The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley offers recipes that can please both vegetarians and carnivores, like Roasted Squash Potage with Spiced Crème Fraîche, Sautéed Escarole with Red Pepper Garlic, and Baked Fish/Ricotta Dumplings over French Lentils.
This is the quintessential autumn soup (a potage is a thick soup). Roasting the squash concentrates its natural sugars and gives it a caramelized depth of flavor. Kabocha is my favorite squash for soup because its dense flesh yields an intense, bright orange puree. If Kabocha is not available, any winter squash will do. The spiced creme fraiche enriches any naturally sweet root vegetable puree.
Spiced Crème Fraîche
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
For the Soup: On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the oil and season lightly with salt. Spread the squash out and roast, turning several times, until tender and lightly caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, in a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Stir in the ginger and garlic, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice and lowering the heat if necessary to keep the vegetables from browning, until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat if the squash isn't done.
For the Bouquet Garni: Bundle the ingredients in a square of cheesecloth and tie it with kitchen twine.
Add the stock or water, apple cider or juice, and roasted squash to the soup, stirring well. Add the bouquet garni and raise the heat to bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the Crème Fraîche: In a small bowl, combine the creme fraiche or sour cream with 5 or 6 gratings of nutmeg, several grinds of black pepper, and a pinch of salt.
Discard the bouquet garni. Pass the soup through the fine holes of a food mill or puree using an immersion blender or, working in batches, in a regular blender. Season with salt and pepper. Reheat the soup if necessary.
Garnish each bowl of soup with a dollop of spiced crème fraîche, a dash of cinnamon, and a sprinkling of parsley.
Making a vegetable soup? Take stock of the trimmings and the other vegetables you have on hand, and consider simmering them into a flavorful broth to enhance the taste and nutrient content of the soup. In a stockpot, combine 6 cups of any of the following: squash and ginger peels; mushroom stems; cabbage cores; parsley stems; chopped carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, leeks, parsnips, and/ or fennel; and garlic (cut a whole head crosswise in half, and leave the skin on). Add a couple of bay leaves and some fresh thyme or sage sprigs, cover with water, and bring to a simmer: Skim off any foam that rises, then simmer gently, uncovered, for 1 hour. Strain and use right away, or let cool and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
This page created September 2007
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