home away from home soup

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Today has been one of those rare perfect days. 

I’m writing this from a picnic table in front of an old stone farmhouse in the Portuguese countryside. There’s a flawless blue sky overhead and a lazy breeze rocking the eucalyptus trees nearby. This morning, Beau and I walked to the beach where we watched the comings and goings of a flock of seagulls and listened to the waves roar in.

Later, we hopped in our rented station wagon and bobbed over country roads flanked by groves of cork oak trees. Our destination: a little restaurant housed in an old schoolhouse where we ordered a pile of fried fish and a bottle of crisp vinho verde to wash them down. Back at our guesthouse, I spent the afternoon lazing by the pool reading magazines and floating in and out of a delicious sleep. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

It’s days like today that keep me yearning to travel. To discover more serene beaches and locals-only restaurants nestled along country roads. 

But of course, travel is not always as idyllic as this sun-kissed day in the Portuguese countryside. I’ve been on the road for over three weeks now and it’s had its inevitable ups and downs. In Paris, I led a culinary tour with my friend Rachael that was fantastic. And exhilarating. And a lot of work. Navigating a group of ten through Paris traffic is not exactly a walk in the park. And pinning down tour logistics with the maddeningly noncommittal French has it’s own set of unique challenges. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

As soon as the tour ended, Beau and I headed to Porto and Lisbon to explore, see friends and do research for my next Portugal tour. Until today, this trip has been a whirlwind of seeing and doing and eating and trekking through different cities. Somewhere along the way, I started to feel pretty frazzled. There’s something about being away from the rituals of home, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, eating strange foods, navigating foreign languages, that leaves me a little unmoored. A few days after we arrived in Portugal, I started waking up in the middle of the night feeling disoriented and anxious and longing to book the next flight home.

Luckily, I know what to do when I feel the travel blues coming on. I make this soup.

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

It is decidedly un-fancy. A few humble vegetables cooked together in a bit of water to make a savory broth with some chicken and/or sausage thrown in for good measure. It’s restorative powers lie in this simplicity. After days (or weeks) of rich fare and exotic ingredients, it’s exactly what I want to eat.

I first made this soup a couple years ago while staying at an Airbnb rental in Paris. I’d just finished leading a culinary tour and couldn’t imagine eating one more eclair or croissant or charcuterie plate. I stopped in at the corner market beneath my apartment and threw this together with what I found there. A bowl of this simple, homey soup cured my malaise. Now it’s my go-to remedy when I’m traveling and feeling out of sorts. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Of course, you don’t need to be in a foreign country or fed up with French food to enjoy this soup. It will right your ship on a grey fall day or chill winter night. For me, this home-away-from-home soup (as I like to think of it) is a touchstone of sorts. A small ritual that anchors me when everything around me feels foreign. A brothy comfort that restores body and soul as only a warm bowl of homemade soup can.

Chilled Spring Greens Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

Home Away From Home Soup with Cabbage, Kuri Squash, Linguiça and Chicken

  • 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil + additional for drizzling
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green part only, halved lengthwise then sliced into half moons
  • Sea salt
  • ½ medium head savoy or green cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch ribbons
  • 1 medium kuri or kabocha squash, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces (no need to peel)
  • 2-3 small turnips, tops and tails removed and cut into ½-inch thick wedges
  • 6 medium tomatoes or 1 28-oz can peeled tomatoes (drained), roughly chopped
  • 6 oz linguiça or Portuguese-style cured chorizo, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise then sliced into half moons
  • 2 cups leftover roasted chicken

*Note: Pretty much everything in this soup is optional or adaptable. If you don’t have a leek, use a small onion. If you don’t like cabbage, use kale or another green you prefer. Sub potatoes for turnips if you want. Leave out the chicken and sausage (and maybe add a small handful of green lentils) for a vegan version. The version here is the one I first made and the one I always come back to. But feel free to experiment and make this soup your own.

