Winter Vegetable Soup

Squash Soup

My favourite winter soup. Freezes well and easy to play around with the flavour.

This is the basic list of ingredients, but I like to ad sweet potatoes, pears, carrots (basically any fall veg plus pears) I also like to add a dollop of yogurt, a drop or two of olive oil, cayenne (if i’m feeling some spicy) and a little chopped fresh basil

1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp oil and/or butter
4 cups chopped squash/pumpkin (seeded and peeled) – I also usually roast this in the oven with rosemary, butter and pepper and occasionally some brown sugar as well.
8 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper

pinch of each of the following depending on taste:

  • Curry
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Ginger

1 cup milk

Once all the vegetables have softened, remove the pot from heat and blend in cream and milk with a hand blender. Serve with yogourt, and fresh basil. Also add a little cayenne if you like some more spice.

Heat Wave With No Leaves

Spring finally came, and with a vengeance, full of sneaky little tricks and strange weather. For a week we had a taste of summer yet to come, in the sun I could feel the kind of summer heat that we will face in a few months. Sticky, sticky, sticky. Before our heat wave came to an end I was able to enjoy a few refreshing treats.

A year ago they built a lovely new ice cream parlour in my neighbourhood, it seems a part of the gradual gentrification that is happening, I was glad to see it open and tasty as always. Le Gourmandin, has also made some nice improvements, such as adding crepes and speciality coffee to their menu. This definitely adds a little more versatility to their business. As delicious as ice cream is, sometimes its not what we are looking for, I also believe that it helps them to stay alive in winter when they stock only a small selection of ice cream (compared to their usually very large selection). It is the place to go for ice cream that comes in many shapes and sizes. They range from Bilboquet sorbets to various kinds of sundaes and frozen delights. I personally treated myself to a raspberry frozen yogurt, which has long been one of my favourite things.

I thoroughly enjoyed my much needed ice cream on Thursday when the heat was still in all it’s glory. I was rather disappointed though that shortly after the ice cream, the weather began to cool down. There was enough time however for a refreshing little drink from the Canadian Living Summer Cookbook (2009).  It is a simple and delicious way to liven up a pitcher of water.

I have so far tried the Cucumber Lime.

4 cups water

1 sliced cucumber

2 sliced limes

Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours for flavours to infuse. Makes about 4 servings. Enjoy!

In spite of all the wonderful heat it is still strange to be out in a short sleeveless dress enjoying the sun, all the while sitting near shadeless naked trees. Just a little taste of summer, an appetizer shall we say.

French Onion Soup

Spring seems to be trying its best to poke its little head out from behind the grey skies of winter, but so far with little luck. So, I am using these last cold days as an excuse to make my favourite French onion soup recipe.

French Onion Soup
Gourmet | December 2006

Yield: Makes 6 (light main course) servings

Active Time: 45 min
Total Time: 1 1/2 hr

2 lb medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (32 fl oz)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices of baguette
1 (1/2-lb) piece Gruyère, Comte, or Emmental
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Special equipment: 6 (8- to 10-oz) flameproof soup crocks or ramekins; a cheese plane

Cook onions, thyme, bay leaves, and salt in butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

While soup simmers, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Arrange bread in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and toast, turning over once, until completely dry, about 15 minutes.

Remove croûtes from oven and preheat broiler. Put crocks in a shallow baking pan.

Discard bay leaves and thyme from soup and divide soup among crocks, then float a croûte in each. Slice enough Gruyère (about 6 ounces total) with cheese plane to cover tops of crocks, allowing ends of cheese to hang over rims of crocks, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.

Cafe Myriade

I know that when I moved to Montreal I looked everywhere for a good coffee. It seemed to me that Starbucks and Second Cup were the only places, thankfully I was mistaken and I soon found a little piece of home and excellent coffee at Cafe Myriade in downtown’s core. Coming for the West Coast Myriade encompasses everything that is wonderful about good coffee and attention to detail. From the first time I discovered Myriade I was a fan, and I have since been sending everyone I meet to discover their coffee! They have something for everyone, excellent daily filter coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, a nice selection of teas, and for those who don’t drink coffee they make one of the best hot chocolates around! Myriade is also the only place in Montreal where you can find Syphon Coffee.

Although now it seems to be getting easier to find a good coffee in Montreal, Myriade still holds a special place for many, from the friendly employees to the music they play everything spells inviting. I almost always find myself discovering new music as well as rediscovering some music I had forgotten about.

Although it can be a little crowded in winter, during summer they open up the terrasse and this makes room for about double the amount that usually fits. For those visiting from outside Montreal, a “terrasse” is the colloquial term for a patio here. In keeping with their very West Coast feel, one of their main coffees is 49th Parallel, which is based out of Vancouver, although you will almost always find Ritual Roasters coffee. Other coffees vary depending on the time of year and what they choose to bring in.

Having lived and worked almost always within minutes of Myriade has been dangerous at times. I find myself going there almost every day. Whether its a craving or just enjoying a delicious lattee, this is where you’ll find me on my coffee break, before work, on the way to class, it is the perfect coffee. Maybe I identify with it for its west coast appeal, or that one of the owners once worked for an excellent coffee shop in Vancouver, either way Myriade stands out as being the best coffee shop in Montreal.

So here’s to coffee and a friendly atmosphere! Today I’m enjoying a cappuccino and looking at the sunshine!

You can find Cafe Myriade in downtown Montreal at 1432 Rue Mackay, and you can find them on the web via TwitterFacebook or their website.