Nearly all my ingredients came from Willowsford Farm

Mid-summer, I often find myself surrounded by fresh veggies but tired of the same old salads, tossing them on the grill, steaming them on the stove or chowing down on them raw.

Lucky for me, Culinary Director at Willowsford, Bonnie Moore, put a perfectly punchy and easy-to-make recipe for Gazpacho in the weekly newsletter: FARMFARE.

The cold summer soup requires no more equipment than knife, a blender. a strainer if you so desire, some refrigeration and the following ingredients:

5 large, ripe tomatoes, halved and cored
2 large cloves of garlic
1 medium-large cucumber, peeled and roughly cut into pieces
1 green pepper, seeded and roughly cut into peices
3 stalks of celery, roughly cut into pieces
1 medium sweet onion, peeled, roughly cut into pieces
4-5 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

You begin by squeezing some juice from your tomatoes into the blender so that you have some juice to move things around once all the veggies are in there. The you puree it, strain it if you’d like, and add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and breadcrumbs to the consistency you like. Toss it in the fridge fora  few hours (or overnight) and voila! The same health benefits of fresh, raw veggies but with a a fresh new flavor.

Recipe by the amazing Culinary Director at Willowsford, Bonnie Moore

Apart from the chilling, the whole process takes less than 15 minutes. Here is a review from my taste-tester/other-half Niko Dramby (who leans to the meatatarian side of the omnivores and did not allow the soup to chill overnight before sampling):


“Sweet, sour AND spicy. Three distinct experiences in one bite. I can see how this is a vegetarian’s delight. I think I’d like to add shrimp to it.”


Tomatoes in Nov

Something great happened: my life is overwhelmed with tomatoes in Nov!
Green tomatoes from the Public Health Garden:

Here they are sauteed with onions and a little garlic (delicious):

I went to the Greenbelt Farmers’ Market today and came home with a giant box of tomato 2nds (only cost $10!). I used them to repeat a wonderful tomato soup recipe from Smitten Kitchen that I made for my roommate’s birthday last week.

Here is what I had to start with:

 I suggest you go out and find some end-of-season tomatoes and prepare this fantastic soup.

Roasted Tomato Soup (from Smitten Kitchen)

What You Need

  • 3 pounds tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) dried crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

What You Do

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Wrap garlic cloves in a tight foil packet (I used parchment paper).
  3. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil.
  6. Add packet of garlic to tray.
  7. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender (garlic will be very tender), about 1 hour.
  8. Cool slightly.
  9. Unwrap garlic packet and peel cloves.
  10. Transfer cloves, tomatoes and any accumulated juices to a blender or food processor and pulse machine on and off until tomatoes are a chunky puree.
  11. Transfer tomatoes to medium pot and add thyme, crushed red pepper and stock and bring to a boil.
  12. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings to taste.

 YUM! Here are my tomatoes getting ready to roast and coming out of the oven:

Going into the oven
Coming out of the oven!
On the table for my roommate’s birthday

Fall Has Arrived: Squash Soup

Wow, fall really snuck up on me this year. I am busy catching up on reading for class (it might be a bad sign that I have to catch up on week three, but I won’t worry about that now).  I am also starting to prep some of the first foods of fall 2011.

Tonight, I made beet risotto from a previous post as well as crunchy, crusty loaf bread.  Additionally, I prepped a new squash soup I found when looking for an easy recipe on The Food Network. It is simple and delicious.  I suggest you try it during your fall transition to help ease you in.

Squash Soup (from Alton Brown)

What You Need

  • 6 cups (about 2 large squash) seeded 2-inch wide chunks squash (butternut squash or other)
  • Melted butter, for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 4 ounces heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • What You Do
    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    2. Brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper.
    3. On a pan, lay the squash flesh side up.
    4. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is nice and soft.
    5. Scoop the flesh from the skin into a pot and add the stock, honey, and ginger.
    6. Bring to a simmer and for 10 minutes.
    7. Blend.
    8. Stir in heavy cream and return to a low simmer (I didn’t have cream, so I skipped this step).
    9. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

    Bring on fall!

    Beautiful fall tree from The Daily Balance

    Pumpkin Chowder

    I really like this recipe. I found it when I was browsing through Williams-Sonoma a couple years ago near the register. I used to cook this chowder using the bacon recommended in the recipe, but now have taken the bacon out. The vegetarian version is very good, but of course bacon gives it something extra special. I’ve done it as a butternut squash chowder (as in the original recipe) as well as a pumpkin chowder. Both are delicious!

