For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe,

I will continue to seek out the unique…the delicious…the innovative products, services and traditions of San Luis Obispo County.

Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.

About Me...

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A wanderlust at heart... captivated by the California Central Coast. Join me on my culinary and vino-infused adventures as I explore and discover the regional novelties of San Luis Obispo County that make living here...easy to stay...and hard to leave.

Friday, November 20, 2009

SLO Insomnia

Sleep deprivation can prove fruitful. As the moon and stars hover silently over San Luis Obispo County and my waking hour of two approaches each night, these quiet hours bestow the gift of time. Although my weary body and groggy mind hope slumber will soon return, until I drift off to sleep again, my thoughts flourish. Sometimes during the wee small hours of darkness I waste time worrying. Other nights my best ideas surface.

A few nights ago as I lay awake, the gleeful anticipation of an upcoming short work-week and the traditions of Thanksgiving settled in. Glimpses of fall-colored, tempting traditional recipes took shape in my mind and I dreamed up the following SLO medley. I attempted this recipe over the weekend and achieved stellar results. Ironically, I'll be dining out for this year's autumn harvest festival with family and won't have an opportunity to put this vibrant, healthy soup on the table next Thursday; but I offer up this recipe—wishing you a wonderful holiday, a bountiful feast, much to give thanks for...and a good night's sleep.

SLO Roasted Apple & Pumpkin Soup

1 - 29 ounce can pure pumpkin

Feel free to bake your own fresh pumpkin—you will need about 2 1/2 cups.

3 medium-sized apples, cored & sliced (feel free to leave the skins on)

I used organic Pink Lady apples fresh from the farmer's market that morning. The crisp, sweet yet slightly tart flesh makes for a good baking apple.

1 heaping tablespoon raw honey (I used Stoltey's mixed floral)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or grapeseed oil)

2 medium shallots

1 medium onion

2 stalks celery

2 large carrots
I used a combination of 4 smallish-sized SLO organic purple, white & orange carrots.

32 ounces vegetable stock

8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

Red pepper flakes to taste
Go easy if you don't like it spicy, but this sweet & savory combination of flavors benefits from some heat.

Salt & pepper to taste

Organic cream (or crème fraîche) for garnish

Heat oven to 350˚F. Chop apples & shallots, toss in baking dish with 2 tablespoons oil, honey, salt & pepper to taste. (If you feel this is a strange combination, you're just going to have to trust me). Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until apples are tender when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat large pot over medium heat with 2 tablespoons oil. Chop and throw in onion, celery, carrots, salt & pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir frequently, about 20 - 25 minutes. When veggies are flaccid, add sage leaves and pumpkin pie spice; stir for a few minutes and turn off heat. When apple & shallot mixture come out of the oven, reheat pot and add apples. Sautée with veggies for about 5 minutes. Your kitchen should be fragrant...your stomach growling...your mouth drooling.

Add a cup of vegetable broth to deglaze the carmelized bits from the bottom of the pan and bring up the myriad fall flavors. Add remaining broth and can of pumpkin, add a bit more salt, slap on a lid, lower heat, and simmer for about 60 minutes to let flavors fuse—tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed (you might need more salt & pepper depending on your preference). Cool and transfer to blender and purée. Serve with a dollop of cream and sprinkle with parsley.

This substantial, almost bisque-like soup starter will feed a small group of pilgrims (possibly 8 - 10, depending on size of bowls) and has the potential to turn out thick enough to be served as a side dish. This pumpkin jumble will taste even better the next day, so feel free to make it the day before Thanksgiving and reheat.

This creamy autumn soup wouldn't be complete without a nicely paired SLO County wine. I recently discovered a pleasant, affordable white Rhone blend while tasting in downtown Paso Robles at The Paso Wine Centre. This retail location features over 40 wines dispensed by Enomatic tasting machines, many from SLO County wineries with no tasting rooms, and donates 100% of net proceeds to clean drinking projects around the world.

During this festive time of year, I felt especially good about supporting a noble cause. My purchase of Barrel 27 Wine Company's 2008 High on the Hog ($15) unified mix of Paso Robles appellation Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussane, and Marsanne varietals blessed the meal. Possessing a light golden hue and exuding a fresh citrus floral nose, the flowery notes of this well-balanced, weighty blend left lingering touches of honey and lemon, with a hint of mineral essence.

Count your blessings and enjoy. I wish you the happiest Thanksgiving yet!

All Text and Photos Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth in SLO. All Rights Reserved.


Jess said...

What beautiful photos! have a great thanksgiving.

Fresh Local and Best said...

This looks like a delicious soup! I love the picture of the carrots!

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