October 29th I was honored with tickets to a fancy dinner. For those of you familiar with Floriole’s monthly dinners you know they really are quite spectacular. I still can’t believe that a café that has perfected breakfast and lunch can create food that, in my opinion, is fair competition to any dinner joint in town. The most recent three-courser drew inspiration from fall fare.
This is a place that produces each and every item served on the menu from their little (efficient) kitchen space. I mean everything — the bread to the preserves, pastries to the candies, tarts and the rooftop herbs garnishing the housemade soup. Everything. What an honor to work there.
Food: butternut squash apple soup with pumpernickel croutons and kale chips
Place: Floriole Café & Bakery
1220 W. Webster Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
Red wine braised short ribs, potato purée, roasted root vegetables, gravy (more kale chips)
Warm apple tart, brown butter/apple cider ice cream
Impressive, no? Next month’s dinner: November 13th, goose cassoulet. Uhhh, yum?
Inspired by a recent tip for a spinach soup, I decided to spend a gray Sunday afternoon over the stove creating soup (instead of buried in textbooks studying, oops). This is truly an “ad hoc” recipe in that I just threw together some foodstuffs I had in my cabinets, sweet potatoes being the base, and waited in anticipation for a, hopefully, delicious soup.
I lucked out, it tasted great! The taste is complex — not just puréed sweet potato with cream, like so many of the recipes I found online. The roasted mashed sweet potatoes, fennel fronds, cinnamon and nutmeg, red pepper flakes. Wow. I’m looking forward to eating this all week.
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
• 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
• 1/2 T cinnamon
• 3 T canola oil (or your favorite oil)
• 1/2 t each of salt and pepper, plus additional for seasoning
• 1/2 onion, diced
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 1/2 T fennel fronds, finely minced
• 1/2 t ground nutmeg
• 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
• 3/4 cup milk
• 1/2 T dill
• 1/2 t red pepper flakes (or, as hot as you like)
** optional toppings: blue cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions, bacon…
– Preheat oven to 400°F.
– On a baking sheet, toss cubed sweet potatoes with 2 T oil, cinnamon, 1/2 t of both salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft enough to mash with a fork. When baking time is done, put potato cubes in a medium-sized bowl with about 1/2 cup of milk and mash roughly with a fork. Set aside. (The potatoes don’t have to be a puréed consistency – I like some big chunks for good texture.)
– Heat a big soup pot over low heat. Add remaining 1 T oil. Sauté onion in oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
-Add fennel and nutmeg and cook for about 1 minute (just to develop their flavors).
– Stir chicken broth and potato mix to the pot. Add the remaining milk, dill, and red pepper flakes. Simmer on medium-low until bubbling, maybe 15 more minutes. Make sure to taste for salt seasoning! (I found I needed to add a lot more to mine.)
I topped mine with some crumbles of blue cheese — yummmm.