Butternut Squash Minestrone

I think every fall I adopt a favorite soup recipe and make it over and over until it’s perfect and everyone else is tired of it.  I’ve been making this soup practically weekly since it started getting cold and I’m certainly not bored yet.  It’s a crowd pleaser, what my inlaws call “friendly food” – warming and hearty.  It’s so loaded with vegetables that it’s also very healthy without sacrificing any flavor.  A pot of this soup is enough to feed me lunch all week. 

Oh and it’s worth it to note that this recipe is easily made vegetarian by using vegetable broth – just make sure it’s quality broth, and maybe add some parmesan when serving for some extra richness.  Your call.  Also, all the measurements are extremely flexible.  I like more onion and less carrot, you might like more carrot and less squash.  Whatever you have will work deliciously in this recipe.  Just start chopping before you start cooking – it makes it a lot easier with so many vegetables.

And I found a trick while cooking the pasta!  You don’t have to keep boiling it until it’s done.  Boil it long enough until it’s maybe half cooked, and then take it off the heat and cover.  Since the shapes are small, the residual heat will cook it the rest of the way.  I also usually use far less liquid than when cooking pasta normally, allowing me to skip draining and keeping from diluting the soup.  All the yummy brothy flavor ends up in the pasta, adding more flavor to your end product than just pasta cooked in water.

Butternut Squash Minestrone

adapted from my divine inspiration, Ina Garten

3 tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat if you have it

1 large onion, chopped

3 carrots, diced into coins

3 stalks celery, sliced

3 cups butternut squash, diced small (1/2 inch cube)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand

4-6 cups (approx.) chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Salt & pepper to taste

1 can cannellini or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 bunch chard, sliced into ribbons (can sub in any green, frozen spinach is easy and nice)

½ - ¾ cup white wine (I usually use chardonnay)

2-3 tablespoons pesto

8 oz small pasta

Warm the oil or fat over medium heat – add the onion and celery and sautee for 5-10 minutes or until slightly softened.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook for less than a minute, then add the butternut squash.  Sautee for another 5 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes and enough chicken stock to cover all the vegetables by at least an inch, along with the bay leaves and red pepper flakes.  Add a little salt & pepper to taste (start with 1 teaspoon of salt) and let come to a boil.  Turn down the heat and let simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, approximately 30 minutes.  If it gets too thick, add more broth to your favorite consistency.

Meanwhile, cook the small pasta in well salted chicken broth until al dente.  Don’t bother draining the pasta – it’s best to store the pasta separately from the soup as it would soak up all the soup if stored together.  Keep it in its own container with broth – I promise it will soak that up too!

Once vegetables are tender, add the wine and pesto to taste.  Add the beans.  Stir in the greens and cover – simmer until cooked.  Serve soup with a good scoop of the hot cooked pasta stirred in to every bowl.

Baghli Poloh

bowl of baghli poloh

This blog post brought to you by U.S., D.L., and M.B.  Thanks for a great three years!

After a long hiatus, here I am again -- on a new computer, in a new house, in a new city, with a new husband.  I also got a new job and bangs. It's been a crazy year my friends. With all that going on, who has the time to blog?  So I let it slide for longer and longer, let my blog sit in its own corner of the internet, sad and lonely.

Lonely, but not forgotten.  I can't tell you how many people over the last year and half haven't let me forget my poor baby Edible Reveries (I can't tell you, but they know who they are).  An admonishment even came up during the toasts at our wedding!  My dearest friends wouldn't let me forget this website so here I am again, at the request of some very insistent loved ones, with a new recipe.  Thanks for the encouragement all!

ingredients for baghli poloh

Baghli poloh is a Persian rice dish.  Parboiled basmati rice is mixed with lemony ground turkey and lima beans before having a huge amount of dill added in.  It's then baked and given a lovely crust, much like the tachin I've previously mentioned. This is the version my family makes, and while I wouldn't say it's authentic, it is my mother’s recipe and I love it. It's warm and comforting for a cool day, but still has a feeling of a lighter dish due to the turkey and all the lovely greenery in it.

