Tag Archives: Entree

{ Eggplant Parmesan }

 

You know those “learn-to-love it” foods? The strange vegetables and odd aquatic animals that you refuse to eat throughout your childhood but eventually develop a tolerance and than passion for as you get older. I think it is safe to say that eggplant is one of these foods–along with brussel sprouts, olives, shell fish, and stinky cheeses (just to name a few!). And the way most come to love this waxy, purple sponge of a vegetable is through eggplant parmesan–people will give almost anything a chance if it is breaded, fried, and/or covered in cheese. And most likely, they will enjoy it!

If you have tried eggplant parmesan before and the texture still bothers you, do not stop reading and dismiss this recipe. I too have had some bad eggplant parm experiences, but I promise this one might just convert you. Oftentimes, I find that restaurants don’t slice the eggplant thin enough because they want to minimize the preparation and frying time. This shortcut compromises the entire dish, still leaving you with that mysterious itching sensation on the roof of your mouth. But my recipe calls for a very thin slices, which mask the spongy texture under breaded, salty, cheesy goodness!

I fry up an eggplant or two in the beginning of the week, leaving the disks in the fridge for a light snack or as an ingredient for a more complex meal (i.e. eggplant parm lasagna or sandwiches). Of course, I also use them for this easy eggplant parmesan dish!! Enjoy the recipe and give eggplant a chance!

{ Ingredients for Fried Eggplant }

  • 1-2 large, ripened eggplants (sliced about 1/4″ thick)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 cups of Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 3 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Kosher Salt

{ To Make Fried Eggplant } Set up three bowls; one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs, and one with the breadcrumbs combined with the parmigiano reggiano cheeses.

Run the sliced eggplant disks through a standard breading proceduredredge in the flour (shaking off the excess), then through the egg wash, and then through the breadcrumbs.
Pour the vegetable oil into a large skillet until it reaches a 3/4″ thickness. Heat the the oil over a medium high flame until it is good and hot (test by flicking in pieces of breadcrumbs–they should sizzle, but not burn!). Fry the eggplant in batches for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until it appears golden brown.

Remove the eggplant from the pan and sprinkle with kosher salt. Allow eggplant to cool on a bed of lettuce leaves or paper towels (although the lettuce absorbs the grease much better!).

{ Ingredients for Simple Sauce } 

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

{ To Make Simple Sauce } Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium flame. Sautee the onion for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two (do not burn the garlic). Add the salt, pepper, parsley, and tomatoes.

NOTE: If you like your tomato sauce spicy, then add some crushed red pepper flakes at this time! Cook for 10 minutes.

{ To Assemble the Eggplant Parmesan } Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

Arrange the eggplant on a baking sheet, one layer thick. Spoon some of the simple tomato sauce onto the tops and then add a 1″ cube of fresh (or aged) mozzarella cheese on top of that.

Bake for 18-10 minutes, or until the cheese becomes bubbly and golden. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve!

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{ Chicken Milanesa }

Based on my observations here in Buenos Aires, there are five staple dishes in the Argentine diet: steak, pizza, pasta, empanadas, and milanesas (they will also consume dulce de leche in any, and every, form possible!). But milanesas are just about as popular in Argentina as hamburgers are in America. Likewise, they are decorated with many different toppings and condiments and served in numerous forms. Originally an Italian creation, Milanesa is a thin slice of meat—veal, chicken, or beef—that is breaded and fried to a golden perfection. Argentines, however, have taken their creative liberties with this simple dish and used it as a blank canvas to invent unfathomable and uncountable flavor combinations. There are even entire restaurants dedicated to the art of milanesas (i.e. Club de Milanesa). Toppings range from four cheeses, to sundried tomatoes and basil, to fried eggs and pancetta. Here is a look to get you inspired:

This is my simple recipe for chicken milanesa, although you can do it with any meat and top it with any ingredients that you like! I prefer mine simple like the Italians, with a little bit of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a nice side salad.

