November 6, 2012

SOUP it Up

Curried Squash Soup

"A good soup maker must be a good taster," my Aunt Rose told me as she'd stir up our hungers with some warming, creamy concoction. She had the soup making gene, a talent for transforming leftover potatoes and the ends of an onion into a simple potato bisque or a fragrant curried potage. Here's the formula she used -- 1 part onion, 1 part diced potato, 3 parts vegetable of your choice, and 5 parts liquid (which can be a mix of stock, wine, milk, whatever)... She'd start all soups by sauteing onion with butter, then add the rest of the vegetables to "sweat" out their juices before stirring in the liquid along with herbs and spices. "Always taste as you go, and especially just before serving." 

Here are two recipes that put the basic formula into play. There are few things in life as simple or as satisfying as soup making. Given the dank weather and these uncertain times, making soup is a good thing to know.

Irish Potato Soup
Serves 6

4 tablespoons butter
1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup diced onions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup cream
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped dill or marjoram

In a heavy saucepan melt the butter over medium heat then toss in the potatoes and onions and stir to coat. Season with salt and a little pepper. Cover and "sweat" the onions so they release their liquid for about 5 to 10 minutes. 

When the potatoes are tender, stir in the stock and wine and continue to cook until the potatoes are very tender. Puree the soup and stir in the cream along with the fresh chopped herbs. Taste and adjust the seasonings. 

Curried Squash Soup with Apples & Coconut
Serves 4 to 6

1 medium red kuri, butternut, or 2 small delicata squash (about 2 lbs) cut in half and seeded
2 to 3 tablespoons sunflower of vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tart apples, cored and chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cups vegetable stock
1 cup fresh apple cider
1 cup coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Shredded coconut, toasted for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the cut sides of the squash with the oil, turn it cut side down on a baking sheet and bake until it's soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
While the squash is baking, film a heavy soup pot with the remaining oil and set it over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, apples and curry powder. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and cider, and simmer until the ingredients are very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven, scoop the meat from the skin, and add it to the pot.

For a smooth soup, puree the mixture using an immersion blender or process it in a blender in batches. For a chunky soup, mash all the ingredients together. Stir in the coconut milk. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and a little more curry if you'd like. Serve garnished with the cilantro and toasted coconut.

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