Local Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert: Food for a Sense of Hygge

bowl of soup

In the winter months after the flurry of holidays, the timing is perfect to delve into foods in a bowl, or yes… comforting bowl food with a sense of Hygge. That strange Danish word, Hygge, represents an ambiance or mood of coziness with feelings of wellness and contentment. Food plays an important part in the feeling of cozy comfort.

Winter Squash Coconut Curry Soup
Serves 4

soup bowlOne small warning is that the green curry paste can be very spicy so you may want to start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more heat from there. Sometimes it’s the topping that makes the soup sing. These roasted apple rounds are also a fabulous snack along with the pumpkin seeds.

  • 1 cup diced sweet onion (like Vidalia)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds winter squash (like butternut or acorn), peeled and chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk (not sweetened)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

In a large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive until translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add squash and apples and continue cooking until soft and slightly browned, about 10-15 minutes (getting a little caramelization on the vegetables, which will give the soup a greater depth of flavor). Stir in the curry paste, continuing to cook until vegetables are coated, about one minute longer.

Increase the heat to high, and add the stock and coconut milk. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth.

Adjust seasoning as desired with salt and pepper, then ladle into bowls and serve piping hot topped with a mound of pumpkin seeds.

 

Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Cheddar Soup
Serves 6

Rbowl of soupoasting transforms the broccoli by caramelizing it and adding a touch of sweetness, and even the garlic mellows after some time in the oven.

  • 3/4 pound broccoli, washed and ends timed, tender stalk peeled, diced, cut into florets
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, peels left on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded plus extra for garnish
  • Additional salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Add the broccoli florets and the garlic to a baking pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss and season with the salt and pepper. Place in the oven to roast. The garlic will finish before the broccoli, so check on it at about 15 minutes into cooking. Remove the garlic when the peels pull away and they are golden in color. Continue to roast the broccoli for about 25-30 minutes total, tossing once or twice as they cook. When finished, the florets will be dark in color where they have come in contact with the pan.

Bring the vegetable broth and water to a boil in a Dutch oven or stockpot. Add the broccoli and garlic, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes with the lid partially on.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, flour and dried mustard until smooth. Whisk the mixture into the liquid mixture until well combined. Cook on low until slightly thickened. Remove the pot from the heat.

Use an immersion blender to puree the broccoli and garlic in the soup, leaving it quite chunky. You can also use a blender to puree the soup, but wait until it has cooled and work in batches before returning the soup to the pot to warm it.

After pureeing the soup, add the cheese and stir until it has melted.

Serve the soup immediately, with extra cheese as garnish.

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