- This was the first time I added sausage to the soup. In the past I've always made it with chicken. But since we're in Portugal, I threw in some sliced linguiça we had in the fridge. I think the smokiness of the sausage adds delicious depth of flavor the soup. 

home away from home soup via millys-kitchen.com

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek and a sprinkle of salt and cook for a few minutes until the leek is starting to get soft. Add the cabbage, squash, turnips, tomatoes and sausage along with 4 cups of water. Salt to taste. Bring to the boil over high heat then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the red pepper and zucchini and cook for another 10 minutes or so. 

Add another cup or two of water if you like your soup on the brothy side like I do. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Continue to cook the soup until the vegetables are as tender as you like them. Sometimes I like them tender-crisp (this yields a prettier soup) and sometimes I like them super-soft (which is not as bright in color, but more comforting somehow).

Serve soup hot with a nice drizzle of olive oil over the top.

Makes 4-6 servings.

brown sugar pumpkin galette with bay ice cream

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

Ok. I’m going to level with you guys. It’s not always easy to turn out a weekly blog post. As I’m sure you can imagine, I sometimes have zero culinary inspiration and Beau and I end up dining on chili from the hotbar at Whole Foods. Some weeks, taking the time to create, prep and shoot a recipe feels like too much. Not to mention finding something engaging to write about it. Sometimes I just don’t want to. 

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

This week was starting to look a lot like a just-don’t-want-to sort of week. I’ve got holiday gift classes to prepare for and I’m getting ready to launch my next culinary tour. It seems like the majority of my friends have had babies in the last month, so I have a mountain of baby gifts to get in the mail. Thursday’s Thanksgiving, which means shopping and cooking and all that jazz.  

But I’ve had this idea for a pumpkin tart floating around in my head for months. And since there is (obviously) no better moment for a pumpkin tart than the week of Thanksgiving, I figured I’d better get on it. 

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

Pumpkin pie has been my favorite Thanksgiving dessert since forever. Apple pie is nice. Pecan pie, delightful. But pumpkin pie, wreathed in a fluffy halo of whipped cream captured my young heart and has held sway over it ever since. For years, my go-to recipe has been this one, with the spices doubled and a little maple and rum thrown in for good measure. This is my dream pumpkin pie--velvety and rich with a complex spiciness. But I’m not so particular when it comes to pumpkin pie; I eat the samples they hand out at the grocery store with almost as much gusto. With the savory-sweetness of pumpkin, a creamy custard base and the alchemy of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, it’s pretty tough to mess up pumpkin pie.

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

That said, I wanted to try something different this year. A riff on the classic. Maybe a little less sweet and with the pumpkin itself playing a starring roll. So despite my just-don’t-want-to state of mind, I pulled out the ingredients for galette dough and headed to the market to select a pumpkin. The next day I queued up several episodes of This American Life and got to work. 

Somewhere around the time the disks of dough were in the refrigerator and my pumpkin was neatly peeled and seeded and sliced, I realized that this chilly Monday morning spent chopping and kneading in my warm kitchen was a pleasure and not a slog. There’s something about the methodical nature of baking that clears my head. It’s precise. And technical. You have to focus on the task at hand, which is it’s own sort of meditation. 

Baking this tart turned out to be the perfect antidote to a mounting tide of pre-holiday stress. And it’s almost as good as the ethereal pumpkin pies I remember from my childhood. 

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, whatever sort of pie you fancy!



brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Galette with Bay Ice Cream

  • ½ recipe Easy Galette Dough (recipe follows)
  • One small baking pumpkin (mine weighed 2 ½ lbs), halved, seeded, peeled and sliced ⅓ inch thick
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) ground allspice
  • Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) ground cloves
  • Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 oz (3 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons rum (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
  • 1 tablespoon sanding sugar (demerara, turbinado or even plain old granulated sugar will work, too)
  • Bay Ice Cream, to serve (recipe follows)

*Note: You can use any winter squash in this recipe. You might want to add a bit more or less sugar depending on which squash you choose (butternut and acorn are sweeter, kabocha is more savory, etc.). Cook times will vary depending on the variety of squash and how thickly it's sliced.

