What’s the difference between a cook and a chef? This was a question an old kitchen colleague and I were having when he stated quite frankly that a chef is “creative”. I thought we were going to banter about ideas of technique or execution or knowledge of basic sauces but nope. Just creativity! Apparently, those other things can be taught. Cooks can follow directions but that doesn’t mean a cook can necessarily create. Creativity requires vision and a chef always has a vision. I’m sure that theory is largely debatable but it’s good enough for me!
I’m not much of a recipe chef. I love a good cookbook but honestly, it’s the pictures that inspire me. A photo and a list of ingredients is often enough to get the gears turning and that’s when the fun begins. And since we are on the topic of cookbooks, I want to introduce you to two of my favorites. The Flavor Bibles! They aren't exactly cookbooks in the traditional sense, and they definitely aren’t full of picture, however, these books serve as a reference for food items that pair well together. They are a great place to start when building a “flavor profile”. A place where your inner chef can start to develop it vision… The Flavor Bibles, one of which is vegetarian, are books that basically allow you to cross reference ingredients to find flavors that work well together so you can construct you own vision using complimentary ingredients. Below I've included Amazon affiliate links if you are interested.
They both are wonderful and if you are looking to inspire creativity in your kitchen these books are a great place to start. Again, these are not recipe books. These are reference books to help you develop a foundation for tasty meals. For example, say you have a head of cauliflower in the fridge and you are wondering what you can add to make it into a full meal. Well, flip the book open to cauliflower and there you will find a list of ingredients that go well with cauliflower. It includes herbs, spices, vegetables, and meat items (assuming you don't have the vegetarian book) that are known to pair well with cauliflower. You can then compare the list to items you have in your fridge or pantry and begin constructing your meal. As you gather the ingredients you start to have a better feel of what you can make. Next thing you know, boom! You just just chefed! I don't like following directions but I still appreciate guidance and these books allow me to develop my own style. They have become the backbone of my kitchen and I'm sharing them because I love them and I think budding chefs and the gourmet crowd would love them as well.
Ok, and now back to this holiday soup recipe. It's sweet potato, pumpkin, and apple soup topped with blue cheese crumbles, pomegranate seeds, pepitas and a little fresh thyme. According to the Flavor Bible all these items paired well together and, well... let's just say after my bowl, I agree!
- 1 diced yellow onion
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 cup pumpkin
- 1 peeled, cored, and chopped sweet apple
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water (or enough to thin soup)
- 1 lemon wedge
- 1 tbsp. blue cheese crumbles
- 1 tbsp. pepitas
- 1 tbsp. pomegranate seeds
- ¼ tsp. fresh thyme
- Sauté the onion in a pot with a little oil until it begins to soften.
- Add the sweet potato, pumpkin apple and the vegetable broth.
- Bring to a low boil and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
- When the ingredients have cooked through, carefully blend the soup into a puree with an immersion blender or in batches with a standard blender. Just be sure to let the steam vent if using a standard blender. (Trust me. I’ve made this mistake.)
- Once pureed add the water to thin the soup. You can add as much as necessary to reach your desired consistency.
- Squeeze the lemon wedge into the soup and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve in bowls and top with blue cheese crumble, pepitas, pomegranate seeds, and a sprinkle of fresh thyme
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