Thursday, September 30, 2010

Summer Squash Soup

(My camera was having issues yesterday, this is sadly the only picture I have of this extraordinary dish...use your imagination...)
I had planned to write about another meal today, but I made this last night and it just seems cruel to withhold this delicious concoction that I am now privy to while all my friends aren't. So, I'm just going to cut right to the chase here: I loved this soup. Please, put whatever you had planned to make for dinner next on hold and run to the grocery store for this list of ingredients. Don't forget the pistou - it will make it unforgettable. This soup is genius and is officially my new favorite soup! I had my reservations - I mean, a soup made out of summer squash? But, I trust in Smitten Kitchen (don't we all), and I wanted something to do with summer squash other than sautee it up or put it in my favorite casserole, which is, well, amazing, but let's face it, you can only eat so much of your favorite casserole.
Plus, it has a ton of vegetables.
And my 18 month old ate a whole bowl of it!
And my fair-weather-eater toddler ate 5 bites without coaxing.

So, I don't have a fancy schmancy immersion blender, just a normal Hamilton Beach one, so it wasn't as velvety smooth as Smitten talked about, but that didn't bother me one bit (obviously). You could also carefully just blend it in a normal blender as well.

Oh, this soup was so good - can I say it enough? The soup and pistou had such complimentary was just perfection. If you need a larger, heavier dinner for your family, you can add salad, bread, etc. to the meal. We had it with rosemary toast and basically had like 4 bowls each until it was gone, but that was just us. I'll be making it a few times this winter...and if you know anything about my usual rotation you know that is one extraordinary soup.

Ok, I hope I haven't gushed your expectations into the realm of unrealistic here, but please, try this and tell me if I'm the only one still longing for more of its goodness even though it has long since been eaten into nothingness.

Oh, and I doubled the scallions. I like scallions a lot. I also put a lot of salt into the pistou. I liked the balance with the soup's sweetness and the pistou's strong fresh flavor. Putting water into the pistou was also brilliant. I always have to add way to much oil, so that really lightened things up.

5 stars (6 anyone??). Recipe here and below:

Summer-Squash Soup with Parsley-Mint Pistou
Adapted from
Gourmet, September 2006

For squash soup
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 lb yellow summer squash, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 yellow-fleshed potato (1/2 pound), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
4 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)

For pistou**
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 large scallion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make soup: Melt butter in a 6- to 8-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat, then cook onion with salt, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add squash, carrots, potato, and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool soup, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree; soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids) and transfer to a bowl. Return purée to cleaned pot and thin with water if desired; simmer 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Make pistou while vegetables simmer: Pulse mint, parsley, and scallion in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a stream, then add water and salt, blending until incorporated.

Swirl 1 tablespoon pistou into each bowl of soup.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rigatoni with Squash (and prawns)

I know, I know, can you believe I'm posting?? Did you think I was gone forever? That I had gone the way of all mamas who move (frozen pizzas, Taco Bell, even the dreaded...Chicken Nuggets!!)? Well, we may have lived off of freezer meals for awhile, and then been on vacation for awhile, and then I may have had morning sickness for awhile (yep, I'm pregnant)...but we've recovered and I've been cooking for a solid 3 weeks now! I didn't have the energy to look up new recipes fo
r awhile, so I took a walk down memory lane, I made Blue Cheese Scallion Biscuits, Escarole Calzones (with Kale, again), and Shakshuka (something I just craved those first coup
le of months, such a comfort food), and of course, Emerill's Salmon! I have
to say, they were all better than I remembered! Especially the calzones.
Anyway, so yesterday I kicked off winter cookin' with some butternut squash. Now, if you know me, you know that I could live off of butternut squash. In fact, I turned my oldest son so orange one year because I fed him so much of it that after having a number of people tell me I should have him checked for jaundice or liver malfunction, I took him to the doctor. Nope, no jaundice. No liver problems. Just lay off the butternut.

Anyway, so I've made a lot of butternut-purees-over-pasta before, but this was hands down my favorite one yet (not to be confused with my butternut squash curry recipe, that's different in my mind, and still to this day, cannot be topped).
I ended up throwing out my prawns, I'm not overly picky, but something went horribly wrong with them, they were so gross. Maybe I'm just used to fresh, I dunno, it was probably my fault. But it was still a delicious, round meal with pasta, bread, and a green salad. I
f you wanted, you could easily substitute chicken, nuts, or just skip the protein portion of the meal altogether.
Would you believe that my 1 year old loved the butternut squash puree so much that he took to yanking on the pockets of my pants while wailing "biiiiiiiite!!" until I would walk back over to the blender, scoop him out a bite, and shovel it in his mouth? He l.o.v.e.d. it! Always a plus. I actually thought it was good enough just to be a butternut squash bisque, I may do that in the future as well.
Oh, and fresh basil made a huge difference in this meal, I don't think it would have been the same without it.
Oh, and and you must meet my new love (obviously my new cast iron pan)!! I'm kind of obsessed with it right now. My old pan was rusting and I decided to take the plunge. Let's just say that food at our house just got a whole lot better, I don't know how I ever cooked without it before! I just might build a house out of cast iron someday. Not really. But I LOVE my pan.

5 stars. And without further ado, recipe is here and below.

Rigatoni with Squash and Prawns

This is from the kitchen of Giada DeLaurentis. I LOOVE her Italian foods. She does awesome work and is usually pretty reasonable with her time and ingredients list.

Anyway, this is a great one for fall with the squash and garlic! mmmm..


* 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
* 1 pound butternut squash, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
* 1 cup vegetable stock
* 1 pound rigatoni
* 1 pound prawns, peeled and deveined
* 3/4 to 1 cup whole milk
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan


Warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butternut squash, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Saute until the squash is golden and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the squash is very soft, another 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the squash mixture to a blender or food processor and puree.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the prawns with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Add the prawns to the pan and cook until just pink, about 3 minutes.

In a large pot over low heat combine the cooked pasta, pureed squash mixture, and 3/4 cup milk. Stir to combine. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk if the sauce needs to be moistened. Add the cooked prawns, basil, and cheese. Stir until warm and serve.