Baghli poloh and I have a complicated history.  As a child, I was a picky eater.  I have a distinct memory of being served this lovely dish by my mother and absolutely refusing to touch the meat.  Seriously, you'd think I'd reject the lima beans, but they weren't my enemy!  No, it was the flavorful, tangy, turmeric spiced ground meat that absolutely revolted me.  I wouldn't eat it, but my mother said I couldn't leave the table until my plate was cleaned.  One by one, my family members left the table.  I could hear them in the next room, watching TV, laughing, enjoying an existence without the devil's meat staring them in the face.  I was filled with anger and envy -- I wanted to be there, on the outside, with them!   Instead I was faced with this task of eating my supper.

Obviously eating the meat was out of the question.  I wouldn't bow to my mother's culinary terrorism so easily.  And my tormentors had left me in the dining room unsupervised.  What choice did I have?  I slowly began discarding the meat under our dining table.  Bit by bit, my plate was cleared, until I was finally given permission to move on with my life and leave the table.

Reader, I don't know what my plan was.  We didn't have a dog or other animal who would cover my tracks.  My mother would see what I'd done, and she'd probably see it sooner rather than later.  I was a creature of the short term, not thinking of consequences when I acted -- all I knew was that I had to get away from that meat.  

Let this blog post be a public apology to my parents for being such an ungrateful brat when I was a child.  Parents, I am sorry.  I'm damned lucky I was so cute, or else you would have left me and the baghli poloh outside for the wolves.  Thank you for feeding me, even when I didn’t want to be fed.


Baghli Poloh


1.75 cup dry basmati rice

1.25 pounds ground turkey

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tsp olive oil, + 2 tbs olive oil (separated)

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup lemon juice

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup frozen lima beans or fava beans

2 small bunches of fresh dill, finely chopped, or 1/2 cup dry dill


Sautee the chopped onion in 1 teaspoon of olive oil on medium heat until it softens and is lightly browned.  Add the ground meat and cook through until it is no longer pink.  Sprinkle in the turmeric and sautee until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Add the water, salt and lemon juice.  Increase the heat and allow to simmer until the liquid is almost completely gone.

While the mixture is simmering, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and put a large pot of liberally salted water on to boil.  Once it is boiling, add the rice and parboil it -- the rice should still have some bite to it.  Don't let it get completely soft!  Add the frozen lima beans to the boiling rice right before it is done and drain it.

Mix the turkey mixture with the parboiled rice and dill.  Pour it into a lightly greased 8x8 glass baking dish.  Drizzle the 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil over the top and cover tightly with foil.  Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes.  It's done when you see a light crust has formed on the bottom.  Invert onto a dish immediately and serve.  Alternately, you can leave it in the baking dish, but the steam will eliminate the crust.

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Whole wheat apple muffins - they look unassuming, but they taste so good...

Whole wheat apple muffins - they look unassuming, but they taste so good...

I think I may have mentioned recently how much I love fall.  Well, fall and baking go together like you wouldn’t believe!  Ever since the air started getting crisper, I’ve  been baking every weekend and an alarming number of weekdays.  As a rule, I don’t love baking as much as I love cooking, mostly because I’m terrifically lazy.  Baking requires precision measurements and exact times.  I prefer throwing things together and letting them stew for hours.  But it’s fall and my kitchen is cold so I need a hot oven and warm spices to keep me toasty!


Coarsely chopped apples

Coarsely chopped apples

These apple muffins, heavily adapted from Smitten Kitchen, are a wonder.  Low in fat and sugar, they still manage to feel like a treat.  Since a third of the sugar is sprinkled on top of the muffins, they also taste more sweet than you’d expect.  Though you can make them with any old apple, try using a tart baking apple like Granny Smith.  The apple is such a dominant flavor and texture that the tartness really sings in the finished product.


Go forth and bake my friends.  But don’t feel guilty about it - these are healthy!

Muffins, prebaking - the sugar ends up tasting almost like molasses around the edges

Muffins, prebaking - the sugar ends up tasting almost like molasses around the edges

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins


1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1 tb cinnamon

4 tb melted butter

4 tb applesauce

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup brown sugar + ¼ cup brown sugar (divided)

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

2 large peeled apples, cored and coarsely chopped (tart apples are best)


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Grease and flour muffin cups, or line 18 muffin cups.  Whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon.  In a separate large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, ½ cup sugar, vanilla, applesauce and the egg.  Mix in the buttermilk, then add the flour mixture.  Fold in the apple chunks - it will be very appley!


