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Since Sukkot menus are all about the autumn harvest, what could be more festive than starting off the meal with a comforting bowl of pumpkin soup? When I was growing up, one of my favorite recipes was my grandmother’s stewed Kabocha: a Japanese variety of pumpkin or squash. It wasn’t until I went off to college that I tried pumpkin for the first time in a dish, and I’ve always felt the flavor of Kabocha is far superior to the pumpkins we eat here in the U.S. It is sweeter and heartier than that of a regular pumpkin, and it has a fluffy texture similar to that of a potato, which makes it perfect for a purĂ©ed soup. The color is a deeper orange, making it more vibrant and festive, as well!
If you’re having a sit-down meal, you can serve it in bowls as a starter. If you’re throwing a casual happy hour under the sukkah like I am, you can keep it warm in a big thermos pot and pour individual servings in little paper cups with the garlic challah croutons, cream and chives sprinkled over the top. This is the time of year when the air is starting to get a bit crisper, so this soup is a great way to warm up under the sukkah. If you’re serving meat later and would like to keep things kosher, I recommend omitting the milk and cream and instead finishing the soup with a dollop of homemade cashew creamÂ under the croutons, which your guests can stir in.
Kabocha Squash Soup with Garlic Challah Croutons
1.Â Slice Kabocha in half and spoon out the seeds. Cut each half into three wedges. Turn each wedge onto the flat side and remove the green skin. Cut each wedge crosswise into four even squares (see image for what your Kabocha should look like at this point).
2.Â Melt butter in a dutch oven or pot, over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, slide in the sliced onion, curry powder and a sprinkling of salt. Stir the onion continuously for 10 minutes, or until caramelized. Slide Kabocha cubes into the pot, along with another sprinkling of salt and stir for five minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot for 10 minutes.
3.Â Using a fork, pierce Kabocha to check for doneness. It should be soft enough to pierce without resistance, but not so soft that it falls apart. If it’s not quite soft enough, stir, cover and cook for another five minutes.
4.Â When Kabocha is cooked through, blend in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools!) until completely smooth.
5.Â Stir in milk, then heavy whipping cream. Make sure to keep the heat very low and be careful to not let the soup boil at this point.
6.Â Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Top with a dollop of the whipped cream, challah croutons and chives.
This is a recipe I came up with when, one Saturday morning, I decided I could not eat any more challah French toast!
1.Â Preheat the oven to 375ÂşF.
2.Â Grate garlic clove into olive oil, stir in herbs and salt. Be very careful to only include very small, microplane-d pieces of garlic. Larger pieces will get burnt and become bitter.
3.Â Cut challah into roughly 3/4″ x 3/4″ cubes. I recommend using a regular knife for a cleaner cut (as opposed to a serrated knife).
4.Â Place cubed challah onto a baking sheet and pour oil mixture over challah and mix well with your hands.
5.Â Spread challah out on baking sheet so it’s just one layer and the challah is not (or just barely) touching.
6.Â Bake for five minutes and check on it. It should be a nice and toasty golden color. If it’s not browning quite yet, bake for another 5 minutes and check on it again. It took me about 12 minutes to achieve this in my oven.
Jewish tradition commemorated romance long before St. Valentineâ€™s Day was established as a means to Christianize and tone down the revelry associated with the Pagan holiday of Lupercaliaâ€”a fertility festival. Tu Bâ€™Av was originally a minor holiday celebrated in Israel after the second Temple was built in 349 BCE and falls on July 31 this year. According to the Talmud, â€śthe daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards and whoever did not have a wife would go there.â€ť The vineyards would be outside the walls of Jerusalem away from the Temple Mount, an expression of joy away from the sadness of destruction.
In modern Israel, the holiday has been resuscitated. Girls dress in white, there is dancing on beaches and in fields, red roses are given and love songs are dedicated on the radio to the paramourâ€™s love. Picnics and outdoor grilling are traditional much like our Fourth of July celebrations. Foods that can be served cold and transported easily are popular as well as simple grilled meats.
Here is a traditional Hungarian Cold Cherry Soup that can easily be transported in a thermos or container, is very simple to make, can be served as a first course or dessert, and is Pink, the color of love! So #ChooseLove by creating your own traditions as the full moon rises over your summer day on Tu Bâ€™Av and enjoy the people and activities you love. Snap some fun pictures and share them on our #ChooseLove gallery!
