Monday, February 08, 2010


I've decided to begin running with new ideas and new recipes for the coming year. I want to learn how to do things like make corned beef. I want to challenge the boundaries of dishes and preparations that I already know. I want to pick out an old food magazine every week and find things to make out of it. I want to — as I outlined a couple posts ago — take a second look at the ingredients in my cupboards or in the market and rethink how we're eating.

Last week, I took a shot at this when L and I were debating what to make for dinner — without wanting to eat out again or do another big grocery run. She had an acorn squash, and I had the muse of making a winter squash bisque. With the quick direction to pick up some sherry and another squash at the store, and a plan to get bread at our local French joint — Can Can — I did a bit of research and came up with a nice recipe to tweak.

Instead of the called-for olive oil, I opted for butter, and on the sauté, I added a healthy dose of smoked Spanish paprika. Beyond that, I followed the recipe to the letter. The result was a hearty, smoky cold-weather meal of soup, bread and salad. Since L is not a fan of all-things-smoked, however, I decided we needed another go at the soup this weekend.

The second round I upped the stock a bit and added more tomatoes, since L would be serving it at her book club. This meant all the spices needed a boost, as did the sherry. In the end, I switched up the smoked paprika for sweet Hungarian paprika, and the result was a very different (and much better) bisque. With a dose of ground chili and thyme at the end, the soup struck the perfect note. With any luck, the women in L's book club will agree.

Regardless, I'll be making this one again for sure. What I love about the soup — besides the taste, of course — is that it is so simple. The recipe only involves a few ingredients and some fairly simple preparations to achieve a result that seems (and tastes) far more complex. The next step will be to jump past the kid's pickiness and get her to try it too. Wish me luck on that one...