Squashed

29 Aug

Dear friends, please try this soup.

Take some onions, or maybe a few leeks (three would be ideal) and soften them in a little canola oil and butter.  Add two cloves of garlic, chopped and one sweet-hot pepper sliced (I used one from the garden that was either a Bull Nose or a Leutschauer paprika pepper, but you could probably use one small sweet red pepper and a bit of a hot pepper and get the same results).

When the aromatics are soft and sweet add a lot of peeled and cored squash, and I do mean a lot, like five pounds worth.  Then add about two cups of water and a mushroom-flavored stock cube, bring to a boil, bring down to a simmer, cover and cook until the squash is tender. Season with a healthy dose of lemon juice, salt and if you have it, some ground Grains of Paradise.  Then puree with an immersion blender, or very carefully in a blender-blender.  Serve it with a minted yogurt sauce (yogurt, finely chopped mint, one finely minced small shallot or Egyptian onion and a little lemon juice and salt).

This soup is the most surprising thing I’ve made with all the ridiculous vegetables coming out of our garden this summer.  It’s creamy,without having almost any dairy in it (and honestly, I think you could make this vegan without sacrificing an inch of flavor) and it has the most profound, sophisticated, honest summery flavor I’ve ever run across in a soup.

I based my recipe on this recipe from the September 2006 Gourmet that I ran across while making blackberry jam (there’s a lot of sitting around and waiting for things to boil) on Tuesday (18 half-pints!), but bent it to the vegetables I had at hand, so no potato and no carrots (there’s some out in the garden, but I was feeling lazy).

I have a feeling the sort of squash you use can play a big roll in how the soup will taste. I used the bulb-end of a very, very huge Tromboncino Rampicante (seriously, it was bigger than my femur, which since I’m nearly 6′ is a pretty big femur), and one of those fabled Eight Ball squashes that just refuse to stay the size of a pool ball.  They’re both really creamy, dry squashes, not watery or flavorless in the least, so if you have access to any similar fruit, give this soup a try, please, it’s delicious!

As you can see, I’m giving this soup a really hard sell.

We met friends for coffee who very kindly brought us a box of beautiful heirloom tomatoes since they had read here that all mine had been totaled. I’ve been slowly making my way through them, one sandwich at a time, in between bouts of eating zucchini bread (two loaves of which I baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s recipe from The Bread Bible with just the neck of one of the tromboncino’s)  smothered in our blackberry jam.

And then they invited us over for dinner.  Rather than spend our time cooking, we talked shop while eating really good ribs and chicken and brisket from Chatham’s Applewood BBQ.  At the end of the evening, we said thank you and invited them to come over and see the place this weekend, and in the hopes that maybe I’d be able to offload one of the monster squash, I started telling the tale of the soup.

But alas, I think I’m just going to have to unload the monster zuke on my mother.  And in the meantime, I’m going to plot an excuse to have an all zucchini dinner party next year.  I’ll begin the meal with fried zucchini blossoms¹, followed by the soup, then a course of zucchini quiche and grilled zucchini salad, and close it out with frosted zucchini bread.

It should be a lively, summery affair, and maybe, just maybe, it would actually put a dent in our rampant, rollicking, riotous squash patch.

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¹ Fried Zucchini Blossoms: Remove the stamens from 20 or so squash or zucchini blossoms. Rinse in cold water and spin to dry.  Set aside the 10 nicest.

Chop up the remaining blossoms with one very small baby squash, a clove of garlic, one very hot pepper (I used a Hinklehatz which is my new favorite pepper on the face of the earth: Very hot, but so much flavor, like a toned-down Habanero) and one tiny sweet pepper (I used a wee Klari Baby Cheese pepper).

Mix the finely chopped veggies into some nice ricotta (goat ricotta if you can find it) and season with salt and pepper.  Carefully stuff the squash blossoms.

Make a batter of flour, salt and seltzer water. Dip the blossoms into the mixture and fry in a shallow pan of very hot canola oil turning once so that both sides are golden brown and delicious.  Drain on a paper towel-covered plate, season with salt and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Enjoy!

6 Responses to “Squashed”

  1. lornasass August 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm #

    OK Ann, I’m a giant step closer to making the squash soup. What amazes me and convinces me that it must taste good is that you know about and add grains of paradise. Anyone who mentions a spice popular in the middle ages is automatically a cooking friend of mine. Your photographs are magnificent! Keep up the good work on all fronts. Lovely to meet you both. Lorna

  2. Toni August 30, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    Now, I am NOT a hard sell on this one. I adore squash soup! I have to agree with Lorna – anyone that adds grains of paradise is someone I’d listen to.

  3. Christine August 31, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    I’ll have to get to the squash soup next week after the farmer’s market. And geez! Lorna Sass! Not to get fangirl on you, but seriously during my 7 year stint as a vegetarian, the best cookbook I had, and one of the few veggie ones that I still crack open was the Complete Vegetarian Kitchen.

  4. EB September 2, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

    Well… since you asked nicely…

  5. bloglily September 6, 2009 at 3:40 pm #

    grains of paradise! I’ll have to track them down, and use them in some squash soup. BTW, Lorna Sass is the whole reason I use my pressure cooker all the time. Happy Fall(almost)! xo

  6. ann September 6, 2009 at 7:29 pm #

    Lorna — I made it again tonight, and it wasn’t as good, but still quite good, and I think the GofP might be one of the keys. Sorry to have missed you yesterday! Hope the workshop was great!

    Toni — Awh, thanks! I’ll have to tell my mom (who gave me the GofP) that shes uber-sophisticated according to the blogosphere. She’ll blush with gratitude :-) Glad to hear I’m not alone in the squash soup love. It’s so good!!

    Christine — I *totally* went all fan girl when I got the email, and she’s super cool in person too. Check out her blog, its fabulous!

    EB — LOL! Nuff said :-)

    Lily — Hi! It’s so yummy. I’m sure she’ll be so pleased to hear that from you. Happy Fall to you too. We actually lit a fire tonight, so it’s got to be here soon.

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