Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

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Hash-Browned Sweet Potatoes with Garam Masala and Turmeric

by Danica Waters / photo courtesy of www.cmroman.com

 

Here is a toast to replacing the everyday with the truly extraordinary – especially when the extraordinary is exceedingly simple to create.  Take these hash browns, for example.  Paired with Sunday morning omlettes (try them stuffed with spinach, scallions, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and some spicy pepper jack), this preparation is a surprisingly simple, altogether incredible addition to the breakfast table.

Light some white candles and serve with a pot of hot tea.  (Even if you’re still in your jammies.)

Enjoy!

 

Hash-Browned Sweet Potatoes with Garam Masala and Turmeric

2 med. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut to ¼”dice

2 small russet potatoes, cut to ¼” dice

1 onion, cut to ½” dice

5 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

¼ C olive oil

Kosher salt

3 tsp garam masala or to taste

1 tsp turmeric, or to taste

 

In large heavy pan with a good lid, heat pan over medium heat.  Add oil until hot but not smoking.  When oil is ready, add potatoes, onion, garlic, and spices.  Combine and cover – cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  When potatoes are golden brown and lightly caramelized on the base of the pan, remove lid and allow some of the moisture to dissipate.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

Posted January 3rd, 2012.

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Southwestern Turkey Chipotle Chowder

by Danica Waters / chipotle photo courtesy of www.motherearthnews.com

 

I love Thanksgiving.  However, I must confess, once it’s over, my personal palate wants to be as far away from Thanksgiving flavors as is humanly possible.

 

Out of desperation and sheer will several Thanksgivings ago, I pulled everything out of my kitchen cabinets, chose a few ingredients that looked like they’d be light years from anything closely resembling potatoes or stuffing, and ended up what my family feels is a little masterpiece.  They expect it to follow Thanksgiving at this point, it’s that good.

 

Now keep in mind that although chipotles play really well against the strong flavor of turkey meat (and the darker the meat, the better) they can be a bit on the naughty side; their heat will sneak up on you and set your tongue on fire if you’re not careful.  Adding a whole 6-oz can to your soup will most certainly put hair on your chest and enliven your step, so judge your own tastes accordingly.

 

I, for one, don’t like to perpetuate that Thanksgiving-food-coma-feeling any longer than I have to, so I make it per my original recipe and serve it with a hearty piece of Corn Bread.

 

And Milk.  Lots of cold milk.

 

Enjoy!

 

Southwestern Turkey Chipotle Chowder

 

1 – 18 lb turkey carcass

1 medium onion chopped coarsely

3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

Several sprigs fresh parsley

1 bay leaf

 

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, diced

3 stalks celery, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

2 tsp chicken or vegetable bullion, or to taste

1 – 6 oz can chipotle chile peppers, chopped fine (or use to taste!)

1 – 8 oz can green chiles, chopped fine

1 – 16 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

1 ear corn, kernels stripped

3 Tbsp minced cilantro

3 Tbsp minced parsley

2 C basmati rice

Sour Cream, Lime Sections, Minced Cilantro for garnish

 

Place turkey carcass (all of it) into a large stockpot.  Add 1 coarsely chopped onion, 2 stalks celery, bay leaf, and several sprigs of parsley.  Cover all with water, and boil until meat loosens from bone and stock becomes fragrant.  For richer stock, allow liquid to reduce a bit.  Allow to cool thoroughly; strain off stock and reserve in stock pot.

 

Discard vegetables.  Remove meat from bone, being ultra-careful to separate any bone and cartilage from the meat. (Sorry, but NOTHING will ruin a great homemade soup faster than finding a bit of bone or cartilage in it.  That’s just… ick.)  Chop or shred turkey meat and set aside.

 

In separate pan, saute onion and garlic until soft, add celery.  Saute about 1 minute, add carrots and allow to sauté for approximately 2 minutes more.

 

Season reserved stock in stockpot with chicken bullion or stock concentrate – preferably MSG-free!  Add vegetable mixture to reserved stock; add chopped de-boned turkey, green chiles, black beans, cilantro & parsley.

 

Add finely chopped chipotle peppers to taste – be careful – add a bit at a time, as the smoky heat can sneak up quickly!