{ My Tips for Cooking the Milanesa }

  • Really pound out the chicken so that it is thin and tender.
  • Use panko breadcrumbs if you can, they seem to brown nicer.
  • Bread the chicken one-hour before frying it, allowing it to chill in the refrigerator in the meantime. I find that this helps the breading adhere to the meat, so it doesn’t fall apart when you are turning it.
  • Make sure the oil is hot enough before you start to fry. I test the temperature of my oil by throwing in bits of breadcrumbs, and checking that they sizzle upon submersion. Also, make sure that the oil is not too hot or the breading will burn and the meat won’t cook. You should heat the oil over a medium-high flame, not high.
  • When you remove the fried chicken from the oil, place it on a bed of lettuce leaves, which absorb the oil better than paper towels and brown paper bags!

 { Ingredients }

  • 1 cup all-pupose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
  • 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breast, pounded to ¼” thickness
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, if it’s in your budget!)

 { To Make the Milanesa }

Set up three bowls; one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs, and one with the breadcrumbs combined with the parmigiano reggiano cheese. Season the chicken breasts with a little kosher salt and black pepper and then take each piece of chicken through a standard breading procedure: dredge in the flour (shaking off the excess), then through the egg wash, and then through the breadcrumbs.

Make sure that the chicken is well breaded!! Lay the breaded chicken on a baking sheet and allow to sit in the refrigerator for a hour or so.

Pour the oil into a large sautee pan until it reaches a thickness of about half an inch (remember, you want it to cover the chicken). Then heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Once the oil is hot, cook the chicken in batches for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy!

When the chicken is removed from the pan, lay it on a bed of lettuce leaves to absorb the oil and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges or go the Argentina route and top it with whatever your heart desires!

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{ Turkey Meatballs with Simple Tomato Sauce }

Being that I am half Italian, my idea of comfort food is classic spaghetti and meatballs. When I am sick I crave my mother’s chicken noodle soup, and when I am away from home for long periods of time I crave her homemade pasta dishes. Unfortunately, I won’t be putting my mother’s meatball recipe on my blog anytime soon (as that is my trump card to winning over a man’s heart…aka top secret stuff), but I do highly recommend these turkey meatballs by Giada De Laurentiis. Not only are they significantly healthier than the average meatball, but they are also very easy to make and taste quite delicious (most people don’t even suspect that they are turkey meat!). For those of you that have her cookbook or have seen this recipe online, you will notice that she pairs the meatballs with a quick tomato sauce containing peas (the sauce seen in my photographs below). I gave this sauce a shot, but could not find anything enjoyable about it. I tried adding extra garlic, extra salt, even mushrooms…but there was just no remedy. So I have offered my own simple tomato sauce recipe to serve with the meatballs, which I use as the base for several pasta dishes. If you are looking for a lower carb meal, then serve the meatballs in a bowl with fresh lemon wedges and a generous sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Whether atop pasta or served alone, these meatballs are fantastic.

NOTE: If you wish to freeze the remaining meatballs, place them into a one gallon ziplock bag with a few ladles of tomato sauce. I find that the sauce helps to keep them moist.

{ Ingredients for Meatballs }

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I used extra lean)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grate Romano cheese
  • 1/4 fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I use Panko)
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

{ To Make the Meatballs } Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and cook for about 2 minutes, to render out some of the fat. Add the onion and continue to cook until pancetta is crisp and the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pancetta/onion mixture with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix with hands to combine.

Form the turkey mixture into balls, about 2 inches in diameter. Place onto a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Now make the pasta and sauce.

{ Ingredients for Simple Sauce

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

{ To Make Simple Sauce } Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium flame. Sautee the onion for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two (do not burn the garlic). Add the salt, pepper, parsley, and tomatoes. NOTE: If you like your tomato sauce spicy, then add some crushed red pepper flakes at this time! Cook for 10 minutes, then add meatballs to sauce and continue to heat until warm throughout.

{ To Serve } Laddle tomato sauce over cooked out pasta (I use linguine) and top with 2-3 meatballs. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley over the dish, and enjoy!

