Sunday, November 16, 2014

Giada's Cranberry Soup with Curried Shredded Brussels Sprouts for Food 'N Flix November Pick: "Pieces of April" and Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I'm hosting Food 'N Flix for November and my pick is the indie-comedy-drama "Pieces of April" starring Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson and Oliver Platt. (The announcement post with all of the details is here.) Since I tend to slide in my Food 'N Flix posts right under the wire, I thought as a responsible host, I would change it up and actually post a couple of weeks before the deadline. Plus, if you are tired of pumpkin and squash soups starters and having the standard cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving plate, here's a new recipe to shake things up a bit--a variation of Giada De Laurentiis' Cranberry Soup with Curried Breadcrumbs Shredded Brussels Sprouts.  

I saw this movie when it first came out, then again last year when I caught it on cable and loved the story of April Burns, estranged from her family but looking to mend relationships--particularly the one with her difficult mother, before it is too late. A broken oven has April relying on the kindness of strangers to get dinner cooked, while her family begrudgingly makes the long trek into the city. It's got good performances, dark humor mixed with warm and poignant moments, and it's about Thanksgiving. When I re-watched the movie for Food 'N Flix, I took the time to watch the behind-the-scenes featurette about the making of the film and interviews with writer/director Peter Hedges (known for writing What's Eating Gilbert Grape the screenplay for About a Boy) and the cast. If you get the chance, watch both--the film and the extras.

So being about Thanksgiving, there is plenty of food inspiration in this movie--your basic traditional Thanksgiving foods that April tries to cook, the more gourmet dishes of neighbor Eugene and his wife Evette, Krispy Kreme donuts, even the pancakes that April likens herself to:

April:  "I'm the first pancake."
Evette: "What do you mean?"
Eugene: "She's the one you're supposed to throw out."
I knew I wanted to do something with cranberries as I liked the exchange between April and Eugene when she defends using canned cranberry sauce:
April:  "I like it from the can!"
Eugene: "Nobody likes it from the can.

April later tosses her blob of canned cranberry jelly into the trash and Evette shows her how simple it is to make sauce from fresh cranberries, encouraging her all the way. The kindness of strangers. ;-)

Rather than making cranberry sauce, I kept seeing a Giada De Lauretiis recipe for a cranberry soup with curried breadcrumbs on top that sounded interesting--one of those will-I-like-it-or-will-it be-weird?-sounding recipes. I did make a few changes--shown in red below--mainly reducing the oil and sweetener, adding a bit more smoky flavor, and swapping out the curried breadcrumbs for curried shredded Brussels sprouts. (A great way to make it gluten-free and work so more veggies in.)  

Cranberry Soup with Curried Breadcrumbs Shredded Brussels Sprouts
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis via Natural Health Magazine & online here
(4 to 6 Servings)

3 Tbsp olive oil (I used 1 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp, divided)
1 onion, roughly chopped 
1 carrot, roughly chopped 
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped 
1 3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided (I used 1 1/2 tsp smoked sea salt)
1 apple, such as honeycrisp, chopped 
1 lb cranberries 
1 cup apple juice 
2 1/2 cups water 
2 star anise 
1 cinnamon stick 
3 cardamom pods 
(I added 1 tsp smoked paprika)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (I used shredded Brussels sprouts)
1/4 cup agave nectar, divided (I used 2 Tbsp maple syrup)
1/2 tsp curry powder
Smoked olive oil to finish (optional) (I omitted)

Heat a 3 quart sauce pan over medium heat. To the pan add the onion, carrot, celery and 1 teaspoon of salt and sauté for 4 minutes or until the vegetables are beginning to soften. Add the apple and cranberries and sauté for another 2 minutes. Deglaze with the apple juice and add the water, star anise, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Bring soup to a boil, and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the star anise, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, mix together the panko, 1 tablespoon agave, the curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
(I omitted the agave or sweetened and substituted in Brussels sprouts for the panko and used 1/2 tsp of oil to pan-fry them in until the sprouts were crispy and lightly browned.) Place over medium heat and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are fragrant and golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In 2 batches, ladle the soup into the pitcher of a blender and puree until smooth. Return the pureed soup to a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Turn off the heat and add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons of agave. Ladle into bowls and top with the curried breadcrumbs. Drizzle with a little smoked or extra virgin olive oil if desired.  

Notes/Results: I wondered if this soup would be too tangy or too fruity for my taste buds but it turned out well--a good blend of sweet and savory and a little smoky thanks to the smoked salt and paprika I added. The curried Brussels sprouts were the perfect topping--not that the panko wouldn't be great as well, but I liked the slight bitter greens flavor of the sprouts with the curry with the tangy/sweet. Plus I learned that curried Brussels sprouts are delicious and plan to make a salad/side dish with these flavors. This is a good soup to use as a starter to a meal--rich, but not too heavy and good to serve in a small bowl or cup. I would make it again.

