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Welcoming the Ski Season with a Vegetable Soup Trio

December 27, 2010

If you live on the Eastern Seaboard I’m guessing your cold, blustery holiday looked (and felt) something like the white out conditions I had to endure during a certain ski trip years ago.  I hope you managed to stay safe with family and friends and warm with a bit of egg nog, hot cocoa or perhaps something with even a bit more kick.

Being a resident of northern California, I’m a few hours drive away for any snowstorm to be a concern so this time of year brings excitement for me as it means ski season is upon us. I skied only a few times growing up so the real learning didn’t come until my late twenties when I met my future husband (“D”), a certified ski bum par excellence.  Would you like to hear about our first skiing experience together?

The time was ten years ago; D and I had been dating just under a year.  Let me preface by saying that it’s never a good idea to be taught to ski by your partner which, of course, was just what he had in mind.  You’ve got natural ability, he said.  This will be easy for you.  With our friends in tow, he took me near the top of Ajax Mountain (Colorado), helped me click into my skis  and said, “Let’s go!”

You can guess that all I had to do was look down that steep run and this coward’s legs began to feel like noodles.  I must have fallen every few feet–D was frustrated and outwardly tried to be encouraging though inside he must have cursed himself for getting into this situation.  In between runs our friends would stop alongside us to offer their own words of encouragement but it all fell on deaf ears.  All I could think about was the next fall and that was that.  Eventually, three people trying to “help” me was too much to take.  I had D send our friends away so the tears could fall freely.  I was angry, D was angry–both with ourselves and each other and in typical stubborn fashion, I got out of my skis, walked down to the nearest lift, and signed up for classes as soon as I reached the base of the mountain.

Our very first ski trip together, Colorado

After three days of lessons and being able to ski down the blue runs (albeit tentatively) this girl found her smile again.  Since that time my skiing has much improved thanks to my husband’s determination to keep me progressing.  Knowing each other better has also helped us to assume the roles of student and teacher without screaming divorce later.  I will never be as graceful as he is is and I will never ski off piste like he does  but we’ve enjoyed some wonderful skiing adventures over the years.

The Matterhorn, Switzerland

Courchevel, France

With our friends and last down the hill, Kitzbühel, Austria

 

Taking a much needed break, St. Moritz

Sadly, due to a silly little fall a few years ago, fear has returned with a vengeance and I admit that I’ve regressed (quite) a bit.  After years of unquestioningly following my husband down some steep terrain, the fear is back. While I still enjoy skiing, I’m now more appreciative of quiet moments like this.

But instead of a cup of tea, I had a hankering for simple soup.  What could be better on a cold day?  I had some leftover cooked brussels sprouts, a couple of yams and a box of frozen squash purée.  I had never purchased the latter before but I wanted to experiment with it.

 

 

The other, bigger inspiration came from Lisa at Authentic Suburban Gourmet.  At a dinner party she threw recently, she served a delicious zucchini bisque that got its flavor boost from a bit of curry powder.  When Liren of Kitchen Confidante mentioned using a similar recipe, I knew I had to try it.  Two great cooks is enough of an endorsement for me!

The curry powder isn’t overpowering.  Rather it adds depth of flavor and brings out the freshness of the vegetables.  I cooked some broth in a pot but having never made soup out of brussels sprouts, I decided to cook three different soups out of the same base. Besides, I had a vague notion to showcase the vibrant colors of the vegetables and I feared that combining the three right away might result in an unappealing brownish glop.

The results were mixed.  I omitted the cream to please my husband but the brussels sprout soup was a tad too bold and would have benefited from the mellowing effect of the former.  A bit of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano helped considerably.  The verdict?  I wouldn’t recommend this soup alone without the enhancements I mentioned.

The other two soups were wonderful on their own.  The yam soup, my favorite, was thick and sweet, perfect by itself.  The squash soup was also pleasant. Both benefited from the brightening effect of hot curry powder and serrano chili in the broth.  As an added bonus, combining the three softened the “green” flavor of the brussels sprouts which contrasted nicely with its sweet, orange partners.  Next time I might just use broccoli but the yams and squash will remain.

