Soup’s on!

No time for lengthy reflections today, but we did cross a milestone last week: finally broached the soup selection on my long-neglected Bittman list!

“Saute sliced shallots in olive oil, then add chunks of butternut squash, some rosemary and chicken stock or water to cover. As the soup simmers, bake strips of prosciutto until crisp. Puree the soup, swirl in some cream if you like and serve topped with crumbled prosciutto.”

This sounded easy and tasty, and with no less than 20 cups of homemade turkey stock chilling in the freezer after Thanksgiving, I had just the thick, tasty broth to add extra flavor to this soup.  Given vegetable availability and my preferences, I changed things up a little.  I used:

1 whole acorn squash, halved, seeded, and brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper

1 TB olive oil

1 shallot, sliced thin

2 cups turkey stock

2 sprigs rosemary, stems removed and leaves minced

¼ – ½ cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

4 slices prosciutto

I preheated my oven to 400F and put the acorn squash halves cut side down on a cookie sheet, leaving them to roast for almost an hour, until a knife inserted went through the skin and flesh like jelly.  Then I took them out and set them aside to cool until I could handle them without searing my own flesh. 

I replaced the squash in the oven with prosciutto, spreading out four slices on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and baking until they got crisp, about 15 minutes.

In a deep pot, I heated olive oil over medium heat and added the shallot slices, letting them soften and then caramelized a bit, till they were pale gold in color and smelled sweet.

When the squash was cool, I scraped all the flesh out of the shells and dumped the flesh into the pot with my caramelized shallot.  I added my turkey stock just to cover the squash, the rosemary, a little salt and pepper, and brought it to a slow simmer.

Once the soup was simmering and seemed evenly heated, I pulled it off the stove for a moment to use my immersion blender until the soup was a glistening puree of gorgeous autumn velvet.  Back on the stove with a perfect texture, I added the cream and stirred gently to integrate it, watching the bright orange mellow into a rusty gold.

Dolloped into warm bowls, I crumbled prosciutto over the top of the soup and, as a last textural element, inserted a slice of sourdough toast, broiled with olive oil and rubbed with a raw garlic clove before sitting down to eat.

This was so tasty.  Lik Orangette, soups sometimes leave me feeling wanting, especially because I use my own stock, which is so much less salty than any processed broth or soup out there.  But this one was far from bland.  Roasting the squash and caramelizing the shallot lent a lovely nutty richness.  The rosemary added a sharp herby punch to the smooth creamy velvet of the soup.  And the prosciutto was just the right salty meaty indulgence, though for a vegetarian version you could certainly use a frico of parmesan cheese instead. 

If you’re not in the mood for soup, I think this could be a nice change-up to mashed potatoes as well.  Just reduce or drain off the stock and serve nicely pureed alongside a frittata, or some roast chicken and pan-crisped green beans.

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