Sunday, October 21, 2007

Homegrown Gourmet: Soups

It's that time again! This month is hosted by Meg of Joy Through Cooking. I'll remind you first of the rules,

  • Anyone can play!

  • A theme will be picked by the host. Participants will make a dish that follows the theme and that somehow represents their home region- town, state, area. Representation can feature a local ingredient, be a traditional dish from your area, or be a creative twist.

  • Participants will have 3-4 weeks (host discretion) to complete their recipes and post them to their blog (or email the pics and text), and notify the host. The host will then post the results and then let everyone know via email or message board the results are up!

  • An explanation of your dish is required; it can be a story about the local custom or ingredient, how you came about eating/ making the recipe, or an explanation about how your creative dish fits the theme.

  • Fresh and local foods are encouraged!

  • When the round is done, the host will announce their favorite dish by updating their blog. Favorite is completely subjective to the host- no one expects the host to make and taste test all the dishes, it is just something that strikes the host's fancy! The creator of the fave gets the honor of hosting the next round, if they so choose!

This month's Homegrown Gourmet was definitely challenging. See, Meg won last month's sandwich challenge and is hosting this month. She picked soups for this round because she wanted something perfect for fall. Well, that's all well and good for Meg who's on the East Coast, but here in Southern California, fall is something you see on television, and most of the time "fall" is created by talented studio technicians who paint leaves and import fans to create the perfect autumn breeze.

Southern California is not known for its soups. I blame this squarely on the weather. While soups certainly make their appearance on rainy winter days (and yes it rains here in rains ALL winter long - bleh), these are transplant soups, brought by the many immigrants who make their way from the blustery colds of Manhattan, Boston, Chicago. They sit in cafes, watching the rain, and eat their soup while reminiscing of snow falls and below zero temperatures.

So I turned to California "ingredients" not wanting to use avocado again and become that girl. And that's when I began thinking. Not only am I a resident of California, but I'm a resident of Orange County (there is no "THE" in OC).

Orange County is so named because of its primary crop - oranges. While orange groves have been replaced by housing developments, it still seems an apt ingredient to use to represent my "homegrown gourmet."

Now how do you incorporate oranges into a soup? Well my all time favorite soups to make are squash soups - acorn squash, butternut squash.... I usually throw in some apples for flavor, so why couldn't I use orange? And the squash that would go especially well? Pumpkin! So pumpkin orange soup it was!

Pumpkin-Orange Soup

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup vegetable broth

juice of one oranges

1/4 cup dry sherry

1/4 onion, chopped

1/3 cup diced celery

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt

1. Puree canned pumpkin, vegetable broth and orange juice in blender or food processor. Set aside

2. In a large soup pot, heat sherry over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and garlic and saute until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add spices; cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

3. Add pumpkin mixture and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat

4. Transfer 1/2 cup of soup to a small bowl and stir in yogurt. Return to pot and blend well.

5. When soup is cool, place in blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

6. Return soup to pot and heat until warmed through.


  1. Oh, I just love the idea of orange in a soup! I NEVER would have thought of that. It looks really tasty- I bet the flavor is wonderfully unique and delicious!

  2. The soup looks sooo good! Hmm, I think I'll try making some later this week.