 

Add raw rice to soup, simmer until rice is tender, approximately 30 minutes.  Add fresh corn just prior to serving – the crisp tender texture makes the soup wonderful!

 

Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, and a generous squeeze of lime juice.

 

Posted November 25th, 2011.

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Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

by Danica Waters / butternut squash image courtesy of www.cookinglight.com

 

This, dear readers,  is a recipe for Butternut Squash soup excellence.  Clipped from an issue of the Rocky Mountain News years ago, this recipe qualifies as one of my personal all-time favorites for the following reasons:

 

It is definitely “comforting”, which makes it a great bet for weekend soup-and-sandwich fare (think grilled Havarti cheese with caramelized onions on French  – or better yet, homemade – bread);

 

It is also extremely sophisticated, which makes it an outstanding choice for a formal, multiple-course meal;

 

But the best part of all is that this is not your ordinary comforting cream soup.  It is far more exciting; the addition of cayenne pepper creates a sensory surprise and leaves a delicious tingle on your tongue; go sparingly at first and add to suit your preference.

 

Enjoy!

 

Creamy Squash Soup

(as seen in the Rocky Mountain News)

 

1/3 C diced white onion (don’t substitute – the white onion is more delicate than its yellow cousins!)

3 Tbsp dry white wine

1/8 tsp marjoram

2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks*

4 C rich chicken stock

1-1/2 C heavy cream or half and half

4 Tbsp butter, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

Garnish:  sour cream, freshly snipped chives or fresh rosemary sprig; toasted pumpkin seeds or toasted chopped walnuts

 

Saute the onion in one tablespoon of the butter until soft and transparent.  Add the wine, marjoram, squash and stock and bring to a boil over high heat.

 

Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes or so, or until the squash is very tender.

 

Carefully puree the mixture in a blender, a little at a time.  Pour it back into the pan over medium heat and add cream and butter.  Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.  Heat the soup, stirring constantly, until heated through (do not allow to boil).  Taste and add more seasonings, if desired.  If the soup is too thick, thin it with more stock or cream.

 

Keep the soup warm over low heat or over a double-boiler.  Be careful not to scorch it.  Serve the soup in mugs or wide, flat bowls with your choice of garnishes.

 

Serves 4

 

*Note from author:  Figuring out how to cut and peel a butternut squash safely and efficiently is a bit of a challenge due to their hard, thick skins.  Here’s some tips:

 

1)  Use a large, very sharp Chef’s knife or Santoku.

2)  Use a thick cutting board with a non-skid bottom.  Wood is great!

3)  Turn the squash on its side, and, cutting from the widest end first, cut the squash into rings approximately 1-1/2” thick.

4)  Remove the seeds and fibers from the inside of the rings and discard.

5)  Cut the rings into quarters.

6)  Using a paring knife, peel the hard skins off the squash and discard.

7)  Cut the squash into smaller pieces if desired.

 

Voila!  You have conquered a butternut squash!  (And you get to keep your fingers!)

Posted November 17th, 2011.

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Chipotle Cornbread

by Danica Waters

It is cold and wet today, just like the weathermen promised.  The rain is coming down in big, splashy drops and I must confess: .I absolutely love days like today.   Ella Fitzgerald is simmering on my speakers, a pot of dee-lish Lentil Soup simmering on the stove, and this spicy little number will be the perfect accompaniment to all of it.

You can make this cornbread with any type of salsa; it’s milder and more innocent with a good green chile salsa or even  a basic tomato-jalapeno salsa.  But there’s something wicked and deliberate about the smoky nature of chipotles.  Be careful – the heat will sneak up on you, so if you’re serving kids or a crowd, either use the salsa sparingly or only marble half the batch.

Enjoy!

 

Chipotle Cornbread

1 cup Yellow Corn Meal (I use Alber’s)

1 C all-purpose flour

1/4 C granulated sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 C milk

1/3 C vegetable oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 – 3 Tbsp chipotle salsa, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, oil and egg in small bowl; mix well. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour into prepared pan.

Spoon chipotle salsa in small mounds onto the cornbread surface; using a knife, swirl salsa through batter to create marbled effect.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter.

NOTE Recipe may be doubled. Use greased 13×9-inch baking pan; bake as above.

 

FOR MUFFINS:
SPOON batter into 10 to 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes.

Posted November 11th, 2011.

