I mentioned the other day that I read up a bit on Winter Solstice and if it had many associated traditions. Sadly, they’re pretty bleak. Like the bleak midwinter they honor. So I thought I’d do a few and invent some more for a traditional (Holiday dinner dress rehearsal) Christmas Winter Solstice Feast for some friends. And it went sorta like this.
Winter Solstice Pumpkin Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and super chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 can (1 pound) pumpkin or 2 cups fresh (peeled/cubed)
Lots of fingerling potatos, sliced thinish
5 cups vegetable broth
2-3 teaspoons of dry sherry
1/2 cup half-and-half or soy cream (optional)
In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion for about five minutes, until softened. Add in the chopped carrots and celery and stir in the spices. Lower the heat and gently cook for about ten minutes, being careful not to over-brown the onions. Add in the pumpkin, potato, and vegetable broth, and stir. Add in the dry sherry, stir, cover, and bring to a slow simmer, cooking the soup for about twenty-five to thirty-five minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat. Carefully ladle the soup into a blender or food processor. Cover and purée the soup until it is smooth and creamy. Return the purée to the soup pot and adjust the seasoning to your taste. Stir in the half-and-half, if desired, and blend until smooth. Yum.
I served this with the:
Peppered Guinness Roast Beast with Parsnips and Figs
One 3-4 LB Beef Rump or Round Roast
3 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
3 Tbsp garlic salt
2-3 cups Guinness
1 Bay Leaf
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups cut carrots
2 cups cut parsnips
2 cups fingerling potatoes sliced
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 handfuls of mission figs
This is a crock-pot meal…which means you need to get it going first thing in the morning, but then you’re basically done and your house will smell fab all day.
Grab a crock pot. Rinse roast and pat dry. Mix pepper and garlic salt, rub onto all sides of roast. Place roast on bottom of crock pot. Pile every other item on the list on top of the roast. Lid the crock pot and set it for 8 or 10 hours. Done.
Feeds 2 Celtic warriors or 8 normal people.
Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce
2 cups molasses
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
Lemon Sauce Icing
2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
Cream together the molasses, butter, and sugar. Sift all dry ingredients together and mix into creamed mixture alternately with milk. Beat well. Bake in a greased and floured 9 x 13 baking pan in preheated 300 degree oven for about an hour.
Lemon Sauce Icing: Mix cornstarch, salt and sugar. Stir in water slowly. Cook about 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Add other ingredients. Stir until well blended. Spread on gingerbread.
Overall, everything was super well received. And I think it all turned out quite nicely too…especially for a dry run. Outside of the Yule Wreath, which was the most complicated item (and even it was way easier than it looks), the whole meal was pretty darn easy to do. You can make the soup ahead of time and warm it. The salad is a breeze. The roast cooks itself. And the gingerbread was quick too. In fact, I didn’t start making it until right before we started eating (Nigella style, yo) so it would be warm from the oven. It worked. And everyone was stuffed and happy at the end of the night. Mission accomplished.