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

 

Pasta with Peas and Salmon

Vermont Creamery provided ingredients for this recipe.

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We all need a few dishes we know we can cook from the pantry without a trip to the store, or for those times when you shop not knowing exactly when you'll actually get to use the ingredients (and a head of lettuce would surely end up slimy and forgotten in the so-called crisper). It's better yet if you can make it all in one pot, with as few steps as possible. This is one of those recipes. 

As I was eating a bowl of this pasta, it reminded me of something familiar that I couldn't put my finger on. Then it hit me: this is the fancy version of adding canned tuna and frozen peas to a box of mac and cheese! If that idea appeals to you, then stock up on these staples for a sophisticated yet comforting meal that can be pulled together with hardly any effort, and only one pan to wash. Even tea measurements are easy to remember!

PASTA WITH PEAS AND SALMON

makes 4 modest portions

  • 1/2 box bow tie pasta (about 1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas (about 5 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche, more for serving
  • 1/2 package smoked salmon (3-4 ounces)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • small handful freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chives, or basil (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water––as salty as the sea––to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente. Drain off most of the water, leaving a Tablespoon or so of the water in the pot (you can tip the pan over the sink with the lid holding the pasta in, rather than using a colander).

2. Add the peas and crème fraîche to the pot, and stir to thaw the peas. Break the salmon into small pieces and add it. The crème fraîche should cling to the pasta: if the sauce is runny, return the pot to a boil for a few minutes to thicken it, then turn off the heat. Add lemon zest and the Parmesan cheese.

3. Serve topped with another dollop of crème fraîche, more Parmesan, freshly ground black pepper, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs if you happen to have them.