You just get certain urges for certain foods at certain times of year, right? They vary, based on where you live, the weather, what feels like comfort food to you, and your own taste, but there are some predictable tastes. A few weeks ago, I asked fans on my Facebook Author page what they liked most about fall. Sweaters, football, new books by favorite authors all got votes, but the most popular responses? Soup, and pumpkin-flavored food and drink.
And so, today's recipe combines them both.
A note on ingredients: We rarely manage to make our own vegetable stock; we use Pacific Organics low sodium stocks, which are tasty and affordable, and come in resealable containers. I admit, my fresh ginger frequently comes out of a jar; yours can, too. (Find it in the produce section.) Curry and garam masala are spice blends, as varied as the individual making them; we make our own—GUILTY AS CINNAMON (out December 1; available for pre-order now) includes recipes for both, but you can buy both blends in many groceries, as well as spice shops and Indian groceries. Don’t worry if you associate curry with heat; just look for a milder blend—and the other ingredients in this soup will mellow out the heat.
Plus, cinnamon. In GUILTY AS CINNAMON, Pepper Reece, the owner of Seattle Spice Shop in the Pike Place Market, and Sandra, her assistant manager, have been running a taste test, sampling all the cinnamon rolls available in the Market. They’re offering customers samples of cinnamon, and setting up a display with favorite mysteries with cinnamon in the title: Cinnamon Skin by John D. MacDonald, Cinnamon Kiss by Walter Mosley, and of course, The Cinnamon Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke. Here's the exchange:
“Cinnamon?" a woman said, reaching for a jar of our custom blend. "I always think of that as a fall spice."
"It's a spice for all seasons. You can make do without Celtic salt and smoked salt, three kinds of paprika, and all those exotic chile peppers. But you cannot make decent toast without cinnamon."
And for some reason, I’ve also been craving kale. So we put them together, for your comfort and nourishment! Add a loaf of crunchy bread and voila! Instant comfort and warmth.
(My friend Lita tried this recipe, too, and her pictures turned out better than mine, so I used hers. Thanks, Lita!)
Leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed ARC (Advance Review Copy) of GUILTY AS CINNAMON and a gingerbread man tea infuser. Always in season!
Gingered Pumpkin Apple Soup2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 medium celery stalks, chopped
2-3 medium tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
1 can (15-16 ounces) unsweetened pumpkin or butternut squash
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder or garam masala
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups milk (soy milk is a good substitute)
salt to taste
toasted pumpkin seeds, plain or seasoned, for garnish (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a soup kettle. Add the onion and celery, and saute over low-medium heat until the onion starts to turn golden.
Add the apples, stock, pumpkin, ginger, curry or garam masala, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 30-40 minutes. Stir carefully, as the mixture can pop and will be very hot.
Reduce heat to low. Stir in the milk and heat thoroughly. If you’d like a thicker soup, simmer a little longer uncovered.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Spread pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and bake 6-8 minutes, until they start to pop. (You can toss them in seasoned salt or with other spices, such as a curry or cinnamon-chile mix before toasting, if you'd like.)
When soup has simmered, add salt to taste. Garnish the serving bowls with toasted seeds.
Serves 6-8. This soup improves in flavor as it sits, so you can make it ahead and reheat before serving.
Sauteed Kale1 bunch leafy green kale (about half a pound), including stems; trim the ends
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
dash of red wine vinegar
Rinse and coarsely chop the kale.
Toss in the sea salt and pepper flakes, and add a dash of red wine vinegar to deglaze the pan. Stir quickly and serve.
Okay, so that's the kale with mac and cheese, not soup. Darned if I know where that other photo went! But the kale is equally yummy -- and I'll give you that recipe another time!
Pepper Reece knows that fiery flavors are the spice of life. But when a customer dies of a chili overdose, she finds herself in hot pursuit of a murderer…
From the cover ...
Murder heats up Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the next Spice Shop mystery from the national bestselling author of Assault and Pepper.
Springtime in Seattle’s Pike Place Market means tasty foods and wide-eyed tourists, and Pepper’s Seattle Spice Shop is ready for the crowds. With flavorful combinations and a fresh approach, she’s sure to win over the public. Even better, she’s working with several local restaurants as their chief herb and spice supplier. Business is cooking, until one of Pepper’s potential clients, a young chef named Tamara Langston, is found dead, her life extinguished by the dangerously hot ghost chili—a spice Pepper carries in her shop.
Now stuck in the middle of a heated police investigation, Pepper must use all her senses to find out who wanted to keep Tamara’s new café from opening—before someone else gets burned…
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.
Connect with her on her website or on Facebook.