I used to hate to cook and never thought I would be good at it. I would follow the recipe exactly and things would still turn out mediocre or worse. I just didn’t have that “sense” for cooking that really good cooks have.
Over the course of the last few years I have taken the risk (yes, it was a risk for me because every bland soup or overcooked chicken was a failure) and started to hone my cooking skills. I’ve received lessons, helpful tips, and recipes from the likes of Sally, Adelle, Mom, Cindy, Linda, Keisha, Annie, and of course, Jason. Slowly I am developing my own unique “sense”.
Living with very good cook (and baker) Jason means that my abilities must get better quicker (and they are). He has very particular taste buds and is quite honest during taste tests. If I get a “this is awesome” (which doesn’t happen that often) it’s a major keeper.
Tonight’s meal was one of those keepers. I was particularly pleased with myself not only because it turned out great, but I had everything I needed already at home for the meal AND there was some leftover to freeze. Commentary and recipes are listed below.
One of the trickiest things for me with soups is how much salt to put in. A lot of recipes say to add to taste, but I’m not very good at eyeballing it. Tonight I hit it right on. I also found that the flavors in the salad were just right to serve alongside the soup.
Butternut Squash Soup
(adapted from this recipe)
2 t butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 medium butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 (32 fluid ounce) container chicken stock
½ t white pepper
1 t salt
ground pepper and shredded cheese to top
- Melt the butter in a large pot, and cook the onion, carrot, potatoes, and squash 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Pour in chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 40 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
- Transfer the soup to food processor, and blend until smooth (you’ll probably have to do this in several batches). Also, I found I left a little bit of the stock out to make sure the soup wasn’t too runny. Return to pot, add salt and white pepper and simmer for a few minutes.
Sprinkle with cheese and serve with warm french bread and salad listed below.
Spinach, Blue Cheese & Pear Salad
(slightly adapted from a recipe from Keisha Brown)
2 T water
1 1/2 T red wine vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 T honey
2 t Dijon mustard
1/4 t pepper
1 pear, cut lengthwise into 15 slices
8 c torn spinach
1/4 c sliced red onion
crumbled blue cheese
Combine first 6 ingredients. Stir with whisk. Place dressing over pears. Add to bowl filled with spinach and onions. Sprinkle blue cheese on top.