Sunday, November 23, 2014

Soup's On!

Jamboree Pumpkins, Butternut, Buttercup and Amber Cup Squash
As winter winds blow and our West Coast ‘monsoons’ arrive, my stockpot is put into overdrive! There is nothing more satisfying than a bowl of hearty, homemade soup with thick slices of homemade bread to banish winter’s chill. Even if you live alone, you can make a big pot of soup and freeze it for future use. My freezer is always stocked with a variety of soup in single serving containers, ready for a quick meal or unexpected guests.

Stock should be used as a base, as there is no flavor in water. When a recipe calls for liquid, try to use the one that has a flavor that will enhance the end product. Desirable qualities of a stock are; clear, mild in flavor with a definite flavor of the meat and bones from which it was derived, free of excess grease and free from floating food particles. Soups are only as good as the stock used to prepare them and the stock will only be as good as the ingredients used. Fresh is the key. Avoid coarse outer leaves and ‘old’ vegetables that will detract from the stock’s final flavor and color. Remember not to over-spice stocks at the beginning. As stocks simmer they reduce in volume and increase in flavor. Don’t worry about making ‘too much’ stock. Use what is needed, then package, label, date and freeze the leftover immediately in various sized containers (I find 2 cup yogurt containers work well), freeze for up to 3 months. A freezer full of stock is as comforting as a security blanket for me.

Soup can be so versatile: served as a starter, lunch, evening meal or even dessert... thick, thin, hot or cold! Hearty, filling and an economical source of nourishment, they are easy to make and pure pleasure for the palate and soul.
Till next week... Bon Appetit! 

Apple and Jamboree Pumpkin Soup

Apple and Butternut Squash Soup ~ Yield: 8-10 servings
What a perfect winter combination! Any of the pumpkin or squash pictured above can be substituted for the butternut squash in this recipe. This soup can be made in advance or frozen without the cream.

2 Tbsp. butter
2 large onions, diced
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. chili powder
5 cups flavorful chicken stock
1 large butternut squash, (7-8 cups), peeled, seeded and diced
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

In a heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add curry and chili powders, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil. Transfer mixture to a large soup pot, add squash and apples, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the squash is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Strain soup and reserve liquid. Place pulp in a food processor or blender and purée. Return purée, reserved liquid, and remaining stock to a clean pot and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Whisk in cream, ladle the soup into warm bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.

Photos by Sally Rae
Recipe from 'For the Love of Food' by Sally Rae 

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