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Lentil Soup, Chateau Vegas

by Danica Waters / photo credits at bottom of post

This is one of my all-time favorite winter soups, the recipe for which hailed from the old Chateau Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This is going to sound weird, but this soup tastes glamorous.  And powerful, too, in a Sinatra sort of way.   Try it – you’ll see what I mean.  It is hearty, with a delicious tang and terrific texture.  It’s also incredibly easy to make, which comes in very handy when you have a million holiday-related things to do on top of the million other normal everyday things you have to do.

 

While the original recipe calls for the addition of bacon and frankfurters.  I’ve found that substituting a bit of diced turkey ham and a few drops of liquid smoke flavoring substitutes for the bacon just fine.  With respect to the frankfurters, I use Foster Farms turkey franks.  Rated #1 in taste tests for best flavor and best overall texture (no tough skins – could easily double as a regular hot dog), Foster Farms guarantees no added hormones or steroids. (source: http://www.seattlepi.com)

 

Serve it with a thick slice of Chipotle Cornbread (recipe to follow tomorrow!) and a crisp salad.  It’ll warm you up…

 

Enjoy!

Lentil Soup

(Chateau Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada; as seen in Bon Appetit’s Favorite Restaurant Recipes)

 

Serves 6

 

2 slices bacon, finely chopped

1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil (optional)

1 celery stalk, diced

1 carrot, diced

¼ medium onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 quarts water (8 cups)

1 pound lentils (brown lentils preferred for texture)

¼ C diced canned tomatoes

1 bay leaf

 

6 frankfurters, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp steak sauce

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp Kosher salt, or to taste

 

Fry bacon (or diced turkey ham) in Dutch oven until almost crisp, adding oil if necessary.  Add celery, carrot, onion, and garlic, and sauté until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in water, lentils, tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.

 

Stir in remaining ingredients and continue cooking until frankfurter slices are heated, about 10 minutes.

 

Photo Credits:

Bowl of lentil soup courtesy of  www. chicgalleria.com

Raw lentils image courtesy of www.slowcarbfoodie.com

Foster Farms Turkey Franks image courtesy of www.fosterfarms.com


 

Posted November 10th, 2011.

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Savory Mediterranean Cheesecake

by Danica Waters

 

Who says cheesecake is only for dessert?  This savory Mediterranean Cheesecake is undoubtedly as addictive as its sweeter cousin.  Not too rich, but substantial enough to satisfy, the rich flavor of Parmesan mingles with the mild tang of feta to hit all the right spots for all kinds of partygoers.  Unbeatable as an hors d oeuvre or as an accompaniment to soup or salad, it is also a visual showstopper, guaranteed to rock any buffet table it’s invited to.

 

This recipe is for 1 – 9 inch cheesecake, which will feed a rather large crowd.  Because it freezes extremely well, try making two smaller cheesecakes out of one batch.  Homemade Cracker Bread is a perfect accompaniment, and is also easily made ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about on party-day.

 

Enjoy!

 

Savory Mediterranean Cheesecake

(Fine Cooking Magazine)

 

1-1/2 C Panko Breadcrumbs

6 Tbsp butter, melted

 

3/4 C butter

¼ C minced green onion

¼ C chopped fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, or enough fresh spinach that has been chopped well and wilted to render approximately 1-1/2 C.

3 – 8 oz packages cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened

¼ C heavy whipping cream

4 large eggs

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

2 – 2.5 oz cans sliced black olives, drained

1 C grated good-quality Parmesan cheese

1 C crumbled feta cheese

 

Sour cream

Fresh chopped herbs

*

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

 

In a small bowl, combine panko and melted butter.  Press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (or use two 5-inch springform pans).  Bake 8 minutes.

 

In a medium skillet, melt ¾ C butter over medium high heat.  Add onion, parsley, and garlic.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender.  Add spinach, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and set aside.

 

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, cream, and eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  Divide mixture evenly into two medium bowls.  Stir spinach mixture into one-half of cream cheese mixture.  Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle evenly with sliced olives.

 

Stir Parmesan cheese and feta cheese into other half of cream cheese mixture.  Spread cheese mixture evenly over olives.  Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes (for 9-inch springform;  if using smaller pans, adjust time accordingly).  Let cool completely in pan.  Gently run a knife around edges of pan to release sides.  Cover, and chill.