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll out one disk of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a ¼-inch-thick round or oval. Transfer the dough to the sheet pan.  Arrange the pumpkin over the dough, overlapping the slices slightly and leaving a 1 ½-inch border. Place the sheet pan in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. (This keeps the dough from slumping when you bake your galette.)

Use a paring knife to halve the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out. Place the vanilla seeds in a small bowl with the granulated sugar. Use your fingers to rub the vanilla into the sugar; this will keep it from clumping. Transfer the vanilla sugar to a medium bowl and add the brown sugar, salt and spices. Whisk to combine then rub the butter and rum into the sugar mixture. 

Remove the galette from the freezer. Crumble the brown sugar mixture over the sliced pumpkin. Fold the dough over the pumpkin and lightly brush the edges of the galette with milk or cream. then sprinkle with the sanding sugar. Bake, rotating the galette as necessary for even browning, until the crust is golden brown and the pumpkin is cooked through, about 60 minutes. Cool slightly before slicing and serving with Bay Ice Cream.

Easy  Galette Dough

  • 13 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

  • 9 oz (2 ¼ sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes

  • 8 tablespoons (or more) ice water

  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar

: I love, love, LOVE this dough. The food processor does most of the work and it comes together in no time. It is also very forgiving, which makes it a great dough for novice bakers. Unlike my flaky pie dough, which requires a bit more work, this is a tender dough--more like a pâte sablé. If you'd like a flakier crust on your galette, feel free to substitute this dough recipe.

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

- This dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or placed in a air-tight plastic bag and frozen for up to 2 months. If frozen, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight and soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Blend the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor to combine. Add the butter, processing between each addition using on/off turns, until the dough looks like coarse meal. Gradually add the ice water and cider vinegar and process until the dough just comes together. You may need to add more ice water by teaspoonfuls if the dough is dry.  

Turn the dough out onto a large work surface and gather it together into a ball. Do not knead or you risk toughening the dough. Divide the dough in half with a bench scraper or knife. Form each half into a ball and then flatten each ball into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour before rolling. 
Makes 2 disks of dough (enough for 2 galettes).

Bay Ice Cream

  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream

  • 10 black peppercorns (whole)

  • 6 Turkish bay leaves (fresh or dried)

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar, divided

  • Pinch fine grain sea salt

  • 4 large egg yolks


*Note: This ice cream will keep for up to a week, though the texture is best on days 1-3. After that it can get a little grainy, especially if you open and close your freezer a lot. 

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

Place the cream and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. If you’re using fresh bay leaves, slice each into 4 or 5 pieces and add to the pot. If you are using dried bay, crush the leaves a little before adding them to the pot. When the cream comes to a bare simmer, remove the pot from the heat, cover and set aside to steep for 40 minutes. When the cream has infused, pour it through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl. Discard the bay and peppercorns. 

Prepare an ice bath by filling a large mixing bowl half full of ice and then just covering the ice with cold water.

Return the strained cream to the pot along with the milk, ½ cup of the sugar and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a bare simmer. Do not boil. 

Whisk the egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup sugar together in a medium bowl. Gradually warm the eggs by adding the cream mixture in a thin stream while whisking. Return the egg and cream mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low, stirring constantly with a flexible heatproof spatula (be sure scrape the bottom and corners of the pan so the custard doesn’t scorch) until the mixture coats the back of spoon like this. If you’re more of a technical cook, the custard should register between 170 to 175°F on an instant-read thermometer. Do not let the custard boil or it will break and look grainy. 

Immediately strain the thickened custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl set over the ice bath and whisk to cool. Transfer the cooled custard to the fridge and chill for at least 6 hours (overnight if possible--the colder your base is, the smoother your ice cream will be). Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions then transfer to an airtight container and place  in the freezer to harden, at least one hour.

Makes about 1 quart.

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com