16 November 2010


My mom showed up at my place last weekend carrying an acorn squash. She said that she had found it at the Oshawa farmers' market and figured I should have one. I thanked her in a noncommital way, as I've never been particularly fond of squash, mostly due to the effort it takes to extract it from its skin. I then let it sit on my counter for a week while I considered what to do with it.

Dear readers, I roasted it.

And then I made soup.

Roasted squash is exactly 1 billion times easier to work with than a raw squash. And it imparts that beautiful smooth roasty flavour to anything you put it into, like this acorn squash and apple soup.

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup
1 acorn squash, cut in half with seedy inside scooped out and discarded
Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lay squash halves cut side down on parchment. Put in oven and roast for 40 minutes or thereabouts.
Remove from oven. Flip squash halves over and use a spoon to scoop out the edible squash - you're scooping it away from the skin. Put edible stuff into a container and reserve. Throw away the skin - you won't need it anymore. Not like you ever did, to be honest. It just got in the way.

1-2 onions, cut up
2 tablespoons of butter (or ghee - I used ghee because I had it at hand)
2 1/2 cups of chicken stock/broth/whatever liquid you like
1 cup white wine
1 apple, peeled and cored and cut into cubes
1 thyme sprig
all that reserved roasted squash
1 tiny pinch of cinnamon
couple shakes of Tabasco sauce
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Melt butter/ghee in deep pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook slowly until translucent. Add apple. Stir. Add white wine - allow alcohol to simmer off, then add the chicken stock and thyme sprig. Allow all this to simmer for around 12 minutes or until apple pieces are tender. Add squash - stir till smooth-ish. Drop that tiny pinch of cinnamon in, along with the Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 12 minutes or so. Remove from heat.

(seriously, remove from heat. I taking the next step while it was still on the heat, and I couldn't figure out why I was getting boiling hot soup bubbling up at me while blending. Sometimes I'm not very quick.)

Using an immersion blender if you have one, blend soup until very smooth. It'll be really, really orange. Add the cream and stir. It'll be less orange now. Serve with whatever soup accoutrements you wish - a design of cream, a dollop of sour cream, whatever you like really. It's quite mild-tasting, and makes a good starter or a pleasant lunch.

01 November 2010

Chicken Soup for the... whatever.

I was going to go there, but then I changed my mind.

Chicken soup rocks. I even like the neon-yellow, skinny noodle Lipton "chicken noodle soup" packets. However, I had an epiphany this weekend when I made chicken noodle soup from a whole chicken and a bag of frozen bones. Sounds delicious, right? Right?

Chicken Noodle Soup Like You Mean It

1 whole chicken breast (bone in)
1 chicken carcass (yeah, it's gross. but delicious. just save the carcass when you make a roast chicken. or go to your butcher and ask for a bag of chicken bones.)
5 carrots
4 celery stalks
4 cooking onions
4 stalks fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves, 6 black peppercorns, 2 smashed garlic cloves, 3 parsley sprigs
Enough water/chicken stock (whatever your preference) to cover the chicken - probably about 2 or 3 litres

Put the chicken + bones + everything listed above into a really big pot. Make sure the chicken is covered by the water/stock by a good half inch. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half. You may need to skim the surface (it's weird, but it's just protein) a few times. Once chicken is done, remove it from the pot and put it on a plate or a cutting board. Remove the vegetables and the sprigs and the bones from the pot and throw them out - this will result in a nice clear chicken broth. Shred or chop the chicken and set aside.

2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, chopped
2 chopped carrots
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 sprigs chopped parsley
Shredded chicken
1-2 cups wide egg noodles
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook until the onions are see-through, stirring frequently. Add the vegetables to the pot with the clear broth in it. Add the chicken. Stir and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Once boiling, add the egg noodles and cook for 2 minutes. Add the frozen peas. Taste. Season to your own specifications with salt and pepper. Add the parsley.

Serve, and feel better immediately.