It’s officially freezing out so I’m starting to get into making a variety of soups paired with salads or sandwiches. Here are a few recipes that are really delicious on a cold day like today. The best part about these recipes is that they’re great for “school nights” because few take longer than 30 minutes to prepare. Eat well and stay warm!
Pairing #1: Butternut Squash & Apple Soup with Cranberry-Walnut Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich
I use a variation on this soup recipe from Williams-Sonoma. Instead of using a jar of purée, I just cooked raw butternut squash in with the other vegetables and let the onions almost caramelize before adding anything else. I also chose to omit ginger (sometimes I think it can overpower soup) and added chives and pomegranate seeds at the end for garnish. The trick to great soups – in my opinion – is a Vitamix or very strong blender. Yes, it’s an expensive appliance but it’s incredibly versatile. We use ours nearly every day.
For the sandwich, you can purchase cranberry-walnut (or any other kind of fruit/nut bread like date pecan, raisin walnut, etc.) from a store like Whole Foods. In Westchester, there’s a fantastic version from The Kneaded Bread, a delicious bakery in Port Chester. Simply spread it with goat cheese and press in a panini maker or cast-iron skillet.
Pairing #2: Fennel Leek & Potato Soup with Smoked Salmon and Roasted Beet Salad
This recipe calls for putting the smoked salmon as a garnish in the soup. However, I prefer to serve it on the side with a little lemon and fennel fronds and occasionally toss a piece or two of salmon in (it does add a bit more flavor). I also pair this soup with a cold beet salad made with roasted red beets, goat cheese and caramelized walnuts dressed with a few drops of dark balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The one fault with this recipe is it doesn’t give you much of a good guideline for salt. I used about 2-3 teaspoons of kosher salt – but start with one and add to your taste. The picture falls a bit flat but I promise it’s tasty!
Pairing #3: David Chang’s Chicken Noodle Soup & A Beer 🙂 (This soup stands on its own)
OK, this one is not exactly fast. In fact, it takes a few hours to make but the end result is totally worth it. My husband and I are big fans of the PBS Show “Mind of a Chef.” Last fall, David Chang (of the Momofuku dynasty) was featured on the show. In one episode he talked about his homemade (Asian) chicken noodle soup. For anyone who doesn’t feel like going online to watch the clip and play the “watch, pause, rewind, watch, pause, rewind, etc.” game, here’s a pretty good summation of the recipe. This soup is a meal of its own – so no side required, except maybe a beer (check out this interesting article for pairing suggestions!)
If you’re lucky enough to have any of these soups left over, here’s one last pairing to consider:
Pairing #4: Charlie Bird Farro Salad + Any Leftover Soups Above
My friend Elena gets the credit for introducing me to this amazing recipe. It’s a grainy, delicious fall salad from Charlie Bird, a restaurant in SoHo. Chock full of arugula, radishes, pistachios, herbs and tomatoes, Chef Ryan Hardy’s trick is to cook the farro in apple cider and dress it while it’s still warm so the farro absorbs all the flavors. It is BEYOND good and really holds up well for leftovers. While not overly time-consuming, I’d suggest making this on a weekend and enjoying it during the week since the prep and cooking time can take you nearly an hour to make.