Classic Butternut Squash Soup

FullSizeRender-1Finally! Also, in Southern California at the beach we are getting some idea of what fall temperatures feel like. I mean it’s just slightly cooler, the sun hours per day have been decreasing, and it’s getting darker in the evening a lot sooner.

After being to Germany and Switzerland end of September for two weeks where it already felt a lot more like fall, this is kind of nice here too :-)

I always link the months of October and November to the good old pumpkin soup. While I was a child, my Mama would typically make a huge pot of soup for the guests at my birthday party (November 4th – coming soon…) which – at the time – I didn’t appreciate at all. Of course, there were other, kid-friendly dishes as well, so I was a happy and pleased birthday girl at the end!

In my teenage years and early twenties, I started liking the pumpkin soup at my birthdays… And then I finally started loving it and cooking it for myself, for husband, guests etc.

classic butternut squash soup

These days I am so glad, ’tis the time of the year again… And yesterday I cooked the first butternut squash soup of the season. This one is a “classic” approach using butter and half & half. Next will be a more Thai inspired version with red curry paste and coconut milk – so look out for it!

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The classic butternut squash soup (with lots of fresh thyme) goes very well with slices of German Fleischwurst (a kind of ring bologna) which is very common in Germany to add cold cuts into vegetable soups. I’m happy to eat the soup straight as it is and vegetarian, but my husband loves the Fleischwurst slices!

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Classic Butternut Squash Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Classic Butternut Squash Soup

I always link the months of October and November to the good old pumpkin soup. While I was a child, my Mama would typically make a huge pot of soup for the guests at my birthday party which – at the time – I didn’t appreciate at all. Now I absolutely love making this soup for myself, my husband and guests!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter (or cooking oil)
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups (20 oz. / 560g) butternut squash, cut in cubes (I used pre-cut)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 cups (~750ml) low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons half & half (or heavy cream, if desired)
  • salt
  • red pepper flakes
  • (optional for more thickness: 1 large potato, peeled and diced)

Instructions

Heat a large pot over medium-low heat and add butter. Once it is melted, add in the onions and the ginger and stir. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the butternut squash cubes and thyme leaves (and – if using – diced potato). Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the stock. Cover the pot and increase the heat to medium. Cook until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes.

Once the squash is soft, turn off the heat. Stir in the half & half and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Using a hand blender, very carefully blend everything until the soup is smooth and pureed. (Alternatively, pour the mixture into a stand blender to puree smoothly and pour back into pot.)

Cover and let simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste and season additionally if desired.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/classic-butternut-squash-soup/

Breakfast for the champions – Spinach Omelette

spinach omelettFinally! I’ve been excited for the past weeks! Last weekend my yoga teacher training started. The training is from 10am till 6pm every Saturday and Sunday – and on Wednesday nights for about 3 hours…

Not sure how my energy levels would be during the long first day, I opted for eggs for breakfast. No carbs, just protein and some veggies and healthy fats.

I sautéed some baby spinach in a skillet, poured two beaten eggs (seasoned with salt and pepper) over it, and made an egg spinach scramble … not quite an omelette shape i know ;-) Some tomato, cucumber and avocado slices – and I was satisfied, filled and ready to start into the training!

The first weekend was great. I am with an amazing group of 8 more people and a fantastic teacher. I can’t wait for tomorrow, Wednesday night!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

photo 1This salsa is a delicious companion with anything from the grill… Steak, burger, seafood and grilled veggies!

It is so easy to make your own and so much better than the store bought!

photo 3On Labor Day, we had it with steak and a mixed green salad. Yummy!

What is your favorite condiment with steak? Salsa, ketchup, mustard…?

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 cup

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

This salsa is a delicious companion with anything from the grill or the broiler. Very easy to make your own and so much better than the store bought!

