Sunday, November 29, 2020

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Pimiento Cheese Biscuits for Dipping for Cook the Books Oct/Nov Pick: "The Secret, Book & Scone Society" & Souper Sundays

As November comes to a close, so does the current round of Cook the Books and as usual, I am coming in under the wire with my post for The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams, hosted by Simona of briciole. (See her announcement post here.) I'll be giving you my thoughts on the book along with a couple of tasty recipes for Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Pimiento Cheese Biscuits for dipping and dunking.

I was very happy that Simona picked The Secret, Book & Scone Society as our October/November read because I had purchased the e-book ages ago and needed that push to finally get it read. I had even forgotten the premise of the book and had it in my head that it was set in Scotland (the scones I guess?) instead of western North Carolina. But once I opened the pages I was hooked and ended up buying the other two books in the series (on e-book sale, yay!) as I was reading it. 

Here's the Publisher's Blurb:

A quirky club in small-town North Carolina holds the keys to health, happiness, friendship—and even solving a murder—all to be found within the pages of the right book…

Strangers flock to Miracle Springs hoping the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. If none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked “comfort” scone, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That’s Nora’s special talent—prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person’s deepest pain. So when a visiting businessman reaches out for guidance, Nora knows exactly how to help. But before he can keep their appointment, he’s found dead on the train tracks.
 
Stunned, Nora forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, a group of damaged souls yearning to earn redemption by helping others. To join, members must divulge their darkest secret—the terrible truth that brought each of them to Miracle Springs in the first place. Now, determined to uncover the truth behind the businessman’s demise, the women meet in Nora’s cozy bookstore. And as they untangle a web of corruption, they also discover their own courage, purpose, and a sisterhood that will carry them through every challenge—proving it’s never too late to turn the page and start over…

I'm a a cozy mystery fan and especially a fan of foodie or bookish cozies and this book combines all of these elements. The town of Miracle Springs, North Carolina and the little bit of magic that can be found there drew me in. I believe in the healing power of books and love stories where a bookseller can suss out the exact book or books a person needs and Nora, our MC, does that for townspeople and visitors alike, inspired by a kind hospital nurse who helped her in her hour of need. She has some dark secrets holding her back from connecting with people outside of her bookstore and so when a murder brings her together with other local women trying to heal and hide away from their secrets and pasts, they form a group and slowly become friends as each shares their secrets to build trust. Where does the food come in? With Hester, the local bakery owner who can determine what kind of scone would comfort someone, plus there are mentions of delicious-sounding food throughout the story. It's a cozy, so the mystery of the murder isn't too hard to solve--although there was a surprise or two in there. For me the heart of the story is the friendship and redemption of the four main characters and how friendship, books, and food can comfort us and bring us together. It was a good escape during stressful times, and I look forward to learning more about Nora, Hester, Estella, and June in future books. 

As I mentioned, there was plenty of food in the book from the comfort scones (in flavors like chocolate chip, cheese and ham, apple-cinnamon, peanut butter and chocolate, and red berry jam-filled), cinnamon twists, chamomile tea, champagne, cheddar cheese straws and peach pie bites, lemonade, fresh blackberries, corn bread, chili, snack mix, coconut shrimp, mango and basil martinis, a basket stuffed with breads--dill rolls, cornbread muffins, rosemary flatbread, and pimiento cheese biscuits with bowls of honey butter and roasted red pepper spread for spreading and dipping, chicken-fried steak, hush puppies, fried chicken, chess pie, hummingbird cake, cheese grits and sausage gravy, fried catfish, Cobb salad, strawberry milkshakes, eggs, bacon toast and an iced tea, coffee drinks named for authors, green beans, cookies and eclairs, egg-salad sandwich, vanilla yogurt topped with wild raspberries and blackberries, cucumber salad and white chicken enchiladas, Thanksgiving turkey, cookies, muffins, cobbler, bagels and cream puffs, spinach salad, corn on the cob, bacon-wrapped tenderloin, sliced watermelon, Peppermint Pattie, dark chocolate and strawberry, banana split and samoa-flavored s'mores, stir-fried bok choy, coffee and book-shaped puff pastry, 

With all of that inspiration, I did have in mind to try a scone but as I state pretty frequently, "I am not a baker!' Also, I was more intrigued by the mention of the pimento cheese biscuits and the roasted red pepper spread out of a bread basket Nora and her friends noshed on than I was with the scones. Since it is Sunday, i adjusted the roasted red pepper dip to be a Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup (a Giada recipe) to dunk my Pimiento Cheese Biscuits in. Being not a baker, and wanting something easy, I doctored up a cheddar biscuit mix for my biscuits (this one), but if you have a favorite recipe, you could use it instead. 
 
