The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

Pick Up Some Soup … and Keep the Beautiful Bowl

What’s better than buying a nice big bowl of homemade soup to enjoy on Super Bowl Sunday – or any cold winter’s day, for that matter?

Getting to keep the bowl, too.

And not just any bowl, but a beautiful ceramic one handcrafted by West Virginia artisans whose work is often on display at Tamarack.

This Saturday, just a day before the big game, Unity of Kanawha Valley will hold a “Souper Bowl Saturday” soup and bowl sale at the church, on the corner of Bridge and Myrtle roads in South Hills.

Homemade soups, breads and tasty baked goods will be sold, along with the opportunity to purchase ceramic soup bowls created by regional potters. The Tamarack Foundation worked with artists from St. Albans to Hinton to donate bowls for this weekend’s sale.

You can purchase just the soup or the soup in a decorative bowl. Potters will also have order forms on hand in case you’d like to purchase additional matching bowls or a complete set.

Get some soup to eat in, purchase a bowl to take out or stock up for the game.

Sounds souper!

The sale will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, with proceeds going to the church. For more information, call 304-345-0021.

The 3 S’s of Fall — Soups, Stews and Side Dishes

When temps start to fall, my taste buds turn to the three S’s of fall – soups, stews and sides.

A creamy potato soup. A chunky beef stew. A filling side dish. The heartier the better!

And soups, especially, are so easy to make at home.

“People are often intimidated when it comes to making tasty soups, but it’s not nearly as challenging as it may seem,” says Ryan Fichter, Executive Chef of Thunder Burger. “Great tasting soups are within reach for everyone to make.”

Here are his 5 tips for making it happen:

  1. STOCK UP. The soup base, or stock, is a big part of the equation. Good tasting stock makes good tasting soup. Homemade is best, but if that’s not an option choose a store-bought kind low in sodium.
  2. MIND THE MACARONI. If you are going to have pasta in your soup, be sure to cook it before adding it in. Many people skip this step, and it can throw off their whole recipe.
  3. FRESH IS BEST. When it comes to any of the ingredients going into your soup, fresh is the best option. If that’s not an option, go for frozen over canned.
  4. USE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT. Using the right kitchen tools is important. Some people prefer to use a slow cooker, which is fine. If you will be using a pot, choose one that is large and heavy. Also, an immersion blender makes easy work of creaming/pureeing soups.
  5. THE FINISHING TOUCH. Enhance the soup’s presentation by using a garnish. Also, most people prefer to have something with their soup, so choose the right addition, such as crackers, biscuits, muffins, bread or breadsticks.

“One of the great things about soup is that it is so versatile,” Fichter adds. “Soup can be a great appetizer, side dish or even a main course. Leftovers also heat up well for lunch the next day.”

Here here, I say.

And here here is his recipe for a simple Creamy Potato Soup. You can bulk it up with veggies or top it off with fresh herbs or crumbled bacon.


Creamy Potato Soup Recipe

2 Tbsp. (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 small celery stalks, chopped
1 medium leek, sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 ½ pounds of Idaho potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 ½ cups heavy cream

1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery stalks and leek, sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.

2. Add sweet potatoes, chicken stock, allspice, and nutmeg; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

3. With an immersion blender puree soup in blender until smooth.

4. Add cream and stir over medium-low heat to heat through. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead).

Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Flurries? Quick! Get the Soup on Lickity-Split!

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Honey Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Were those flurries I saw outside today? Is it really going to dip below freezing tonight?

Quick! Get the soup on before it warms up again.

And by “warm,” I mean, “hot.” The high this Thursday is expected to approach a summer-like 80, so you’d better act fast.

We recently used the remains of a roasted turkey and lots of softening use-them-or-lose-them veggies to make several quarts of homemade stock to serve as a base for many experiments in the coming weeks.

Pots of silky Honey Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and a colorful Mediterranean Potato Bean Soup are two of the first on the list. Here are both recipes in case you want to try them, too. If you do, let me know what you think.

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

12 oz. white wine
1 oz. vegetable oil
2 oz. chopped shallots
6 oz. diced celery
3 oz. diced carrots
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 lbs. cooked butternut squash
2 oz. olive oil
4 oz. honey
3 qt. vegetable stock
8 oz. heavy cream
Salt and white ground pepper, to taste                                             

  1. Peel and seed squash and cut into 1-2” cubes. Place in a medium bowl, mix with olive oil and honey to lightly coat.
  2. Spread squash over a sheet tray and lightly season with salt and white pepper. Roast at 300 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until fork tender
  3. Heat oil in a medium saucepot over low heat. Add shallots, garlic, celery, onion and carrot. Cook slowly until soft/translucent. Add white wine and simmer 2 minutes. Add cooked squash and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Puree in a blender or food processor until very smooth, then strain. Repeat if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
  5. Add heavy cream and return to heat; simmer 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning with honey, salt and white pepper to taste. Serve immediately. 

Mediterranean Potato Bean Soup

1 ½ tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup chopped onion
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3 medium red potatoes, unpeeled and cubed
3 carrots, sliced
¼ tsp. ground pepper
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup (2 oz.) whole wheat noodles, uncooked
2 cups fresh spinach (or 1 cup frozen spinach)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, shredded 

  1. Heat oil in a 2 quart pot, then sauté garlic and onions about 3-4 minutes. Add chicken broth, water, potatoes, carrots and seasonings; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  2. Add kidney beans and noodles. Bring to boil again, cook until noodles are soft. Remove from heat.
  3. Just before serving, add spinach to pot and stir gently. Ladle into bowls and serve with parmesan cheese.

Today kicks off a “Pumpkin-Palooza” blogfest, during which I’ll share a new pumpkin recipe every day from now until Halloween.

I have lots of cool things in store for ya’ (pumpkin cannoli, pumpkin-chorizo pizza, even fresh pumpkin cocktails!) but today kicks off with a more traditional pumpkin soup. Spiked with ginger and cinnamon, this creamy soup is bursting with fall flavors — perfect for a crisp autumn evening.  

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 cans chicken broth
15 ozs. pumpkin
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream
dash of paprika 

  1. Boil pumpkin in water until tender.  Strain, cool and puree pumpkin with an immersion blender.
  2. Sauté onion in butter in a medium saucepan until tender. Add 1 can chicken broth, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for  15 minutes. Blend mixture until smooth with an immersion blender.
  3. Return mixture to saucepan. Add remaining can of broth, pumpkin, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and ground pepper; stir well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in whipping cream and heat through. Do not boil. Sprinkle paprika on top and serve

Recipe courtesy of Krups.