1 1/2 cups of liquid). Add two tbs miso, stir to dissolve (use a spoon to mash out any lumps) and return to the soup pot. Continue with this method until all the miso is incorporated.

You might want to begin tasting the soup after about 4 tbs of miso have been added. If you use any vegetable stock, or if you like your soup less salty, you might not want to use the full amount of miso. Also, different misos have different flavor profiles (see note below). Taste to make sure you like where your version is going.

Add the rice and let warm through. Serve the soup hot or at room temperature. A dollop of yogurt on top is nice too.

NOTE: miso is fermented soybean paste and comes in different varities/colors. Light or white miso is sweet, while dark brown and red miso will be saltier and stronger tasting. For this soup you want a dark brown or red miso. Light miso will be too sweet. Also, you don’t want to boil the soup after the miso has been added. Simmer is okay, but don’t go any higher.

Chili and cornbread muffins

To celebrate our first storm of the season, I made a large pot of chili and cornbread muffins for a dinner party last night. It’s so dreary outside today that I wish I had doubled the recipe for leftovers.

 Chili recipe courtesy of Epicurious

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder (Penzeys Chili 3000)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can beef broth
  • 2 medium white potatoes, peeled, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup chili sauce (I love the Trader Joes chili sauce)
  • 1 15 1/4-ounce can kidney beans (I always used dried heirloom beans from Zursun or Iacopi beans)
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until almost golden, about 8 minutes. Add beef and cook until brown, breaking beef up with fork, about 10 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin and cayenne and continue cooking 3 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, broth, potatoes, carrots, bell pepper and chili sauce. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in beans. Simmer until beans are heated through and vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Serve with diced avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and salsa on the table.

Cornbread Muffins, recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup frozen corn kernels

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, if you’re using it. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg and yolk together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the corn kernels. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (12 minutes for minis), or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

I also made these beauties with some frozen wild huckleberries from WA but we ate them too fast to take photos. Yum!


Creamy Curried Celeriac Soup

A funny looking vegetable showed up in our CSA box this week. It was white and resembled a hairy, dirty brain. Turns out, it was celery root or celeriac, pronounced seal-er’-i-ac. I prepared it just as I would a potato or cauliflower and made a creamy soup for lunch. Yum!


Recipe from Mark Bittman (if you’re bored, watch the video – I love that guy!)


  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cream, half-and-half, or milk, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish


  • 1. Put the butter in a large, deep pot over medium-high heat. When it’s melted, add the onion and garlic and cook until they begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cumin and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • 2. Add the celery root and stir just to coat it in the spices, then add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat so that the stock bubbles gently and cook, stirring occasionally, until the celery root is fully tender, 15 to 20 minutes more.
  • 3. Cool the mixture slightly, pour into a blender, and purée carefully, or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pan. Return the soup to the pan and stir in the cream; reheat if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve garnished with the herb.