Butternut Squash Bisque with Gruyere Croutons

As many of you know, I manage the tasting room/bistro Vihuela, which is located in downtown Paso Robles (see the Media page for a press clipping about it!). In addition to being a tasting room, cheese shop, and bistro, we are also the North County pick-up spot for the Cal Poly Organic Farm CSA program! We are lucky enough to be able to use their delicious produce to make some of our menu items…including the soups we have been offering all winter!

To be honest, I didn’t even think I liked butternut squash soup or bisque, but I started making it because I knew it would be well-received. The versions I had tried in the past were always too heavy and rich. After trying a few different things, I decided this way of making the bisque is my favorite – it’s surprisingly light and fresh, and I grew to love it. All of our customers raved about this dish, it definitely became our most popular soup! So warming for winter! Enjoy!

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Leek and Potato Soup

I think it’s safe to say that of all the months, January is the most perfect month for soup. January is all darkness that comes too early, windchill, and post-holiday pudge. Soups are simple, warming, and healthy. See the balance?

Some soups, like this one, take very little time to prepare. This is great when you’re getting home from a long day of work and it’s dark because it’s winter and you’re exhausted and hungry.

Soups are a great diet staple, whether you want to lose weight or just eat healthy. Soups are generally vegetable-focused, and we all know veggies provide fiber and good nutrients. Broth is basically calorie-free (just pay attention to sodium!).

Veggies + Low-Cal = great detox tool if you accidently put on three pounds between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (yes, that’s right, three pounds in six days, folks. It happened to me!).

Try a bowl of this tasty Leek and Potato Soup – it should make your January a little cozier!

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Baby Bella Soup with Parmesan Croutons

mushrooms

Storm’s a blowin’ in California – we’ve got inches of rain on the way and severe wind warnings here in San Luis Obispo County.  I don’t know much about Harvest, but I feel like the remaining grapes must be blowing off the vines…there are tree branches down everywhere and the power is on and off.  Our driveway is even littered with paint that has literally been blown/power-washed off the fence.  Yikes.

So what does a terribly rainy day remind you of, besides for dangerous driving conditions and possible flooding?  To be honest, I’m considering popping open a bottle of wine – why not?  If you are not so inclined….soup is absolutely the next best thing!  Luckily we have propane out here in the country and my stove still works, because this is a delicious recipe for a miserable day.

mushroom soup

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Three-Ingredient Broccoli-Potato Soup

3 ingredient broccoli potato soup

Well, well, well, Weather.  One day you are 100 degrees and the next you are 70.  What happened to a gradual change in seasons?!  Why did you have to take us all by such surprise?  WE’RE COLD!!

So it turns out fall is here.  It came very suddenly, and I still haven’t adjusted to the fact that from here on out I will be cold in my summer dresses. So unfortunate!

I don’t like cold, but I do like autumn. Autumn is pumpkins and spiders and hot chocolate and being cozy.  Autumn kicks off the holiday season: Harvest Wine Weekend, my birthday (I’ll be 22 in 22 days…oh my goodness!), and Halloween….and these are all very exciting things!

found this big guy today...tarantula season is actually in August, but they remind me of Halloween!

found this big guy today...tarantula season is actually in August, but they remind me of Halloween!

Soup season also officially begins when it gets cold!  Although I eat hot soup all year round, it’s officially acceptable when the cold weather rolls in.  This Broccoli Potato soup is the easiest soup I have encountered – THREE ingredients!  TEN minutes (maybe less!).  It’s divine – silky and flavorful.  Here we go:

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Detox Time: Spring Minestrone

asparagus and rice

Coming home from vacation means a few things.  It means snugging my puppy for a very long time because I missed him so much.  It means spending a couple hours catching up with my favorite food blogs.  It means doing laundry and putting all my essential things back where they belong.  It means uploading my pictures to Facebook and catching up with my friends.  It also means detox time.

It turns out the food on Carnival Cruise lines is, at best, sub-par.  That was a huge bummer for me, I got no inspiration from my plate!  However…sub-par food does not mean it was inedible.  The food was fine.  There were some great California Rolls, custom made omelettes in the morning, and of course 24-hour pizza and ice cream, which you can’t really go wrong with.  Sub-par food does not stop me from eating lots of it.  Sub-par food led me to gain three pounds…ha.

I’m not worried!  Sub-par food tends to be packed with sodium and other things that make you bloat.  A diet of whole grains, fruits, and veggies is the solution, and that’s my plan for the next few days, starting with this healthy and delicious soup.

spring minestrone

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Soupe au Pistou

soupe au pistou

I love soup.  Come wintertime, the majority of recipes I post will probably be soup – I could probably live off of it.  Understandably, hot, hearty soups aren’t really a summer thing – why on Earth would you heat up your entire kitchen when it’s 100 degrees out?!  Well…maybe because you really felt like some soup.  Call me crazy, but as soon as I saw this recipe, I had to make it.  And I did, one warm central coast evening…..

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