Butternut Squash Soup

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

This recipe was inspired by a newer addition to my cookbook collection: Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables.  I love this book (along with its accompaniment Chez Panisse Fruit) – it has become my go-to reference when I return from the farmers market with bags full of veggies and want to try something new.  The book is organized by vegetable and has mouthwatering creations that showcase each vegetable’s unique flavors and qualities.

My favorite thing about this soup is that it is not a pureed.  Don’t get me wrong: I love pureed butternut squash soup, but there is something about the texture of the squash that makes me appreciate it more.  The butternut squash is certainly the star here – all other ingredients are intended to highlight the essence of the squash.  This soup is hearty enough to be served on a cold winter night, but also elegant enough to be served in a shot glass before a dinner party.

This recipe is simple and delicious.  Let me know if you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ingredients:

  • 2 small to medium butternut squash
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut each squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Pour about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each squash half and season with salt and pepper.  Place the squash flat side down onto a baking sheet.  Place 1/4 of a garlic (in its casing) and 1/4 of the rosemary into the cavity of the squash.  Place into oven and bake for 30-50 minutes or until squash is soft.
  • When squash is done, the stock to a simmer in a pot.  Gently scoop out the inside of the squash into the simmering stock.  Add the rosemary and squeeze out the garlic from its casing into the stock as well.  Season to taste.
  • Mash the squash bits inside the soup with a large fork until the mixture is a consistent quality.  Add butter and mix in.
  • Serve.

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Rustic Balsamic Potatoes

January 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

When looking for a fast and crowd pleasing side, I frequently turn to potatoes.  So when friends gathered at our place last weekend, I found myself wanting to dress the potatoes up without adding more prep time.  I decided to experiment with balsamic vinegar – it turns out that it gets along well with the potatoes, garlic, onions and spices in this recipe.

The idea behind this dish is to get the potatoes to a daringly dark color that toes the appearance of being burnt.  The balsamic adds an intense depth of flavor, as well as a glorious mahogany color to the plate.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion (cut into large pieces)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 cup of balsamic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine ingredients in a baking dish and toss together.  Make sure that the olive oil and butter coat the potatoes evenly.  You will probably feel like you have added far too much balsamic vinegar, but not to worry – there is a method behind the madness!  The balsamic vinegar is what gives this dish character.

Place on top rack of preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until top layer of potatoes appears very dark and almost burnt.

Remove from oven and toss.  Serve.

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