Curried Summer Squash Soup with Fried Squash Blossoms

As everyone is gearing up for the World of Wine here in Southern Oregon, summer has finally arrived and with it the explosion of summer squash and zucchini.  The following is a great way to use up those zucchini that are overtaking your garden.  This way you won’t have to sneak over to your neighbors house and put a bag loaded with abandoned squash after dark.

This is a recipe to help use up some of the extra squash and flowers.  The curry and paprika brings out the fresh flavor of the zucchini.  If you don’t want to make the Fried Squash Blossoms, you can just finish this soup with a dusting of tomato powder.

Curried Summer Squash Soup with Fried Squash Blossoms        Serves 4-6

  • 2 medium Squash – cut in small cubes – skin on
  • 1 medium sweet onion – diced
  • 2 garlic cloves – diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Neutral oil – such as avocado or grapeseed oil
  • 2 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons of Curry Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
  • Sea Salt and Pepper
  • Tomato Powder (optional for garnish)

Squash Blossoms (one per bowl of soup)

  • squash blossoms – stamens removed
  • 1 Egg – mixed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Make the soup.  Heat the oil and add the onion and garlic until translucent (about 5 minutes), add the zucchini, curry and paprika and cook until the zucchini is slightly browned.  Add the stock and cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the veggies are very soft.  Place this into a blender or use an immersion blender.   Keep warm while you make the blossoms.

Remove the stamens from the blossoms if not done already.  Twist the opening of the flower to seal.

  1. Dip the flower in flour that has been seasoned (I like to add a touch of cayenne powder or you could add the same curry used in the soup).
  2. Dip into the egg
  3. Dip in the Panko bread crumbs.
  4. Fry until golden brown and allow to cool on paper towels.
  5. Place one flower on top of soup as garnish.

Happy Cooking!


Creamy Cucumber Soup

We are very fortunate to have such great grower’s markets in Southern Oregon and summer means fresh, crunchy cucumbers.  This soup is made without heating anything.  Just use your blender and voila, you have a creamy, refreshing soup!  To take this soup “over the top” I like to garnish with chive flowers and truffle caviar.  If you can’t find truffle caviar, substitute regular caviar.


Chilled Creamy Cucumber Soup  Serves 4

  • 4 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded – cut into small pieces
  • 1 tub Greek Yogurt or 6 oz. Crème Fraiche
  • 1 cup Chenin Blanc wine or other dry, crisp white wine
  • 3 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
  • 1 small bunch fresh Basil – chopped fine
  • 5-7 leaves fresh spearmint – chopped fine
  • sea salt
  • white pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper (optional)


Put the cucumbers into a blender with the white wine, sherry vinegar, sea salt, white pepper and blend until smooth.  Add the basil and mint and blend to incorporate.  Add the Greek Yogurt or Crème Fraiche to the soup and blend until mixed.   Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Serve Cold.  You can sprinkle additional chopped basil and mint on top if desired.  I like to whip creme fraiche and pipe a small amount on top and then top with truffle caviar – heaven!

Happy Summer Everyone!


Umami Taste #5 Tomato Bisque

As a specialty food store owner we are often sent things to try out to see if we want to carry them in our store.  Well this new Umami Paste is pretty tasty let me tell you!  Umami Taste #5 comes in a tube and will add that “wow” factor to any food.  The following is a Tomato Bisque recipe that I added it to and it changed it to be even better.

Tomato Bisque

  • 2 Jars or one large can San Marzano Tomatoes (preferably organic) About 5 cups
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 teaspoons Aleppo Pepper
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Umami Taste #5 paste
  • sea salt & cracked black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • creme fraiche for garnish
  • chiffonade of basil for garnish

Saute the onions in either olive oil or butter along with the dill and aleppo pepper until the onions are translucent.  Add the tomatoes and chicken stock and simmer.

Make a roux with the 2 Tablespoons butter and flour and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes (don’t brown the roux).  Add this to the soup and whisk to incorporate.  Add the salt and pepper and Umami #5 paste.  Bring to a boil, stirring and skimming.  Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the chopped parsley, honey and cream.  Remove from the heat and blend until smooth.  Strain through a medium sieve.  Re-heat and serve with creme fraiche and some chiffonade of basil.

Smoked Tea Eggplant Soup

Smoked Tea Eggplant Soup
Serves 4-6

2 Large Globe Eggplants
3 Tablespoons good quality olive oil
3 cups Chicken Stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian soup)
1 Cup pre-made Smoked Tea (such as Lapsang Souchong)
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 sweet yellow onion – diced very small
2 garlic cloves – creamed
Hickory Smoked Sea Salt (for cooking and garnish)
1/2 cup creme fraiche (additional for garnish)
1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley (or Cilantro if you prefer)

Finish with smoked olive oil find smoked olive oil here

Facts and Trivia About Eggplant:  Be sure to use fresh Eggplant, if it is mushy or discolored it could taste bitter.  Eggplant should feel heavy for its size and have a tight shiny skin. As a nightshade, eggplant is closely related to the tomato and potato and is native to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.  The seeds also contain minute amounts of nicotinoid alkaloids, which is why the seeds are bitter and is a close relative of tobacco.

Prick the Eggplants with a fork and roast in a 350F oven until soft.  When you can handle the eggplants, cut in half and scoop out the insides.  Discard the skin.  Reserve the insides.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion and garlic and cook until soft (approximately 5 minutes).  Add the paprika and the cooked eggplant and a large pinch of the smoked sea salt.   Add the stock and tea and cook until vegetables are very soft.  Place this in a blender and puree the soup.  Strain through a medium fine sieve.  Discard any solids that don’t go through.  Salt and pepper to taste.   Add creme fraiche to soup and heat through.  Serve hot with additional creme fraiche  and smoked olive oil drizzled on top and sprinkle with chopped parsley or cilantro.

Chicken Rice Soup a la CJ

The other day our good friend Ed came down with the nasty flu bug going around town.   Seeing that he is a bachelor I was convinced he would starve to death  unless someone fed him while he was sick.  I decided to make him some chicken  and rice soup (Mom always called this home made penicillin).  And seeing that I can’t do anything without twisting the recipe I made Thai Inspired Chicken and Rice Soup.  Since we have a new Asian grocer available to us in Southern Oregon I now have a source for fresh Galangal Root and Kaffir Lime Leaves.

Chicken Rice Soup a la CJ

1 large sweet onion – minced fine

2 garlic cloves – minced fine

2 chicken breasts – cooked and cut into cubes

3 Kaffir Lime Leaves (leave whole in the soup)

One 2″ knob Galangal Root – peeled and cut into slices

2 quarts chicken stock (to make this richer use stock and add chicken demi-glace to the recipe)

1 cup cooked rice (I used black rice which gave the soup a very rich color and nutty flavor) Find it here:

1/2 cup raw carrot – cut into small dice

1/2 cup raw Broccoli

1/2 cup frozen corn

(Can you tell I just kept adding veggies to this?  You don’t need to  follow this exactly, just use what you have on hand)

Cook the onion, garlic and carrot in a small amount of oil.  Deglaze with white wine or vermouth.  When the wine is almost gone, add the stock, vegetable, galangal root and kaffir lime leaves.  Allow this to cook until raw veggies are cooked, but not mushy.  Add the rice and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.   Serve hot with chopped basil on top.