2. Â Remove 8 cherries for garnish. Set aside. Discard cinnamon sticks and whole cloves.
3. Â Pass the cherries and liquid through a food mill to puree. Alternatively, blend the mixture in a blender until mixture is fairly smooth. Return pureed soup to the pan. Add the almond extract (if using) and a pinch of salt. Re-heat soup on low heat while you make the Habaras.
4. Â In a 1 quart bowl, whisk the sour cream, confectionerâ€™s sugar and flour together.
5. Â Whisk some of the hot soup into the sour cream mixture and then add all of the mixture back into the pot of soup. Simmer soup, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes or until thickened.
6. Â Cover surface of soup with plastic wrap to prevent a tough skin from forming on the top and chill. When ready to serve, spoon into bowls and garnish with reserved cherries.
If you have the time, a cherry pitter, and an older child you could make this soup with fresh cherries. However, the attention span of most children under the age of 10 will lose interest before all cherries are pitted.
This soup is very easy to make and its flavor can be adjusted to a childâ€™s palate by adding some almond extract and/or a little more sugar if necessary.
Sour cherries (the traditional type for this recipe) are very hard to find. However, the frozen, sweet variety is not that sweet and will adapt in any recipe calling for tart cherries.
Habaras is a traditional mixture that is used for thickening soups. The flour may be eliminated if you canâ€™t eat gluten. Just add a few tablespoons more confectionerâ€™s sugar as it helps thicken the soup because it contains three percent cornstarch.
Matzoh ball soup is a staple in many Jewish homes and if you recently attended a Passover seder, you likely indulged in this comforting winter dish. It is the soup many of us crave when we’re not feeling well and the soup that has become known as Jewish penicillin. Lately (or, like, a few years ago on the West Coast), there has been a new “buzz word” in the world of soup: Bone broth.) The basic recipe for bone broth hasn’t changed from the days of our nonna, bubbe or grandmother. What has changed is that we’re talking more and more about ingredients and cooking methods. We’re going back to our roots where there wasn’t a fear of using all the parts of all our ingredients, but rather, our grandparents embraced the versatility of theirÂ ingredients and tookÂ pride in stretching them, wasting nothing.
Soup is just broth until you add dumplings. Dumplings are a comfort food and every culture’s cuisine has some sort of dumplings. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are dropped in soups, served with chicken, fried up, steamed, filled with soup and meat, folded, rolled, pinched and pressed.
The universal truth when it comes to dumplings is that there are perhaps never enough. Whether you grew up alongside your Italian nonna cutting and rolling gnocchi on a Sunday morning or you poured matzoh ball mix out of a box with your father on Sunday afternoons, you know what’s in the back of everyone’s mind is, “Will this be enough?”. This recipe for brodo with potato knaidlach makes so many dumplings there are extras to freeze for a quick weekday meal.
This Spring Bone Broth and Parsley Knaidlach takes us on a trip to Italy withÂ inspiration from brodo (broth) and potato gnocchi (knaidlach). If you or your partner has Italian ancestry, this is a fun way to combine your cultures in a meal that’s fun to make together. You may want to save thisÂ one for the weekend because it takes a little time, but not so much that you can’t whip up a batch on a weekday evening either.
Spring Bone Broth and Parsley Knaidlach
For this recipe we’ll be doctoring up a boxed broth to save time, but you can try this fabulous brodo if you enjoy going the extra mile.
1. Â Begin by preparing the potatoes for the potato dumplings. Scrub the potatoes with a brush and place them in a pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and let the potatoes boil for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes a toothpick or skewer should easily go into and slide out of the flesh of the potato with no resistance.
2. Â Once the potatoes are ready, let them cool on a plate for about 10 minutes until the skins are cold enough to peel off by hand. In the meantime, set your toaster oven or oven to 350â„‰. Â Put some parchment or foil down on a tray (for easier clean-up) and drizzle 1 Tbsp. of oil on the tray.
3. Â Slice your onion in half and wash (no need to peel) your carrots and cut them into thirds. Place the vegetables on the tray (onions cut side down) and just slide them through the olive oil so they are well coated. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables (about 1 tsp) and roast them for 25-30 minutes.
