Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Patience My Ass - I Need A Cold Front! (Recipe Included)

Where the hell is Fall? It's September 28th and the humidity is still omnipresent, the temperature at night is still around 70, and dammit, that shit has to go! Sure, sure, further north they get winter earlier and spring later, but right now they aren't sphitzing whilst trying to drink a cup of coffee, or having to crank the air conditioner to enjoy a bowl of butternut squash soup. Right now, the leaves are changing further north, and the apples and pumpkins are piled up at the roadside stands. We have apples and pumpkins piling up too, but the current state of humidity will cause our pumpkins to rot and mold by Halloween, and don't get me started on the soft mealy cardboard that passes for apples in this part of the world, or the Koolaid-sweet cider that's made from them.

I know where this is leading - I need a road trip to the north. I'm not going to get one though and it's making me very grumpy. I'm trying to hold out - I hear tell the great cold winds of Canadia are on their way, that by the weekend it will feel like fall, and I want to believe, but right now the air is still soupy and it seems a faint flickering light at the end of a long and miserably hot steam tunnel.

But in the meantime, because it is fall and because somewhere there is lovely crisp fall weather that warrants it, I'm making butternut squash soup. A friend on Facebook asked me to share my recipe for it, so I wrote it out, even though I never follow an actual recipe for it. I don't have recipes for anything but baked goods because, cooking in my opinion should be less regimented, and more open to variation. So take this recipe as a place to jump off from and do something wild with it to propititate the Autumnal God of the North Wind.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 large butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-sized pieces (more or less)

1 large onion, chopped semi-fine

2-6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

half a stick of butter (see now, I used a whole stick last time, and some olive oil)

2 cups dry white wine

2-3 containers chicken stock or broth (8-12 cups, approx.)

In a large heavy bottomed stockpot melt butter and saute onion and garlic until tender, add cubed squash and saute until browning occurs on bottom of pot. Add salt and pepper to taste at this point.

Deglaze with 2 cups of white wine, let alcohol cook off a little, then add chicken stock/or broth to cover the squash. put on the lid and let boil for about 15-20 minutes. I also added a tablespoon of bacon fat, to add flavor and to tenderize the squash.

When squash is tender, mash up with potato masher, add more stock and cook at medium heat, stirring and mashing for about 30 minutes. The lid is off at this point, allowing condensation, so soup will become thicker. Squash will begin to have an "applesauce" consistency and get thick. Keep adding stock until you are ready to serve or until it is the thickness you desire. (when reheating, you will have to add more stock, as it thickens when it cools) I know that a lot of people prefer to use an immersion blender to speed things up, but I personally think the slow cooking approach breaks the squash down just as well, and allows more time to build flavor with your components.

If desired, add 2 Tablespoons of horseradish to soup and stir in well. The heat will mellow it, but it shouldn't be more than an earthy taste at the end of a spoonful, and a bit of a warm glow on your throat. The longer the horseradish cooks into the soup the less prevalent it will be as itself.

Serve in a wide, shallow bowl, garnished with crisp chopped bacon and green onion, or julienned rare roast beef and green onion. It is also very good with a creamy blue cheese and candied green apples (leave out the horseradish for this variation). Fresh crusty bread or buttermilk cheddar biscuits are a good accompaniment.


Arizaphale said...

Now you see, I was all...'oh this is the same as MY recipe for pumpkin soup' when I read the ingredients and then I got to the bit about 'deglazing' the bottom of the pan and I realised once more with fresh shock that I do not love cooking and that only a person who cooks as an art form could actually write a 'Method' like this and then I kept reading with some kind of morbid fascination until I got to the part about baconfat and I was like 'who keeps bacon fat around the house?' and 'wow, I didn't realise bacon fat did cool stuff like tenderise pumpkin' and then I was pathetically grateful to you for explaining it all to me and resentful of all the people who had never explained stuff like this when I was a child which would have meant that I knew why you wouldn't use a bamix to mush it all up, cos that is what I would have done, to save time right? because did I mention I don't like cooking? and finally the amazing part about how the horse radish gives an 'earthy taste' at the end of each spoonful and suddenly I realised how deep and wide is the abyss of understanding that divides us in the kitchen and I felt humbled.
Somedays I think I should get therapy for my cooking phobia.

Bantering Bibliocrat said...

Sunday morning, Oct 2 - a few days and a 150 miles away- it was 37 degrees when I got up today. Autumn is here! I'm making french onion soup today!

BrightenedBoy said...

A cold front would be very much welcomed and I hope you get it soon. At least you're getting to enjoy the food of Fall if not, well, Fall.

I hope everything's going well.