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.

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.

Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Instead of donning my bikini and sunning myself with the rest of San Francisco in Dolores Park this week, I’ve been content experimenting with all kinds of autumn squash in my steamy kitchen. Yesterday, my mother-in-law and I made some thyme and parmesan crusted butternut squash and a chicken braised in chicken broth and dry sherry. Today I made an acorn squash and sweet potato soup that was to die for. My CSA box is delivering delicata squash, golden beets, and rainbow cherry tomatoes so who knows what tomorrow will bring. All I know is that things will be a bit different in the kitchen without someone here to immediately clean up after me. Thanks again Joyce!

Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup, courtesy of Tartelette

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large acorn squash, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
  • 9 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot set over medium high heat. Add the onion and curry powder and cook until the onion is almost translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, acorn squash, stock, maple syrup, thyme and nutmeg. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Let the soup cool a little. Puree the soup until smooth with an immersion blender or a blender/food processor. Reheat the soup before serving and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.

Minestone Soup and Magic Sauce

I woke up feeling a little sick yesterday so I decided to make some minestrone soup to bring some comfort to my insides. The recipe is nothing new – just my Alice Waters standby though I added a potato and substituted red chard for the spinach. I also made Heidi Swanson’s “Magic Sauce” to drizzle over the top of the soup- hot damn that stuff is good! Maybe it has magical healing powers too…

The minestrone recipe is here.

Heidi Swanson’s Magic Sauce

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, smashed into a paste
  • 1 well-crumbled bay leaf
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon + fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Gently warm the olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet or pan, until it is just hot. When hot remove from heat.

While the oil is heating, lightly pound the rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a mortar and pestle.

Stir the paprika, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and salt into the oil. Then add the bruised herbs and lemon juice.

You can use this now, but know – the oil just gets better as it ages over a few days. Keep it in a refrigerator for up to a week/ten days-ish. It thickens up when cold, so if you need it in a liquid state, place it in the sun or in a warm place for a few minutes.

Makes ~2/3 cup.

Puree Crecy

I was happy to put the fresh young carrots from my produce box to good use this morning by making carrot soup from the cookbook I mentioned yesterday. It was a very straightforward recipe and the only active time was spent chopping the vegetables at the beginning and then using an immersion blender to puree the soup. It’s a simple soup without any spices other than salt and pepper (most carrot soups add ginger to make it a bit more complex), but I liked that it tasted like buttered carrots in liquid form. Call me weird but I’d make it again. It’s not too filling yet still very comforting given all of the cold wet weather we’ve been having.

The original recipe can be found here.

January 22 is Official Soup Swap Day!

It’s been a cold wet week up here in Washington so I’ve been relying on my (dwindling) soup supply to keep me warm and sated. I just picked up Clifford Wright’s The Best Soups in the World cookbook from the library and am anxious to try a couple of his recipes this weekend for the next round of soup swap. So far, the black-eyed pea and coconut and the cream of carrot with ginger soups look the most intriguing. I’ll report back after I have the chance to try them out.

I realized today that Sharon and I have been “swapping soup” for three months already as of Monday 1/24. How fitting since I also just realized that 1/22 is the official Soup Swap Day, an event that has gone international in the last five years. Apparently, the movement began in Seattle by resident Knox Gardner who grew bored of the large pots of soup he made to combat the rain and cold. Sound familiar? I just read an interview he gave where he described “taking the soup out of your freezer and feeling like your friend made this present for you to eat in the darkest part of winter”. I couldn’t agree more.

Happy soup-making this weekend!

Soups and Snow

I just looked outside and realized that it’s snowing! I hope it sticks around for a few days. I’d love the opportunity to make another snow angel in Seattle before we move back to San Francisco. With all of the cold weather we’ve had lately, I’ve been busy making soup to stay warm. My two latest concoctions have been a sunchoke soup and a red chard, lentil, and barley soup. The first wasn’t all that exciting but the second is quite good. I’m mostly happy because I didn’t really use a recipe. Instead, I used some homemade chicken broth and just added all of the goodies from my CSA box. As soon as it’s cool enough, it’s going into a pasta jar for the first soup swap of the year!

Chard and Lentil Soup with Barley

6.5 cups homemade chicken stock
3 TB olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finally chopped
Huge bunch of chard (I used red), ripped into medium-sized pieces
2/3 cup green lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 TB tomato paste
1/2 cup pearl barley
salt and pepper
**Parm and olive oil to drizzle on top of each bowl

Bring your stock to a boil. In another pan, heat the oil on low heat and add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot. Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are lightly browned. Stir in the chard and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the lentils and tomato paste- continuing to stir for another minute. Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, and add the barley. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the grains are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into a soup dish and drizzle with high-quality olive oil and parmesan cheese.

Using the oven to stay warm while we wait for the snow

Update: Here is what it looked like when the snow finally came!


So much for being good before Hawaii. Today we made brownies and a sausage stew to keep warm in the kitchen. After reading about a simplified brownie recipe using cocoa powder on Smitten Kitchen and Honey&Jam, I decided to test it out for myself using a jar of Penzey’s dutch process cocoa powder.  I haven’t strayed from my usual brownie recipe in years so I was a bit nervous with this one.

They take about 10 minutes to put together (most of this time is spent waiting for the chocolate/butter mixture to cool before you can add the eggs) and about 35 minutes to bake. Surprisingly chocolately and not at all too sweet, I’d make these again. They have a very gooey consistency which is just how I like them. I also like that they make significantly less than my other recipe (an 8×8 pan rather than a 8×13).


  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and microwave for 1:30 minutes. Remove and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smoothes out once the eggs and flour are added.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Herbed white bean and sausage stew


The stew was also quite good though it took a lot longer to prepare and cook. Because you don’t soak the beans overnight and precook them before adding to the stew, you need to allow about 2.5 hours from start to finish. I also added some red chard to the soup since it was starting to look pretty sad.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, sliced 3/4-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.


Add the tomato paste and cumin to the pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.


When the beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil.

Cauliflower Soup

I’ve had a head of cauliflower sitting in my fridge for the last two weeks courtesy of my CSA box. I kept thinking that I would get to it but I hadn’t until today. It’s been so cold this week that I can’t imagine not eating soup for dinner every night. This was super simple to make and even more fun to eat. Since I’ve never made anything like it before, I looked for a recipe on a trusted blog and went from there. Apparently, the use of butter was inspired by a recipe from Bar Jules in San Francisco. It should yield two bowls of buttery, salty goodness and is a great way to use up a head of cauliflower.

1 lb of cauliflower, separated into florets
1 leek (whites and light green parts), thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of salt (was a bit much for me)
3 cups of hot water
2 tablespoons of olive oil or unsalted butter (the butter is SO good)

1 – In a heavy pan (that has a lid), melt butter or warm olive oil over low heat
2 – Add onion and cook gently until softened, not brown, 15 minutes
3 – Add Cauliflower, salt and 1/2 cup of water.
4 – Raise the heat to medium-low, cover tightly with a lid and cook for 20 minutes
5 – Remove lid, add remaining water and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes more
6 – Leave to cool sightly before blending until super-smooth
7 – Return to the pan to heat before serving, thinning with a little more water if the soup is too thick for your taste. Add pepper and enjoy!