elevating the status of the salad

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I love roasted butternut squash soup. This one stands out because of the other flavors involved: apples, hint of chili, rosemary, coriander, and of course cream. It’s also fairly easy because pretty much everything just roasts together for the same amount of time. 

I altered this recipe from NPR, (which originally was a Jamie Oliver recipe)  just a little bit. They suggested putting the pumpkin seeds in the oven alongside the vegetables for 10-15 minutes, but that resulted in black, smelly pumpkin seeds. Instead, I just toasted them on a skillet for a few minutes, stirring a few times to make sure they got evenly browned. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 firm, sweet apples, such as Braeburn, Pink Lady or Jazz, peeled, cored and quartered–I used Honeycrisp from the Grand Army Plaza farmer’s market
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 fresh hot red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, separated
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (the shelled kernels, sometimes called pepitas)
  • 3 1/4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup light cream–I used a combination of half and half and heavy cream, and you can probably get away with less cream if you want to keep it light.
  • Pumpkin seed oil, for garnish(I did not use this)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spread the squash, apples, onion, chili and garlic on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, coriander and rosemary. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and toss until well coated. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until all the vegetables are cooked through and golden.
  3. Heat a skillet to medium-low, and toast pumpkin seeds, tossing occasionally, until evenly browned–about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove the vegetables from the oven. When they are cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic from the peel. If you have an immersion blender, scrape the vegetables into a large pot. Deglaze the baking sheet with 1/4 cup boiling water, scraping at the burned-on bits to capture them. Add the water to the pot. Add the stock to the pot and puree, using the immersion blender.
  5. If you are using a countertop blender, deglaze the pan as above and pour into the blender. Add roughly 1/3 of the vegetables from the baking sheet and puree. Transfer puree to a large pot. Continue this process with the rest of the vegetables, using the stock.
  6. Once the vegetables are pureed in the pot, add the cream and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer until the soup is warmed through and reaches your preferred consistency.
  7. To serve, divide into bowls. Drizzle with pumpkin seed oil (or not). Top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

 

 

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This soup is smoky and spicy. (To turn down the heat, use less chipotle chili powder). You can make a meal of it by serving it with a crusty bread and a green salad. I found the recipe in Williams Sonoma’s catalog. It is called, “Sussman Brothers’ Roasted Corn Soup with Tomato.” I did a little research and learned that Eli and Max Sussman are the chefs at Mile End and Roberta’s, two of my favorite restaurants in Brooklyn. It is no surprise that this recipe was a winner. I had never cooked a red pepper as described in this recipe. I was doubtful, but it turned out well. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe but firm tomatoes
  • Kernels from 6 ears of fresh corn (about 3 cups)
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • About 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Sliced avocado for garnish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Paprika for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 375°.
  2. Put the tomatoes in a lightly greased glass baking dish. Roast until the skins darken and the tomatoes are caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Keep the oven on.
  3. Spread the corn in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the edges begin to turn golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, when the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and discard. Set the flesh, with the juices, aside in the baking dish. Remove the corn from the oven and let cool.
  4. Place 1 bell pepper on each of 2 gas burners. Turn the burners on high and sear the peppers directly over the flame, using tongs to turn as needed, until the skins are blackened all over, 10 to 15 minutes total. (Or place the peppers under the broiler and broil, turning as needed, until charred and blistered on all sides, about 15 minutes.) Transfer the peppers to a brown paper bag and close tightly. Let stand for 15 minutes, then remove the peppers from the bag. Remove and discard the skins, core and seeds.
  5. In a soup pot, combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, yellow and red onions, garlic and corn, reserving a handful of the roasted corn for garnish. Add just enough broth to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and salt.
  6. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. While blending, slowly drizzle in the cream. Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Garnish each portion with a couple of avocado slices, a few drops of olive oil, a scattering of the reserved roasted corn and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve hot. Serves 4.