The November Cooking Issue: Butternut Squash Risotto, Seared Broccoli Soup, And Spicy African Stew

Hello friends~

Even with the anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m just not a big fan of November – onward to winter and snow please! I eventually get used to sundown at 4:30pm, and shake off Seasonal Affective Disorder with a simple, delicious meal to help warm the warm body and soul.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly named SAD) is real, but you can get through it!

These tips for conquering SAD on the Kripalu site include staying active (no surprise there), accumulating doses of sunlight through the day, and a delicious, warming recipe.

Spicy African Spinach Stew.

Efo Stew 750x330 1

This version is vegan, but you can add fish, shellfish, chicken, or meat, and add other vegetables, and rice!

2 tablepoons olive oil
1 onion, medium diced
2 tomatoes, medium diced
2 green peppers, medium diced
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
3 bunches fresh spinach
1 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon salt
1 8-ounce jar peanut butter
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Warm olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add vegetables and grated ginger, and sauté until tender. Add spinach a little at a time. When spinach is wilted, add tomato paste and salt.

Add peanut butter and cayenne pepper, and cook on low until all ingredients are blended. Add water to thin if necessary. Feel free to add tofu or another protein of your choice. Continue stirring as the stew burns easily. Serve when heated through.

Comfort food is always an antidote to dreariness this time of year. And even better when the recipes are easy, with healthful ingredients. 

These dishes are from two of my favorite cookbook authors, Ina Garten, and Melissa Clark. They’re easy, adaptable, and perfect for any time in the coming winter months.

Melissa Clark’s terrific new cookbook, Dinner In One is all one pan, or one pot recipes, and Ina Garten’s newest cookbook, Go-To Dinners is out now.

Soups, stews, and risottos are just the thing for right now and throughout the winter.

I hope you enjoy these recipes, and let me know if you try them!



Ina Garten’s Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

Ina Garten Saffron butternut squash risotto



  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
  • 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and sauté the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

Melissa Clark’s Seared Broccoli & Potato Soup

Melissa Clark broccoli soup


“This is not your average broccoli soup,” Melissa Clark writes. “Instead of merely boiling the broccoli to cook it, here, the florets are seared until deeply browned on one side while remaining bright green on the other. This gives the soup a layer of caramelized flavor while also preserving the fresh green taste of the broccoli itself. It’s a technique inspired by Andrew Feinberg of Franny’s restaurant in Brooklyn, who also uses it for zucchini soup.”


  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 pounds (2 heads) broccoli, separated into small florets, stems peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, more for finishing
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound potatoes, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • Grated or shaved Parmesan, to finish (optional)
  • Flaky sea salt, to finish


  1.  In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Add about a third of the broccoli, just enough so that it covers the bottom of the pan in a single layer without overcrowding. Cook broccoli without moving it for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until dark brown on 1 side only (leave the other side bright green). Transfer to a big bowl and repeat with remaining broccoli and more oil. When all the broccoli has been browned, season with 1 teaspoon salt and set aside.
  2.  Reduce heat to medium-low. Add butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to pan. Add onions and garlic, black and red peppers, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook onion-garlic mixture until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add potato to the pot with 1 quart water and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, cover pot and cook until potato is just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add broccoli, cover again and cook until tender, another 5 to 10 minutes.
  3.  Add lemon zest and roughly purée soup with an immersion or regular blender, leaving some small chunks for texture. Stir in lemon juice. Finish with grated Parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper and flaky sea salt.



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