Vegetable Soup Trio

  • 1 1/2 onions, chopped
  • 5-7 cups stock (chicken or vegetable, your choice)
  • 1 tbsp no-salt seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp hot curry powder (or regular curry powder)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, optional
  • 1 serrano chili, chopped and seeds removed
  • pinch salt
  • 1 package frozen squash purée (or equivalent amount cooked fresh squash)
  • 2 yams, peeled and cooked
  • 5 cups steamed brussels sprouts (or broccoli)
  • Olive oil
  • creme fraiche for garnish
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano for sprinkling
  • cream, optional (but highly recommended for the brussels sprouts)

To prepare the broth:  In a large soup pot, sauté the chopped onions in a little olive oil.  Season with no-salt seasoning and 1 teaspoon curry powder.  Start with just one teaspoon of the latter.  You can always add more later.  When the onions are translucent and the curry powder fragrant, add 5 cups of stock and simmer for a few minutes.  Add the chopped serrano and lemon juice if desired.

To prepare the squash soup:  In a smaller pot, add a ladle or two of broth and add the frozen squash purée.  Simmer until the squash has defrosted and purée with an immersion blender.  Salt if needed and add more broth if the soup is too thick for for you .  I stirred in the remaining curry powder to the pot since I tend to find squash soups a bit bland.

To prepare the yam soup:  In another smaller pot, add two ladles of broth along with the cooked yams.  Simmer until the yams are very soft and again, purée with an immersion blender.  This will yield a very thick soup so feel free to add more broth if serving alone.  If serving with the other soups, I would recommend keeping at this consistency.

To prepare the brussels sprouts soup:  Add the brussels sprouts to the original large pot of broth, as well as the remaining two cups.  Bring the mixture to a boil and follow the instructions for the previous two soups.

To serve, begin with the yams (thickest).  I spooned some using a cookie ring as a guide. Follow with either of the other two soups.  Top with creme fraiche, cheese, and/or chopped fresh parsley.

39 Comments leave one →
  1. December 27, 2010 5:34 PM

    A great story and a great recipe…and now you’re a skier!

  2. December 27, 2010 5:35 PM

    Excellent presentation! I bet it had great flavor, too.

  3. December 27, 2010 5:54 PM

    Oh, how I wish I loved to ski!! Being originally from SF, I’ve spent my fair share of time in Tahoe and I love the beauty. I love the skiing, but only until lunch. Then I’m pretty much done for the day. My husband attempted to teach me to ski as well, and it wasn’t pretty. He is beautiful when he skiis… me not so much!
    Love the soup too!

    • December 28, 2010 9:31 AM

      Kim, my husband will ski from 8-4 and there was a time when I’d do it with him. It helped get much better but lately, getting off the slopes at 1 or 2 pm is more my style. Then I have more time for aprés ski shopping. 🙂

  4. December 27, 2010 6:03 PM

    Jean – I LOVE the skiing story! Charles and I went to Europe for our honeymoon and one of the six countries we visited was Switzerland. Our hotel balcony faced the Matterhorn and it was not overcast that day, so we had a perfect view. I am sure that yours was really magnificent. I wish I skied but never learned. You both have been to some amazing places – what wonderful memories! I am glad that you were inspired by the Zucchini Bisque. I love the trio of flavors you put together. I agree not adding cream is perfect, the veggies then stand on their own. I must try the brussels sprouts soup. Have a terrific rest of the week!!!!

    • December 28, 2010 9:34 AM

      Lisa, you went to some amazing places on your honeymoon. You and Charles covered a lot–how wonderful! Skiing in Europe was definitely a highlight for me but we’ve been sticking closer to home the last few years. There’s great skiing here. 🙂

      Thanks for the inspiration on the soup. The brussels sprouts component needs more work but I’m sure you can make it better. When you do, please share your tips with me. 🙂

      Happy New Year!

  5. December 27, 2010 6:38 PM

    Your skiing story is so great Jean. My husband is a great skier, me, not so much, actually, not at all :))) I know how to ski just I’m not that crazy about.
    Your soup sounds good to me, well, I love love soup, just posted a squash soup earlier.

    Hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the holiday season.

    • December 29, 2010 11:06 AM

      My husband definitely loves to ski more than I do and it shows in the difference in our skill levels. Still, I’ve had some pretty good years though I fear they’re behind me! 🙂

  6. December 27, 2010 7:33 PM

    I love skiing. And I can relate about the fear you acquire as you get older. The soups sounds delish. I hope you had a very Merry Christmas Jean!

