Thursday, April 19, 2018
Cooking

Butternut squash soup with vanilla, pears hearty and tasty

After many dinners together, I can tell you Danny is a soup hero.

He is always willing to whip up soup, and though it may seem unlikely, the soups we've shared are some of my favorite meals. They're modest, as he'll tell you. Nothing too fancy. Soup is not necessarily made to impress; it's simply a homemade meal to feed, comfort and nourish you, and to let you know that you are loved. When it's raining all afternoon or you've caught the inevitable cold, it's all you want.

Early on, there was a shrimp bisque. He deftly peeled shrimp and used the skins to make his own stock. We ate this when our first dining room was still bare and we had only patio chairs to sit on. Whenever we have that soup again, it takes me back to those sweet early days of living together.

There was a cream of celery soup with matching celery bread that was all his idea. We raved about a French white bean and ham stew that simmered until nearly midnight. He stayed up stirring after I fell asleep.

One of our favorites is a butternut squash soup with a few unexpected ingredients: apple cider, pear and vanilla. The last one isn't so odd if you remind yourself that vanilla is a spice. These all work together to perk up a soup that always shows up around this time of year, but this version boasts more than heavy cream to keep it interesting.

Unlike the ham stew, this bright orange number comes together fairly quickly on a weeknight, and that only adds to its appeal. Leftovers for lunch somehow taste even better. Pull out this recipe on a gray day and you'll feel like your own soup hero.

Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with boyfriend Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
A taste test for drinking water? They can be surprisingly different

A taste test for drinking water? They can be surprisingly different

BROOKSVILLEThey brought it in glass carboys, in jars, in 2-liter bottles. It stacked up at the entrance to the auditorium, some of it just slightly murky but most of it crystal clear.Water. For more than 15 years the members of Region IV Florida Sect...
Published: 04/18/18
Five ideas for travel-friendly snacks

Five ideas for travel-friendly snacks

Whenever I fly, I pay way too much for food. I’ve stumbled jet-lagged into fancy wine booths and nearly bankrupted myself with cheese plates. I’ve purchased granola bars that cost more than my plane ticket (okay, maybe it just felt that way). If you’...
Published: 04/18/18
Enjoy a slice of sunshine with Tangerine, Ginger and Chocolate Tart

Enjoy a slice of sunshine with Tangerine, Ginger and Chocolate Tart

There are chocolate people, and there are vanilla people. I am a lemon person.Show me a dessert menu, and I’ll choose whatever is flavored with puckery lemon or any of her citrus sisters — lime, tangerine, kumquat, yuzu. Even as a kid, I went for lem...
Published: 04/17/18
Recipe for 30-Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs

Recipe for 30-Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs

As the name suggests, 30-Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs is no substitute for the kind of meatballs simmered for hours in your nonna’s Sunday gravy. Strangely enough, the recipe doesn’t even include oregano or basil or a dry Chianti. And yet I think t...
Published: 04/17/18
Re-create that fancy spa water at home

Re-create that fancy spa water at home

It was lunchtime in the middle of the workday, so although I sat at the bar at downtown St. Petersburg’s Asie Pan-Asian, I opted for a water. The bartender poured a glass and I took an unknowing sip.Cucumber. It was definitely cucumber. I’m not the b...
Published: 04/17/18
Taste test: citrus-flavored sparkling water

Taste test: citrus-flavored sparkling water

Many years ago, I took a trip to Rome and learned enough Italian to find directions and order dinner from menus. I learned very quickly that if I didn’t make it clear, I would get sparkling water rather than still water at every restaurant. My husban...
Published: 04/16/18
Here’s how to make shakshuka, the egg dish with the awesome name

Here’s how to make shakshuka, the egg dish with the awesome name

By Rick NelsonSuddenly, it seems like shakshuka is everywhere.Restaurant menus. Food Network how-to shows. YouTube videos. And on breakfast, lunch and dinner tables in homes across the country.Maybe the dish’s ascendancy can be traced to cookbook aut...
Published: 04/11/18
Cooking Challenge: Making a bowl of fancy bacon-and-egg ramen at home

Cooking Challenge: Making a bowl of fancy bacon-and-egg ramen at home

My boyfriend, Ben, screws a nail into the cork of our Bread and Butter wine bottle. I’ve recently moved into my own apartment — the first step in a fully adult life — but apparently, Adult Me doesn’t own a bottle opener. Tonight, I’m cooking my first...
Published: 04/11/18

From the food editor: Homemade biscuits make the meal

Raise your hand if you have leftover Easter ham in your freezer. Yeah, me too. It’s not every day I pick up a large cured ham at the supermarket, so when holidays come around that call for the pork centerpiece, I always try to think of at least three...
Published: 04/10/18
Spice up salmon with this tarragon vinaigrette

Spice up salmon with this tarragon vinaigrette

A good piece of fish needs very little to make it perfect. Here, the anisey-tangy flavor of tarragon vinaigrette is a wonderful complement to the lushness of salmon fillets. If you start with excellent salmon and super-fresh herbs, and don’t overcook...
Published: 04/10/18