Creamy Red Pepper Soup
Slightly Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis via FoodNetwork.com 
(Yields 4 to 8 Servings) 
 
4 Tbsp olive oil
 
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and thyme and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bell peppers, potato, wine, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool the soup slightly.  
 
Using an immersion hand blender, puree the soup in the pot until it is smooth. Alternately, working in batches, puree the soup in a regular blender, taking care while blending warm liquids. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and saute until they are crisp and golden, about 8 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Dollop a tablespoon of mascarpone in the center of each bowl and top with croutons. Sprinkle with pepper and serve. 

Pimiento-Cheese Biscuits
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen & Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits
(Makes About 10 Biscuits)
 
a package of your favorite biscuit mix or your favorite biscuit recipe
3/4 cup cold milk (replace the water for biscuit mix)
3/4 cup freshly grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz jar diced pimientos, well drained
1/2 cup chopped scallions (I use just the green tops)
1/4 cup butter, melted
your favorite herb seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
 
Follow the directions on the biscuit mix--basically stir in the mix, cheese, pimientos, green onion and cold milk gently together--not over-mixing it. Scopp dougn (about 1/4-1/3 cup  and place 2-inches apart on sheet. 

Bake 14-16 minutes, until golden brown. Mix herbs into melted butter and spoon or brush butter sauce on the tops of the biscuits. Serve immediately. 
 

Notes/Results: The soup is rich and creamy and has good roasted pepper flavor. I like the mascarpone topping but you could use sour cream, yogurt, creme fraiche or cream cheese if you prefer. The biscuits were cheesy and good, not too heavy but buttery and a little decadent. Together they make a fabulous combination. I will happily make both recipes again.

Thanks to Simona for picking this book and hosting. The deadline for this round of Cook The Books is tomorrow, November 30th. If you missed this round and like food, books and foodie books, join us for our December/January pick, Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort from 31 Celebrated Writers and hosted by yours truly.

This post is linked up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is Pilgrim Plate. Not sure that Giada's soup is a typical Thanksgiving dish but 2020 was not your typical Thanksgiving so I think it qualifies! ;-)

Now let's check into the Souper Sundays kitchen

Crafty Gardener is here with a Potato and Ham Soup, saying "This is a good recipe for using up left over ham and along with potatoes, onions, mushrooms, celery and a cream soup it makes a delicious soup made in the crock pot. As usual I tend to tweak recipes that I find to suit myself, so this is one that I put together myself."


Judee of Gluten Free A - Z Blog brought Butternut Squash and Apple Soup and said, "Butternut Squash makes a delicious soup that is slightly sweet, thick, and satisfying. Add some apple and you have a genuinely nourishing rich autumn soup. The beautiful bright orange color, so reminiscent of the season, brings warmth and a glow to our fall table."


Thank you for joining me this week Judee and Crafty Gardener!

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Giada's Lentil & Pasta Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I was craving lentil soup this week, especially since the weather has cooled over the weekend. I mean we are still talking mid-high 70s during the day, but the mornings and nights are cool  so it's all relative, but it made a warming lentil soup even more appealing. I like the addition of pasta in this recipe from Giada. 


Lentil & Pasta Soup
Slightly Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis via FoodNetwork.com
(Makes 6 Servings)

2 Tbsp olive oil + extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped (I used 3 large cloves)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 lb lentils (about 1 1/4 cups)
11 oz low salt chicken or vegetable broth (I used veggie no-chicken broth)
4-6 fresh thyme sprigs
2/3 cup dried elbow pasta
1 cup shredded Parmesan

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate  a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir, then add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and simmer until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes, Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.


Notes/Results: An excellent comfort food soup--hearty, nourishing and full of good flavor. I like the pasta and lentil combination and with the not-too-soft vegetables, it's a good mix of textures. If you use veggie stock and leave out the Parmesan, it's a delicious vegan soup but the Parmesan is an excellent addition with it's nutty richness, so i highly recommend it. This is a simple soup to make and really tasty, I would happily make it again.


