Friday, November 11, 2011

Soup. A hot-water bottle for your insides.

Soup is making a comeback in my kitchen. I used to be annoyed by it. I didn't like how I couldn't control my intake of food; how I was a prisoner of the tiny portion doled out by every spoonful, never able to take in more at a time without putting the bowl to my mouth and making a complete and disgraceful pig of myself. Eating soup, restrictive spoonful by restrictive spoonful, made me irritable. I wanted FREEDOM!

Sadly, short of filling a turkey baster and squirting my way to satiation, I had to find another way to live with the cutlery conventions of our day. That's when I discovered texture. I'm not talking chunky-vegetable-soup kind of texture here. I'm talking smooth, dense, mouthfeel all the way into tomorrow kind of texture. The kind I only experienced once I started looking for a vegetarian meal-in-a-pot soup solution. The spoon would still deliver the same, annoying portion with every pass... But this time, the texture of its payload would insure that the flavour and experience would endure; keeping my taste buds distracted long enough for the spoon to make its next delivery...

There are two main heroes in the category of texture for me, when it comes to whole-meal-in-a-pot soups: beans and tofu. Of course, 35% cream also fits in this category (for glooorious mushroom soup), but that's just cheating. 35% cream makes EVERYTHING taste good. So next time you set out to make a cream soup, try throwing in a can of white kidney beans or a block of silken tofu before you plunge in your immersion blender. I assure you, you'll be glad you did. 

I made the following soup the other night when it was dark and blustery outside. I was cold, and not really in the mood for making anything fancy. I found the last butternut squash from my garden as well as a few leeks at the back of the fridge, and a can of beans in the larder. Soup it is, I thought. And I was glad. That stuff stuck to my insides like Fiberglass Pink. Mmmm. Insulating.

Butternut squash soup with leeks and white kidney beans

Prep your ingredients:

1 medium-sized butternut squash, roughly chopped into chunks (see picture);
2 leeks, green parts discarded, white parts split lengthwise, thoroughly rinsed (dirt always manages to get in there) and chopped into half moons;
1 medium onion, chopped;
1 can of white kidney beans, drained and rinsed;
4 thyme sprigs, leaves plucked, or 1 tsp of dried thyme (or more, if you like).

Heat a stockpot or a big saucepan over medium heat. Once it's hot, throw in around 2 tbsp of olive oil or, if you're not focused on making this vegan, a matchbox sized piece of butter and just a dab of olive oil (1 tsp) to prevent burning.Throw in the onion and the leeks, and cook, stirring, until translucent.

Throw in the squash, and cook, stirring for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the thyme leaves and bare sprigs. Pour in enough cold water to cover everything, with a half-inch extra over the top of the veggies. I used some cooking water from my freezer that was left over from boiling potatoes and celery root.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is soft.

Remove the thyme sprigs and add the kidney beans.

Whizz the soup into oblivion with an immersion blender or a regular blender. If you use a regular blender, do this part in batches to avoid overspilling and burns.Season with salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread, and some sharp and tangy cheese.

I hope you enjoy this soup. I'm getting hungry just looking at the pictures.

See you next post!

Eye candy interlude - last veggies

Last weekend I cleaned up my frost-wilted garden in preparation for winter. I pulled everything out, marked the spot where the rhubarb would be coming out again in the spring, and had a bit too much fun throwing half-frozen cucumbers at Marc while he raked leaves (talk about pre-season snowball fight training - those cukes are smooshy!)

The sun was hitting the garden just right, so I took a few pictures before I took it all down. No recipes here kids. You just have to indulge my amateur attempts at capturing Summer's last wink. 


Thanks for visiting! See you next post.