Welcome to the new Kitchen Scoop column. Formerly in this spot you read the Desperation Dinners column. But this week marks the beginning of not only a new year but also a new season in the life of this column.
As the years have passed, desperation at dinnertime has taken on new meanings and new challenges. Combine that with the ever-changing food scene and, well, there's a whole lot more than just dinner to talk about.
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Kitchen Scoop will focus on the trends of today, the challenges that face cooks of all abilities, and the gamut of recipes and delicious food offerings. As always, the Kitchen Scoop website at kitchenscoop.com is teeming with advice, conversation and even travel and hometown notes. So be sure to check out what's happening each week on the Web, too. And if you forget to clip your favorite recipe, you can always print it out from the Recipe Scoop site.
Today's recipe is a miracle soup that goes together in just five minutes. Yes, really. And, no, I'm not suggesting you open a can of prepared soup (although the beauty of this recipe is the canned butternut squash purée that is its base). One pot, a few measuring spoons and an immersion blender are all you need. (If you don't have an immersion blender, a regular blender works just fine.) This soup is spicy, so if you are serving children, hold off on the cayenne until you give it a taste. But in five minutes -- seven, tops, if you are a slow "measurer" -- dinner is ready.
Here's to new seasons, fresh starts and fast soups. Enjoy!
Suggested menu: Spicy Butternut Squash and Pear Soup with wheat crackers with mild cheese and grape clusters.
• Alicia Ross is the co-author of "Desperation Dinners!", "Desperation Entertaining!" and "Cheap. Fast. Good!" Contact her at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or firstname.lastname@example.org.