Linking up this Giada recipe to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week.


Now let's check the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here! 


Crafty Gardener is back with a hearty Tomato-Potato Soup and says, "It is a stormy Sunday with rain and wind. The perfect day for some delicious tasty chunky tomato potato I like soups and stews the day after they are cooked, as they are always thicker and tastier. So this soup was made yesterday but will be eaten today. Of course the cook had to taste test it a few times!"


Thank you for joining me this week Crafty Gardener!

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Have a happy healthy week!
 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Donna Hay's Creamy Potato and Sauerkraut Soup with Hot Smoked Salmon for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I wanted to change up my potato soup game a little and when I saw a recipe for Creamy Potato and Sauerkraut Soup with Hot Smoked Salmon on Donna Hay's website, I knew it was the one I wanted to try. 

I happen to be a fan of sauerkraut and this soup blends it with potatoes, leeks, black pepper and broth then add a creamy cup of crème fraîche at the end. You top it with extra sauerkraut and crème fraîche, and crumble hot smoked salmon and dill at the end. 


Donna Hay's Creamy Potato and Sauerkraut Soup with Hot Smoked Salmon
Recipe from DonnaHay.com
(Makes 4 Servings)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
600g (about 1 1/2 lbs) starchypotatoes, peeled & chopped
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock 
1 cup (180g) store-bought sauerkraut, plus extra to serve
cracked black pepper
1 cup (240g) crème fraîche
370g (13 oz) hot-smoked salmon, flaked
finely chopped dill, to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 4 minutes or until softened. Add the potato, stock, sauerkraut and pepper and cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until the potato has softened. Remove from the heat and, using a hand-held stick blender, blend until smooth. 
 
Return the mixture to the pan over medium heat and stir in half the crème fraîche. Divide the soup between serving bowls and top with the remaining crème fraîche, extra sauerkraut, the hot smoked salmon, dill and pepper to serve.

Notes/Results: This soup is so good! I love how there aren't a lot of ingredients and how both the sauerkraut and crème fraîche make it tangy while the salmon adds a smokiness that adds to the depth. It is easy to put together and is really delicious and pretty in the bowl too. It was great with some soft sourdough today and I look forward to enjoying it for lunch this week and I would happily make it again. 


Linking up this post to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is "Roots!"

Now let's check the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here!

Crafty Gardener is here with a BBQ'd Fried Egg Sandwich saying, "Fried egg sandwiches are a favourite stand by for lunch in our house. And when the November weather gives you an unexpected warm spell you take advantage of it it and make bbq’d fried egg sandwiches. We have a grilling mat that converts your bbq into a grill. Just perfect for cooking eggs."


Judee from Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared her Easiest Black Bean Soup recipe and said, "I enjoy soup all year round but when the weather starts to get cooler, I start to crave heartier soups made with beans. This hearty black bean soup is thick, delicious, and satisfying and one of the easiest soups I make." 

 black bean soup

Thank you for joining me this week Judee and Crafty Gardener!

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

 Have a happy, healthy week!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Cosmos: Possible Worlds" by Ann Druyan, Served with a Recipe for Apple-Cranberry Cosmos

Sometimes, when this world we live in gets too crazy, I wonder what other worlds and dimensions are out there. That makes me very happy to be on the TLC Book Tour for Cosmos: Possible Worlds by Ann Druyan, a new book from National Geographic that lets me explore earth and space and civilization from my couch. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a refreshing and fall-flavored cocktail, the Apple-Cranberry Cosmopolitan, Inspired by the book's title.

 

Publisher's Blurb:

This sequel to Carl Sagan’s blockbuster continues the electrifying journey through space and time, connecting with worlds billions of miles away and envisioning a future of science tempered with wisdom.

