It’s Autumn. A season of heightened rifling through our collection of over one hundred cookbooks (we read them like novels) and old recipes (like the one for Elote soup below) committed to memory.
Even in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida, there will soon be an undeniable chill in the air. It’ll be cool enough to turn the oven on to roast a chicken, cure up a curry, or simmer a stew, stock, or a pot of soup.
These months never slip by without making favored feelgood food and drink that invariably end up on our autumn cooking bucket list.
In our home, comfort food provides a sense of nostalgia. We both come from homes and homemakers where the kitchen was the heart of the home. Where a new recipe was in the making or an old one was being doctored. Where something was always sizzling on the stove.
I’m so grateful to make a life with someone who celebrates the table like I do. Whether it’s mealtime or the discovery of a new recipe, or reminiscing about our family’s culinary traditions, we both find it to be a taste of home.
Cooking up something from our own mothers’ kitchens definitely rings the comfort bell. Lately, though, we find joyin our kitchen with a twist. These days, we turn less to foods that bring us a blissed-out buzz (think Mac & Cheese or Stuffed French Toast or Homemade Kettle Chips and Onion Dip). Instead, we choose dishes that tend to be healthier and more rustic.
Nowadays, we find much pleasure in preparing and experimenting with taste and flavor. A pantry filled with versatile spices and pure culinary-grade essential oils has us kicking our kitchen creations up a few notches.
Incorporating essential oils into our cooking has opened up new dimensions of flavor – plus, the oils also have enhanced health benefits. We enjoy these natural ingredients all year long, even after the vegetable garden has gone dormant.
Cooking with essential oils can be a little intimidating – one little drop packs so much flavor. Essential oils are made from aromatic plants through natural processes to concentrate the “essence” of the plant into a liquid form.
Not all essential oils are created equally or are meant for consumption, however. So, when ingesting, only use oils that are certified, therapeutic grade and rigorously tested for purity.
A stop at our Saturday morning Farmer’s Market stocks us up with everything we need to create one of our seasonal culinary comforts – Elote, better known as Mexican Street Corn Soup. In our former life as inn keepers, we used to serve it in pretty juice glasses or in ramekins, as a first-course “soup shooter” at breakfast, but it’s great for lunch or dinner, too.
This soup happens to be a velvety vegan flavor bomb. We changed up the recipe by eliminating dairy. We traded out chicken stock for vegetable broth and subbed pure lime essential oil for a splash of lime juice.
Now you can have your soup and drink it, too.
1 ear of corn for garnish pieces, grilled
3 cups fresh corn kernels removed from the cob (may substitute with frozen, if fresh corn is not available) – approximately 5-6 ears of corn.
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups uniformly diced potatoes
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth or stock
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp chili or ancho powder
6 (or more) drops Lime Essential Oil, to taste
Sprig of dill
Clean and grill one ear of corn and it set aside. Boil remaining ears of corn, allow to cool. Cut kernels from the cob and reserve.
In a Dutch oven over medium heat add the oil. Add the potatoes and onion and cook until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the vegetable broth, corn, and salt. Bring to a boil, then a simmer, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
Add the milk and stir gently. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil.
Remove from heat and stir in chili or ancho powder and the Lime Essential Oil.
Take half of the mixture and place in a blender on high speed. Return blended mixture to the pot and gently stir to combine.
Serve in bowls and top with a piece of the grilled corn cut from the cob. When cutting the kernels from the cob, try to achieve larger pieces for the garnish. Sprinkle a bit of Ancho chili powder and add a sprig of dill, parsley, or whatever strikes your fancy.
How do you cook your way through fall and winter? What are your cooler temp go-to soups? Which comfort food matches your personality? Fall is a great time for ingredients. What are your favorites for fall cooking/eating? Please share with the community!