Sunday, October 9, 2011

Invasion of the Freezer Friendly Soups!

With fall in full swing, it's time to to stock my freezer with some winter soups and comfort foods. John and I like to spend our free time cross country skiing once the snow hits, so I like to have meals ready to go. 

Below are a few soups I've made in the past two weeks which are really freezer friendly, and honestly, get better with age!  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
I got this recipe from my friend Marie two falls ago. It is by a guy named Michael Chiarello. It has since become a staple in our freezer. This soup is great for fall and into the winter. It's flavors intensify with time, even while freezing. The toasted walnuts are a must in this recipe!


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced leeks, white parts only
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 cups peeled and roughly diced butternut squash
  • 3 cups peeled and roughly diced apples
  • 2 teaspoons Toasted Spice Rub, recipe follows
  • 6 1/2 cups chicken stock or 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth mixed with 3 cups water
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • 1 cup chopped Spiced Candied Walnuts, recipe follows, optional


Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat, and cook until it turns nut brown. Add the leeks and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute briefly to release its fragrance.

Add the squash and apples, raise the heat to high, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Toasted Spice Rub and cook briefly to toast it, about 1 minute.

Add the stock or broth-water mixture, bring to a simmer, and partially cover. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the squash and apples are tender, about 40 minutes.

Transfer in batches to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return to the pot, reheat to serving temperature, and season with salt.

Divide the soup among warmed bowls and garnish each portion with some of the walnuts, if using. Serve immediately.

Toasted Spice Rub:

  • 1/4 cup fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup pure California chili powder (about 1-ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
In a small heavy pan over medium heat, combine the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns. When the fennel turns light brown, work quickly. Turn on the exhaust fan, add the red pepper flakes, and toss, toss, toss, always under the fan. Immediately turn the spice mixture out onto a plate to cool. Put in a blender with the chili powder, salt, and cinnamon and blend until the spices are evenly ground. If you have a small spice mill or a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices, grind only the fennel, coriander, pepper, and chili flakes. Pour into a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients.

Yield: about 1 cup

Spiced Candied Walnuts:

  • Peanut or canola oil
  • 4 cups walnut halves
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat about 1-inch of oil to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add walnuts and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain and transfer nuts to a medium bowl. While nuts are still hot and slightly wet, add confectioners' sugar and toss to coat nuts. Stir and toss until all the sugar has melted into the nuts; if bits of unmelted sugar remain on the nuts, they will not fry properly.

Stir the nuts again before frying. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer a few nuts to the hot oil, allowing the foam to subside before adding another spoonful. (Otherwise, the oil could foam over and burn you.) Fry in small batches until the nuts are medium brown, about 45 seconds per batch; be careful not to overcook. Scatter on an unlined baking sheet to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, stir together cayenne, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and the pepper.

While the nuts are still warm, transfer them to a bowl and sprinkle evenly with about half of the spice mix. Toss well to distribute the spices and then taste a nut. Add more spice mix, to taste, and toss well after each addition. When cool, pack in an airtight jar. They will keep at room temperature for at least 2 weeks.

Yield: 4 cups

Johnny's Tortilla Soup
If you are looking for a garden-fresh tasting soup in the middle of winter, this one if for you! Originally given to me by a neighbor, this soup is a winner! 


3-4 chicken breasts, cubed
64 oz. chicken broth
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 large white onion, quartered
1 large bunch cilantro, washed and stems removed
3-4 large cloves of garlic
4 Serrano peppers, cut in half, seeds removed (less pepper if you don't like spice!)
Hot Sauce
1 16 oz. bag frozen sweet corn (or canned or fresh)
1 14.5 oz. can black beans, drained
Corn tortillas (or tortilla chips)
olive oil
sea salt
sliced avocado
sharp cheddar, shredded
scallions, sliced

1. Put chicken into the bottom of a large soup pot, add a bit of oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute on high heat until lightly browned, with bits stuck to the bottom. 
2. Add chicken broth and stir making sure to remove any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil.
3. While broth begin to boil, in a blender or food processor, place cilantro, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and peppers. Add about a cup of broth and blend. You may need to do this in 2 batches.
4. Once blended, pour into soup pot with the broth and chicken.  Add corn and black beans, and hot sauce to taste.  Once hot, you can turn off heat. 

I usually just use whatever tortilla chips we have in the house but when I'm feeling frisky I make them from actual tortillas. 

1. Cut tortillas into 1/2in strips and place on a cookie sheet. 
2. Sprinkle with olive oil ad sea salt.
3. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes. 

Boom. Done. :)
Serving Instructions:
I like to top this soup with avocado, cheddar, and scallions. I also like to crumble the tortilla on top. Yum. 

Creamy Peanut-Pumpkin Soup
From Women's Health Magazine

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped (1 1/4 cups)
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 can solid-pack pumpkin puree (15 oz)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 jar roasted red peppers (7 oz), drained, 1 tablespoon chopped and reserved for garnish
1/3 cup smooth reduced-fat natural peanut butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped roasted peanuts
2 Tbsp chopped scallion greens

1. Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.

2. Add turmeric, paprika, and chili flakes; stir. Add pumpkin puree, broth, peppers, and peanut butter; whisk to incorporate and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in sugar, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

3. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with sour cream, peanuts, reserved chopped peppers, and scallion greens.

Makes 4 Servings.
Per serving: 270 cal, 18 g fat (4 g sat), 22 g carbs,
450 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 10 g protein  

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