Friday, September 20, 2013

Fall is Here!

Fall is here, and that means that the chilly weather is coming to good ol' Rochester, NY. We awoke to a 30-something degree, frosty morning, a couple of days ago. I'm happy that I was able to bust out one of my pairs of boots and my new fall trench coat; however, I'm always a little sad on the day of the first frost. It foretells of the upcoming winter and snow... I'll admit it. I'm a bit of a cold wimp. I love the changing of the leaves, everything pumpkin, warm apple cider, and Halloween (my FAVE holiday). Yet, I don't like having to bundle up.

Since I've brought up the idea of pumpkin, I thought it'd be a good time to develop a deliciously warming fall soup:

Chai Pumpkin Soup

  • lard, melted
  • 1 small pumpkin (or squash, like acorn), cut in half and seeds scooped out
  • 1 head garlic
  • 4 strips bacon (sugar free/nitrate free from pastured pork if you can get it)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups broth + a little more (if necessary)
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • a few cups broccoli, cut into florets (I used one very large head of broccoli)
  • half a small cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 1/2- 3 cups leftover chai chuck roast (recipe to follow)
  • 2-3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
  • Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Rub the cut side of the pumpkin with some of the melted lard, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place meaty side down on a baking sheet.
  • Cut the top 1/4 inch or so of the garlic bulb off, exposing the individual cloves. Place the bulb onto a small sheet of aluminum foil. Pour a little melted lard over the exposed bulbs. Enclose the bulb with the foil and place it on the baking sheet with the pumpkin.
  • Roast the garlic and pumpkin for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin. You should be able to easily pierce through the skin of the pumpkin with a fork.
  • Unwrap the garlic bulb and let it cool. Then squeeze out the cloves and set aside.
  • Let the pumpkin cool. Then, scoop out the flesh and set it aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Put the bacon strips into the pot and let them cook until crisp. Set them aside on a paper towel lined plate. Keep the bacon fat in the pot.
  • Add the onion to the pot and sauté until softened. Add the cooled pumpkin, all of the roasted garlic cloves, coconut milk, and 2 cups broth. Bring to a simmer.
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. You could also pour the soup into a blender or food processor and puree the soup, in batches, and return it to the pot. Return the pot to the heat.
  • Add the leftover chai roast, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, pepper, broccoli, and cauliflower. Bring the soup to a simmer and let it cook until the veggies are tender. Crumble the bacon into the soup. Taste, adjust seasonings (if necessary), top with cilantro.
  • Enjoy!

Chai Chuck Roast

  • 1 chuck roast (preferably from grass fed)
  • 3 tbsp chai tea (I used a loose chai blend from Wegmans)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2-3 tsp salt (depending on how salty you want it)
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup broth (I used homemade beef bone broth)
  • Blend all the seasonings in a small bowl and rub it all over the roast.
  • Put the roast in a crock pot. Pour in the broth over the roast.
  • Let cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  • Pull out the roast, shred the meat, and return it to the juices/broth.
  • Serve with your favorite side!
The initial idea for the chai roast was inspired by my rooibos roast. The flavor of the tea is warming and beautifully compliments the beef. Pair it with some sautéed greens (like I have pictured above) or some roasted veggies and you've got yourself a nice meal.

The soup may seem like it has a fair amount of time and work, but it's totally worth it! Pre-roasting the pumpkin and garlic add some depth. The chai and cinnamon bring out those fall flavors that I absolutely love!

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