Based on National Geographic’s internationally-renowned television series, this groundbreaking and visually stunning book explores how science and civilization grew up together. From the emergence of life at deep-sea vents to solar-powered starships sailing through the galaxy, from the Big Bang to the intricacies of intelligence in many life forms, acclaimed author Ann Druyan documents where humanity has been and where it is going, using her unique gift of bringing complex scientific concepts to life. With evocative photographs and vivid illustrations, she recounts momentous discoveries, from the Voyager missions in which she and her husband, Carl Sagan, participated to Cassini-Huygens’s recent insights into Saturn’s moons. This breathtaking sequel to Sagan’s masterpiece explains how we humans can glean a new understanding of consciousness here on Earth and out in the cosmos–again reminding us that our planet is a pale blue dot in an immense universe of possibility.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: National Geographic; Illustrated Edition (February 25, 2020)

 

 My Review:

Cosmos: Possible Worlds is tagged as "The Sequel to Carl Sagan's Beloved Classic", and so it couldn't have a more perfect author than the late Scientist and Astronomer's wife, Ann Druyan. Druyan is an author, producer and director who co-wrote Sagan's 1980 PBS documentary series, Cosmos and married him in 1981. Cosmos: Possible Worlds is the companion book to the National Geographic series and is a gorgeous look at science, explained clearly for the layperson. Full disclosure here--I didn't read Sagan's Cosmos, although I did watch the series, and I am only about half-way through Cosmos: Possible Worlds. (It's been a busy week, month, year and I struggled to find time to read the past couple of weeks.) What I have read, I have enjoyed; Druyan writes passionately and evocatively about space and science in a way that is exciting and explores the philosophies behind it. The book is full of the most gorgeous photographs and it is a treat to pick up and immerse myself in a chapter. I am looking forward to the long Thanksgiving weekend to catch up on my reading, including finishing this book. If you are a science buff you'll enjoy this book and if you know and love a science buff, it would make a great holiday gift!

 -----

Author Notes: ANN DRUYAN is a celebrated writer and producer who co-authored many bestsellers with her late husband, Carl Sagan. She also famously served as creative director of the Voyager Golden Record, sent into space 40 years ago. Druyan continues her work as an interpreter of the most important scientific discoveries, partnering with NASA and the Planetary Society. She has served as Secretary of the Federation of American Scientists and is a laureate of the International Humanist Academy. Most recently, she received both an Emmy and Peabody Award for her work in conceptualizing and writing National Geographic’s first season of Cosmos.

I think there is really only one logical pairing for this book a Cosmopolitan. After all you can't beat cosmos for Cosmos. Since it's fall, I wanted my cosmo to have strong apple vibes, so I made a few substitutions from the usual vodka, cranberry juice, triple sec or Cointreau and lime juice.

This recipe is pretty loose, so add more or less of ingredients based on what you like or have on hand. If you don't have calvados (apple brandy), use the liquor you do have.You can also add more vodka if you want it boozier--I just don't drink alcohol very much these days, so I keep it on the lighter side. ;-)

Apple-Cranberry Cosmos
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen 
(Makes 2 Large Cocktails)
 
3 oz vodka of choice (I used a citrus vodka blend)
3 oz cranberry-apple juice
3 oz apple juice
1 1/2 oz calvados (apple brandy
1 1/2 oz lime juice

Combine vodka, cranberry-apple juice, apple juice juice, calvados and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds.

Pour into glasses and serve with apple slices if desired. 

Notes/Results: Crisp, refreshing, sweet but not too sweet and nicely apple-flavored, I really like this cosmo! It takes me back to the Sex and the City watch parties I used to have with my friends when cosmos were in their heyday. The only downside of these is that they are a bit too easy to suck down which makes them a little dangerous. ;-)  I will happily make them again.

 
I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event  being hosted by Marg at The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader. It's a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. Here's a link to this week's post.
Note: A review copy of "Cosmos: Possible Worlds" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
 
You can see the other stops for this TLC Book Tour and what other bloggers thought of the book here.

 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

One Flew Over the Couscous Nest Middle Eastern Minestrone with Chickpeas & Israeli Couscous for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays and #BlendsBash2020

It's a bit of deja vu this week as last Sunday I was experimenting in my kitchen with a Book Blend from the The Book Club Cookbook's Lord of the Fries Garlic Seasoning Blend (you can see my Lord of the Fries Seasoned Pan-Fried Gnocchi in Creamy Garlic Soup here) and this Sunday finds me back in my kitchen and experimenting with another Book Blend; One Flew Over the Couscous Nest and creating another delicious soup inspired by it. Oh well, in my book you can never have too many soups or too many punny seasoning blends!

