Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon + Cheese Crouton
I know, I know. It's been way too long since my last post. I've still been eating over the last couple months, and cooking too. And now here I am. Back ready to do regular postings on the blog. Let's get underway.
I just read The Omnivore's Dilemma, which is a phenomenal book if you're interested in the philosophy of what we eat. The ideas contained within got me thinking about eating organically and locally, so my next few meals will reflect that. I ordered a box of winter produce from Plan B Organic Farms so a lot of the ingredients I have laying around right now are grown locally and/or organically. As a side note, and because this is the internet where opinions rule, I'd recommend local over organic any day. Big organic monoculture is almost as destructive and counterproductive as our current industrial style of growing lots and lots of the same thing. Organic asparagus from Argentina in the winter? Far away and out-of-season produce just doesn't hold water logically. But you can read all about that in Pollan's book. Or buy me a drink and I'll talk your ear off.
Back to the actual recipe. It's winter, squash was in the box, and a few other things I tossed in combined to make a delicious soup that'll take the chill out of your bones. The idea and process are from J.Oliver but the ingredients are modified quite a bit. The crouton gives the dish mad style points, and its easy to do, Oliver is cool like that. Makes 4 good sized bowls.
Here's what you need:
For the Soup:
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into chunks
1/2 lb bacon
2 chopped carrots
1 chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
handful of fresh rosemary
8-10 fresh sage leaves
4 cups beef stock
For the Croutons:
4 pieces of sliced baguette
fresh grated Parmesan
Here's what you do:
1. Get a large pot or high-sided pan and heat it up to the max. Pour in some olive oil.
2. When the oil starts smoking, drop your sage leaves in and let them sizzle for half a minute then take them out carefully with a spoon or something. This gives the oil some crazy good flavor, and you'll also use the leaves later for your crutons. (Style points, remember!)
3. In the mean time, set up another pan and get your bacon frying on medium temperature. When this is done, keep the bacon fat in the pan. Trust me on this.
4. Turn your main saucepan to medium heat and throw in all your vegetables and spices, except the squash. Add salt and pep as you please.
5. After everything is getting all nice and soft (10 to 15 minutes let's say,) add the squash, your now-cooked bacon, and the stock, stir it all around and let it simmer for at least half an hour.
6. While your soup is doing its thing, you can make the crouton. Drizzle some olive oil on both sides of your bread slices, then cover them in grated cheese. Now comes the delicious part.
7. Turn your pan of bacon fat to medium if it isn't already, and fry up the croutons in the goodness. You want them to be golden brown on both sides. Or maybe you dont, but I do.
8. At this point in time, your soup should be ready. You can judge it's doneness by the squash. As soon as the squash is, well, squashy, you're good to go. From here you have two options: blend your soup in a blender, or use a hand blender to mash everything up in the pot. I like to keep the consistency more on the chunky side, as I am wary of liquefied bacon. Your call.
9. Pour soup into your bowls, float a crouton on top, and a crispy sage leaf or two on top of that.
What to listen to:
Deep Dark Woods - Winter Hours
It's cold outside, and snow is blowing outside your kitchen window. Deep Dark Woods, from Saskatoon, embodies all those things. And more. Pure Canadian storytellers them boys is. Plus the album is called 'Winter Hours', how good does it get?
What to drink:
Some might disagree with me on this, but I'm going to suggest Sibling Rivalry White, from St. Catherines; it is an outstanding white. It's local, it's fresh and goes with pretty much everything. I figure the soup is heavy enough with the squash, bacon and cheese crouton that a red, or even a porter beer would make a man go into hibernation. Life is all about balance. Sibling Rivalry is what you need, right now.
P.S. I got an iPhone now, so I'll be able to post pictures of most my meals. Internet FTW.