    Pumpkin Chowder (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

    What You Need
    – 2 tbs. olive oil
    – 1 yellow onion, diced
    – 2 celery stalks, diced
    – 1 bay leaf
    – 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage, plus small sage leaves for garnish
    – 4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
    – 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
    – 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    – 1/4 cup white wine
    – 3 cups vegetable broth
    – 4 cups pumpkin (or butternut squash) puree
    – 1/2 cup heavy cream

    Optional: replace 2 tbs. olive oil with 4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

    What You Do
    1. If you are using bacon: cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium heat.
    2. If no bacon: heat the olive oil.
    3. Add the onion, celery, bay leaf, chopped sage, the 4 tsp. salt and the 1 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 6 minutes.
    4. Stir in the potatoes, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
    5. Add the wine and simmer, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, for 1 to 2 minutes.
    6. Add the broth and bring just to a boil.
    7. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.
    8. Add the puree (and bacon if you are using it) and simmer for 5 minutes.
    9. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
    10. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
    11. Ladle the chowder into warmed bowls and garnish with sage leaves. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

    Tip from Williams-Sonoma: Make the soup (withholding the cream) up to 1 day in advance. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until just before serving time. When reheating the soup, stir in the cream.

    Very filling and yummy!

    Cauliflower Soup

    I love cauliflower. This week at the farmer’s market. I purchased the biggest cauliflower I have ever seen. I made my roommate take a picture, which I will post for you soon.

    With this cauliflower, I used 1/3 of it to make the following wonderful soup for this cold, election day.

    Cauliflower Soup (adapted from Food Network, also found on Smitten Kitchen)

    What You Need
    – 1 head cauliflower (or in my case, 1/3 of a massive cauliflower)
    – 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    – 1 small onion, chopped
    – 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 4)
    – 1 quart vegetable stock
    – 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (I used a bit less)
    – Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    What You Do
    1. Remove the leaves and thick core from the cauliflower, coarsely chop, and reserve.
    2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic.
    3. Cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes.
    4. Add the cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil.
    5. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is very soft and falling apart, about 15 minutes.
    6. Remove from heat and, here the recipe calls for blending (either with a hand held immersion blender or in small batches in a blender). However, I just used my potato smasher and mashed up the cauliflower. I like to have a little bit of varied texture to the soup and avoid having to clean the blender (I don’t have a hand held blender). You can do it either way.
    7. Add the Parmesan and stir.
    8. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

    Enjoy on a cold day! It warms your insides even while you are nervous about the election results.

    Another Soup: Squash Soup

    So, I am supposed to be studying for midterms, but instead I’ll post another recipe I made this weekend (actually, I made this when I needed a break from learning about heavy metals today!). I used hubbard squash, but any squash will do! Of course there are easier squash soup recipes out there, but this one had a wonderful flavor and wasn’t too difficult (especially since I opted not to whip out the food processor).

    Squash Soup (adapted from Emeril’s Acorn Squash Soup on

    What You Need
    – 2-3 squash, halved, seed removed (recipe calls for acorn, I used hubbard)
    – 3 tablespoons olive oil
    – 2 carrots, chopped
    – 1 apple, peeled cored and chopped (recipe calls for Granny Smith, but I didn’t use one)
    – 1 yellow onion, chopped
    – 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger (I used a bit more than this, up to 1/2 teaspoon… be sure to taste test though)
    – Pinch of cinnamon (recipe called for 1/8 teaspoon allspice, but I didn’t have any)
    – 4 cups vegetable broth
    What You Do
    1. Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
    2. On a baking sheet, roast the acorn squash, cut side down, until soft, about 45 minutes.
    3. Scoop out the squash flesh and set aside.
    4. In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
    5. Saute carrot, apple, and onion until soft.
    6. Season with ginger and cinnamon (or allspice).
    7. Add the squash and the stock.
    8. Simmer for 20 minutes.
    9. Remove the pot from the heat. Here the recipe says to “puree with a hand-held immersion blender” or put it in a blender or food processor and return to the pot. However, I just used a potato masher and got a great consistency– still with small pieces of carrot and onion. Depends on your preference and desire to wash dishes (I don’t have a dish washer so I avoid the food processor).
    10. Season with salt and pepper.