    • December 29, 2010 11:08 AM

      I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, too, Lisa. The soup was good but the brussels sprouts component needs some tweaking. Happy New Year!

  7. December 27, 2010 9:50 PM

    You see why I read every single word of your posts? I love love love your stories! If that is of any consolation to you, I used to do crosscountry skiing when I was a kid but never in my life have I dare learning downhill skiing. So you already deserve great merit for me to have learnt it in the first place. As per the soups, this post comes at the right time because with all this weather I was looking for new soups to try. Thanks for sharing and more happy holidays 🙂

    • December 28, 2010 9:42 AM

      Sara, do you know how flattered I am that you said this? I was just thinking this morning that I probably ramble too much on my posts and imagine people’s eyes glazing over when they visit. Thank you so much!

      I’ve only tried cross country skiing a couple of times but I’d like to give it a go again. Downhill skiing is definitely fun but I’m so much slower these days than my husband.

      The soups were good, but the yam was my favorite, hands down. Happy New Year!

  8. December 27, 2010 10:56 PM

    Oh, I am SO jealous of all the places you’ve gone skiing! I’ve only been here in the states, but would absolutely love to go to even one of those resorts you’ve been to. A few years ago I tried planning a trip to Chile during our summer but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. Sad!

    • December 29, 2010 11:10 AM

      Roxan, there’s a lot of great skiing in the US. In fact, I think it’s better here in some cases. It’s pretty hard to beat Deer Valley and Snowmass. Chile would have been so neat to visit! Happy New Year!

  9. December 28, 2010 9:33 AM

    Soup is delicious any which way! Especially made with random leftovers around the kitchen. :p

    I’m a wimp…could never try skiing. My coordination when it comes to those things sucks! But, I can crack four eggs at once while doing an Irish jig. :p I don’t get it myself!

    • December 29, 2010 11:12 AM

      Well, I can’t crack eggs and do an Irish jig at the same time so I’d say you’re still one up on me! 🙂

  10. December 28, 2010 2:43 PM

    Gorgeous! I’ll bet it tasted wonderful!

  11. December 28, 2010 8:34 PM

    Beautiful trio. Gorgeous powder… GREG

  12. December 28, 2010 9:34 PM

    wow what fun to ski in all those wonderful places 🙂

    and what an amazing soup to warm us all

    Have a wonderful 2011

    Rebecca

  13. December 29, 2010 10:44 AM

    I can’t believe he took you to the top of Ajax for your first ski experience! We skied Snowmass as a family for years and I barely strayed from the groomed ‘corduroy’ blue runs. After a few seasons we took a lesson from a ski instructor on Ajax and that was the last time I ever wanted to ski that mountain. It was always a relief when the entire family met for lunch in the village and I knew everyone was safe.

    The soup trio sounds excellent! I am in full-throttle soup mode after the holidays.

    • December 29, 2010 11:15 AM

      Susan, that’s what the instructor said the next day! I actually took my lessons at Snowmass–I love it there! I think it easily one of my favorite ski resorts. We visited again this past March and it was just as fab as in the previous years. And yes, I love the corduroy runs, too.

      Happy New Year!

  14. December 29, 2010 11:20 AM

    I have never skied but these photos make it look like such a great time.
    Love this soup, just gorgeous!
    Hope you had a wonderful Holiday and have a great New Year 🙂

    • December 29, 2010 6:43 PM

      Skiing is tons of fun but I admit those midday breaks at the lodge are quite nice, too. Happy New Year! 🙂

  15. December 29, 2010 2:25 PM

    Oh, how much I “envy” you….I’m a completely “ski-challenged” person….I can’t even stand on a pair of skis!!! and every winter, it is a long standing family conversation, to talk about my absolute clumsiness, nowhere to be found by another human being in the world !!!
    Your soup is marvellous, and I would gladly have it while all the others are out in the snow!!
    Happy New Year!!

    • December 29, 2010 7:19 PM

      Happy New Year, Cristina! Believe me, it’s taken much encouragement from my husband to help me advance. I would have been content on the bunny runs. 🙂

  16. December 29, 2010 3:38 PM

    I’ve got 2 words for you – BRIDGET JONES! Loved reading about your journey to being a ski bunny. May hot soup be waiting for you at the end of each run!

