Birthday strata

Birthday strataShared meals at our house usually revolve around a large pot of soup, some form of veggie-forward tangle and serving dishes for friends to bring along something to share. Guests’ offerings have varied widely – locally made colas, loaves of bread, the kind of salads that always taste great because someone else made them, fixings for an ‘Egyptian breakfast’, chocolate cakes and fruit tarts from the shop down the road – but we’ve only received a set of farm fresh eggs once.

These six beauties were brought all the way from Oban and were guaranteed to be the deepest orange we’d seen. They were, and the color of this strata is here to prove it. Continue reading “Birthday strata”

September Borscht

Summer borschtI usually think of borscht as a winter soup for dark and dreary days. I guess I don’t usually think about borscht at all, actually, but this one popped out at me from a charity shop find that includes a soup for every day of the year.

This version is a surprisingly fresh-yet-complex adaptation that hits all the right chords for a September meal. Continue reading “September Borscht”

Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted tomato soupIt’s August, so let’s talk about tomato soup.

I don’t usually go for tomato soup, and frankly, it seems misplaced in the summer. Summertime is for enjoying all the fresh beauty that tomatoes bring for a surprisingly short season each year. Give me a ripe tomato with a sprinkle of crunchy salt (maybe a few ribbons of basil), and I’m sold. Tomato soup seems reminiscent of sad winter lunches trying to be something else, and they rarely catch my eye.

Which is why I have been hanging onto this recipe for years. Continue reading “Roasted Tomato Soup”

Red Lentil and Lemon Soup

This is the kind of meal I could eat every week.Red Lentil with onionsFor such a flavorful soup, I would have anticipated a more elaborate ingredient list, but the spices – turmeric, cumin and yellow mustard seed – pull their weight beautifully. Finished with as much lemon as you desire to brighten the whole dish up, this soup had all the elements of being deeply satisfying and crisp and clean. A true Friday Night winner. Continue reading “Red Lentil and Lemon Soup”

Courgette and Garlic Soup + Cheese Biscuits

Courgette and Garlic SoupGrowing up in Maine, I was very familiar with the knowing smiles that accompany zucchini season. The story in my memory goes like this:

Every year, zucchinis start arriving from the garden in July, and the counter tops begin filling up. There is a wonderful month in which zucchini either plays the star role – in savory fritters, frittatas, summer pasta dishes – gets sliced, diced or grated into pickles, relishes or chutneys for later months, or is tucked into less obvious dishes – pancakes, chocolate cake, breads, you name it (oddly, for a child who disliked vegetables so much, I loved baked goods that included sizable amounts of the green stuff. Parents of fussy eaters take note, great recipes don’t stick around for generations for no reason.).

Around mid-August, the story goes, grocery bags of zucchini start showing up on porches. Maybe your neighbor came over with genuine intentions of catching up, or maybe she made an excuse to come by and happened to be carrying with her a large bag of zucchini (it’s plausible – you’ve seen the counter tops). With a smile, you kindly refuse, saying you’ve also been lucky with your harvest this year, but thank you very much. She smiles as well, nodding knowingly, but the bag remains on your porch. It’s the same every year. Continue reading “Courgette and Garlic Soup + Cheese Biscuits”

Saffron Yellow Pepper Soup

Saffron yellow (and red) pepper soupWe’re off and running here with Friday night meals, and our first week featured Heidi Swanson‘s Saffron and Yellow Pepper Soup. We were looking for something simple but worthy of a first Friday night meal, and this was it.

Among the many things there are to love about Heidi’s recipes is that she always challenges me to consider what a large effect small additions can make. I tend to prefer meals that can be brought together quickly, and I don’t tend to give myself the time to pull the recipe forward with additional flourishes at the end. Heidi’s recipes work so closely with each flavor, however, that the inclusion of a crumble of cheese or handful of nuts or sprinkling of fresh herbs bring an ordinary dish into a memorable one. What drew me to this soup was that the recipe itself was so simple that there was plenty of time to gather together and prep the toppings, and I knew it would be worth the effort. Continue reading “Saffron Yellow Pepper Soup”