One Flew Over the Couscous Nest; Couscous Seasoning is of course named after One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a novel by Ken Kesey. Set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital, I think it was a rule that you had to read it at some point in the upper grades high school if you lived in the state, and watch the movie along with it. Wikipedia says that, "the narrative serves as a study of institutional processes and the human mind as well as a critique of psychiatry and a tribute to individualistic principles."

One Flew Over the Couscous Nest spice blend is hand blended from cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon and parsley and can be added to dry couscous to be steamed. I like the note on the side of the bottle: "Nurse Ratched would disapprove, but this earthy North African blend is a distinctive match for your couscous, adding a dose of individuality."  I'd also add this blend to eggs, rice dishes, any vegetables and fish or meat skewers.  

My One Flew Over the Couscous Nest Middle Eastern Minestrone with Chickpeas & Israeli Couscous is my Middle Eastern take on an Italian classic soup minestrone which basically translates to "big soup." This is a big soup in terms of flavor and ingredients as it's I have replaced the more traditional white or kidney beans with chickpeas and the Italian pasta with Israeli or pearled couscous. I added in eggplant and zucchini and of course the warm and exotic One Flew Over the Couscous Nest seasoning.

One Flew Over the Couscous Nest Middle Eastern Minestrone with Chickpeas & Israeli Couscous
By Deb, Kahahkai Kitchen
(Makes 6 Servings)
 
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp One Flew Over the Couscous Nest Seasoning Blend, or similar flavor profile
1 tsp chili pepper flakes, or to taste (I used Aleppo pepper)
1 large zucchini chopped
2 medium Japanese eggplant, chopped
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes + their juices
1  (24 oz) jar of your favorite brand of marinara or garlic pasta sauce
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups dried Israeli  couscous
sea salt and black pepper to taste
 
To serve: chopped fresh parsley and  yogurt or labni if desired. (If you want to keep it vegan, use a non-dairy milk version).

Heat the oil in the bottom of a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook about 10 minutes, until veggies have softened. Add garlic, One Flew Over the Couscous Nest seasoning blend and chili pepper flakes and cook another minute or two until fragrant. Add the zucchini and eggplant and stir to coat in the spices. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, pasta sauce, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Raise heat until soup is bubbling and stir in the Israeli couscous. Cook about 8 minutes, until couscous is tender. Taste and add sea salt and black pepper as desired.

Serve in bowls garnished with chopped fresh parsley and a spoonful of yogurt or labne on top. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: A stomach and soul-warming soup, rich and full of exotic flavor and a little bit of heat. It's thick and chunky and almost stew like, so if you want brothier soup you can reduce the couscous or add more broth to get the consistency you like. I love the One Flew Over the Couscous Nest blend as it is aromatic, warming, slightly smoky and has a little touch of almost sweetness from the cinnamon--it's a blend that makes you take a step back and wonder what's in it. It transforms the soup and takes it up a level. I would happily make it again. (BTW: if you can't find Israeli couscous, you could use regular couscous or even bulgur wheat.)  

This soup is my third recipe created for for #BlendsBash2020. If you missed my Dukkah Earl Grilled Eggplant Toasts with Whipped Feta & Dukkah post, go take a look and see my introduction to Blends Bash, 2020 hosted by The Book Club Cookbook, purveyor of delicious seasoning blends cleverly named after books, television shows, and music. 

Many thanks to The Book Club Cookbook for providing me with this fun and delicious seasoning blend. I received no compensation for taking part in the virtual 2020 #BlendsBash party and my thoughts and experience using the blends are my own.

I'll be sharing at least  one more recipe between now and December as will more than 30 other bloggers as part of the 2020 Blends Bash!  You can check out all the bloggers participating in the #BlendsBash here.

Here's a sneak peek the blends i'm featuring from October to December in their adorable packaging. These blends are so delicious and fun--they make wonderful gifts for your foodie friends and fans of the many book, TV and song blends they feature. Check out a list of blends here.

Speaking of soup, let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here this week!

Crafty Gardener is back with some warming Chilly for Chili, saying "When it gets chilly out it is time to cook a pot of chili. I make lots and freeze it for later, as you never know when you need some comfort food. Once the chili is done, serve with some nice crusty bread and freeze portions for later." 

Thank you for joining me this week Crafty Gardener!

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

 Have a happy, healthy week!