Fava Bean & Proscuitto Soup

Fall in Southern California is a strange phenomenon. It can be 90 degrees on the coast one day and 66 the next. We’ve run the gamut this year. Humid, yep. Dry, totally. Chilly, not enough for my liking but, sure. Hot, definitely. I love living here, there is nothing like a fall sunset in Encinitas, it is a gorgeous sight to behold. We don’t, however, get that chill in the air that most associate with the beginning of this beautiful season. Therefore, we need to create a sense of it ourselves, in our homes, in our kitchens.

I get really excited about soups, like ridiculously so. I think homemade soup is such a wonderful thing to have in the refrigerator. My husband works odd hours, so he loves when there is something easy for him to reheat and enjoy when he gets home. Soups are also one of those heavenly dishes that are usually better the day after you make them.

I’ve decided that, over the next year, I am going to cook my way through one of my favorite soup cookbooks. It is a tiny little thing, but everything I’ve made from it so far has huge flavor. Zuppe is collection of recipes from the kitchen of The American Academy in Rome. The author, Mona Talbott, has broken the book down by season with about 11-15 recipes per season. I’m going to start with the first recipe and make one a week, in order, over the next year. While I am planning to blog some of my favorites, including this first one, I won’t be blogging all of them. I encourage you to buy the little book (proceeds support the Rome Sustainable Food Project) and follow along with me on social media, sharing your stories and pictures. Of course, I’ll still blog other recipes. With the holidays coming up, I have a ton to share!

For now, join me on my first of the Zuppe Challenge…

Sing, Sing, Sing performed by Louis Prima…

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Fava Bean & Proscuitto Soup adapted from Zuppe by Mona Talbott. Serves 4 to 6.

You’ll need: 

  • 10 1/2 oz. dried peeled fava beans
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5-6 oz. proscuitto shank (I bought a boneless, trimmed hock from the butcher)
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried chili pepper flakes (or less, to taste)
  • 8 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 bay leaves

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Peel and cut the onions, celery and carrots into a small dice. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Cut the prosciutto shank in half.

Over low heat, in a 6-qt. stockpot, cook the onion, celery and carrots in olive oil until the vegetables are coated in oil and glistening. Add a pinch of salt and cook until tender, about 5 more minutes.

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Add the garlic and dried pepper flakes to the pan, stir and cook for 2 minutes.

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Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, stir and simmer for 5 more minutes.

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Add the fava beans and proscuitto to the vegetables.

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Cover with 3 quarts of cold water.

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Bring soup to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the fava beans have softened and the soup has a creamy texture.

Remove bay leaves and discard. Remove the tender proscuitto and cut into small pieces (it will really just fall apart), return it to the soup.

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Taste and re-season with salt if necessary (be sure to taste it first, the prosciutto adds quite a bit of saltiness). The soup will thicken as it cools, you may need to thin with water when reheating.

Enjoy!

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A delicious, hearty fall soup!

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Cheers!

Sweet Potato – Coconut Milk Soup

I think most of us have a little neighborhood Thai restaurant that we just love. Mine isn’t something I would necessarily recommend to anyone. It isn’t anything super fantastic, the veggies in the soup possibly come from a can, their soda machine is usually out of the basics and there are people sign twirling on the corner (a big red arrow that says, Thai Food). It is my neighborhood Thai place, though, and I love it. Ben and I walk in and they smile brightly, know our orders without even asking and always give us extra peanut sauce;). It is the best, that little Thai place. It makes me feel like I’m home. I love it. Oh, and we go there a lot, obviously.

I needed a way to bring a little of that Thai home, to my kitchen, and came across this wonderful recipe in the Sweet Potatoes Issue of Short Stack Editions (Volume 6). It is a bold take on a simple Thai restaurant staple, tom kha. The sweet potatoes give the soup a richness that is delicious; it elevates the soup from a starter to a main dish. Scott Hocker, the author of this Short Stack volume, likes to puree the soup for a smoother texture. He admits it is inauthentic, but I have to agree that it tastes amazing this way.

Everyday – Vetiver

Sweet Potato – Coconut Milk Soup adapted from Short Stack: Sweet Potatoes, Volume 6.

You’ll need:

  • 2 small Thai or other hot chiles, stems removed
  • large shallot
  • garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro stems
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 14 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • medium sweet potato, peeled & cut into 1/2 – 1-inch pieces
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • roughly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

In a food processor, pulse (3 to 4 times) the chiles, shallot, garlic and cilantro stems.

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In a large pan, bring the stock and coconut milk to a boil, then down to a simmer.

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Add the chile-garlic mixture, sweet potato and about 3/4 teaspoon of salt.

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Cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the sweet potato is extremely soft.

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Puree the soup until it’s smooth (I used a handheld immersion blender, but you can also use a regular blender). Strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve, discard the solids and return to pan.

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Bring to a simmer. Add the brown sugar and lime juice.

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Add the soy sauce and adjust seasonings, if needed.

Serve.

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Thai with a twist! This soup is so fabulous! Sweet, sour, rich, salty, everything. I love it and will definitely make it again! Enjoy!

Shopping Notes: All produce was purchased at Specialty Produce. Coconut milk and vegetable broth are from Trader Joe’s.

I encourage you to subscribe to Short Stack Editions. Amazing booklets with ingredient specific recipes that are simple, bold and delicious. Plus, fun mail (we can all use some good mail, right?)! Also, be sure to subscribe to the blog (at the right), follow on IG, Twitter and Facebook and #TheIncidentalSpoon!

Cheers!

Butternut Squash Soup

This week I am going to pick the recipes. I decided to not leave it to the masses (well, really, my faithful few;)) as I am leaving on an impromptu trip to Denver this weekend. Did you hear? Our San Diego Super Chargers are in the playoffs and are playing the Denver Broncos on Sunday! My brother (a Chargers fan, let’s make that CLEAR) lives in Denver & since the hubs has to travel up there to cover the team, I thought this an opportune time to visit the baby bro, drink some beer and just send some good juju to our team.

The Boys of Fall – Kenny Chesney

Also, you should watch this video from Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Pure joy.

San Diego, and the rest of California, is enjoying beautiful sunshine and normal temperatures while the rest of the country seems to be suffering through Winter something fierce! In honor of our countrymen, I am posting a soup recipe. This Butternut Squash Soup can be enjoyed in any weather, but is especially good when it is crisp outside.

Butternut Squash Soup, this recipe will make about 2.5 quarts.

You’ll need:

  • 3 tablespoons evoo
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • cilantro, for garnish
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chopped shallots, sliced garlic and a big pinch of salt.

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Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until shallots are just turning brown (about 2 minutes). Add the squash cubes…

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and the curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, and crushed red pepper.

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Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.

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Add the vegetable stock, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.

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Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender (about 25 minutes).

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth.

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Return the soup to the saucepan. Add the heavy cream.

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Stir until the soup is hot. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of goat cheese and cilantro leaves. I am a huge believer in goat cheese in butternut squash soup; it gives it a little extra tang that I just love. TRY IT!

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Enjoy!

Be sure to follow the blog & #TheIncidentalSpoon if you try any of the recipes!

Stay warm! Go Chargers!

P.S. Posting a very fun drink on Sunday morning to go with your football viewing! I’ll be hinting ingredients, so you’ll be prepared to make it, via Instagram (TheIncidentalSpoon) & Twitter (@IncidentalSpoon) the rest of the week! Be sure to follow!