 

Prior to serving, remove cake from springform ring.  Top with a light spread of dairy sour cream, and garnish with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

 

Serve cheesecake at room temperature with assorted crackers (try homemade Cracker Bread)

 

Note:  Cheesecake can be made up to one month ahead!  Wrap tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap, and freeze.  Simply let come to room temperature before serving.

Posted October 27th, 2011.

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Pears With Watercress and Gorgonzola

by Danica Waters

When simple ingredients can be combined in a manner that inspires not just the palate, but excites the soul, this is the true magic of good cooking.  This salad is just that magical.  It is one of the crown jewels of my personal recipe collection.  The vertical presentation is visually breathtaking; the flavors and textures are nothing short of inspired.

 

While this simple salad is intended to be a first course, beware:  it is incredibly filling.   Be sure to judge your pear size according to the way you intend to serve this little culinary gem.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Pears With Watercress and Gorgonzola

(serves 4)

 

4 perfectly ripe, smooth-skinned (not overripe, not underripe) pears

2 C watercress

2 Tbsp toasted pecan pieces

1 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)

2 oz crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Raspberry or red wine vinaigrette salad dressing

Lemon juice

Honey

 

Gently wash pears with a natural fruit and vegetable wash; set aside.

Toss watercress with pecans, cranberries and gorgonzola; drizzle with salad dressing and gently toss to combine.

Core pears from bottom, leaving the stem intact.  Slice each pear in four horizontal slices; brush all sides generously with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

On individual salad plates, reassemble pears with salad mix in the middle and between each pear layer.  Drizzle with honey.

Posted October 14th, 2011.

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Balsamic Glazed Acorn Squash

by Danica Waters

 

In the chilly autumn evenings, nothing beats the flavor and aroma of warm, baked squash.  While acorn squash is typically associated with winter squash varieties, it actually belongs to the same species as summer squashes, such as zucchini and yellow crooknecks.  Thankfully, the tough skin of an acorn squash allows it to keep for weeks in a cool, dark place, making it a favorite staple for the fall and winter months.

 

The best acorn squash should be approximately one to three pounds, and feel heavy for its size.  If the squash is any bigger than that, you run the risk of getting a squash that has been harvested too late in the season, which will render the squash tough and stringy.  Look for a squash that has a nice combination of green and orange coloring, that’s not too shiny.  If the squash is shiny and completely green, it’s been harvested prematurely.

 

Nutritionally, a one-cup serving of acorn squash comes in at a meager 115 calories and is packed with fiber, potassium, and magnesium.  That same one cup serving will also give you 2 grams of protein and 30% of your daily Vitamin C requirements, which makes it a very attractive alternative to, say, diet-killer mashed potatoes.  While acorn squash is traditionally baked and seasoned with loads of butter and brown sugar, this recipe features a figure-friendly basting with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 

And F.Y.I.:  try roasting and seasoning the acorn squash seeds for sprinkling on salads.  They’re edible and delicious!

 

Enjoy!

 

Balsamic Glazed Acorn Squash

 

Acorn squash, figure on serving one-half of a squash per person

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Kosher Salt

Balsamic Vinegar

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Wash acorn squash (see recipe for vinegar-based vegetable wash).  Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds and long fibrous strands.

 

Sprinkle squash halves with kosher salt; place face down in a large roasting pan.  Add water to the pan to a depth of 1/4” and place in oven. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes, or until squash is tender but still firm.

 

Remove from oven and allow to cool; slice squash halves into 1-1/2” sections on the bias and put back in the roasting pan, right-side up.  Brush each section generously with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and return to hot oven.

 

Bake five minutes; baste squash with balsamic vinegar.  Repeat process until squash is very tender and well-roasted.  Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

 

Posted October 13th, 2011.

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Golden Raisin Irish Soda Bread

by Danica Waters

 

Bread with soup, soup with bread – to serve one without the other seems almost an act against NATURE. (Ok. That’s totally too dramatic.  But in any case, soup without some sort of bread – even a cracker, for heaven’s sake – seems just plain wrong.)

In contemplating the virtues of soup’s trusty, crusty counterpart, I wondered: “Is it truly possible to improve upon a savory “crusty loaf”? Really?”

Yes, it is.  And this is it.

