Super Fast Fire-Roasted Vegetable Soup

Super Fast Fire-Roasted Vegetable Soup | Cooked and Devoured

It’s been a really busy time around here – we moved out of our house for about 10 days in order to get our floors refinished, alongside all the other work/school/social things we have going on. Needless to say, even though we stayed not too far away with access to a kitchen, I wasn’t cooking much while we were gone. Life got extremely disorganized really quickly, as it tends to do.

Since fall has finally hit in full force, the second we got back I got excited to make soup. I am pretty into soup, you see. I realize how dumb that sounds, but really I could eat it 3 times a day without issue, and in the past when I was just out of college, this occasionally happened. When I began learning how to cook, making soup from scratch was one of the first things I practiced on, and where I found that substituting, switching ingredients around, and otherwise generally playing with recipes wasn’t going to kill me. The worst that could really happen was that it would be inedible (which absolutely sucks, especially when you’re on a budget, but it isn’t the total end of the world).

When I saw this recipe Angela posted the other day, I knew I had to make it immediately. It was exactly what I wanted after coming off a week-plus of eating out, and I knew it was going to be extremely easy to make with a few shortcuts and substitutions of what I already had on hand. I didn’t really change a ton of things, but I did do something that I almost never do anymore, which was make this almost entirely from canned/pre-packaged fresh or fresh-frozen ingredients — including the onions. But before you totally side-eye me, I promise you it was all in the name of simply using what I had, and it didn’t compromise the flavor in the slightest.

I subbed the fresh onion, bell pepper, and kale with frozen packages of the same from Trader Joe’s. TJ’s has frozen fire-roasted onions and bell peppers already prepped together in one bag, and the kale is also already chopped so you can just toss them in at the appropriate time. The recipe calls for butternut squash or sweet potatoes; I used pre-cubed butternut squash from Costco. I also subbed the regular diced tomatoes with fire roasted diced tomatoes. I was about 1 – 1.5 cups short of stock, but the frozen onions and peppers gave off plenty of water, more than enough to make up for what I was lacking. I also left out the cashew cream and used an immersion blender to puree the soup a bit before adding the greens and beans until it was a little bit creamy but still had sizable chunks of vegetables at the very end.

The end result was that this soup came together ridiculously fast because I only had to chop a few things. It was completely done after about 30 minutes. Sometimes chopping vegetables alone for soup can take you at least half that long, usually more, and soups need to age a bit to be really great, but even after that short amount of time it tasted fantastic. Lots of flavor and a great creamy texture – it’s like concentrated autumn in stew form. As a general rule I like to buy fresh vegetables whenever I can, but this was a good reminder that you definitely don’t always need to do that and can save yourself some effort. Not everything needs to be a project.

I love the way this turned out, and I’ll be checking out the rest of her cookbook soon!

Super Fast Fire-Roasted Vegetable Soup | Cooked and Devoured

Super Fast Fire-Roasted Vegetable Soup

Barely adapted from Angela Liddon, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

2 Tablespoons of Olive or Coconut oil
1 package Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Onions and Bell Peppers
1 Tablespoon of Garlic Powder
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 cups of cubed butternut squash (you can buy this pre-cubed, or cube it yourself)
3 stalks of celery
One 15oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with juice
5 cups of broth
2 bay leaves
1/4-1/2 package of Trader Joe’s frozen Kale
One 15oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

10-Spice Blend
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic powder and onion/bell pepper mix and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and released some water. Season with a little sea salt.

Add the carrots, butternut squash, celery, and diced tomatoes, broth, bay leaves, and 2 tablespoons of the 10-spice blend. Stir well to combine . Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with salt and black pepper and add the bay leaves. Cover the soup and simmer for 20 minutes. When it’s done, season with salt and black pepper to taste and add the kale and chickpeas.

P.S – I used the rest of the 10-spice blend on some baked chicken and it was magical.

