Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Yum! Winter Soup and Butternut Squash Dinner
In an effort to add more recipes to the RFC archives, as well as to inspire you to do lots of exciting winter cooking, here are some tips and instructions on cooking a hearty soup with cold-season flair. My tips for cooking a great side of butternut squash are also included.
Fennel, White Bean and Olive Soup
This soup is based on a recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, called 'White Bean and Olive Soup.' That recipe calls for celery and zucchini, but I've changed mine into a delicious December version. I admit my 'locavore' factor is a bit low in this recipe, but I believe January through April is the time to allow yourself some wiggle room. It's still necessary to eat, and I think we should eat well, even if it means using a couple things from elsewhere while simultaneously maintaining the goal of doing better next year. For example, I'm ordering fennel seeds. We'll see how it goes...
1 fennel bulb, chopped. Preserve foliage for use as a garnish.
2-3 medium carrots or 6 small carrots, chopped
2 smaller onions
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup halved and pitted kalamata olives
1 can cannellini beans
1 6oz can tomato paste (you could probably substitute canned or frozen tomatoes, maybe 2-3 chopped)
4 cups water
4-5 cloves garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used pre-chopped frozen sweet peppers for this that I preserved this summer-- yay for reaping the benefits of seasonal labors!)
Pour olive oil into a big soup pot. On medium high heat, cook onions, fennel and carrots with roughly a teaspoon of salt in olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes. Add pepper, garlic and bell pepper, and saute for about 5 more minutes. Mix the tomato paste with 4 cups of water and add to the saute along with the rest of the ingredients, including spices. Simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with fennel foliage.
Butternut Squash Side
Easy if you're an experienced cook, but I wanted to pass along my favorite way to cook butternut squash, since I only discovered it in the last couple of months. Take a standard cookie sheet that has sides, and fill it with about 1/4 inch of water. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, then place each half face down in the water. Bake on 400 for 30-50 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. Just check periodically for softness. When ready, remove from oven and cut into chunks. Apply a small pat of butter and a sprinkling of brown sugar to the top.
A slice of your favorite hearty bread finishes off this meal. Ours was the French white bread from Ellwood Thompson's (a leftover from bread and cheese offerings to relatives on Christmas afternoon), but I really am partial to some of the darker breads they offer there. I will mention that the No Wonder bread guy is still selling at Byrd House market, and Montana Gold also bakes their bread in-house.