4. Â Now, the potatoes should be cool enough to handle. Peel them by pinching the skin and pulling it away from the potato.
5. Â If you have a food mill (you know, the hand crank one you bought to make baby food), then use a food mill to process the potatoes. If you don’t have a food mill, a fork will work just as well. Make sure you use a large cutting board. Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices (a little bigger is OK too) then take your fork and press it through each slice so that the potato breaks into little strips.
6. Â Once the potatoes have been pressed (through the food mill or fork), let them cool briefly on the tray or board. While the potatoes cool, you can start the broth. Gather your roasted vegetables, the bones you saved from a rotisserie chicken (from earlier in the week or that you saved and froze for soup), and your soy sauce.
Set aside two of the roasted carrots for later. If you are using chicken legs, just season them with salt and pepper and add them into the pot. Pour the two containers of broth into your stock pot. There should be about 8 cups. If you are short, just top it off with some water.
Then add: your chicken bones (if you haven’t already), your vegetables and the 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce to the pot. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes.
7. Â While the broth is cooking, you can make your gnocchi. This is a great “play dough” style activity to do with the kids. Make sure you have a clean counter and clean hands. There will be flour on the floor but you can sweep up after.
A true Italian nonna would have to you make this on the counter, but I prefer the security of a bowl. Sprinkle a little flour (about 1/2 cup) into the bottom of the bowl and then put 1/3 of the potatoes on top of the flour. Sprinkle a cup of flour over the potatoes and add another 1/3 of the potatoes over that. Sprinkle anotherÂ cup of flour (you’re up to 2 1/2 cups now)Â over the potatoes and top with the last 1/3 of the potatoes. Gently toss the potatoes in the flour with your fingers to coat. The extra 1/2 cup of flour (3 cups in total) will be sprinkled in as needed later if your dough is too sticky.
8. Â Make a well in the middle of the bowl of potatoes and flour and crack in 2 eggs. Add 1 tsp of kosher salt over the eggs.
With a fork, whisk the eggs and salt until combined and then slowly mix the eggs into the potato flour mixture. You will end up with a sticky dough. Continue to add flour until you have a dough that is soft and only slightly sticky. (You should only need at most 1/2 cup of flour but you can add as much as 1 cup of flour here if needed.)
9. Â Let the dough rest for a minute or two while you chop some parsley. You will want a small bunch of fresh curly parsley (wash and dry with a towel first). If you are making all the gnocchi with parsley, you will want 2/3 cup of minced parsley. If you have some picky eaters who cringe at the sight of green, you can leave 1/2 the potato knaidlach plain and you’ll want 1/3 cup of minced parsley.
10. Â Now the fun begins. Split your dough in half and knead in 1/3 cup of parsley unless you are making all of your dumplings green. To help make clean-up a little easier, I like to put some wax paper or parchment paper down on the counter. You can sprinkle a little water on the counter first so the paper doesn’t slide around when you roll out the dough. Sprinkle flour on the parchment generously and roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick.
11. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch strips. Then roll each strip out into a long rope. I like to pinch the strips first and then roll them.
12. Â Then, with a butter knife, cut the ropes into dozens of beautiful little knaidlach. They should be about 3/4 to 1 inch long. Do the same with the leftover plain dough if you are making some plain.
13. Â Now your broth is ready (it’s OK if it simmered longer than 20 mins). Strain your broth through a sieve into a new pot. Cut the carrots you set aside into tiny cubes (about the size as a pea). Take 1-2 cups of frozen peas (based on how much your family likes peas). Add the minced carrots and peas to the broth. Once the broth comes back to a boil, add in 1/3 of your potato knaidlich (aka gnocchi). The knaidlich are cooked once they float back to the top of the broth; about 5 minutes.
For picky diners, you can cook the plain knaidlach in salted boiling water and serve them like pasta with parmesan, butter and salt, pesto or tomato sauce.
The rest of the knaidlach can be put on a tray in the freezer until they become solid, and then transfered into a plastic bag. Frozen knaidlach can be cooked straight from frozen in boiling water or stock.
Serve the knaidlich and broth in a bowl and sprinkle with fresh herbs such as chives, basil, dill or more parsley. Buon appetito!