    • December 29, 2010 7:20 PM

      Really?! Thanks, Stella! Happy New Year, by the way. Let me know when you’re in SF again. Would love to see you and Jack. 🙂

  17. December 29, 2010 9:36 PM

    What a great story and fun pictures! This soup looks like the perfect thing to warm up any snow bunny!

  18. December 29, 2010 11:20 PM

    What a wonderful post. A great story, gorgeous pictures and a great recipe. I grew up in Colorado so I spent many weekends skiing. But as I grew older (and after a few hard falls) I much prefer sitting in the lodge and sipping on tea. This soup trio looks amazing! Thank you for sharing with me, my friend. I wish you and your family a happy and blessed new year!

  19. December 31, 2010 12:10 AM

    Thank you for sharing your ups and downs with skiing. I can sympathize. I started five years ago for the first time, hubby as teacher, and after a few bad experiences and really giving it a fair try, I decided to stick to cross country skiing. I really wanted to love it but have come to the realization that is causes more stress for me than enjoyment. I give you a lot of credit for really sticking with it for so long.

    Your soup sounds lovely. You can’t go wrong with a nice pureed soup with creme fraiche on a cold winter’s day…and it’s been rather chilly here in the Bay Area lately.

    Happy New Year, Jeanne. So glad we connected this year. Hope to see more of you in 2011!

    • January 2, 2011 2:57 PM

      Trish, I’ve only tried cross-country skiing a couple of times and would really like to do it more. Maybe this season. As far as skiing, my husband knows when I’ve reached my limit. He no longer encourages me to ski until the runs close with him–when I’m done, I’m done and thankfully, he now understands. 🙂

      Happy New Year to you too, Trish. Let’s definitely get together in 2011. 🙂

  20. January 1, 2011 2:55 PM

    Yea for ski trips! I wished I had one planned soon too. We have some slopes in my state that have tubing where you slide down a big hill in an innertube, so fun!
    Happy New Year!

  21. January 2, 2011 9:03 AM

    Hi Jean! I’m finally catching up in the New Year 🙂 Loved this post, mostly because I can completely identify with your first skiing experience. You know that I learned as an adult, but that first trip was one where friends insisted on teaching me. That is always a recipe for disaster. I ended up sending them all away and learned more on my own that afternoon than I did with all of them hovering over me with each fall down the mountain. Anyway, it’s amazing what lessons can do, and I’m glad that now hubby and I can go down runs together (though you know how I do have the fear). If I knew there was a bowl of this soup at the village, it would be a wonderful incentive! Love the gorgeous trio!

    • January 2, 2011 3:00 PM

      You and I had very similar beginnings in skiing, Liren. So glad for both of us that those days are behind us. 🙂 Now I’m glad I can actually enjoy the slopes. Dare I say that we would make the perfect skiing buddies! 🙂 The hubbies (and your little ones) can ski together, LOL! 🙂

  22. January 4, 2011 10:31 PM

    The skiing photos made me long for my skiing days as a youth in Lebanon; yes Lebanon has some avid skiiers and great slopes. You and your husband make a beautiful couple; anyway, I still prefer the beach. That soup on the other hand is special. Yum. Love the colors and the play of flavors.

    • January 5, 2011 11:23 AM

      Thanks, that’s so nice of you to say. We have a nice time together, though he much enjoys skiing more than I do. I think it’s fun but I’m with you about the beach. Didn’t know that about Lebanon, wow! 🙂

  23. January 6, 2011 7:32 PM

    Hi Jean, Happy New Year! I’ve actually been reading all of your posts on my phone (since I’m an email subscriber) but have difficulty posting comments unless I’m on my computer. 🙂 I know how you feel about getting back on the slopes after a fall. I had a bad fall almost 20 years ago where I ended up with whiplash and a concussion and I really haven’t skied since. Well, I’ve gone maybe twice but I feel like a beginner again. The soup looks so warming. Soups are one of my favorite dishes in the winter. Sadly I haven’t made enough this season! I love all of the ski photos from all around the world. The farthest I’ve ever been skiing is Mammoth – LOL. 🙂

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