Truffle Macaroni and Cheese

Truffle Macaroni and Cheese | Cooked & Devoured

Last week was my 32nd birthday, and because we had just recently spent a few weeks frolicking in an island paradise eating ourselves stupid and generally having a fantastic belated honeymoon, I decided that going out to a nice dinner on my birthday was really far from necessary. Generally for each other’s birthdays we go out to a restaurant we wouldn’t normally frequent and usually its a good excuse to go to a place we haven’t been before. This time around, doing absolutely nothing and potentially having the simplest meal imaginable (like peanut butter on toast) sounded great. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that I’m working on recovering from a sinus infection (and really, whats the point of going to Table 52 when you have a sinus infection?) But then I remembered that I’m me, and that when given the opportunity to make a to-do out of a meal, there’s no way that I’m capable of passing it up. This was also about the time where the temperature dropped 20 degrees overnight, and suddenly, it was fall. Not that I ever need an excuse to make macaroni and cheese, but the older I get, it feels more and more like something I should love a lot less than I do, and should eat almost never. Yet here we are…

Because of my deep-seeded love for macaroni and cheese, I have many variations I’ve found and saved over the years that I’ve made more than once, but I had never made truffle macaroni and cheese. Truffle oil is expensive and I sort of just automatically filed the concept of “truffle mac” into the section of my brain that assumes it’s something I won’t have unless I’m in a restaurant. But Steve graciously offered to supply me with truffle oil, so off I went to search out some recipes. I sort of ended up combining a few different ones — the main one I followed was this one — though I still did make a few changes. I lessened the overall amount of cheese a bit and used Panko instead of dealing with slices of bread.  I also added fresh thyme because I have a huge mound of it growing outside that I can’t hope to use before fall really sets in and it all dies — probably more than what I wrote below, but I think 2 tablespoons is generally a good amount. I go crazy when I need to use up herbs, your mileage may vary.

Truffle Macaroni and Cheese | Cooked & Devoured

A word about the truffle oil: it is expensive, and actually — the kind we ended up using was not pure truffle oil — it was simply what Steve could find nearby at the last minute. Despite not being the real deal, the flavor was quite good and I’ll definitely use the rest of it for something, though once its been used up I might buy something like thisthis, or this, because Amazon does have some decent deals, but you definitely can get away with using the cheaper stuff. Most of the recipes I looked at suggesting using 3 tablespoons (!) of oil. Depending on what kind you get, I would start with 1.5 and add more as needed. Even if you add 1.5 and find it too bland, you can always add a bit more. We ended up using about 2 tablespoons.

Truffle Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted somewhat heavily from Martha Stewart’s Perfect Macaroni and Cheese

3/4 cup of Panko breadcrumbs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 cups of milk (I used half 2%, half whole)
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped thyme
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
3.5 cups (24oz) of grated sharp white cheddar
1/2 cup (8oz) grated Gruyere
Grated Pecorino Romano
1 pound of elbow macaroni
1.5 – 2 tablespoons of white truffle oil 

Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a 9×13 inch casserole dish and set aside. Place the panko in a medium bowl and put two tablespoons of the butter on top. Microwave for for a few seconds to melt the butter a bit, then mix it all up well and set aside. Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and warm over low  – medium heat (do not boil). Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add the flour, stirring continuously for one minute to make a roux.

Once the butter and flour are combined, slowly pour the hot milk into the pan while whisking continuously. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes nice and thick. This will take a while, at least 10 – 13 minutes, and it should coat the back of a wooden spoon easily. When the mixture is ready, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, fresh thyme, cheddar, gruyere, and truffle oil, then set the sauce aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add macaroni. Cook for about half the amount of time suggested on the manufacturer’s directions, until the outside of the pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. Transfer the macaroni to a colander and drain well, then stir macaroni into the reserved sauce. Pour the mixture into the buttered casserole dish, then grate some Pecorino Romano over the noodles. Scatter the breadcrumbs evenly on top and bake for 30 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown.