Roasted Carrot Soup w/ Apples, Turmeric & Ginger

I have been on a soup kick lately.  I wasn’t feeling well last week and was hoping soup would do the trick.  Plus most soups are easy to throw together, freeze well and are hearty enough to eat on their own.  Prior to not feeling well, I already had a batch of chicken tortilla soup cooking in the slow cooker.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the outcome.  Partly because I inadvertently bought no sodium chicken stock (I usually buy low sodium), and I neglected to add extra salt.  Once soup is finished cooking, I find it’s hard to doctor up.  I also felt something was missing from the recipe.  It needed more heat and flavor.  I have another chicken tortilla soup recipe that calls for poblanos so I think I’ll try that one out next time.

Luckily, the roasted carrot soup I made midweek did not disappoint.  It was just what I was looking for and was full of immune boosting ingredients.  The consistency was similar to a butternut squash bisque and pairs nicely with a good hearty bread.  You could also serve with grilled cheese or serve on its own.  I actually had a side of tater tots with it the one night, and it was the perfect comforting dish.  I had combined parts of two different recipes for this one, and I should note that you can leave out the coconut yogurt that gets added at the end.  I only added a little less than half a cup, but I think the soup tasted slightly better prior to adding.  And it’s definitely worth taking the time to roast the carrots first.  It brings out the sweetness of them and gives a better flavor overall.

My soup adventures continue as I have a batch of pork posole in the slow cooker as I’m typing this.  I’ve always wanted to make it, and I’m still congested so I’m hoping the heat/spice from the jalapeno and chiles help!  Please share some of your favorite soup recipes in the comments section below. 🙂

P.S. On a side note, you must check out www.sincerelyusblog.com .  A good friend from college and a few of her friends recently started this fantastic blog!  It’s full of fun, fashion and fitness.  Thanks!

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds carrots, chopped into 1/2-inch rounds
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large or 2 medium tart apples (I used Pink Lady), peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups vegetable stock
A few sprigs of thyme
Olive oil
1/2 cup coconut yogurt (feel free to omit)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

img_7934Preheat oven to 425º F.  Place carrots on a rimmed baking tray and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast at 425º F for about 20-25 minutes or until they begin to caramelize.  While the carrots are roasting, heat a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, onions and apple.  Cook until they are soft.  Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the vegetable stock, carrots and thyme.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat, cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Discard the sprigs of thyme.  Using an immersion blender (I love my Cuisinart one), blend the soup until it is smooth and creamy.  (If you use a blender or food processor instead, be careful blending the soup and allow to cool longer before blending.)  If you decide to use the coconut yogurt, add to the soup and blend again.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Return to the stove and heat to a simmer.  Serve with additional freshly ground pepper.

Honey Ginger Pork Chops with Pears and Apples

I finally ordered a meat thermometer today and am really excited about my purchase (it’s the little things, right?).  Over the years, I’ve gotten better with knowing when things are finished cooking, liked steak, burgers, etc., but I still struggle with pork and chicken.  I admit that I am the person you seasoned chefs shake your head at-I sometimes cut into the meat while it’s cooking to check for doneness. 😮  So then I end up with less than juicy chicken or pork, or pork that is a little overcooked because I never know how pink is too pink.  A lot of effort and sometimes money goes into cooking, and no one wants overcooked food.  So here’s hoping my new meat thermometer becomes one of my favorite cooking tools.

I wish I had it a few weeks ago when I made these honey ginger pork chops.  They were still good but could have cooked for a little less time.  I don’t want that small detail to take away from the recipe though.  I made these on the stove-top, but you could easily use the oven instead.  You could also substitute pork tenderloin for the pork chops.  I should note that when I made this dish, two of the pork chops had seasoning on them from my Grilled Fennel-Spiced Pork Chops with Lemon-Sage Vinaigrette recipe.  I had leftover unused pork chops from the last time I made it, so I froze two plain and two with the fennel rub.  The flavor of the fennel ended up being a great addition to this dish if you want to incorporate into the recipe that follows.  The ginger and turmeric (two of my favorite spices) give the pork chops plenty of flavor though on their own.

Ingredients
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 peeled, grated fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 boneless thick-cut pork chops
2 Bosc pears, cored and chopped
1 gala apple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

img_7336In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar and honey.  Reserve half and set aside.  To the remaining mixture, whisk in the ginger, garlic and turmeric.  Generously season the pork chops on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (or follow the recipe in the notes above for the fennel rub).  Place in a large resealable bag or container and add the honey ginger marinade.  Marinate in the fridge for an hour or overnight.

Heat a large stainless steel pan over medium heat.  Add the pork chops and discard the marinade.  Brown thoroughly on both sides.  To the pan, add the pears, apple and reserved marinade base.  Allow the fruit to  cook for a few minutes and then add the chicken stock to the pan.  Continue cooking the pork chops till cooked thoroughly (use your meat thermometer!).  Serve with a green salad or veggie of your choice.

Honey Ginger Pork Meatballs

My nana, grandmom, and Aunt Betty :)

My nana, grandmom, and Aunt Betty 🙂

I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! For some Thanksgivings when I was little, we would go to my Aunt Betty’s in Reading and then York.  They were some of the best holidays spent with cousins and extended family.  And my Aunt Betty was one of the sweetest people you’d ever meet.  The food was always great too, and we’d always end up pulling out the leftovers later at night to have turkey sandwiches.  That’s my kind of night!  My mom now hosts dinner, and I am on dessert duty.  Some day I’d like to take over the tradition, and my first order of business is to include a pre main course of lasagna! Italian I am not, but they definitely know how to do Thanksgiving up right, lol!

So what do honey ginger pork meatballs have to do with Thanksgiving?  Nothing, but I knew I had to get this post done before I head off to the kitchen to work on my desserts and famous cranberry chutney.  I’ll be sure to share the recipes for the desserts I make.  You can find the cranberry chutney recipe in an Instagram post from last Thanksgiving.

These honey ginger pork meatballs might be one of my new favorites.  I love fresh ginger, and the honey caramelized on the outside of the meatballs when I cooked them.  I paired them with a salad a mixed greens topped with pomegranate, roasted acorn squash, and fried walnuts.  Yum!

img_0377For the squash, I tossed the slices in honey, olive oil, and salt & pepper and roasted at 425º F for about 30 minutes.  To make the  walnuts, you blanch them in boiling water for about 30 seconds and then transfer to a paper towel to cool.  Then dredge them in powdered sugar and fry in oil till they float.  Drain on paper towels, cool, and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  They make a great addition to any salad or are good just as a snack!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Happy Cooking!!!

Ingredients
1 pound lean ground pork
1 egg
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
About a 2″ piece fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons honey
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

img_0379Combine all of the ingredients through the honey and season mixture with salt and pepper.  Roll pork mixture into golf ball size (or slightly smaller) meatballs.  Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add meatballs in small batches.  Brown on all sides and continue cooking until cooked through.  Transfer to a paper towel lined dish.  Serve with roasted squash salad.