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Gettin' down with real food.

Simple Cream of Celery Soup

When the sky is all one color (grey) and you crave a bowl of something at once new and familiar, comforting and stirring to curl up with, look no further than this simple cream of celery soup.  You can be down to fairly little in the icebox and still have the necessities to pull this together: cream or half & half (or even whole milk), a head of celery, some sort of allium, stock or broth, butter, a potato or two, and some herbs and spices.

This soup is nothing more or less than it claims to be: it is thinly luscious while boldly bearing the essence of celery. Adorned with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil and some thick cut whole grain toast, this is a peasant's lunch fit for a midwinter queen.

 
Simple Cream of Celery Soup | www.funkybeetsblog.com
 

Simple Cream of Celery Soup

Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head celery, roughly chopped 
  • 1-2 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 large leek (or onion, shallot, etc.), sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste 
  • cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp dried dill
  • ½ cup half and half (or whole milk, heavy cream, etc.) 
  • Coarse sea salt, fresh black pepper, and pungent olive oil (for serving)

Method

  1. Melt butter completely in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. To the pot, add celery, potato, leek (or onion, etc.) and garlic. Season with a bit of salt to start, (don't add much until you taste the soup).
  3. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until your allium is tender, about 8–10 minutes. Add broth to the pot and simmer until the potatoes and celery are tender, 8–10 more minutes. Stir in the dill.
  4. Purée using an immersion or standard blender.
  5. Wistfully stir in cream until combined. Taste and season accordingly.
  6. Serve soup topped with sea salt, pepper and olive oil, plunked with homemade croutons or accompanied by your favorite rustic bread.
 
Simple Cream of Celery Soup
 

In other news, I'm now a snow shoer.  I ventured out into the grey mist yesterday with Chetney and listened to the waves crash against icicle-covered peers, rocking giant shards of ice and bobbing gulls in their wake.

 
Simple Cream of Celery Soup | www.funkybeetsblog.com
 
 
Simple Cream of Celery Soup | www.funkybeetsblog.com
 

Tomorrow I'm beginning a 30-day Minimalism Challenge from the blog Into Mind (found by way of Shutterbean's I Love Lists Friday).  In 30 days I will complete 30 simple yet poignant tasks to pare down the stuff of life and in turn hopefully find more space in the every day. You can do the tasks in any order, and tomorrow I will begin with challenge number 2: "meditate for fifteen minutes." I plan to share my experiences with the 30 day challenge here regularly, if the "stuff of life" does not place itself too densely in my path. I'll be in touch. Stay warm friends.

Smoky Bacon Apple Parsnip Soup

My house smells of bacon and wood fire. It's Monday and I've just washed the last dish from a family supper we hosted last night that ended with our loved ones sitting fireside enjoying bowls of homemade pistachio ice cream and talking about snow-shoeing. Stack that on top of an epic Packers victory and an amazing first week of dietetic internship and you've got the recipe for a happy Ashleigh sundae.

For last night's eats, Brandon and I worked together to make a pretty damn good meal: classic Caesar salad, homemade fresh ricotta ravioli and fat yellow semolina fettuccine (thanks to the pasta roller he bought me for Christmas) topped with Nigel Slater's Really Good Bolognese sauce, and this soup I just got to share with you...

smoky bacon apple parsnip soup | funkybeetsblog.com

Vegetal, sweet, creamy, and smoky, this soup is a snuggie in a bowl folks.  Slow-simmering the vegetables for an hour lends what the French call a certain "I don't know what" to the flavor profile.  Well, that and starting by sautéing onions in bacon fat.  Allspice and nutmeg warm things up while apple lends brightness and potato helps with rib-stickiness.  Enjoy a bowl fireside or whilst standing by the microwave in your work cafeteria. Either way this soup will be a proverbial lumberjack foot massage atop fleece sheets in a sauna for your soul.