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{ Pasta Puttanesca }

Pasta Puttanesca with Grated Parmesan Cheese

After having dinner at La Stalla (read post below), I met up with my girlfriend Jennifer to go out and celebrate St. Patty’s Day in the typical fashion of chugging Irish Car Bombs and drinking pints of green beer! And since Jen and I are always looking for an excuse to dress up themed (cowboy hats to country concerts, Santa hats at Christmas time, ect…), we used St. Patty’s Day as an excuse to rob party city of everything green and sparkly. In major cities, where there are large celebrations for St. Patty’s Day, girls decked out in green apparel like this are the norm. However, we found out that in small rural towns (such as the one we live in), people are not as crazed about drinking holidays and don’t feel the need to get dressed up…at all. I didn’t even see people wearing green tee shirts! That being said, you can imagine just how much Jen and I stuck out in the crowd with our glitter green top hats! We got dirty looks from girls who wanted the attention, and free drinks from the boys giving us the attention. Long story short, our St. Patty’s Day shot glass necklaces were rarely hanging from our necks and certainly put to use, and we ended up requiring a ride home (top-of-the-morning to you dad!) after just two short hours at the bar.

Once we got home, I went scavenging for food and was bitterly disappointed that I had no leftover Puttanesca from dinner. Nothing other than more Puttanesca was going to satisfy drunk-food craving and so I set about to make my own from scratch (much to my mother’s dismay when she say the stove in the morning, with dried linguini caked onto the burners). I make this Puttanesca dish pretty frequently, because it is super easy and relatively inexpensive.

Puttanesca means “food of the whores” in Italian, because it was a staple dish among the poor made with cheap ingredients commonly stocked in the pantry. I choose to make my Puttanesca without anchovies, although they are commonly used in traditional Puttanesca dishes and can be added to my recipe. Tonight, I modified by recipe slightly by adding mushrooms and substituting arugala with baby spinach based on what I had available in my house. The dish turned out incredible, and certainly hit the spot.

If you want a little bit of protein, feel free to add some sliced chicken breast over top the dish! Otherwise, serve hot with Pecorino cheese and enjoy.

{ Ingredients }

  • 8 ounces linguini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup pitted Spanish kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh arugala (or baby spinach)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

{ To Make the PastaBring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add pasta and cook according to directions on package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the parsley, olives, capers, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes to skillet and sautee for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and juices and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in arugala (or baby spinach) and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly.

When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the skillet, combining with sauce. Top with grated cheese and additional red pepper flakes for spice.

**Tip: Do not rinse the pasta after draining it because the sauce does not stick as well to the noodle. The starch is necessary and binding so do not rinse it off.

Tossing the Linguini in with the Puttanesca Sauce

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{ Beef and Black Bean Chili }

Beef and Black Bean Chili with Green Onion Garnish

Day one on any diet isn’t too bad. You’re excited about having started something new and you go to bed on that first night feeling satisfied that you spent the entire day eating healthy. Then day two rolls around and the reality sinks in—you’re not just eating healthy for one day, you’re eating healthy indefinitely. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel so good to be substituting your fries for a side salad. Instead, you feel left out as you watch the rest of the world guzzle Coca-Cola and munch on potato chips. Your water bottle and carrot sticks are downright depressing in comparison.

Today, I felt the first painful sting of the diet, and I highly doubt that it will be the last. I started off my morning with the 3-egg Garden Vegetable Omelet and then for lunch went to the Rathskeller (the on campus bar and restaurant) with a group of friends, only to finnd that there was not one thing on the menu that I could eat! Fried Ravioli, Mozzarella Sticks, Jalapeno Poppers, Buffalo Chicken Subs, and my personal favorite, the “No-Yes Fries” (fries smothered with cheddar cheese, bacon, and ranch) were all out of the question. Rather than be high maintenance and attempt to construct a meal that pulled various ingredients from all different menu items, I just decided that I would cook myself a delicious pot of chili at home later. So I jogged home from campus (as I have decided to start running to and from my classes…my apologies to those of you who sit directly to my left and right) and I started prepping up the vegetables for a pot of black bean and beef chili. I got the original recipe from Food Network online, however, I have made so many modifications that I think I can safely call it my own now! I like spicy chili so I make mine with a lot of cayenne pepper, but if you don’t want the heat, then feel free to leave it out. I also add Cholula Hot Sauce while the meat is cooking for some additional spice and flavor, but again, this is optional.