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs tomatillos
  • 1 green jalapeño pepper, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Remove the leaves from the tomatillos and wash them. Heat a skillet (without oil) over high heat. Roast the tomatillos and the jalapeno, turning occasionally until blackened. Just before they are done at the garlic clove for 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and grind everything with fresh cilantro, salt and pepper, in a food processor.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/roasted-tomatillo-salsa/

Veggies & Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce

photo 2-1We love pasta, sometimes just the regular (white) spaghetti, but also a whole-wheat kind or a gluten-free one, such as these Fusili made from brown rice and quinoa! And not to forget the low-carb “fake” pasta aka Zoodles made from spiraled Zucchini…

A tomato-based sauce that goes along with all of them is always great, but can get boring if it’s always the same Marinara Sauce… Last week I made a Roma Tomato Sugo which was awesome, so this week I tweaked the recipe a little bit, using different kinds of Heirloom tomatoes and added some veggies to it.

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The vegetables – onions, carrots, celery – and the bay leaf are the classic ingredients for a Italian Bolognese sauce – minus the meat ;)… (A classic Bolognese recipe will be my next “project”).

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The key is to get the veggies to soften before adding the Heirloom tomatoes and then let the whole thing simmer until it has thickened and the flavors have incorporated into the sauce!

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Veggies & Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce

Yield: 4 cups of sauce

Serving Size: 1 cup

Veggies & Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce

Veggies and Heirloom Tomatoes for a twist on a classic Marinara Sauce!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and finely diced (optional)
  • 2 lbs assorted heirloom tomatoes, coarsely diced
  • 2 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Instructions

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and chiles and sauté until onions are translucent and carrots have softened, for 7-10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, add balsamic vinegar and let simmer for 30-50 minutes w/o lid, until the sauce is nice and thick.

Serve with your favorite pasta (regular or glutenfree) or over zoodles.

Optional, add some fresh basil for garnish.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/veggies-heirloom-tomato-pasta-sauce/

4-Ingredient Roma Tomato Sugo

Guess which is the Best Farmers Market in the United States according to Conde Nast Traveler? ;-)

Last week’s shopping at the Santa Monica Farmers Market included two pounds of  locally grown San Marzano tomatoes. This type of Roma tomatoes is perfect for a classic tomato sauce. I also bought some fresh basil, and then I immediately went home into the kitchen.

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photo 3I chopped the tomatoes, minced the garlic and sliced some basil leaves – how easy is that?

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Olive oil into the skillet and there you go!

photo 2-1photo 3-1It needs some time for the sauce to cook and to thicken – the longer the better.

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No worries, if you don’t get the San Marzano’s, but maybe look for Roma tomatoes as they don’t turn out as watery as other varietals of tomatoes.

As it turned, the next day we were going to do a 5k / 10k run along the beach, so the tomato sugo was perfect for our pre-race pasta night!

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4-Ingredient Roma Tomato Sugo

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

4-Ingredient Roma Tomato Sugo

An easy and classic tomato sauce!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs San Marzano tomatoes – or Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • (Staples: salt and black pepper to taste)

Instructions

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.

Add the garlic and cook for a minute then add one tablespoon of fresh basil. Cook for a minute.

Add in the chopped tomatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Simmer for 30-50 minutes while stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. The longer you cook it for the thicker it'll become.

Check seasoning and let rest warm till needed or remove, let cool, and store in the refrigerator. Will keep over a week or you can freeze it for use when tomatoes aren't in season.

Serve with your favorite pasta! Enjoy!

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/4-ingredient-roma-tomato-sugo/

Herbed Cauliflower Mash

I know… Not the prettiest photo, but really tasty!

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This cauliflower purré makes a wonderful stand in for mashed potatoes! It is low-carb, yet creamy and a satisfying side dish that goes well with everything from roasted veggies to pan seared fish fillet and even Bratwurst…

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Mr. RPK actually loves mashed potatoes, but I got him on this cauliflower mash.

My secret ingredient is freshly ground nutmeg (which I also use for the mashed potatoes).

