Creamy Squash and Tomato Soup

Vermont Creamery provided ingredients for this recipe.

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Butternut, acorn, kabocha, pumpkin––squash season is upon us! It's easy enough to roast a couple of winter squash while you catch up on e-mail or watch tv. Just crank the oven to 450, slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, lightly oil it, and roast it on a cookie sheet until a fork can slide right in, or your finger can make a soft dent, about 30-60 minutes. Now you've got a side dish, the makings of pie filling, or the base for Creamy Squash and Tomato Soup.

Once you've roasted the squash, you can make this soup using just one pot. Dice an onion and saute it in a tablespoon or two of butter until it becomes translucent. If you've got some wine––red or white, it doesn't matter––add a glassful and let it simmer for a few minutes (it's optional). Now add a big can or box of tomoatoes; I like the Pomi ones that come in a tetrapak. Use the can or box to measure out the same amount of roasted squash (just the flesh, no peel), and then twice that amount of water. 

If you have one of those stick blenders, blend the soup right in the pot. You want it thick and creamy, but not baby food smooth, so leave a little texture. If you don't have one of those, you'll have to get the blender or food processor dirty. Now add a big pinch of salt, and simmer the soup for a few minutes, at least, until the flavors blend. Stir in crème fraîche to make the soup creamy, thick and tangy––the amount should be to your taste, but I reccomend using a lot. Add a generous amount of cracked pepper. Taste a spoonful: does it need more salt? more crème fraîche? more pepper?

Serve the hot soup with fresh herbs, if you can. This reheats well, and crème fraîche is much more stable than cream, so you don't have to worry about it curdling. If you're just cooking for one or two you can enjoy this soup for days.

 

You might also like:

Pasta with Peas and Salmon

French Lentils with Crème Fraîche and Chives

 

I say frittata

Fritatta, Spanish tortilla, flat omelet–whatever you want to call a skillet of beaten eggs baked with stuff–this is my favorite dish to serve last minute guests. Brother and his friends stopping by on their way through town? Potluck to attend? Fridge looking nearly empty? If there are eggs, you can make a fritatta.

Here’s how I do it. Look at what’s on hand and gather some ingredients: potatoes, greens or parsley, cheese, eggs, olive oil. Heat the oven to 375°F. Pour about 1/8 inch of olive oil into a cast iron skillet. Coat the sides with some of the oil. Thinly slice the potatoes, lay them in the skillet, and put it in the oven.

Now you have some time to fix your hair or wash the dishes while the potatoes soften. Check them after 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven when the potatoes are fork-tender but firm.

Chop up the parsley or greens (unless you’re using salad mix or baby greens), then scatter it over the potatoes. Shred or crumble a cup or so of cheese and sprinkle that on. Beat some eggs (I use about 8 for a ten inch pan) with a little salt and pepper, and a splash of milk or cream if you want. Pour the eggs over everything. I like to sprinkle a little more cheese on top.

Bake this until the eggs are nearly set, but a little wiggly in the middle. If it seems like it’s taking forever, turn the oven up to broil. Cool for a few minutes before slicing. You can serve frittata warm or at room temperature. It’s fine to make it hours ahead. I like to set out salt & pepper, hot sauce, and fancy ketchup and let everyone season their slice of fritatta as they like.

Pantry really really bare? Just onions and dried herbs will do, especially if you have a sprinkle of parmesan for the top. Just sauté sliced onion in the pan until translucent before adding anything else. Mix the herbs into the beaten eggs. Proceed as above.

You could also add leftover cooked vegetables instead of greens, or stew some canned tomatoes in the pan for a few minutes with sautéed onions. It’s hard to go wrong. And the leftovers make great sandwiches.

Hudson St. Sandwich

photo by Kristen BlushOn Saturday mornings I used to meet my best friend, Steph, for a two-or-three-hour bike ride, then get lunch at Husdon St. Deli. That enormous sandwich on a whole loaf of Italian bread, with veggies and cheese spilling out the ends, was the real reason we went on those rides. After we devoured it, we’d sit there shivering as our bodies put all their energy towards digesting. We named this Hudson St. Sandwich Syndrome.

I moved away and the original Hudson St. Deli closed years ago. This recipe approximates the glorious sandwiches of my memory. I hope Steph will eat one at the beach with me this summer, and we can sit there shivering in the sun.

 

Hudson St. Sandwich

  • 12-14” loaf Italian bread
  • more mayonaise than you’d think, trust me!
  • brown deli mustard, to taste
  • 1/3lb. dill havarti
  • whole avocado
  • handful sliced pickle
  • handful sprouts
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablspoon vinegar (wine or cider)
  • pinch salt & pepper
  • 1/3 block tofu raw or steamed, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • handful carrot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • handful iceburg lettuce, sliced ¼ inch thick and chopped into inch-long pieced
  • 9 green pimento olives, halved

 

1. Slice the bread open lengthwise, leaving the crust attached on the spine. Spread a generous amount of mayonnaise on both sides, and a squiggle of mustard. Line the bread with havarti. Scoop chunks of Avocado out with a spoon, and place them alongside the cheese on one side. On the other side, place a layer of pickles. Place the sprouts next. Toss tofu and the rest of the veggies with the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Fill the middle with the salad.

2. Squeeze the sandwich closed, and wrap it in deli paper. Cut into sections, and return it to the bread bag.

 

Zucchini Fritters with Hot Sauce Mayo

If your yard, CSA or neighbor is burdening you with too many summer squashes, you might want to try this recipe. I was inspired by my friend's boredom with zucchini. Changing their texture makes the bountiful garden vegetable exciting again.

Zucchini Fritters

  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 Tablespoon canola or safflower oil

Hot Sauce Mayo

  • 1 egg yolk
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup oil (at least half canola or safflower)
  • hot sauce to taste
  • salt to taste

Accompaniments (optional)

  • sliced tomatoes
  • torn fresh basil or dill

To make the fritters, mix the grated zucchini and salt and let sit for 15 minutes (to overnight). Squeeze the water out of the salted zucchini. Discard the water or save it for soup. In a small bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder. In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolk, cheese, zucchini and flour mixture. Whisk the egg white until it forms soft peaks, then fold it into the zucchini batter.

Heat a skillet and oil as you would for pancakes, over medium high heat. Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the skillet to make 2-3 inch fritters. Cook on each side until golden brown.

To make the mayo, put the egg yolk and lemon in a medium bowl. Drizzle the oil down the side of the bowl as slowly as possible, whisking furiously. The egg and oil mixture should become thick and smooth. Add a generous amount of hot sauce. Taste, and add salt or more hot sauce as needed.

Serve with tomatoes and torn herbs, if you have them.

 

Note: You can save time by mixing the egg into the zucchini without separating it. The fritters will be a little less fluffy, but still delicious.

Flash Stir-fried Pea Greens

For a good stir-fry, you need a very hot wok and very dry vegetables. Heat your wok over a high flame for a few minutes, until you can feel the heat radiating from the sides when you hold your hand above it. While it’s heating, peel a few cloves of garlic, and get your sauce handy: soy or fish.

Turn the heat down to medium. Splash some oil, a tablespoon or two, into the wok. It must be oil with a high burn point like canola or safflower, NOT olive oil.  Throw in the garlic; tumble it around until it turns golden, in a matter of seconds.

Throw in a handful (or three) of clean dry pea greens. Shuffle them about for only as long as it takes for their color to change, to a deeper vibrant green with a gloss of oil. Turn the tendrils out of the wok, sprinkle and toss them with soy or fish sauce (or both), and serve with rice.