“Nemo” is expected to dump 12 – 26 inches of snow on coastal Maine in the next 36 hours. We’ve already got 3-4″ with drifts of 12 – 16″, so I “rain checked” the small luncheon planned for today. But I’m going ahead with the meal, since I’d laid in provisions and am inspired by the menu:
Rustic Oven Roasted Squash Soup
Ham and Cheese Scones
Herb Salad with Shaved Fennel, Toasted Pinenuts, and Dried Cranberries & Champagne Vinagrette
White Chocolate Mousse Layered with Meyer Lemon Curd
It’s Friday, and we’re going to be snowed in; who knows, I might even pour a glass of chardonnay!
Today’s recipe is for soup; those for scones, and mousse will follow. The soup ingredients include butternut squash and carrots. The absolutely BEST squash I’ve ever tasted came from a neighbor’s garden which she composts with seaweed (soon to be under two feet of snow!) I’ve written before that she suggested I let it sit outside in the sun until the first of December to sweeten. The one I’m using today came from the market, and it’s too cold for anything to sit outside! The absolutely BEST carrots come King Hill Farm (http://kinghillfarm.com/). Whole Foods is out of stock until next next fall – they underestimated the appeal of these special carrots! But one can find bags of them at independent health food stores around Greater Portland; at least I could a couple of weeks ago when I bought 5 pounds.
Rustic Oven Roasted Squash Soup – Serves 4
1/2 medium sized Butternut Squash, seeds removed
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced in half
1 large carrot, washed and sliced in half, and half again, lengthwise
1 small tart apple, cored and peeled
1 whole clove garlic, peeled
1″ x 1″ (square) of fresh ginger root, cut in half
1/8 cup olive oil
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar (more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
Garnish: fresh chives, snipped or chopped fresh parsley & creme fraiche or sour cream, thinned with a little heavy cream
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F; drizzle the olive oil in the bottom of a roasting pan that will accommodate the vegetables.
2. Lay the vegetables, cut side down in the pan and bake for 60 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Scrape the (flesh) from the skin of the squash and put it, along with the other vegetables, and pan juices in a food processor, puree until smooth, adding a little warm water or broth if necessary to blend.
4. Heat the chicken stock in a large pot.
5. Pulse a little of the warm broth into the pureed vegetables, then transfer the vegetables into the broth in the pot. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn down the heat and add 1/2 cup heavy cream, whisking to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Ladle into pre-heated soup bowls and garnish with a drizzle of creme fraiche or sour cream (using a narrow spoon or “squirt” style bottle designed for decoratively applying sauces or glazes.) Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately.
Note: This soup is delicious without the addition of the cream in the base or as a garnish, so feel free to omit it if you’re watching calories. (There will be enough of those in the scones and white chocolate mousse, so….)