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I added fresh herbs and green onions, not just for better taste but also to add something green to the white cauliflower. Looks so pretty!

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Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 Tbsp chives, thinly sliced

½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 10-15 minutes.

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In the meantime, sauté green onions in a small skillet for 2-3 minutes until they soften. Remove from heat and mix with chives and thyme.

Drain the cauliflower and place it back into the pot.

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Add nutmeg, herb mix, olive oil and s & p. Mix until well combined.

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Using a hand mixer, purré everything into a mash.

Adjust seasoning if needed.

For dinner, we enjoyed the cauli mash with Italian sausages…

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Next day’s lunch we had the leftovers with arugula salad and roasted veggies. Delish!

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Herbed Cauliflower Mash

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Herbed Cauliflower Mash

A low-carb stand in for mashed potatoes. The nutmeg and the herbs make the difference!

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbsp chives, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Instructions

In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, sauté green onions in a small skillet for 2-3 minutes until they soften.

Remove from heat and mix with chives and thyme.

Drain the cauliflower and place it back into the pot.

Add nutmeg, herb mix, olive oil and s & p.

Mix until well combined.

Using a hand mixer, purré everything into a mash.

Adjust seasoning if needed.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/herbed-cauliflower-mash/

Ratatouille

RATATOUILLE – a vegetable sauce from the Provence traditionally made with various bell peppers…

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I placed this recipe in the pasta category, as it is just a great pasta sauce! Today we had it with some quinoa rice pasta for lunch. 

But we love the Ratatouille as a side dish along with seafood, grilled chicken or steak.

 Anyway, it’s quick and easy – so you better double the recipe so you can enjoy over several meals, with or without pasta, vegetarian or with a nice piece of fish or meat.

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Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ red onion, chopped
1 small red chile, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
1 yellow zucchini squash, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsps tomato paste
1/3 cup (80ml) water
2 tsps balsamic vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high. Sauté onions and chile for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add bell peppers, zucchini squash and garlic and sauté for another 10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened a bit. Add rosemary and tomato paste and stir until well combined. Add water. Lower heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and let it cook for another 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Serve with your favorite pasta or as a side dish along with European sea bass, grilled chicken or steak.

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What is your favorite dish that includes bell peppers?

Ratatouille

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 cups of sauce

Serving Size: 4

Ratatouille

RATATOUILLE - a vegetable sauce from the Provence traditionally made with various bell peppers...

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 small red chile, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow zucchini squash, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 Tbsps tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) water
  • 2 tsps balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high.

Sauté onions and chile for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent.

Add bell peppers, zucchini squash and garlic and sauté for another 10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened a bit.

Add rosemary and tomato paste and stir until well combined.

Add water. Lower heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Add the balsamic vinegar and let it cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with your favorite pasta or as a side dish along with European sea bass, grilled chicken or steak.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/ratatouille/

Lentil Carrot Burgers

lentil burgers

Even my husband loves these meatless burgers!

 

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked lentils

2 tbsp ground flaxseed

3 tbsp water

2 medium carrots, shredded

1/3 cup red onions, finely chopped

1 tsp olive oil

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

¼ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp smoked sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

 

Mix flaxseed meal and water and set aside (it will get gluey). In medium pan heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients (except of the 1 tbsp oil) together until well-blended. Form into 5 even patties.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sear the burgers for about 5 minutes on each side until nicely browned.

Serve with sautéed kale.

 

Lentil Carrot Burgers

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 5 burgers

Serving Size: 2-3 people

An easy recipe for a meatless burger that will also please meat lovers!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1/3 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp smoked sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

Mix flaxseed meal and water and set aside (it will get gluey). In medium pan heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients (except of the 1 tbsp oil) together until well-blended. Form into 5 even patties.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sear the burgers for about 5 minutes on each side until nicely browned.

Serve with sautéed kale.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/lentil-carrot-burgers/