Smoky Bacon Apple Parsnip Soup

recipe adapted from Foodess blog
Makes 4 meal-sized servings; 8 starter-sized servings

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp bacon fat (alternatively, butter or olive oil)
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 lb parsnips (2 large), peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, for topping

Method

  1. Melt bacon fat in a large pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add nutmeg and allspice and sauté a minute more.
  2. Add potato, apples and parsnips; stir in vegetable broth and increase the heat to bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer, keeping the soup covered, until vegetables and apples are very soft, about an hour ( you can get away with 30 minutes if you're in a time crunch).
  3. Puree using an immersion blender or in batches using a standard blender. Wistfully stir in the half and half and add salt and pepper, tasting as you go.
  4. Top with crumbled bacon and enjoy emphatically.
smoky bacon apple parsnip soup | funkybeetsblog.com






Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Lemon and Basil

Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Lemon and Basil | funkybeetsblog.com

Happy Labor Day weeeeeekend!

Class has only been in session a week, but I already feel I need this little break. My final semester before practicum aka internship, promises to be dynamic and full of opportunities for self-growth. (Read: crazy busy and emotionally demanding.) At times I find myself getting caught up in the scholarly whirlwind and losing sight of what’s most important: sharing healthy, delicious food with people from all walks of life. Thankfully that’s just what I was able to do today: with my very best friend and fearless classmate at my side, I took part in cooking and sharing a fresh, seasonal recipe with the lovely folks at the Wauwatosa Farmers market.

Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Lemon and Basil | funkybeetsblog.com

Our Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Lemon and Basil was a success. I loved listening to market goers' comments as they sipped the mint green, basil-flecked, chilled soup from Dixie cups.  They remarked on the light, herbacious flavor and how cool and refreshing it was amidst the heat and density of the late summer air. Not only did Chetney and I get to share our love of food and nutrition, but we were also able to promote our beloved blogs, yet another way to spread the healthy eating love around. And a special thanks to Kettle Rock Farm, who graciously donated all of the produce for today's recipe demo!

This recipe is a fantastic vehicle for using up some of the season’s plethora of zucchini and cucumber, which provide the base of our gazpacho. The flavor-soul of this soup comes from basil and lemon, which elevate the other ingredients with their botanical brightness while scallions lend a gentle allium scent and olive oil and whole milk yogurt bring richness and depth. To add visual appeal and textural variation, we topped the soup with diced heirloom tomatoes, so pretty! Serving this at home, I streaked the soup with yogurt, olive oil and coarse sea salt: abstract art in a bowl.

 
Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Lemon and Basil | funkybeetsblog.com
 

Talking through this recipe with market goers, we noted that any summer squash (pattypan, yellow squash, etc.) would work well in place of the zucchini.  We also tossed around the idea of using other herbs like cilantro, lemon thyme, or parsley.  Chetney even mentioned blending in some honeydew melon; I’d love to try that version! As with many of the seasonal recipes I’ve been sharing here lately, I encourage you to make this your own, add more of what you like and less of what you don’t. Share your creations in the comments below.  And be sure to pop over to Chetney's blog for the full story of our market cooking adventure as well as to follow along with her day to day food journey, an always inspiring read.

doing what I love - photo credit Chetney Dudzic

Now dear reader, your mission should you choose to accept it: grab your best knife and a blender and whip up this soup in 15 minutes or less.  Then let it chill and share it with the ones you love; the weekend is just beginning!

Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Basil and Lemon

adapted from Real Simple
Makes about 8 half-cup portions

Ingredients

  • 4 scallions (green onions), chopped
  • 1 lb cucumbers, seeds removed if desired, sliced
  • 1 lb zucchini, sliced
  • 3/4 cup  olive oil
  • 1/2 cup  fresh basil leaves, plus more for topping
  • 1/3 cup  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup  plain whole milk yogurt, plus more for topping
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large heirloom tomato, diced, for topping

Method

  1. Puree the scallions, cucumbers, zucchini, oil, basil, and lemon juice in a blender, or in bowl using an immersion blender, until smooth.
     
  2. Add the yogurt, salt and pepper to taste (half teaspoon of each to start) and pulse to combine.
     
  3. Serve cold or room temperature topped with yogurt, torn basil, and diced heirloom tomatoes. Sprinkle with coarse salt if desired.