It's almost Passover! We're busy cleaning the house in preparation of the upcoming holiday (when leavened foods are not eaten). Beets are a classic Passover food, usually boiled in water with sugar to make borscht. I recently spotted the cutest bag of little beets at Supermarche PA and couldn't resist. I've been trying to avoid starches at dinner and eating more vegetables, so why not add beets to that list? I used half the bag raw, just peeled and sliced or grated and mixed into salads, but I really wanted to roast them. Roasting beets intensifies their flavor, brings out their sweetness, and makes them easy to peel. I did some research and discovered it's so easy that I'll be making this a lot more often now that I know how!
Squash Garam Masala Soup by Caitlin
I decided to start with this recipe because it shows, in one word, how I often think about cooking. Improvisation is the word to remember when making this soup.
Soup is a perfect recipe to start improvising with your ingredients, because unlike a baking project where precise measurements are important, it is much more forgiving when you just make it with what you have on hand. I would never run out to the store before making this soup because I didn’t have one of the ingredients. The key to good soup making is understanding what substitutions you can make and I’ve given lots of different options, while also letting you know the way I usually make it.
First, you can change the type of aromatics you sauté at the start without any harm to the final taste of the soup. If you only have carrots, then the soup becomes a delicious Squash Carrot Soup. Have some leeks or shallots, but no onions- sounds like a good substitution. No olive oil? Use butter, or whatever neutral oil you have around. Only 2 cups of stock in a corner of your fridge that needs to be used? That’s fine, just add a splash more of your apple cider and make up the remainder with water, as long as you have a total of 5 ½- 6 cups liquid, this soup will taste great.
Second, as you change the amount of spice in the soup, the character of the soup will change as well. One teaspoon of Garam Malsala gives you a soup with a gentle warmness and only a hint of something exotic… a full on 1 tablespoon of Indian spice mix creates an assertive bold soup, telling in your mouth to add a big dollop of yogurt to your bowl and bring some samosas and chutney to the table.
Finally, you can be experimental with the garnishes. A dollop yogurt, white spirals swirled through bright orange soup is nice, but other additions, like cilantro, some nuts or pumpkin seeds or quick croutons (toss some bread in oil and toast in the oven at 350 for around 10 minutes) can be added, all changing the taste of the soup until it’s exactly right for you!