A Little Spice is Always Nice!

February 16th, 2013

Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves…  It’s time to spice it up! We love these spices in tasty cookies, cakes, and muffins. And there are even more dishes out there ready for that hit of warm spice pizazz!

One of my favorite and somewhat un-sung spices is the cardamom seed. This flavorfully potent spice is native to India, but its flavor and use has spread throughout the world, from Scandinavian to Middle Eastern cuisine.

Cardamom adds a sassy flavor to my Spiced Squash Bisque. The aromatic spices combine well with the flavor of sweet winter squash making this soup a great cold weather dish.

Other favorite spices that I love are allspice and cloves, so great in spiced shortbread cookies, stews – and I especially love them infused in my recipe for Spiced Red Vermouth … perfect in a Manhattan!!


My Spiced Vermouth!
For the recipe and more inspired sipping, check out Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen™.

Rubs are another great way to incorporate new and unique spices into your meal. There are so many great pre-made options available like my Fragrant Star Anise Rub. It’s an excellent way to add an exotic flair to a roasted pork or chicken.

If you like to experiment with creating your own rubs, check out the bulk spice section at your neighborhood grocer, or head on over to Pike Place Market’s World Spice shop to pick out what you want. World Spice has tons of loose spices, and you can buy just what you need, whether it’s a pinch or a squiggle. You can also find spices online from BulkFoods.com to Amazon.

One last hint: a coffee grinder is excellent for grinding your own spices. Just be sure that you keep one for solely that purpose… the star anise “scented” coffee at my house was not a big hit!

So remember, a little bit of spice can go a long ways in bringing out your dish’s flavor!  -Kathy

Spiced Squash Bisque
Organic or homegrown squash is preferable to use for this recipe because it creates a much more pronounced and sweet flavor. I like to use hubbard, Danish, or butternut squash, or a combination. Make the Crispy Seeds while the soup is cooking.

Makes 6 starter servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
4 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) peeled, seeded, and cubed winter squash (any type of sweet squash or pumpkin combination may be used; reserve 1/4 cup of seeds for Crispy Seeds)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, finely crushed
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, finely crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (more or less depending upon whether you are using a homemade stock)
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup sour cream
Salt to taste

Crispy Seeds
1/4 cup seeds from squash
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add squash, garlic, spices, bay leaf, and salt. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, partially cover the pan, and simmer for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until the squash is very tender.

Meanwhile, make the Crispy Seeds: preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse seeds under cold water to remove any squash flesh or strings. Drain well and measure. Place in a bowl and toss with the olive oil. In a small bowl, combine cumin, sugar, and salt and sprinkle over the seeds. Toss well and spread seeds on a nonstick baking sheet. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until crispy and toasted.

Remove bisque from heat. Remove and discard bay leaf. In a blender or food processor, carefully purée the hot soup in small batches with the sour cream. (Be careful not to make your batches too large, since the soup is very hot.) Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed, especially if using homemade broth. Pour the puréed soup back into the pan and keep warm.

Divide the soup among warmed soup bowls. Sprinkle each serving with about 2 teaspoons Crispy Seeds.

For a vegetarian version: substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

Chef’s Tips:
For a fun and impressive presentation, thin out a small portion of sour cream with milk or cream until it is a “squeezable” consistency and put in a squirt bottle. Swirl the top of each serving with the sour cream.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Entry Filed under: KOMO Radio,Recent Posts,Recipes,sides,Small Screen Network,soups,videos

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