Butternut squash soup; salad; P’tit Basque cheese – 16 December 2014

main141216It was raining a ton … ok let’s see, this is worth writing down. I was trying to get on the road while it was still light, but I didn’t get my “homework” all collected till after 4:30. Still dusky, not dark, despite the cloud cover. Called D, who pointed out that we had no dinner ideas; I said we can’t go out [D: Why not?] b/c we have fresh bread. Aha! I could make the soup with that butternut squash that’s been waiting. He was not aware that the squash had had a destiny since its purchase, but was happy with the idea. I ventured out into the rain. Didn’t use an umbrella to get to the car b/c had too many things in my hands and on my shoulders to carry one properly, but the rain resistant LL Bean jacket was good enough for this brief walk. Oh right… had the old blue car with hatchback – good visibility, at least – so opened that up and lowered all my stuff into the back except purse, camera case, and umbrella (still closed) and got ready to drive off. Drove to the little hill at the exit of the lot, and realized there was too much rain on my glasses, so I stopped there and wiped them on my soft sweater, and…. tinktinktink… a lens fell out. Doom. Tried driving a few tens of yards – gave up at the next parking lot. Not a chance – I could drive without glasses in the daytime, but dark and stormy nights are out. BUT, b/c D had suggested it, I always have with me a glasses repair kit. AND b/c D had bought one for me and suggested I put it in my camera case (with me 100% of the time) I always have with me my micro flashlight and could actually find the lens. So now, of course, after sitting in the car repairing my glasses, I had fog on all the windows, and had to squeegee them from the inside. Ended up driving home with the driver’s side window open a couple inches and the defroster on high to keep the windows from refogging. By the time I left campus, it had really started to pour, so I was in a line of traffic moving at less than 50 mph, which, in California, is basically the equivalent of parking. Patience. Made it home safely, and went to work on a lovely soup.

setting141216This soup is from Pizzaiolo. When having dinner there with D’s folks P&B in 2006, I ordered this soup, and was so impressed by it I went and told the cooks how great it was. Then, not really expecting anything but a mysterious smile, I said “You wouldn’t want to tell me how you make it, would you?” Oh, said the guy, you just…. ” ” and I went back to the table, said “I need a pencil and paper!” and wrote down the instructions. It was D’s paper, and it spent some subsequent time in his pocket, so what follows is our deciphering of the worn paper on which I wrote what I remembered of what I was told by the chef. And it’s a great soup!

Yellow onions – cook slowly – lots of butter.

Add chunks of butternut in 3/4″ pieces.

Cook slowly ***

Stew it.

Add water to cover; bouquet of thyme and sage.

Puree when done.

Was topped with creme fraiche and some oil.

On 20080630 I added:

We tried a blotch of Greek yogurt and some chives in the soup, and both were really good. D’s idea.

Here’s a [more] proper recipe, as I did it this time:

Halve one large yellow onion and cut crosswise into 1/4″ to 3/8″ slices. Details don’t matter – just has to cook well – b/c it’s going to be pureed in the end. Melt one stick of salted (regular) butter in a large pan (used a 4 quart Dutch oven) and cook the onion in this slowly, till very soft, but not browned. (This takes at least 15 minutes.) I used medium heat, turning the onions from time to time. Peel one medium-sized (sorry did not weigh) butternut squash; I cut the squash into three pieces crosswise, and also cut off the ends, then stood the pieces on their cut ends to peel with a chef’s knife. I found this much easier than any way I’ve done it before. Cut the seed-pod end into quarters and scooped out the seeds, then cut up the final bits. These pieces were smaller than 3/4″ b/c I hadn’t looked up the recipe yet, but see “pureed” above. Cook slowly – at least another 15 minutes – turning from time to time. I turned the heat down to med-low partway through b/c it seemed to be beyond “stew it” speed. When the squash bits are softened, add water to cover: I added a quart, and it was perfect for this size squash. (In one of my earlier attempts, I decided to be minimalist with the water, and the soup was quite thick, but I thought that made it much less elegant.) Also, (I remembered this just as the rain started coming down in massive sheets) add a bouquet of sage and thyme. Rain couldn’t keep it up for too long, so in a respite, I grabbed a flashlight and went out to collect one stem of sage (leaves tiny, here in December) and quite a few little thyme stems. I bound them up and tossed them in (photo is right before adding water), brought to a boil, and simmered 20-30 more minutes.

prep141216Removed the bouquet, and pureed the soup in the blender, in two batches, pouring it from the blender into a large saucepan. I reheated it very slowly (it was still quite warm when this happened) and also heated the soup plates in the oven before serving. D was very cold at work, and was happy to have the warm soup – and was astonished it had no added salt in it. The stick of butter is the only salt source.

wine141216My colleague L kindly brought me lunch today when I was working against a grading deadline – a delicious Asian chicken salad. A huge Asian chicken salad. I brought home the uneaten portion of the nice, crispy veggie bits (lots of radishes, lettuce, etc.) and served onto little plates, and put them into the fridge till D got home. Also cut wedges of P’tit Basque cheese ($13.89/lb at Costco – this block was $19.98) – one for each of us – and left them out to get to room temperature, but D, in the end, did not eat his.

We had more of his bread from yesterday, and a Cypress Chardonnay (2013), the second and last of this wine from the case P&P sent us. Decent wine, and not a bad choice for the dinner; though I didn’t think it blended all that well with the soup, it didn’t fight it, either.

This entry was posted in Cheese, Meatless, Soup, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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