Irish Soda Bread is incredibly easy to make, with almost guaranteed no-fail results every time.  Don’t let the golden raisins fool you:  this version of Irish Soda Bread is definitely a savory.  But the golden raisins stand out on the palate like little glimmers of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy day.

This is the perfect accompaniment to Parsnip and Leek Soup.

Enjoy!

 

 

Golden Raisin Irish Soda Bread

(Gourmet Magazine)

 

2 C unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for sprinkling

¼ C wheat bran or toasted wheat germ (not bran cereal)(optional – it gives a lovely texture but don’t panic if you don’t have it!)

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ stick (1/4 C) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1 C golden raisins

1 C buttermilk or plain yogurt

 

Preheat oven to 400? and sprinkle a baking sheet lightly with flour.

 

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, bran or wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.  Add butter and toss to coat with flour.  With fingertips rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add raisins and toss until coated.  Add buttermilk or yogurt and stir until dough is moistened evenly.

 

On a floured surface, knead the dough 1 minute, sprinkling lightly with additional flour to prevent sticking (dough should remain soft).  Shape dough into a ball.

 

On a prepared baking sheet, pat dough out into a 6-inch round.  Sprinkle round with additional flour and with fingertips spread lightly over round.  With a sharp knife cut a shallow X in top of round.

 

Bake bread in middle of oven 35 – 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  Wrap bread in a kitchen towel and colon a rack 1 hour. Unwrap bread and cool 1 hour more.

 

Posted October 5th, 2011.

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Parsnip and Leek Soup

by Danica Waters

 

Here in the Skagit Valley, just over a week past the autumnal equinox, sea mists hang noticeably thicker and creep down lower to enshroud the hillsides leading to the mercurial Puget Sound.  This is my favorite time of year; the walking paths that were only recently lined with the lush emerald foliage of a hearty Indian summer are now littered with crimson and gold.

And now, as bare black branches and the wings of Canadian geese stretch themselves against the fiery evening skies, a noticeable chill to the evening air sends me to the kitchen with thoughts of all things warm and wonderful…

…like SOUP!  And happily, this is a very delicious soup, indeed.  Adapted a bit from a clipping out of Fine Cooking Magazine, it is wonderful served with a hearty loaf of bread (try Golden Raisin Irish Soda Bread) and a nice glass of wine, with great music and a crackling fire in the background.

 

Enjoy!

 

Parsnip and Leek Soup

(adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine)

 

Make the Croutons:

 

1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

3-4 slices good-quality white bread (French, Sheepherders’, etc.), crusts removed and cut to ½” cubes

Sea or Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the bread cubes and fry, tossing and stirring, until crisp and golden on all sides.  Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, set aside.

 

Make the Soup:

 

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 C chopped leeks (white and light green parts only, from 2-3 large leeks) rinsed and drained

Kosher salt

1 lb parsnips, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1-inch pieces

¼ dry sherry or dry white wine

6 C vegetable broth (preferably homemade)

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 small bay leaves, broken in half

½ tsp white peppercorns, lightly crushed

¼ C heavy cream (optional)

2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme, for garnish

 

Heat the oil in a wide soup pot over medium heat.  Add the leeks, season with approximately 1 tsp salt, and cook gently until the leeks have softened and just begin to turn golden, 8-10 minutes.

 

Add the parsnips and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the parsnips are fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the sherry, increase the heat to medium high, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the broth.  Tie the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a cheesecloth sachet and toss it into the pot.  Partially cover the pot, bring to a boil, immediately lower the heat, and simmer partially covered until the parsnips are soft enough to mash against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.  Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Discard the sachet.

 

Puree the soup in batches using a stand or immersion (hand) blender, being sure to combine a mix of broth and solids in each batch.  If your using a stand blender, fill it no more than 2/3 full and be sure to vent the blender so the top doesn’t pop off (either remove the lid’s pop-out center or lift one edge of the lid and drape with a clean towel).  Rinse the soup pot, return the blended soup to the pot, taste, and adjust seasonings.    If you’re using the cream, add it now (if you’re making the soup ahead, wait to add the cream until you reheat the soup just before serving).  Garnish each bowl with some of the croutons and a pinch of fresh thyme.

 

Serves 6-8, yields approx. 7 cups.

 

Posted October 3rd, 2011.

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