Monday, October 20, 2008

Squash Season is Here...

... and I sure am happy about that.  There's been quite a nip in the air over the last couple of days, and I've been keeping the  house warm by cooking up a storm.  I haven't been posting much because almost all the recipes I've made lately have been straight-up out of cookbooks w/ no adaptation whatsoever, but recently I did fool around with a recipe from the Moosewood Low-fat Favorites, and the results were splendid.

This recipe for a Basque White Bean and Squash Soup was pretty tasty on its own, but both the sweetheart and I found the texture a bit off. Now mind you, neither one of us has anything against cubes of butternut squash, but we both found the soup a little lacking.  It felt more like a thin soup with chunks of squash, rather than the hearty stew that we wanted it to be on a crisp fall evening.  So, at the suggestion of my culinary advisor and partner in crime, after we'd eaten the soup as it was, I fished out almost all of the squash, plus a little broth and a little of the other vegetables, and pureed it until it was smooth as silk.   Then I added it back into the soup pot, and I swear it was 100% better!  NOW, it was stew!  Fortunately there was more than enough for both of us to enjoy for several meals, and today seems to be just as chilly as yesterday, so I know what I'll be having for lunch...

Basque White Bean and Squash Stew - adapted from Moosewood Low-fat Favorites

2 T. olive oil
2 cups diced onions
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 stalks celery, with leaves, sliced
1 cup green cabbage, sliced thin
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
A pinch or two of saffron
A generous teaspoon or two of Better Than Bouillon stock (optional)

Sautee the onions and garlic in the oil until golden brown, and then stir in the fennel and thyme, followed by the cabbage and celery.  Cook over medium-low heat, covered, for about 5-7 minutes, then add the peppers, squash and stock.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about another 10-15 minutes, or until the squash is tender.  Now add the beans, crumble the saffron into the pot, and season generously with salt and pepper.  When I made this, I found that the stock was a little thin tasting even once seasoned with salt and pepper, so I added a plop of the Better Than Bouillon Lobster stock base that I happened to have in the fridge.  It didn't so much lend a fishy flavor as it did a subtle, savory depth. 

At this point, you can do one of three things:

Eat the soup just as is...


Scoop out all the squash plus some of the broth and veggies, and puree it in your blender and add it back into the pan...


Grab your trusty immersion blender, and blend some of the stew right there in the pot.

Top your stew a little crushed red pepper, and enjoy!

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