As mentioned, I'm hosting this round of Food 'N Flix and I'll be rounding up all of this month's entries right here at Kahakai Kitchen shortly after the deadline of Sunday, November 30th so you still have plenty of time to watch the film and play along. (As host, I decided to actually to get my entry done a couple of weeks before the deadline this time--a rarity!) ;-) If you miss out this month, I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya to join us in December when we will be watching the holiday classic, A Christmas Story hosted by Food 'N Flix's founder, Heather of girlichef

Since it's also Souper Sundays, let's take a look into the kitchen and see who is here and what delicious dishes they brought.

Mireille of Chef Mireille's East West Realm shares this flavorful Ottolenghi Spinach Chickpea Soup with Roasted Carrots and says, "Rose water and raz el hanout add a Middle Eastern flavor to this healthy Vegetarian Soup. ... This is a balanced flavorful soup with the light and fresh flavors of the greens, but then the smoky deep flavors that come from the carrots and the raz el hanout. It makes a complete meal with the protein from the chickpeas."

Shaheen from Allotment2Kitchen is here with this pretty rice salad and says, "I made this Red Camargue Rice Salad last month.  It was my first time cooking and eating red camargue rice. I don't know why, but I had expected the red camargue rice to be chewy like brown rice, but it wasn't and was somewhere in between white rice and brown rice.  It did however add texture and faint colour to this very autumnal looking salad. The rice was further enhanced by the flavours of the roasted butternut squash and red peppers, I also threw in some fresh tomatoes."

Janet of The Taste Space brings Moroccan Cauliflower Rice and Date Salad and says, "This was also a fun spin on a vegetable salad: cauliflower is riced and tossed with Moroccan spices, dates and cilantro. The savoury spices (cumin and cardamom – although I think cinnamon would have been better) worked well with the sweet dates. My only complaint was that I picked a big head of cauliflower, so I needed more dressing. No fault of the author, as I guess there are truly puny cauliflowers out there."

A salad this good needs to be re-shared. At Kahakai Kitchen, I slightly adapted this Nigel Slater Pan-Fried Apple and Cheese Salad with Glazed Walnuts and fell a little bit in love. It is amazing what pan-frying the apples (I used Honeycrisp) does for them--especially when the warm, juicy apples meld with the farmhouse cheddar and soften it up. This is a perfect fall salad simple, pretty to look at and a pleasure to eat, that I will make over and over again. (Stop by and take a look and enter to win a $25 e-gift card to an online bookstore of your choice and a copy of the cozy mysteryThe Garden Plot by Marty Wingate.) 

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 



  1. Gluten Free A-Z BlogNovember 16, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    I've always wanted to make a cranberry soup for the holidays, but most recipes that I have seen a very sweet and made with a significant amount of sugar; This recipe looks just right and I love the idea of substituting brussel sprouts for the breadcrumbs. That's genius.

  2. Hey Judee, I did reduce the sweetener (and used maple syrup instead of agave) in this recipe because of the apple juice and not liking things too sweet. I think with the addition of the smoky paprika it was pretty well balanced. ;-)

  3. different but looks good!

  4. Huh. I am totally intrigued by this. I don't think I've ever come across a savory cranberry soup!

  5. G'day! This looks delicious and never heard of this soup, so thanks for allowing me to learn something new today!
    My blog post just went live...emailing it to you now and thanks for being such a great host...can't wait to see the Round Up!
    Cheers! Joanne @What's On The List

  6. We just watched this last night. I loved it and have a couple of ideas roaming around my head. Your cranberry soup is truly inspired, Deb. Thanks for a great movie choice.

  7. Thanks Debra! I am glad you loved the movie. Can't wait to see what you come up with. ;-)

  8. Thanks Joanne! I think it will be a fun and delicious Thanksgiving roundup. Mahalo for joining in. ;-)

  9. It is both a bit different and good Kat! ;-)

  10. It has some sweetness still Joanne but I wanted it more savory and reducing the sweetener and adding a touch of smokiness let the savory come out. ;-)

  11. Woah. What an interesting combination of flavour, Deb! Seriously pinning this. :)

  12. Great choice...both the movie and the recipe. Thank you so much for all your hard work.

  13. I am SUPER intrigued by this delicious soup and just adore the Curried Shredded Brussels Sprouts topping! Great recipe for a great pic movie wise! And thanks for your asewome comment on my contribution.

  14. Amy CookingAdventuresDecember 3, 2014 at 6:04 AM

    Wow! Those are some great flavors! Great pick for the movie!


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