It is really important that you use the leanest ground beef that you can find. It is more expensive, but it makes a huge difference in the consistency of the recipe. I once tried to cut corners and save money by buying a fattier ground beef, and the meat let off so much oil and fat that the chili was almost inedible. This recipe also makes for a great taco meat recipe if you just don’t add all the beef broth, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Instead, add like ¼ cup beef broth and ½ (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes, leaving out the tomato sauce altogether. Let the meat simmer until the sauce reduced slightly and then serve. Since this makes a pretty large amount, I freeze mine in individual serving containers and they hold in the freezer for a very long time. When you are ready to eat, just put in fridge and let defrost for a few hours or use the microwave to defrost and reheat. It tastes just as good, if not even better, than when it was first made! When I’m not dieting, I like to serve this on a bed of white rice or use it to make nacho platters, which are always a late night hit. Again, you can also use it for taco meat if you use less of the liquid ingredients.

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 pounds of lean ground sirloin (90% lean)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup beef broth, like ½ of a 15 oz can
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

{ To Make Beef and Black Bean Chili }

In a large skillet or stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high flame. Add the ground beef and season with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir meat with spatula and cook until crumbled and brown, about 7-10 min. Add the onions, peppers, garlic, jalapeno, and season with cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper (if desired). Allow meat to cook with veggies for about 5 min. Add the beef stock and scrape up drippings from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 20-25 min, stirring occasionally. Garnish with cilantro or minced green onion and serve!

Nutritional Information

The total number of calories in this dish are 2569, which leads to about 321 calories per serving (if you get 8 total servings). The nutritional breakdown is as follows: 106 g of fat, 197 g of carbohydrates, 59 g of fiber, 252 g of protein. This information is for the pot overall, so to find the information per serving just divide figures by 8.

Cost of Ingredients

The total cost of making this meal is $20.52, with the assumption that you have the olive oil and spices. Since I have left over red pepper and garlic from my Mexican Black Bean Salad, my total cost was only 17.62. I got about 8 bowls of chili out of this recipe, which leads to a total cost of $2.20 per serving. A similar portion of soup from Whole Foods would cost you $4.99, so there is a cost savings.

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{ Lentil Soup }

Lentil Soup

When you think of your favorite vegetable, I highly doubt that lentils come to mind. Maybe we forget about them because they are so small, or because they so rarely appear in the American diet, or because they have very little flavor when cooked improperly (which they often are).  Lentils are kind of like lima beans; people find reasons to dislike them…and not just dislike them, but passionately dislike them—with a vengeance! You never really meet someone who is on the fence about lima beans or lentils—either they love them or loathe them. End of story.

Well I just so happen to love both, and have finally found a lentil soup recipe so delicious that it can convert almost any lentil hater. But before I even get to the recipe, let me first give you some other reasons to love lentils (or at least give them a shot). Lentils, despite their tiny size, derive about 26% of their calories from protein, so they are pretty much a super food. They have the third highest level of protein, by weight, of any plant-based food after soybeans and hemp and Health Magazine ranks lentils as one of the five healthiest foods you can eat. Lentils are a staple in India and the Middle East, and its time for Americans to start appreciating their nutritional value as well.

This lentil soup recipe, which is adapted by one from one by Ina Garten, is healthy, filling, cheap to make, and delicious! It doesn’t look very pretty in a bowl (more like a pile of brown mush) but the flavor is strong and incredible. My roommates were a little skeptical when they first saw me eating it (I was hoping they would stay skeptical so I wouldn’t have to share…no such luck), but they too loved it once they tried it. It’s hearty and warm, and really low in fat. Anytime I’m looking to loose a little belly fat, I replace two meals with this soup and it most certainly does the trick!

