Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Butternut Squash and Chard Soup

Whew! Snatched "mmmm" from the slack jaws of "meh" on this one. Alright, so it would've been fine flavorwise, but I seem to keep overcooking squash when I've been simmering it, lately. With a good range of techniques in your toolkit and adaptive, creative thinking, you can adjust what your doing to respond to unintended outcomes in your cooking. 

I was preparing a second iteration of a successful kabocha squash, chard, and bacon dish I'd prepared, trying butternut and simmering it instead of roasting the squash since I wanted a moister result. Well, as mentioned, I ended up simmering the squash too long, and it had turned too soft to have a satisfying chunkiness in your mouth. So rather than have a soup with too-soft vegetables swimming in it, I decided to go for a nice, thick puréed soup instead.

I adjusted the spices and seasoning and pulled out my hand-blender (they're fabulous, as I've raptured before). The crispy bits of pork I garnished the soup with were pancetta rather than bacon, since I had some extra on hand. Pancetta's basically the same thing as bacon, but not smoked. Check out this explanation over at theKitchn.

Mmmm...stay on your toes, and don't be afraid to adapt!

Here's what I did for this dish:

Butternut Squash and Chard Soup

Omit pancetta/bacon to make this recipe vegan.

1 large butternut squash, peeled, 1-inch cubed
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 TBS ginger, minced
2 TBS peanut or vegetable oil
3 cups vegetable stock, or enough to just cover squash in pot

1 bunch chard, washed, chopped, leaves and tough stems separated

1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
dash of white pepper
salt to taste

several ounces pancetta or bacon, fried until crisp, crumbled, for garnish
  1. Heat oil in large stockpot until oil slides smoothly over the surface. Add squash and sauté to brown for a few minutes.
  2. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant.
  3. Add chopped chard stems and stir-fry until coated with oil.
  4. Add enough vegetable stock to cover the squash, bring to a simmer and cook for several minutes, until tender.
  5. Add chopped chard leaves and cook until softened.
  6. Add cumin, coriander, white pepper, and adjust salt to taste.
  7. Use hand blender to purée soup. Add more vegetable stock to adjust thickness of soup to taste. Serve while hot with crisp pancetta or bacon garnish.


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