Monday, November 10, 2008

Cooking at the Green City Market

Thanks to all of those who joined me at Saturday's Green City Market on a a gray and chilly day. As promised, I'm posting the recipe that I prepared, Butternut Squash and Apple Soup Garnished with Sour Cream and Bacon.

A small cup of this rich soup would be a good start to a holiday meal. I also like to serve it as a one-dish supper - the bacon fat used to caramelize the squash adds a meaty flavor to the dish. If you're a vegetarian or even a vegan, you can still make the recipe, simply use canola or grapeseed oil in cooking the vegetables and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock. Garnish, if desired, with the toasted seeds.

Winter Squash and Apple Soup
Serves 8

2 slices bacon, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
½ stalk celery, cut into ½-inch slices
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tart apple, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
½ cup sour cream

METHODS: Cook the bacon in a dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon and reserve for garnish. Pour the fat off into a small bowl. Return 1 tablespoon of fat to the pot and increase the heat to medium-high. Put half of the butternut squash into the pan and cook until lightly browned on all sides. When caramelized on all sides, remove the squash to a bowl. Add an additional 1 tablespoon of fat. Brown the remaining squash in the same manner. Remove the caramelized squash to the bowl with the earlier batch. Put an additional 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan, supplementing with canola oil if necessary. Add onion, carrot, celery and cook until slightly golden. Return the squash to the pan with the bay leaf and cover with stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is almost tender, approximately 20 minutes. Add the diced apple and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until tender. Let cool slightly and then puree in a food processor or a blender. If a completely smooth texture is desired, put through a fine mesh sieve. Return to pan to heat. Add sage and cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with sour cream and bacon.

DO-AHEAD NOTES: The soup can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated or up to two months ahead and frozen.

Squash Seeds with Za’atar
Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture that has some combination of oregano, thyme, sesame seeds and salt. Some varieties use sumac, fennel or cumin. The Spice House sells their own blend and you can use in on chicken, to garnish hummus or even simply sprinkled on pita bread dipped in olive oil.

Seeds from 1 butternut squash, rinsed and removed from flesh
1 tablespoon extra virgin-olive oil
1 teaspoon Za’atar

METHODS: Spread the squash seeds on a parchment or silpat lined baking pan and cook in a 200° F oven until dry approximately a ½ hour. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the squash seeds and cook until browned. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle Za’atar and salt on top. Let cool.

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