    Kale Soup

    A spin of my vegetable soup I posted a couple weeks ago, I have also been making a kale soup which is very good and really easy to make (I even made it one morning before work). I promise I’ll take a break from kale recipes after this one, but my roommate just returned from her family’s farm with lots and lots of greens.

    Kale Soup

    What You Need
    – 2 tablespoons olive oil
    – 1 yellow onion, chopped
    – 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
    – 2-3 stalks celery
    – 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn into pieces
    – 3-4 potatoes (depending on size), peeled and chopped
    – 6 cups vegetable stock
    – salt and pepper to taste

    What You Do
    1. Heat olive oil in a pot and add onion, garlic, and celery.
    2. Saute onion, garlic and celery on medium heat until soft (about 5 minutes).
    3. Add kale and stir until kale begins to wilt (about 2 minutes).
    4. Add potatoes and vegetable stock.
    5. Simmer soup on medium heat for 30 minutes (or until the potatoes are soft).
    6. Add salt and pepper to taste!

    You can add extra seasoning and extra veggies to this easy soup. It tastes great on a cold day. You can also add in some extra firm tofu cut into bite sized pieces!

    Vegetable Soup

    I made this vegetable soup last week and loved it. The recipe made enough so that I had leftovers all week long and was able to eat it for lunch throughout the week. It was excellent.

    Vegetable Soup (adapted from Alton Brown)

    What You Need
    -4 tablespoons olive oil
    -2 cups chopped onions (recipe called for leeks, but I didn’t have any– only white parts)
    – 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
    – Kosher salt
    – 2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (approximately 2 medium)
    – 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
    – 2 cups fresh green beans, broken or cut into 3/4-inch pieces
    – 2 quarts vegetable broth
    – 4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
    – 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    – 1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
    – 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

    What You Do
    1. Heat the olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat.
    2.Once hot, add the onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.
    3. Add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer.
    5. Once simmering, add the tomatoes and pepper.
    6. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
    7. Remove from heat and add the parsley and lemon juice.
    8. Season, to taste, with kosher salt.

    Serve immediately. Yum! Perfect as the weather starts to get cooler.

    Soup, Summer, and Roasted Red Peppers

    I spent the early part of this week with my family up in NJ. It was wonderful to hang out, relax, and spend a day at the Jersey shore. We spent the day at Spring Lake, had lobster at Klein’s, and got yummy salt water taffy. We also did some fun family cooking, including this wonderful summer soup. Rarely do I eat chilled soup, so I was nervous to try it. But, how can you go wrong with roasted red peppers?!

    Creamy Chilled Red Pepper Soup (from

    What You Need

    – 4 red peppers
    – 1 onion, chopped
    – 2 tbsp butter
    – 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (I used more)
    – 5 cups vegetable broth
    – 1/4 cup tomato paste
    – 1/2 cup cream
    – 1/4 tsp paprika
    – salt and pepper to taste

    What You Do

    1. Heat oven to 400 degrees or set to broil.
    2. Slice peppers in half and remove seeds.
    3. Broil peppers for about 20 minutes. (I sprinkled some olive oil before broiling)
    4. In a large sauce pan, cook the onion and rosemary over medium high heat.
    5. Add the peppers and vegetable broth and reduce to a simmer.
    6. Add tomato paste and allow to cook for at least 20 minutes.
    7. Transfer soup to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
    8. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine well.
    9. Serve chilled.

    Since this one was a success, I’m curious to try some more summer soups before August is over. I suggest you do to.

    Easiest Soup Ever

    It was a beautiful day in DC. I went to the farmers’ market today and picked up some leeks and potatoes. I made the easiest soup (but still yummy) from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

    I am in the process of re-evaluating my diet and beginning the spring with a fresh start. I’m reducing my consumption of meat and eliminating high fructose corn syrup from my diet. I’ll post more about my thoughts on the new changes in the coming weeks. For now, here is the soup recipe:

    Potato and Leek Soup

    What You Need
    – 3 tablespoons butter
    – 3 leeks
    – 3 medium potatoes
    – 4 cups water
    – Salt and pepper to taste

    What You Do
    1. Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes.
    2. Wash the leeks very well and slice the whites and the light green parts into thin slices.
    3. Heat butter.
    4. Saute the leeks and potatoes in butter for 2-3 minutes.
    5. Add water and cook until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.
    6. Salt and pepper to taste.


    Also, I am out of town the next week, but when I get back I am going to start planting seeds for the season. Stay tuned for news on what I’m going to be planting and (hopefully) harvesting in 2010!