Also, this soup freezes great since there is no dairy in it. Since I’m only cooking for myself, I like to buy individual plastic containers that I can freeze single servings in. Take it out the night before and heat it up when you’re ready to eat. Most of the time it tastes even better because the flavors have fully developed.

My only cooking suggestion is to make sure that you only use the white part of the leek, because the green part will make the soup taste bitter. It is okay to use some of the lighter green color but if you use too much the bitterness will come through in the broth. Also, if you decide to use dried thyme leaves instead of fresh ones (I do not recommend this), remember that dried herbs are more pungent and therefore require less so I would only use ½ teaspoon of the dried thyme. And as far as salt goes, I don’t add a whole lot because I prefer to top off my bowl with a heaping of freshly grated parmesan cheese, which has a natural saltiness that comes through and flavors the dish, but feel free to add more salt if you find it too bland.

Ohh, and I almost forgot…it is very important that the garlic does not burn when making this soup so when I sauté my veggies in the stockpot (see directions), I add the garlic about 5 minutes after the rest of the veggies.

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/2 pound French green lentils
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white part only
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ cups celery, diced
  • 1 ½ cups carrots, diced
  • 1 ½ quarts chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving

{ To Make Lentil Soup }

In a large glass bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to soak for about 20 minutes, or until lentils soften. Drain.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat and sauté the onions, leeks, and garlic with the salt, pepper, thyme and cumin for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the carrots and celery and allow to sauté for about 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils and carrots are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Remove from heat, add the red wine vinegar, stirring to incorporate. Serve hot and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper.

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{ Roasted Butternut Squash Soup }

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Drizzle of Heavy Cream

The holidays are almost over, and it is time to start lightening up our diets. That means no more artichoke dips or mini hot dogs, or cookies in place of breakfast. No more substituting our required 8 glasses of water with egg nog and hot chocolate. And please, no more Costco frozen appetizers! It’s time to start eating lighter and healthier.

I know for a fact that almost everyone has made it their New Year’s resolution to loose weight, or at least start eating right (history tends to repeat itself)! But, we also all know that this is much easier said then done (again, history tends to repeat itself!). It is not surprising that so many people abandon their resolutions before the years end, considering just how challenging it is to find recipes that are healthy and yet still tasty. They do exist, but they are often tricky to find. Thankfully, this year you have my blog to help you locate them! This recipe for roasted butternut squash soup is hearty, full of flavor, and best of all, naturally low in calories!!  It will help you achieve your resolution without forcing you to sacrifice delicious food.

This soup tastes so hearty and feels so satisfying largely because of it’s creamy consistency. There isn’t a ton of milk or cream in it, but the pureed butternut squash is thick and gives the impression of a cream base. In fact, I oftentimes forgo even adding any milk or cream to the soup, and find that the texture is not compromised in the least bit (it also freezes better without the dairy). Flavor wise, the soup has a perfect balance of sweet and spicy with the heat coming from the ginger and cayenne pepper and the sweetness coming from the butternut squash. To add another dimension to the soup, I like to serve mine with croutons on top or a side of fontina cheese crostini; it adds some crunch and breaks up the monotony of the puree. Overall, this soup is fabulous, simple to make, and I highly recommend it!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 butternut squash
  • 1 spanish onion
  • 2-4 leeks, depending on size (3 medium is ideal)
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, depending on size
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 (32 oz) containers of chicken stock (or veggie stock)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • (optional) 1/4 cup heavy cream for finishing

{ To Make Soup }

Preheat oven to 350. Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and rub with oil. Roast in oven on lined baking sheet for about 40-45 minutes, or until fork goes through squash easily.

Once squash is cooked, heat butter and oil in a large stock pot over medium flame. Once hot, saute onion, leek, garlic, and ginger. Season with salt, pepper, and add cayenne pepper. Add chicken stock.

Scoop out seeds from butternut squash and add the pulp into broth. Simmer on low for another 20-30 minutes, covered. Then with immersion blender or regular blender, puree soup. Return to pot and add milk, stirring. Bring to a low simmer for a minute or two. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in warm bowls with drizzle of cream, if desired.

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