Scoop about ¼ cup of the batter into each cup - you should end up with 18 muffins.  Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of brown sugar evenly over the muffins.  Bake for 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 400 degrees, rotate the pans, and bake for another 5-10 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean).  Cool for a few minutes in the pan, then finish cooling on a wire rack.

Fall Brings Love

Fig & olive oil challah

Fig & olive oil challah

I woke up this weekend and turned my face to look out my bedroom window.  It’s finally fall.


I love fall.  I love that I get to wear sweaters and jackets during fall.  I love that my hair whips around in the wind during fall.  I love that when I wrap a scarf around my neck, it keeps getting pushed farther by the fall wind, until my face is finally obscured and I can’t see where I’m going.  The fall chill has a vitality to it that isn’t the same in the winter.  It’s crisper - I feel like I can hear it and feel it around me.  Or is it just the crunching leaves that I can hear?  Fall is alive and it makes me feel alive too.

Bean soup, candles & wine. Pure romance.

Bean soup, candles & wine. Pure romance.

Of course I love fall food as well!  Braises come out of my kitchen whenever I have the time.  Bean stews are a regular player on my menu plans.  If I can stir roasted squash into it, thats even better (best bean soup recipe ever, coming soon!)  And the baking.  Apples, pumpkins and spices everywhere.  I picture an apple muffin, gently torn open, with steam rising from the tender crumb.  These foods make me feel warm.  These foods are the equivalent of sitting in a well-cushioned chair with a blanket wrapped around you and a purring cat in your lap.  Heaven.


And fall is a time to celebrate!  Fall is Halloween fun and Thanksgiving abundance.  Fall is family gathered around a table, laughing and eating for hours.  Fall is three sisters holding mittened hands while taking a walk by the river.  It’s a time for special occasions between special people.

Butternut squash, waiting to be roasted

Butternut squash, waiting to be roasted

I have even more to celebrate than usual this fall.  On a chilly evening, Daniel got down on one knee and told me he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.  I agreed with this plan and now there’s a sparkly ring perched on my left hand.  I don’t know what to do with myself I’m so happy, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to involve a lifetime of baking this man pies.  


You guys, there’s going to be a really great party next year where you’ll see me wearing white.  And it’s going to be in the fall.

Love forever, in the fall

Love forever, in the fall

Baked Turkey Meatballs

Baked Turkey Meatballs

Baked Turkey Meatballs

I will admit that change is really hard for me to deal with.  I’m a creature of habit and I hate when those habits have to be altered due to circumstances out of my control. Alright, ok, I’ll cop to that as well -- I hate it when there are circumstances out of my control!  I’m a type-A control freak who likes to eat her breakfast at the same time every day and sit down in the same place while doing it.  I do not handle change with grace.  I handle it with meatballs.

Meatball ingredients

Meatball ingredients

Well, maybe that’s too specific.  I come from a long tradition of comfort eaters who look for solace in familiar, warm foods.  This is not the time for fancy recipes with long ingredient lists.  This is not the time to flirt with vegan/gluten free baking techniques.  This is a time for hearty peasant food, food that will fill your belly and make you feel just a little safer in the world that is whirling around you at breakneck speed.  Food that your mother might have made for you when you were a child (Mommy, can I please have crunchy chicken and mashed potatoes?) 


These meatballs help me feel solid, like not everything always has to change.  Maybe the world is as simple now as it was when I was a child, gobbling up my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs.  All I have to do is enter my own kitchen to find that lovely simplicity again.


Rolling the meatballs (lightly please!)

Rolling the meatballs (lightly please!)

Baked Turkey Meatballs


1 ¼ lb ground turkey

½ cup bread crumbs

¼ cup grated onion

¼ cup grated parmesan

1 minced garlic clove

1 egg

3 tablespoons fresh herbs (parsley, basil, mint etc)

½ - ¾  tsp salt

pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees


Combine all ingredients lightly -- if you mix with a heavy hand, your meatballs will end up dense.  Mixing the meat should be almost like a gentle fluffing.  Do not overmix.  Roll your meatballs into 1 inch balls and place on a lightly greased or lined baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until they are cooked through.


These are also great freezer food!  Let them cool completely on the baking sheet, then freeze the meatballs individually.  Once they are frozen, store them in a tightly sealed bag or container.  Thaw by lightly frying in a pan or by dropping them directly into your warming sauce.