Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.


Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

And now, back to the kitchen...

To make more squash soup.

This recipe comes almost entirely from Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France. I have no desire to get sued for copyright infringement, so let it be shouted to the treetops: the recipe is hers, hers, hers. The only thing I did differently was substitute a leek for the onion, because we got leeks from the farm this week and H-man prefers them to onions.



About one pound hard winter squash.

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and diced.

1 onion or leek, chopped.

3 cloves garlic, two chopped, one peeled and sliced in half.

Approximately five cups chicken broth.

Salt, pepper, a pinch of hot red pepper.

Duck fat, olive oil, or butter.

1/2 cup heavy cream.

Bake the squash in the oven until soft. Do this ahead of time, or risk getting overwhelmed. This is a recipe that requires much last minute rushing. More on this later.

In a soup pot, heat your olive oil, butter, or duck fat (or a combination). Add the potato, garlic, and leek. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes, until softened and lightly browned.

Add the chicken broth and let everything simmer for about thirty minutes.

Peel and seed the squash. Put the squash in a food processor or blender. Add some of the hot broth. Puree.

You are then instructed to puree the contents of the soup pot with the squash. This is where things can really go to hell fast, as they did for me. The blender was already dirty from the squash, which I'd scooped into a bowl. The soup was hot, and I had to somehow get everything into the blender--in batches--without burning myself or blowing out the blender's motor. All of this in a small kitchen. I managed to puree the soup in batches, moving from pot to blender to bowl, then pouring everything back into the pot, whereupon one is to add the cream, bring to a boil, and simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, the squash puree, which was mealy and gloppy, got everywhere--the floor, the counters, down the sides of the blender jar. The dishtowels sported orange smears.

I put the soup back on low heat and hollered for help. Hockeyman appeared, and armed with a clean dishtowel, helped me set things to rights.

So, a couple notes:

1. An immersion blender is the way to go for this soup. I need to buy one. If you plan to make this soup, you should, too.

2. If, like me, you want to prepare the croutons (recipe follows), work ahead or get help. It's tricky to pull all this together simultaneously.

The croutons....

Heavy cream not enough for you? Add the croutons, which consist of slices of baguette topped with pancetta, fried in duck fat, then rubbed with garlic. One is instructed to add these little bombs to the soup, but you could just chow down on them, like we did. They would make terrific appetizers at a holiday shindig.

The dish was fantastic. How can you go wrong with heavy cream and pancetta? I mean, you might drop dead, but you'll be happy.

Seriously, this dish exemplifies the French Paradox. It's so rich one is quickly full. Even I, weak before the possibility of ice cream, felt no desire for dessert.

Wolfert, Paula: The Cooking of Southwest France. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

The recipe Autumn Squash Soup with Country Ham and Garlic Croutes is on page 67.


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