Monday, February 14, 2011

Soul Warming and Baked with Love

Jeff's wonderful cousins had a baby on Thursday afternoon, a perfect little prince named Scott! They already have a 3 year old son named Jackson who is one of the sweetest monkeys ever, so we were really excited to hear of the safe arrival of baby #2! I know I was particularly grateful for all gifts of food when Finn was first born, so I was so excited to be able to make them a little 'Welcome to the world, Scott' love meal to take over to their house in hopes of easing some of the stress and exhaustion those first few weeks can bring. I decided to tackle two of my favorite soups- Potato Cheese Chowder, and African Yam & Peanut (an adaptation on a soup my dear friend Stephanie made us for dinner recently.) I also have become obsessed with making bread since the start of the new year, so I was thrilled to be able to bake up a few loaves of my current favourite, french bread (especially because we were able to keep a loaf for us to nibble on!) I also made some mini chocolate chip cookies from a cookie recipe book sweetly inscribed by Jeff's Mom on his 20th birthday. Coincidentally, tomorrow is Jeff's 26th birthday, so the timing was perfect in bringing back some special memories for him.

Congratulations Sean, Shannon and Jackson on the arrival of baby Scott! We are so very excited for you all!! XOXO

Potato Cheese Chowder
2- 3 large potatoes, cut into small cubes (I like to leave the skins on)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Water as needed
3 cups of milk
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp flour
1 brick of sharp or old cheddar, grated (about 2 or 3 cups depending on how cheesy you like it)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy soup pot, add potatoes, onions and enough water to just cover them. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Bring water to boil, cover and simmer until potatoes are soft and well cooked
Do not drain any of the liquid, and mash the mixture with a potato masher
Stir in milk and bring back to simmer
In a small bowl, combine melted butter and flour and add to pot
Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly
Remove from heat and stir in cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.

We have added chopped carrots, a can of corn and other random veggies to this soup to mix it up a but and it has always been awesome. I have also thought it would be really yummy topped with fresh thick cut bacon, but being that we have a (mostly) vegetarian kitchen, I have never got around to trying it. Reminds me of potato skins.

African Yam and Peanut Soup

2 large yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 small jalapeno, chopped finely with seeds removed
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp each of ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar
8 cups of vegetable broth (two 1L tetra packs work great!)
3/4 cups of natural peanut butter (unsweetened works the best)
1 large can of coconut milk
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a soup pot, melt coconut oil. Add onions, garlic and jalapeno and saute until onions are translucent.
Add in spices (coriander, cumin, cinnamon, pepper flakes) and brown sugar, and stir to coat the onion mixture and release all the yummy aromatics!
Add cubed yams and veggie broth to the pot. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until yams are fully cooked.
Add coconut milk and peanut butter- stir and continue to heat until peanut butter is well melted and all is nicely mixed.
Remover from heat and blend all with an emersion blender (you can use a food processor or blender for this step, but immersion blenders are much easier!)
Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Both these soups will keep in the fridge for upwards of a week and freeze really well for much longer!